Mirwaiz becomes father, clan gets a heir apparent

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq  

Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who also heads the 18th century institution of Mirwaiz (head priest) of the Kashmir valley, on Saturday became the father of a baby boy, the heir apparent to the influential pulpit his father presides over in Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid.

The 44-year-old Mirwaiz’s US-born-and-brought-up wife, Sheeba Masoodi, was shifted to Srinagar’s Modern Hospital on Friday evening around 10 p.m., in the midst of a shutdown call issued by separatists, including the Mirwaiz.

“I could not accompany my wife to the hospital as I was placed under the house arrest earlier in the day as we were planning to lead a procession demanding the mortal remains of JKLF (Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front) founder Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru, both buried in Tihar Jail,” the Mirwaiz told The Hindu, adding, “Thanks to the almighty Allah for the blessing.”

Sources said it was an emergency operation conducted following some medical complications. “The baby boy was born on Saturday morning. Both the baby and his mother are all right,” the Mirwaiz’s media adviser Shahid-ul-Islam said.

Social media agog

The Mirwaiz’s heir apparent, who could be 15th Mirwaiz of the clan, has arrived on a day when the Valley was observing a shutdown on 33rd death anniversary of JKLF founder Bhat, hanged in 1984 for his role in the killing of an inspector of the local Crime Branch.

Social media was agog with suggestions of names for the baby boy, which included Maqbool after the hanged JKLF founder. Sources said the family is yet to decide on a name for the baby.

A Class 10 student, Mr. Umar received the title Mirwaiz at the young age of 16, after his father Maulvi Farooq was assassinated by gunmen on May 21, 1990, at his Nigeen residence.

In the 1990s, the Mirwaiz clan, which presides over the pulpit of 600-year-old historic Jamia Masjid, saw itself again at the centre of the new wave of separatist politics, and the area around the mosque continues to remain a constant space of stone-throwing protesters and agitated processionists.

“Afghan rulers (between 1747 until 1819) first availed the services of the clan from Pulwama’s Tral area. Influenced by the reformative thought of Shah Wali-ullah, a Muslim saint of the clan gained immense popularity and became a spokesman for purist Islam in the Valley,” said Sheikh Showkat, professor of law, Central University, Kashmir.

Professor Showkat attributed the first step towards modernisation of education in Kashmir to Mirwaiz family. “Mirwaiz Moulana Ghulam Rasool established the first institution for modern education with the Islamia High School (in 1988), when clergy elsewhere opposed it,” said Professor Showkat.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 4:31:13 AM |

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