Books

Turbulance of the Kashmiri mind

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Book: Crisis of a Kashmiri Muslim : Spiritual and Intellectual
Author:  Muhammad Ishaq Khan
Publisher: Gulshan Books, Kashmir
Year of publication: 2008
Price: Rs 595  
Pages: 258



Mushtaq ul Haq Ahmad Sikandar


Kashmir has been reeling under darkness and slavery for more than four centuries. Through all these years of doom these dark conditions have left indelible marks on the psyche of a Kashmiri especially the Muslims who form the majority of J&K. Since Islam transformed the whole Kashmir, and the words of Kalhana still hold true that Kashmir can never be conquered by the might of military force but only by spiritual force. Islam spread its proselytizing mission as a Spiritual Force and this spirituality grew, developed and evolved even during the years of dark gloom and helped them to survive these brutalities and atrocities.

After the partition of the sub-continent Kashmir became a new bone of contention between India and Pakistan with contested claims, and the Kashmiri Muslims especially after the inception of the armed insurgency in the valley, began to baffle with new challenges, concerns and contentions. Very few and scarce research has been conducted to understand the crises which surround the Kashmiri Muslim on spiritual and intellectual levels, though on political, economic and social levels the crises have been talked, debated, discussed and deliberated upon. The book under review by the noted historian, scholar and famed writer on Kashmiri Sufism, Muhammad Ishaq Kahn tries to address the same.

The book is a collection of articles by the revered author published from time to time in various local and national dailies which address these day-to-day questions, issues, crises and concerns of a Kashmiri Muslim and is divided into various chapters. The Foreword to the collection is written by noted sociologist T.N Madan who acknowledges that Khan’s “style of writing is simple and precise, but the approach consistently serious, whatever the topic under discussion”. In Kashmir there is a dearth of academic-scholar intellectuals who write on current crises or make the common reader understand the current scenario. This flaw is either due to the state repression which our spineless intellectuals are too coward to stand against or they keep mum to be in the good books of the establishment so as to rise further in their academic positions because here politics has a direct bearing on academics. We find Khan different from this norm as he writes in the Preface “Over the years my identity as a Muslim and Kashmiri was exposed to grave challenges posed both by militancy and repression of the state power. At critical and recurrent junctures, inner convictions related to my personal faith and of course, my historical identity as a Kashmiri Muslim came under attack. However, having secluded myself relatively without shutting my eyes to what was happening around me, I occasionally gave vent to my pent up feelings in the press in the form of articles presented here”.

A number of articles deal with the favourite subject of Khan i.e. Sufism and its impact on Kashmiri society and its indigenous form of Rishism and the legendary personalities to which it gave birth to. A whole chapter entitled “Identity Crises: Political and Social” deals with the genesis, impact and present phase of the conflict. While delving on the “roots of conflict”, Prof Khan says “The crises in Kashmir has been bound up integrally with the politics of the Valley’s Muslims since the 1930s. It, however, needs little stressing that there was almost an absence of anti-India sentiment among them between the period following the tribal invasion of 1947 and the expulsion of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah as the Prime Minister of J&K in 1953”. (p-99).

This claim maybe challenged because a small minority of dissidents prominent among them Mohiuddin Karra, Mohiuddin Sulati, Ghulam Muhammad Pattoo and Muhammad Shafi Qureshi were against the accession to India and kept the resistance alive from 1947-1953 under the banner of Kashmir Political Conference and it is an amazing fact to deliberate that during all the years of National Conference’s compromises or accords with the centre a small minority of dissidents always challenged the same and kept resistance alive.

The revered author shows deep resentment against the daily humiliation and atrocities through which each Kashmiri under goes which has bruised his soul and depicts lucidly but with deep agony and anger the scene of a crackdown which was a daily routine when the insurgency was at its zenith as “Despite this fact, one may nauseatingly recall the scenes of the residents of this locality being forced to sit in abject conditions on the road for hours together. One may show one’s identity card to the security forces, but they don’t care to have a look at it. ‘Let the Sahib (Commandant) come…’ and the Sahib arrives in a gypsy. When one is about to approach him, he gives a disdainful look and a jawan shouts, ‘O! Why don’t you sit? Unless you receive two or three slaps you will not sit down’. The Sahib watches everyone of us. What an irony of history! He treats us all with his strange and suspicious looks for nearly an hour or so”. (p-135)

The Kashmir University was second home to the author where he served for more than three decades and in a paper titled “Changing Profile of Kashmir University” the author as a students’ rights activist envisioned the re-evaluation of examination papers which would make the system more transparent and for the last 4-5 years this system has been implemented and is being hailed by the students.

Overall, the book is worth read for those who wish to have a peek in the social, spiritual, intellectual, political, educational dimensions of Kashmir and especially Kashmiri Muslims.

The book could have been more scholarly and inclusive if the original articles were also included alongwith the author’s rebuttals or criticism to the same, thus widening its horizons and making it more valuable. Still, the book is a commendable addition to the scarce literature available on such crucial themes for which the revered author deserves our congrats and appreciation as well as encouragement to carryout more such endeavors.

Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is Writer-Activist and presently student of Masters Program of Political Science at Kashmir University and can be reached at
sikandarmushtaq@gmail.com

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 September 2010 on page no. 27

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