Zeeshan Rasool Khan


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The year 2020 will be remembered for long as the time of the pandemic that created chaos throughout the world and made even powerful nations and people to surrender. It affected almost every part of the world in different ways – socially, economically, psychologically, and physiologically. Many succumbed to it, some are still battling for life, and some got a new lease of life.

However, 2020 was nasty for me for some other reason that we lost an admirable person closely associated with our dynasty namely Mohammad Iqbal Sofi. On fateful night of 05 Jan 2020, middle-aged Iqbal died of Cardiac arrest and left for heavenly abode leaving his family and admirers in anguish.

Muhammad Iqbal’s family had migrated from Anantnag town to Seer Hamdan in the ’90s and resided there permanently. He was known by the sobriquet ‘Khawaja’ (Khoj’e in local parlance). This title is mostly used with elderly people as an expression of respect, but Iqbal got this title right in his adulthood because of numerous qualities he owes.

His every role like a son, a husband, a father, head of the family, a brother, a friend, a neighbour, a businessperson, etc would reflect his sanctimoniousness. He discharged all his responsibilities perfectly and importantly according to Islamic principles. Every person makes sacrifices for his family and Iqbal was no exception. However, the way he would value others makes him unique.

Usually, we experience that with time and money people change. But Iqbal’s position, character, and opinions were resistant to such a change. His attitude towards people never altered. All those he was involved with always remained close to his heart and soul. He never disappointed anyone, even not his subordinates. His childhood-friend circle was extant to date in which he had a central role. He had a profound love for children. He would have fun-time with children of his Mohalla or sometimes he would take children of close and nearby relatives to his home and would play with them throughout the day.

He lived among the community associated with traditional wickerwork business (locally known as Kanil Kaem). This community is respect worthy and enjoys great regard but before ‘Khawaja’ they would undergo an inferiority complex. After noticing this, Iqbal threw the gate of his house open to all members of the community. The people of this community would assemble either in his house or on his shop-front every day, every morning and evening, and during leisure, exchanging opinions, ideas, and smiles with each other thereby demolishing the structure of superior-inferior dichotomy to the ground. Neighbours would share personal stuff with him and he was a sort of confidante for them. They would expect that Iqbal could solve their problem. Even if he could not personally do them a favour, yet he would suggest any solution. In case that too will not be possible, they have nothing to lose, as sharing secrets or private matters with Iqbal means burying them deep inside the earth. When Iqbal departed, I heard his neighbours saying to each other, “Neighbour like Iqbal could not be found even in dreams”. Others said, ‘our respecter has left us’. Such comments can still be heard there.

Worldly possessions coupled with good-humoured, good-hearted, and god-fearing nature had multiplied his reverence among common masses.

Iqbal was involved in a business and had emerged as a successful businessman. His business was characterized by honesty and integrity and was living a luxurious life. However, luxury never detracted him from religion. He was a passionate follower of religion and was leaned much towards Sufism having a good understanding of the subtleties of Islam. He would restrict himself to prayers and would not listen to religious orators much. Whenever he would attend any religious gathering, he would often give his two-cents about the speeches of speakers. He would express a truth forcefully. Neither he would overestimate things nor would he underestimate. He would appreciate even a small good quality of cleric but also would criticize him for a minor bad thing. Because he held the opinion that clerics are our leaders, their guidance matters most. They are like physicians. Their job is to diagnose the ills of Muslim society and treat them accordingly. When the priest prioritizes wages rather than his responsibility – guidance, he deserves no place on the pulpit. When a priest would be unaware of the problems that Muslims face, there is nothing wrong either in admonishing or in boycotting him. Similarly, despite having a fair idea about the existing ills if a preacher would not make efforts or would not present any solution, he is undeserving of this sacred rank.

The present scenario had downhearted him. He would often lament that day by day, we are losing passion for research, critical thinking, and gaining of knowledge and we all, preachers as well as listeners, are sailing in the same boat. He was pessimistic about the future of our religious structure in the valley.

He left with so many memories that carry valuable lessons not only to live successful and respectful life but also to bring about a positive change in society.

After considering his entire life I can just say, people like him are rarely born. I pray to Allah to keep his soul in the eternal peace.

Aasman Teri Lehad Par Shabnam Afshani Kare

Sabza-nourasta is ghar ki nighebani kare – Allama Iqbal

(May the sky shed its dew upon your grave: May the freshly grown verdure watch over your home).


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