By Prof. Shafi Shauq
Professor Mohi-ud-Din Hajini, represented the decades of intellectual resurgence in Kashmir, that is 1950-1990, when a spree of exploration of old and the new ideas, philosophies, and streams of thought was at its zenith, unprecedented in our history. On the one hand there were intellectuals with multidisciplinary understanding who showed enthusiasm in embracing modern ideas from all corners of the world, but at the same time, some intellectuals who, while being well-versed in modern education, used their erudition to defend their faith, or sought some kind of compromise between the modern scientific rationalism and Islamic ideas; Prof. Mohi-ud Din Hajani, represented the class of the latter kind. A man of awesome erudition, commitment to fundamental principles of faith, and pride in owning a legacy of culture and literature in Kashmir, was one of the most popular and well known scholars of his time.
Prof. Mohi-ud Din Parrey, was born in 1917, at Hajan (the name Hajani with glottal aspiration ‘h’ changed into guttural aspiration ‘H’ was used for the first time by him as an appellation), a village on the banks of the Wular lake. His Parrey family, had already gained much respect through the copious works of Abdul Wahab Parrey. His father Ghulam Nabi Parrey and his mother Aisha Parrey wished to educate their only son in oriental learning and Islamiyat, as per the tradition, but Mohi-ud Din, who did his matriculation from a school in Sopore, aspired for higher education. It was during his matriculation that he got associated with political activities when he led a students’ procession towards Srinagar.
He, in spite of the hardships, passed his B.A degree from S.P. College Srinagar in 1928 with distinction. He being a village boy with country education and rustic habits was harassed by the students of Srinagar who were proud of belonging to the urban culture, but this did not discourage him, but on the contrary made him stiffer and more obstinate in his behavior. Since he had already formed his opinion on various aspects of life, worked harder, studied all manner of books, to anchor his point of view. Being convinced of his aspiration for higher education, his family managed to send him to Aligarah for post-graduation in Arabic language and literature. His merit won him scholarship and he passed his M.A with the first position. He also did his LLB and a diploma in journalism from the same university.
While studying books of various discipline, he was deeply influenced by Mansoor Hallaj’s masterpiece in Islamic mysticism titled Kitab al-tawaseen in Arabic, and he eventually decided to translate it into his mother tongue. The translation was later published in installment in the literary bilingual journal Gulrez, started in 1948, edited by his senior contemporary, Mirza Ghulam Hassan Beg Arif; some portions of his translation had already appeared in the Pratap Magazine of S.P.College. During his studies, he developed and insatiable desire to do something that was un-attempted in his mother tongue Kashmiri. He was the first Kashmiri writer to write and publish the first realistic drama in Kashmiri under the title, griesty sund gari (the peasant’s house, 1938). Although openly antagonistic to the dominant progressive ideas of the time, he could not remain indifferent to make creative literature representative of the times. The drama, in its published form, was much admired by the readers.
In 1942, Mohi-ud Din Hajni was appointed Lecturer in Prince of Wales Degree College at Jammu where he worked for seven years, and then the Education Department transferred his services to S. P. College where he worked until his retirement in 1972. His tenure as Arabic professor was his most productive period. Being vociferously critical of the political changes in the State, he was imprisoned, in 1948 for seven months, and then in 1965 for over two years. During his detention, despite many ordeals, he continued writing, and wrote the essays that he published in 1970 under the title Maqalati Hajni (Treatises of Hajini); the book won him Sahitya Akademi Award for literature in 1972. He spent most of his time in Srinagar, where he lived in a rented house at Muniwara, named Munawarabad. He never missed to visit his native village on the weekends. He was an indefatigable talker, even to the extent of garrulousness, and such could not stop making the all the passengers of the KMD bus to Hajin his audience; many a time this led to furious discussions and altercations, yet he continued being unhampered in talking against the rulers and other political leaders. He, being obstinately opinionated, would enjoy argumentation even if it led to imprecations. In spite of his short tempered nature, he was calm impartial in writing; his anthology of Kashmiri Poetry, title Kaeshir Shairi published by Sahity Akademi New Delhi reflects his approach to literature. His collection of research papers, mostly focused on the poets of his Kamraz, particularly Hajin, are still important documents for one interested in reading or writing a history of Kashmiri language and literature. His small book gamav manzi phyiery phyiery (Wandering through Villages, 1962) is of significant research value and is indispensable for all those researchers who are interested in Kashmiri folk-lore and folk literature. He discovered the first version of the never-dying Kashmiri daastaan Akanandun written by Ramzan Bhat of Ganistan. He was also sure that, in the light of the legends, and famous mathnavi of Ghulam Mohammad Hanafi, Habba Khatoon, the legendary poetess of the 16th century belonged to Gurez, not Pampore.
His pride in being an enlightened Muslim enthused him to accomplish translation of the Musaddas of Hali, in the form of Musadda, which he published under the same title.
Prof. Hajini remained closely associated with various projects and programs, like Kashmiri Dictionary, postgraduate program in Kashmiri, and examinations in Oriental Learning; he played key role in all these projects. He also played a significant role in establishing Halqai Adab Sonawari, Adbi Markaz Kamraz, and Kashmir Cultural Organization (now defunct). His desire to make Adbi Markaz Kamraz the most vibrant literary society was realized during his own life-time, and the society continues to be most active literary and cultural society in the Valley.
Hajini possessed laudable good gift in writing in English as well as Urdu. His papers In English, mostly about finding compatibility between modern theories and principles of natural and biological sciences and the Quran, are highly intricate and reflect his erudition; the essays were published posthumously under the title Discourses of Prof. Mohi-ud-Din Hajini (ed. Ameen Fayaz, Halqae-e Adab Sonawar, Hajin, 2013).
After his retirement from active service, he preferred to remain permanently settled in his native village, Hajin which he loved to the level of adoration.
His smoking habit led him to multiple ailments and finally died on January 16, 1993.His body was laid to rest in front of his own house in the compound.
Prof. Shafi Shauq is author/editor/translator of over forty-five books in Kashmiri, English, Urdu and Hindi and can be reached at [email protected]