October 21, 2017

Why Madin Sahib Shrine is locked?

Madin Sahib, Zadibal, Srinagar, is a 15th century monument known as ‘Madin Sahib’ named after the tomb and mosque of Sayyid Muhammad Madani who came to India with Timur in 1398 and moved to Kashmir during the reign of Sultan Sikandar Butshikan (1389–1413 CE). He initially stayed in Rainawari after becoming a disciple of Syed Mohammad Hamadani. He later on moved close to Badshah’s Capital Nowshahar, where Budshah built him the Khankhah. He died on 11 Rajab 849 (13 October 1445). Khwaja Baha-Ud-Din (Ganj-Bakhash) lead his funeral prayer.
The monument of Madin sahib comprises of a Mosque and a Tomb. Madin Sahib Masjid was built by Sultan Zain-ul-Abideen (Budshah) in 1448. He named it after his teacher Syed Mohammad Madani, who is also buried to the left of the Masjid.
Syed Mohammad Madani became Madin Saeb for Kashmiris. Madin Sahib’s ( ﻣﺪﯾﻦ ﺻﺎْﺏ ) neighborhoods close to it are Bagh-e-Ali Mardan Khan and Shahudaa (Martyers) Mohallah,Today known as Mohallah Syed Afzal (After a renowed personality Syed Afzal Shah Jalali).The shrine has been closed to visitor from a long time now.
On asking an elderly man the reason of this closure I was narrated the old tale. Somewhere in 1980s, news spread in Srinagar that a miracle had been witnessed at the shrine of Madeen Sahib. People were saying a lot about it. It was heard that the mausoleum’s outer wall was dripping blood. Shias as well as Sunnis started gathering at the place. They did see something. Some said, the spot on the wall seemed liked someone had focused the beam from a laser pointer, a device which were in vogue back then as a source of amusement and harassment. Soon the rioting and violence started. When the violence was over, the mausoleum had been shut for public access.
In 1905, archaeological surveyor W. H. Nicholls (1865-1949), during his pioneering study of Muslim architecture in Kashmir, was the first to notice the uniqueness of the art of this building among all the Muslim monuments in India. Although the architecture and its beauty was documented only in 1905, the place Zadibal is in fact mentioned in one of the earliest western travelogues. Godfrey Thomas Vigne who visited Kashmir in 1835 mentions in his book that Zadibal witnessed rioting in the year 1830 when the place was inhabited by Persian traders. The trigger was Muharram procession (something still now allowed in Srinagar. And the note by Englishman Vigne puts the blame on Shias. A piece of writing that still can be used to incite violence). In the aftermath of the rioting, the Persians who were mainly into Shawl trade and numbered about 200-300, left Kashmir for Iran.

The people of Srinagar and far off places who have spiritual connection to the shrine of Madin Sahib are demanding the Govt. to open the closed shrine to public. It’s care taking body is now Archeological department so therefore no one has right to dispute.

The place again witnessed rioting in 1872. In 1870, the Franco-Prussian war between France and Germany lead to the decline in Shawl business. The Shia of Srinagar were primarily into paper mache and shawl business. In fact, one of the richest man in the city then was a Shia named Mirza Muhammad Ali. On 19th September 1872, on the Urs (death anniversary) of Madin Sahib, Sunnis gathered at the place, and so did Shias. Claims over the right to own the place were exchanged. Soon, a wave of violence was unleashed that lasted about three days. In the madness, the ancient monument was damaged in fire that raged all over Zadibal. In fact much of Srinagar was in flames.
The violence of 1872 is recorded in report published in a Munich based paper, where it is titled ‘The Grauel in Kajhmir’ (The horror in Kashmir). In an interesting observation, the report also mentions that Shia women and children were given refuge in Pandit households. (For refrence: Allgemeine Zeitung Munich).
More than hundred years later, in 1983, just when the work on renovation of the shrine had started, the place again suffered rioting. June 1983 was going to be the year for state assembly election. It is not hard to follow that in this part of the world, political rivalries eventually lead to sectarian and religious violence. All it needs is a trigger. The violence started around June 14th, and after raging for around three days, left around 700 injured and many shops and houses, and a mosque – burnt. A more lasting impact of the riot was that the Astaan of Madin Sahib went behind locks, out of bound of common man who might be just interested in art and architecture. And it has been like that ever since.
It is looked over by Archelogical survey of India as it is one of the few pre-Mughal monuments in Kashmir; it is of Sultanate period, which makes it a very important site. The people of Srinagar and far off places who have spiritual connection to the shrine of Madin Sahib are demanding the Govt. to open the closed shrine to public. It’s care taking body is now Archeological department so therefore no one has right to dispute. Govt. must act to reopen spiritual shrine of Madin sahib. The locals have brought issue into notice of concerned MLA already. We can hope that soon Madin saheb will witness gathering of devotees from all sects n religions. We also request tourism department to do more and bring tourists to see Shrine, it is one of a main potential places of pilgrimage tourism.

(The author a pass out of Government Polytechnic College Srinagar is regularly contributing for the Edit Page of “Kashmir Horizon”. The views of the author are exclusively his own)


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