Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad ‘Ali ‘AlaBalkhi (radiallahu anhu)

Posted: November 21, 2014 by kashmirsufis in AWLIYAE KASHMIR

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Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad ‘Ali ‘Ala Balkhi was one of the few non-Kashmiri disciples of Hazrat Nuruddin. According to local tradition, he was descended from the Prophet Muhammad, and was the ruler of the town ofMillahinBalkh, in present-dayAfghanistan. He is said to have ascended the throne of this principality in 1417 C.E. at the age of nineteen on his father’s death, and went on to rule for thirteen years. According to Hakim ‘Ali Shah’s Rishi Namah-e-Kashmir, one day his heart was ‘filled with the love of God (‘ishq-e-ilahi)’, and he set about ‘searching for the true path (rah-e-haq)’. That night, in his sleep, he had a vision of the Prophet Muhammad and his ‘four friends’ (chahar yar), the four piouskhulafaof the Prophet, who were sitting in a beautiful garden. The garden itself was surrounded on all sides by a massive river, the leaping waves of which were transforming themselves into tongues of fire, because of which people standing on the other side of the river, who wanted to cross it in order to enter the garden, dared not do so. Just then a ‘man shining with light’ (nurani shaks) appeared, and, one by one, he helped the stranded people cross the river on a bridge. This mysterious person also lent a helping hand to Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad to ford the river and come into the garden.
Entering the garden, Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad appeared before the Prophet Muhammad and his fourkhulafaand offered them his respects. Just then, the man who had helped him to cross the river appeared once again, dressed in a cloak (khirqa). The Prophet Muhammad introduced him to Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad as Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani, the ‘head of the Rishis of Kashmir’, saying that he had been appointed as the Sultan’s spiritual guide. Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad then clasped Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani’s hands, taking the oath of allegiance (bayt) to him, accepting him as his pir.
The next morning, Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad narrated the details of the dream that he had seen the night before to his courtiers. One of them, who knew the art of interpreting dreams, told him that he should set off at once forKashmirin search of the man who had appeared in his vision. The Sultan, accordingly, descended from his throne, removed his regal garb and crown and distributed all his wealth to the poor, widows and orphans. For, in accordance with the instruction that he had received from the Prophet in the vision, he had ‘turned his back to the world but had acquired the nearness of his Master’. Then, with his wife and two sons he set off on the long and arduous journey toKashmir. On the way they had to face great difficulties and trials. First, the Sultan’s wife died, and then, after that, he and his sons had to go without food for many days, as a result of which the children fell grievously ill. Thereupon, Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad cried out to God, exclaiming, “O Allah! I was once a king but now am a helpless faqir. I am nothing, and my hands are now empty!”. He then went into solitary meditation (muraqba), where he saw a vision in which the Prophet Muhammad and his fourkhulafaappeared. They told him that he had been instructed to go toKashmiralone, and that he should now go back toBalkh, leave his sons there and then travel toKashmiron foot.
Accordingly, Sultan Sayyed Muhammad returned toBalkhand appointed his elder son as the ruler of Millah in his own place. To his younger son he gave his prayer-mat (jai namaz) and entrusted him with the responsibility of ‘delivering sermons and propagating religion’ (va’az-o-tabligh). That over, he left the same day forKashmir. After a journey of more than seven months, walking through towering ice-clad mountains, he arrived at the borders ofKashmir. Passing through Thana Bhavan in Rajouri he arrived at thevillageofPakharpora(in the present-day district of Budgam). Just then, it is said, Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani, who was then at Chrar-e-Sharif, received a premonition about Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad’s arrival. He, along with hiskhalifa, Hazrat Baba Nasruddin Rishi, then set off to Pakharpora to receive him. This is said to have taken place in the winter of 1430 C.E..
Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani and Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad spent the day discussing various spiritual matters. Sultan Sayyed Muhammad was visibly impressed with Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani’s wisdom, but a doubt crept into his mind as to whether or not he was educated. Since he could not directly ask Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani this question, he put his query rather diplomatically. “Oh Hazrat!”, he said, “I remember a tradition (hadith) of the Holy Prophet, but I do not know if it is genuine (sahih) or fabricated (mauzu)”. To this Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani replied:
” Oh Shah ‘Ali! I am illiterate (ummi). I don’t know how to read and write. I know only that letter (huruf) which God has taught me. However, your doubt will be cleared and your heart shall find rest.When we appear before the Holy Prophet, you should place your question before him, and he will answer you.”
Then, the story goes, Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad caught hold of Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani’s hand and, closing his eyes, found himself in a beautiful garden in which the Prophet Muhammad was seated. After offering his respects to the Prophet, Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani instructed Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammaad to speak out. Sultan Sayyed Muhammad began by reciting some verses of the Holy Qur’an, after which he recited some hadiths. Some of these hadiths were fabricated, and Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani corrected these in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad. According to another version of the story, these were corrected by the Prophet himself. Thereupon, it dawned on Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad that Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani was indeed the ‘standard-bearer of Kashmir’ (‘alamdar-e-kashmir) and that, although he had no formal education, he had been given ‘the wealth of esoteric knowledge’ (‘ilm-e-luddni) directly from the Prophet Muhammad.
Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad then asked Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani to enrol him as his disciple. Later, the two built a mosque at Pakharpora, where Hazrat Sultan Muhammad was appointed to organise missionary efforts in the area around. The two would often meet after that. The then king ofKashmir, Zain-ul ‘Abdin, is said to have been greatly impressed by Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad’s spiritual greatness. Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad is also remembered for having saved the people of the area from the menace of three devils, Kacch Deo, Mom Shah and Khoon Shah, who used to burn their standing crops and consume all their water. He is said to have exercised an enormous influence on the people living in Pakharpora and its vicinity by his simplicity and his dedication to God. Once, some people approached him and asked him whose slave (banda) he was. No sooner had they asked this question than he fell on the ground unconscious. When he recovered he declared, ‘All creatures in the skies and on the earth are slaves of the Merciful One’. When the people around him told him that he had said that before and had not directly answered their question, he replied, “I am scared that if I say I am the slave of God, then He shall demand the rights that I owe Him as His slave (haqq-e-bandagi), but then, on the other hand, I cannot say that I am not His slave”.
Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad is said to have led a pious and simple life, strictly observing theshari’at. His diet consisted, in the manner of the Rishis, of wild vegetables and water. Once a prince, he abandoned a life of luxury to devote himself to preaching Islam to the people of Pakharpora and its neighbourhood by his own personal example. As the anonymous biographer of Hazrat Sultan Sayyed Muhammad describes him, he was, ‘A king indeed, but a faqir in reality. He had thrown away his crown, yet his feet were on the throne’. According to the Rishi Nama of Baba Kamaluddin, he breathed his last in 860 A.H., and was buried at hiskhanqahat Pakharpora. The then king of Kashmir, Zain-ul ‘Abidin participated in his burial ceremony and later built a large tomb complex for him, set in a valley at the foothills of the snow-clad Pir Panjal range, which continues to attract scores of devotees till this very day.

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