Lassa Khan Fida: A logical Sufi
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Lassa Khan Fida: A logical Sufi

Fida was unlike other Sufi poets and intellectuals as he believed in practical life, logic, reasoning, science and common sense. He emerged as one of the finest Sufi poets who managed to draw a line between religion, science, logic and practicality.

Somewhere in fifties when Kashmir was in the grip of a severe drought, people in Islamabad, South Kashmir, decided to take out a procession to the shrine of Harut Marut, on a hill in Martand. It was an age old tradition and there was firm belief that the spell of drought is broken when one prays at the shrine. 

Ghulam Rasool Khan, popularly known as Lassa Khan Fida, was a known religious and literary figure in the area. People thronged to his place and pleaded him to join the procession. After much hesitation Fida agreed to join the procession. At the designated shrine, some religious leaders took over the stage and started reciting Quran, praying and sermonising. Standing at the end of the gathering and paying little attention to sermons, Fida stared at the heavens, took something from his pocket and then turned to his followers. "This is going to rain heavily, everybody vacate the place and move to their homes," he told them. Except for few dozen of his followers and friends who left the venue for their homes, nobody listened to him.  As soon as Fida and others reached home, it started raining heavily followed by massive hailstorm. The people who had not followed Fida's advice and remained at the hill had to bear the brunt. Some of them tumbled down the hill, other lost their valuables, shoes and other things. Many were injured.

Soon the news spread in the area that Fida had done a miracle by bringing rains and also advising people to leave before he prophesied rains. There was an unending stream of people to his house seeking his blessings. When a close relative of Fida  asked him how did he pull a miracle, he gave an answer proving otherwise.

"As people were transfixed on religious leaders, I was looking above their heads towards the sky. I noticed a sudden movement of rain bearing black clouds. I took out my pocket watch and noted that the cloud moved from one point to another point in 10 minutes. This way I calculated the clouds will reach here within 45 minutes and I told everybody to leave," said Fida. But as always happens, people still never listened; and the tale continued.

On the second occasion people propagated the tale that at Fida's house there is one samovar from which everybody drinks Kahwa yet it never gets empty. To which Fida smilingly replies, "how will it be empty when everyone drinks just few drops out of it. Nobody fills the cup full in my presence."

Fida was unlike other Sufi poets and intellectuals as he believed in practical life, logic, reasoning, science and common sense. He emerged as one of the finest Sufi poets who managed to draw a line between religion, science, logic and practicality.

"He would say here in this world all men have certain skills and they need to do that job. Nobody should cross the line. A tailor is meant to sew clothes and a mason is meant to build a house. Similarly a Pir or spiritual master is meant to show the right path, remove any doubts, explain things, differentiate between right and wrong," said Prof Guslhan Majid son of Fida. "Whenever a person with some illness would come to him, he would inquire what is his problem and then refer to a doctor. He would say, "I would also pray and you also pray for the wellbeing."

He was even against breathing on glass of water after prayers led by some Pir. He would say the breathing releases germs into the glass of water. You have read Quran, Durood etc that is enough, the effect reaches every where. At a particular shrine people would lick the earth in the hope of miracles to which Fida would say that you can run earth on you body but never eat as you will become ill.

Long before Hollywood popularised the phrase with great powers comes greater responsibility, Fida would propagate the same to his followers particularly people at some official position. He would love discussion and there used to be an intellectual gathering at his house almost on daily basis. 

Fida was born in 1898 to a business family. He did his early education at the mission school and later left the school. But Fida never stopped education as he self studied and became proficient in Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Kashmiri. Fida was a well known poet whose Mathnavis and Lyrical prose are widely read. Fida had contributed a lot to modern Sufi poetry of Kashmir.

One of his famous Manqabat is still famous all over Kashmiri speaking belt.

Baed Minnat Cham Qadiri chus Chum ni Gam

"He had high regard of saints but everywhere he drew a boundary," said Gulshan. 

Fida was fond of Sufi Kalam too and there used to be gatherings where singers would sing his Sufi songs. "Usually one or two songs would be sung and after the song discussion would follow. Some times discussion even on one word would strength entire night," said Gulshan.

One of the uniques features of his discussion was that he used to narrate stories or incidents to make his point. This kept entire gathering in interest mode.

The example can be seen in his book Gulzar e Haqeeqat published in 1935. This book is unique in the sense that it made people understand the concept of life, Tasswuf, Sufi, inner being, outer being and other complex things by narrating a story.  

In 1919 he was just 21 when he authored Gul Bakawli. The book was popular all over Kashmir. It was published by Tajiran e Kutb at Lahore. After reading the book people had an impression that he was some elderly person but would be shocked to see young handsome man. 

Gul Bakawli was turned into a TV serial too. Jay Kay Publishers is currently reprinting Gul Bakawli and will be released soon. 

Later he wrote two more books Kissa-e-Chahar Darwesh and Kissa-e-Bahraam Gor, but unfortunately they were lost and not a single copy can be traced till date.  

Most of his Naats, Manqabat and other poems are included in his famous book Saheef-e-Naaz. The book has been reprinted number of times.  

Due to his intellectual stature he was offered job of Incharge Sufi Unit at Radio Kashmir, but he refused. Similarly he was presented a state award which was again refused by him.

In Kashmir nothing remains aloof of politics and Fida too could not remain immune to it. He was arrested twice. One time he was arrested just after 1947 when the Rawalpindi road was closed and there was salt scarcity in Kashmir. An infamous police officer of Kashmir raided Fida's house where he seized rock salt of Pakistan which they had imported as part of their business. Other 'incriminating things' they recovered were letters dated 1920s and a radio set that too was earlier purchased from Pakistan. 

Fida was released after spending few days in Jail. The second time he was arrested was in 1956-57 when police raided his house and arrested his son, on the accusation of one of their relatives being NC sympathiser. When Fida learnt of his son's arrest, he went to police station to offer his arrest. Luckily Bakhsi's two brothers were followers of Fida who prevailed on their brother to release him in a day.

On Kashmir once Fida wrote

Pariv Hasbunillah Samiv Khalak Saeri

Namiv Bar Sadaqat Kariv Jan Nisar

His confrontations with Jamat-e-Islami members, and other religious leaders including Molvi Yousuf Shah are legendary. Once Shah accused Fida of misinterpreting Islam to which Fida and his master Sufi Abdul Nabi presented themselves in shrouds at Dargah. Nothing could be proven against Fida.

He was even popular among Hindus and Sikhs. One Pitambar Nath would daily come to his house with his flute. The house would be flocked with people from all over the valley.  He would answer everyones question with satisfaction and remove doubts.

Ghulam Nabi Hagroo, who was editor of Front, a publication of Plebiscite Front, after participating in his night long discussion wrote, "the previous day I had read Bertrand Russel and Whitehead about life, being, tassawuf and so on. When I heard Fida at the gathering, I thought both Russel and Whitehead are children in front of Fida. Such is his knowledge and clarity of thought."

Fida died on 30 August 1965 and every year the day is celebrated in a big way. He is buried at his hometown in Islamabad. "Though he despised making of shrines, yet his followers never listened and built one shrine on his grave," said Gulshan.

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