Commemorating the Great Soul

Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani (RA)…the patron saint of Kashmir

Dr. Javid Iqbal
Publish Date: Oct 12 2012 12:00PM

Son of Sheikh Salar-ud-Din and Sadr-e-Moj—Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani (RA) Kashmir’s patron saint was born on 6th Jameed-ul-Awal in the year 779 A.H/1375 A.D in village Kaimuh of Tehsil Kulgam. Sanz—Sheikh’s family hailed from Kishtawar.  His deft poetic touches, the song and the spiritual ecstasy form an important component of Kashmiri lore. Sheikh’s tale is woven in and remains embedded in the very soul of Kashmir. The song of the revered Sheikh does not relate merely to spiritual tunes, socio-political, economic and environmental tunings too echo across the vale. Nothing, virtually nothing related to life—the day to day living seems to have escaped his observant eye and the keen mind. The details of his wanderings across the length and breadth of the vale sets the tuning to ancient Palestinian tales… excursions Jesus Christ (pbuh) in particular used to take, as he wandered across the hills from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. In his interactions with good Samaritans or lesser individuals with deficit in outlook and intellect—Jesus Christ (pbuh) alluded to the daily chores, issues of bread and butter, and it frequented with some loud thinking on matters, spiritual. Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani (RA) did likewise, much later in the vale of Kashmir. Palestine rhymes with Kashmir, one wonders in how many tunes?   
In the valley, also called Resh Ver’e…abode of Reshis, Hazrat Sheikh-i-Noorani (RA) was neither the first nor the last of the illustrious order, he remains though the most renowned of revered beings. And for right reasons, the manner of his communication with the masses had an appeal, hard to resist.  He was born in an age of cultural synthesis, where assimilation was in progress of the ancient Reshi culture and the Islamic order. Renunciation was a marked feature of Reshi culture, though Reshis did much to provide spiritual comfort to common folk. Islamic order on the other hand dwells in devising material and spiritual comfort. It touches all aspects of life, hence to be a recluse does not tune with how Islam views living an ascetic life--sober, even austere, though it does not encompass self-denial, while self discipline is stressed upon practitioners of faith. Self denial had made its way into varied religious orders. Right from ‘Essen’s’ a pre-Christian era Jewish sect in Palestine to the Indian ‘Jogi’ and the Kashmiri ‘Reshi’ self denial was a norm. It may be admitted though their sojourn in the jungles apart from spiritual purification had them collect herbs for medical cure. The word ‘Essen’ sprang from ‘Aasi’ Hebrew for physician. Likewise the Indian ‘Jogi’ and Kashmiri ‘Reshi’ were medical men, too. They healed physical, as well as the spiritual self.  
In the Reshi tradition, Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani (RA) took to the jungle and the cave. Soon, he renounced renunciation of material world, and is seen relating to his chief disciple—Baba Nasr-ud-Din in rueful tones:
Nasr Baba Jungle Khasun Ga’yi Kha’mi
 Mae Duph Ye A’se Bud’h Iba’dat
 Wu’ch Te Yi Es’s Budd Badh’nami
 Su’ye A’se Kar’ni Ku’ni Kath!
It may be related as:
Nasr Baba! Jungle was a shortcoming;
I though it to be a major prayer;
Look what bad name was upcoming;
Unitary state we had to bear!
Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani had evolved into a stream of though that entailed living a decent family life remaining involved socially, while holding on to five times a day prayer on the way to being amongst the special ones.
The revered Sheikh (RA) alluded to institutionalized priesthood, a Brahminical trait creeping into the social order. Islamic thought devolved on uniformity rather than a class division. And the patron saint revolted against Mullah becoming the Brahmin, thus elevating himself in the social order. Instead, he had a word for Mullah’s…taking the path adopted by Maulana Rumi (RA):
Ma’lie Desh’zen Maulana Rumi
Na’teh Ma’leh Desh’zen Ne’h Zan’h!
Seek Mullah in Maulana Rumi
 Or else; don’t seek one at all!
He chose Maulana Rumi for right reasons, like Rumi the revered Sheikh was for socio-political activism, as the following couplet of Rumi (RA) bears out:
Guft Rumi Har Banayai Khunah Ki Abadan Kunand
 Mi Na Dunee Awal Unn Buniyad Ra Vayran Kunand!
So, said Rumi; were ye to construct anew on old
Knoweth ye not; destroy it up to depth of the old!
This is a revolutionary concept far removed from non-political stance, associated with Sufis. This is political activism on a war path. A new construction cannot survive on an old foundation; it has to be built up on new one. 

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
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