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Khanqah of Shah Hamdan in Srinagar

Khanqah of Shah Hamdan

Khanqah of Shah Hamdan is located in the Zaina Kadal region of Old Srinagar on the right bank of River Jhelum.  It was built by Shah Sikander in around 1400 Ad to commemorate the visit of Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani to Kashmir.

Life of Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani

Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani was a prominent Shafi'i Muslim scholar and a Sufi poet.  He was born on 12th October, 1314 AD in Hamadan.  However, there is a dispute about the year of birth; many claim it to be 1313 AD. His father’s name was Syed Shahab Uddin and mother’s name was Syeda Fatimah. Both his parents were directly linked to Prophet Muhammad.

Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani began his education under the care of his maternal uncle, Hazrat Ala-Uddi. Later, he took spiritual training under Sheikh Abul Bracke and Sheikh Mahmud Mizdiqani. The latter was a renowned saint, who influenced Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani to a large extent.

Later on Hamdani joined the Kubraviya Order and shortly became the spiritual heir of Sheikh Abul Miamin Najam Uddin Muhammad-bin-Mohammad Azani. He travelled extensively all over the Muslim world and undertook haj three times.  He came to Kashmir along with seven hundred followers mainly to avoid persecution by Timur.  At that time, King Shahab-Uddin was the ruler of Kashmir.

Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani in Kashmir

Sayed Mir Ali Hamdani

The king and the heir apparent Qutub Uddin welcomed MirSayed Ali Hamdani warmly. At that juncture, Kashmir was facing hostility from Firoz Tughlaq. The matter was amicably solved at his intervention. He also started preaching Islam in the valley in a systematic manner and set up mosques at every nook and corner. What is more, he taught the people of Kashmir how to earn their living by making different articles from the available materials. In fact, most of the handicrafts Kashmir is so famous for were introduced by him and his followers. Therefore, it can be easily said that Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani was as much responsible for spreading of Islam in the valley as he was instrumental to its economic advancement.

Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani also introduced Central Asian style of architecture to Kashmir and fused it with the indigenous style. However, he never stayed here permanently, but visited it three times. Before he left for the last time he left some edicts for the king. Some of these edicts were later used by Sultan Sikandar to persecute the Hindus living under his rule. However, it is to be understood that by issuing such edicts Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani only wanted more and more people to embrace Islam.

Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani died in 1384 AD in Kunar and was buried in Khatlan. Yet, he is fondly remembered as Shah Hamdan by a large section of people in Kashmir even to this day.

Khanqah of Shah Hamdan in Srinagar

Khanqah of Shah Hamdani

Mir Syed Ali Hamdani built many mosques in Kashmir Valley. However, the Khanqah of Shah Hamdan was built by Sultan Sikandar in around 1400 AD on the very spot where the saint used to offer his prayer. It is popularly known as Shah Hamdan Masjid or Shah-I-Hamdan Mosque. Some also refer to it as Khanqah-e Molla.

What is a Khanqah?

One may note that a Khanqah is actually a building designed as a meeting place for Sufi brotherhood. It may also be used as a spiritual retreat and serve as a rest house for Islamic students and Sufi travelers. They are often found adjoined to dargahs and mosques. 

Khanqah - the architectural landmark in Srinagar

Khanqah of Shah Hamdan is considered an architectural landmark in the valley. It is a square edifice made out of wood. However, the spaces within are filled by dressed bricks. It is adorned with wooden moldings, hanging bells and magnificent chandeliers. Beautiful carvings over doors and windows add to its beauty. Ancient religious sermons and historical inscriptions also add to the grander of the Khanqah. A steeply-shaped pinnacle over the roof is visible from far.

The Khanqah has caught fire many times and has been destroyed. It was last rebuilt in 1732 by Abul Barkat Khan. However, few minor changes have been made since then.

Important points to note

Inside Khanqah of Shah Hamdani

It is to be noted that Khanqah of Shah Hamdan is open only to Muslims. Non Muslims are not allowed to enter this mosque; but they can enjoy viewing it from outside.

The sixth day of the last month of Dul-Hajj is the death anniversary of Shah Hamdan and a special day for the mosque.  Special prayers are organized on that day. Devotees from far and near visit it on that day and pray to Allah for peace and prosperity.   

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