Syed Ali Hamadani’s (RA) enduring impact on Kashmir

Posted: October 13, 2013 by kashmirsufis in Shahe Hamdan
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Syed Ali Hamadani (RA) was a great reformer and a visionary who has impacted almost all the aspects of lives of Kashmiris. Be it religious or spiritual dimension or social and political, be it economic activity by introducing the arts and crafts of Iran and Central Asia in Kashmir or the instructions to the Kings and rulers in all these matters, the influence and impact of Syed Ai Hamadani (RA) cannot be undermined.
He has influenced the Muslim saints and Hindu ascetics equally by his deep spiritual indoctrination he was espousing. His son Mir Mohammad Hamadani continued his mission in Kashmir and was instrumental in initiating the local Rishi Saint Shaikh Nooruddin Wali into his Sufi discipleship, thus paving the way for a long and enduring process of Islamisation of not only Kashmir but even the localised mystic orders of Kashmir like Rishism.
He was the only preacher of Islam in Kashmir and Baltistan (Northern Areas, Pakistan) who brought a clandestine change in the life styles of Kashmiri masses and provided them with Islamic values and established the Persian culture in Kashmir. In this way Kashmir was transformed into a new phase of its civilizational march from Buddhist and Hinduised moorings to an Islamic and Iranian one. It was due to these Persian influences on the socio-cultural life of the people in Kashmir that Sir Muhammad Iqbal has given reference to Kashmir in his poetry as Iran –i-Sagheer meaning little Iran.
Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (RA), the apostle of Kashmir, better known as the ‘Shah of Hamadan’ and ‘Ameer-e-Kabir’ (1314- 1384) is arguably the most celebrated of these Syed, coming from Iran and Central Asia in Medieval period and who have blessed Kashmir and have accelerated the process of Islamisation of Kashmir which has continued after them and is still continuing unabated.
In our state there are four major Hospices dedicated to the Shah, the Khanqah e Mu’alla (Srinagar), Tral, Doru and Shey (Ladakh). There also are several lesser- known Hospices of the Shah, which are situated at Sopore and Pampore. The Shah died either at Hazara (Pakistan) or in Kafiristan. However, he was buried in Khatlan (Tajikistan).
His room where he stayed for the first time is part of a great building, named as Khanqah-e-Mualla (the hospice). The building is a beautiful model of wooden architecture of Kashmir, with engravings on walls. The sacred relics include the Prophet’s flag, the pillar of the Prophet’s tent, and Shah Hamadan’s walking stick is also housed in this hospice. During his life the place acquired the distinction of being the center of the religious learning and spiritual enlightenment. People throng to the place and pray there to Allah even today.
The Shah was born in Hamadan, Iran. He travelled across the continents for twenty- one years, in the pursuit of knowledge and spiritual enlightenment. He met 1400 saints in the process before he returned to Hamadan. The Shah of Hamadan reached Kashmir in 1372. He went to Ladakh around 1381 and was the first to establish a mosque there. Hamadani (RA) entered the valley in the reign of Sultan Shihab-ud-Din in 774/1372. After staying for a short time he left for Mecca. He visited Kashmir second time in 781/1379 in the reign of Sultan Qutbu’d-Din. This time he stayed there for two and a half years and then left for Turkistan via Ladakh in 783 A.H. He paid the third visit in 785/1383, stayed in Kashmir for a short period, and then left “Kashmir on account of ill-health and stayed at Pakhli for ten days at the request of the ruler of that place whose name was Sultan Muhammad.”
However, Baharistan-i-Shahi does not mention Hamadan’s third visit to Kashmir. Hamadani (RA) died in 786 A.H., at the age of 73 in Kanar, a place in the vicinity of Pakhli. His body was carried to Khattalan now in Tajikistan and was buried there on 25 Jamadul Awwal, 787,130 (14 July 1385).
Apart from culture and mannerism, the cultural traits of Kashmiri literary life were also influenced greatly by his arrival to Kashmir.From Persia were received these genres: new poet genres –ghazal, qasidah, marsiya, rubai, mathanavi, nat and Manqabat. Muslims introduced in Kashmir from Persia as there was the only litany very genres that obtained in Kashmir prior to the Muslims were vaakh, watsun and shrukh.
He preached Islam and affected the conversion of thousands of people from Buddhism to Islam by his great efforts. He has constructed many Khanqahs, mosques and memorial places in these areas, some places are very popular in Asia particularly “Chaqchan Mosque” a most beautiful handicraft mosque in the garassion. 95 percent people (Noorbakhshi) of District Ghanche (Northern Areas, Pakistan) have great belief on him following his assistant’s preachings (Shah Syed Noorbakshs R.A)
Apart from influencing Muslim Sufis and masses, Syed Ali Hamadani (RA) and his Sufi colleagues, have influenced the non Muslim ascetics substantially. It is pertinent here to say that dissatisfied with the religion of the Brahmans, Lal had therefore, no other alternative but to seek the company of the Kabrawi Sufi, Sayyid Husain Simnani, who had settled in the village of Kulgam during the reign of Sultan Shihabuddin. While Lal Ded was a wandering mystic, Simnani was engaged in a philanthropic mission in Kulgam. Lal Ded did not give a systematic expose of Saivism on the lines laid down by the theologians who preceded her; on the other hand her “songs illustrate a picture of the actual hopes and fears of the common folk that nominally followed the teachings of those men whom they had accepted as their guides.”
There was great impact that was received by this wandering mystic like Lala, from her surrounding Islamic personages like Sayyid Husain Simnani, Sayyid Tajuddin and Sayyid Ali Hamadani. She imbibed a critical attitude towards the manifold abuses of the caste ridden social order. Her verses against the Brahmnamic supremacy show that she as well as other sensitive elements of the medieval non-Muslims were receiving subtle impact of Islamic acculturation, as this fact is also attested by strong documentary evidences.
The author is Director of the Shah-e Hamadan Institute of Islamic Studies, Kashmir University.

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