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26th August '2007
“Sadhbhavana” Islam

“The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was raised at a time when the world had been thoroughly corrupted. At that time the people of Arabia were steeped in barbarism. No social pattern prevailed and they took pride in every type of sin and misconduct. A man married an unlimited number of wives, and they were all addicted to the use of everything unlawful. They considered it lawful to marry their mothers. They ate carrion and some of them were even cannibals. There is not a sin that they were not guilty of. Most of them did not believe in the after life. Many of them denied the existence of God. They killed their female infants with their own hands. They killed orphans and devoured their substance. They had the appearance of human beings but were bereft of reason. They possessed no modesty, no shame, and no self respect. They drank liquor like water. The one among them who indulged indiscriminately in fornication was acknowledged as the chief of his tribe. They were so utterly ignorant that their neighbouring people called them the unlettered ones. At such time and for the reform of such people, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, appeared in Mecca.” (Quote from Islamic Website) In this dark and barbaric age, the Prophet, (PBUH), brought the message of Islam revealed to him from Allah through the verses of holy Qur’an. A new light shone over Arabia and these savage tribes were transformed into civilised human beings who spread the word of God throughout the world. Islam is a religion of peace and humanity. The message of Islam was brought to Kashmir by the Sayyids from Iran. The first to come was Sayyid Bilal Shah popularly known as Bul Bul Shah. The real apostle of Kashmir was Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani popularly known as Shah-i-Hamadan or Amir-i-Kabir. At the time of Sahah-i-Hamadan’s arrival in Kashmir, the people here too were steeped in ignorance and were at the total mercy of Brahman priests. The common people were so much entangled in their web that Islam came as an immense means of emancipation and salvation. Even the non-Hindu (Buddhist) King Rinchin, in spite of his best efforts was not accepted by Brahman priests into the Hindu fold. He accepted Islam and came to be known as Sultan Sadar-ud-Din. His conversion made Islam the state religion of Kashmir. The simplicity, equality, and sincerity of Islam combined with the self-less dedication of its preachers resulted in mass conversions. Islam, which is a religion of peace and submission to God, spread quickly through out the length and breadth of the valley. Except for the upper Brahman class, the entire population converted to Islam. This is the main reason that there is only one main caste in Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits, the Saraswati Brahmans) compared to thousands of castes and sub-castes in rest of India. Shah-i-Hamadan not only preached the religion of Islam but involved himself in complete transformation of Kashmir society. He showed a completely new way of life based on truth, righteousness, honesty, and total dedication. The 700 Sayyids who had accompanied Shah-i-Hamadan established hospices all over the valley, which became preaching and learning centres. After thousands of years of Hindu and Buddhist rule, Kashmir was transformed into an Islamic society. It is always difficult to give up customs and traditions established in the psyche of people over a long period of time. The enterprising Kashmiris adopted some of these traditions and customs into the new Islamic way of life. Shah-i-Hamadan helped in the evolution of a society based on the fundamental principles of Islam but at the same time he did not interfere with the ancient culture and heritage of Kashmir which was not in conflict with Islamic teachings. Thus Islam neither affected the Independence of Kashmir nor materially changed its political and cultural conditions. Interestingly, in Kashmir there is not much difference in the food habits of Muslims and Hindus. Both enjoy mutton, fish, and birds of flight. Sanskrit continued to be official language of communication for quite sometime after the end of Hindu rule. Even five hundred years of Muslim rule have not been sufficient to root out the superstitions of fifteen hundred years of Buddhist and Brahmanical permeation. The spread of Islam in the valley is attributed to a long continued missionary movement led by Fakirs, Dervishes, and Ulema. The Muslim Mystics of Kashmir known as Rishis or Babas considerably furthered the spread of Islam by their extreme piety and self-abnegation. The greatest of these Saints or Rishis was Shaikh Nur-ud-din popularly known as Shaikh-ul-Alam or Alamdar-i-Kashmir (Standard bearer of Kashmir). Shaikh-ul-Alam smoothed the path of Islam in its slow, steady, and systematic conversion of practically the whole valley. The simplicity and purity of Shaikh Nur-ud-din's life have deeply impressed the Kashmiri who entertains the highest veneration for the saint. The Afghan Governor Ata Muhammad Khan struck coins in the name of Shaikh Nur-ud-din. Perhaps no other saint in human history has had coins struck in his name. The greatest contribution of the Saint has been his interpretation of Islam in Kashmiri to the common folk through his sayings. While as Bulbul Shah and Shah-i-Hamadan brought the message of Islam to Kashmir, Shaikh Nur-ud-din made its meaning simple for a common Kashmiri in his own language. He preached the truthfulness, purity, simplicity, and the eternity of the message of Islam in an easily understood language to a Kashmiri. He abhorred hypocrisy and upheld the eternal truth. Thus the spread of Islam in the valley has been peaceful and it did not see conquerors like Mahmud, Shihab-ud-din or Muhammad bin Qasim. GMD Sufi, the historian observes, “The great Prophet (PBUH) who took great pride in faqr or poverty, found fuqara (faqirs or friars) to propagate his faith in the valley.” However, over past sometime, the rulers from Delhi have been interpreting Islam in Kashmir in a new “enlightened” way. They have made continued attempts to distort the simple way of life and teachings of Kashmir’s Islamic Mystics, the Rishis. These saints were the proponents of humanity but they did not belittle the basic teachings of Islam. On the contrary they reinforced these by their austerity and simplicity. The Islam being presently highlighted by these new interpreters can be termed as “Sadhbhavana” Islam. A mixture of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Islam in which Shrines and Mosques could be rebuilt and renovated by security forces. Kashmiris did not create a new strain of Islam by mixing the three religions but converted to Islamic way of life as preached by the Prophet (PBUH). It would have been just and fair on the part of these new “preachers” if they had accepted the Islamic character of Kashmir which has been moulded over centuries through numerous trials and tribulations rather than trying to find a new interpretation to this religion termed to be the best in the world even by the greatest philosophers and thinkers in the west. Religious tolerance does not mean inter-mixing religions to create something like “Din-i-Ilahi” of the Mughal King Akbar but accepting each religion in its own right by respecting everyone’s own belief. Sura Kafirun in holy Qur’an states, “Say: O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that Which ye worship, nor will ye worship That which I worship, And I will not worship That which ye have been wont to worship, Nor ye worship That which I worship, To you be your Way, And to me mine.” There has never been a better message of religious tolerance in the entire history anywhere in the world. No amount of “Sadhbhavana” can improve upon this message of universal brotherhood!

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