Tue. Aug 20th, 2019

Sheikh Hamza Makhdum: A preacher, a spiritualist

Among the most venerated Sufis of Kashmir, Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom (RA) occupies the conspicuous position. Sheikh Hamza Makdoom (RA) is regarded next to Sheikh Nuruddin Rishi, who is considered as the leader of the spiritual domain in Kashmir. If Sheikh Nuruddin Noorani is revered as Sheikh-ul-Alam, Shiekh Hamza Makhdoom(RA) is remembered as Mehboob-ul-Alam (RA). Whereas the former is known as Alamdar-i-Kashmir (RA), the latter is called as Sultan-ul-Arifeen (RA). The locals as well as the foreigners have regarded these two Sufis as the leading spiritual leaders of Kashmir. It was most probably the reason that prompted the Afghan governor, Atta Muhammad Khan to mint the coins in the name of these two sons of soil. Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom’s shrine is on the southern side of the Hari Parbhat hill, is visited not only by Muslims but by people of all faiths. According to a contemporary account, Tazkirtul Murshideen by Miram Bazaz, a lesser known disciple of Sheikh Hamza, on his visit to Hardi Rishi (RA), Sheikh Hamza asked the former to taste food with him. Baba Hardi refused to taste the meat. He is said to have cited the exhortation of Khizr (AS), Christ (AS), Moses (AS), Idris (AS) and Illyas (AS) who are said to have been spiritually present on the occasion. Bab Hardi informed the host about the spiritual experience as the reason why he was hesitant to taste meat. Sheikh Hamza replied that it was the command of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) that he should share non-vegetarian food with him. In order to dispel the Rishi’s doubt, Sheikh Hamza invoked the help of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) whose spiritual presence finally caused the Rishi to share the non-vegetarian meal with Sheikh Hamza, though it was only once in his life to do so. Likewise Khawja Hassan Qari, the illustrious disciple of Sheikh narrates an anecdote of Sheikh Hamza thrashing a dervish with a stick who was indulging in Charus, to believe Qari leading to his ‘annihilation’. May be the account is riddled with supernatural events, however, the patent objective reality is that it signifies that Sheikh was very particular about following the Shariah., entitled Mehboob-Ul-Alam, and Sultan-Ul-Arifeen, Popularly known as Makdoom Sahib, was born to Baba Usman, of the Chandra-Vanshi Rajput family, Raina Family a hereditary landlord, a scholar and a mystic saint of high order. Sheikh Hamza Makhdum R.A. in this manner inherited the mysticism.
He inherited the mysticism, and from the very childhood was inclined to the company of holy men, and to the truth. Having read the holy Quran in the village, he went to the seminary of Sheikh Ismial Kabroi for higher studies. Once he was playing instead of going to elementary school (maktab). His father happened to come there, grew angry, and beat him so severely that he fell ill. From the day he pledged that he would never play with his Grand Father Zaiti-Raina. He went to see Fatah Ullah (son of Hazrat Baba Ismial) the spiritual teacher of the Rena tribe, and learnt the holy Qu’Oran for a year in the monastery at Shamsi-Chak here he was enrolled into the seminary of Baba Ismial Kabroi, as a student, for higher studies. He studied the Jurisprudence, Tradition, Logic, Philosophy, Ethics, and Mysticism.
The title Sultan-Ul-Arifeen indicates to serious efforts and painstaking prayers he did. During his studies he meditated. Baba Davood opines that Hazrat Makhdoom did not rest during night for years but remained engaged in prayers. Sultan-Ul-Arifeen says, “I was directed to say the daruds, mention of the names, and prayers because of His kindness and whenever I sluggish in the conduct I was reprimanded. “Hard work and painstaking prayers in the early youth made him old before time.
The great sage followed the Sunni (Tradition) strictly not only in prayers but also in table manners, dress, manners, and etc. He scrupulously followed the Prophet (SAW) and his love for him knew no bounds. These things helped him to reach the highest rank. Later, he had to forsake his love for isolation in order to serve the people. He remarks: “In the early days I had completely abandoned the company of the people. God granted me the gift of peace at heart and composure of mind. He ordered me to serve the people so I came and started delivering the Message.”
Generally the sages are indifferent to the Shairah. In the case of the persons of the Rishiyat Order, the indifference is evident. The suppression of self, renunciation of physical demands, asceticism, and other local effects are clearly visible on sages and the Islam here.
His greatest contribution was that he delivered it in its purest form to the people. He followed the Shairah strictly but asked others to do it; opposed to their reluctance of legitimate things; joined the Shairah with Rishiyat and asked the people to follow into the footsteps of the Prophet; and relieved them of their superstitions. He made Hirdey Rishi eat meat under his orders, wore rich dress, declared superstitions as untrue, opposed and exposed the hypocrites, advised to work hard continuously, observed personal hygiene and cleanliness and instructed to take lawful food and to lead pious and pure life. These are the teachings that show that he tried to build a society on the pattern of the Book and Shairah.

The title Sultan-Ul-Arifeen indicates to serious efforts and painstaking prayers he did. During his studies he meditated. Baba Davood opines that Hazrat Makhdoom did not rest during night for years but remained engaged in prayers. Sultan-Ul-Arifeen says, “I was directed to say the daruds, mention of the names, and prayers because of His kindness and whenever I sluggish in the conduct I was reprimanded. “Hard work and painstaking prayers in the early youth made him old before time.

According to a contemporary account, Tazkirtul Murshideen by Miram Bazaz, a lesser known disciple of Sheikh Hamza, on his visit to Hardi Rishi (RA), Sheikh Hamza asked the former to taste food with him. Baba Hardi refused to taste the meat. He is said to have cited the exhortation of Khizr (AS), Christ (AS), Moses (AS), Idris (AS) and Illyas (AS) who are said to have been spiritually present on the occasion. Bab Hardi informed the host about the spiritual experience as the reason why he was hesitant to taste meat. Sheikh Hamza replied that it was the command of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) that he should share non-vegetarian food with him. In order to dispel the Rishi’s doubt, Sheikh Hamza invoked the help of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) whose spiritual presence finally caused the Rishi to share the non-vegetarian meal with Sheikh Hamza, though it was only once in his life to do so. Likewise Khawja Hassan Qari, the illustrious disciple of Sheikh narrates an anecdote of Sheikh Hamza thrashing a dervish with a stick who was indulging in Charus, to believe Qari leading to his ‘annihilation’. May be the account is riddled with supernatural events, however, the patent objective reality is that it signifies that Sheikh was very particular about following the Shariah.
His greatest contribution was that he instructed the people to forsake superstitions and Un-Islamic activities through his speech and actions. Numerous instances can be cited from his life. One of them is:
Two streams flowed in Nadi-hil, and there stood a bied tree between them. The blasphemous held it sacred and observed many rites. Nobody could go by it during night. If anyone did, he was stuck in superstitions and made offerings for his relief. When Sheikh reached the place he declared, “The Jins and Satins have fled.” He ordered for the cleaning of the streams and building of bathrooms.
He relentlessly fought against such superstitions and practices, stayed at the, places to make the people fearless, got mosques built there, for instance cleansed the stream ‘Bech-nag’ at Karora and built a mosque there. Similar practices and superstitions were prevalent at Shinga-pal stream in village Barar; he too stayed there and built a mosque under the supervision of Abdul Rashid. He too built a mosque in village Aham. Wherever he observed people entangled in them, reached there, and removed their fears from his deeds.
The greatest contribution of Sheikh Hamza Makhdum is the negation of the spread of the Shiat, by Sheikh Shamsuddin Iraqi, under state patronage. He made Sheikh Shamsuddin Iraqi’s efforts in effective and strengthened the tottering beliefs of the people.
Sheikh Hamza Makhdum breathed his last in the Hijri year 984 (1585 A.C.) during the reign of Sultan Ali Shah Kochak. Sultan Ali Shah Chak, the ruler of Kashmir is said to have attended his funeral prayer while it was led by Sheikh Tahir Rafiqi and it included contemporary scholars and Sufis like Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi. As per the instructions of the saint he was laid to rest at Kohi Maran, the centre of spiritual emancipation established by him. Nearly fifteen years after his departure, Akbar, the Mughal king, built a shrine there which was reconstructed during the Afghan rule by Atta Mohammad Khan around 1821 AC. As a mark of respect Atta Mohammad Khan stuck the coins bearing the names of Sheikh Nur-ud-Din-Rishi and Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom. This is probably the unique instance in the history when the coins have been stuck bearing the names of saints. This is also indicative of the reverence and the popularity the saints commanded among the people and also of the rulers.

(The author a teacher at S K University of Agriculture Sciences &Technology-SKUAST Srinagar writes on Islamic topics exclusively for “Kashmir Horizon”. His views are personal)

 

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