Preserving Words

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MehrajudunMEHRAJ DIN
Knowledge is the threshold of progress in every civilization quintessentially advancing it beyond boundaries. Narratives and stories of those who came before us are told through their books, art and language. Though the value of these lasting works is undeniable; their very existence in the present day must lead the inquisitive reader to wonder: how did this book, so far from its original place of production and reception, reach me in the present?

Conceptualizing the importance of library in modern and even digitized post-modern world makes it incumbent on our collective conscience to make efforts for the renewal and revival of libraries in our society. A person’s memory may only last a lifetime, but the collective human memory has endured for eons.

Libraries in Kashmir are witnessing a great metamorphosis both in their arrangement and service structure. The overall dynamics of Kashmiri society reveals disappointing facts. The void can be seen on many fronts be it universities, educational, religious or in public institutions. It is unfortunate that this decadence starts from the very centre of intellectual hubs i.e. universities where scholars and students come to seek knowledge.

Ironically, the percentage oriented professors with nepotism for local publishers leave students bereft of relevant literature.

It is shame on our part that Srinagar, being the intellectual and cultural nerve center of Kashmir has just two public libraries and that too good for nothing. The whole structure is full of flaws and a complete regeneration and orientation is the dire need of the hour.

Kashmir being the Muslim majority state with good religious legacy could have developed and continued the legacy which is enshrined in the essence of their heritage. The centrality of the Quran as the prototype of the written word in Islam bears significantly on the role of books within its intellectual tradition and educational system. An early impulse in Islam was to manage reports of events, key figures and their sayings and actions. Thus, “the onus of being the last ‘People of the Book’ engendered an ethos of librarianship early on and the establishment of important book repositories throughout the Muslim world has occurred ever since. The whole western discourse has not come out of blue but certainly worked hard to become a dominant discourse in post-renaissance world. Unfortunately this zeal is lost somewhere in the shabby clouds and has left us empty handed. Iqbal beautifully describes the plight of Muslim world said:

“Magar wo ilm ke moti kitaben apne aaba ki

Jo dekhen unko europe me to dil hota hai seepara”

The absence of a good and enriched repository in our society is one of the important reasons of our intellectual and moral corruption.

Being a part and parcel of this system and a student of Kashmir University makes me witness to this fact.

Fortunately, scholars and students who are interested in research are unable to find more than a handful of books.

The libraries are never updated in accordance to the need and new researches but the personal choice of the professors.

All the educational institutions: public libraries or college libraries narrate the same exploitation of money and mismanagement of “knowledge hubs”.

Continuing our existence needs to be preserved, recorded and transferred to new generation and libraries play insurmountable importance for doing the same.

Libraries have a great role in shaping the fate of people and that is why great men in history recognized the fact that “those who made libraries made history.”

The author is a doctoral candidate at shah-i-Hamadan institute of Islamic studies and can be mailed at

bhat.mehraj7@gmail.com

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