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Work on Kashmir's first Muslim shrine begins

By Staff
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Srinagar, Apr 16 (UNI) The Jammu and Kashmir government today launched the reconstruction work on the first Muslim shrine of sufi saint Syed Sharaf-ud-Din Abdul Rahman, popularly known as Bulbul Shah, which was in dilapidated condition and could have collapsed anytime as cracks had developed in the centuries-old structure.

The historical shrine would be re-built on the pattern of another sacred shrine of sufi saint Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani, also known as Alamdar-e-Kashmir and Nund Reshi, at Charar-e-Sharief in central Kashmir district of Badgam.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Dr Asghar Hassan Samoon and Director Information and Public Relations Farooq Ahmed Reenzu formally launched the reconstruction work on the shrine at Bulbul Lankar in Nawa Kadal area of downtown city.

Thousands of devotees, who had assembled at the shrine since early morning, offered prayers and chanted religious slogans on the occasion.

A Bulbul Shah Trust was also nominated today to monitor the reconstruction work.

The structure would be reconstructed according to the traditional and indigenous architecture of Kashmir which is the speciality of the royal era and symbolises merger of various ethnic and theological art. An auditorium and a library will also be established in the vicinity.

The shrine of sufi saint Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, also known as Amir-e-Kabir, at Khan-i-Qahi Maula in the downtown city is also built on this pattern.

Keeping in view the people's demand for preserving this heritage shrine, a monitoring committee headed by the District Development Commissioner, Srinagar had been constituted some months ago.

The committee also comprised the Vice Chairman of the Srinagar Development Authority, the Director of Information Department, representatives of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, the Director Tourism, Kashmir and the managing body of the shrine.

It had been decided that in view of the status and importance of the Kashmir valley's first Muslim shrine all necessary steps would be taken to preserve its glory.

The shrine has tourist importance as well. Thousands of tourists visit the shrine every year keeping in view its heritage value.

Bulbul Shah was the first person to bring Islam to Kashmir.

Syed Sharaf-ud-Din Abdul Rehman assumed the title of Syed Bilal which got changed into Bulbul over a period of time. Later, he came to be known as Bulbul Shah or Bulbul-e-Kashmir.

According to some historians, he arrived in Kashmir in 1324 AD during the reign of Buddhist ruler Rinchan Shah, who was called the ''Lion Among the Men''.

Rinchan Shah was the first person in Kashmir to embrace Islam and assumed the name Sadar-ud-Din and Rinju Shah. Later his commander of forces Rama Chandra and others followed.

Bulbul Shah's native town is a matter of controversy among the writers. Some say he was from Tamkastan area in ancient Iran, while others believe he was from Baghdad and still others trace his origin to Turkistan.

Rinchan Shah constructed a monastery for Bulbul Shah, which came to be known as the Khanqah-e-Bulbul Shah, at Mohalla Bulbullinko the downtown city near his palace at Nawa Kadal. Bulbullinko became Bulbul Lankar with the period of time.

A woman's college has since been built where Rinchan Shah's palace once existed.

It is at this palace that Rinchan Shah was given a discourse on Islam by Bulbul Shah continuously for three days.

Rinchan Shah, who was a very popular ruler, also got the first Mosque built in Kashmir. Bulbul Shah died in 1326 AD.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Reenzu said the role of Bulbul Shah in transforming the society of Kashmir and spreading the message of love, brotherhood and mutual amity is remarkable and was the essence of his teachings.

The basic concept of Kashmiriyat emerged from his pure and sacred thoughts, he added.

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