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He kept the flame of faith and peace aglow

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Maulana Bashir Ahmad Farooqi

BY: Sheema Farooqi

“On the day I die, when I’m being carried towards the grave, don’t weep.

 Don’t say, He’s gone!. Death has nothing to do with going away.”

                                                                                   “Maulana Rumi”

The one beacon of light and steadfast vision amidst the chaotic times in the beautiful valley of Kashmir, stands out the Hazratbal shrine, vibrating peace and serenity throughout the strife torn valley, the chants of “Duruds” and “Naths” reverberating through the air of the shrine would be a hair raising spiritual experience for a child who looked on and heard with awe the sonorous and hypnotic voice of her grandfather, conducting the Friday sermons and the daily prayers from the pulpit of the Hazratbal Shrine, the one sane voice in the insanity that engulfed the valley during the turmoil, the one lionhearted voice giving out the clarion call to maintain peace and serenity of this ancient land of Rishis, Saints, Sufi’s and the learned philosophers, of multi ethnic and diverse religious beliefs, looked up by thousands and thousands of believers as their savant and guide to the teachings of the Holi Book of Quran and the Holi Prophet (PBUH) who’s spiritually enthralling voice raised his followers to  a spiritual ecstasy with tears streaming down their eyes, the one and only “Maulana Bashir Ahmad Farooqi”, Imam U Khateeb, descendent of the long lineage of “Hazrat Umar Al Khatab (AS)” the 2nd Khalifa of Islam.

Looking on to my grandfathers routine of waking up at three in the morning of extremely cold wintry nights or the pleasant summer mornings, following his morning abulation and bath he would proceed to his prayer room and library from where I could hear the beautiful Arabic recitation of the Quranic verses in his mellifluous voice creating an environment of spiritual bliss, following which he would go to the shrine to conduct the Fajr Prayers.

Following the Fajr prayers there would be a bevy of faithful, paying their respects, seeking advice, and spiritual guidance throughout the day, despite his heavy schedule of public interaction, he would be as fresh as ever to conduct all prayers at the shrine without a break, this onerous task would have left any ordinary mortal exhausted.

He kept this demanding schedule meticulously for more than 50 years, keeping alive his father, the late Maulana Ghulam Ahmad Farooqi‘s legacy and Imamat going and adding more luster to an already glorious past. (Maulana Ghulam Ahmad Farooqi himself the Imam u Khateeb of the Hazratbal Shrine was a spiritual guide also to Sher-i-Kashmir, late Shri Sheikh Abdullah Sahab & Sahiba)

One could only wonder where he got the spiritual fervor and sustenance to carry out the good lords service, he was truly blessed as he feared no man accept the Allah almighty. This was amply proven during the time of the truculent days when the Hazratbal shrine was run over and occupied by heavily armed militants, his unbending spirit and honesty of purpose made him stand up to the threats to his life and pursue what he thought was the right action, he never allowed the Holi pulpit of the Hazratbal Shrine to be a platform of any political and other purpose, he stoutly defended the purity, the sanctity and impartiality of the pulpit of which he was the care taker, it only shows, of what character, spiritual strength and metal was “Maulana Bashir Ahmad Farooqi”.

It was in recognition of his towering personality and Himalayan heights of spiritual strength, that dignitaries, (Political as well as spiritual) from far and wide approached him and paid their respects, to a man so humble yet so firm in his beliefs, it could only be due to his great wisdom and far reaching foresight.

It was a great loss not only to the people of Kashmir but to me personally, when following his afternoon prayers on the 2nd day of the month of August in 2015 having bathed and perfumed his mortal body, as if preparing himself on an eternal journey, laid on his bed and chose to leave his flock of followers, a poorer place without his guiding light, which gave wise words of wisdom, not only to the politicians of the state who sought him out for his erudite thought and spiritual guidance.

The common Kashmiri from far flung villages of the valley came in their droves to mourn the loss of their beacon which guided them through their daily lives plunging the people of the valley in darkness, without an anchor of his wisdom to hold them steady on their course, thereby leaving a chasm which can never be filled in their hearts and minds, today we remember him again with this 4th year of his having parted from our midst.

May the almighty grant his soul the highest place in his abode.

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