Allah selects some of His beloved People and grants them spiritual powers for the betterment of whole humanity. One such auspicious soul is Hazrat Shiekh Hamza Maqdoomi (RA) who is the the most revered sufi saint of Kashmir.This great sufi saint of Kashmir is known by different names like Makhdoom Sahib, Hazrat Sultan, Sultan-ul-Arifeen and Mehboob-ul-Alam .This great “wali kamil “spent his days and nights in prayers, zikri e illahi,hamdu sana and darood u salaam .He is regarded as next to Harzat Alamdar e kashmir (RA).All the foreign travellers and writers who visited the valley time and again aswell as locals regarded these two sufis as the leading and towering spiritual powers of the valley .It might be probably the reason that prompted the Afgan Governor,Atta Mohammad Khan to mint the coins in the names of these two great sufi saints of Kashmir .This is Probably the first picturesque instance in the world history that coins have been struck in the names of great sufis. Hazrat Hamza Makhdoom (RA)was born at Tujjar near Sopore in Baramulla district. His father Baba Usman belonged to the Chandra-Vanshi Rajput family,a hereditary landlord,a scholar and a saint of high order. His mother Bibi Maryam was a virtuous and a pious woman.Among his disciples Baba Daud Khaki was the most prominent who is author of a number of books like Dastur-u- Salikin, Virdul-Murdidin, Qasida-I-Jalaliyya etc; Baba Dawood was an outstanding poet as well. He mentions an anecdote in “Dasturul Salikin” narrated by his Murshid that Allah had been gracious enough to bestow two attributes to him in the very infant stage – one was that whenever a saint or a virtuous person would visit their house, he would cling to him leaving aside all childish affairs. Second one was that he would never lie. Once, while going to” madrassa”, he, on the way, observing children engaged in play joined them. This resulted him in bunking off school for the day. On his return he was quizzed by his father about his engagements and though fully knowing the consequences of replying the truth, the child informed the father of his actual engagement (play). The father beat the son (Sheikh Hamza) to pulp so much so that he got bed ridden. It was during this illness that he made up his mind to go for schooling in Srinagar. After schooling and spiritual initiation he was destined to become the leading Sufi of the state. Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom was originally a follower of Kubrawi tradition. He, in his early childhood learnt at the feet of his father. Later on, on his migration to Srinagar, he was tutored by Shaikh Fathaullh, the son of Shaikh Isamil Kubrawi who had established” Daru Shifa” near Kohi Maraan. Akhund Mulla Lutufullah was also one of his teachers. Then he moved to the Khanqah of Shams Chak. He learnt the Quran, fiqh, Hadith, allied science, Suifstic traditions and was also conversant with some works of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani (RA). Right from his childhood up to attaining the status of a Sufi, he was all through virtuous, and dedicated his life to the cause of Islam. He was instrumental in reforming hundreds and thousands of Muslims. He offered the nectar of Maurfat to all those who thronged his spiritual abode. It was at his hands that a number of his disciples were raised to the prominence in the Sufistic circles. These include the illustrious Sufis Sheikh Daud Khaki, Mir Hyder Tulmuli, Khawaj Hasan Qari, Shiekh Ahmad Choguli, Khawaja Ishaq Qari, Mulla Ahmad Chagli, Moulana Jami, Feroz Ganai, Mohammad Ali Raina, Baba Hardi Rishi, Mir Mohammad Afzal, Bayezid Shumnagi, Shaikh Roopa Rishi. Hazrat Mahboob ul Aalam Shiekh Hamzah Maqdoomi RA toured the nook and corner of the valley and being a son of the soil succeeded in establishing intimate contact with the people. He insisted on the Sunnah being adhered to and the myths and legends to be discarded.
The construction of mosques at a number of places particularly where the people dreaded ghosts and had ascribed myths may be regarded as a part of his campaign in furthering the cause of Islam. Hundreds of poor, destitute and hungry were fed in the Langar (hospice) established by the saint at “Kohi Maran”. It was Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom(R.A) who served as a meeting ground for the Rishis and Suharwardi saints. His influence extended to the Rishi movement as he enrolled some Rishis like Baba Hardi Rishi and Roopa Rishi as his disciple. By paying a visit to the tomb of Shaikh Nur ud Din Rishi (R.A) he extended the influence of the Rishis even to the Suhawardi circles. It proved to be the reason that his disciples have preserved, with veneration, in their hagiographies the activities of the Rishis. According to a contemporary account, Tazkirtul Murshideen by Miram Bazaz, a lesser known disciple of Shaikh Hamza, on his visit to Hardi Rishi (R.A), Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom asked the former to taste food with him. Baba Hardi Rishi (R.A) refused to taste the meat. He is said to have cited the exhortation of Khizr(A.S), Christ(A.S), Moses (A.S), Idris(A.S) and Illyas(A.S) who are said to have been spiritually present on the occasion. Bab Hardi Rishi (R.A) informed the host about the spiritual experience as the reason why he was hesitant to taste meat. Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom(R.A) replied that it was the command of the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W) that he should share non-vegetarian food with him . In order to dispel the Rishi’s doubt, Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom invoked the help of the Prophet Mohammad (SAW) whose spiritual presence finally caused the Rishi to share the non-vegetarian meal with Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom(R.A), though it was only once in his life to do so. Likewise Khawja Hassan Qari, the illustrious disciple of Shaikh Hamza Makhdoom, narrates an anecdote of Shaikh 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 Shiekh Hamza Makhdoom was very particular about following the Shariah Of Syed ul mursaleen,Sullallahu alie hi wasalam. Hazrat Shiekh Hamzah Maqdoomi (RA) breathed his last in 984 Hijra (1585 A.D.). 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, southern side of the Hariparbat hill in Srinagar city,the centre of spiritual emancipation established by him. Nearly fifteen years after his departure from the worldly abode, Akbar, the Mughal king, built a shrine there which was reconstructed during the Afghan rule by Atta Mohammad Khan around 1821 A.D. The shrine is one of the most sacred shrines in Kashmir and rare example of Mughal architectural style. The Shrine can provide accommodation to thousand of its pilgrims at one time.
(The author is a sufi scholar. Views are his own)