By Syed Zafar Mehdi

Kashmir bids tearful adieu to a towering Islamic scholar

January 31, 2018

KASHMIR - Kashmir has lost one of its towering Islamic scholars and spiritual leaders. Hujjatul Islam Agha Syed Mohammad Fazlullah, the president of Jammu and Kashmir Anjuman Shariee Shiaan and chairman of Ayatollah Yusuf Memorial Trust, passed away at his ancestral home in central Budgam district of Indian controlled Kashmir early on Monday after a brief spell of illness. 

Agha Fazlullah, who studied at a religious seminary in Najaf under the tutelage of high-ranking scholars and jurists, was an eminent Islamic scholar and educationist with massive following in Kashmir. Soon after the news about his untimely death broke out, people across the valley poured into the streets to bid tearful adieu to their beloved leader. 

Around half a million people, cutting across sects and tribes, participated in his funeral ceremony, bearing testimony to his tremendous popularity. Agha was a visionary leader and a strong advocate of Muslim unity and intra-faith dialogue. His contribution in social, cultural and religious spheres in Kashmir is unparalleled. He was also closely associated with many global Islamic organisations including Iran-based World Ahlulbayt Assembly. 

Agha belonged to the illustrious Safvi-Moosavi family of Kashmir, which has produced many great Islamic luminaries who have devoted their lives to religious guidance of people. Agha Fazlullah is succeeded by his son Agha Syed Hadi, a young Islamic scholar from Qom religious seminary. 

Agha Fazlullah's father Ayatollah Agha Syed Yusuf Moosavi was the founder of Jammu and Kashmir Anjuman Shariee Shiaan and a close associate of the architect of Islamic revolution Imam Khomeini. During the Islamic revolution in Iran, Aga Yusuf exchanged many letters with Imam Khomeini and even invited him to Kashmir. He had also donated $2 million as assistance for the revolutionary struggle against American-backed Pahlavi regime.

Aga Fazlullah's death has been widely condoled in and outside Kashmir. Political parties, socio-cultural organizations, religious organisations in their statements paid glowing tribute to the deceased and hailed his contribution to society. They termed his loss as 'irreparable'. 

Young men and women who participated in his funeral were struggling to control their emotions. "We are shattered. We have been orphaned today," exclaimed Bilal Hussain, a local trader. "I wish it was a bad dream. It doesn't sink in."

"His death marks the end of an era. He was an institution in himself. It will be really difficult to fill the void," said Ghulam Haider, a university student, who participated in Agha's funeral on Monday. "Leaders and scholars like him are very rare. He was a revolutionary figure and a humble servant of Allah. Such people live in our hearts forever," said Aamir Ali, a government employee. 

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