BY HAROON RASHID BHAT
“Nigah-e-Mard-E-Momin Se Badal Jati Hain Taqdeerain
Jo Ho Zoq-E-Yaqeen Paida Tu Kat Jati Hain Zanjeerain”
The aforementioned couplet is best suited to the life story of Hazrat Sheikh Mohammad Sharif –Ud-Din popularly known as Shoakh- Bab Soub RA. According to various historical notes, this Sufi saint was born in a well-off family in the Saffron town of valley-Pampore. He was a socially conscious and religiously devoted personality. Everything was going smooth in his life but the abrupt changes in his behavior not only surprised his family but the entire locality as well. He dissociated himself from worldly affairs and led an isolated life. His deep thoughts and growing anxiety developed peculiar feelings in him. He used to make rounds across the town day and night. When his outward action became more and more complex with each passing day that worried his family members, they took him to the company of Khawaja Masood Pampori RA for special prayer so that his condition would be stable. Ordinary eyes could not recognize his condition prevailed upon him but Khawaja Sahab at the first sight realized his status “Haal”. He instructed his men to keep him in a locked room. As long as he remained there, Khawaja Sahab was pouring spiritual blessings upon him. He refined his character and his inner and outward conditions alleviated; his anxiety faded away. He once again clipped himself with Sharia. Later, his dedication, sincerity, patience, and his supererogatory prayer (Ziker Azkar) brought him very close to Khawaja Sahab. He became his dearest disciple. The growing intimacy developed the everlasting spiritual bond between them. Just a few days before his physical departure from the transit world. His Murshid nominated him as Chief Khalifa. He entrusted all his disciples to him for future guidance. And like a true disciple, he followed the instructions of his Murshid strictly and carried forward his sacred mission with zeal and zest till his last breath. Whenever anyone uttered the name of his Murshid before him, he got deeply emotional, and his eyes welled with tears. One day, Hazrat was busy whirling and chanting Kashmiri elegy, recalling his mentor. One of his companions posed him a question, “Kay Silsila Kubrawiya his Amal Ki Tasdeeq Kartaa?” Meaning- Does Sisila Kubriya endorse such an act? He replied “Istarah Ma Apna Murshid Ko Ba-Shoakhan Yaad Karta Hun” – meaning I perform this act just to express my grief over the death of my beloved Murshid. Since then, he got his popularity as Shoakh Bab Soub.
It is mentioned in the various historical documents that he and his colleagues include Baba Ali Sahib RA, Baba Mohammad Sadiq RA, Khawaja Habibullah Attar RA, Sheikh Najam-Ul- Din Rehshi RA, and the locals played a vital role in the establishment of Khanqah Masoodiya at Numblibal Pampore. It was built in the sixteenth century on the eastern side of the river Jhelum on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway. The purpose behind this grand work was to reach out to the people and enlighten them with the basic teachings of Islam. Shokh Bab Soub RA followed the instructions of his Murshid and retained the spiritual torch of Sisila-Kubrawiya flourishing. He dedicated his whole life to the service of mankind. Whatever the gifts they received there, they used to distribute them among the needy people. 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. While constructing the Khanqaha, one of his comrades Bangir Reshi RA another Sufi of the same order saw a dream in which he saw the face of Shoakh Bab Soub was illuminating like the sun. When he shared the same with him He said, “Your dream is the endorsement of this grand work” 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
Noted historians like Hassan Shah Khuiehama and Mohammad Azim Dedmari included his name in the category of Mujzoob Awliya keeping his earlier stage of life in view. This high-caliber Sufi saint left this transit world on 21 Safar-Ul-Muzafer 1027 Hijri. His annual day- Urs is organized every year on the same day. The devotees in large numbers from different parts of the Valley pay a visit to the shrine at Pampore; organize special prayers and seek obeisance. The Islamic preachers give a detailed description of his life and recall his teachings and contributions. Recalling his simple lifestyle and food habits, the locals prepare special dishes like eggs, cheese, and other foodstuffs except meat. This 24 hours self-imposed restriction on non-vegetarian or fleshy foodstuffs is popularly known as “Paal” Locals invite their relatives, friends, for lunch or dinner to keep this old-aged tradition of saints alive.
The author is a teacher and columnist and can be reached at [email protected]