Tassawuf doesn’t Mean Confinement:conversation with Saint from kashmir

Posted: May 24, 2015 by kashmirsufis in Miscellaneous

Mir Syed Mushtaq Hamdani asserts that he belongs to the 17th progeny of Shah-e-Hamdan (R A). Besides retiring as Deputy Director in Textiles department, Government of India, he is a renowned scholar of world and Islamic history and Tassawuf (Sufism) in Kashmir. As he says it, he is from the Qubrivi legacy of Sufism. In conversation withKashmir Reader reporter Afzal Sofi, Hamdani talks in length about the influence of Sufism on his life and the need of spiritual studies in contemporary times
Kashmir Reader:Who is Mir Syed Mushtaq Hamdani?
Syed Mushtaq:I belong to the family of Sada’ats (Sufi saints). In 760 Hijra (1358 AD), Mir Syed Taj-ud-din Hamdani and Mir Syed Hussain Simnani came to Kashmir. They were cousins of Shah-e-Hamdan (RA). They were among first ambassadors of Islam from Shah-e-Hamdan to Kashmir. Syed Tajuddin Hamadani was a great Sufi saint and scholar and Qutubul Waqt (Spiritual Governor of his Time). The then King of Kashmir, Sultan Suhab-ud-din Sikander married his daughter to the Qutbul Waqt. They had a son namely Sayed Hassan Bhadur. He was the first Commander-in-Chief of Kashmir who extended the boundaries of Kashmiri state up to river Satluj by defeating Sultan Feroz Shah Tughlaq. I am from the family of Sayed Hassan Bahadur.
His daughter, Taj Bibi was married to Hazrat Mir Sayeed Mohammad Hamadani, who is the son of Shah-e-Hamdan. I am from his family so I belong to 17th progeny of Shah-e-Hamdan (RA). Shah-e-Hamdan (RA) belonged to the 17th progeny of Prophet Mohammad (SAW).
The contribution of Shah-e-Hamdan in Kashmir and elsewhere is known to everyone. I was born in the same family at Khanqah-e-Moula Srinagar. Since my childhood, I have seen a legacy of Sufi saints and scholars visiting our home, because of the importance of this place as a centre of Tassawuf. It is since my childhood that Tassawuf became a part of my life and thinking about the being of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) and his companions became the priority of my existence.
Besides formal education from school and college, the main subjects of my study have been Tassawuf, Islamic literature, world and Islamic history.
KR:And what about your education?
SM:I was an average student but was always fascinated by religious teachings and its affairs. From an early age, I was very much interested in knowing about Islamic and world history. I did my matriculation from DAV school and later joined Amar Singh College, Srinagar. While I was in college, my father expired and I had to discontinue my studies for some time.
My father was a government employee, so I was adjusted against his post in Textile department, Government of India. I completed my graduation later on as a private candidate. But simultaneously I continued my research about world and Islamic history and Tassawuf. There were about 15000 books on different subjects already at my home which made my research easy. I also learnt Kashmiri, Arabic, Urdu, Persian and English languages from my childhood. I wrote my first book Aakhiri Tammana (the Last hope) at the age of 19, which details about my college life. I wrote another book, Kashmir Islam Key Saye Mien (Kashmir under the Shadow of Islam), based on history of Sufism in Kashmir.
Later on, I availed education leave and went for a course in art and craft at JD college, Delhi. Though I read extensively, the urge to know more kept me discontented. I always had questions which books and Moulvis could never answer. The search for truth made me restless until I met a Sufi saint Sultan Sahib Budusgami. Under his guidance, I found peace and solace. I left the course and became his Mureed (disciple). While I spent the days at office and dedicated my nights to serve my Peer. He made me realize who I was, what my purpose of being was, and made me understand the beginning and end of this life. I forgot everything I had read and automatically became Naatkhwan (writing and reading poetry in the praise of Prophet). I have also compiled the Naats written by me in a form of book named Hayaatan Nabi (SAW). My Peer exposed me to the secrets that I can never narrate.
KR: What is Tassawuf to you?
SM: Some people think Tassawuf means solitude. There is nothing like confining yourself to a jungle and remain cut off from the society in Tassawuf. It simply means complete submission to Allah, nothing more or less than that. In Sufism there is no scope for ego. Arrogance of any sort has no scope in the presence of the Almighty Allah and Prophet (SAW). My journey towards Allah-the most exalted starts only when I suppress my ego. Submission to Allah’s will and suppressing ones desires is what defines Sufism. Following the commandments of Allah is of supreme importance and priority. If there is an iota of doubt in the Allah’s ability (May Allah forbid) to run and command this Universe, then you are decieving no one but your own self.
In order to recognize Allah, we have to recognize his Prophet (SAW) first.
He (SAW) is Rehber (one who shows the path to salvation) of all. Similarly, after Prophet (SAW) there are great men who show you ways to get close to the Prophet (SAW) and ultimately to Allah. Then you become Allah-wala (one who propagates and follows the teachings of Allah). The real Allah-wala. When you reach that stage your eyes and heart are purified of worldly desires and become Nur (light). And in this stage whatever you ask of Allah, He hardly rejects it.
KR: There are different Silsilas (legacies) in Tassawuf. Isn’t it?
SM: There are total 23 Silsilas in Tassawuf. One each from Hazrat Abu Baqar Sideeq (RA), Hazrat Omar Farooq (RA), Hazrat Usman (RA) and Harat Owaise Qarni (RA) and 17 from Hazrat Ali (RA). The silsilas are like the syllabus of any subject taught in an educational institute. In Roohaniyat (spiritual studies) or Tassuwuf, the syllabus details about the ways in which a person can be guided. They are all subjects derived from Quran and the teachings of Prophet (SAW). These differ in practice only. If you read any book, it is not necessary that you will be able to inherit its teachings. In Sufism you put the things in practice to take human vices out of the being. The Rehber initially takes a person into darkness of his misdeeds where he finds no one coming to his rescue. Then he supplicates before Allah and seeks help from Him only. He then trusts completely in Allah. There is Zahiri (outward), Batinyee (inward) and practical counseling in every Silsila. I myself belong to Qubrivi silsila as Shah-e-Hamdan also belonged to the same. My first Rehber Sultan Sahib Badusgami also belonged to the same legacy. He also had connection with Mehboob-ul- Aalam. My second Rehber, Shiekh Hassan, belonged to Suharvardi Silsila, he had connection with Hazrat Gosul Azam, Shiekh Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani (RA), who belonged to Qadri silsila. So I actually attained education of Tassawuf from four Silsilas — Qubrivi, Qadri, Suharvardi and another hidden Owaisi Silsila.
KR: Does spirituality exist in other religions also?
SM: That is not spirituality. That is magic or an art. That is not the Sufi philosophy. Spirituality is only to which Prophet Mohammad (SAW) is a master. Beyond that everything is magic.
KR: Kashmir is known as valley of saints because of its rich spiritual culture in past. Do you think it has declined now?
SM: Spirituality never sees a decline. It may not be visible but there are people who uphold its legacy even now. They do it discreetly. The proponents of Sufism are plenty in number but there actions are hidden. Kashmir is still the valley of great saints and Sada’ats and it will always remain so.
KR: Khanqahs and shrines are believed to have been the centers of spiritual studies in Kashmir. Do you think the practice still exists?
SM: What was Khanqah-e-Molla before advent of Islam in Kashmir? It was a temple of Shah Koul. There were 313 idols in it. When Shah Hamdan (RA) propagated Islam here, the Muslims themselves converted it into Masjid. Hazrat Mir Mohammad Hamdani made it a Khanqah where he gave spiritual guidance to people for a long time producing great Sufi saints in Kashmir. He also constructed 19 Khanqahs at other places of Kashmir. It is a place where a disciple receives training from his master while Mosques are meant for Salah (Nimaz). The Dastgeer Sahib’s shrine at Khanyar was constructed in 1030 by Shah Sakhi Mohammad Tarmizi. At that time the governor of Kashmir told him that there are ghosts inside khanqah but Shah Sahib entered into it chanting Kibriyat Sharief and all the ghosts surrendered. He had holy relic of Shikeh Abdul Qadir Jeelani (RA) with him which he placed there and converted it into a Khanqah to give spiritual guidance to the people there. After his death it remained there for long time. But now these places are no longer being used for such purposes.
KR: It is being alleged that people visiting shrines commit Shirk (sin of practising idolatry or polytheism) by kneeling and revolving around the graves of the saints. What do you think about it?
SM: Sajda (kneeling) is allowed before the Allah only while Tawaf (revolving) is permitted only around the holy Kaaba. Prophet (SAW) has allowed visiting graveyards which reminds a person of his ultimate and final destination. Sufis don’t do Sajda or Tawaf of graves. But, we believe that Allah’s blessings are showered within the radius of 8 km of the grave belonging to any saint. We only want to be part of it. Also, I believe that a Muslim can never do shirk. How can one be a mushrik (one who makes partners to Allah) after understanding the meaning of Kalimah that there is no God, but Allah and Prophet Mohammad (SAW) is his prophet? One who believes in the Kalimah, no power in the world can declare him Mushrik.
KR: You said that great saints still exist in Kashmir. Why don’t they come out and guide Muslims out of the mess they are in nowadays.
SM: They are waiting for the permission of Allah. Whatever is going on in Kashmir is actually punishment by Allah for our bad deeds. Nothing will change unless people don’t repent, ask for forgiveness of Allah and bring a change in themselves. Everything happens with the will of Allah. Kashmiris were simple people. The men and women did not know each other. People did not know much of Quran or religious teachings, but they had a pure faith on Allah. Now adulteration has ruined this nation. If it is not punishment then what else is it? We will not be forgiven unless we will not beg before Allah.
KR: How many people in Kashmir are striving to find a spiritual master to achieve guidance?
SM: Not many. Even if people start to look for a Rehber, they don’t endure for long. People follow easy ways, and give up easily upon facing hardships.
KR: Muslims are in crisis. People are working on various fronts like Tableeg, Jihad and imparting religious education besides following the line of Tassawuf to bail out the Ummah out of this mess. What method do you suggest will be more effective in dealing with the present day situation?
SM: Spirituality is only one of the part of Islam. There are others like Tableeg (propagation), Jihad (strive in the way of Allah) and Ishayat-e-Din. Following only one thing will not help. Muslims have to do all these things together. And unless we are not ready to change ourselves, the sermons will not help. But I believe that Mujahid, Aalim, Muballig, everyone should have spiritual masters to put them on a right track. History is full of incidents where Muslims have dominated again and again after being decimated and oppressed.
KR: You suggest that just a guide’s role by a spiritual leader or saint is enough to resolve all issues that Muslims are facing. Don’t you think that personal involvement in struggle against falsehood is what is much needed of these spiritual masters?
SM: It is not like that. As soon as they will get a call from Allah and Prophet (SAW), they will offer their heads. They are only waiting for Allah’s direction. At this point in time, everyone is waiting for Imam Mehdi to arrive.
KR: Does it mean that there is no direction from Allah as of now?
SM: Actually, we are not ready to change. Allah gives direction anytime and every time. All we need is to change ourselves. First, we have to become worth of doing something for Allah. If you and I are not able to banish the idols out of our hearts, how can we lead and fix the Ummah.
KR: Some people say that music has a role in Sufism when it is prohibited in Islam. What are your thoughts?
SM: When Prophet Mohammad (SAW) migrated from Makkah to Madina, the people greeted him by beating dhuf (drums) and He (SAW) did not stop them. So in Islam only a particular drum called dhuf is allowed. In Tassawuf, we believe in music but which is produced by the chords of ones heart while performing Zikr (remembrance of Allah). We say hymns in praise of Allah and Prophet (SAW) in particular tones which have different effects. If any person does not understand something through words, we make him explain by hymns and Naats. However, Khawaja Moindeen Chesti (RA) and few others would use dhuf sometimes while reciting Naats. But the music used in movies, songs, which attracts people towards immoral activities, is not allowed in Islam or spirituality.
KR: Propagation of Islamic teachings is the duty of every Muslim. What is your modus operandi?
SM:I have laid the foundation of an international organization, Mohsin-ul-Aalameen, that works on a small aspect of Prophet’s (SAW) life i.e service to the mankind. It has members all over the world who, every month, take leave for two days from their routine work and visit hospitals and old age homes to help the people in need. My preamble is to bring smile on any human face which, I believe, is equivalent to the worship of one hundred years.
Besides, we conduct seminars, conferences and lectures on different aspects of Islam and spirituality all over the world. It does influence people. Many people in different countries have reverted to Islam in front of me. We don’t compel them or thrust anything upon them. But the life’s misery brings them towards Islam.
Once in US, a rich businessman came to me and told me that he had a property worth 300 million dollars, but couldn’t sleep during the nights. He asked me if I could help him anyway. I told him to take a leave from his business for a month and work as a laborer in his own factory. He did so and due to hard labor during days, got tired and slept well during the nights. He was impressed. He told me that he does not need money, he needed solace and peace of mind. So this way people have been influenced. Life is successful if we are able to work on and implement only a part of the teachings of our beloved Prophet (SAW) effectively.

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