By Binish Qadri
has a history of and is defined by Sufism. The patron Sufi saint of Kashmir is
Nund Rishi, also known as Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali, Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani,
and widely known as Sheikh ul-Alam. He was the 14th-century Sufi saint who,
through his poetry spoke about the connection between man and God, conservation
of the environment, in general, and forests , in particular. According to
Sheikh ul Alam, forests are sustainers of life and we must protect it. His
poetry touched every aspect of the life of mankind. His poetry teaches us great
principles of the economy and environment which is why he deserves to be in the
category of an economist and an environmentalist. He laid thrust on production
and distribution of goods and services for which natural resources and forests
play a great role. He took no interest in worldly undertakings. At a very young
age of 30, Sheikh ul Alam felt a repulsion and an intense dislike for the
ordinary material business life and superannuated to live in the lap of nature.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir are highly indebted and grateful to the great
Sheikh as far as development of art and culture, in the first place, and an
environment-friendly outlook is concerned.
Dawood Khaki defined poetically the great Sheikh of Kashmir in the following
Shaykh Nuruddin Rishi
Zahid-e-khush bood ba Haqq
dasht bisyar ishtighal
Boob ba tahjreed wa tajreed
sheer-o-asal bisyaar saal (Ikram, 1991)
to the Sheikh, Rishiyat is in no way a philosophy or ideology but a mode of
conduct or way of life which comprises selfless deeds to mankind and belief in
self-respect and dignity of life (Maroof Shah, 2009).He characteristics his
Rishism to the Believer of Allah himself (Zargar, 2009).:
Sheikh ul-Alam(RA) who revitalized and Islamized Sufism in an exceptionalachievement
of unconditional ijtihad in divinity and mysticism in the history of Islam:
Oh God You are all Pervading
You are The Self in our body.
When man’s heart lights up with
the flame of love,
Then shall he reach La-Makaan.
First I forgot myself and yearned
after God then I reached La-Makaan (Amin, 2008)
poetry has been greatly valued and loved by medieval chroniclers. Many
historians and translators endeavored to transform his versus but failed to a
great extent. Dawud Mishkati who desired to translate his verses into Persian
Dawud Mishkati, wished to translate the Kashmiri poetry of the Sheikh into
Persian. But I could not experience what the Sheikh experienced. Without this
state of inner experience (hal) I could not get the sweetness of this Kalam.
Whatever the Sheikh said was uttered in a state of hal. Since I am devoid of
that hal this is why I could not dare translate his poetry.’
crux of the Sheikh’s lessons through his poetry is that environment should be
protected, cared for, nurtured and not devastated or destroyed. He never
tolerated any destruction in the direction of environment and mankind. He said:
Extensively I toured in jungles
through kail trees,
The warmth of June touched
the delicacy of jasmine,
Distinct are not the pearls
(dew drops) to the moisture,
Mere touch shall damage
delicacy of diamond,
Sooner the flame of tulips
The evening occasions but the
drowsiness of slumber (Gowhar, 2009)
ul Alam did not tolerate any exploitation of human beings and protested against
extravagances and excesses that are root causes for the moral degradation of
mankind. Rishis used to tame wild beasts and animals. They underwent great
hardships to feed animals. The Sheikh was well versed with the livestock sector
and even carried the head load of salt from Poonch area to pastures and
nourished the livestock with indispensable dozes of salt so that they may
prevent from diseases. He, through his better understanding of the Creator and
the creation, rendered it possible to tell people about the advantages of
natural resources, particularly forests through his poetry using metaphors,
similes, personification, and symbols.
great Sheikh used his poetry as a tool to highlight the importance of religion
in the life of a man and the role of religion in the conservation of the
environment. His poetry commonly known as Shrukhs reflect his religious
devotion to Allah and his concern over nature and mankind. Tawhid, Risala,
Ma’ad, and human lust are the main themes of his poetry. He has symbolically
used nature to express basic and higher message of morality, justice, equality,
and environmental conservation. There is no stanza of him which doesn’t convey
social, religious, historical, cultural, environmental, moral and ethical
messages and lessons. One of his most well-known and celebrated verses reflect
the most important economic and environmental fact. He quotes: ‘Ann Poshi Teli
Yeli Wann Poshi’ meaning ‘Food will last as long as forests last’.
is a need for the understanding of Sheikh ul-Alam’s (RA) moral philosophy for
he is not only the person who advocated moral values but practiced them as well
by way of his austerity in practicing Islam and its principles and simple way
of life. He followed a natural system of ethics coupled with the Islamic system
(Fazili, 2009). Therefore, there should be a paradigm shift from logical based
approach to nature-based approach for understanding Sufism and their philosophy
which has its roots in religion. We need to reexamine the religious texts of
Sufis and Rishis. And, we need to make our faith very strong enough by
understanding the metaphysical outlook of different religions which Sufism and
Rishiyat had to come across in its path of growth and development (Shah, 2009).
M. (2008). Gleanings from Shaikh-ul Alam (A selection of Ninety-Nine Shruks).
Markaz-i-Nur, Shaikh-ul Alam Chair.
G.N. (2009).Kashmir Mystic Thought. Srinagar: Gulshan BooksPrint.
Muhammad Ikram. (1991). Ab-i- Kawhar. Delhi.
M.M. (2009).Shaikh-ul AlamRA and Perennial Philosophy. Alamdar: A Journal of
Kashmiri Society and Culture, Mehak Printing Press Naid Kadal Srinagar,VoI.III
A,N. Shah M.M. (2009).Understanding Shaikh-ul Alam: A Sufi Perspective.
Alamdar: A Journal of Kashmiri Society and Culture, Mehak Printing Press Naid
Kadal Srinagar,VoI.III (3): 97.
Mohammad Ishaq (2005) Kashmiri’s Transition To Islam: The Role of Muslim
Rishis, (15th-18th century) Gulshan Books Srinagar,(1994): 232-233
—The author is a Research Scholar at the
Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir, an Academic Counsellor,
IGNOU STUDY CENTRE 1209,S.P. College, Srinagar and an Editor in EPH –
International Journal of Business and Management Science & Asian Journal of
Managerial Science. She is also an Ezine Articles Expert Author; IJRULA title
awards, 2018 winner (Best Researcher, 2018) and can be reached at: