Advent of Sayyid Ali Hamadani

Dr Etee Bahadur
December 7th 1992 a day after the demolition of the Babri Masjid two temples, one in Anantang and the other in Srinagar were burnt down. Thirteen temples, a list of which is given were also damaged and burnt down in the next few days. The temples were in Kulgam (1) Sopore (1), Tangamarg (2) Srinagar (3), Uttarsu (shumbul), Pahalgam , Anantnag and Verinag (1) Trehgam and Pattan (2) .
In my last editorial at the Daily Excelsoir dated 11 November 2019, ”Temples, Pilgrimages and the Fraught topic of Conversion : A Historical Analysis” I raised the question , ” In asking, what it meant to be a Hindu or a Muslim in medieval India” I have also in the same paragraph raised concern to the fact that when it comes the issue of conversion to Islam, a fuller notice had to be given to Sayyid Ali Hamadani popularly known as Shah -i- Hamadan ( Lord of the Hamadan) .
Sayyid Ali Hamadani was accompanied by a large number of Sayyids when he arrived in Kashmir in the reign of Sultan Qutub ‘din. Sayyid Ali Hamadani travelled widely in the valley and left his deputies at Pampore, Avantipura and Vijabor, these places had a very many Hindu centers at the time. The followers then established Khanqahs which later became centre of proselytization infact one thing common to most sources is about how Sayyid Ali Hamadani resorted to miracles to obtain converts. Sultan, Qutb ud ‘din who ruled for sixteen years, celebrated the Hindu festivals and dressed in their fashion as the great majority of the subjects were non-muslims (mushriks) and as a result of this the relation between him and Sayyid Ali never remained cordial. Hamdani also asked the Sultan to give up wearing the dress after the manner of infidels and adopt an appropriate “Muslim dress.” (Baharistan-i-shahi trans,.Kashinath Pandit ) .The Sayyid also presented a cap to the sultan from his personal wardrobe as a token and all rulers of his line wore the cap under the crown as a mark of exaltation ( Baharistan-i- shahi ). The Baharistan-i-shahi along with a few sources mentions that Sayyid Ali wished not to settle in Kashmir after he realized that Sultan Qutubu’d-din would not glorify Islam (Raunaq-i-din) and would not implement the Shari’a as Sayyid Ali Hamadani had desired. The Baharistan-i-shahi also states that for the time Sayyid Ali Hamadani spent in Kashmir he lived in a sarai at Alau’-Din Pora ” At the site where the Khanqah was built, there existed a small temple which was demolished and converted into an estrade on which he offered namaz five times a day and recited portions of the Quran morning and evening”. These commands are directions, to be a credible and presentable Muslim, and as a model for other Muslims to follow. Therefore it becomes all the more important that the historic role of Sayyid Ali needs to be understood which should include the Persian chroniclers, but also letters and invocatory prayers compiled by him. The attitude of Sayyid Ali Hamadani towards the non-muslim subject of a muslim ruler is potrayed in his book Zakhiratu’ l- mulk and the letters of Sayyid Ali Hamadani addressed to the Sultan Qutubu’d-din .
The advent of Sayyid Ali Hamadani in Kashmir was an event of far reaching significance for the Hindus of Kashmir, but most of our books begin the story of conversion from Rinchana, a Buddhist.
(The author teaches Development Studies at the Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies , Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi)