He was the man with a mission who will be known and remembered for his great contributions
The preacher among the preachers of Islam in Kashmir is believed to be Hazrat Syed Sharaf-ud- DIN Abdul Rahman (RA), popularly known as Syed Bulbul Shah (RA). He is believed to have touched the threshold of Kashmir during the reign of Suhadeva (1301-20). He was an extensively travelled preacher. He had deeply impressed the people of Kashmir by his manner of preaching and persuasion at a time when people were passing through a period of political instability, heavy taxation and crushing burdens of feudalism.
All the historians are united upon the fact that Hazrat Bulbul Shah (RA) was the first saint who sowed the seeds of Islam in Kashmir. The historians have been reserved over the pedigree of the saint and some believe that he had come from Samarqand and some state that he was from Bukhara. But the majority of them believe that he was from Turkistan. They believe that Hazrat Sharaf- ud- Din (RA) was neither a king nor a soldier, nor a businessman but he was only a virtuous and great saint who possessed spiritual prowess and holiness. He came to Kashmir with the instructive power of Prophet (SAW) and enlightened the whole milieu. Different beliefs about the actual birth of Hazrat Abdul Rahman or Sharaf –ud- Din (RA) alias Hazrat Bulbul Shah (RA) have been promulgated. Some schools of thought believe that he belonged to Samarqand and some believe that he was a saintly celeb from Bukhara. There are also others who believe that he belonged to Turkistani or Central Asia. But the majority of people are united on the idea that he emerged from Turkistan and that is why the suffix of ‘Turkistani’ is found with the name of the great saint.
Hazrat Bulbul Shah (RA) has been given several names and titles by the Kashmiri authors. Jonaraja, the historian, is reserved about the name of the saint. The author of the “Baharistan-i- Shahi “ states that on asking the name by the King or others, the holy saint introduced his name as Bulbul Qalandar and uttered that he was a Muslim. Muhammad Azam in his “Tarikh-i- Kashmir” has introduced him as Baba Bulbul Shah (RA). Another author Rafi-ud- Din in his “Nawadir-ul- Akhbar” calls him as Sayed Sharaf-ud- Din. Baba Dawood Mishkati in his “Asrar-ul- Abrar” mentions him as Hazrat Baba Bilal. Peer Ghulam Hassan Khuihami in his “Tarikh-i- Kashmir” claims that his real name was Hazrat Sayed Sharaf-ud- Din (RA). Some other writers mention him as Sayed Sharaf-ud- Din Abdur Rahman Turkistani.
In the land of Kashmir he became much popular as Bulbul Shah (RA) because it is believed by different writers and spiritual scholars particularly by Baba Ali Raina of Tujar Sharief, the brother and special disciple of Sheikh Hamza Makhdom (RA), who writes in his book Tazkarat- ul- Aarifeen that “One day Hazrat Syed Sharaf- ud- Din (RA) was about to make ablution on the bank of a stream or canal. All of sudden he sighted a Bulbul (Bird) on the branch of a tree singing beautifully and impressively and then suddenly the bird flew towards the sky. Hazrat Bulbul Shah also flew after the bird and caught hold of the bird and flew down into his cottage and then the bird got was vanished in his august hands. One acquaintance present at the time, asked the saint about the whole episode and the saint replied that the bird was not a bird but it was his soul which was flying towards the sky and he followed it and caught hold of his own soul.” This episode with the saint got publicized and therefore, he came to be known as Hazrat Bulbul Shah (RA).
After the King Rinchena embraced Islam as his religion, his mentor and guide entitled him as Shaha and he became prominent as Sultan Rinchena Shah, the first Muslim King of Kashmir. Since the King was influenced by the spiritual powers of the saint Hazrat Bulbul Shah (RA), he got constructed a Khankah or a cloister for his convertor near his palace in Srinagar. In order to keep other followers or Dervishes at ease, the King constructed quarters, where the food was served to them. The place at which the Khankah of Bulbul Shah (RA) was built came to be known as Bulbul Lankar during the rule of Chak dynasty, which endowed the spiritual followers and other disciples with free ration and other necessary items. The Sultan Rinchena Shah also constructed a mosque for the great saint and would present himself on Fridays before him for moral and spiritual salvation. It is important to mention that due to the much conversions among the Hindus, there grew a terrible animosity against the King Rinchena Shah. A conspiracy was hatched against him under the command of Udayanadeva in the royal palace. Fortunately, the Ladakhi security guards of the Sultan repulsed their attack on the King and made them to flee. Some of the conspirators were killed and some were imprisoned and punished. In 1323, Sultan Rinchena Shah fell ill and passed away after ruling for more than three years.
Hazrat Bulbul Shah (RA) took the heavenly flight from this world in 727 AH e.g, in 1327 AD. The saint is remembered as one of the most prominent saints of Kashmir, who marshaled an Islamic revolution in Kashmir.