Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf, An Evergreen Role Model
By: Saif Ali Budgami
Kashmir valley has been the hub of great saints since centuries and Sufis visited the valley to preach Islam, and that aspect of the Kashmiri history and culture is still very evident, for this reason it is lovingly named Peer Vaer (The land of Saints) among Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf Al-Moosvi Al-Safvi was one. Unfortunately this evergreen saint who beautified this land being multifarious and polymath and spent his whole life in the service of Islam, though neglected by all in one way or the other. This shining star is surely believed to have revolutionized the destiny of not only Muslims but all the people of Kashmir and Kashmir itself. The ideologue was a fearless protagonist of social justice, an establisher, savior and a sign of unity in Kashmir.
The humanitarian character devoted his whole life and godly gifted abilities in deep reflection of the socio-humanistic realities. In fact, so practical was his life and so devoted was he, that according to his friends and family, “time could be told without the need of a clock by his movements and actions.” Extraordinarily was no contradiction in his thought and action.
More ever he was individually a crown of unity in Kashmir. He as a charismatic leader, social reformer, a revolutionist; what not the spring of practices, having practiced the life of role model with complex simplicity of life with disciplined behavior. This kind hearted and meticulous personality was famously known “BOD AAG SOUB” (Grand Personality).
Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf was born in 1904 in Budgam Kashmir in a religious family and received his education in Islamic law and jurisprudence from Najaf in Iraq. He is the descendent of Mir Shamsudin Araki, who had set foot in Kashmir in 13th century from Araki town of Iran. After the death of his elder brother, Aga Syed Ahmed Almoosvi. The venerable Aga opened new doors of prosperity for the entire Kashmir in general and for Muslims in particular and for this very reason he is admired by all Kashmiris alike.
Although Ayatollah Syed Yousuf was not a politician by profession but his political insight cannot be underestimated either. There are many scholars who are of the opinion that Aga besides being an eminent theologian was equally a great politician. It would sound strange but it is true in the sense that the very concept of establishing Anjuman-e-Shar-e-Shian, apart from carrying out the religious work, was political. As already stated the organization during the period of Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf was not less than a govt.
He was said to be the closest associate from Kashmir to Imam Rahil Ayatollah Syed Rohullah Khomeini, the father of Islamic Revolution of Iran. Narrations say that Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf had donated $2 million to Iran as financial assistance during the revolutionary struggle When Ayatollah Khomeini was expelled from Iran by the Shah, Ayatollah Syed Yousuf wrote him an inviting letter to Kashmir. Ayatollah Syed Rohullah Khomeini replied,
“I would love to visit my ancestral home, Kashmir, but due to certain political reasons, I can’t.”
All the letters of Ayatollah Khomeini are preserved in the personal library of Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf and his personal library located at Yousuf Abad, Budgam.
Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf had very deep relations with Grand Ayatollah Syed Ali Naqan Naqvi, One of the most highly regarded scholars of Shia at his time, who wrote more than 100 books and 1000 short books. And is among the most learned Islamic scholars in Indian History.
The great mission of religious preaching has remained a great legacy of Moosvi family bestowed from ancestors (Ahle Bait) a.s, that head of the family would carry forward the noble mission of preaching on the lines of great legacy of elders and the chain finally reached Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf Al Mosavi and seem to be stopped there after his death. His eminent leadership and importance was
felt as soon as he was buried, and till now the thirsty of such a unique leadership has not been quenched.
Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf is still the sweetheart of millions of people around the world and in fact the town is well famous of his name that naming Budgam itself reminds us this great personality. Many of his followers tell about his kindness to the lowly, compassion for the needy and generosity and munificence towards poor. He was extremely forbearing, his majesty and justice is still resounding in mountains of Kashmir. He was an embodiment of truth and justice. And I can surely tell you that none other than him in his family is more practical, fearless, just, experienced till to this day.
His eminence, justice and practicality extraordinarily did compel hundreds of authoritative persons to rename their villages, town, schools, organizations, trusts etc. Like district hospital Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf Memorial Hospital Budgam, has been lovingly named after him.
• One of the best service of this intellectual was an reformation of Anjumane Shar-e-Shian Jammu and Kashmir, which during his lifetime, virtually ran parallel to the govt. It also worked as a powerful pressure and Interest group as well. As the government collects the taxes from the general public, Anjuman Sharie Shian collects (khums and fitr) as alms from the people to spend on social, educational, and economic improvement for the poorer segment of the society. Despite The organization got divide into two organizations after the death of Ayatollah Syed Yousuf still various activities are performed under the shadow of organization (Anjuman Shar-e-Shiaan) like, Ayatollah Syed Yousuf memorial trust ,Ayatollah Syed Yousuf Educational institute, Religious seminaries, organize social, religious seminars, and provide Scholarships to needy students etc.
• His great achievements also include the establishment of ultimate renaissance by setting the foundation Islamic Learning Center “ Baab-ul-ilm (The gateway of knowledge), that almost served every family in Kashmir especially Shias in one way or the other and produced hundreds of Islamic scholars, to quench the thirsty of knowledge and currently thousands of students still light the lamp of knowledge there. No matter even if it got divided into two parts.
• Another influential service from the Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf was the Shar-e-Adalat (Islamic Court of Justice). Which was the most powerful unit of grievances of his office. The unit was so practical and active that not only Shia, but also Sunni, Pandits and Sikhs would come with different cases for best resolution instead of going to Government Courts. And those who were fed up of court dates did enthusiastically approach his Shar-e-Adalat to get the instant solution of the problems.
• Further it is quoted that the District Court of Budgam number of occasions, sent many complex cases to his Shar-e-Adalat for resolution.
• His new construction of Imam Bara Budgam, is the example of the Irani architecture in India. That currently attracts the monumental values as well. It also stands as a symbol of immense respect and faith in the valley, and hosts all the main religious activities among Shia in Budgam. Besides, on his name another Imam Bara (Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf Imam Bara Bemina Budgam) which is said to be the biggest Imam Bara in Kashmir valley is under construction.
• There is inescapable fact that Budgam was accorded a status of a district only by dint of him.
This pious and auspicious personality with his spirituality did not keep any stone unturned to serve Islam according to his best. And breathed his last on 29th August, 1982. His death was mourned by lakhs of people all over the Kashmir. And his funeral is still counted among the largest funeral gatherings in Kashmir. Later people flocked in thousands to pay their condolences to the bereaved including other prolific religious scholars and high ranking political leaders including former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, former Governor of the state. Ayatollah Aga Syed Yousuf was buried in Ayatollah Aga Syed Mehdi’s shrine in main town Budgam. The shrine was constructed by himself during his life time to honor Ayatollah Aga Syed Mehdi. The holly shrine is now the famous religious site for his lovers and attracts thousands of visitors through out the year.
By: Saif Ali Budgami