BY HAROON RASHID BHAT
The legendary Sufi Saint Khawaja Masood Wali properly known as Khawaja Masood Pampori was born in the famous south Kashmir’s town of Pampore. He was born in 1551 AD (958 A.H) in a well-off business class family. Khawaja Sahab was known for his extreme virtue, piety, and honesty. He studied Ilmi Zahir, Ilmi-i- Tafsir, and Fiqah. His deep thoughts and curiosity led him to the stage where he renounced all his material connections and opted for complete seclusion. After spending a few months in complete Isolation in the nearby Jungles, he deemed an hour to meet Hazrat Khazir A.S who directed him to seek spiritual guidance under the renowned Sufi saint of that time Baba Dawood Khaki RA.
Almighty Allah says, “Take one step towards Me, I will take ten steps towards you, walk towards Me, I will run towards you”. Acted upon the advice of Hazrat Khazir AW , Khawja Sahib moved to meet the spiritual Master of his father- Baba Hardi Reshee RA- the close friend of Baba Dawood Khaki RA. Fortunately, on the same day, Baba Dawood Khaki RA was sitting there. Knowing his family background and seeing his eye-catching face, Baba Hardi Rishee RA kissed his hands and entrusted him to Baba Dawood Khaki RA for Spiritual training. That particular meeting proved a turning point for his life. The saint allotted him a separate room for meditation .at Khaniyar Srinagar. After the in-depth meditation, devotion, contemplation, patience as well as fear, and trust in Almighty Allah, he conquered himself (Nafs). Once he attained perfection, his spiritual Master (Murshid) sent him back to Pampore. He developed a portion of land for Safran cultivation to fulfill his domestic needs.
He also established a Khanqah at Numblibal Pampore in the sixteenth century on the eastern side of the river Jhelum on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway. The only purpose behind this grand work was to reach out to the people and enlighten them with the basic teachings of Islam. He dedicated his whole life to the service of mankind. Whatever the gifts he received there, he used to distribute them among the needy people. There are many myths associated with the procurement of wood used for the construction of the Khanqah. One of them is that the long logs of wood used in construction work were brought down by flooding the Jhelum River. Though, the structure has been repaired and renovated from time to time that one hardly remembers how it looked originally. This particular structure proved a learning center for knowledge seekers. It became the information hub where messages were circulating to the general public. This grand structure is still existing there with the ground floor comprising a double-story hall. The construction follows the traditional pattern of wooden cribbage construction associated with the Muslim religious architecture of Kashmir.
Mr. Randolph Landenberg, an American expert on architectural heritage who had done an appreciable amount of work on mapping Kashmir’s architectural heritage mentioned “Khanqah-i-Khawaja Masood Pampori” in his writings that gives it global recognition. His prominent disciples are Sheikh Sharif-u-din Wali RA – Al-Maroof Shog Baba Sahib RA, Baba Ali Sahib RA, Baba Mohammad Sadiq RA, Khaja Habibullah Attar RA, Sheikh Najam-Ul- Din Rehshi RA. Etc.
There are so many miracles associated with his life, the description of those miracles are recorded by few Sufi Saints in their writings. One of the miracles noted down by Dawood Mushkati RA in his famous book “Asrarul-Abrar” which is as “One-day Khawaja Sahib RA was sitting in his small room allotted by his Murshid at Srinagar, one of his disciples from Pampore decided to visit there. Khawaja Sahib RA forecasted about his arrival an hour before and asked other men sitting in the room to spare space for his disciple”. Another occasion when his Murshid asked him to arrange fishes for him, Khawja Sahib RA went to Ganderbal. There, he met another Sufi saint of the same order (Silsila)- Mir Syed Hyder Tumuli RA- one of the prime Khalifas of Sheikh Humza Mukdoom RA. He welcomed him and took him to the nearby river, fishes assembled on the banks of the river, he procured a few of them and started his journey way back to Srinagar. When he presented those fishes to his Murshid, he asked him that he wanted the fresh fishes, not the dead one. Khawja Sahab RA took the container back, moved few steps, raised his hands for prayer (Duwa), and by the grace of Almighty Allah those fishes reawakened again. (Ref Hidaytul Mukhliseen)
Another occasion, Khawaja Sahab RA accompanied by his Murshid visited Tulmula Ganderbal to meet Baba Hyder Tulmuli RA. Baba Hyder received them with great honor and respect. During those times, people used clay made lamps for lighting purposes. At the dinner time, he presented them the available foodstuff but the lamp in the room was without oil, an aspiration grew in the minds of Baba Hyder RA he started expecting some miracle done by Khawaja Sahab RA to get rid of the darkness. Realizing his aspiration intuitionally, he (Khawaja) extended his hand and the fingers started glowing like a lamp
There are many local legends about how saffron came to Kashmir. One goes back to the 12th century and says that Sufi saints Khawaja Masood Wali RA and his disciple Sheikh Sharif-u-din Wali RA (Al-Maroof Shog Bab Soub ) presented a local chieftain with a saffron bulb after he cured them of illness while they were traveling. (Allah knows better).
This legendary Sufi saint left this transient world on 5th Safarul- Muzafar,1021 A.H (1612 A.D) leaving his rich legacy in the form of his teachings and the grand historical structure in the form Khanqah-e-Masoodia, which must be respected and preserved.
Every year, local people in collaborations with concerned Awaqaf Committee- Idarah Awaqaf, Islamia Trust Pampore organize an annual celebration (Urs) on 5th Safarul Muzafar- Islamic calendar at Namlabal Pampore with full religious honor and cultural gaiety. Devotees across the valley mainly from the surrounding areas of Pampore town that include Woyan, Dusoo, Rajpora, Sambora, Anderso, Mundakpal, etc. attend this annual Urs. On this very day, the local people avoid preparing meat as a mark of respect because it is said that Khawja Sahib RA didn’t enjoy any luxurious dishes. He led a very simple and pious life. It is his rigorous training and his grand contribution towards humanity that people still recall him with deep regard and respect. It is a great privilege for me to introduce such personalities to the next generation.
Haroon Rashid Bhat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org