Masood Al Hassan Samoon, a living legend from Gurez
Shina is the language of the Dards living in the valley of Gurez Tulail. It is language which could not be written or read until a few years ago. The migration of Gurezis to other parts of Kashmir had put the Shina language in jeopardy as there was no specific script for Shina and there was no written material available in Shina. People after migration used to spoke in Kashmiri, Hindi, Urdu, etc, and the identity of Shina was gradually fading, thus affecting very badly the culture and the name and recognition of the Dards.
Allah Almighty has bestowed humans with the great blessing of pen and language, but there are very few people who use the pen or the language perfectly. Those who do, however, carve their name with golden letters in history. There are people who selflessly serve the nation without any vested interest and play a big role in keeping the name of their nation alive forever. The Valley of Gurez Tulail also has given birth to some great personalities who have served the community in one way or other, but the name of Masood Ul-Hassan Samoon Sahib will be written in golden letters in the history of Gurez and will be remembered forever.
Masood Al Hassan Samoon Sahib was born on February 28, 1952, in Badwan village of Gurez. His father Mohammad Anwar Samoon Sahib was a great teacher and a leading scholar. Masood Samoon’s achievements are the result of his father’s prayers and excellent education and blessed upbringing. Masood Samoon got his early education from his father and from high school Dawar Gurez. After matriculation he started working as a teacher in the education department for some time.
Masood Al-Hassan Samoon was very fond of reading and writing since his childhood. The home environment was such that he loved to read, write and learn. This love and interest in learning compelled him to resign from the job in the year 1968. He qualified BA degree from SP College Srinagar in the year 1972 and MA degree from the Department of Persian in the University of Kashmir in the year 1974. He then taught Persian at the University of Kashmir for two years. He was awarded Gani Kashmiri Gold Medal by Kashmir University for his first position in MA Persian examination. He also passed MA Urdu exam from the same university and was the topper of his batch.
Masood Al-Hassan Samoon held various important governmental positions from 1977 to 2009, including the posts of Deputy Commissioner Pulwama, Director School Education Kashmir, Excise Commissioner, Revenue Commissioner, and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and after retirement in 2009 remained member of Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission for five years.
Samoon Sahib is not only an excellent and high level administrator but also a talented and excellent poet and writer of Urdu and Shina. He is credited with developing a unique and very scientific script for the Shina language. Due to the absence of a specific and good script in the Shina language, the literary material of the Shina language was limited to folk songs and stories and there was nothing in writing. Because of Masood al-Hassan Samoon’s tireless efforts, today there is a special and appropriate script of Shina language. Masood Sahib always strives for the development and promotion of Shina language and is always ready to teach Shina script to the Shina speaking people so that every Shina speaking person know how to write and read in Shina. Masood Samoon Sahib’s first two books in Shina language were published on Shina script and phonetic system. Apart from this, the Shina translation of Sheikh Saadi Shirazi’s RA book Gulistan, Maulana Abu Al-Hassan Nadavi’s book Sirat’ e Rasool Akram’s Sheena translation titled ‘Rasool Akram’, and Sheena Grammar are very notable. Apart from Shina, Masood Al-Hassan Samoon has also published some books in Urdu in which ‘Sakhn Hai Ashna’ is worth mentioning.
Masood Al-Hassan Samoon has a deep passion for poetry and linguistics. He writes very thoughtful and meaningful poems in Urdu and Shina in a very excellent and artistic way. For those who want to learn from him, he is an excellent teacher. I have only been in touch with him for a short time and in that short time I have had the opportunity to learn a lot and have the best experiences. There is such an impressive attraction in his personality that one learns something in just a single meeting. I have no words to describe and express my thoughts about Masood Samoon sahib and his personality. He is a blessing from Allah for us and we must learn from him to keep our culture, language and name of community alive forever. I pray to Allah Almighty to bless him, bestow him with happiness and good health. May Allah Almighty keep his shadow over us. Ameen.
—The writer is a student of Earth Sciences at IGNOU, and also a Shina Language Master Trainer and a social worker in Gurez-Tulail.