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Ali Hamadani

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Ali Hamadani

Islamic scholar
Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani
Title Shah Hamadan
Born 1314
Died 1464 (aged 63)
Ethnicity Iran
Region Asia
Jurisprudence Sufism
Main interest(s) Tasawwuf

Mir Syed Ali bin Shahab-ud-Din Hamadani (Persian: میر سید علی شهاب‌الدین همدانی‎) (1384-1314) was a Persian Sūfī of the Kubrāwī order, a poet and a prominent Muslim scholar.[1][2] He was born on Monday, 12th Rajab 714 AH (1314 A.C) in Hamadan[3] and died in 786 AH/1384 in Kunar and was buried in Khatlan.[4] He was very influential in spreading Islam in Kashmir and has had a major hand in shaping the culture of the Kashmir valley.[3] He was also known as "Shāh Hamadhān" ("King of Hamadhān", Iran) and as Amīr-i Kabīr ("the Great Commander"). He wrote several short works on spirituality and Sufism. He was immortalised by poets like Allama Iqbal.

His name was Ali, and titles were Amir-e-Kabir, Ali Sa'ani, Shah-e-Hamadan and Mir. Besides them, the Chroniclers had mentioned several other titles: Qutub-e-Zaman, Sheikh-e-Salikan-e-Jehan, Qutub-Ul-Aktab, Moih-Ul-Ambiya-o-Ul-Mursaleen, Afzal-Ul-Muhaq-e-qeen-o-Akmal-Ul-Mudaq-e-qeen, Al-Sheiyookh-Ul-Kamil, Akmal-Ul-Muhaqqiq-Ul-Hamadani etc.

Early life

He was born in a noble family in Hamadan. He traced his patrimony through his father, Syed Shahab Uddin, to Imam Zain-ul-Abedein and finally to Hazrat Ali. His mother, Syeda Fatimah, with seventeen links, reached the Prophet.

His date of birth is disputed. To some it is 12, Rajab-Ul-Marjab 714 Hijri (12 October 1314) and to others is 12, Rajab 713 (12 October 1313). The former date appears more probable.


Sayyid Hamadani came from an educated family. He was intelligent and quick of mind, and read the Quran, under the care of his maternal uncle, Hazrat Ala-Uddin and from him too he took his lessons on various subjects, both outer and intrinsic for a period of thirteen years.

Spiritual Training

Hazrat Ala-Uddin, then, entrusted him to Sheikh Abul Bracket for spiritual training, and after his demise he proceeded to Sheikh Mahmud Mizdiqani, a renowned saint of the time. The saint put him to severe tests and thus removed pride and haughtiness from him and inculcated in him virtues of humility.


He belonged to the Kubraviya Order and received the role of the spiritual heir from Sheikh Abul Miamin Najam Uddin Muhammad-bin-Mohammad Azani.


Syed Ali Hamadani was a prolific traveller in his times and travelled far and wide throughout the Muslim World. His teacher Mahmud Mizdiqani had said to him, "Travel about the world, meet the saints, draw benefits from them as much as you can." Consequently, he undertook the Haj thrice and traveled for twenty or twenty one years. During these journeys he saw the Islamic and other countries and met the holy men there. Mir Syed Ashraf Jahangir Semnani the famous saint of Kichaucha Sharif was a contemporary of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani [5].

To avoid persecution in his homeland at the hands of Timur, he moved to Kashmir with seven hundred followers, during the reign of King Shahab-Uddin. He had already sent two of his followers: Syed Taj Uddin Samnani and Mir Syed Hasan Samnani to take stock of the situation. The ruler of Kashmir became the follower of Mir Syed Hasan Samnani and because of the Kings concurrence he entered Kashmir with a large following. The King and heir apparent, Qutub Uddin, received him warmly. At that time the Kashmir ruler was on war with Firoz Tughlaq and because of his efforts the parties came to terms.

In Kashmir, Shah-e-Hamadan started to preach Islam in an organized manner. He and his followers helped set up a large number of mosques in every nook and corner of the valley, the most famous of them being the Khanqah-e-Muala on the banks of Jhelum River.

Shah Hamdan did not stay in the valley permanently but visited the valley on various occasions. The first time was during the reign of Sultan Shahab Uddin in 774 A.H he came, stayed for six months and left. The second time he visited was in 781 A.H. when Qutub Uddin was the ruler. This time he stayed for a year and tried to extend the Movement to every nook and corner of Kashmir, returning to Turkistan via Ladakh in 783 A.H. Third, he visited in 785, with the intention to stay for a longer period but had to return earlier owing to illness.

Illness and Death

On return from his third visit to Kashmir he reached Kunar via Pikhanli and was received as a royal guest. He fell ill there and died after five days on 6, Zil Haj 786 Hijri.

Compiler, Hasan, in the Tar-eekh-e-Hasan mentions the date of expiry in the Persian couplet, which means:

The great Syed Sirdar (Ali Hamadan) went to the paradise to take rest.

Hasan mentions the year of the death in this couplet.

He was buried at Kulob in Khatlan where people to this day gather in large numbers to pay their homage to him.

Shah Hamadan's efforts reached far and wide and benefited a large number of people. The number of his followers was large. A few to mention were: Noor Uddin Jafar Rustaq Bazari Badakhshi, Khawaja Ishaq Khatlani, Sheikh Qiwam Uddin Badakhshi, Mir Syed Husain Samnani, Mir Rukn Uddin, Syed Fakhar Uddin, Qutub-e-Amjad Syed Muhammad Qureshi, Syed Ahmad Qureshi, Syed Muhammad Aziz Ullah, Syed Muhammad murid, and Pir Muhammad Qadri etc.

Influence on Kashmiri culture

Shah-e-Hamadan has been on the principal historical figures who have shaped the culture of Kashmir. His influence on arts and culture and the economy of the valley cannot be overstated. Among the seven hundred followers who accompanied him to Kashmir, were men of arts and crafts who flourished in the valley. They popularized Shawl-making, carpet-manufacturing, cloth-weaving, pottery and calligraphy. Allama Iqbal admits that because of Shah Hamadan the wonderful arts and crafts turned Kashmir into a mini Iran and brought about a revolution in the thinking process of the people. The skills and know-how he brought to Kashmir gave rise to an industry which is world famous even now as the home of Cashmere shawls. The many vocations he introduced in the valley have provided a livelihood to the artisans of Kasmir for centuries.

Shah Hamadan was a Multi-dimensional personality. He was a social reformer besides being a preacher. He brought substantial reforms in the lives of ordinary Kashmiris, getting rid of practices like black magic and Sati. He made Islamic teachings known to the people in Kashmir, improved their beliefs, made efforts for the building of their character and laid down a fool-proof system for the propagation of the Islam. He introduced the Central Asian architecture in the valley and when fused with the Kashmiri architecture, gave rise to a new style. The most famous example of this is the Khanqah-e-Mualla, the monastery dedicated to him in Kashmir. This building, which contains the room where he stayed on his first visit to the valley, is a beautiful model of wooden architecture of Kashmir, with engravings on walls. Friday prayers are said there where hundreds gather to pray. The sacred relics include the Prophet's flag, the pillar of the Prophet's tent, and Shah Hamadan's walking stick.


He is a highly revered figure in Kashmir, parts of Pakistan as well as in Tajikistan, where he is buried. He is credited with having performed many miracles in his time.

A 627 year old chinar tree at Chatargam, Chadoora, Badgam district, Kashmir, said to be the oldest tree of this type in the world, was allegedly planted in 1374 AD by Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani.[6]


Shah Hamadan, besides being a mystic saint and an effective preacher, was a man of letters and wrote about a hundred pamphlets in Arabic and Persian: Zakhirat-ul-Maluk, a famous book, has been translated in many languages. Some other famous works are:

  • Risalah Nooriyah, is a tract on contemplation.[3]
  • Risalah Maktubaat, contains Amir-i-Kabir’s letter.[3]
  • Dur Mu’rifati Surat wa Sirat-i-Insaan, discusses the bodily and moral features of man.[3]
  • Dur Haqaa’iki Tawbah, deals with the real nature of penitence.[3]
  • Hallil Nususi allal Fusus, is a commentary on Ibn-ul-‘Arabi’s Fusus-ul-Hikam.[3]
  • Sharhi Qasidah Khamriyah Faridhiyah, is a commentary on the wine-qasidah of ‘Umar ibn ul-Fariz who died in 786 A.H. =1385 A.C.[3]
  • Risalatul Istalahaat, is a treatise on Sufic terms and expressions.[3]
  • ‘ilmul Qiyafah or Risalah-i qiyafah is an essay on physiognomy. A copy of this exists in the United States National Library of Medicine.[3]
  • Dah Qa’idah gives ten rules of contemplative life.[3]
  • Kitabul Mawdah Fil Qurba, puts together traditions on affection among relatives.[3]
  • Kitabus Sab’ina Fi Fadha’il Amiril Mu’minin, gives the seventy virtues of Hazrat ‘Ali. Arba’ina Amiriyah, is forty traditions on man’s future life.[3]
  • Rawdhtul Firdaws, is an extract of a larger work entitled.[3]
  • Firdawsul Akhyaar, by Shuja-ud-Din Shiruyah.[3]
  • Manazilu Insaaliqin, is on Sufi-ism.[3]
  • Awraad-ul-Fatehah, gives a conception of the unity of God and His attributes.[3]
  • Chehl Asraar (Forty Secrets), is a collection of forty poems in praise of Allah and The Prophet
  • Zakhirat-ul-Muluk, a treatise on political ethics and the rules of good government.[3]


  • The Nurbakhshis of Baltistan: Crisis and Revival of a Five Centuries Old Community, Andreas Rieck Die Welt des Islams, New Ser., Vol. 35, Issue 2 (Nov., 1995), pp. 159–188


  • John Renard 2005: Historical Dictionary of Sufism (Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies and Movements, 58), ISBN 0810853426

External links

  • Long biography
  • Tajik banknotes - includes picture of 10 Somoni note with Hamadani's face.
  • The Shrine & Mausoleum of Mir Sayid Ali Hamadani
  • Islam in Kashmir Book Review
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