Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Indian President Visits Shrine of Mir Syed Ali Hamadani

Iqbal's discourse on sufism is followed by the news item about Indian President's visit to Dushanbe, completing a cultural circuit that began in the 14th century

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 48, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numismatics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. He is employed by the Jammu and Kashmir State Government. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)

Kashmir’s Sufi Traditions

Historians have always taken the arrival of Sufi saints, Syed missionaries and other envoys of Central Asia to Kashmir very seriously and have written numerous accounts on the works and teachings of these missionaries whereas the frequent visits made by Kashmir based scholars to Central Asian regions had never been given so wide coverage. Undoubtedly, the arrival of Central Asia envoys was not a mere visit, they initiated a change, a sort of social change.

They carried with them Islamic-teachings and enlightened the whole Kashmir by Islamic enlightenment. Not only this, Kashmiri masses who were facing hardships due to the unstability of Hindu rajas rule, were provided with a stable sultantship. Dying economy was restored back and to provide education to the people, educational institutions were opened wherein teachers from Central Asian regions were appointed. It was the result of these efforts, that Kashmir produces its own scholars.

Many famous scholars from Kashmir went to Central-Asian Schools to acquire masters in Islamic jurisprudence, Arabic grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Philosophy, History, Arabic and Persian literature. The famous institutions at Samarkand and Bukhara had on their rolls many of the outstanding scholars from Kashmir, no doubt they went there to acquire higher education in their respective fields, but they were not mere students.

They were great thinkers of their times and their contributions were no less as compared to others. Mention may be made of Sheikh Yaqoob Sarfi and Mull’a Mohsi Fani of 16th Century. Every Kashmiri must be proud of these two names.Sheikh Yaqoob, a man of international reputation for his learning scholarship and piety, was the son of Sheikh Hassan Gani.Born in 928 AH, Sheikh committed hafiz the whole of Quran, when he was only a child.

He studied basic education from Mulla Ani. Mulla Bashir was his next teacher. It was Mulla Ani who was Sheikh’s primary teacher, who had prophesized that Yaqoob would in course of time rise to the literary eminence of a second Jami.Mulla Ani’s prediction turned but to true, Sheikh Yaqoob became the statesman of international reputation. He made an appreciable contribution to the Arabic and Persian-literature.

Sheikh Yaqoob after completing his education in Kashmir went to Khawarazim (Central Asia). According to Mulla Abdul Qadir Badyani Sheikh became the spiritual successor of Sheikh Hussain. From here Sheikh had an opportunity to visit other Central Asian places and represent Kashmir in different literary and religions institutions. Leading Central Asia’s scholars from Khawarazim, Bukhara, Samarkand and other places had a great regard for Sarfi.

Coming into contact with several scholars and learned men in Central Asia, he returned to Kashmir. As reported Badayuni, the Sheikh was an illustrious figure and taken as an authority in all branches of learning `Sheikh Ahmad Sarhindi used to receive instructions from him in Hadith and Sufism'. Abul Fazal says the Sheikh was well acquainted with branches of poetry. Sheikh Yaqoob left for heaven on 18th of Ziqadh in the year 1Q03 AH in Srinagar and lies buried in Zaina Kadal Mohalla.

Another outstanding Kashmiri scholar, Mulla Mohsin Fani, the author of Dabistan-i-Mazahib, after having his basic education in Kashmir went for higher studies to Central Asia. He was interested in learning of various sciences, especially philosophy and literature. With his interest and outstanding efforts, he was able to enlist himself in the list of the most learned and erudite philosopher and the poets of the day.

His book, Dabiston, is a famous work on the religious and philosophical creeds of Asia, which consists of twelve main sections, called Talim. These include Parsis, Hindus, Qaratibbatis, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sadiqis, Wahidis, Raushnais, Illahis, Philosophers and Sufis. Fani, in Central Asia, wen to different madrases and stayed there for a number of years.

In Central Asia, Fani went to Balkh and received the reward of higher qualifications, he took service in the Darbar of Nazar Mohad Khan. Later returned Hindustan when he was well equipped in all branches of philosophy and literature. In Hindustan Dara-Shikoh appointed him in his own Darbar. He continued in the Sadarat of Allahabad, till the political turmoil expelled Dara-Shikoh. Fani was then deprived of all his privileges and he returnee! Back to his country, where he established a school of thought in his house.

He used to deliver moral and philosophical lectures. But when he wrote Dabistan-ul-Mazahib (school of thoughts), the Ulema of Kashmir condemned him for it and he was declared murted (apostate). Later on as reported by Khaqaja Azam in his Tarikh-i-Kashmir Azami -Fani repented for his this work Like wise there are many other sofi saints who have made outstanding contributions in religious , philosophy and Sciences, but those people have been ignored in their own lands.

Indian President Visits Shah Hamadan's Shrine

Dushanbe: President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today (September 8) visited the shrine of Sufi saint Mir Syed Ali Hamadani, who was very influential in spreading Islam in Kashmir and has had a major hand in shaping the culture of the Kashmir valley.

The President's visit to Syed Hamadani's tomb is first by any Indian leader. She was accompanied by a Member of Parliament from Kashmir's Ladakh region Ghulam Hassan Khan.

In her remarks, the President said, "I feel privileged to be visiting the tomb of Sayyid Hamnadani in Kulyab. He is deeply revered in my country, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir." "He is a symbol of enlightenment and knowledge and has contributed greatly in shaping the religious character of the Kashmir society. Hamdani is one of the abiding links between India and Tajikistan," she added.

Later, talking to the media Ms Patil said, "Hamdani's teachings and philosophy of respect for human values, compassion, peace, love and harmony are respected everywhere." "I bring good wishes from people of India to the people of Kulyab," she said and added that she prayed for eternal friendship between India and Tajikistan referring to her offering of the ceremonial 'chadar' at the sufi saint's shrine, which is about 400 km from capital Dushanbe.

Mir Syed Ali bin Shahab-ud-Din Hamadani (1314-1384) a poet and a prominent Muslim scholar was born in 1314 in Hamadan, Iran and died in 786 AH/1384 in Kunar and was buried in Khatlan. 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. Agencies

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