Making of a scholar

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After a school-going student was tortured to fetch information about a wanted militant, he got severe retina injury that led him to lose his eye-sight. But mere passion helped him fight the isolation and emerge a scholar and a Haafiz-e-Quran, reports Parrey Babar

In April 1999, Hafiz Mohammad Ayoub, then15, a resident of Zagalpora (Kulgam), was on his way back from school. A group of army men and Ikhwanis waylaid him. It was just a routine check.

“They beat me, for no reason,” Hafiz said, with tears rolling down from his eyes. “We were coming out from the Jamia Masjid after the Friday prayers and we were stopped. They were seeking the whereabouts of a militant Amir. We had nothing to tell them. But they beat us.”

Students of the state-run High School at Kellam, Hafiz was a tenth standard student. He remembers holding a Tiffin box in his hand and carrying a school bag on his shoulders.

They were sent home after marshalling in the mustard fields. It did not end there. The next day, the army men went to his school and dragged him out. He was taken to the garrison, at a stone throw from their building. “For next two hours, they beat me again,” Ayoub insisted.

It was in this marshalling that Ayoub got many injuries on his head and in eyes. This eventually led to the loss of vision in his eyes after some time.

He started seeing again but gradually it got weaker. His family started taking him to doctors and finally, he consulted AIIMS. It was there when ophthalmologists found that his retina was severely damaged by torture.

After losing his vision Ayoub was bed-ridden at home for two years. But he had a passion for knowledge. It was this passion that led him to join a seminary, Madrasa Anwar-ul-Uloom Dandipora in Kokernag belt.

It was in this seminary that Hafiz emerged as Hafiz-e-Quraan in five years. Anybody who remembers the entire Quran is called a Haafiz. Ayoub especially remembers his friend Mohammad Ayoub for his help. In the seminary, Hafiz would listen Quraan and religious speeches of the Hafiz Chiraguddin, the founder of seminary, on a tape recorder. This would help him understand the sensitive issues pertaining to the faith.

Passion aside, when Hafiz is asked about the incident that inspired him to do what he has done, the blind Islamic scholar reads a line from poetry: “Basaarat Kho Gayee Lekin Baseerat Tau Salaamat Hai”. He said the line that means that ‘while you have lost the eyesight, the visions is still with you’, has actually helped achieve his goal.

After memorising the Quran, Ayoub took up the Tajweed course. Later, he completed his diploma in home science and computer applications at National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Dehradun. Tajweed helps recite Quran beautifully.

“It was difficult for me to write on paper but after completing my diploma in computer applications now I can use electronic devices and computer programmes effortlessly,” Ayoub said as his tears made his shirt wet.

But that is not the only capacity Ayoub has. He is an impressive Briyani maker and a good angler. Besides, he is helping his family in the fields. He has no difficulty in ironing his clothes, and even stitching clothes.

Hafiz Ayoub’s efforts have been rewarding. While he has emerged a model for all those who are losing their eyesight, Ayoub is an acknowledged Muslim scholar in south Kashmir. He delivers sermons in the mosques and also performs Nikkah of the people. Interestingly, however, he is yet to get his bride. He acknowledged that Jamiat-e-Talaba has been helping him survive better but he personally wishes to have some business that will end his worries.

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