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Sheikh ul Alam (RA): A preacher, a poet

[ October 28, 2016 ]

Sheikh ul Alam (RA) is one of those distinguished philosophers, Sufi poets, preachers of Kashmir’s history who have exercised the most tremendous influence on the literary and cultural life of people in Kashmir. It is certainly no exaggeration to say that no one else has so far gained such a universal popularity with the Kashmiri people including scholars as to become a household name.

There is hardly a verse of Sheikh ul Alam which has not a social, moral, cultural and more importantly topographical context. He was determined

Sheikh ul Alam (RA) is among the first to use creatively, Kashmiri language in which he has incorporated many of his pithy and wise sayings and aphorisms. Such luminaries and beacons of spiritual literary knowledge comprehend the whole gamut of life or at least the centre around which life revolves, and if they happened to be artists, their art is always subservient to their main table. The poetic ardor and accent of Sheikh ul Alam (RA) is vitally significant and salutary in its effect. The articulation of the great work of Sheikh ul Alam(RA) has made the linguistic and cultural mystery acceptable to us. He has been the only great among a few where the imprint of his influence is so deep on Kashmir’s culture, literature, language that he becomes an integral part of our identity. His whole life and work provides an opportunity for a discussion on religious, social, moral poetry, its categorization, evaluation, admiration and impact with all its facts and in all its manifestations. One of the renowned Kashmiri historians Ishaq Khan a former professor of history at Kashmir University illustriously says, “I must confess that no translator can reproduce the sublimity and comprehensiveness of the words used by the Sheikh ul Alam , which means so much in a single symbol.”

He further says “Sheikh ul Alam did inherit wanderlust from the Buddhist and Hindu ascetics, but what is remarkable about him is that even while practicing renunciations he did not keep himself aloof from his contemporary faith.
His composition in the popular Kashmiri dialect, particularly addressed the peasants and artisans point to the plebeian character of his movement.” Shafi Shouq says, “culture and literature like proteus, change with every slight stir in the socio economic order and intellectual ambience and new advancement in science, yet there are certain constants in both culture and literature of the community that are shaped and strengthened by the contribution of some individuals who are remembered as the architects of the identity of that community. Shah-e-
Hamdan, Sheikh ul Alam, Bulbul Shah, Ghani Kashmiri and Iqbal are some of the great minds whose impact on the identity of Kashmiri people cannot be ignored.” Sheikh ul Alam was multidimensional personality as his verses do not simply share the common traits, but he was an environmentalist, botanist (for example, in one of his verses he said; Food is subservient to forests) as well as mystic. There is hardly a verse of Sheikh ul Alam which has not a social, moral, cultural and more importantly topographical context. He was determined to mend the society from being worst to best. He toured too many places of Kashmir, even he prescribed the names to some unknown villages, and he became successful in his mission of
spreading the teachings of Islam to common people through their mother tongue so that they could understand the religion of Islam properly.