Hazrat Shah Hamaddan Mir Syed Ali Hamadani (r.a.) (1314-1384) was a Persian Sufi of the Kubrawi order, a poet and a prominent Shafi'i muslim scholar. He was born on Monday, 12th Rajab 714 AH (1314 A.C) in Hamadanand died in 786 AH/1384 in Kunar and was buried in Khatlan. He was very influential in spreading Islam in Kashmir and has had a major hand in shaping the culture of the Kashmir valley. He was also known as "Shah Hamadhan" ("King of Hamadhan", Iran) and as Amir-i Kabir ("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.
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.Syed Hamdani came from an educated family. He was intelligent and quick of mind, and read the holy Qu'Oran, under the care of his maternal uncle, Hazrat Ala-Uddin and from him too he took his lessons on subjects outer and intrinsic for a period of thirteen years.
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 received the role of the spiritual heir from Sheikh Abul Miamin Najam Uddin Muhammad-bin-Mohammad Azani.
After studies, external and internal, in order to train his self; he went into seclusion and spent six years. He did not utter a single word relating to material life. After the period, he again went to Hazrat Abul Barakat who attended to the cleansing of heart and physical exercise. He ordered him to go to Muhammad Mizdiqani. After the last rites of Hazrat Abul Barakat he presented himself to Hazrat Mahmud Mizdiqani on the fourth day.Under the orders of his teacher Mahmud Mizdiqani, he set out on journey and spent better part of it in it
He quarreled with Amir-e-Temur and so moved to Kashmir with seven hundred Syeds and his 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.
Shah Hamdan started the propagation movement of the Islam in Kashmir in an organized manner. The Kashmiri Muslims were unaware of the Deeni spirit before his arrival there. The reason being, the people, who had initiated the Movement, were saintly by nature and carried a deep influence of the Hinduism and the Buddhism. In-spite of having been turned Muslims they still observed many local rites and practices. Shah Hamdan did not stay in the valley permanently but visited on various occasions. First during the reign of Sultan Shahab Uddin in 774 Hijri he came, stayed for six months and left it. Second, he visited in 781 Hijri when Qutub Uddin was the ruler, stayed for a year and tried to extend the Movement to every nook and corner of Kashmir, returned to Turkistan via Ladakh in 783 Hijri. Third, he visited in 785, with the intention to stay for a longer period but had to return earlier owing to illness.
During his travels he met one thousand and four hundred saints and made numerous followers. The valley of Kashmir was fortunate for he decided to make it the center of his activities. Prior to him the Yogis propagated Islam and Rishis on whom the local effects ruled strongly than the pristine Islamic spirit. The intrinsic had over powered the Shairah. His greatest contribution was that he synchronized
Shah Hamadan was a Multi-dimensional personality. He was a social reformer besides being a preacher. Among the seven hundred followers, who accompanied him to Kashmir, were men of arts and crafts who flourished here. They popularized Shawl-making, 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.