The faded glory of Kashmir
Among the lesser known scholar saints of Kashmir Hafiz Mohammad Hasan Kubravi of Gankhan Khanqah-I-Mualla Srinagar, left behind a treasure trove of books in Persian and Arabic. In this connection a few years back Dr. Sayid Ruqayya H.O.D Persian Department, University of Kashmir, has translated the Persian book Tuhfa Ashrafiah authored by Hafiz Mohammad Hasan, in to Urdu, in 2003 AD.
While she intended to write about the author in the introduction, she found little mention about him in the history books pertaining to that period.
I was privileged to have known about this great scholar, and when I met Dr. Sayid Ruqayya, I provided her the family tree of the author along with some of the author's books in my possession, where after she could complete her book Tazkira Mashaikheen-i-Kashmir published in 2003 AD. Recently I translated the book into English language which is available on Amazon.com.
While writing about Hafiz Hasan, she states that ‘along with the spread of Islam, the lamp of the Persian language and literature also got lit up here. Since most of the preachers of Islam had Persian as their mother tongue, they took shelter of this very language that brightened the valley of Kashmir with the rays of Islam. This language entered here in the form of Islamic language and because of its immense flexibility, it became not only a popular language but also the official language. Consequently not only the Muslim poets and writers watered the garden of this language and literature with their colourful artistry but also non-Muslim poets and writers embraced it and contributed towards enriching its literature by their precious works’. History is witness to the fact that the garden of the language and literature of Persian language flourished not only under the
Muslim rulers (Shahmiris, Chaks, Mughals, Afghans) but also the lamp of this language and its literature continued to shine under the non-Muslim rulers (Sikhs, Dogras) as well. During the rule of Afghans, Sikhs and Dogras, local population was faced with hostile environment and harsh treatment. On all sides there were clouds of fear, harassment, pain and restlessness; but the scholars, writers and Sufis continued to serve the cause of knowledge and literature. Therefore we come across good poets, writers, the colour of Tasawuf and spiritual knowledge carried in their works. The author of the book “Tuhfa Ashrafiah” Hafiz Mohammad Hasan bin Hafiz Wali-ul-lah is the productof this very period of Dogra regime, but strangely enough the history books and biographies of this period are silent about him. It may not be off the mark to state that no worthwhile biography has been written about most of the poets, writers and great Mashaikhs of the later part of this period whereby we could know about their life and their literary contribution.
As stated earlier, we have limited knowledge about the life of Hafiz Mohammad Hasan and the only source of it are the statements recorded in his two available published books namely “Tuhfa Akmalya” and “Tuhfa Ashrafia.” Besides these books, Hafiz Inayatullah (d.1405 AH), son of Hafiz Mohammad Hasan has recorded about his family tree in “Kashur Chihil Asrar”. One of his illustrious ancestors was Shaikh Mohammad Ismael who was the third descendent of Hazrat Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi Farooqi (Mujaddid Alf -e-Thani d. 1033 AH.)
Shaikh Mohammad Ismail was attracted towards spiritual practices from the beginning. He covered the stages of salook under the famous Shaikh of Peshawar, Shah Abbas, the Khalifa of Sadullah Gujrati and remained in his service for twelve years. He passed away in 1153 AH and was buried in the compound of his house near the mausoleum of Khwaja Habibullah Attar (RA) at Dabtal Gurgari Mohalla towards the side of Qibla along with his family.
Hafiz Mohammad Hasan was born in Mohalla Gankhan of Srinagar. His honoured father was Hafiz Waliullah. The historian Mohi-ud-Din Miskin has mentioned about him in his book, “Tarikh-i-Kabir”as:
“He, (Hafiz Mohammad Hasan) was was one of the disciples of Shaikh Ahmad Yasvi. He fell victim to the wide spread disease and passed away on 19th Shawal 1309 AH and was buried in the compound of Khanqah-i-Mualla. Hafiz Wali-ul-lah had three sons. Among these, Hafiz Mohammad who was ‘waiz’ and ‘Hafiz-i-Quran’ passed away when he was of the age of thirty three years only and was buried in Kanth-mazar. Further it is also revealed that the younger brother of Hafiz Mohammad Hasan, Mohammad Ahsan was alive in 1310 AH. He had passed away at the time of writing the “Tuhfa Akmalyah” (May see Tarikh-i-Kabir Vol 01 p 263, action no. 2048 in Manuscript section Department of Research and publication University of Kashmir.)
No other information about Hafiz Mohammad Hasan could be obtained. The two reliable historians of this (Dogra) period Peer Hasan Shah Khoihami and Mohi-ud-din Miskin have not mentioned about him. Perhaps it is due to the fact that even after their death, Hafiz Mohammad Hasan was alive for a few more years. Hafiz Mohammad Hasan is buried in his ancestral graveyard, Mazar Mohammad Shah Kanth at Tujgari Mohalla Srinagar. His two sons Hafiz Nematullah Waiz and Hafiz Inayatullah (d. 1405 AH) are also buried alongside him.
Books and other writings
From the literature that has survived, we get to know about some of his works. These include Tuhfatul Hasan fil Khutub, Rawzatul Hasan fil Khutub, Nasihatul Hasan fil Khutub, Rawzatul Kubraviah fi asnadi Awrad-i-Fathiah and other books on subjects of salook and aetiqad. He had a personal library, wherefrom the seekers of truth used to get benefited; but with the passage of time his personal library did not survive. He has dedicated one of his books,Tuhfa Ashrafiah, to a great spiritual saint and religious leader of Sikh period, Shaikh Mohammad Ashraf Fatehkadli known as Asha Baba Sahib. The said Shaikh (RA) has been a Sufi and highly honoured Wali-i-Kamil. He has written a pamphlet namely “Afzal-ul-Taraiq” on the biography, intuition, miracles and spiritual knowledge of the said Shaikh - Shaikh Mohammad Ashraf Fatehkadli.
Tuhfa Ashrafia, also known as Tazkira Mashaikhin-i-Kashmir, besides being informative has other significance as well. Its language is simple, commonly understood and pleasing. Besides being a writer of the prose he was a poet as well. We come across some of his couplets which add to the beauty of the meaning of the narration. It is a pity that we have lost our connect even with luminaries of immediate past. The scholars of Islamic studies, Arabic and Persian have the necessary tools and skills to research and bring to light their life, times and contribution. It is their bounden duty to take up this onerous task.
Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili , Rtd. Chief Engineer J&K.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.