In conversation with The Varmul Post, Professor Mohammad Hassan Beigh Aftab, a poet and a scholarly figure of Baramulla, takes us down the path from his early days of his life to a stage where religion is his goal. He has authored many a books including the latest released book, “Tehzeeboun Ka Imaam”- a poetry collection.
Q. Tell us something about yourself.
I come from Beigh family of Wehdina village. Born in 1943, I started my schooling from home. My parents were my first teachers. After that I was sent to primary school KachuMuqam from where I passed sixth standard with first position. In the meantime a middle school came up at Laridora where from I passed my 7th and 8th standard in first class. Later on, we shifted to KanliBagh Baramulla. After that I came to Baramulla and got admitted at high school Dewanbagh where from I passed my 9th and 10th standard. There were 3 or 4 sections of our class. (Pauses)
Let me tell you an important episode of those times. We had a Pandit teacher, very much dashing, capable, with political ambitions. He wanted a Student Union and for that we need a parliament. We were asked to choose a president. School parliamentary elections were held in which I stood as a candidate and I won. (Laughs) For a complete week we did campaigning, like politicians do it today. I won just by one vote.
Nobody would ever compete me in debates. I used to stand first in debates too. After 10th standard I was appointed as a teacher in education department, so I discontinued my studies.
Q. What about your further studies, job?
1960, when Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq was Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, at that time I got 4-5 job options but I offered for teacher. 8th, August 1961 I was appointed as teacher. Despite standing first in my studies, I couldn’t continue my education due to financial problems at home. We were landlords but there was no orchards like today. Money was rare. My first salary was Rs. 65.
After sometime I thought of continuing my further studies. I purchased books and did my FA (11th, 12th) in 1963, with subjects as Persian, Urdu, Political Science and Civics. I passed my exams in JK with 3rd position with 57%.
I did my graduation in 1965 and M.A History in 1967. I studied other subjects also, not for passing examinations but just for gaining knowledge. My duty didn’t halt my endeavor for education.
Q. What are your hobbies?
Carry a gun on shoulder, go into the forests and hunt. I was very much fond of hunting. Spending holidays into the forests halted my education but it was my passion which I couldn’t leave. I was very much crazy about hunting, my lone hobby. Hunter gun is still with me.
Q. When did you start writing?
Right from my high school, I used to write. In my initial years I wrote for many newspapers especially for Aftab. In 70’s and 80’s started I wrote articles, poems, short stories, Afsana, Inshaie. During militancy, I put a break on writing as it was somehow suicidal. From 1990-2000, I wrote many articles covering socio-political topics. But after performing Hajj in 2000 I stopped writing for newspapers also. I concentrated on poetry. Besides writing I was very fond of reading also both Urdu and English. In English likes of ‘Crime and Punishment’ and in Urdu my favorites were Abdul Haleem Sharar and Sadiq Dehlvi. These were topmost writers of that era.
After that I shifted towards Islam and studied Islam not as a subject but understood it. I wrote a novel in 70’s but kept unpublished because after all novel is all about fiction. People will like it but it is false. I shunned the wrong way and stopped writing such novels.
Q. A shift from novels, short stories, hunting towards religion! Was there any specific reason?
Understanding and age was the reason for shifting towards Islam. Ours was a religious family. My uncle Mohammad Lateef Sahab was Principle Sopore College at that time. He was a pious man. He was my inspiration. My mother a religious fellow, who always used to offer ‘Tahajud’ was my inspiration. I left hunting but gun is still with me.
When you fall in love, you want to touch beloved. You can’t see God, but feel and that also rare. When you pray and when you are alone. In such a love, eyes get moist then you feel it. Moistening your eyes is the key and it happens rarely. This love attracted me.
Q. Which was your first publication?
My first book was “The Prophetic Mission of Mohammad ﷺ”. It was in English and was published in 1965. After that I wrote a book on communalism in Urdu in which my main focus is the biggest enemy of India. “Hindustan ka sab se bada Dushman kon” in this book I wrote many a researched topics which portray communalism as the biggest threat to the integrity of India.
After that I shifted to poetry. In 2009, ‘Zameen par Qadam Asman‘ was my first poetry collection. Now my eyes are weak and I want to save my eyesight for Quran and Islamic studies.
Q. Was Babri Masjid episode a reason for this book “Hindustan Ka Sab Se Badha Dushman Kon” in 1996-1997?
Babri masjid is a whole topic in it. I have mentioned how communalism is the biggest enemy of India. It is well researched topic. In India communalism was started by Hindus. Jinnah was first man to enter Congress. He was in Congress from 1906 up to 1922 but he was cornered by so called secularists. Jinnah wasn’t a praying Muslim. But communal parties made him to shift to Muslim league.
Q. Tell us something about your recent publication “Tehzeeboon Ka Imam“?
“Tehzeeboon ka Imam” is a poetry collection. It is my fourth book. The poems are under various titles and I choose the name from one of the poems, which is included in it.
“Tehzeeboon Ka Imam“. There have been 23 civilizations in world. Biggest one is Islamic civilization. Isn’t Prophet Muhammad ﷺ Imam, leader of all civilizations, all prophets? Who is the leader? Even western writers have accepted that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is the leader of and top among the 100 important world leaders. The title for this book came from this poem only.
Q. Your message to budding writers?
Poets please don’t forget ‘mukaffa shairi”. Don’t go after azzaad shayari. Prose is also a kind of azaad shayari. Azaad shayari is no shayyaari. Read a lot and write as well.
Prose should be truthful. Bring truth ahead, it can be bitter but you have to write so as the message is conveyed. It should be appealing and not distasteful.