When Mirwaiz Maulana Rasool Shah was born (September 5, 1855), his father, Mirwaiz Haji Maulana Muhammad Yahya, said: “He will shine like the sun, and enlighten people.”
The son proved his father’s prophesy right, and came to be known as the Sir Syed of Kashmir.
Mirwaiz Rasool Shah’s quest for knowledge began when he was barely four. He learnt to recite the Quran under the guidance of the revered Aakhund Abdullah Sahib of Rajouri Kadal. Such was his mastery, that very soon he began correcting the imam (one who leads prayers in a mosque) whenever he made any mistakes.
Unlike most scholars, the Mirwaiz strictly followed the teachings of the Holy Book and never compromised his integrity. When Maharaja Pratap Singh offered him a handsome stipend, the Mirwaiz refused to take it, saying: “I trust Allah. He alone is my sustainer.”
The Mirwaiz would spend a big chunk of his earnings on the welfare of widows, orphans and the needy. He undertook the construction of the Aali Masjid at Eidgah, repaired the Jamia Masjid and several shrines. He fought social evils vehemently. He would urge Muslims to refrain from ostentatious marriage ceremonies.
The Mirwaiz was severely criticized for his fight to eliminate social evils. Some unscrupulous elements came all out against him. Several cases were filed against him. But he stood firm and continued his fight, undaunted.
Mirwaiz Rasool Sahib was a man of clear vision. He could foresee the importance of modern education and took pains to persuade Muslims not to shy away from it.
In 1891, an age when modern education was considered an evil, the Mirwaiz laid the foundations of the Anjuman-e-Nusratul Islam at Rajouri Kadal in Srinagar.
He worked as a labourer in the construction of the school which, after beginning to function, produced a galaxy of scholars, some of whom played a significant role in the Kashmir freedom struggle.