Baba Adam Shahid

Baba Adam Shahid a saint who lies buried in the courtyard of an old mosque at Abdullapur, a village in vikramapura, not far from Rampal (Munshiganj district). An Arabic inscription attached to the mosque refers to its construction by one Malik Kafur, an officer of Sultan jalaluddin fath shah (1481-1487). In the inscription there is no reference to Baba Adam Shahid, nor there is any authentic information about the saint in any other source.

However, according to local tradition, Baba Adam Shahid was living in Makkah as a faqir or a saintly person. At that time a certain Muslim of Kana-Chang, a village near Rampal, sought the intervention of Baba Adam against the oppression of the local ruler vallalasena. Tradition goes that he sacrificed a cow to celebrate the birth of his son for which he was a victim of oppression by the local Hindu king. The unfortunate Muslim fled from the country and went to Mecca where he related the story of his misfortune to Baba Adam Shahid. Moved by the plight of a co-religionist, the saint came to his help with six to seven thousand followers. The king resolved to expel the Muslim intruders and came out with his army. The king himself took the field when the army failed to expel the Muslims. Ultimately the saint was killed, but by a curious stroke of fate the king himself and his family lost their lives by throwing themselves into agnikunda or a pit of fire.

True or false, this tradition is the only source for reconstructing the history of Baba Adam Shahid. Muslims had contact with Bengal through the Arab traders long before the Turkish conquest under bakhtiyar khalji in the early 13th century. But whether the Arab contact through trade and commerce could lead to Muslim settlements in an interior place like Rampal is doubtful. It is, however, probable that the date of the saint was anterior to that of the mosque of Malik Kafur. When a Muslim settlement grew around the grave of the saint, a mosque was built there to serve the needs of the community.

The story of Baba Adam's fight with Vallalasena is found in a book entitled vallalacharita of Ananda Bhatta. In this book Ballal's enemy has been named as Bayadumba, obviously a corruption of Baba Adam. Baba Adam and his followers have been termed mlechchhas (a word frequently used by the Hindu writers of the period to denote the Muslims). Baba Adam is also said to have led an army of five thousand soldiers. The fate of the king and his family has been described as it is found in the tradition. But Ananda Bhatta's date is not definitely known. Some modern scholars challenge the authenticity of the story since it is in an appendix to the text. There is some truth in the assumption that there was one Vallalasena, an influential zamindar, who rose to prominence in Vikrampur towards the close of the 14th century. He belonged to the Vaidya caste and was a different person from Vallalasena of the sena dynasty of Bengal. It was at the instance of this Vallalasena of the Vaidya caste that Ananda Bhatta wrote his book Vallalacharita. The period of this second Vallalasena saw the complete dismemberment of the Hindu power in Bengal.

Formerly, scholars apprehended Baba Adam Shahid was one of those sufis who came to Bengal before the Turkish conquest. But we have no authentic conformation as to the influx of any sufi saint in Bengal before the Turkish conquest. Baba Adam's date may be fixed towards the end of the 14th century. [Abdul Karim]

Bibliography Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, LVII, Calcutta, 1889; ME HAQ, A History of Sufism in Bengal, Dhaka, 1975; ABDUL KARIM, Social History of the Muslims in Bengal, Chittagong, 1985.