How Kashmir’s first Muslim king embraced Islam? – ‘Kashmir News Trust #KNT

KNT Web Desk

Rinchen – who was a Buddhist from Ladakh killed the infamous Kashmiri king Rama Chandra with the help of Shah Mir and became the king of Kashmir on 6 October 1320.

Rinchen was an astute ruler who moved quickly to protect what he had seized. He took care of people and earned their goodwill by rehabilitating them. He was keen to win the hearts of the people of Kashmir.

Rinchen eliminated dacoits and invaders and established the peace in Kashmir that people wanted.

Historian Jona Raja terms the reign of Rinchen as the golden age of Kashmir. He established law and order, peace and justice.

Rinchen was a Buddhist and he was conscious of the fact that a king could not belong to a faith that didn’t enjoy mass support. Buddhism in Kashmir in the 14th century had virtually disappeared, Hinduism was again the dominant creed while Islam had begun to get a growing number of adherents.

Rinchen decided that he had no option but to worship the Lord Shiva, and sent a word to Deva Swami, head priest of the Shaiva Hindus.

A solemn conclave was summoned by the pandits, and with great solemnity, they informed King Rinchen that conversion to Hinduism was not possible. Why? They could not decide which caste in the hierarchy to place Rinchin in.

Then Shah Mir offered Islam as the answer to Rinchen who was his friend. They argued through the night, as Rinchen weighed the personal and political implications. The two friends decided to leave the final decision to the morning.

‘Allah-u-Akbar’ – the first cry that a Muslim hears in the dark shadows that fill the air before dawn in the praise of Allah. God is great – opens the Azan. The muezzin tells the faithful “ Hayya al-as salat, Hayya al-as salat ‘Come to pray, come to pray. As-salatu Khairul mina-n-noum’ ‘prayer is better than sleep.

It was the sound of this call that woke Rinchen that restless morning. He looked out of his window and saw Bulbul Shah in prayer. He went to Bulbul Shah and poured out the questions of the night to the Sufi divine. Bulbul Shah gave him the comfort and assurance which Deva Swami had denied him. Islam had no caste, it was built on the equality of man and faith in the omnipotence of Allah and His last Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH].

To become a Muslim Rinchen only had to utter Qalimah: ‘La-e-laha illallah, Muhammad-un-Rasul Allah – There is no God but Allah and Muhammad [PBUH] is His Messenger. Rinchen became a Muslim that morning, taking the name of Sultan Sadruddin. And thus did Muslim rule reach in Kashmir, not by trailing the armies of the night, but in the glow of persuasion at dawn. The mosque which Rinchen built below his hill castle, Bodro Masjid, became a place of veneration for both Ladakh’s Buddhists and Kashmiri Muslims. The Ladakhi folk song of the Bodro Masjid narrates the details of the conversion with far more verve.

[Excerpts from ‘Kashmir: Behind The Vale]

Neyaz Elahi

Neyaz Elahi, who switched from Electronic to Print Media is a Kashmir based Accredited Journalist who has written extensively on Kashmir for local, national and international web portals. He is currently associated with Srinagar based News Agency Kashmir News Trust (KNT).

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