A Glory in Ruins
Mir Sayid Mohammad Madni’s mausoleum often known as Madin Sahab is one of the oldest mausoleums situated in the vicinity of Hawal, Srinagar. The structure is 600 years old and was built in the 15th century by Sultan Zain-ul-Abideen, who, because of his efficacious rulership stature, is also known as Bud Shah— the Great King.
Lying within the residential area, the mausoleum is surrounded by a cluster of houses, its back facing a government higher secondary school. This area is supposed to have been a part of the medieval temple complex, traces of which can still be found.
The site is oriented along the north-south axis with a Masjid at its center, the shrine to its south and the Hammam on its north.
The Masjid is located on a slightly elevated part of the site, giving it a sense of physical dominance over the rest of the structures in the vicinity. Madin Sahab is the only surviving building of Srinagar with the traditional mud-roof which is profusely adorned by tender flowering plants.
The Tomb lies on the south of the Masjid of Madin Sahab and stone flooring exists all around the tomb. The gateway of the Astaan is decorated with latticework. Barring the entrance gateway and stone retaining wall, no other traces of the original shrine exists today, though the wooden Zavia (cenotaph) covering the graveyard of the Syed Madni has been recently reconstructed by the States’ Archive Department. A door with intricate engraving leading into the shrine is the only remnant dating back to the original time. The wall of the gateway of the shrine was originally covered with gazed tiles which however does no longer exist today, and the walls around the door that were scribbled with Persian verses have also deprecated to extinction. Above, the door is carved with Arabic verses.
Outside the Masjid, there is a rock on which some Surahs of Qur’an are carved. It is peculiarly designed in a way to look like a box standing on the top of log patterned with four-pointed stones each with an approximate dimension of 12 inches. The myth pervades that the stone flew from Medina and settled down here itself.
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The Masjid of Syed Madni between the hammam and the Astaan is covered with pyramid roof laid over with birch back (Burza) and has cusped arched openings. The Masjid is adorned with Khatamband ceiling, carved doorway, intricately carved & heavy stepped cornice below the eaves, multi-sided wooden columns, tracery work over the entablature covering the arches and stone-carved columns near the doorway.
A single edifice square-shaped Hammam lies in the north-east of the Masjid built by the Sultan Zain-ul- Abideen in the 15th century. The building is in Diwar stone construction with three-tiered Chaar Baam roof covered by a layer of soil— probably supported by a timber truss with birch back (Burza) covering— Pinjra-Kari work, pendants and carved eaves-board that has been used as a decorative element. The structure was burnt down during a spate of sectarian violence in the 19th century and has been recently rebuilt by the State Archives Department.
Raashid Maqbool, a senior journalist, and a resident of the vicinity has ardently been visiting the mausoleum and reciting Qur’an and supplicating in the Masjid. “I have been bringing people, especially youngsters and give them a tour of this place. I want people to know and remember this place. It is a place of great heritage value and should be preserved,” commented Maqbool.
Mir Sayid Muhammad Madni was descendent of Imam Zain-ul-Abideen, son of Hazrat Imam Hussein (R.A). Sayid belonged to Medina. His father Mir Sayid Ahmad was assassinated in Medina at the age of 54 and was laid to rest in Janat-ul- Baqi graveyard of Medina. Sayid was one of the three sons of Mir Sayid Ahmad.
Mir Sayid Muhammad Madni came to Kashmir during Sultan Shamas-ud-Din Shah Mir’s reign, founder of Shah Mir dynasty. His visit to the valley was inspired by divine command. He was sent to Kashmir as Timur’s envoy to Sultan Sikander. Sayid fell in love with the Kashmir’s serene beauty and its people, and decided to settle here, along with his whole family.
Sayid was married to Ruqaya Khatoon and had two sons— Sayid Ali and Sayid Wali—and a daughter, Sayida Fatima.
Sayid set his journey for Kashmir in the early fifteenth century and left with his family with a caravan comprising around one thousand people. When the Caravan reached Kashmir, they settled in Srinagar in Mohalla Rang Paristan, Rainawari and became a disciple of Syed Muhammad Hamdani.
There is a difference amongst historians regarding the period of the arrival of Sayyid Madni in Kashmir. Some writers state that he arrived during Sultan Sikander’s period while others claim it to be during the reign of Sultan Zain-ul- Abideen.
Sayid Muhammad Madni preached the elements of Islamic faith amongst the people of Kashmir. His scholarly and spiritual quality became famous all over Kashmir and within a short span of time, he became prominently known among the saints and scholars of the time. It is believed that Sayid had some miraculous powers too.
Almost 15 km from Srinagar is Malmoova, Magam where Sayid Madni stayed for some time and there is also a Khanqah of Sayid Madni in which Sayid Mohammad Jabal-ul-Aamli is buried. Sayid later returned back to Srinagar after Sultan Sikander‘s invitation to stay in Kashmir. He built a house for him and a Khanqah for his followers near his own palace. Sultan used to pay visits to him and had great admiration for him.
“Interestingly after Sayid’s strenuous efforts to build a Masjid, he laid the foundation of the Masjid keeping its dimensions same as that of Holy Mecca,” Justice Hakim Imtiyaz Hussain records in The Shias of Jammu and Kashmir Volume I.
Sayid Muhammad Madni died in Srinagar on 11 Rajab 848 Hijri and was buried in his ancestral graveyard at Madin Sahab.
Sayid’s son Mir Sayid Ali, grandson Mir Sayid Hussain and his great-grandson Mir Sayid Najaf are also buried near the grave of Mir Sayid Muhammad Madni. Even the grandson of his grandchild, Mir Sayid Thani is also buried in his ancestral graveyard.
Almost seven or so years back, history repeated itself. There was another dispute between the Shia and Sunni about the mausoleum’s custodianship which was closed by the consent of both Sunni leader Mirwaiz Molvi Umar Farooq and some Shia community leaders including the Anjuman-e- Sharie -Shian leader Agha Syed Hassan Mosavi Alsafvi. Later the custody of the mausoleum went under the custody of J&K Government. Since then, the mausoleum is locked. The mausoleum is currently owned by the States Archive Department which has time and back renovated the mausoleum and constructed the Hamam which was burnt earlier in the sectarian violence.
Currently, the mausoleum is in a state of despair, owing to the negligence shown towards the mausoleum and is in great need of the immediate attention of the Archaeology Department for preserving its essence.
The people of the vicinity want the shrine to be renovated and thrown open for the devotees.
Although the devotees are not allowed to enter the mausoleum, still the devotees offer Fateh Khwani outside and tie the piece of cloth at the entrance gate for their faith they put in the shrine.
The mausoleum in today’s date holds great importance among both sects of Muslims. There are many incidents recorded in different chronicles about the spiritual and miraculous powers of Madin Sahab.
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Afreen Amin is pursuing bachelors in Journalism from Govt. Women's College, Srinagar.