A Different Crowd

Sitting on the shopfronts had almost become an addiction for my buddies, and me.
A Different Crowd
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Sitting on the shopfronts had almost become an addiction for my buddies, and me. I had started sitting on the shopfronts long before, when listening film songs was a taboo at home. And listening 'fauji Bhaioon Kay Farmayish' – a film song programme at 1.30 PM broadcast from Radio Kashmir had become an obsession with us.  Old habits die hard; this addiction shadowed me even when I was doing graduation – and now I used to gossip on shopfronts till late in the evenings. One evening, after having lovely gossip on films, when I returned home, I saw annoyance writ large on the face of my uncle. He asked me to sit down with him for some time as he wanted to talk to me. 

Some fresh engineering graduates from the Regional College, Srinagar had joined his department. Their piety and punctuality for namaz had impressed him a lot. He told me instead of sitting on the shopfronts, engaging in gossip; I should visit the Islamic Study Circle, at Budshah Chowk. That had been the real training school for these fresh engineering graduates, and cast them in the 'mould of true Muslims'. 

My uncle was my role model and mentor, I had never disobeyed him. One day, perhaps Sunday, I along with two of my friends visited the Study Circle Office. Dressed, in trendy bellbottoms, which were the craze of the day, on entering into the office where an ijtema was in progress, we felt out of place.  It was a different crowd of teenagers and youth. Their beards and headgears expressed their inner style and personalities. Perhaps for our dress code inviting stares made us feel we were not welcome – it had also put me into an introspective mood if I had the courage to live through straitjacketed ideology and lifestyle. Notwithstanding, having read some books like Risala-e-Diniyat and the first volume of Tafheemat by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, I had scant knowledge about the Jamat-e-Islami, and some youth engaged in the Islamic movement. The Jamat-e-Islami in the late sixties and early seventies had no support base, or even an office, in our locality. My only knowledge about the Jamat-e-Islami was that it had a school at Nawab Bazar and it published a monthly magazine for which my uncle had paid a yearly subscription – because of Qari Saif-u-Din. 

After the ijtema was over, we went into another small room for interaction and familiarisation of the aims and objectives of the organisation. Faces of some of the leaders of this organisation, like Er. Ghulam Qadir Sufi, having seen them in the lead during the 1965 students' movement were familiar to us. 

Eng. Sufi did most of the talking about the aims and objectives of this ostensibly apolitical organisation committed to taking out a younger generation from "narrow confines of nationalism" and shaping their personality on Islamic personality. The Circle was established in 1967, in a single room at Maisuma by a group of highly qualified young men.  The founding members included Prof. Bashir Ahmed Mattoo, Dr Yusuf-ul-Umar, Prof Muhammad Sabir, Agriculture College Sopore, Dr Muhammad Sultan, Dr Ghulam Nabi Mir, and Er. Ghulam Qadir Sufi, Er. Bashir Ahmed Elahi, and Mr Masood-ul-Rahim Makdoomi. Dr Yusuf-ul-Umar was the first President of the Circle. 

My friends and I were enthused to join the Study Circle to acquaint ourselves with teachings of Islam and to live a disciplined life, but for a different mental makeup we chose not to join but to read the literature. 

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