By Muneer Ahmad Magry
May 16, 2019
According to Sir Walter Lawrence, the first Settlement commissioner of Kashmir and the author of ‘The Valley of Kashmir’; "The valley is an emerald set in pearls; a land of lakes, clear streams, green turf, magnificent trees and mighty mountains where the air is cool, and the water sweet, where men are strong, and women vie with the soil in fruitfulness.”
Even the great Kalidasa said “The place is more beautiful than heaven and is the benefactor of supreme bliss and happiness. It seems to me that I am taking a bath in the lake of nectar here.”
One of the famous mystic poets of Kashmir, Lal-Ded, said, “Oh! Fool, right action does not lie in fasting and other ceremonial rites. Oh! Fool, right action does not lie in providing for bodily comfort and ease. In contemplation of the self alone is the right action and right council for you”.
Kashmir has been celebrated in legend, mythology, history and poetry for ages. The very word Kashmir, till not long ago would evoke the mental image of a land of peace, beauty, harmony and learning. This is what makes its trials and travails today much more agonizing.
Throughout ancient times, the breathtakingly beautiful Valley of Kashmir has stood for peaceful contemplation, intellectual advancement and religious diversity coexisting in an atmosphere of tolerance for the most part. In the modern geopolitical era, this same diversity, evident from the blend of Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism in this single state, has made it a center of warfare rather than cultural advancement.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir especially the valley of Kashmir is generally known as “Pir-Vaer” that is the ‘land of saints’. Historically, right from the ancient times Kashmir was inhabited by Rishis and Munnis, and they had nothing to do with the Islamic mysticism or tasawwuf. However, the establishment of Islam in Kashmir in the 14th century was due the efforts of the first Turkistani Sufi Sayyid Abdur Rahman, popularly known as Bulbul Shah.
There is another important shrine associated with Ameer Kabir Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (RA), popularly known as Khanqah-i-Moa’lla, Srinagar which has a great historical and spiritual value. Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (RA), many historians say, played a significant role in spreading Islam and spirituality in Kashmir. Historians agree that Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (RA) was a Persian Sufi of Kubrawi order, also known as Shah-i-Hamadan. He visited Kashmir on three different occasions between 774-785 A.H (roughly 1373-1384). He moved to Kashmir along with his 700 followers referred to as Saadat. This prominent Muslim scholar and Sufi was born in Hamadan and buried in Khatlan. There are also some shrines named after Sufis and Islamic scholars who have never visited Kashmir in a physical sense. One such shrine is built in the memory and respect of Sheikh Syed Abdul QadirJeelani (RA).
Also, Makhdoom Sheikh Hamzah (RA), a Sufi Muslim saint, was born to Baba Usman Raina in Tujar Shareef, a village in Kashmir, in 1494. As a great scholar and mystic, Sheikh Hamzah (RA) immensely contributed in spreading religious and spiritual knowledge in Kashmir. He continued preaching in Srinagar and the city outskirts. Sheikh Hamzah (RA), a hereditary landlord, is also said to have donated land and other property in social service. Another important shrine, Hazratbal Dargah is in Srinagar as well. This is a place where the Holy Hair strands of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) are preserved.
Among the saints and mystics of Kashmir was the famous ‘Lai Ded or Lalleshwari.’ She adopted the ascetic way of life. She was driven to this course partly by the inhuman treatment meted out to her by her in-laws. She gave up her secluded life and became a wandering preacher. Both Hindus and Muslims remember her with great reverence and respect. She pronounced these teachings in the language of the people. She taught the Yoga Philosophy and Saivism. She gave message to the world which is common to all religions, and philosophies. Her religious philosophy portrays elements of Vaishnavism, Saivism and Sufism. She advised her followers to follow the ideas of love and service to humanity, remaining indifferent to praise or censure.
While keeping the historical perspective of Kashmir into consideration, the valley of saints in present day context has gyrated into barbarity. Few days back a dreadful and heart wrenching incident took place in Bandipora, wherein a minor of three years’ of age was horrible raped by some shameless brute. The irony was some local people projected the criminal as a minor so as to save him from being prosecuted under the law of the land. This led to people’s outburst and protests on streets. These protests reminded administration of swift action. Here the point worth mentioning is that, if the rapist is a minor, why the insane analogy is used that projects him as a ‘juvenile’ to evade this horrible sin.
Any soul that sins must die. The culprit must be punished with severity under the ambit of law to put halt in future for such grave incidents. One may feel that ‘sharia law’ could have delivered justice in a jiffy but we have curtailed ourselves from enforcing the same as well. Apart from this unfortunate and highly condemnable act, the memories of Kathua rape incident still send shivers through our spine, where a minor was first abducted and then horrible raped and murdered. As of now the justice still remains a far cry for the victim and her family.
As a society we need a serious introspection. Time has come to show serious concern to stop these bastardly acts that demonize our identity and pose a great threat to our future generations.
Muneer Ahmad Magry is a Research Scholar