The Quran Gujraan Wastay

Mufti Faizul Waheed, the Muslim scholar who died of Covid19 last week, was perhaps the only Gujar scholar who succeeded in translating the Holy Quran into Gojri. He achieved this rare feat, after a series of failures by many scholars in past, while being in jail, reports Masood Hussain

Mufti Faiz ul Waheed with some of his followers in an undated photograph provided by the family.

When Mufti Faiz ul Waheed, a respected Muslim scholar, breathed his last on June 1, 2021, in ASCOMS (Acharya Shri Chander College of Medical Sciences and Hospital) Jammu, it was a huge loss for Jammu and Kashmir and a serious jolt to the Gujars. In his more than 30 years of active life as a preacher, Faiz enormously contributed to the revival of Gujar Muslims in sprawling Jammu plains and reconnecting them with Islam.

One of the earliest settlers in Bathindi, Mufti Faiz played a key role in setting up of a chain of seminaries and mosques, between Reasi (Jammu) and Pathankot (Punjab).

Mufti Faiz’s rise is an interesting story. Born to a well-read family in Dodhasan Bala (Thanamandi, Rajouri) in June 1964, he was orphaned at 14 days of age. His quest for knowledge was linked to the age-old culture of his village, located almost 10 km from the main Rajouri town on the Sharda Sharief road, which gave knowledge a top priority throughout.

An Exceptional Village

The importance of this village can be gauged from the fact that two leading Ulema of pre-partition Lahore, Moulana Mohammad Akbar and Moulana Ahamd Din, belonged to it.

The village had a Maktab set up by a neo-convert, Mian Dutta, in the early twentieth century. It had a formal primary school in the 1930s, which was being managed by a Mirpuri teacher, Mir Hussain.

This is the village of Moulana Syed Wilayat Shah (born 1890) who graduated from Darul Uloom Deoband in 1922, one of the most respected Islamic seminaries since 1866. His batch had four other Kashmiris including Molvi Yousuf Shah, who migrated from Srinagar and became the President of Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) and Moulana Mohammad Ismail Zabeh’s father Moulana Mohammad Abdullah Rajourivi Dandwat Walay. Interestingly, they all were the pupils of Molvi Anwar Shah Kashmiri, the then Sheikh ul Hadis at Deoband. Moulana Faiz ul Hasan (1920-1983), Mufti Faiz ul Waheed Kasana’s maternal uncle (mama) also belonged to this village. He too taught at Deoband.

Mufti’s Education

Despite being orphaned at a very early age, Mufti Faiz was admitted to the local high school. However, he gave up in the third primary. In 1978, he joined Madrasa Kashf ul Uloom and studied the basics of Islam for a year.

In 1979, he went missing from Rajouri. It took the family a long time to find out that he had actually left for Uttar Pradesh where his mamu got him enrolled in Madrasa Taleem ul Quran, Jansath Muzaffarnagar. He remained in this seminary till 1982.

In 1983, he joined Madrasa Khadim ul Islam Hapur Gaziabad and studied there for two years. In 1985, he joined Deoband and graduated in 1990-92. Simultaneously, he did Adeeb-i-Mahir, and Adeeb-i-Kamil from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and eventually did his masters in Urdu from Agra University in 1991.

Mufti Faiz ul Waheed, sipping tea, a portrait.

Educated and independent, Mufti Faiz taught at Madrasa Ashraf ul Uloom, his basic school, in 1993 for two years. Before that, in October 1990, he had laid the foundation of Markaz ul Muarif Bathindi, where the Madrasa Masjid Hills is located. Eventually, it was this place that remained his abode and where he died.

Mufti Faiz was married to a lady belonging to his own village. He had four daughters, two of them settled and the younger two going to school. He lived a very simple life. In his entire career, he had gone to Umrah 10 times and performed Haj thrice, the last in 2019. He was hugely respected by the community and loved Kashmir. When his body was taken to Bathindi, he had almost 25 funeral prayers as the community permitted small gathering to have prayers owing to Covid19 protocol in vogue.

In Jail

During his more than three decades of active life, Mufti authored several booklets including Siraj-um-Muneera, Ahkam-e-Mayyat and Namaz Kae Masayil Quran-o-Hadees Ki Roshni Mei. He is credited for being the only major preacher who was instrumental in working enormously within the Gujjars and Punjabi Muslims. However, his Himalayan contribution is his Tafseer-e-Quran, the exegesis of the Quran in the Gojri language, a rare feat that he accomplished during his protracted incarceration. It is named the Tafseer-e-Faizul-Manan.

Mufti Faiz was arrested twice, initially in 1990, when he remained in jail for a year. During that year, he was able to write Mareez, Mouyat Aur Warasat Kay Ahkaam: Quran Aur Hadis Ki Roushi Mein.

Mufti Faiz was arrested again in May 1997 and held in the Kot Balwal Jail for around four and a half years. He was bailed out in 2001. The court, however, acquitted him of all charges, much later, in 2006. It was during this stint of his jail term that he did the Tafseer.

The Tafseer

Mufti Faiz wrote in the introduction to his magnum opus that while converting Arabic into Gojri, he did see various Urdu, Persian and even a Kashmiri translation to understand the context better.

What is important is that Mufti Faiz insisted that his Tafseer was not done just for the adventure or fun but was a response to the requirement on the ground. The Gujar community is not small. It inhabits vast tracks of territory from the borders of Nepal to the foothills of Afghanistan. In Jammu and Kashmir alone, the Gujar population as per the 2011 census is 14,93,299, almost one-tenth of the overall population of the state.

Mufti Faiz mentioned that Christians have already done and circulated the translation of the Bible much earlier and now they have converted it into a film in Gojri. In comparison, Muslims have done nothing, he insisted.

These compulsions, he said, led him to start working on it in 1997. He concluded this huge work within Kotbalwal Jail in August 2001.  A week later, he was bailed out and it was published in 2004. Now, it is being translated into Urdu by Dr Asgar Nadvi, a professor of Arabic at Delhi University. It will consist of three volumes.

Mufti Faziul Waheed

Not His Alone

While Mufti Faiz is being credited for this major work, the fact is that it was not his own completely and he himself mentioned it. Part of the work was done by another Deobandi’s scholar, Abid Hussain Rehmani, son of Ghulam Din Kuli Gujar. He was one of Mufti’s earliest teachers in the Rajouri School, Madrasa Kashif ul Uloom.

Abid (born 1960) was basically a resident of Khaneater Haweli in Poonch but now lives at Halangarh, Thanamandi in Rajouri. He led the prayers at Jamia Masjid Thanamandi for 40 years till 2014. In 1993, he joined the government and became a teacher.

Abid had made the first attempt to translate the Quran in Gojri. However, for unknown reasons, he avoided getting it proofed or corrected and did not publish it at all. It was, by and large, a family-owned manuscript. While in jail, Mufti Faiz decided that instead of reinventing the wheel, he should get the teacher’s manuscript and start working on it. He mentioned that he got the manuscript with great difficulty. Before doing that he had written to his teacher that the word-to-word translation requires interpretation and explanation. His teacher actually ordered him to start working on the manuscript that had been handwritten “12-13 years ago”.

A Distinction

Throughout history, the Gujars have made a series of efforts to convert the holy Quran into their language but failed. The only successful attempt was that of Mufti Faiz.

Molvi Abdul Gani Azhari Qasmi Shashi (Chechi), one of the respected Gujar scholars of Kashmir has recorded that his grandfather, Abdul Haleem Hazarvi had translated the Quran and the handwritten manuscript was somehow destroyed within the family.

One of the respected Muslim scholars, Molvi Mohammad Ismail Zabih (1948 – February 11, 1996), a resident of Dandwat in Budhal, Zabih (not the Ahrar party leader) attempted translating the Quran but he could not move beyond a few chapters and the project was shelved. Zabih’s family had migrated to Pakistan, post-partition and settled in Abbottabad.

Mufti Faiz ul Waheed with some children, most probably his grandchildren.

A serious attempt that almost succeeded was carried out by Molvi Faqir Mohammad Chechi (1954 – 2008), a resident of Jabad Jindali (Jhelum). Initially appointed as a Molvi in the Pakistan army, he resigned to join the library of World Islamic University at Islamabad where he started translating the Quran. He worked on the project for a decade till August 1998. His death, a decade later, could not help the manuscript to become a book.

One of the easiest to understand translations of the Holy Quran was done by Dr Mohammad Amin Madni. Born in 1973 at Hupyal Maligam in Pogal (Ramban), he had his basic education at Kuliyat u Salfia, Srinagar. He later joined Jamia Islami of the Madina University. On his return, he did his masters (1999), MPhil (2005) and PhD from the University of Kashmir.

While in Saudi Arabia, somebody suggested he translate the Quran in Gojri, a requested that was later made in Srinagar by the Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages. He started working on it on July 17, 1998 and completed it on July 10, 1999. He has named it al Tawzih Wal Bayan ul Aayat ul Quran. The Academy, it may be recalled here, owns a manuscript of a Quranic translation named Fatahur Rehamn done by Molvi Abdul Raheem Nadeem, somewhere in 1970. Nadeem was a resident of Atkha village located on the Neelam Road in Muzaffarand outskirts.

Bashir Ahmad Qamar, who retired as Muzaffarabad’s head of the public works department, translated the Quran in Gojri in 2004. His family basically hailing from Seradi Poonch migrated to Abbaspur on the other side of the LoC. After completing the project named Inam ul Quran, he got it corrected from the Ulema but somehow it was not printed.

A broadcaster at Radio Trarkhal (PaK) Dr Noor Mohammad Bhaderwahi is credited for converting Sura Yousuf into Gujri and printing it under the title of Sohnu Qasu. Dr Noor died in 2019.

A Gujar aalim, Mian Shah Jehan (born 1958) from Ghnela Sharief Balakot, Mansehra started on a translation of the Quran in 2017. Named Tarjama Quran, Jamal ul Eaman, the author has translated 22 of the 30 sections and the work is in progress.

Another scholar from the same belt has already completed Tarjama Quran. Done by Moulana Mufti Mohammad Yousuf Saifi Chichi (born 1967), the Gadhang Jaboudi resident was earlier managing the Gujri programme in Radio Pakistan. He started working on the translation of the Quran in 1986 and completed it in 2000. It is currently being printed.

(This copy has used mostly and mainly the thesis of scholar Mohammad Abdul Rehman titled Tafseer-e-Faiz ul Manan Main Mufti Faizul Waheed Kay Mihaj wa Asloob Ka Tehqiqi Mutala that he submitted to Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad in 2019.)

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