Nestled in the picturesque Rafiabad kandi belt, the shrine of famous Sufi saint Syed Ibrahim Bukhari (RA) in Soin Syednar village is thronged by the devotees round the year.
Rafiabad upper-belt is bordered by bewitching natural beauty of lush green forests, serene locales and gorgeous mountain peaks clad with snow through out the year which render a very peaceful aura to the shrine at some 20 kms away from district headquarters of Baramulla.
Born in 1875, Syed Ibrahim Bukhari (RA) was one of the towering and high-ranked saints of the reshi order who lived during the reign of Zain-ul-Abideen Budshah. The iconic and enlightened Sufi figure came under the influence of pious and illuminated soul of the reshi lineage known as Hazrat Zain-ud-din Reshi (RA).
In those days, Sufis and great Shaykhs used to send their special disciples and religious students to different parts of the country to spread and propagate the Islamic teachings. Syed Ibrahim Bhukhari Sahib (RA) had to do the same.
After attaining true perfection and illumination in the world of spirituality, he was ordered by his mentor Hazrat Zain-ud-din Reshi (may Allah’s blessings be upon him) to conduct an extended visit to the Valley of Kashmir and disseminate the message of Tawheed (Oneness) to the people there.
On acting upon the advice of his mentor, Syed Ibrahim Bukhari (RA) without any delay embarked on his spiritual journey to Kashmir to spread and proliferate the message of Islam. While traveling from one place to another in the Valley, he finally reached the Kandi belt of Rafiabad where he met another Sufi mystic of his time namely Baba Faqru-Din Wali (RA) who was meditating and worshipping Allah in a cave at the mountain top situated between Vejibal and Chakka.
After spending quite sometime in and around Rafiabad vicinity, he lastly selected Soin village, a permanent place for his meditation. Those days, the village was known among people as Soin only which later with the settlement of Syed Ibrahim Bukhari (RA) attained its new name as Soin Syednar. Nar in local parlance means ‘a place’ between two hillocks. The village from then onwards turned up to be Soin Syednar, affectionately called by devotees as Saednar.
It is believed that earlier the same place used to be hub of wild animals. Villagers used to take precautions while moving around the spot been frequently visited by leopards and bears that disappeared with the arrival of Syed Ibrahim Bukhari (RA).
According to an elderly resh baaye (a disciple woman whose identity is being withheld) who takes care of the Ziarat (shrine) from over a decade now, earlier it used to be a garbage dumping site there and with the advent of Syed Bukhari (RA), everything changed all of sudden and became neat and clean.
In my endeavor to write this column, some elderly men living near the shrine said that, Syed Ibrahim Bukhari (RA) is one of the prominent Sufi mystics of Rafiabad area whose brother namely Syed Qasim Bukhari (RA) is buried in Astanpora, which translates to ‘shrine locality’ in Kashmiri language, represents a village near Bakhipora, some half a kilometer away from here.
Just on the main entry of this shrine towards the West is a Nag (well) which is a relic here. Inside the pristine water of this miraculous well, it is believed that there is a fish with golden nose-ring which appears only to those in the water who are virtuous and pious.
It is said that the water of this well changes its color whenever any crisis is going to hit the area. This well lies under the custody of an elderly woman under who looks-after the shrine from years now. The water of this spring is considered holy. Devotees get this water home and deem it a panacea for all diseases.
The door to this well remains locked and is opened only when the devotees visit the shrine. Moreover, the water of this well is supposed to be the main source of irrigation water for Dandusa village where three younger brothers of this Sufi figure namely Syed Masoom Sahib (RA), Syed Yaqoob Sahib (RA) and Syed Karim Sahib (RA) is believed to have spent their time in meditation and worshiping.
It is also believed that the Sufi saint has provided his three brothers the water though a Koul (streamlet) locally known as Batechh as his gift which always saves many Dandusa villages from drought like situations. Earlier, the water of this well used to come down in a small streamlet.
But then due to trash dumping on its banks by locals, the water in the stream had suddenly disappeared, and later oozed out at some distance away on a clean spot which is a living miracle for the devotes to be seen here.
Besides maintaining a free Lungar (kitchen) at the shrine for the poor, every year, the people from Dandusa village come to perform a “bhandar” (a traditional community feast also called Niyaaz locally) here, at the shrine, to pay their due obeisance and show supreme faith to the Saint for bestowing them with rainfall for their dried-up crops. It is said that when these villagers perform this bhandar here, the entire area of Rafiabad is blessed with abundant rain which is enough to save them from drought like situation.
No doubt, the Karam’at (miracles) of Syed Ibrahim Bukhari Sahib (RA) are numerous. Yet, it is said that on one occasion, few burglars stole some utensils from his cave while he was busy in his deep meditation. The next day when the thieves woke up; they fond their eyesight lost. Later, when the burglars came to know the truth that they had stolen the utensils of a great Sufi mystic. They immediately returned the utensils to the mystic and fell upon his feet who afterwards put prayers to Allah for the reinstatement of their eyesight.
Syed Ibrahim Bukhari (RA) is an iconic soul of Kashmir’s Sufi culture who guided people towards the right path of brotherhood, peace, harmony and enlightenment. He died in 1956 and was such a pious, virtuous and Allah-fearing Sufi mystic whom his disciples will remember, always for emanating light and joy. He worked tirelessly for the welfare of people irrespective of cast, creed and religion. We, thus, need to preserve and share his legacy to the future generations as well.
The author is a teacher by profession. He hails from Rafiabad.