Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Making Language as an Idol

By Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, New Age Islam 11 July 2023 Many votaries of Kashmiri language pleaded that Kashmiri language should be introduced in schools. The language activists fought for the inclusion of Kashmiri language in schools and now it is being taught in schools till high school level as a mandatory subject. This inclusion also helped to absorb those unemployed youth who had completed their post-graduation or Masters in Kashmiri language and were now finding it difficult to get jobs. This step helped them get absorbed in government jobs, thus securing their future, The language activists, writers and scholars of Kashmiri language were very happy at this inclusion of Kashmiri language in the school curriculum. I had never studied Kashmiri as a language but due to my personal efforts I learnt to read it with ease. But there is nothing celebratory about its inclusion because like Urdu, students will study it to pass exams, later forget it after high school is over. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Muslims and Urdu Language: From Crisis to Conspiracy ------------------------------------------------------------------- The enrolment of students taking Kashmiri as a subject in higher classes, at college and university level will continue to remain same. It will not witness a great surge in enrolment. Similar is the case with Urdu and other vernacular languages. It is because the scope of these languages is very little economically, so there will be few takers for it. Those who are passionate about any language do not need any specific reasons for studying it. When the campaign for inclusion of Kashmiri in curriculum was going on it was trumpeted that it will help Kashmiris forge unity and develop nationalism among them, that is missing. It was hoped that the strengthening of Kashmiri nationalism will result in the freedom sentiment growing deeper. It was a similar fantasy like what was earlier propounded by historian Fida Mohammad Hasnain, clandestinely that if we will trumpet more about the grave of Jesus Christ (pbuh) being present in Kashmir, then more world attention will be diverted to Kashmir and the conflict will be highlighted more vigorously at global level. Hasnain even write a book claiming Jesus’s being buried in Kashmir. It was the Qadiyani propaganda that he carried forward, but this theory found very few takers for it. He did not openly claim about strengthening the Kashmiri freedom sentiment through his theory of Jesus’s grave openly, because like other local historians he too was on payroll of government, enjoying privileges and plump posts under different regimes. He did not have any historical or political stance, but liked to voice some out of box views creating controversy that never percolated to the masses like the theory of Kashmiri language strengthening nationalism. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: The Travesty of Urdu Councils and Forums ------------------------------------------------------------------- Kashmiri language can never bind the people of J&K together. Those who thought so believed in fool’s paradise. Only Urdu language had the potential as it joined all the divisions of the J&K linguistically. The Kashmiri language is so poor even if we talk from a literary perspective. Except for the mystical poetry of Rishi saints, there is dearth of literature in other genres. In fact, the stalwart poets of Rishi movement that was religious and reformatory, the poetry of its two biggest proponents Lal Ded and Sheikh ul Alam was till recently passed down over generations through the word of mouth. Even now their compilations are amalgamated with poetry of each other, because their message, topics and themes were the same. There is no mention of politics in their poetry, although they unleashed a tirade against the caste system, clergy and exploitation of masses by the religious pundits. Then we have contemporary poets who were government servants in various capacities. Most of them like Rahman Rahi, Amin Kaamil, Mehjoor and others used to run propaganda programs for the ruling regime. To expect anything revolutionary from them is out of question. In the fag end of their lives, when they had no utility for government or writing posed no threat to their livelihood, they penned down few poems, that certainly does not make them count as Resistance or Nationalist poets. Hence to think that strengthening of Kashmir language will automatically translate into some Kashmiri nationalism is far fetched idea, that is ill conceived and ill theorized. Some Kashmiriyat term was invented and used to describe Kashmir’s syncretic and plural culture, but as it was invented and imposed post 1975 Accord by the same Sarkari historians and language activists, it died a natural death with the Pandit migration in 1990s. There was Rishi syncretism and pluralism but nothing like Kashmiriyat whose loss is now being mourned. Similar to few Kashmiris, some Arabic language triumphalist also intend to impose Arabic language. Being a language in which Holy Quran was revealed and in which we find the primary texts of Islam available, it maybe considered a genuine demand. But never in the history of Muslims, Arabic as a dominant language was spoken by majority of Muslims. It cannot even happen in future because the Muslim masses never will find the time and resources to learn Arabic. Also learning Arabic is not a gateway to heaven. Without knowing Arabic one can follow Islam in letter and spirit because the primary texts of Islam have been translated in all the major languages of the world. Whosoever is interested can know Islam from these translated works. Like Kashmiri language enthusiasts who foolishly believe that Kashmiri language will promote unity, similarly, some Arabic language promoters believe that once people know Arabic the religious differences among schools of thought will be eliminated. It is because our Islamic understanding is not pure, it has amalgamation of Persian and Urdu, hence it has led to flawed understanding of Islam. Hence Arab understanding of Islam will be flawless. These enthusiasts become blind about the fact that the four jurists to whom the schools of thought are attributed, as well as founders of Sufi Silsila and other sects like Shi’ism were well versed with Arabic. But in spite of it they had huge differences in understanding and interpretation of religious texts. Even now when Arabic is the lingua franca of the Arab world, still the unity of these Arab nations is far from reality not to think about Muslim world. These all people want us to turn languages into idols and once we do it, we start hating and demeaning other languages. Islam has come with the message of breaking and smashing any kind of idols. Thus, if a language turns into an idol, whether it be justified by any means needs to be annihilated. Language is a means of communication turning it into an issue of life and death, Islam and infidelity is gross. Such attempts should be nipped in the bud, only then can we experience a world free of hate, bigotry and violence. Homogeneity of a language will always lead to doom of a community. ------ M.H.A. Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir. URL: https://newageislam.com/islam-politics/language-idol/d/130184 New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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