A good number of historians and scholars have made solid revelations about the existence of Islam in Kashmir since ancient times. Even in Prophet’s times some pious companions have arrived here as special alchies to illuminate the hearts and minds of people. Raja Wanadata had been so impressed by them that he distributed 1/10 of his agricultural yield among poor and destitudes. However it was Hazrat Bulbul Shah (RA) the first saint who sowed the seeds of Islam in Kashmir. Some historians believe that he had come from Samarqand while some state that he was from Bukhara. But the majority of them believe that he was from Turkistan. Kashmir was once a non-Muslim land where people were accustomed to non-Muslim practices and were mostly Hindus. Thus, there came an intervention in their lives. Whether, we call it divine or by chance, Islam arrived to make its roots permeate into the lives of the masses of the valley of Kashmir. Syed Sharafuddin Abdul Rehman Bulbul played a catalytic role in the spread of Islam to concretise the societal transformation at large. According to historical sources, many people in Kashmir embraced the creed of Bulbul Shah. After this great saint, there arrived the descendent of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (R.A), a Sufi of Kubrawi order from Hamadan, central Asia along with 700 Sayyids in Kashmir to enlighten the masses with the glorious Islam and its practical aspects through his teachings. He was a Shafi’i Muslim scholar from an educationally well-off family. He was born in 1314 AD at Hamadan. He came to Kashmir thrice with a noble mission of spreading the religion of Islam and arrived first time in 1372 AD and left for Mecca. He again arrived in Kashmir and stayed briefly and left vale again. Finally he came in 1383 and remained here for a short span of time and left this earthly world towards eternal heavens afterwards and Tajikistan became the epicentre of his eternal bodily stay. Amongst 400 other sayids who accompanied Syed Hussain Simnani ra the cousin of Syed Ali Hamadani to valley, was the one Syed Dawood Simnania RA whose last resting place is at village Berigam in Qazigund area. He came to this village with the only motif to enlighten the masses with the noble teachings of Islam. He used to deliver regular sermons to masses of this village and the adjoining areas. People from all nearby villages would throng to Berigam to receive the devine guidance from this God fearing saint. For this noble mission he sacrificed his all belongings and left his ancestral birthplace along with his dear family members. Syed Dawood was the Qaziul quza present day Chief justice at his native place. When he arrived at this village, he settled a deal with the Kumar family of this village.The assembly of people who used to receive sacred teachings from Syed Dawood increased manifold with each passing day and the place couldn’t accommodate the huge gathering where this saint lived. So a deal was finalised between the Kumar family of this village and Syed Dawood Simnania RA. According to this deal a huge area which belonged to Kumar clan was gifted to Syed Sahib for preaching and in lieu of that Syed’s small piece of land was then equally shared by Kumar families. The annual urs of this saint is celebrated each year in the month of November on 7th day of Islamic lunar month.This year it is being celebrated on 22nd of November corresponding to 7th of Jamadiul Awal. For centuries the inhabitants of this village have been accustomed to this popular event. More than an urs it has become a socio-cultural event because on this occasion every household invites its close relatives to make a get-together. I remember during my childhood, like every other household my grandparents would invite their daughters married far away from this village on the occasion of urs. For four complete days heavy rush of public would throng to Berigam to pay obeisance at revered saint’s tomb. Few decades ago folk theatre artists from neighbouring Gundipora and Akingam villages would mesmerize the gathering of thousands of people on Urs occasion. Besides snackes sellers from Bogund area would never miss to attend it as each devotee who flocks to Berigam seeking blessings of the revered saint buys traditional snacks outside the famous shrine as tabruk for their families. This socio-cultural and religious get-together has significant importance for the villagers. Whenever they plan any event to be held in the near future they surely make a reference of the urs. Either the event would be held before or after the urs, this way it is a deep rooted concept almost inscribed in their minds. Previously when people lived simple but austere lives and were rearing indigenous poultries, special one’s would be kept reserved for the urs day. A unique kind of excitement and enthusiasm is observed among children who eagerly keep waiting and count the days till the main day of Urs marks. This urs is a tapestry of love, respect, brotherhood, kindness and above all a spritual assembly. It begets these virtuous traits among believers and helps in removing hatred, avarice, greed and malice among them.
Urs celebration at the tombs of Aulias is indeed in accordance with the teachings of Prophet saw. Each year in the beginning, Prophet pbuh would visit the blessed graves of Uhad Martyrs and pray there for their eternal peace. The practice was even followed by his rightly guided Kaliphs viz Abubakar Umar and Usman as well. There are twenties of books written by noted scholars thereby clearing the doubts about urs celebration at revered saints last resting places. Moulana Rumi says “A saint even in his grave can benifit you more than thousands of living men”. Alama Iqbal ra my spritual guide and mentor too says ” Na takht Taj main na sipah hu lashkar main hai,
Jo baat Mardi qalandar ke Darbar main hai. At some other place he again says “Darbari Shahanshahi se khushtar Mardi qalandar ka Astana”. About his spritual guide Moulana Rumi and Sheikh Ahmad Sirhandi, Iqbal has composed tens of poetry couplets reflecting his mystic attachment. Lord Curzon famous Viceroy of British India too has claimed about Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti ra “I have seen through my own eyes that a man even in his grave is ruling over the minds and hearts of millions of Indians”. On the occasion of the annual urs, special prayer are held for the wellbeing of humanity in general and Muslim ummah in particular. Local and people from adjoining areas participate in Night long congregational prayers seeking repetence and to please Almighty Allah and dear Prophet pbuh. The best way to pay homage to this pious saint is to adopt his teachings in our lives. He came here from the city of Simnan only to preach what the almighty Allah and the prophet (saw ) has ordered. To put forward his mission of inviting people to the right path and restricting them from evil doings is the real and global message of this urs because this saint has in his entire life dedicated himself only for this noble deed. He like all other friends of Allah has never encouraged his fellows to do unislamic practises.
May almighty Allah reward this saint for his tremendous noble deeds, may his pious soul rest in ultimate peace and may almighty Allah give us the strength to follow his teachings in letter and spirit.
Author is a columnist and teaches at Govt Secondary School Anderwan Ganderbal.