I: Chapter 2
MIR ALI HAMADANI'S
ROLE AS A PROSELYTISER
major role for paving the way for launching upon a state-based campaign
for proselytisation of the Hindu Kashmir was played by a notable Sayyid,
Mir Ali, said to be a Kubravi Sufi, who was a fugitive from Hamadan where
Timur enraged by his indulgence in political affairs had swayed his power
against the Alawi Sayyids. He cooled his heels in Kashmir, which had come
under the rule and hegemony of Muslims. As testified to and buttressed
by his extant works, he in essentia can be characterised as a formidable
proselytiser and a fundamentalist theologian with a deep streak of interest
in affairs mundane.
on his position of authority and influence as a Sayyid, he issued fiats
to the Muslim ruler, Qutub-ud-Din, to Islamise his state by placing it
on the foot-stool of Sharia (Islamic law) and also impose 'twenty humiliating
conditions' on the Hindu Kafirs with the express intent of coercing them
to get converted to Islam at pain of death. Politically, socially and religiously
coercive and awesome, the fiat (in the form of an advice) was an unholy
combine of gag-order and lynch-law meant for prompt compliance and implementation
by the Muslim ruler, whose temporary dithering and equivocation occasioned
by dynastic considerations and ground realities was seriously resented
and vigorously opposed by the Sayyid, who having sown the seeds of contradictions,
religious fanaticism and polarisation for a social and political rupture
quit the scene in absolute anger and despair too.
"Sultan Qutub-ud-Din failed to propagate Islam in accordance with the wishes
and aspirations of Amir Sayyid Ali Hamadani and as such the latter found
himself reluctant to stay on in Kashmir."
It was on the
persistent proddings of Sayyid Ali that the Sultan gave up his participation
in Hindu festivals, fairs and ceremonies and forced the Muslims to adopt
the same dress that was prevalent and in vogue in Muslim countries with
a view to establishing their separate identity from the Hindus, but linking
it up with the Muslim 'umma'. The ruler was exhorted to divorce one of
the two uterine sisters whom he had married as it was deemed un-Islamic
in law and practice.
the Sayyid, the Muslim ruler, Qutub-ud-Din, oriented and regimented into
the regime of his religious duties gave in and succumbed to the baptisation
in matters of dress codes and fundamentals of Islamic law, but somehow
pulled his punches from sponsoring an aggressive conversion campaign, which,
he felt, might jeopardise his position and stature as the ruler of a Hindu
dominated region. As he was not in haste, his clever strategy was to mark
time till the thorough entrenchment of the Muslim rule. But as against
him, Sayyid Ali was in post-haste and was for strident and quick measures
to dent the bulwark of Hindu culture and civilisation and also harboured
a lurking fear that the Hindus, though politically subjugated, might re-group
and fortify their ranks to overthrow the Muslim rule, thus defeating his
plans for converting Kashmir, a Hindu citadel, for which the Prophet as
claimed by him had ordered him to visit Kashmir.
to Sayyid Ali, appeared tolerant and liberal unto the Hindus who as a measure
of expediency were permitted to be the government functionaries and being
Kafirs were neither hounded out nor persecuted and as such had failed to
draw a leaf from his religiopolitical culture to divide his subjects into
the strait-jacket of Muslims and Kafirs granting them the rights and privileges
that flowed from the religions they espoused. Incensed at this, Sayyid
Ali's relations with the Muslim ruler suffered a dip and were bitter and
rancorous and as a matter of result an internecine 'conflict arose between
them because of their differing attitudes about the Hindus'. As a strong
believer in Kufra, he viewed political conquest as a sure means of propagation
of religion and its support-base.
in his two principal works, Risala-i-Maktubat and Zakhiratul-Muluk, Sayyid
Ali's political thought, an anathema to a sufi of real and genuine vintage,
appears to cloud his sufi credentials and poses and projects him as a political
crusader, who is not only conscious of, but frantically eager to enlist
and harness the support of government apparatus to boost and push up the
interests of Islam, its precept and precedent. Force and authority as two
coercive weapons of the state as he firmly held were not to be spared in
the enforcement of religious lawns His immediate and persistent efforts
to mobilise the Muslim ruler and the instrumentalities of his government
for aggressive and forceful propagation of Islam and annihilation of those
outside the orbit of Islam, Kafirs in usual Muslim parlance, are sufficient
pointers to establish that he was more wedded to the narrow interests of
Muslimisation campaign than the domain of Sufism, which, to a lay Indian
mind, connotes if it can a broad plexus of values and concerns of humanism
transcending myopic religious and political perceptions.
In sharp contrast
to the Kashmiri mystics and quietists, ever in spiritual quest, the authorities
on sufi trends of thought have observed that the Kubravi subs much in the
line of subs of various silsilas (orders) were sappers and miners of Islamic
crusade and surprisingly enough, were politics-oriented and more than most
avidly keen to find a niche in the courts of Sultans and nobles and enjoy
positions of power and panoply.
"Besides occupying positions such as that of Qazi and Shaik'ul Islam, some
of them (Sufis) held high positions in administration, including that of
wazir and they also served as ambassadors. They visited the royal courts,
established matrimonial alliances with leading nobles and ruling houses.
They dabbled in politics and on many occasions were exiled from the country."
CHARTER OF ISLAM IN KASHMIR
Mir Ali's Zakhiratul-Muluk
containing twenty humiliating conditions couched in unpolished and unsophisticated
language is a testament of intolerance, hatred, distrust and hate-campaign
against the Hindus of Kashmir. The fiat in the form of an advice reads
The Hindus will not construct any new places of worship or idol temples
in the territory under the control of a Muslim ruler.
2. They will
not re-construct any existing place of worship or temple that may fall
3. They will
not prevent Muslim travellers from staying in their places of worship or
4. They will
receive any Muslim traveller into their houses and will provide him with
hospitality for three days.
5. They will
not harbour any spies and will not act as spies themselves.
6. If any of
their relations show any inclination to embrace Islam, they shall not prevent
him from doing so.
7. They will
8. If they
are holding a meeting and a Muslim happens to come there, he will be received
respectfully by them.
9. They will
not dress like Muslims.
10. They will
not adopt Muslim names.
11. They will
not ride a saddled horse.
12. They will
not carry swords or bows and arrows.
13. They will
not wear rings with diamonds.
14. They will
not openly sell or drink intoxicating liquor.
15. They will
not abandon their traditional dress so that they may be distinguished from
16. They will
not openly practice their customs and usages among Muslims.
17. They will
not build their houses in the neighbourhood of Muslims.
18. They will
not cremate their dead.
19. They will
not mourn their dead loudly.
20. They will
not buy Muslim slaves.
The advice concludes
with the note that if they (Hindus) infringe any of the twenty conditions,
they are not to be protected and Muslims may rightfully kill them and appropriate
their property as if they were Kafirs (idolaters i.e; Hindus) at war.
"In his Zakhiratul-Muluk (Pp 117-18), Saiyid Ali advises a Muslim ruler
to impose twenty humiliating conditions on his non-Muslim subjects and
in return the non-Muslims are guaranteed nothing 107-9".
states, "Saiyid Ali reserves every benefit of the state for the Muslims.
Unlike al-Mawardi, he does not explicitly mention any rights which non-Muslims
could expect in return for obeying the above twenty rules.
"Mir Ali Hamadani's
Zakhiratul-Muluk set a new agenda for the persecution and massacre of the
Kashmirian Hindus if they did not succumb to the blind forces of Islam.
The book in its contents is highly subversive and set the ground for unleashing
an orgy of violence, commotion, disorder and anarchy aimed at corroding
and dismantling a social and religious ethos, which had a humanistic base
and was high above religious bigotry and myopia," writes Koul.
of conditions is shocking and stunning and ironically enough framed and
conceived by a sufi, whose role in Kashmir on religious grounds has been
trumpeted beyond credible limits. As a prelude to the policy of death and
destruction against the native Hindus, it, in fact, contained seed ideas
of Muslim vintage for re-modelling of the Kashrniri society by forcibly
transmuting its religious complexion and colour by unjust and unkind means,
thus causing a yawning hiatus by tearing it away from its historical and
socio-cultural moares. The fiats calling for blatant and naked interference
by any incognito Muslim traveller (with its extended import to cover all
Muslims) legitimised to sponge on Hindu Kafirs and their religious places
for goods and services strangely in the name of hospitality were not only
coercive and persecutionary, but also reflective of a mind that could be
anything but not sufistic in frame and motivations. Despite pretensions
of Justice, brotherhood and equality, the charter was manifesting a psyche,
narrow, intolerant and more than most highly coercive, and was issued out
not as a matter of theoretical assumption, but for practical application
and if and when applied, it would flagrantly violate and transgress all
decent and civilised principles and modes of a cohesive and harmonious
civil life and prognosticate a political, religious and societal structure
etched upon pillars of coercion, persecution and inequity.
the force and fury of a command, the catalogue of woeful conditions supposed
to invoke an instantaneous obedience of a Muslim ruler, if true to his
religious grain, was designed to project the Hindus as the 'other,' to
finish them politically, socially and religiously, shorn of rights and
privileges as they were the exclusive preserve of Muslims in a Muslim state.
If reacting to his captive state, any Hindu spartacus flouting any of the
medieval conditions, cruel and base, in protest or desperation was flared
to be massacred and his property looted and appropriated (for distribution
as booty among the faithfuls). First subjugated and humbled and then stigmatised
as Dhimmis, the Hindu Kafirs if granted the status as it was meant for
Jews and Christians only (ahli-Kitab) would be reduced to the miserable
state of the denizens of a gulag and could be given a semblance of protection,
though perpetually vulnerable, only after they paid the hated Jazia (poll-tax)
to the Muslim ruler.
DEMOLITIONS and MIR ALI
as the sordid practice and standard police of Muslims was given a new pace
and direction when the famous temple of Kalishree in the city of Srinagar
was desecrated and demolished with absolute vengeance and a mosque constructed
at the site on its plinth. The operations against the temple as a precious
relic of Kashmiri culture were led by none other than Mir Ali himself.
The holy spring inside the temple littered over with the images and idols
of gods and goddesses (still intact) was covered with logs and planks,
thus hidden from public view, forbidding the people to drink its sparkling
waters believed to be efficacious in curing diseases. Even though the temple
was dismantled and grabbed, the Kashmiri Hindus never abandoned their claims
to and the practice of worshipping the temple from the river side. The
mosque as the inaugural of Muslim oppression in Kashmir has been a bone
of discord between the Hindus and the Muslims generating many a religious
strife. In the Sikh times, Phula Singh trained his guns on the mosque,
which escaped demolition and destruction at the intervention of a Hindus
"Mir Ali Hamadani
was the author of the iconoclastic chapter of Kashmir history." writes Parimoo.
"It is said that when Saiyid Ali converted the Chief Brahman of Kali-Mandar
at Srinagar to Islam and turned the temple into a mosque, he ordered Saiyid
Kabir to settle down there and preach the truths of Islam to people."
That some of the time which the holy Amir spent in Kashmir, he lived in
a Sarai at Alaudipora. At the site where his Khanqah was built, there existed
a temple which was demolished and converted into an estrade on which he
offered Namaz five times a day."
realised through Force
Mir Ali steeped
in his religio-political culture and persuasion could not continue with
and stick to the peaceful propagation of Islam in Kashmir as his successes
by way of luring converts to Islam were not significant and encouraging.
After a bitter feud with the Muslim ruler, he left Kashmir in absolute
anger and appointed Sayyid Kabir at the mosque to preach and propagate
the canons of Islam to the people, but in sheer despair, he shifted to
another quarter in Srinagar for he was just ignored as a non-entity and
people evinced no interest in his preachings and sermons, if at all he
were delivering any. There was not a single neo-convert, who had the expertise
of calling the faithfuls to prayers. Conversion to an alien religion was
considered atrocious. Any convert to Islam was ostracised and held in extreme
hate and contempt. Fearing public wrath, a neo-convert had clandestinely
fled to Samarqand for refuge and succour. Such was the initial response
to the missionary and proselytising activities in Kashmir. It is amazing
to learn that Mir Ali in his subsequent visits converted 37000 Hindus to
Islam though he had no direct rapport with the people except through the
externalities of the religion he harboured.
What was the
magic formula that worked in Kashmir, which had a continuous and coherent
history of culture and civilization? Historians discounting and debunking
'the sufiface of Islam' thesis as a sheer myth have found the answer in
cruel, ruthless and indiscriminate use of force, coercion and persecution
launched against the Hindus by the proselytizers in tandem with the brutal
as an author
No doubt, a
prolific writer, narcissustically in love with his learning and scholarship,
Mir Ali thirstily craved for a plume of feathers and immense recognition
(normally shunned by a Kashmiri mystic), if not from the heretical world,
at least from the Muslim world, for his achievements in the domains of
learning and spirituality. But, the tact that he was not accorded recognition
almost dismayed him in his commitments and spirits and as an act of self-satisfaction
and rationalization he nursed a fond hope that a century after his demise
the coming generations would recognise him as a man of scholarship and
spiritual attainments. That the Muslim world failed to accord him recognition
is both curious and intriguing, but very significant.
"Devoid of originality as they were, his works did not receive the widespread
recognition which those of sufi scholars such as Qushairi, Ghazali, Shaikh
Shihab-ud-Din Suhrawardi and Ibn'-Arabi obtained."
Such a telling
comment on Mir Ali's works which are mostly tautological and said to be
inferior to the doctrine that they claim to demonstrate knocks the bottom
out of P.N.K. Bamzai's eulogy woven around his works, thus breaking a new
ground for an objective assessment of his role-profile in Kashmir.
comment as a valuational Judgment, it is perhaps fair and not unreasonable
to stipulate that Mir Ali's challenge and thrust in Kashmir could not be
based on his tremendous levels of scholarship nor on his extraordinary
attainments in the supra-sensible realms. Kashmir per se as a formidable
seat of learning and spirituality could not have only met his challenge,
if he had posed any, but also blunted his edge and reduced him to redundance
had he resorted to the much respectable and scholarly technique of discussions
and discourses for an interface of ideas with a view to settling the religio-philosophical
disputations and controversies. Kashmir in the past had the rare destination
of having discomfited and convinced Adi Shankaracharya, a philosopher of
extra-ordinary faculties, apropos his positions on immensely delicate issues
of Advaitism and Shaiva positions on the same and as a result of such an
inter-action sharp changes wrought in his postulations got reflected in
his 'Saundaryalahiri', a major work of vital importance. But, discussions
and discourses, historically speaking, are foreign to Muslims who not only
dishonour but crush dissent. While converting the Brahmin-priest of Kali-temple
to Islam, MirAli keeping himself out of the ring is said to have prompted
and incited his disciple, who in turn resorted to the much-spurned miracle
method and sophistry, not the technique of discussions and discourses convincing
the adversary of his superior religio-philosophical positions and discursive
There is much
of veracity in the statement that most of the Sayyids who poured into Kashmir
were not devout and genuine sufis as they seemed to be this worldly, and
curiously took part in politics, which is an unspiritual activity repugnant
to a love-affair with God, instigated and indulged in forcible conversions,
manipulated and wormed their way to the seats of power, did not spurn comforts
and resorted to and set the precedents of ruthless demolition of temples.
Some of them were morbidly anti-Shia and raked religious strifes and turbulence
of unprecedented scale and dimension. Following their foot-prints, a stiff
of local variety with doubtful bonafides had political advisers,
who established contacts with an emperor to dismantle the shia-led government.
The set of
goals and issues they projected and transformed into the hub of their activities
were xenophobia, racist, misanthropic and sadistic absolutely alien to
and leagues away from the powerful heritage of Kashmir in terms of cultural
and civilisational depth of values of tolerance and acceptance and absorption
of extreme religious dissent. The ills they sought to fight were imaginary
and the cures mainly in the form of conversions were crippling and destructive.
A well orchestrated way of life, a tolerant and vibrant faith and Hell
articulated vision of man, world and God became the targets of their proselytising
zeal resulting in the decline of a metaphysics-epistemology -ethics continuum
sought to be replaced by stray and unrelated constructs to suit a pre-determined
and ossified idea, in the death of a creative artist sculpting amazing
images of gods and goddesses of Hindu and Buddhist pantheon given the option
of carving out grave-stones, un-Islamic, soul-less and monotonous, in the
abandoning of chanting of mantras replete with mystical and esoteric content
substituted by dull arid meaningless repetition of mere names, in the flight
of painters, not reconciling to the dubbing of creative activity as un-Islamic
and heretical and refusing to cognise non-figurative dull designs of borrowed
variety as real art, in the decay of an ethos, vibrant, assimilative and
self-regenerative filling the vaccum by intolerance, dissensions and religious
strifes and in the loss of a mother-language, mature and perfect to the
core, serving as a vehicle of creativity and philosophical musings and
disquisitions replaced by a language nuancing an alien ethos.
In the words
of Coomaraswamy, "Conversion destroys and if it does not destroy, it is