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Reviving the lost heritage of Rishi-Sufism in Jammu and Kashmir

On Friday, the Jammu and Kashmir Youth Development Forum (JKYDF) held a daylong Sufi conference in Ganderbal district, which was attended by people from all walks of life, to kick off its initiative to revive Sufism in Kashmir valley.

JKYDF holds one-day conference on revival of Sufism in Kashmir Ganderbal, March 5:

Reviving the lost heritage of Rishi-Sufism in Jammu and KashmirKick staring its initiative to revive Sufism in Kashmir valley, Jammu and Kashmir Youth Development Forum (JKYDF) held a daylong Sufi conference in Ganderbal district on Friday which was attended by people from all walks of life.

A spokesperson of the JKYDF said that hundreds of people, including writers, journalists, lawyers, doctors, educationists and others expressed their views freely during the Conference.

They said that Sufism advocates the peaceful co-existence of all faiths and needs to be taken to every household in Kashmir.

Mohammad Sultan Shaheen, former bureaucrat and writer while speaking on the occasion said Kashmir is the land of Sufi saints. “People of Kashmir, whether Muslims, Pandits, Sikhs or of any other religion, Kashmiris believe in co-existence. This was the reason that Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs would visit Muslim shrines and similarly Muslims would throng shrines like Mata Kheer Bhavani,” he said.

“People of Kashmir believed in respecting each other’s religion and sentiments and the reason for that is Sufism. Kashmiris are peace loving people who believe in co-existence,” Shaheen added.

Senior journalists, Rasheed Rahil said that Kashmiris have always set an example of communal amity and brotherhood even during the worst of times and the reasons for that was they believed in Sufism.

“The mainstay of Kashmir’s tolerance and co-existence has been our Sufism. Unless Sufism is restored to its centuries old glory, we cannot have a peaceful, tolerant and progressive society,” he said.

“Sufism is a path of spiritual advancements, an expansion of consciousness, leading to awareness of self and the universe. The substance of Sufism is selfless experiencing and actualization of the truth. The practice of Sufism leads to the development of innate spiritual and intuitive abilities,” Rahil added.

Reviving the lost heritage of Rishi-Sufism in Jammu and KashmirSpeaking on the occasion, the JKYDF Chairman, Farooq Ganderbali said that his organization plans to hold such conferences in other parts of Kashmir in the coming months.

“Like today’s conference, we will rope in Sufi preachers during future conferences as out aim is to reach out to as many people as possible, especially the youth in next few months with the message of peace and co-existence,” he said.

“The JKYDF not only plans to reach out to the people at Muslim shrines, but its volunteers will also cover some Hindu and Sikh shrines during the reach out programme. There is a need to establish a common and syncretic Kashmiri society, where Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims can again live in complete love like they did before 1990,”Ganderbali added.

Through Sufi conferences, he said, the JKYDF aims to reach out to the people, especially youth, about the real message of Sufi Islam.

Others who spoke on the occasion included JKYDF president Shehryar Majeed Dar, social activists, Bilal Ahmad Bhat and Ghulam Rasool Qamiri.

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  1. Ghulām Ali Dehlavī was the most prominent Sufi Shaykh of India in the early 13th Hijri century. A great scholar of Islamic sciences and the ultimate Shaykh of the Mujaddidi Sufi order, he was the immediate spiritual successor of Hadhrat Mirzā Mazhar Jān-e-Jānān, r.a., who is known to be one of the earliest poets of modern Urdu as well as a renowned Sufi master.

    He had mastered all the Sufi methods and was the greatest Shaykh of all Sufi orders in India at that time. He was a master of all Islamic sciences such as Hadīth and Fiqh, and was the Mujaddid of the 13th century AH. He was the chief Qutb under whose command are all the saints of the world. He was the Qayyūm of his times.

    He was born in 1156 A.H / 1743 C.E., in Patiala (currently in Indian Punjab). His father Sayyid Abdul Latīf Batālvi, may peace be upon him, was a great ascetic and Sufi of the Qādri tarīqa (method) and a disciple of Shaykh Nāsiruddīn Qādri.

    Just before his birth, his father had a vision that Hadhrat Ali al-Murtadhā, may Allah be pleased with him, came to him and asked him to name his to-be-born son as “Ali”. Accordingly, he was named Ali at birth, but later he changed it to Ghulām Ali (meaning Slave of Ali). His uncle, however, named him “Abdullāh” as commanded by the Messenger of Allah, may peace and blessings be upon him. Today he is known with both the names, although “Ghulam Ali” is more common.

    He had a sharp memory and memorized the Holy Quran in just a month. His father wanted to make him a disciple of his own shaykh Hadhrat Nāsiruddin Qādri, and called him to Delhi for this purpose. When he reached Delhi, soon the Shaykh passed away and his father then allowed him to take any Shaykh as he wanted. He used to go to Suhbat (company) of many Shaykhs in Delhi, and after two years, at the age of 22, he did Bay’āh (initiation into a Sufi tariqa) with Hadhrat Mirzā Mazhar Jān-e-Jānān, may Allah be pleased with him, who was the greatest Sufi master in Delhi at that time. Famous author and Sufi scholar Shah Wali-Allah Dehlavi commented about Shaykh Jān-e-Jānān that he is the greatest among the Awliya today in the whole world, and I can’t find a like of him in all the seven continents.

    He was initiated by his Shaykh in the Qādrī silsila (chain or dynasty) but was trained in the Naqhsbandi tarīqa. This created confusion in him, as he says I was doubtful if my being trained in the Naqshbandi tarīqa would displease Sayyidina Ghaus al-Ãzam, may Allah be pleased with him (who is the founder of the Qādri tarīqa). One day I saw in a dream that Hadhrat Ghaus al-Ãzam is sitting in a house, and Hadhrat Shāh Naqshband is sitting in a neighboring house. I wish to go to Shah Naqshband, and Hadhrat Ghaus al-Ãzam permits me to go there, saying the objective is only the God (not seeking a specific tarīqa).

    After serving his Shaykh and getting spiritual training for fifteen years, Shah Ghulām Ali purified himself and got perfected in all the Sufi orders, and received Ijāzah (authority) from his Shaykh and became his chief khalīfa, and later, his spiritual successor.

    He received Ijāzah from his Shaykh in several Sufi orders, mainly the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi tariqa. He was the foremost Shaykh of this tariqa in his time, with no equal in any part of the world. Indeed, he was the Mujaddid (revivor) of the 13th century After Hijrah, as proclaimed by him in his Malfūzat and acknowledged by majority of Islamic scholars. He was also trained and perfected in other major Sufi orders, specially the Qādri and Chishti orders, the most prevalent in India after the Naqshbandi. Many prominent Shaykhs of other orders used to consult him in spiritual matters, as he was the ultimate guide in all orders in Delhi.

    He received authority in the Naqshbandi tariqa from his Shaykh Mirza Mazhar Jān-e-Jānān, who received it from Hadhrat Noor Muhammad Badāyūnī, who received it from Hadhrat Hāfiz Muhammad Mohsin Dehlavi, who received it from Hadhrat Khwāja Saifuddin Fārūqi Sirhindi, who received it from his father Hadhrat Khwaja Muhammad Ma’soom Fārūqi Sirhindi, who received it from Hadhrat Imam Rabbāni Mujaddid Alf Thāni Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi Fārūqi, may Allah sanctify their souls and bless us with their Fayd.

    He received permission in the Qādri and Chishti Sufi orders from his Shaykh Mirza Mazhar Jān-e-Jānān, who received it from Khwaja Muhammad Ãbid Sanāmi, who received it from Shaykh Abdul Ahad Sirhindi, who received it from Shaykh Muhammad Saeed Fārūqi Sirhindi, who received it from his father Imam Rabbani Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, may Allah sanctify their souls.1

    He was extremely humble and modest. One time, a street dog entered his home. The Shaykh prayed to God: Who am I to ask for the intercession of your friends? O God! Please forgive me for the sake of your creation (the dog).

    Some people would take (steal) his books and then come back to him to sell the same books. He would laud those books and buy from them. If someone pointed out that the books were from his library and stamped, he would not listen.

    Well known Indian politician and educator Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (d. 1898) was also associated with the Shaykh during his early life. He has written that my father and elder brother had Bay’ah with the Shaykh, and the Shaykh loved my family and considered my father as his son. Sir Syed has highly admired him in his writings. He reports:

    “At least five hundred persons used to live in Hadhrat’s shrine, and the expenses of their food and dress were born by the Shaykh, even though there was no fixed income for the shrine. Allah was providing from the Ghayb (Unseen). Even more, the Shaykh was so benevolent and generous, he never refused any thing to the supplicants. He gave away whatever was asked for. He used to sell any expensive gifts and spent the amount on the fakirs. He would wear whatever they wore, and would eat whatever they ate.” (Sir Syed Ahmed Khan)

    Sir Syed further writes, he used to recite ten ajzā (para in Urdu, thirtieth part of the holy Quran) from the Quran after Fajr, and then would do Murāqaba along with his disciples. After Ishrāk (early morning prayer after sunrise), lessons of Hadīth and Tafsīr would start. Whenever he heard the name of the Prophet, may peace be upon him, he would get excited and a strange spiritual state would prevail over the attendees.

    He did not sleep in the night except, sometimes, for a few moments due to the overwhelming of sleep when he would lie down on his Musalla (praying place). He never slept over a bed for many years. He had an old carpet, over it a Musalla usually made of bulrush where he would pray day and night, while his disciples would encircle him in Halqa. His trust on God made him free of the offerings of the elite. Many rich persons including the king wanted to financially support the khānaqah, but he never accepted.

    He said, the seeker of Zoq and Shoq (feelings of emotional enthusiasm) and visions and miracles is not the seeker of God. The seeker must only seek God alone, and anything that comes in the way must be negated, and he should affirm that I have no other goal but the Pure Being.

    He said, there is no hardship in my tarīqa, but there is Wuqūf Qalbi which means one should always keep the heart heedful of the Exalted Being (God) and should protect it from the past and present dangers (harmful and useless thoughts).

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