After living in exile in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf for more than a decade, Ayatollah Rohullah Khomeini was expelled from Iraq by Saddam Hussain in October 1978 at the request of Iran’s tyrant ruler Reza Shah Pahlavi, according to ‘Saddam Hussain, A Political Biography’. During this time, Kashmir’s noted religious cleric Ayatollah Aga Syed Yusuf dispatched a letter to Ayatollah Khomeini, asking him to visit Kashmir. Khomeini’s reply came as a pleasant surprise and got historians busy tracing his links to Kashmir. “I would have loved to visit Kashmir, which apparently is my ancestral place,” read the letter.
When the letter reached him, Aga asked Ayatollah Khomeini for more details about his ancestors. He replied that he does not know much except the fact that his grandfather had migrated from Kashmir to Iran about 130 years ago.
Aga Syed Mohammad Fazlullah, Aga’s eldest son, was enrolled at a religious seminary in Najaf at that time. He was entrusted with the task of handing over Aga’s letter to Ayatollah Khomeini.
“While in Najaf, I frequently visited Imam Khomeini. When I came to know about his Kashmiri ancestors through his letters to my father, I asked Imam about it,” Aga Fazlullah recounts. “He told me that they have a copy of handwritten Quran at their house in Qom (Iran) which belongs to their grandfather. When I visited Qom few months later for pilgrimage, I also visited Imam’s house where I was greeted by his youngest son, Syed Ahmed, who already knew me because Imam had introduced me to him during one of his visits to Najaf.”
Much has been written and said about the founder of Islamic revolution of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini, but very few people know that the iconic figure who changed the course of world history traced his family roots to Kashmir.
During one of his visits to Imam’s house in Qom, Aga met Ayatollah Khomeini’s elder brother, Syed Morteza Pasandideh, who showed him a copy of the Holy Quran. When he opened it, a broad smile flashed on his face. “On the cover page of the Quran was written: This (holy book) belongs to Ahmed al-Moosvi al-Kashmiri,” he recollects.
Meanwhile, Ayatollah Yusuf contacted some historians and genealogists in Kashmir to find out the details about Syed Ahmed who had migrated from Kashmir.
According to historians, one of Khomeini’s ancestors, Syed Shahab-ud-Din Hyder, had visited Kashmir in 766 Hijri. He was accompanied by two of his brothers – Syed Ziauddin, whose real name was Syed Mohammad and lies buried at Habak, Gun Khwaja Qasim, and Syed Qutubuddin, popularly known as Haji Peer Mitha, buried in Jammu.
Syed Shahabuddin was the nephew of Mir Syed Ali Hamadani and also his son-in-law. The detailed account of Syed Shahabuddin’s association with Syed Ali Hamadani has been given in “Nuzhatul Khawatir”, and also in “Muqaddima Awrad-e Fathiyya”. When Syed Ali Hamadani left Kashmir, Shahabuddin stayed back and continued propagation of Islam. He used to stay at Khanqah-e Namchibal, which also became his final resting place.
According to ‘Aasar-e Bastani Azarbaijan’, volume 2, Syed Shahab-ud-Din Hyder was the grandson of Safi-ud-Din Ardabili. There is also a mention of Syed Shabab-ud-Din and his two brothers in ‘Shajrat-ul-Toyiba’.
Moti Lal Saqi has also given a detailed account of Peer Hajj Mitha in “Sheeraza Urdu”.
Noted historian and genealogist of Kashmir, Syed Mohammad Anis Kazmi, whose research work has been duly acknowledged by Ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson Syed Hasan Khomeini in his official website (www.hasankhomeini.ir), says that the progeny of Shahab-ud-Din lived in Kashmir at Namchibal, Khanqah for a long time.
“Shahab-ud-Din is buried at Namchibal and his shrine is popularly known as ‘Bab Syed Hyder’,” he says. Shahab-ud-Din’s son, Syed Mohammad Jabalil Amli, is also buried at Namchabal and his shrine is popularly known as “Syed Sahib”, he adds.
Detailed account of this family is given in ‘Kohl-ul Jawahir’, written by Allama Ibn-e Raza, and published from Lahore in 1264 Hijri.
Historians say that a Quran in Kufi script written by seventh Shia Imam, Hazrat Moosa Kazim, was also brought to Kashmir by Syed Shahb-ud-Din Haider. The Quran is preserved at a shrine in Chattabal Srinagar.
“Syed Jabalil Amli’s son was Syed Abdul Gani; Syed Gani’s son was Syed Hassan or Syed Hussain; His son was Syed Nowroz; Nowroz’s son was Syed Abdul Hadi; Hadi’s son was Aqa Syed Hussain; Hussain’s son was Syed Amir-ud-Din also known as Deen Ali; Amir-ud-Din’s son was Syed Safdar; Safdar’s son was Syed Buzurg; Syed Buzurg’s son was Syed Ahmad, the grandfather of Syed Ruhullah Khomeini,” says Kazmi.
The family, according to Kazmi, lived in Kashmir for a long time. However, the family briefly moved out of Kashmir due to group clashes in Kashmir which left many scholars dead.
“Syed Safdar and his son Syed Buzurg had migrated from Kashmir and settled in Calcutta (now Kolkatta) where Syed Ahmad (the grandfather of Syed Ruhullah Khomeini) was born,” says Kazmi. Pertinently, the book “Hirzul Aman” also mentions the name of Syed Ahmed’s father as Syed Buzurg.
“After completing his studies in religious theology in a seminary in Iraq, Syed Ahmad also came back to Kashmir in 1262 Hijri, but he soon left for Koh-e Qamra (now Khomein) in Iran with Haji Baqir Khan Irani where he got married with an Iranian girl,” Kazmi says. “All of Khomeini’s ancestors – from Syed Shahabuddin to Syed Buzurg – are buried in Kashmir. Some of them are buried at Khanqah-e Sokhta, some are buried at Daulatabad, and some at Rang Paristan Surteng.”
Syed Ahmed got married to Sakeena Khanum, daughter of Yousuf Khan, on 17th of Ramadan 1257AH. On 29th of Rajab 1278AH, Syed Mustafa, the father of Ayatollah Khomeini, was born.
Some historians claim that Syed Ahmad lived in Lucknow before migrating to Iran. However, according to Khomeini’s elder brother, Syed Morteza Pasandideh, Syed Ahmad’s point of departure was Kashmir, not Lucknow.
Significantly, one more Syed Ahmed Moosvi had departed from Kashmir around the same period. Though, according to a document written by Syed Ahmed’s nephew, late Aga Syed Mohammad, the former had no son. Another scion of the same family, Aga Syed Mustafa has confirmed that Syed Ahmed had only one daughter and that he is buried at Golaganj Lucknow.
(Author hails from Srinagar Kashmir is a Journalist and Working at Correspondent for Press TV)