By Haroon Rashid Bhat
When we turn the pages of history with special reference to Jammu and Kashmir, we came to know that this land has attained a unique position and identity in producing classical historians like Pundit Kalhana, Malik Hyder, Peer Hasan Shah Khuhami, P. N. K. Bamzia, Muhammad Din Fauq , Fida Muhammad Hassnain, etc. Khawaja Mohammad Azem Dedmari was one of them who occupies an iconic place in the literary history of Kashmir. He was a multifaceted personality. Besides being a well-known historian, he was also a Sufi Saint and a poet.
Born in 1103 A.H. in a respectable family in Srinagar at Dedmari. His father, Khaja Kharu-Ul-Din Ganie was associated with the handicraft business. It was his father’s inner urge to develop his overall personality. So, he admitted him to a local Madrasa that was founded by the two learned scholars of Islam Akhwand Abdullah Shaheed RA and Mullah Abdul Raziq Banda RA.
His simplicity, dedication, studentship, the strong level of comprehension, and immaculate writing style fascinated his teachers. After completing his formal education there, he came under the spiritual guidance of Sheikh Murad Tang RA. He enlightened him about the different stages of Spirituality. Once he attained perfection, his Murshid offered him a cloak. Later, He wrote a biographical sketch of his Murshid titled “ Resilay Faizul-Ul-Murad” in which he praised his mentor and talked about his spiritual highness. He also received spiritual enlightenment from other prominent personalities like Mirza Aqmaludin Mohammad Kamil Beigh Khan Badakhshe, Syed Mir Mohammad Hashim Qadri Gojwari, Haji Ubad-Ullah Balkhi, Baba Qayem Buchwari , Sheikh Mohammad Ali Raza Dilhyee Sirhindee, Abdul Rehman Qadri Zaina Kadal, Sheikh Abdul Latif Khusa, and Mohammad Zahid Bulkhi.
His other works are Qayid-Ul- Mashayik, Tajrabatul-Talibeen, Ashjaru-Ul- Alkhulid, Samarat-Ul-Al-Shajar, Shari-Kabiriyat Ahmar, and Tareeq Azmi- Waqiat-i Kashmir” The book “Tareeq Azmi- Waqiat-i Kashmir” was written by him in 1747 in Persian. It took him ten years a long time to accomplish this grand work. He noted down its date of commencement and date of accomplishment at the beginning of the book in the following lines.
“Shad Sal Wardati Kashmir- Ba Naam Kitab Waqati Kashmir
Agar Parsand Tareqash Chasaan Yafti- Bagu Turteeb Abwab Al-Janan Yafti”
Its Urdu translation was first published by Munshi. Ashraf Ali from Delhi in 1846. Later it was retranslated in 1985 by Dr. Khwaja Hamid Yazdani through Iqbal Academy Lahore under the supervision of Dr. Waheed Qurashi- then the Director of Lahore Academy. As there were few topographical mistakes in it. This task has been finally accomplished by Prof. Dr. Shams-Ud-Din Ahmad, former head of the Department of Persian at the University of Kashmir. He not only added many important explanatory notes from other historical sources, adding significantly to the importance and the utility of the current book but at the same time, he rectified those topographical mistakes as well. At the very outset of the book, he expressed his critical view about the earlier historical accounts.
According to him, the most significant limitation of earlier historical accounts was that it was carried out by historians attached to royal courts who had ignored the most genuine subject of history that is the Sufi mystics and their role in shaping the social and economic aspect of Kashmir. Many scholars, researchers, admired his opinion and came out with a lot of appraisal notes. “This book is unique in a sense that the author used the local narrative, mentioned the contribution of the Sufi saints in the formation of a decent society. it narrates not just the political and spiritual history of Kashmir but also mentioned the events that shaped its physical and social landscape, such as earthquakes, fires, famines, epidemics, riots, and so on. This grand work gained a lot of popularity and proved a vital asset to researchers especially for historians, sociologist, political Scientist, Geologist, Genealogist, Archaeologist etc.
Throughout his life, he remained associated with several Sufi shrines, composed several treatises on Islam and Sufi mysticism.
His last days of life were full of struggle because of his prolonged illness. He suffered from an acute kidney problem that became the cause of his death. He made the mention of that in the following verses which he uttered just before his death that happened in 1179 A.H.
“Agar Pur Sind Azim Az Chee Murda,
Bago Sal Wafatash Zayeef Gurdah”
Haroon Rashid Bhat is a teacher by profession and can be reached at email@example.com