Rahim Saeb Sopore: Our traditional mystic poet

Rahim Saeb’s poetry transcends both time and language, speaking to readers across ages, as fresh and meaningful today as it was when written
"No authentic biography of this mystic poet of our bygone era is found, whatever we possess today is what we come across in his verses and some oral traditions which pass through from generation to generation."
"No authentic biography of this mystic poet of our bygone era is found, whatever we possess today is what we come across in his verses and some oral traditions which pass through from generation to generation."Special arrangement

Abdul Rahim Shah popularly known as Rahim Saeb Sopore was a traditional mystic poet of Kashmir who epitomised the cultural creation in a significant manner.

His contribution to Kashmiri sufi poetry can not be ignored. Like other sufi poets of Kashmir, Rahim Saeb Sopori too was the embodiment of Kashmiri language and literature who too preferred to use his own Kashmiri dialect for conveying his message and thoughts, and connected people with their language and culture.

No authentic biography of this mystic poet of our bygone era is found, whatever we possess today is what we come across in his verses and some oral traditions which pass through from generation to generation.

What we get from little biography of Rahim Seab Sopore from written sources is that he was wholly tended towards divine contemplation from early years of his life.

Learnt the fibre of mysticism from a towering mystic Hazrat Qadir Shah Saeb whose resting place is at a village called Renun in Langate Tehsil of district Kupwara.

Mohammad Amin Shakeeb’s monograph about Rahim Saeb Sopore is unparalleled in this dirrection. This picturesque monograph about Rahim Saeb Sopore prompted me to write this column.

Billions of thanks to Rafeeq Masoodi Sahib, former DG Doordarshan Afaaq Rashid Kalloo Sahib, ex Principal, Fahmeeda Sopori, mystic poetess of Sopore and Shanaz Rashid Sahib, poet for providing me vital leads for this column.

From the available oral and written sources the author of this column came to know that Rahim Saeb Sopore was born in 1775 at Tilwani Mahala of Sopore town. He received his early education from his father, Abdul Rahman Shah.
Rahim Saeb was a gifted child. Always accompanied his father.

Rahim Saeb latter on learnt the poetry of Jami, Sheikh Saedi, and Molana Rumi from Molvi Mohammad Anwar.

After the demise of his father he was looked after by his uncle namely Abdul Samad Shah. His uncle sent to him to learn the craft of weaving at Batpora Sopore.

There he got the company of a faqir namely Juma. While plying the loom, he felt like weaving mystical patterns, thus began his musical journey. Soon he became a good musician and formed his own singing party. He was a master player of Rabab and Santoor.

One day Rahim Saeb was singing at the shrine of Hazrat syed Jilal ud Din Bukhari RA. He interacted with a female mystic namely Khanum. Khanam’s poetic remarks made Rahim Saeb to search a spiritual mentor.

Mohammad Amin Shakeeb writes that Rahim Saeb was married to a virtuous woman namely Katej Ded and had two sons and a daughter from her. He had also adopted an orphan girl namely Saja Ded whom he married with Mohammad Rajab Shah of Tapar Baramulla.

Unfortunately the husband of Saja died few years after marriage
As per oral historical sources it is said that this mystic spent a good time at Hanjishat Langate.

There he used to meditate in a cave. The ruins of a fresh water spring, used by this mystic for ablutions are still seen there. Number of orchards are named after him at Hanjishat Langate.

Rahim Saeb had close intimacy to Qalandar Jamal Saeb of Pohrupeth Langate. Here he met his spiritual mentor,Qalandar Qadir saeb.

Becoming the pedestrian on a Sufi path he got connected with the Qadri Sufi order (Silsila of Hazrat Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani RA). He was significantly influenced by Lal Ded and Nund Reshi.

It is said that Rahim Saeb started his poetic journey from the blessed darbar of his mentor, Qadir Shah Saeb and he quickly became noted for his mystic poetry.

He had close ties with Mahmood Gami. Rahim Saeb visited all over Kashmir. When Dr. Alama Iqbal visited Kashmir in 1931, he too was moved by the beauty of his poetry. Rahim Saeb introduced a traditional style in Kashmiri sufi poetry. He used Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic words in his poems.

From his poems it is noticeable that he had deep knowledge about mysticism and divine being, he described thoughts wonderfully with spiritual teaching which had unique variety of its own.

We perceive a never ending mystical aspect in his verses which is compatible with Islam and comparable in essential ways with other forms of religious spirituality.

His poetry has impressed and influenced both the communities, Hindus and Muslims; he expressed incredible aptitude to suggest mystical ideas which leads to the Divine path:

Tanni Gom Rabaab

Ragan gayam taare

Zeer o Bum th’hovth’hum Cheero lo

My body, now a Rabab veins, the strings

From these you cleave out notes high and low

Rahim Saeb’s poetry has transcended both time and language, speaking to readers across ages, as fresh and meaningful today as it was when written.

While going through his poetry, it indicates that he was well versed with the teachings and life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

He has written poems in the honour and spiritual journey of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), which elucidates his wakefulness about mystic way.

He has explained stages of that mystic path which Sufi Masters used to go through. His poetry is rich in diction and meter.

Rahim Saeb Sopore was an outstanding Sufi poet who had absolute grip on language. He specified his thoughts, knowledge and experience in his poetry. Rahim Saeb wrote his poetry in Persian as well.

This mystic poet wrote thousands of Sufi poems in which he reflected on various social issues, brotherhood, harmony, sickness, sin, and the love of God.

His poetry often deals with the true abstract qualities such as beauty and truth, and then relates how these qualities (as aspects of God) relate to the world around him.

Beyond that, a common theme is the praise of prophets, sufi saints of Islam, harmony and brotherhood and unity. Many of his poems are on the theme of a mystic’s quest for the primal cause of the universe.
Rahim used Kashmiri idiom of his times, and also words from Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit.

Almost all of his poetry is in Kashmiri language; most of his poems are sung by Sufi Singers in Sufi Mehfils. He introduced a new style in Kashmiri Sufi poetry and took Kashmiri Sufi poetry to great heights.

His poetry is so impressive, and only those who are tethered to sufism can know its strength. For him love of Allah implied love of humanity:

Ander loolnaran bu zaejnas;

Waay!reh nu tuth, duh na tuth.

Yes aas shab o rooz manz naaras ;

Beem daznuk kiyah chhu tas.

Beem daznuk chhu kaam aashiqas,

Waay! reh nu tuth duh na tuth.

The fire of love within me has burnt me down;

Alas! this fire has nether flame nor smoke.

One who is in fire day and night;

Is not afraid of being burnt.

Only the half backed lover is afraid of being burnt.

Mercy! this fire has neither flame nor smoke.

His poetry has a deep spiritual meaning. The similes and the metaphors put to use by Rahim Saeb bring forth the intense appeal of Kashmiri Sufi poetry on the surface for further analysis

The last days of this mystic poet were not good. The demise of his son and wife dejected him much.

Rahim Saeb Sopore left for heavenly abode in 1850 and was buried at Batpora Sopore. His shrine is thronged by the devotees round the year.
Rahim Saeb Sopore was a poet of great competence, had firm grip on languages and was fond of debates and discussions.

He was extremely respected and loved by the people. He was broad minded, jolly, witty and straightforward man used to mix-up with the people promptly. He has left his endless mark behind.

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.

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