Archive for October, 2015

Khatlan and Kashmir: Sharing Pilgrim Tourism, Trade and Culture
File Photo

UNESCO has decided to celebrate the year 2015 as the 700th birth anniversary of Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (R.A). In this connection Seminars, conferences and symposia are being held in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Tajikistan has taken the lead in this regard and recently a scientific symposium on the theme “Mir Syed Ali Hamdani: A Scientist and Thinker” was held at Dushanbe (Tajikistan) from September 5-6, 2015 to commemorate the unparallel contributions of this great scientist, thinker, philosopher, religious leader and a Sufi saint.

The symposium was attended by the scholars from India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, France, America and other Central Asian Republics. I also had the privilege to attend this mega event. The second day of the symposium was held at Kulab (Khatlan). For me, it was an emotional moment as I got an opportunity to visit the mausoleum of Amir Kabir situated right in Kulab again after 2007 when I first visited the shrine to pay my homage to this great saint philosopher.
Khatlan has its own history. It has its glorious past, rich cultural heritage. It is famous for its handicrafts. In the past, it was denoted as a group of   districts of Transoxiana (Mawara-un-Nahr– Beyond the River). There are historical relations between Khatlan and Kashmir. At present, Khatlan is a province of Tajikistan. Its capital is Auratipa, famous for its handicrafts; especially dying of cloths, same as what is reflected in the pictures of yore of the dying centers around Zainakadal, Srinagar.
Kulab, which is mentioned in the history as Khatlan, is at present a district of Khatlan province and is 240 Kms away from Dushanbeh, west of Tajikistan. Kulab is a city center of the district. The meaning   of the   word Kulab is (kul = stream; Aab = water), therefore a river and a source of water. Both words i.e kul and Aab is familiar with Kashmiri diction and are frequently used by Kashmiris. It is out of context to deliberate upon the geographical landscape of Kulab and Khatlan. However, it is worth mentioning here that in the 8th century Kulab emerged as a destination of a socio-religious, cultural, mystical, literary and scientific center of excellence. Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (R.A) constructed a Khanqah here, where thousands of Sufi saints, Ulema and Mashiakhs would quench their mystical and scientific thirst. The Alishaian was a respectable, noble and ruling family of Kulab. Khawja Ishauqe Khatlani was a prominent member of this ruling clan. Today, this clan of Alishian is known as Dehhai Langar in the district of Momin abad. When Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (R.A) migrated from Hamadan to Khatlan, he took shelter in the family of Alishian. Later on Khawaja Ishauqe Khatlani shunned the worldly desires and did pay his allegiance to Hazrat Amir Kabir to pave the ways of spirituality under his holy guidance. He not only became the renowned disciple of Hazrat Shahi Hamdan (R.A) but married her daughter to him. In the absence of Ali Thani, Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (R.A), Khawaja managed the affairs of the Khanqah and disciples of Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (R.A).
The Kashmiri people have strong desires, feelings, passion, faith, and a special relationship and connection with Kulab, because their benefactor along with his family members is buried there. The mausoleum of Hazrat Shahi Hamdan (R.A) is situated on the right side of a big highway, which passes through the main city. The tomb is located in the center of a garden, which is spread over 3-4 acres of land. The garden has been designed as a recreation cum amusement park. It is full of flowers and different fruit trees. The main gate and the tomb have been built with pink glazed bricks. The three small dooms are covered with gold foils. On the right hand side of the main gate is a museum, where some old Mss., paintings, photos are on display. All the structures are designed by the Iranians. The tomb is of a three vertical shape building having three small rooms just at a distance of 50 feet from the main entrance. On the roof of the main gate the caption “Aaram Ghah-e-Mir Syed Ali Hamdani” (The resting place of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani) is written in bold letters.
The Tajik people have also strong sense of attachment, love and affection with this great personality. They have declared him as a national hero as the picture of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (R.A) is printed on their currency notes. The Tajiks call him as Amir Jan (The Lovable Leader / Guide).
The Khatlan has remained a place of attraction for Kashmiris. There are very old relations between the two regions. These relations were fostered after Mir Hamdani stayed in this region for considerable amount of time after the Amir  and his son Mir Mohammad Hamdani, along with a huge galaxy of learned Say’yeds, Ulema, Mashaikh, Hakims and artisans arrived in Kashmir around 14th century A.D. This laid a strong foundation of a new era of submission of the entire populace to a new faith, Islam, which was coupled with Iranian cultural, intellectual and artistic genius; transforming the socio-religious, linguistic, economic and political scenario of Kashmir into a new form and identity. Persian language became the only means for the propagation of Islam not only the for religious preachers and Ulema but gradually Persian became the means of correspondence, communication and the language of research and scholarship so much so that it not only remained official language for 700 years but produced a large number of poets, prose writers, Ulema and scholars  in different fields of knowledge and science. Mir Syed Ali Hamdani not only made the people of Kashmir well versed with the Islamic-Iranian culture, but also paved a way to give boost to their economy. He introduced arts and crafts that were prevailing in Iran and Central Asia. This is how Allama Iqbal has expressed this reality while paying glorious tributes to Hazrat Shahi Hamdani (R.A). He says:
Khita ra Aan shah darya Aasteen
Dad Ilm- u- sant- u- tahzeeb- u- deen
 Afreed  Aan mard Iran-i –Sagir
ba hunar hai gareeb- u- dilpazeer
(That generous king gave knowledge, trade and religion to the region  (Kashmir),
That man gave birth to little Iran,
with the pleasant and agreeable arts and crafts)
Moreover, Ali Sani Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (R.A) gave an everlasting gift to people of Kashmir in the shape of Awradi Fatheia, the divine allegiance and faith. In short the people of Kashmir are indebted to the offerings and contributions of this kindled spirit. Therefore all Kashmiris in different forms and capacities pay their homage to this great Sufi saint and religious leader who led them from darkness to light. The letters of Hazrat Amir Kabir are an ample proof for his advice to the then rulers of Kashmir; impressing upon them to be kind and generous to their subjects.
To express their inner emotions and feelings, the people of Kashmir during his lifetime visited Kulab. In the beginning, when Islam made its way into Kashmir, Shiekh Suliman Kashmiri and his son Shiekh Ahmad Khuskhawn are among those fortunate people who travelled to Kulab in order to seek guidance from Hazrat Amir Kabir. Shiekh Bahaud-Din Ganjbaksh and Shiekh Suliman Kashmiri are among the disciples of Shah Qasim Khatlnai. Both Sufi saints visited Kulab to get the spiritual education from him. They paid glorious tributes to Hazrat-i- Shah Hamdan (R.A). A renowned Sufi saint, religious leader, poet, prose writer, theologian, philosopher, commentator and ambassador of 10-11th century, Shiekh Yaqoob Sarfi Kashmiri (d. 1003 A.H/1594 A. D) had a great faith towards Shah Hamadan. He was himself among his devotees and has accepted him as his spiritual guide. Maulana Shiekh Yaqoob Sarfi in great regard to Hazrat- I- Amir Kabir confessed himself as a poor and humble servant and by heart and soul kept himself for his service as his gatekeeper. In respect of Salari Ajam, Shiekh Yaqoob Sarfi expressed his gratitude in his writings. During his vast and extensive tour of Iran and Central Asia, Shiekh Yaqoob Sarfi paid homage from the entire nation towards the’ Maimar Taqdeeri Umm’ (the builder of the destiny of nation ) at Kulab.  He himself says:
“Musharaf shud Aanja Faqir Haqir
ba t auf-i- Mazar-i- Amir Kabir
Mazar-i- Pur Anwar syed Ali
ki hastum ba jan Bandai Aan wali.”
(This humble servant became honoured,
 with the circumambulation of the grave of Amir Kabir.
The resting place of Syed Ali is full of lights,
as I am the servant with heart and mind of that saint)
An unmatched disciple of Shiekh Yaqoob Sarfi, Mir Mohammad Roshan spent some years as a Mujavir at the Mazar of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (R.A) and was enlightened by his pure soul. It seems that some Kashmiris while travelling to Khorasan might have visited the Mazar of Hazrat Amir Kabir at Kulab. Late Prof. Shamsud-Din Ahmad during his visit to USSR paid his obeisance at the Mazar. He has written in detail about the resting place of Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (R.A) in his book entitled “Shah- I- Hamdan: life and works”. In 1995, with the endeavors of the head of Shah Hamdan Educational and Cultural Trust, Syed Shabir Hamdani, along with a delegation of eight members, visited Kulab and paid their homage at the Mazar. One of the team members namely Ghulam Ali Bakhshi published a booklet as a travelogue highlighting the different aspects of the Mazar of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (R.A). Moreover, the owner of the valley’s leading and reputed travel agency “Al Hayat Hajj & Omrah travel services”, Wali Waheed arranged a tour package and a five member team visited Kulab in August, 2005.
It is worthwhile to note that the chain of pilgrims, which started in 8th century /14th century, is still in progress and shall continue in future. The government of Tajikistan, by bringing Kulab on the map of pilgrim tourism, has taken a lead in this context. The Government of J&K and Indian government both are well aware of the importance of pilgrim tourism to foster bonds of friendship and revival of these very old relations. Both the governments can take up the matter with Tajik government so that the pilgrims of both the regions freely travel to the pilgrim destination revered by both the people. It will give a boost to tourism sector as well. On the occasion of Two Day International Conferences held by Centre of Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir, Srinagar, the then ambassador of Tajikistan to India, Mr Said Beigh during his meeting with the Governor of the state N.N Vohra had put forth a suggestion of direct flights between Srinagar and Dushanbe. During his visits to the valley, he also held parleys with the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries for revival of historic trade relations.
It is the need of hour that the Ministry of culture, J&K government should take a lead and take into confidence the Govt. of India to give impetus in promoting the pilgrimage tourism, culture and trade relations by facilitating visits of the business communities of both the countries. We can also take into consideration the mutual cultural affinities and undertake joint research projects to promote cultural relations and research on scientific and literary works. The Centre of Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir, Srinagar and Academy of Sciences, Tajikistan could be the co-partners in this endeavor. The Centre of Central Asian Studies and Tajik Academy of Science had in the past created history by publishing jointly the map of Al-khawarazmi. Let us start making joint efforts to prepare a catalogue of the manuscripts about the great personality Hazrat-e-Shah-e- Hamdan.

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Remembering the great saint – Nund Reshi (RA)

Srinagar: As the Valley today observed the Urs of Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani (RA),  popularly known as Nund Reshi, with a special focus on his teachings and the path of peace and harmony, some attention must also go to preservation of relics and sites associated with the Kashmir’s Patron Saint.

No doubt people of the Valley still hold the relics and sites of this Saint in high esteem and reverence, but the kind of institutional care and preservation it deserves is clearly missing.

During his journeys through Valley’s hill and dale, Sheikh Noor-ud-Din (RA) visited several places. But many of the sites associated with the Saint have neither been documented nor are properly maintained.

This wonderful heritage needs to be documented and developed for promotion of the pilgrimage tourism.

The famous sites where the Saint is believed to have spent time in meditation, and which have been neglected include Gufabal-Qaimoh, Tismur  Pattan, Darigam, Hunchapora, Sheek Rani, Akhal, and Rupwan.

Even though the monumental remains of that period still exist at several of these places, but due to human vandalism and official apathy, the relics and sites associated with this Saint have been deteriorating.

Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani (RA), is learnt to have first meditated in an underground cave at Gufabal-Qaimoh in the southern district of Kashmir. He is said to have been 20 when he took refuge in this cave and spent 12 years inside the cave in meditation.

He also planted an Elm tree near the cave. The tree and cave are still found at the site, and people usually visit this site, during Urs days and pray there.

After living in this cave, he said to have searched for more silent and calm places which he could found in dense forests of Pir Panchal and reached Tismur in the same district of Kulgam. Here he spent one more year in meditation.

A miniature stone mortar and pestle are seen outside the Sufi shrine of Tismur and it is believed that the Saint used them in preparing of his food which exclusively consisted of ‘Yopalhak’ and ‘Qaslin-hand’ – wild forest herbs.

Kheejogepora is another important site associated with the Saint. There is a spring attributed to the Saint here and many traditions are related with this spring.

Mukhtamul site is also associated with this Saint. It is near Vecharnag in Srinagar (near Soura). Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani (RA) is said to have spent about six months here on a stone slab in meditation.

It is here that Saint is said to have encountered Yavanmachi, a beautiful dancer who come to the Saint to turn him away from meditation. But it is said that the encounter with Saint transformed her completely and she gave up her life of sex and sleaze and became a pious woman.

Similarly, there are other few Reshi sites which have been forgotten altogether.

Today when while Kashmir is commemorating the Saint’s annual Urs, it is time that both people and the authorities also wake up to the need of preserving the sites, monuments and relics associated with this 14th century Saint and pledge to document and preserve his oral and built heritage. IMG_20151011_084922

Awrade Fat’hea Virtues

Posted: October 2, 2015 by kashmirsufis in Uncategorized

Awrade Fatiha Virtues in urdu

auradi fatiyah eik roohani tohfah