Our Shah-i-Hamadan (RA)

Only a profound understanding of an issue, ideology, event or a person can lead to draw genuine conclusions otherwise human mind is susceptible to error, thereby leading to distortion of facts, generating misunderstanding and hence, creating confusions, chaos, dispute and eventually, conflict.

Issues related to a religion or ideology, directly affect the society and engage people on diverse fronts to establish their own standpoints rather than the truth with the ensuing results of abuses, disputes and violence among the opposing factions that spread with an alarming speed in the current day age of social-media, compromising the peace and harmony of the society. Whenever, such incidents begin to circulate in the society, it is an obligation of the educated folk to take the front and try to establish facts based on truth so as to spare the society from any possible danger of communal hatred and violence.

In the recent, widely circulated speech of a Salafi cleric (Manzoor Ah.) regarding Shah-i- Hamadan – the prime figure behind the peaceful propagation of Islam as well as the architect of Islamic culture in Kashmir – an expected but enormous level of anguish could be felt all across the valley. Circulated widely on different social media platforms, this video is so far the most trending stuff on internet in Kashmir with mixed reactions from the viewers ranging from a demand of public apology to abuses, castigation and some academic queries and responses to the statements of the cleric. It is in this connection, that I felt it an obligation (an a responsible member of the society) to offer a brief biographical sketch of Shah-i- Hamadan in an academic framework.

Known as Shah-i- Hamadan, Amīr-i-Kabīr, ‘Alī Thanī and Bānī-i Musalmānī dar Kashmir, Mir Sayyid ‘Ali ibn Shihab al-Din al-Hamadānī, was born on 12th of Rajab 714 A.H./ 22nd of October 1314 C.E. in Hamadan (a suburb in Iran). He belonged to an erudite Sayyid family with Fatimah (an embodiment of piety and virtue) as his mother and Sayyid Shihab al-Dīn, a Government official, his father. In his, Khulāṣat Al-Manāqib, Ja‘far Badakhshī (a disciple and immediate biographer of Shah-i Hamadan), reports that Amīr-i-Kabīr’s received his early education from his maternal uncle Sayyid ‘Alā Al-Dīn, a renowned Sufi and scholar of his age and later attained expertise in the extant religious and spiritual sciences of the age.

Badakhshi quotes Shah-i Hamadan, saying that I had a maternal uncle, his name was Sayyid ‘Ala’u-Dīn and he was among devotees of Allah. I memorized the Qur’ān through his good efforts and I did not interfere in the matters of my father because he was a Ḥakim (official) in Hamadan and was more disposed towards Salāṭīn and rulers.” As per the custom of the time, Shah-i- Hamadan gained expertise in Quranic and Hadith sciences, Fiqh/Jurisprudence, Taṣawwuf, Arabic and Persian languages, logic, philosophy and other extant sciences.

As per Badakhshi, Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani was guided by the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) in a reverie to seek discipleship of Shaykh Maḥmud Muzdaqani – a renowned Spiritual master and disciple of Shaykh ‘Ala al-Dawla Simnani, the legendary Kubrawi Sufi master–and attain spiritual felicity. Under Muzdaqani’s supervision, Shah-i- Hamadan traversed the Islamic esoteric path (Tariqah/Tasawwuf) successfully after following a rigorous self-discipline to subdue the baser-self and attain spiritual enlightenment. He further pursued the spiritual guidance from the towering scholars and Sufis of the age like Shaykh ‘Ala al-Dawla Simnani, Shaykh Najm al-Din ADkani, Shaykh Ali Dosti and Akhi Mohammad Dahistani. Shah-i- Hamadan reiterates that, I spent six years in complete solitude, without talking about the temporal affairs and every day after completing the morning Dhikr, I was ordered to plough the lands.

Following the completion of formal religious education and spiritual training , Shah-i- Hamadan was directed by his master to travel, which he continued for a period of about twenty-one years. On his sojourns at different places, he received abundant treasures of religious and spiritual knowledge from a number of renowned Sufis and scholars. Besides, he compiled many invaluable treatises that deal with the sciences of Shari‘ah and Tariqah and their allied fields. As per Badakhshī, Shah-i- Hamadan visited Badakhshan, Yazd, Syria, Baghdad, Rum, Muzdaqan, Khatlan, Balkh, Yemen, Transoxiana, some parts of India and Ceylon. Prior to his visit to Kashmir, Shah-i- Hamadan had sent two of his cousins Sayyid Tāj Al-Dīn and Sayyid Ḥussaīn Simnani (Shrine in Kulgam) to Kashmir to explore the religious atmosphere of that country. Later he entered the valley along with a large number of disciples usually Sayyids (as even today their tombs/graves can be located in every nook of the valley locally termed as “Sad saeb/the blessed Sayyid”). Shah-i- Hamadan is said to have visited Kashmir in the reign rule of sultan Quṭb al-Din in 781 A.H/1379 C.E and visited third time Kashmir in 785 A.H/1383 C.E.

Although, scholars are at variance in his number and timing of visits, as some argue of only one or two visits and some authors consider his three visits to the valley (1372, 1379 and 1385). On his final visit, when he decided to leave Kashmir, after a brief stay, Sultan Qutb al-Din requested him to stay in Kashmir permanently, but Shah-i- Hamadan overturned his request and left one of his disciples Mulla Muḥammad Qari in Kashmir as his vicegerent. On his way back from Kashmir, his health deteriorated and he breathed his last at Pakhli on 6th of Dhu’l Ḥijjah in 785 AH. From Pakhli, his coffin was taken to Khatlan and was buried there in 786 A.H.

Shah-i- Hamadan was a dedicated preacher, an industrious and prolific writer, a spiritual guide par excellence and a well acclaimed Islamic scholar (‘Alim). At least 170 works dealing with simple as well as subtle themes with religious, temporal and spiritual relevance. His prominent works included, Sharḥ-i Asma’u Allah, Sharaḥ Qaṣidah Khumriyah, Sharaḥ Fuṣus al-Ḥikam, Kitab al-Asrar al-Nuqṭah, and Dhakhirat Al-Muluk, Awrad-i Fathiyyah, a number of Maktubat (Letters) and a dozen of Rasa’il/epistles –all testifying his unparalleled academic, intellectual and spiritual merit as well as a profound understanding of Islam and its multidimensional aspects.

It may be too early to comment upon the contribution of the personalities like Shah-i Hamadan and Khwaja Mu‘in al-Din Chisti Ajmeri before actually exploring their industrious life and works dedicated to the cause of spreading the message of peace, Islam. Dozens of years required with a scholarly acumen to re-view the writings of Shah-i- Hamadan to explore the hidden treasures of knowledge and explaining them to the modern mind for a greater use.

Dr. Mohammad Irfan Shah

News Desk

News Desk staff at The Kashmir Radar. Posting unbiased news as we believe in pure journalism!

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