Remembering a Visionary
Syed Ali Shah Bukhari, alias Sir Syed Sani, Chirag-e -Beerwah, who is remembered with love and respect in Beerwah, Budgam, was an exemplary personality who brought many reforms in education. He sat down the foundation of modern and moral education in Beerwah and its adjoining areas. Despite sufferings, he never gave up his conviction to help the society and spread education.
Syed Ali Shah Bukhari was born on 30 November 1914, whose ancestors are said to have come from Bukhara in Uzbekistan. His father, Syed Ghulam Mohammad Bukhari was a religious scholar of great repute in the district. He was a close associate of Mirwaiz Mohammad Yousef Shah (RA). Syed Ali Shah Bukhari studied Arabic, Persian and Islamic Literature from his father, which strengthened his persona. Later he pursued his education in Amritsar Punjab with his maternal uncle.
The biggest contribution towards social activism was that Syed Ali Shah Bukhari founded a missionary Primary School Mazhar-ul-Haq in 1934 to improve educational standards, particularly for poor students. The institution later was converted into a high school and now functions as a higher secondary institution, which provides both education, both religious and otherwise. Founded 13 years before Independence of India, the school worked as a Madrasa in which both Arabic and Persian languages were taught. It must not be forgotten that this was a period when the flame of education was dying in this region and the future of students was at stake. At that time of uncertainty, Syed Ali Shah Bukhari upheld the torch and his vision and foresightedness guided him to be the guardian of educational standards here. He wanted to introduce blend of Islamic, moral and modern education in the region. He made some selfless efforts towards this end.
The seed Syed Ali Shah Bukhari planted at that time has grown into a fruitful tree, with its branches offering fruit to everybody irrespective of region, caste or creed. The Mazhar-ul-Haq Higher Secondary School has produced a huge number of Successful Students who have proven their mettle in various fields like Academics, Medicine, Engineering, Banking, Journalism etc. Despite having minuscule resources and funds, the school has been quite successful in imparting quality education to its students. Despite many constraints, Mazhar-ul-Haq gives free education to the poor students. A few seats in each class are reserved for such underprivileged candidates. In addition to this, the school gives jobs to various unemployed youths. Generous fee structure and free education to the poor, being the organizational goals of Mazhar-ul-Haq Hr. Sec School, pose great challenges to its managers. The school management has to crave out strategies that could provide quality education and, at the same time, uphold the founding principles with which the trust was established.
Syed Ali Shah Bukhari also founded Anjuman Mazhar-ul-Haq in 1951, which functions as a semi-governing body in Beerwah and manages the Jamia Masjid Beerwah and Mazhar-ul-Haq Hr. Secondary School. Apart from playing a prominent role in the promotion of literacy, Syed Ali Shah Bukhari was also a religious scholar and social activist guiding people in their day to day lives. He laid down the foundation stone of Grand Jamia Masjid Beerwah in 1928 along with his elder brother Syed Saeed Shah Bukhari. Syed Saeed Shah Bukhari was the Imam/ Mirwaiz of historical Jamia Masjid Srinagar, after Mirwaiz Yousef Shah Sahib (RA), left the Kashmir Valley and gave Friday sermons in the Jamia Masjid Srinagar until his death. According to local legends, Syed Ali Shah Bukhari used to hold courts to hear and resolve family disputes. In fact, the local police too would seek his consent before registering the FIR about any case.
Syed Ali Shah Bukhari’s Political activism was only for to bring forward his area in socio-economic situation. His close association with the then Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah entailed the establishment of Tehsil (Administrative Division) headquarter at Beerwah as well as associated Government Administrative offices. The establishment of hospital in Beerwah by the government of J&K, and the network of roads that were constructed were achieved due to his political leadership. He ran twice for a seat in the legislative Assembly in 1957. He ran the elections for the Beerwah Constituency on behalf of the National Conference and in 1973. He was arrested on political grounds in 1965, released on parole, and re arrested and eventually released on 1969.
Syed Ali Shah Bukhari was awarded the title of SirSyed Sani (Second sir Syed) by the then Prime Minister of J&K Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah for his notable work in the field of education and social work. Fazil Kashmiri, a poet write a piece on Maulana Syed Ali Shah Bukhari which is called Chirag-e-Beerwah. As a leader, he embarrassed common human values. Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims satside by side. Bukhari valued scientific enquire and a civilized attitude based on tolerance, mutual, co-existence, and love for values and tradition over obscurantism and superstitions. He encouraged people to live peaceful by resolving their day to day disputes, supported people during times of distress and disadvantages and instilled in students a spirit of social service by repairing roads and culverts and by educates people in methods of sanitation and cleanliness. He also worked as post master and helped establish of many post offices in the area. He went door-to-door to recruit children’s for school.
Syed Ali Shah Bukhari was known as a Critical role in education in the empowerment of the poor and disenfranchised in the Muslim community. In more than one way, Syed Ali Shah Bukhari was a social reforms and a National builder of J&K, particularly Allaqa Beerwah, which forms a major part of central and North Kashmir. He commanded respect from Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims for his views and dedication to the cause of education.
Syed Ali Shah Bukhari died on 30 March, 1979 at the age of sixty five. He was buried in the court yard of Jamia Masjid Beerwah besides the premises of Mazhar-ul-Haq higher secondary School. He is survived by two sons and two daughters. His funeral prayers were led by Mirwaiz Kashmir Maulana Mohammad Farooq and it was attended by thousands of people including students, political leaders, and various government officials.
(Shah Khalid is freelance Journalist)