BY KHURSHEED DAR
Sufism united the people of Kashmir and has been the main guiding factor that has led the people of Kashmir through all of their turbulent history and is something upon which the social foundations of a Kashmiri society resides. Among the local sufi saints who captivated the hearts of the people of Kashmir and heralded an era of peace, prosperity and brotherhood ,Hazrat Shiekh Hamzah Maqdoomi , (R.A) Stands the taller.
Hazrat Shiekh Hamzah Maqdoomi RA, the most venerated sufi saint of Kashmir, had a chain of “Talibs’.The most prominent among them was Hazrat Sheikh Ahmad Chogluli RA whose resting place is at Chogul,Handwara. Chugal village is located in Handwara Tehsil of Kupwara district in Jammu & Kashmir, India. It is situated 3km away from sub-district headquarter Handwara and 18km away from district headquarter Kupwara.
Hazrat Shiekh Ahmad Choguli RA was the first “talib “of Hazrat Sultan ul Aafreen, Hazrat Shiekh Hamzah Maqdoomi RA.
The people of Kashmir are very greatfull to late Pirzada Gh. Hassan for writting “Auliya e Kashmir” which is a becon of light for us at this time. Hazrat Shiekh Ahmad Choguli RA was the first “talib” of Hazrat Shiekh Hamzah Maqdoomi RA.No authentic record of his birth place or birth year is available .It is said that he was a native of Madina and arrived in Kashmir when Hazrat Mahboob ul Aalam RA was few months old.
Hazrat Shiekh Ahmad Chaguli was a very good scholar in Persian and Arabic. He wrote many books in Persian. He attained perfection in the world of spirituality by adopting more solitude. He spent most of time in meditations and remained hungry for the months. Due to his fear of Allah even birds and beasts have become his friends.On the instructions if his spiritual teacher,Hazrat Shiekh Hamzah Maqdoomi RA,Hazrat Shiekh Ahmad Chaguli RA stayed and spent his last days at Chogul, Handwara and breathed his last at the same village. He was the first caliph of Hazrat Mehboob-ul-Alam. He memorized the Qur’an at the age of six. During his studies he used to meditate a lot.He wrote a book ´Nuskhaie sultaniya´ in 980 Hijri.
The author of Tazkira-ul-Aarfeen writes that he was a high ranking saint and was an expert in all sciences. He knew many languages.Bahr-ul-Tanzil is one of his masterpieces. By reading it in depth, it can be understood that he is ‘Mohi ud din ul-Arabi al-thani”.One day a man greeted him.Hazrat Shiekh Ahmad Chugali RA had never seen the man before.The pious man was Hazrat Mohi-ud-Din Al-Arabi. He said that one of the disciples of Hazrat Mehboob-ul-Aam, Hazrat Sheikh Ahmad Choguli RA is his Naib ,mentioned in “Tazkir ul Aslaf’
He liked the book of Sufism “Gulshan-e-Raz” very much. He always kept it in his pocket and read it daily. It is said that Hazrat Shiekh Ahmad Choguli RA has performed one Haj .
The author in “tazkir ul aslaf” writes that One day he went into the desert and a “Chakor’, large long-tailed gallinaceous bird, came in front of him which started distrurbing the mystic … This disturbance of “chakoor “created a deep tenderness in his heart. The excitement came in his heart in such a way that for almost a week every day thousands of such birds kept on being born from his breath and flew towards the sky. Praise be to Allah, what is this secret?
The rank and mystical status of this iconic mystic was very high which cannot be written in words. When left for heavenly abode,Khawaja Hassan Qari from Zaingair Sopore led the funeral prayer Of this great Wali Kamil.Unfortunately no authentic record of his date of physical departure is available.Hazrat Khawaja Hassan Qari RA too was the talib of Hazrat Sultan-Ul-Aarifeen RA .His resting place is at Buland Yamlar Hardu Shiva Sopore.
Historian Pirzada Hassan Shah writes that Hazrat Sheikh Ahmad Chaguli RA meditated at the hillock on the hills of Zinagar for six years. In six years he did not even see the face of a man. There he made friends with wild beasts. After Six years Hazrat Mehboob-ul-Alam RA visited this cave and brought him out and instructed him to stay at Chogal Handwara . The Sufis have the characteristics of having a spiritual leader whom they respect and obey with all devotion and dedication. Pirzada Hassan shah writes that Hazrat Sultan al Aarifeen RA too accompanied him to Chogul Handwara.
Shiekh Ahmad Chogli R.A spent some time at the hill top, popular in the area as Divnal. That is why the hill top, “Divnal” has become the center for the future spiritual personalities of the area.Mention may be made of Qalandar Ama Sahib Yaroo RA ,Fanafillah Noor Sahib of sagipora,Qalandar Jamal Sahib of Pohrupet and many others.
By performing hard worship, Hazrat Shiekh Ahmad Choguli RA attained a high position. During the meditations, he lived on the wild grass.
His shrine at Chogul Handwara is beautifully maintained and decorated. A lot of construction has been done here.The marble staircase speaks itself.
Hundreds of “Aashqan- e-Rasool “and “Aashqan-e- Awliya-e-Kashmir “visit the shrine everyday. The annual Urs of Shiekh Ahmad Choguli is still celebrated in the month of October every year. Lovers and devotees throughout the valley assemble in the shrine and recite “Aurad-e-Fateha “and “Darood o salaam “with exuberant gesture ,People bring food particularly ‘tahar and kahwa ‘ to feed the hungry and the devotees on the Urs pak.One may watch beggars,the pover and the rich men,women, children and elders sharing the same food.
The Sufis have the characteristics of having a spiritual leader whom they respect and obey with all devotion and dedication. They are also ready to sacrifice everything to be nearer to Allah, and they achieve perfection in everything.
They have absolute faith in Allah and the Prophet ,Peace be upon him,their faith cannot be shaken by anything. They achieve spiritual and mystical experiences by virtue of these qualities.
The valley of Kashmir is a land of Sufis who through their teachings has inspired the people here. They were kept in high regard by the people for their religious and literary activities. They made the people to understand Allah and Prophet (peace be upon him) and follow them with devotion and sincerity. Some Sufis wrote poetry in Kashmiri also, and thereby widened the scope of Kashmiri language. They connected the people of Kashmir with their language and culture. In their hands the Kashmiri language developed, flourished and reached to us safe and sound.
Khursheed Dar is a Sufi scholar and can be reached at Khursheed.email@example.com .