Beyond Kashmiri

Food for thought for elite academic alone and not for commoners!


Title of Rashid Afaq’s self-published book KALCHAR KYAH GOV? (What is Culture?) can easily mislead the reader if he/she does not look at the inner cover where the author tells us that the book  is a “collection of critical and research articles” and not “about culture”, though there is one essay entitled ‘What is Culture?’ (p. 81) which defines the term ‘culture’ and then talks about the Kashmiri culture as something unique in nature. The author writes that Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs and Muslims have a “common religion” (Mushtarika Mazhab) because all believe in one God. The Makkan pagans also believed in one God but they did not accept the Prophet (SAW) as His Messenger. Does it mean that we share common religion with them? For Muslims, belief in Allah alone is not enough; they have to believe in the Prophets (SAW), the books, the doomsday and so on. We as Muslims differ in many ways from other sects.
I have always found it difficult to understand what my culture is. My ancestors did not use leather/plastic shoes; they wore grass shoes - PULHORE, KHRAAV - and KHRAVHOR (wooden sandals). They did not have leg-warmers as I am using these days; they used POTAV. Was that my culture then and what is my culture now? Should I revert back to ancestral culture, or move forward to developing new cultures as they come in my way? Culture is not static and should not be! It is dynamic and ever changing. I must change too.
 KALCHAR KYAH GOV? (What is Culture?) contains eleven essays in all excluding ‘preface’ and a critical essay on the author by Shahid Delnawi (p. 16). There is an essay on Iqbal’s concept of fate (p. 126) and a critique of poetry of Rahim Sahb (p. 145), Mohiuddin Gowhar (p. 73) and Sheikh Nurudddin (p. 21). The book also contains an essay on Kashmiri and English languages (p. 99) , the concept of Deconstruction as advocated by Derrida (p. 110), history of sufism, Azad’s treatment of nature in his poetry, conflict of civilizations etc. which the author talks about through illustrations and examples from primary and secondary sources.
 KAESHIR ZABAN TA ANGREZI (“The Kashmiri Language and English”) is really a confusing essay. On the one hand, the author has drawn a structural comparison between Kashmiri and English and, on the other hand, he is pleading for different teaching methods. The author has shown how Kashmiri and English sentence structure is the same and therefore could be beneficial for our children: “I mean that Kashmiri will help our children learn English better. Teachers can use any method based on their needs. This is called Eclectic Method” (p. 107). One could ask, if Kashmiri could help children learn English better, why adopt an eclectic method. Immediately, after talking about the benefits of the eclectic method, the author talks about the Bilingual Method and finds it “the best for teaching English” (p. 107)? There seems to be no obvious reason for writing this essay and, surely, there is no research involved in it.
In “Deconstruction and Kashmiri Poetry” (p. 110), the writer has tried to explain Derrida’s concept of deconstruction in Kashmiri. Derrida is very difficult to understand and translating him in Kashmiri is even more difficult because it is not easily possible to find Kashmiri equivalents to the terms that Derrida has used in his books. Afaq has done well to retain them in original. After explaining the concept, the author has tried to apply it to two vakhs of Sheikhul Alam and one shaluk of Lala. I am sure this essay would be very difficult for Kashmiri readers. I would therefore advise them to read Derrida in original so that they understand him better. Afaq has used English expression profusely and his quotes from Derrida in English will create problems for non-English readers.
The discussion of Iqbal’s concept of fate and critiques of Azad’s and Sheikh-ul- Alam’s poetry are familiar stuffs. Iqbal has been discussed more in Kashmir than in his own country.  In his essay on “Philosophy of Fate and Iqbal” (p. 126), Afaq has quoted profusely from Iqbal’s Reconstruction and talked about how fate has been looked at by Iqbal. Strangely, he has quoted Rehman Dar, Lala Arigami and Samad Mir also to talk about destiny or fate, perhaps, with the idea of showing that Kashmiri poets have not lagged behind in defining fate in their own ways. I don’t know whether there are many fates and how they could be changed. Afaq attributes this to Iqbal: “Iqbal says that Man doesn’t have one fate. In fact, he has many. If he doesn’t like one fate, he could ask for another” (p. 143). Iqbal scholars would do well to read this essay and comment on whether or not Iqbal must be read the way Afaq has read him, especially in his concept of fate.
For paucity of space, it is not possible for me to comment on all the essays in the book. Afaq seems to be a well-read person who has tried to make even very difficult concepts like Deconstruction simpler for Kashmiri readers.  KALCHAR KYAH GOV is food for thought for elite academic alone and not for commoners! However, the writer’s attempt needs to be appreciated as he is trying to make a nation in slumber to rise and read in its own language. 

Lastupdate on : Wed, 12 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 12 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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