People called him with the epithet of the nightingale of Kashmir, Bulbul Shah’s Real name was Syed Sheriff Uddin Abdul Rehman and title Syed Bilal that owing to frequent use changed into Bulbul. Hence he came to be known as Bulbul Shah or the Bulbul-e-Kashmir. Bulbul Shah sought allegiance to the renowned saint, Shah Nemat-Ullah Farisi Shirazi, of the Suharawardy Order who, in turn, looked to Zia Uddin-Ul-Najeeb Abdul Qahiri.
Bulbul Shah’s native town is a matter of controversy among the writers. Dr. S. N Naz thinks, he was from the region of Tamkastan of the ancient Iran, some relates him to Baghdad; still others trace him from Turkistan. He reached Kashmir with his friend Mullah Ahmad. Some hold, he came to Kashmir with one thousand refugees out of the fear of the Mangols. Others believe, he entered the valley in 1324 AD. during the reign of Ranchan Shah. We think his arrival during the reign of Ranchan Shah, a Bodh ruler, is more probable. Rancher Shah was a seeker of Truth. Hinduism could not satisfy him and found the answer with Bulbul Shah. His meeting with Bulbul left a deep mark on him and he learnt the teaching of Islam from his precepts and actions. He embraced Islam under the assumed name Sadar Uddin, and along with him thousands became Muslims.
Ranchan Shah shared a greater responsibility in the propagation of Islam. He ordered for the construction of a monastery for Bulbul Shah, came to be known as the Khanqah-e-Bulbul Shah which formerly stood in the Mohalla Bulbullinko. In addition to it, he raised a mosque and several other buildings which don’t exist now and of which we read in books only.
The nobles who turned to Islam included the commander of the Kashmir forces, Ravan Chandra. He adopted Bibi Lalla, the saint, as his daughter and foretold that she would be a great saint. This proved true.
Hazrat Syed Bulbul Shah was a great scholar, a man of letters, and a theologian. Besides, he had reached the lovely end in intrinsic and spiritual learning. He illuminated the darkness of the hearts with the torch of the faith.
Once it grew very cold in Kashmir. The water in the river Jhelum froze hard. People suffered for want of water. Bulbul Shah himself went in search of water but the Jhelum water was so hard that it refused to break. He saw towards the sky and said, “Where is the sun to melt the snow from its heat?” It is said, the sun rose and frozen snow melted.
Bulbul Shah was a wonderful and impressive man. Whatever he said did it built a place of peace and quiet in the form of a monastery from where ran the stream of benedictions and Faith that lit the entire valley.
He died on 7, Rajab 722 Hijri (1326 AD)