Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sufi Dargahs in Kashmir



Sufi Dargahs in Kashmir-Aishmuqam and Makhdoom Sahib.

Kashmir, in north India, has been the abode of many Muslim saints (Sufis), and there are famous Sufi dargahas. Two of these dargahas are at Aishmuqam in Anantnag district and Makhdoom Sahib in Srinagar city.The Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir have lived together for centuries. The Kashmiri Muslims and the Hindus have been influenced by each other. The sufis of Kashmir are of a special type. Hindu thought and religion greatly influenced Kashmiri sufis. Kashmir Sufis are also called as Muslim Reshis.
Aishmuqam
Village Aishmuqam is very well known in every part of Kashmir on account of the historical shrine of Sheikh Zain-ud-din, who lived in the 15th century A.D. and was one of the principal disciples of Sheikh Nur-ud-din, the leading Reshi of Kashmir. It is commonly known in Kashmir that Sheikh Zain-ud-din, who was known by the name of Zia Singh before his conversion, was a prince and belonged to the ruling Rajas of Kishtwar. Among the local inhabitants, legend has it that Zain-ud-din meditated for a long time in the village Mandjan of Tehsil Sopore, where he attained spiritual perfection. It was at this stage that Sheikh Nur-ud-din advised him to migrate to the cave at Aishmuqam and to meditate there for the remaining period of his life.
Makhdoom Saheb
Sultan-Ul-Arifeen Hazrat Makhdoom Saheb, popularly known as Makhdoom Saheb, is a famous Dargah situated in Srinagar, capital city of Jammu and Kashmir. People from all walks of life come to this famous Dargah to pay their obeisance. Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom, titled Mehboob-Ul-Alam, and Sultan-Ul-Arifeen, was born to Baba Usman, of the Chandra-Vanshi Rajput family, a hereditary landlord, a scholar, and a mystic saint of high order. Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom, in this manner, inherited the mysticism.

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According to the legend, the Urs festival at Aishmuqam continues to be celebrated from pre-Islamic times and dates back to about 2,000 years. All communities respect the shrine of Zain-ud-din, and they actively participate in the celebration of the anniversary. There is no restriction to the entry into the shrine, which is open to visits by persons of either sex and of any community.

At present Waqf Board is looking after the day-to-day management and maintenance of Dargah. A huge number of locals as well as those from Pakistan, Afghanistan Jaireens, visit this shrine throughout the year. In URS days around 50 to 60,000 Jaireens visit this shrine daily to listen whole night Qawwalis sung in the praise of Allah and Holy Saint and pay their obeisance. On average, 4,000 Jaireens visit this place daily, except the months of December and January, when, due to cold weather in the valley, the number of daily Jaireens comes down to about 1,000 persons.Makhdoom Sahib
Makhdoom Sahib inherited the mysticism, and from very childhood was inclined to the company of holy men, and to the truth. Having read the Holy Quran in the village, he went to the seminary of Sheikh Ismail Kabroi for higher studies. He studied the Jurisprudence, Tradition, Logic, Philosophy, Ethics, and Mysticism. The great sage followed the Sunni (tradition) strictly not only in prayers but also in table manners, dress, etc. He scrupulously followed the Prophet and his love for Him knew no bounds. These things helped him to reach the highest rank. Later he had to forsake His love for isolation in order to serve the people. He remarks:
"In the early days I had completely abandoned the company of the people. God granted me the gift of peace at heart and composure of mind. He ordered me to serve the people so I came and started delivering the Message."

His greatest contribution was that he delivered it in its purest form to the people and that he instructed the people to forsake superstitions and Un-Islamic activities through his speech and actions. He was buried near Hari Parbat. Thousands of people visit the shrine to pay their respects and receive his blessings. Ladies come and cry in tears with hiccups to narrate their sorrows to Makhdoom Saheb, which, as per belief, relieves them of their sorrows.

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Aishmuqam is situated in the district of Anantnag, a central part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is situated on the Anantnag-Pahalgam road, about 25km from Anantnag. The shrine of Hazrat Zain-ud-Din Wali is situated on a hillock, about 20km short of the famous hill resort of Pahalgam overlooking the bewitching Lidder Valley. The road to the shrine branches off to the right from main Anantnag-Pahalgam road. A few hundred metres walk or drive takes one to the foot of the stone stair leading to the shrine. The mausoleum is located inside a deep cave atop the hill, about 100m higher than the main road.Presently, the Jaireens climb 260 steps of 20cm to reach at this shrine, which is a strenuous task for ladies and old Jaireens. About 2,000 people visit the Dargah every day, with figures reaching to about 6,000 peopleduring holidays and on Fridays. Further, during URS days for about one month in March-April (in two spells of 12 days each) every year, about 10 to 20,000 persons visit the Dargah. The daily timings of Dargah are from 6am to 10pm.
The dargah has an impressive front structure. Being located on the road from Anantnag to the hill resort of Pahalgam, it is easily approachable and you can spend about 2 hours to visit the dargah and proceed onwards.
Makhdoom Saheb is well connected by all weather roads in Srinagar. From road to the shrine, the Jaireens have to ascend the steps to reach the shrine, about 90 from the Bashi Darwaja side (north) and about 127 from Kathi Darwaja side (south). While approaching from the Kathi Darwaja side, there is a mosque built by Dara-Shikoh in Mughal period just by the side of the steps.
There are two entrances to the shrine from Bashi Darwaja and from Kathi Darwaja. More pilgrims frequent the Bashi Darwaja entrance, primarily due to the religious belief and also being more populated side of the city.
The Dargah is situated on the south of Hari Parbat, at an elevation of 1635m above MSL.
The Makhdoom Sahib, being situated in the heart of Srinagar city, can be visited by all for its majestic structure, spacious, and beautiful decorated halls.