By Dr. Abdul Ahad
Equally important is the role played by the native intellectual and spiritual geniuses, especially Sheikh-ul-Alám Noor-ud-Din. His fierce denunciation of mullahs and peers was to all intents and purposes aimed at preventing Islam falling into their lap to become their private property and a subject of their deliberate prevarication and a source of their gratuity. He withdrew from the society of his own choosing not to wither away from the path of Islam but to enlighten himself with the real meaning of life. He spent most of his time in ferocious, dark and dingy caves, far away from the noise, chaos and busy clatter of social life, to experiment with different hardships of life for searching its ultimate truth unending contempt for accumulation of wealth, conspicuous consumption, lust, greed and jealously and, subsequently, expatiated more objectively and eloquently on social reality of medieval Kashmir to enlighten the masses with the ideals of unity and brotherhood as enunciated in the Quran in these words:
And hold fast by the rope
Of Allah and be not divided
His endeavours were fairly rewarded by bringing about, ultimately, reconciliation between the old and the new; richly strengthening, thus, a new Kashmiri identity which is both Kashmiri and Muslim in its essence, expression and assertion and totally compatible with what the Quran envisages in these words:
O mankind we have created you
From one (pair of) male and female
Made you nations and tribes
So that you identify one another
Incredibly enough, no other civilization had earlier thought of bringing into operation such a wonderful social engineering than Islam did in Kashmir Bedecking its identity with spaciously designed and sociologically sustainable jewels and diamonds and decorating it with invaluable ingredients , refinements and potentialities to make it presentable in both its Kashmiri and Islamic dimensions before the world and potent enough to declaim against all the ills and irrational and unjust attitudes, the sudden appearance of the brightening crescent on Kashmir’s horizon, in the wake of Asiatic Civilization’s overland mission, was, thus, an epoch-making event. With its protundities and imponderable impact, it enabled the Kashmiris to stand on their unequivocal intentions and serious aspirations for an honourable and dignified life full of surplus than the deficit they had slowly but surely suffered previously; throwing open, thus, the golden gates of prosperity and plenty to all irrespective of sharp differences in their creed, colour, caste and sex, besides encouragıng the gradual procreation of great and creative vibes of Lal Deds rationalism to fortify this infant and emergent social ecology against vandalism, insanity and virus. That the humanism of this women priest was not in the least incompatible with the Muslim ethos is beyond any dispute.
The subtle interplay of historical forces together with an extensive exchange of ideas, institutions and cultural goods through a long and unending process of Islamisation of Kashmir and a commendable coalescence of its agrarian and industrial culture with indigenous philosophy and Hindu and Buddhist civilizations helped Kashmir, thus, to nurture and raise an unparalleled and splendid cultural munificence. It resulted in augmenting Kashmır’s dissention tolerating capacity to a great extent; enabling it to promote the smooth dissemination of humanism, pluralism and principles of co-existence. It gave it a discernible individuality, an unusual peculiarity and an incredible legacy which are so rich, superior, and engrossing that it is very difficult for an objective observer or a historian to discount their impact on human mind.
The most striking features of the richly variegated assortment of Kashmir’s historical individuality encouraged the Kashmir Sultanate to manage its affairs independent of the institution of Khalifat. Also these inspired profoundly the greatly revered mystics, saints and Rishis; they found these completely in keeping with their spirituality and mission. Nund Rish and Lal Ded exhorted the masses to deck out and boost these further to preserve them for posterity. They did everything to supplement their aroma which continued winning for Kashmir a large number of admirers and fans.
The Emperor Jahangir found in Kashmir things that even in heaven were difficult to find. Abounding in learning, saffron, water, culture, intellect and brotherhood it swayed him so intensely that he expressed his passionate desire to his beloved queen, Noor Jehan, to retain it even if he lost whole of his Indian Empire. He was surely not flattering. He was revealing the truth; a glaring truth that contrasted Kashmir with the rest of the world. He was explicitly portraying a dominant reality; the historical existence of Kashmir’s individuality and plurality towards which every Kashmiri feels strongly protective and is prepared to guard these zealously come what may.
This individuality is so deeply embedded in its collective consciousness, in its sociology and philosophy that it is hard to dye it with a religious brush to project it as Hindu or Musim. One is, in fact, unable to differentiate between a Kashmiri Hindu and a Kashmir Muslim. Both follow identical customs and krams or surnames and castes. Kauls, Rainas, Buts, Rishis, Dars, etc; are some krams most common to both the communities.
Also the Kashmiri mode of dress and eating is unequivocally so matching that it is almost difficult to set apart its inhabitants on the basis of their garb, attire and diet. A Kashmiri, Hindu or Muslim, can’t be imagined without a pherun, a loose tunic and a kangri, the fire-pot which he uses all through the prolonged winters to cover, warm and protect his body against harsh cold.That both of these are indispensable objects of his daily use and the very symbols of his identity are amply borne by the following maxıms:
Heemal te Nagrai
Pherun lageth deapni drai
(As Heemal and Nagrai; the inseperable romantic souls of yore, were deeply attached to one another so is Kashmiri to pherun.)
Lail keya watihay Majnoonus
Tei wati kanger Lassa Kakus
(What Laila was on Majnoon’s bosom so is kangri to a Kashmiri)
Yi Shireen aes Farhadus
Tei che kanger Sole Palus
(What Sbireen was to Farhad so is kangar to a Kashmiri)
Kashmiris are fond of rice, hak, sotsel, nadur, hund and dried vegetables. They relish these profusely along with mutton, fish and garlicky diet, without any reservation and irrespective of any religious consideration, to collectivize their outlook. Like Muslims, Pundits insist on having slaughtered sheep or birds they eat in a halal way.
But this individuality didn’t enjoy bright, luminous moments always. It came to face a period of huge tribulations, tremors and despairs too. Which was chiefly owing to the native naivety that became its worst enemy in course of time; making it, ultimately, subservient to the avarice of the progeny of those very grand missionaries who were the real progenitors of this identity formation and who had left no stone unturned in weaving its success story.They were the Mawalis-a motley crew of Sayids -who, for satiating their ever increasing lust for power, pleasure, wealth and women steadily built up an incorrigible morass of sectarian confusion in the Valley. It was a very discomforting spectacle of the Sunni-Shia disdain, bickering and dichotomy which they spread over a large canvas of history to outdo the rise of collective opinion and movement in Kashmir; pushing the people, thus, into the lap of aliens to surrender their own independence, individuality and autonomy at their feet simply to protect their sectarian interests, complexes and ways of personal aggrandizement and dominance.
Dr. Abdul Ahad is a well-known historian of Kashmir. He presents a perspective on the Kashmir issue and talks about Kashmir’s history and individuality and personality.