AbstractKashmir since the establishment of Muslim rule had
remained an important Centre of Sufism. It acquired fame as
Raeshwar (valley of Rishis). Among the sufi saints of Medieval
Kashmir, Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi occupies an important place. He
was a man of international repute for his learning, scholarship
and piety. The present paper throws a brief light on the life and
times of Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi and his literary contribution and
apart from that the paper discusses in detail the role of sufis
particularly Shaikh’s role in the Mughal conquest of Kashmir.

Index Terms– Conquest, Kashmir, Learning, Mughal, Poet,
Shaikh, Sufism,
he history of Sufism in Kashmir is spread over a long period
of time starting from Bulbul Shah to the Sufi poets of
modern age. Kashmir is known as
Reshwaer (Valley of Rishis).
Sufi saints had always been the inspiring people of Kashmir by
their subtle mystical insights. Among the well-known sufi saints
of Kashmir, Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi has been the distinguished
figure not only among his contemporaries but among all the Sufis
of his age. He was displayed with the accomplishments of
learning and the perfect qualities which distinguished him as a
pious man.
1 Modern scholars call him ‘Shaikh-ul-Islam.’2 He
was a man of international reputation for his piety, scholarship
and learning. He had occupied an important place in the history
of Kashmir and during the time Akbar he was given the title
Haji Sani’.3
Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi was the most prominent Sufi saints of
sixteenth century belonging to the Kubarwiya order.
4 The
Kubarwiya order had its remarkable influence on the different
aspects of the life of Kashmiris. People in the various walks of
life used to practice Sufi-value system including
sama as
ascribed by this famous order and work for the betterment of
humanity irrespective of any consideration. haikh Yaqub Sarfi belonged to the Ganai family of
Kashmir. He was born in 928 A.H/ 1521 A.D in Srinagar.
P4F5P His
father’s name was Shaikh Hassan Ganai
P5F6P who belonged to the
Asami clan. The Asami clan traces its descent from Asim, A son
of Caliph Umar (PBUH) and it was because of this he was also
called as Asmi.
زا سفاد عاسم کہ آں نيک خو
بده ابن فاروق اعظم نِکو
گنائی لقب داشت ابن عاصمی
کشاده خدايش در
ِ گنائی است دانا بہ عرف ديار
بہ عثمان گنائی شداد يار غار
و کشمير مثلش کسے بر نخواست
زو صفش مقصر فہوم رسا است
Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi studied under Mulla Aini who came to
Kashmir from Sialkot and the later breathed here the last and is
buried in the graveyard of Shaikh Bahauddin Ganjbaksh. Mulla
Aini was the pupil of the great Mulla Abdur Rahman jami (Jam
is a place in Herat). Mulla Aini, on seeing the intelligence and
scholarly qualities of Shaikh and power to acquire the knowledge
prophesied that Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi would rise to the place of
Jami due to his literary imminence and will acquire the fame as
‘Jami Sani’ (second jami).
P7F8P About which Shaikh Yaqub has
himself given a clue in one of his verse
بعد خسرو بود جامی بلبل باغ سخن
کيست جز صرفی کنوں آں مرغ خوشخواں راعوض
After Mulla Aini, Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi studied under Mulla
Basir Khan Khandbhavani.
P9F10P Thereafter Sarfi Travelled
throughout the world to quench his thirst for acquiring
knowledge. He visited the places like Sialkot, Lahore, Kabul,
Samarqand, Mashhad, Mecca, Medina etc.
Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi became the spiritual successor of the
great master Shaikh Hussain of Khawarizm and acquired honour by performing the pilgrimages to the two great holy places of
Islam (Mecca and Medina) twice in his life.12 He received from
Shaikh Ibn Hajar a license to give instructions in the traditions of
Muhammad (PBUH) and clad in the robes of a Shaikh. He
travelled much and visited most of the Shaikhs of Arabia and
Persia and profited much by his intercourse with them and
received the authority to assume prerogatives of a religious
teacher and spiritual guide and as such he had many disciples
both in Hindustan and Kashmir.13 Shaikh also got benefited by
his intercourse with the famous sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chasti of
Fatehpur Sikri. They both spent a lot of time together during the
time of Hajj which was the last Hajj of Shaikh Salim Chasti.
They both exchanged the views of their respective orders. Sheikh
Salim taught him the teachings of Chasti order and learnt from
him the teachings of Kubarwiya order.14 Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi was
also well versed with the writings of Ibn-ul-Arabi.
Apart from worldly knowledge, Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi was deeply
interested in the spiritual knowledge and for this; he spent a lot of
time in the Khankah of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani in Srinagar.P14F15P In
the Khankah, Mir Syed Ali Hamdani appeared in his dream and
asked him to go to Khawarizm and visit Makhdoom Ali Shaikh
Kamaluddin Hussain Khawarizmi. After this Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi
left for Khawarizm via Sialkot, Lahore and Kabul and presented
himself before Sheikh Khawarizmi. Sheikh Khawarizm was one
of the great sufi saints of Kubarwiya order. He received Sheikh
Yaqub Sarfi with great respect and assigned him the work to
bring wood for the langarkhana of Khankah.P15F16P After some time
Sheikh Khawarizmi gave him the permission to return back to
Kashmir and perform the religious duties and was asked to look
after his parents.P16F17P After some time he revisited Khawarizm for
the second time and from there he went to Meshhad, Khotan,
Mecca and Medina. From Mecca, he received sannad and the
necessary license to give instructions in the traditions of Hadith
from Sheikh ibn Hajjar Makki who was a renowned Sheikh and
the great teacher of Hadith.P17F18P Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi also visited
many of the cities of Hindustan like Ahmedabad, Surat etc.
where he met many of the sufi saints and obtained spiritual
knowledge from them about which he wrote.P18F19P
احمد آباد و بہر گوشہ نگارے ديگر نتواں يافت بايں حسن ديارے ديگر
کارايں خلق ہمہ عاشقی و معشوقی است کس دريں شہر نديدم بکارے ديگر
گرچہ ايں شہر پرازما ہو شان است ولے جز ابوالفتح نخواہيم نگارے ديگر
گرچہ فارغ از يا ريم آں بے پروا حاہ ل کہ شوم مائيل يارے ديگر
It is necessary to mention that apart from Sheikh Salim,
many other Sufis of Hindustan were closely associated with Sarfi
and foremost among them are Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi also
known as Mujaddid Alfi Sani (reformer of the second
millennium). He studied the traditions of Prophet and Tafsir and

also the teachings of Kubarwiya order from Sheikh Yaqub
Shaikh was a great sufi of his age. At the age of just seven,
Shaikh memorized the whole Quran.
P20F21P Abul Fazl also considers
him as the greatest authority on religious matters
P21F22P He was also a
great poet of his age. He himself writes in his
Diwan that he was
just eight years of age when he started writing poetry in
چودر سال ہشتم نہاد دم قدم
زطبعم رواں گشت شعر عجم
Abul Fazl praised him and says that he was well aquanted
with all branches of poetry.
P23F24P He wrote with the pen name of
P24F25P Mulla Abdul Qadir Badauni who was a close associate
of Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi praised him and says that he was among
the great personalities of the age. He was illustrious and relied
upon as an authority on all brancehes of learning which are
treated of in Arabic, such as Quranic commentaries, the
traditions of Prophet and Sufism. He was an authorized religious
P25F26P When Sarfi departed from Lahore to Kashmir, He wrote
a letter to Badauni from the other side of the river Ravi in which
Sheikh writes, “I hope you will not entirely efface the memory of
me from the margin of your heart and that you will adopt the
graceful habit of remembering the absent. If you should have any
need of Kashmiri paper for rough notes and drafts, I hope that
you will inform me of the fact so that I may send you from
Kashmir, the rough copy of my commentaries, the writing of
which can be washed from the paper with water so completely
that no traces of ink will remain, as you yourself have seen.”
On reaching Kashmir, Sheikh wrote another letter to Badauni
which was his last letter to him. In this letter Sheikh wrote, “I
hope that whenever you sit in Nawab Faizi’s apartment of
fragrant grass (
khas khana) on the floor, with its matting cooler
than the breezes of Kashmir, in the midday heat of summer,
drinking the water which, though originally warm, has been
cooled with ice and listening to sublime talk and witty
conversation, you will think of me, the captive of the hardships
of disappointment.”
It is an established fact that Kashmir has never been able to
produce a man, a religious scholar, a sufi saint or a poet who can
equal the place of Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi in History. He possessed a
vast worldly and spiritual knowledge and it was because of this
he is famous as
‘Jami al Kalimat Souri wal Masnavi’.P28F29P
Although, he was not involved in worldly pleasures, yet the
rulers and their nobles had respect for him. They used to listen to
his advises and practice over it.
P29F30P Humaiyun and Akbar had a
wonderful belief on him and conferred distinction on him by

dmitting him to the honour of their society, regarded him with
gracious favour, so that he was held in high estimation and much
honoured. He was generous and open handed beyond anything
that can be imagined of his contemporaries.
The number of literary works by Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi is not
known and neither all of them are available. Some of the famous
works include-
Sawati-ul-Ilham (it is an Arabic taqriz/
introduction to Faizi’s Tafsir-ul-Quran), completed a Khamsa,32
Manasik-i-Hajj,33 Sharah-Sahih al Bukhari34, Kunz-al-Jawahir,
Risala e Azkar.
35 Apart from that Sheikh Yaqub Safri is also
credited with a number of works like
Diwan-i-Sarfi36, Treatises
on the art of composing engimas and also Quatrains (
on the mysticism of sufi with a
Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi occupied an important place in the
political history of Kashmir. He was the pivotal figure behind the
Mughal conquest of Kashmir. In 1557, when Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi
was thirty-five, the Shah Miri dynasty was overthrown by the
Chaks. The Chaks traced their origins to Baltistan. Being from
outside Kashmir, they were not particularly concerned about the
welfare of the people of Kashmir. The Chak rulers persecuted the
Sunni subjects. This caused several Sunni scholars to leave
Kashmir and seek shelter elsewhere.
38 As an important Sunni
leader and scholar, Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi is said to have been a
thorn in the Sultan’s flesh, and therefore, a conspiracy was
plotted to have him killed. When the Shaikh heard about the
conspiracy, he left Kashmir, and went on a long journey that took
him to Samarqand, Iran and then finally to the holy cities of
Mecca and Medina, where he spent several months in the
company of accomplished Islamic scholars, studying various
Quranic commentaries (
tafasir) and the Traditions of the Prophet
hadith). When he finally returned to Kashmir, the political
situation was grim, with the Sunnis labouring under considerable
oppression under Chak rule. Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi tried his best to
normalize the situation but that was never possible under those
circumstances. A royal decree was issued ordering that
callto prayer should be offered in shia manner and the name of
Hazrat Ali should be mentioned. Qazi Musa was killed for not
mentioning the name of Hazrat Ali in the callto prayer (
azan) and
his body was tied to the tail of an elephant and dragged through
the streets of Srinagar. This provoked the Sunnis of the town,
who rose up in protest. In order to put an end to the persecution
of the Sunnis, Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi and a group of his companions

Baba Daud Khaki, Baba Ismail Anchari and Baba Mehdi
Suharwardi went to the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar at
Agra, requesting him to send an army to Kashmir and overthrow
the Chak rule.
39 In their audience with Akbar, Shaikh Yaqub
Sarfi and his companions insisted that after Akbar took over the
administration of Kashmir, he should ensure full freedom of
religion to all its people; That there should be no interference
with local commerce and trade; That no Kashmiri should be
enslaved; That the practice of beggar or compulsory labour be
abolished and that those who had been associated with the Chak
regime should be divested of their powers.
40 Akbar gave his
consent to these conditions, and then dispatched an army under
Mirza Shah Rukh against Chak ruler, in December 1585.
Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi himself accompanied this army. 42 The
Mughal invasion was more a reaction in anger than a seriously
thought-out plan, neither the season was suitable nor was the
internal conditions suitable for launching such an attack. The
leaders of the army had urge to wait for some months till the
roads are cleared of snow and should enter Kashmir through
Bhimber which was relatively a better route but Akber in haste
ordered them to march through the Pakhli route.
43 The Chaks
fought valiantly and defeated the Mughals. Then, in 1586, Akbar
sent a larger army to Kashmir, under Mirza Qasim Khan, which
inflicted a decisive defeat on the Chaks, and Yaqub Shah Chak
was forced to flee to Kishtwar, where he died in 1592. In this
way, the last independent Kashmiri dynasty came to an end, and
Kashmir was made a part of the Mughal Empire.
With the Mughal takeover of Kashmir, some Sunnis are said to
have launched stern reprisals against the Shi’as. Shaikh Yaqub
Sarfi is said to have bitterly protested against this, and is credited
with having made efforts to restore peace and communal
Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi occupies a place of prominence in the
history of Medieval Kashmir. He had acquired international
reputation for his learning, scholarship and piety. He was
displayed with the accomplishments of learning and perfect
qualities that distinguish him as the greatest sufi of his age. He
was the greatest authority of religious matters. He traveled
throughout the world to quench his thirst for knowledge. He was
the author of many sublime and beautiful works including

Khamsa, Commentaries of Quran and Hadith, Treatises,
Quatrains etc. He devoted his life to normalize the sectarian
tensions between the Shias and Sunnis of Kashmir. When the
situation was out of control he himself along with his
companions went to the court of Akbar and assured him of
necessary support for the invasion of Kashmir and when Akbar

dispatched the army Shaikh accompanied and guided them.
Above all Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi was a man for which Kashmir
feels proud. Though he did not left behind his successor because
his only son ‘Muhammad Yousuf’ died in infancy, yet Shaikh
had Khalifas/disciples throughout India and Kashmir like Mir
Muhammad Khalifa, Shah Qasim Hakkani, Arif Billah,
Habibullah Naushahri
44 etc. He died at the age of seventy- five in
1594 AD, in Srinagar. The tomb of Shaik Yaqub Sarfi attracts
visitors and is known as
from:- Sameer Ahmad Sofi
Research Scholar, CAS, Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh

International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 6, Issue 2, February 2016

1 Abdul Qadir Badauni, Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh, Vol. III (tr. W.
Haig), Patna, 1973, p. 200.

2 Peerzada Muhammad Tayyab Hussain Kashmiri, Auliya e
, Nazir Publishers, Lahore, 1988, p. 38
3 Auliya e Kashmir, op. cit., p. 38
4 A.Q.Rafiqi, Sufism in Kashmir from the Fourteenth to the
sixteenth Century
, Bharatiya Publishing House, Delhi, 1984, p.

5Khawaja M. Azam Diddamari, Wakiat-i-Kashmir (Urdu
translation by Hameed Yazdani), Srinagar, 1998, p. 224

6The literal meaning of Ganai is learned man, His family was
since centuries well learned and that is why they came to be
known as Ganai, for details, see, Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi,
Dewan-iSarfi, With an introduction by Mir Habibullah Kamli,
S.P.College Library, Srinagar, (1387 A.H), p. 2.

7 Ibid
8Diddamari, op. cit., p. 224; Dewan-i-Sarfi, op. cit., p.3;
Dewan-i-Sarfi, op. cit., p. 3
10Diddamari, op. cit., p. 224; Dewan-i-Sarfi, op. cit., p.3;
Dewan-i-Sarfi, op. cit., p.3; G.M.D Sufi, Kashir : Being A
History of Kashmir from Earliest Times to Our Own,
p. 360
12 Diddamari, op. cit., p. 224
13 Badauni, Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh, III volumes, Vol. III,
(translated and edited by Sir W. Haig), Academica Asiatica,
Patna, 1973, p. 200

Dewan-i-Sarfi, op. cit., p. 4.
Dewan-i-Sarfi, op. cit., p. 4.
16 Diddamari, op. cit., p. 224; Dewan-i-Sarfi, op. cit.,p. 4.
17 Diddamari, op. cit, p. 225
18 For details see, Dewan-i-Sarfi, op. cit., p. 4.
19 Ibid, p. 5.
Dewan-i-Sarfi, op. cit., p. 5
21 Ibid, p. 3; Diddamari, op. cit., p. 224
22 Abul Fazl, op. cit., Ain –i-Akbari, III Volumes, Vol. I, (tr.
Blochman), Low Price Publications, Calcutta, 2011, p. 191

Dewan-i-Sarfi, op. cit., p. 3
24 Ain-i-Akbari, vol,I, op. cit., p. 651
25 Badauni, op. cit., p. 200
26 Ibid
27 Badauni, Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh, p. 202.
28 Ibid, p. 203
Dewan-i-Sarfi, op. cit., p. 6.
30 Ibid
31 Badauni, op. cit., p. 201.
32 Khamsa is a series of five Masnavis also known as Panj-Gunj
which includes
Masalik ul Akhyar, Wamiq-i-Uzra, LailaMajnun, Makhaz un Nabi and Muqamat Murshid. These five
works were written in imitation of
Khamsa-i-Nizami Jami),
See Badauni, Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh, p. 200 n., Diddamari,
op. cit.,p. 226.

33 Manasik-i-Hajj, It is written in Arabic prose and explains the
rules and regulations of the pilgrimage.

34 It is a Persian commentary in prose on the Sahih-al-Bukhari of
Muhammad bin Ismail Bukhari.

35 This work is devoted to the importance of the Zikr and to the
legality of
36 It is a collection of Ghazals and Ruba’iyat
37 For details see Dewan-i-Sarfi, p. 6
38 Diddamari, op. cit., p. 225
39 Auliya-e-Kashmir, op. cit., p. 39; see also P.N.K.Bamzai, A
History of Kashmir: Political, Social and Cultural,
1962, p. 346

40 P.N.K.Bamzai, Op. Cit., 353
41 Abul Fazl, Ain-i-Akbari, Vol. I, (Blochman), op. cit., p. 479.
42 Abul Fazl. Akbarnama, vol. III, (tr. H. Beveridge), Low price
Publications, delhi, 1939, p. 715

43 Abul Fazl. Akbarnama, vol. III, op. cit., pp. 722-23


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s