By M.S Rehman Shams
Shaheed-i-Millat, Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq could only live for 46 years in this world. But, during his brief life-span, the Mirwaiz’ immense contributions to Muslims , in general, and Kashmiris, in particular, will be remembered for times to come. His work as a chief cleric, as Islamic scholar and thinker, as an agent of social change, and as a political leader typifies the fact that he had become the most significant chapter of the Kashmir’s collective religious, social and political movements.
Late Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq was born on December 14, in the year 1944 (27th Zilhaj, 1363 AH) at Mirwaiz Manzil, Srinagar. It was the same time when Kashmir’s freedom struggle had just gained momentum. The people were in revolt against the rule of the despotic Maharaja. Under the people’s rebellion, the cracks had begun to appear in the Maharaja’s authority. The seeds of freedom movement sown by the Mirwaiz Manzil had begun to bear fruit. Some years after Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq was born, his uncle Mirwaiz Muhammad Yousuf Shah had to migrate to Pakistan. As a result, the Mirwaiz family had to face a great deal of hardships.
This incident had a deep impact on Mirwaiz as a child. He observed how his family had to suffer when they stood up and fought for the rights and justice of fellow Kashmiri people. This injustice and cruelty met out to their family stoked in him the fire of rebellion.
Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq studied at Islamia and Oriental College and later went on to study theology, Islam, and Arabic language and literature. He remained a successful student and always cleared his exams by getting high percentages. Later, he also studied English language and literature.
After his education, Moulvi Muhammad Farooq was designated as the deputy Mirwaiz at the young age of 18. Later he was appointed as Mirwaiz when Mirwaiz Muhammad Yousuf Shah passed away in Rawalpindi.
Moulvi Muhammad Faros was appointed as Mirwaiz at the historic Jamia Masjid in a public function. Thousands of people witnessed the event. When he addressed people wearing a turban, thousands of people clapped and expressed happiness and elation. It was indeed a great moment in the history of Kashmir that a scion of an influential Mirwaiz dynasty was being again designated as chief cleric of the State.
Disappearance of Holy Hair of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)/ (PBUH)
The sacred hair of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) /(PBUH) disappeared from the Hazratbal shrine on 26 December 1963. There were mass protests all over the State on the disappearance of the Mo-e-Muqaddas (the Hair of the Prophet) with hundreds of thousands out on streets.
During the period some, political leaders were incarcerated. While others who were free could not muster the courage to face the anger of people. In view of all this, the people continued to pour to Mirwaiz Manzil, Rajouri Kadal. It was the time when Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq became the representative of Kashmiris and mounted pressure on the authorities to trace the Mo-e-Muqaddas.
Committee formed to recover Mo-e-Muqaddas
Concerned over the disappearance of the holy relic, late Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq thought of jointly working and started a movement to recover the Mo-e-Muqaddas. He called a meeting of the heads of religious, political, and social bodies which led to the formation of Awami Action Committee (AAC). As he had played a pivotal role to lay the foundation of committee, he was appointed as the president of the body.
Jammu Kashmir Awami Action Committee
In the meantime, anti-Muslim and anti-Kashmir forces could not digest the formation of the committee which had brought political and Muslim religious bodies under one umbrella. There was a blanket ban imposed on the activities of Muslim Conference. Hence, there was a need to have a united front which would collectively fight against the gross human rights violations prevalent at that time. And also make concerted efforts to demand the birth right of Kashmiris – right to self determination.
So, soon after the holy relic was restored, Shaheed-i-Millat Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq laid the foundation of a separate political party to achieve those goals in 1964. It was christened as Jammu Kashmir Action Committee.
Practically speaking, the party ushered the beginning of late Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq’s political career. He remained engrossed in party affairs. He worked day and night to make AAC, stronger and stable, so that it reached new heights. It was due to his efforts that AAC exists as a strong political voice of Kashmiris contemporarily.
It was under the banner of the AAC flag that late Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq achieved martyrdom on 21 May, 1990. Like a rock, he remained steadfast on his stand to fight for the freedom struggle of Jammu and Kashmir till the last breath.
AAC’s basic stand
AAC has always stood for the right to self determination of Kashmiris and will continue to do so in future. History is witness to the fact that Shaheed-i-Millat was among the few prominent leaders in Kashmir who fought for the rights of Kashmiris. Despite external and internal pressures, he stuck to his stand on the basic Kashmir issue.
Meanwhile, late Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq continued to propagate his thinking and party policies through newspaper “Hurriyat” and a weekly paper “Haraf Haq”.
Shaheed-i-Millat had always pressed India and Pakistan to solve the Kashmir issue for bringing stability and lasting peace in South Asia.
He had always advocated that Kashmiris should be accepted as the prime party to the dispute. He advocated that Kashmir issue should be solved according to the promises made by the world community, according to people’s aspirations, and implementing United Nations resolutions and agreements over the vexed dispute to bring the lasting peace.
When it would come to highlight the Kashmir issue on world stage, late Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq never succumbed to any pressure, intimidation, or threats. He always raised the Kashmir issue with full strength and in proper context.
Shaheed-i-Millat’s Jail terms
As the Indo-Pak war broke out in 1965, the Shaheed-i-Millat was put behind bars without trial for two years, two months and ten days. This was Mirwaiz’s first jail term. During his term, the jail authorities tortured him which resulted in harming his vision permanently.
In the intervening night of 10 and 11 October 1965, a contingent of police and Army detained him and ferried him across the Banihal pass. Following his detention, 24 hour curfew was announced by the authorities. During this time thousands of AAC workers and activists were arrested by the police and army. At many places, people clashed with the police and army and , as a result, many students were brutally murdered and they achieved martyrdom.
Even if he was assaulted and remained incarcerated in the jail, it could not break the will of late Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq. As soon he came out of the prison, he went on to continue with his demand for the right of Kashmiris with full vigour.
Movement against Indira-Abdullah Accord
Following the infamous Indira-Abdullah accord of 1975, late Mirwaiz mobilized public opinion against it as it was being done against the people’s wishes. He gathered a historic procession of thousands of people against the accord. Addressing the procession at Goal Bagh, he rubbished the accord and repeated that Kashmiris should be given the right to self determination and UN resolutions should form the basis of solution of Kashmir issue.
Prime Preference to Tripartite Talks
Late Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq said that there was a need to convene a round table conference involving all the three parties, Kashmir, India, and Pakistan. He said that Kashmir issue doesn’t involve only two parties. But, he declared that Pakistan was a significant party to the dispute. He said if Kashmir issue had to be solved permanently, it was important that tripartite talks should begin involving India, Pakistan and Kashmir.
Hence it was the Shaheed-i-Millat who was the first to put forth the idea of tri-partite talks to solve the Kashmir issue by peaceful means.
Longing for peace in sub-continent
Since the inception of his political career, Shaheed-i-Millat wanted stability and peace in the sub -continent. He was always of the view that permanent peace would only arrive once Kashmir issue was solved following the implementation of UN resolution, UN agreements, fulfilling promises by world community, and above all putting the aspiration of Kashmir people on top of it.
Shaheed-i-Millat as a Islamic erudite Scholar
Shaheed-i-Millat was a great Islamic scholar, thinker, public speak, and writer. His main aim was to propagate the message of Islam utilizing his multi-faceted qualities. Hence, all the time he lived, he imparted religious teaching to the people and thus kept the religion on top priority.
Shaheed-i-Millat and current people’s movement
Late Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq, was the top most representative of Kashmir’s current political movement for freedom.
He was the collective voice of Kashmiri nation and his uprightness, steadfastness, truthfulness and his uncompromising stand on Kashmir issue testifies that.
Shaheed-i-Millat loved his Vale. He loved its people and fought for their rights for whole life. The people too loved him as he would represent the true of the Kashmiri people.
He always highlighted the plight of Kashmiris and worked tirelessly for unity among Kashmiris. He would keep the public interest in the forefront and would expose conspiracies, if any, hatched against them.
Raising issues of Indian Muslims
Apart from Kashmir, Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq also took interests in issues plaguing the Indian Muslims. He was concerned about them since their identity was always at stake in the Indian union.
The late Mirwaiz also took an active part in solving the educational and political problems of Indian Muslims. He was also the respected member of two most important organizations of Indian Muslims, “All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board” and “Kul Hind Muslim Majlise Mashawrat”.
Shaheed-i-Millat also carried out visits within the sub-continent and outside world and spread the message of rightfulness.
Shaheed-i-Millat remained the president of the prime educational institution of Kashmir-Anjuman-e-Nusrat-ul-Islam – till he achieved martyrdom. He worked his whole life to improve the quality of education of the madrasas which were run by the Anjuman. He did not compromise with the basic mission of Anjuman for which it came into existence.
Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid
Late Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq was also the founding head of Anjuman-e_Auqaf of the historic Jamia Masjid. During his time, he brought several positive changes as far as the facilities and up gradation of the mosque was concerned. He also brought the permanent revenue resources for the mosque. Now the Jamia Masjid fulfill its needs from the revenue generated from these resources. Under his leadership, Anujman also founded a Quranic Darsgah which is helping to spread the teachings of the Holy Book to children and younger generation.
Contribution as Writer
Despite having a busy schedule due to social and religious dealings, late Mirwaiz spared some time and founded an “Idarae Tasneef wa Taleef” in 1984. Under his leadership and supervision, this institution brought out several publications, which included booklets, journals, pamphlets, and books written by him.
Even though the Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq penned number of religious publications, his book “Islam Ka Afaqi Paigam” is regarded as the most notable among scholars, thinkers and highly qualified non-Muslims. For common Muslims, his book “Islam Ki Buniyadi Talimat” is regarded as the most significant while as for Hindi knowing people he has penned down, “Islam ka Sandesh”. His book “Islam Kay Ahsaanat” is popular among Muslims who take part in spreading the message of Islam.
As an Islamic Scholar
Being an Islamic scholar and chief cleric, Shaheed-e-millat’s message was not confined to one religion or a group of people, but it was meant for the humanity and whole Muslims Umma.
Late Mirwaiz continued to fight for the full restoration of Islamic teachings and religious institutions at different fronts throughout his life. At last it was his relentless struggle to serve Islam and religion which became the cause of him achieving martyrdom.
An ardent Sermonizer
Shaheed-e-Millat had warm relations with Islamic scholars and noted Ulemas of India and Pakistan.
On the invitation of Indian Muslims, he, many a times visited Lucknow, Hyderabad, Delhi, Bangalore, Deoband, Kanpur, Madras and other places.
At these places, he would enlighten the people through his sermons about the religion of islam, its teaching, and how the religion of peace contributed towards changing the mankind to become better human beings.
Love for the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) /(PBUH)
Shaheed-e-Millat had ineffable love for the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)/ (PBUH). He had delivered countless sermons on Prophet Muhammad (SAW)/ (PBUH) whereby he would discuss his life and Islamic teachings. He would always urge people to follow the rightful path as shown by the Prophet (SAW)/ (PBUH) and devote time in prayers to ask for forgiveness and wellbeing of mankind.
His deep love and association with Islam is reflected in his speech at a large gathering organized by All India Muslim Personal law board at Neo College Madras.
“You know which force has attracted me to this place. I am proudly declaring that it is only and only Islam which has brought me here.
Its without exaggeration that the Islamic relation surmounts everything,” late Mirwaiz had said.
“Whatever Islam has bestowed on me, I cannot give away any minute part of it. I can give my life, my property, whatever things I possesses, but would never allow things which would harm the honour and prestige of Islam,” he added.
Day of Martyrdom
For his uprightness, straightforwardness, and fearlessness, it was on May 21, 1990 when Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq was martyred after a planned conspiracy was hatched against him.
A pall of gloom descended on Kashmir when they heard their beloved Mirwaiz had been martyred. When his body was being brought from Medical Institute, Soura to his ancestral house Mirwaiz Manzil in the form of procession, the troops intercepted the mourners and opened indiscriminate fire.
As a result of firing, scores of mourners achieved martyrdom and hundreds of others were injured. Many among the injured were rendered handicapped for the rest of their lives. This brought to close one of the most important chapters of religious and political movement of Kashmir.
Late Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq was finally laid to rest at “Martyrs graveyard,” where thousands of people offer his Nimaz-e-Jinazah.
Following his martyrdom, entire Jammu and Kashmir plunged into grief and mourning. The people observed 15 day strike to mourn and protest the martyrdom of the late Mirwaiz.
—The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org