We have mentioned only handful of the Treasured lot:
Sir Mohammad Iqbal :
Among the Kashmiris of International repute, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, the greatest
poet and philosopher of the continent, tops the list. Iqbal's ancestors were the
Kasmiri Pandits of the Saproo family who, after embracing Islam, cam be known as
the Sheikhs. His grandfather migrated to Sialkot in order to explore the better
avenues of livelihood and then settled there permanently. Iqbal always boasted
of being a Kashmiri and used to introduce himself in these words: 'The seeds of
this flower are from the flower-gardens of Kashmir" . The plight of Kashmiris
always dominated Iqbal's thinking which prompted him to take' active part in the
freedom struggle of Kashmir. He loved his ancestral land immensely and did his
utmost to make its inhabitants realize the true value of freedom and the dignity
in struggling for it. For higher education Dr. Iqbal had to go Lahore where he
settled permanently. His tomb is situated adjacent to the famous Shahi Masjid in
Lahore (Pakistan). All foreign delegates and dignitaries visiting Lahore visit
his tomb and pay homage to this world famous philosopher-poet.
Besides Iqbal, Kashmir has produced numerous philosophers , intellectuals and
poets who in their own age were considered the great literary figures. These
include Gani Kashmiri,
Shaikh Nooruddin Wali, Shah-e - Hamdan, Habba Khatoon, Rasul Mir, Wahab Khar,
Mehjoor, Abdul Ahad Azad, Agha Hashar Kashmiri and Agha Shoorish Kashmiri.
Many saints came to the valley of Kashmir to preach and to propagate Islam,
to name a few were: Bulbul Shah, Syed Jalal Uddin Bukhari, Syed Taj Uddin, Syed
Hussain Samnani, and Yousuf. But the one who lit the torch of monotheism, in
reality was Hazrat Amir-e-Kabir Sahah-e-Hamdan.
His name was Ali, and titles were Amir-e-Kabir, Ali Sa'ani, and Mir. Besides
them, the Chroniclers had mentioned several other titles: Qutub-e-Zaman,
Sheikh-e-Salikan-e-Jehan, Qutub-Ul-Aktab, Moih-Ul-Ambiya-o-Ul-Mursaleen,
He traced his patrimony through his father, Syed Shahab Uddin, to Imam
Zain-ul-Abedein and finally to Hazrat Ali. His mother, Syeda Fatimah, with
seventeen links, reached the Prophet.
Syed Hamdani came from an educated family. He was intelligent and quick of mind,
and read the holy Qu'ran, under the care of his maternal uncle, Hazrat Ala-Uddin
and from him too he took his lessons on subjects outer and intrinsic for a
period of thirteen years.
He fought with Amir-e-Temur and so moved to Kashmir with seven hundred Syeds and
his followers, during the reign of King Shahab-Uddin. He had already sent two of
his followers: Syed Taj Uddin Samnani and Mir Syed Hasan Samnani to take stock
of the situation. The ruler of Kashmir became the follower of Mir Syed Hasan
Samnani and because of the Kings concurrence he entered Kashmir with a large
following. The King and heir apparent, Qutub Uddin, received him warmly. At that
time the Kashmir ruler was on war with Firoz Tughlaq and because of his efforts
the parties came to terms.
Shah Hamdan started the propagation movement of the Islam in Kashmir in an
organized manner. The Kashmiri Muslims were unaware of the Deeni spirit before
his arrival there. The reason being, the people, who had initiated the Movement,
were saintly by nature and carried a deep influence of the Hinduism and the
Buddhism. In-spite of having been turned Muslims they still observed many local
rites and practices. Shah Hamdan did not stay in the valley permanently but
visited on various occasions. First during the reign of Sultan Shahab Uddin in
774 Hijri he came, stayed for six months and left it. Second, he visited in 781
Hijri when Qutub Uddin was the ruler, stayed for a year and tried to extend the
Movement to every nook and corner of Kashmir, returned to Turkistan via Ladakh
in 783 Hijri. Third, he visited in 785, with the intention to stay for a longer
period but had to return earlier owing to illness.
Shah Hamadan was a Multi-dimensional personality. He was a social reformer
besides being a preacher. Among the seven hundred followers, who accompanied him
to Kashmir, were men of arts and crafts who flourished here? They popularized
Shawl-making, cloth-weaving, pottery and calligraphy. Allama Iqbal admits that
because of Shah Hamadan the wonderful arts and crafts turned Kashmir into a mini
Iran and brought about a revolution in the thinking process of the people.
Shah Hamadan's greatest contribution was the character building of the people to
liberate them from the fear of the new system and their love for the older one.
He imbibed true awakening and taught the Shairah. The Kashmiri people still had
some of the Hindu beliefs; visited the temples and revered the Brahmins. The
rulers wore Hindu dresses, and observed practices Un-Islamic in nature. On his
instructions the rulers abandoned Un-Islamic dress and took to long cloaks
similar to the ones wore by the Turkish rulers. Orders of the Shairah were made
popular and people were inspired to learn more about Islam. For purpose of
building the character of the Muslims he practiced truthfulness and
fearlessness. He even scolded the contemporary rulers on their Un-Islamic
activities. Sultan Qutub Uddin had two real sisters as wives. He reprimanded him
and asked to divorce one of them. He obeyed. He made Islamic teachings known to
the people in Kashmir, improved their beliefs, made efforts for the building of
their character and laid down a fool-proof system for the propagation of the
Shah Hamadan, besides being a mystic saint and an effective preacher, was a man
of letters and wrote about a hundred pamphlets in Arabic and Persian:
Zakhira-Tul-Malik, a famous book, has been translated in many languages. It is
impossible to mention all the titles of his books here, how ever, a few of them
are: Sharah Nasoos-Ul-Hukm Farisi, Asrar-Ul-Nuqt, Risala Nooriya, Risia
Islahat-e-Ilam-Ul-Qafia-o-Qaeda, Moudat-Ul-Qurabi, Rouzat-Ul-Firdous,
Firdous-Ul-Akhbar, Manazil-Ul-Salikeen, Khulasit-Ul-Manaqib, Chehl Asrar, and
Due to his superb Persian poetry, Gani Kashmiri became famous in Iran also.
His philosophical Persian poetry prompted Saib, a famous Persian poet, to travel
all the way from Iran to Kashmir in order to see Gani and have a deeper insight
into his philosophy. On his arrival the Persian poet went to meet Gani a number
of times but was disappointed to find the doors of his house locked. Still he
didn't give up his mission and at one occasion found the doors open. With great
enthusiasm he went inside the house but found Gani missing and the house without
any human being inside it. Ultimately when through some local contact Saib
succeeded in meeting Gani Kashmiri, he inquired about the philosophy of locking
the door while Gani himself was inside and keeping it open when he was not in
the house. At this Gani is believed to have said, "I am the only treasure in
this house. In order to protect this treasure the doors have to be locked. Once
the treasure is not in the house there is no need to lock its doors". The
Iranian poet was deeply impressed and eulogized Gani Kashmiri for his wit and
Gani Kashmiri wrote Persian poetry because during his times Persian was the
official language and Persian literature was at its zenith. His poetry, because
of its artistic merits, has a distinct place in the entire Persian literature.
Among other Kashmiri poets Rasul Mir enjoys a distinguished position due to his
poetic thought and excellent craftsmanship. Even Wahab Khar, a great mystic
poet, surpassed in artistic merits to the poets of his time. Peerzada Ghulam
Ahmed Mahjoor, a great modem Kashmiri poet following the footsteps of Dr. Iqbal,
has very aptly said:
"At an opportune time Kashmir will awaken the East
Let me put this prophecy in the ears of Kashmiris"
Shaikh Nooruddin Wali
Shaikh Nooruddin is an unparalleled saint and Sufi poet whose poetry has been
infusing vibrance is thousands of inanimate souls. Born in a newly converted
Muslim family of Kaimuh
(Kulgam), in the north west of Kashmir Shaikh Nooruddin struggled hard to bring
about, through his excellent poetry, the religious, political, social and
cultural transformation in Kashmiri people. As a result of it, he is popularly
called "Alamdar-i-Kashmir" (the upholder of the banner of Kashmir) and "Shaikh-ul-Alam"
(the leader of the world). People from all walks of life and all shades of
opinion held him in high esteem and get inspiration and
guidance from his poetry, which has become the most important part of Kashmiri
According to a legend, Hazrat Zainuddin Wali, a disciple of Sheikh Nooruddin
Wali known as Alamdar-e-Kashmir or flag-bearer of Kashmir, he was born in
Banderkot, Kishtwar in Doda district. It is said that once he took very ill and
his mother was weeping bitterly.
All of a sudden, a person with a radiant face appeared before her and on the
promise that she would bring the child to him in Kashmir after he regained
health, he cured him through his spiritual power. Over a period of time, the
mother forgot the promise and her child was again taken ill. This time, however,
she knew the reason and proceeded to Kashmir along with her son.
The person who had appeared before the lady was Sheikh Nooruddin Wali. She
recognised him at the first sight as the one who had visited her at Kishtwar and
embraced Islam. The Sheikh named the child as Sheikh Zainuddin who later became
his favourite disciple.
It is said that when, on the command of Sheikh Nooruddin, Zainuddin Wali arrived
at Aishmuqam, the cave on the hillock was infested with poisonous snakes. The
reptiles vacated the place for him to meditate. Legend has it that the disciples
of Zainuddin carried the snakes in baskets to a nearby place that later came to
be known as “Puhir Paejin” or a basket of snakes.
The saint passed away in 1448 AD. When his disciples brought the coffin for
burial of the body, they were astounded to see it empty. In desperation they
left the place and during the night, one of the disciples saw Zainuddin in his
dream asking him to raise a mausoleum at the same place where the coffin was
placed. Besides Hazrat Zainuddin Wali, 18 of his disciples are also buried in
the premises of the shrine.
The shrine is visited by people throughout the year. The relics at the shrine
include a holy staff gifted to Sheikh Nooruddin Reshi by Mir Sayed Ali Hamadani,
the 14th century preacher who influenced en masse conversion of Kashmiris to
Islam. The 8-feet long rod covered in green cloth is originally believed to be
of Hazrat Owais Qarni, the exalted Muslim who had the distinction of being a
companion of Prophet Mohammad without having met him during his lifetime.
At the time of a natural calamity like an epidemic, the blessings of the rod are
invoked by taking it out and offering mass prayers.
Habiba, alias Habba Khatoon, was a great poetess of the late sixteenth
century. Born in Chandhar (Pampore), fifteen kilometers from Srinagar, her
parents used to call her Zoon (Moon) due to her extreme beauty. They educated
her but did not appreciate her innate poetic talent. They married her to an
illiterate peasant, a total mismatch to her poetic bent of mind, but the
marriage ended in a divorce as she could not reconcile with her illiterate
It is said that one day she along with her friends was heard singing love lores,
in the saffron fields, by Sultan Yousuf Shah Chak. The Sultan was so much
intoxicated with her melodious voice and poetry that he fell in love with her at
first sight and proposed marriage which her parents willingly consented. In this
way Habba Khatoon the poetess became the queen of Kashmir and a very wise
adviser to the King.' Her poetry scaled new heights of imagination and her poems
became an important part of Kashmiri' s folk literature.
Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri
The valley of Kashmir has also produced the world famous Theologians and
accomplished religious scholars. Among these Maulana Anwar Shah who was born in
1875 in Lolab area of the south-west Kashmir, merits special consideration. His
father's name was Peer Muhammad Muazam Shah and his mother was called Maalded.
Maulana Anwar went outside Kashmir for higher studies and came back after
receiving education and then started delivering sermons on various aspects of
religion and theology.
During his pilgrimage to Mecca also he got great recognition for his erudition
and knowledge of Islamic theology. He also went to AI-Azhar University in Egypt
which has a great distinction among the Islamic Institutions of the world. On
his way to Malta from Cairo he was detained for his radical thoughts on Islam
and was imprisoned for two years. He returned India in 1920 and settled in
Deoband (UP) where he was buried after his death, in accordance with his own
Khwaja Abdul Karim Kashmiri
'Kashmiris have always been at their intellectual Zenith', writes the famous
historian, G.M.D. Sufi, 'and among those great Kashmiris who achieved
international recognition, Khwaja Abdul
Karim was the one who spent most of his time outside Kashmir. Born in Iddgah
locality of Srinagar city, Abdul Karim very soon became a great intellectual and
scholar of his time. During the reign of Nadir Shah Durani he decided to go for
Hajj and had to stay in Delhi in order to get visa from the royal court which in
those days was mandatory for every Hajj pilgrim. Following the procedure, this
Kashmiri intellectual presented himself in the royal court and made a request
for visa. During his brief encounter with Nadir Shah he impressed the King
with his extraordinary" intelligence to such an extent that Nadir Shah decided
to take him to Iran and appoint him on an important position in the royal court
itself. Khwaja Abdul Karim accepted the offer on the condition that he would be
allowed to perform Hajj which Nadir Shah gladly accepted. Once appointed, this
great son of Kashmir left an indelible impression of his capability and
intelligence upon the Iranian King and his courtiers. He attained the position
of Foreign Minister of Iran and was deputed to Turkey as an envoy of the King
for resolving certain disputes between Iran and Turkey. After his diplomatic
triumph in Turkey, Nadir Shah
deputed him to Baghdad and Damascus in order to resolve some important issues
between these countries. After completing these important diplomatic assignments
successfully Nadir Shah sent him to perform Hajj in the company of a learned
religious scholar, Muhammad Hashim. After performing Hajj Khwaja abdul Karim
came to India from Jedah and spent sometime in Delhi with some European
tourists. Subsequently, he returned to Kashmir and recorded his experiences of
Iran and Arabia in a lucid and vibrant prose which is considered one of the most
precious treatises in Persian literature. He has recorded his experiences in
such a manner that the reader feels completely involved in the happenings at
Nadir Shah's court and at the same time visualizes some important places and
monuments of Damascus. He presents in just four pages a vivid picture of Nadir
Shah's court and administration which seems to be a precise of a long epic.
Khwaja Abdul Karim has recorded that Takht-i-Tawoos (the peacock throne) which
Nadir Shah along with the thrones of other captured kingdoms, had carried with
him had decorated the royal court of Iran. Keeping in view the importance of
these historical reminiscences of Khwaja Abdul Karim, an English writer Gladson
translated them into English in 1793. In these reminiscences the documents
pertaining to the period between 1739 to 1749 are considered very important
because here Khwaja Karim has recorded some important development that took
place in Iran and India during these ten years.
Lalla Arifa, Lal Ded
Lalla Arifa is seen as a blend of Hindu-Muslim amalgamation. The Hindus
regard her the reincarnate whereas the Muslims, a perfect mystic saint. The
Hindus say that her name was Lal Ishwari born of the Hindu parents and remained
absorbed in meditation and praise of God. The Muslims hold that she was averse
to the Hindu religion, embraced the Islam at the behest of Syed Hussain Samnani,
disliked the Pundits and the Brahmins.
She is called by several names in Kashmir: Lal Vaid, Lalla-Ji, Lalla Ded or
Lalla-Ishwari. In fact she was the lamp of Kashmir who benefited all the
communities, Hindus as well as Muslims. Both love and respect her.
Lalla Arifa was lost in spiritual wonderment; walked about naked; fought against
her self; and renounced the world. Her teachings gave new lease of life to
thousands of people. She was a blessed soul and could move the hardhearted man.
Lalla Arifa was a poetess and sang of spiritual and divine bliss.
Lalla Arifa was born in 1335 AD. To Shri Zaida Pundit or Zindia Bat, the
landlord at a village Pander - then, three miles from away form Srinagar. He was
God fearing gentleman.
From the very beginning Lal Arifa was inclined to the matters spiritual in
nature and engrossed in deep thoughts and was not interested in worldly matters.
Pundit Shri Kanth, a mystic and Yogi of High order and the family teacher,
realized the spiritual virtues in her and took over the responsibility to
educate her in the matter.
She was married at an early age to the illiterate son of the landlord of Pampore
village. Apparently she performed her household duties, but inwardly she was
given to meditation and knowledge. This resulted in the neglect of the house,
which caused her mother-in-law, and husband complains. The mother-in-law treated
her badly; put pebbles in a plate and placed some cooked rice around them. Lalla
Arifa ate the few grains of rice and made no complaints. One day her
Father-in-law came to know of it and he rebuked his wife. This angered her
further, said untrue things about her to her husband, and turned him against
her. He too treated her cruelly.
One day Lalla Arifa carried a pitcher full of water on her head. Her Husband
arrived, and struck the pitcher with his stick in anger. The pitcher broke but
water remained in body. She came to the house, filled in all the empty pots with
water, and the remaining she threw outside into a forest from where ran a spring
of water. The episode made her famous and people came to see her in large
numbers and disturbed her. She then renounced her house and married life and
engaged herself whole heartedly in prayers and meditation. At all times she
recited verses, in Kashmiri language, in low tones in praise of God.
To mention here the practice of Lalla shall not be out of place that in a state
of extreme ecstasy and wonderment that she roamed about the forest and human
habitations naked. Once she was going through a bazaar, she saw a saint, was
terrified and exclaimed, "Here is a man, should cover myself." She ran to a
baker's shop and jumped into the blazing oven. People raised a hue and cry that
Lalla had been burnt. The saint also came and asked her to come out. Lalla Arifa
came out, dressed in, a long shirt with a beautiful, coloured shawl on her
It is also said that during the condition Hazrat Makhdoom Jalal-Uddin Jehanian
Jehan Gard met her, pacified her, and told her the good news that soon her
teacher and guide, Hazrat Husain Samnani, would arrive and relieve her of her
restlessness and sufferings. Eventually came Hazrat Samnani and Lalla Arifa,
under his benign guidance, attained peace.
Lalla Arifa said verses in the Kashmiri language on subjects of spiritualism and
mysticism reaching the common people with the message that color; castes, envy,
prejudice, narrow-mindedness, and greed are worthless. Real thing is search for
the Truth. In brief, Lalla Arifa gave people of Kashmir the message of
fraternity and equality and served them irrespective of caste and creed.
Bulbul Shah :
People called him with the epithet of the nightingale of Kashmir, Bulbul
Shah's Real name was Syed Sheriff Uddin Abdul Rehman and title Syed Bilal that
owing to frequent use changed into Bulbul. Hence he came to be known as Bulbul
Shah or the Bulbul-e-Kashmir. Bulbul Shah sought allegiance to the renowned
saint, Shah Nemat-Ullah Farisi Shirazi, of the Suharawardy Order who, in turn,
looked to Zia Uddin-Ul-Najeeb Abdul Qahiri.
Bulbul Shah's native town is a matter of controversy among the writers. Dr. S. N
Naz thinks, he was from the region of Tamkastan of the ancient Iran, some
relates him to Baghdad; still others trace him from Turkistan. He reached
Kashmir with his friend Mullah Ahmad. Some hold, he came to Kashmir with one
thousand refugees out of the fear of the Mangols. Others believe, he entered the
valley in 1324 AD. during the reign of Ranchan Shah. We think his arrival during
the reign of Ranchan Shah, a Bodh ruler, is more probable. Rancher Shah was a
seeker of Truth. Hinduism could not satisfy him and found the answer with Bulbul
Shah. His meeting with Bulbul left a deep mark on him and he learnt the teaching
of Islam from his precepts and actions. He embraced Islam under the assumed name
Sadar Uddin, and along with him thousands became Muslims.
Ranchan Shah shared a greater responsibility in the propagation of Islam. He
ordered for the construction of a monastery for Bulbul Shah, came to be known as
the Khanqah-e-Bulbul Shah which formerly stood in the Mohalla Bulbullinko. In
addition to it, he raised a mosque and several other buildings which don't exist
now and of which we read in books only.
The nobles who turned to Islam included the commander of the Kashmir forces,
Ravan Chandra. He adopted Bibi Lalla, the saint, as his daughter and foretold
that she would be a great saint. This proved true.
Hazrat Syed Bulbul Shah was a great scholar, a man of letters, and a theologian.
Besides, he had reached the lovely end in intrinsic and spiritual learning. He
illuminated the darkness of the hearts with the torch of the faith.
Once it grew very cold in Kashmir. The water in the river Jhelum froze hard.
People suffered for want of water. Bulbul Shah himself went in search of water
but the Jhelum water was so hard that it refused to break. He saw towards the
sky and said, "Where is the sun to melt the snow from its heat?" It is said, the
sun rose and frozen snow melted.
Bulbul Shah was a wonderful and impressive man. Whatever he said did it built a
place of peace and quiet in the form of a monastery from where ran the stream of
benedictions and Faith that lit the entire valley.
He died on 7, Rajab 722 Hijri (1326 AD)
Gulam Ahmad Mehjoor :
The revolutionary poet Mehjoor, . Ghulam Ahmad Mehjoor popularly known as
Shair-e-Kashmir (the poet of Kashmir) was born at Mitrigam, Pulwama on Ist
He is considered herald of didactic poetry in Kashmiri language. He was the
first poet of Kashmiri language to incorporate themes closer to life and times
of his age. Yet his lyrics have the magical appeal as those of “Habba Khatoon”.
His poetry for the first time in Kashmir seemed to be concerned about national
resurgence. He stands as a towering figure of transitional Kashmiri poetry from
old to new.
“ Mehjoor” is the first and the only poet till now on whom a full-length movie
was made. Thus he happens to be the only poet of Kashmir to have risen to the
heights of legend in his life time