Mirwaiz left religious scholarship, political sagacity as big legacies
Views from Srinagar
MDR. JAVID IQBAL IRWAIZ Yusuf Shah [1311-1388 A.H] left for his heav enly abode on December, the 12th 1968, however in accordance with Islamic lunar calendar; his death anniversary is commemorated on 16/17 month of Ramadan across the bloody line dividing Kashmir. Assessing the life and work of Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah is related to cross LoC tragedies. The line might have resulted in physical separation, however it has not been able to keep apart union of hearts. People on either side continue to be soul mates. The line created out of human misery has not been able to untie the knot that binds the people.
Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah remained on other side of the bloody line post the tragedy of 1947. That however did not take away the love and esteem people felt for the one, who had for years preached from the pulpit of Jamia Masjid. What was before his period a religious pulpit, though linked to social up-lift, became a place for political sermons, in keeping with Islamic traditions, where politics cannot be divorced from religion.
Politico-religious mix is not peculiar to Islam, a take considered to undermine secular values. In Hinduism, Ram Rajya is much propagated to mark morality in politics. Islam on similar lines values the mix as a moralizing influence. Allama Iqbal relates, politics devoid of religious influence, in other words moralizing influence is akin to savagery of Genghis: [Juda Ho Deen Say Siyasat Tou Rah Jate Hai Chengazi].
Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah upheld the Islamic principle. It started with Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S) as he challenged from the pulpit the satanic rule of Nimrod. Hazrat Musa (A.S) upheld it in challenging Pharaonic rule. And, Hazrat Issa (A.S) likewise asked for revival of moralistic guidelines, upset by Jewish Rabbis and Roman rulers of Palestine.
The word from the pulpit on religion is imbibed without dissent, as it comes from a religious authority. The same may not hold well for political discourse, right of dissent is sacrosanct. Dissent however is not subjective, but objective, meant to evolve a consensus. Shoura-e- Bainhum [mutual consultation] is the guiding principle, upheld by ‘Rightly Guided Caliphs [Khufa-e-Rashdeen]’ right of dissent as well. Democracy in Islam is built around the spirit of consensus, not contention of party politics.
How did Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah’s predecessors in the exalted seat of chief preachers of Kashmir allude to political discourse in Islam? It is an interesting proposition. Akhund [preacher] Sidiqullah to Mirwaiz Ahmadullah, his immediate predecessor, imparting lessons in religion apart from pulpit in class rooms remained the norm. Akhund Sidiqullah originally from Tral in South Kashmir evolved a Srinagar constituency with growing number of followers in capital city. Over a period during Afghan rule [1750-1819 A.D] the family shifted to Srinagar, settling eventually in Rajouri Kadal. Series of eminent scholars followed Sidiqullah—Akhund Abdul Salam, Akhund Abdu-Rasool [Lassa Baba] Moulvi Mohammad Yahiya [first to be recognized officially as ‘Waiz’] Moulvi Rasool Shah, Moulvi Ahmadullah, finally Moulvi Yousuf Shah.
Keeping in view the golden principal of Shoura-eBainhum, Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah involved eminent citizens and limited number of the educated in evolving a nucleus of leadership. In 1924, he along with others signed the petition to Viceroy Lord Reading. Dogra Shahi was shaken, however given the public standing of Mirwaiz; they could not go beyond threatening to withdraw forever official recognition as Mirwaiz Kashmir. Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah continued his efforts; a reading room in downtown evolved, obviously to read the situation. Apart from Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah, Mirwaiz Hamdani—a distant cousin preaching from pulpit of mausoleum of Shah-e-Hamadan, and others—Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Syed Hussain Jalali, Saad-ud-Din Shawl, Ghulam Ahmad Ashai and Munshi Shuhab-ud-Din activated the reading room.
Reading Room graduated to public introduction of Sheik Mohammad Abdullah and others from pulpit of Jamia Masjid. 1931 marked the year when long supressed soul of Kashmir found utterance. It was a red letter event. Alas! The unity became a casualty to parting of ways, as secular politics made inroads into Kashmir polity. Minorities are sacred in Islam, their protection and well-being is ingrained in the Islamic political set-up. However Kashmir was face to face with a situation, where majority rights were being trampled. Minorities were amply protected; some sections were in fact tools in the hands of oppressive regime. Hence, adopting secular polity did not line-up minorities in ranks of majority. Secular polity thus adopted a parallel stage in Hazratbal, in an effort to retain majority support.
The unfortunate divide resulted in parallel political streams—National and Muslim Conference. The divide persisted as subcontinent was partitioned in 1947. While Sheikh Abdullah headed the administration in Indian administered Kashmir, Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah became a part of administrative set-up in Pakistan administered Kashmir—first as education minister, later he served two terms as President in 1952 and 1956. The divide left a wounded Kashmir that continues to bleed with every passing day.
Mirwaiz-e-Kashmir is a pedestal of high standing; the pulpit however needs to be used to fill breaches in leadership, while sticking to golden principal of Shoura-e-Bainhum in front rank leadership, where there should be no place for the ones whose name in leadership ranks is not supported by public standing. Public standing should be the litmus test of leadership—the guiding principal. Evolving unity by consensus could be the ultimate tribute to Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah. —Courtesy: GK
Kashmiri Youth in thousands protesting in Srinagar, shouting GO India GO.