Blast from the past: When Pakistan President Gen Zia ul Haque treated Maulana Saaduddin as the state guest.


A Revolutionary Saint

Maulana Saad-Ud-Din was humble, modest and reticent always deep in thoughts, and looked more like a spiritual leader. But he was equally a revolutionary, a rebel, a warrior and a reformer. Unveiling some of the hidden facets of the life of founder Ameer (chief) of Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir  


When the idea of launching armed rebellion against Indian rule in Kashmir struck Pakistan President General Zia-ul-Haque’s mind in 1983, the first person he consulted on his plan from Kashmir was Maulana Saad-Ud-Din (late)—the Ameer (chief) of Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir.

That year the Jamaat chief visited Pakistan twice (in April and October) and spent around three months there.

All through his stay in Pakistan, General Zia treated him as state guest.

Maulana Saad-Ud-Din had extensive meetings with the Pak President and other related authorities during the period.

“People of Kashmir have to stand up themselves. Pakistan will only provide them help”, Zia-Ul-Haque told Saad-Ud-Din.

Those were the days when Pakistan had engaged the erstwhile USSR in a similar kind of war in Afghanistan with open support from the West, more particularly America and Muslim countries.

General Zia was confident, like Afghanistan, world would support him in Kashmir too as India was then a keen ally of the USSR.

Maulana Saaduddin was a saint when it came to submit to the Will of Allah and invite people to the message of Islam, but a warrior, a rebel and a revolutionary when it came to fight injustices.

He readily accepted Zia’s idea.

A former Jamaat functionary, who was accompanying Saaduddin during his Pakistan visit and was privy to the Ameer-e-Jamaat’s meetings with Zia-Ul-Haque told me some time back that it was decided to send “groups of willing cadres on valid passports and visas for arms training. The trained persons would return without arms. The arms would be provided to them after proper assessment of timing and training”.

Leaders usually flounder while making choices on such occasions.

But the Jamaat founder was a man of impeccable integrity. He believed in leading by example, by walking the talk, and made a start from his family.

The first person Saaduddin sent for arms training was his own son. 

In the battle of Badre when pagan army commander Utbah Ibn Rabi-ah, his son Al Walid and his brother Sheibah (all from the Ommayad) challenged the Muslim army and asked the Prophet (S.A.W) to send to them their equals for a fight. Hundreds of companions around him (S.A.W) were expecting to be called upon by the Prophet (S.A.W). But he started it from his own family. He (S.A.W) called upon Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Hamza and Hazrat Obeidah Al Harith (all from the clan of the Prophet) to face the three saying “the load is heavy and the heavy load could be carried only by the people to whom it belonged”.

Maulana Saaduddin, being the founder and pioneer of Islamic revivalist movement in Jammu and Kashmir, must have this prophetic standard of leadership in mind when he chose his son over others. Almighty Allah has declared the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W) as role model for the whole humanity (Sura-Ahzab-21).

Around a dozen other persons also got arms training.

The process however stopped as the Jamaat leadership in general was not in favour of “underground activities and running the risk of such an adventure”.

Hurdles in getting passports were another reason. Jamaat men were under the permanent radar of intelligence agencies. They would usually report adversely while verifying their antecedents even for normal government jobs. Getting passports, for them, was like climbing the Mount Everest.

And when in early 90s militancy erupted in Kashmir, Saad-Ud-Din was ill. He had two stroke of paralysis and could not move. His speaking-power was also hampered under paralysis. But the rebellion in him was as healthy, young and strong as ever. He prescribed, through newspapers, special invocation (wazeefa) for the people to recite regularly to “get rid of the ghulami”.

I have the honour of spending a lot of time around him as the editor of Jamaat’s party organ “Azan” in 1980-81.

My experience with Maulana Saad-Ud-Din was different as regards with other leaders of the Jamaat.

He never believed in self projection and personal embriodering.

I don’t remember any moment when he had interfered or commented on my work or sought me to write anything of his liking.

One day Shiekh Mohammad Suleman (May All bless his soul), then secretary general of the Jamaat, got miffed with me for non-publication of his article in the “Azan”.

Shiekh Suleman was an affectionate and noble soul, a good orator and a dedicated preacher. I respected him a lot.

I don’t remember properly why I ignored his article. Was it really below standard or I failed to grasp it correctly.

Anyway, Sheikh Suleman felt it and complained to some other functionaries of the Jamaat.

Next day during some routine meeting with the Ameer Jamaat, Ghulam Nabi Nowshehri (now settled in Pakistan) raised the issue. He asked Saaduddin Sahab “Is Azan a Jamaat-e-Islami newspaper or his (pointing towards me) personal property”. Without seeking any details for what prompted him to ask the question,  Maulana Saaduddin said “Both, Azan and Rashid Ahmad are ours”.

I found myself in the seventh heaven.

The issue settled there, and nobody dared to say anything more.

Maulana Saaduddin was, in all respects, a selfless person.

Every moment of his life was a story but he would never open up. He would say little about his younger days, the hardships he faced for rebelling against the established customs (based on wrong notions) in the society, and advocating revolutionary and reformative thoughts on religion through the formation of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

He was humble, modest and reticent always deep in thoughts more like a spiritual leader.

Qari saifuddin, being a relative of Saad-Ud-Din and one of the three founder leaders of the Jamaat—besides Saad-Ud-Din and Moulana Ahrar—knew him (Saad-Ud-Din) from childhood.

He used to tell us the events and incidents that shaped the life and mission of Maulana Saad-Ud-Din.

Moulana Saad-Ud-Din was a scion of the revered Pir family of Tarabal (Srinagar). He first revolted against his family tradition of clerical deference and guidance (Pir-Mureedi). He had to break from the family for being what his own people thought him as an “outcast”.

That certainly was a moment of self-transcendence in his life. The meaning of this moment was instantly decipherable in any language and to any age even those who did not know him that a rebellion was born.

Saad-Ud-Din was denied a job (he had done graduation from Punjab University in 1938) in Protocol section of State Tourism Department in 1940 when he refused to wear a hat and Kith (half pant) during duty hours. Chief Secretary Ram Chand Kak (who later became Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir) interviewed and selected Saad-Ud-Din for the job. Ghulam Mohammad Mian, director tourism, ordered him to wear English dress (Hat and half Pant) during duty. But Saad-Ud-Din refused and got marching orders.

The same year he was appointed as teacher in education deparment. Two years later, he was selected for special training (B.T known as B.Ed now) in Prince of Wales College Jammu.

The trainees had to take oath of allegiance towards the Maharaja before undergoing training.

When Director Education (I was told Ghulam Sayedain was director) asked Saad-Ud-Din to take the oath, he refused saying “I have already taken oath of allegiance towards Allah and His Rasool (Prophet Mohammad SAW) I cannot take another oath?”

As all persuasions even threat failed to deter Saad-Ud-Din, director thought it better to allow him training without taking the oath.

But then another serious test was waiting for Saad-Ud-Din.

After completing his training, he was sent to Government Middle School Baramullah as teacher. Those days government schools had a practice of saluting the Maharaja (in absentia) daily during morning-prayer hour.

Every student and teacher had mandatory to remain present during salute ceremony.

Saad-Ud-Din was the first teacher to have defied the pratice. Describing it as an Un-Islamic affair, he refused to salute the Maharaja.

The incident is mentioned in one of the great books of Moulana Maudoodi–Rasaayal o Masayal. This incident, in real sense, simplified complex truths about the image and sage of Saad-Ud-Din.

Moulana Maudoodi predicted that this man (Saad-Ud-Din) could be the harbinger of Islamic revivalist movement in Kashmir.

His words came trued when Saad-Ud-Din was transferred (on punishment) from Baramullah to Chikara (Azad Kashmir) for three years. He came in contact with Jamaat leaders there and participated in first ever Ijtima (congregation) of Jamaat-e-Islami (united India) at Pathankote in 1945.

Qari Saifuddin and Moulana Ghulam Ahmad Ahrar were other two persons from Kashmir who participated in the Ijtima. It was after their return from Pathankote that the trio formed Jamaat-e-Islami in Kashmir with Saad-Ud-Din as its first Ameer (chief). He continued as Ameer of the Jamaat till 1984 unchanged.

His adversaries were legion: the government, the family, the society, colleagues and friends—all—who resented his pan-Islamic views.

In 1953 Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammad Abdullah, who was also education minister, called some senior teachers to his office for promotion as headmasters. He first delivered a lecture to them quantifying the qualities of a good teacher. But later picked up three teachers in proportion to his own height (Qad): Shaikh Abdullah was tall and Saad-Ud-Din comparably shorter. Maulana Saaduddin once personally narrated this incident and said “I objected and told him that this is not honest way of selecting teachers for promotion”.

Shaikh Abdullah was the most intolerant ruler Kashmir has ever seen since 1947. He asked Saad-Ud-Din his name and said “you are the man who preaches Islam here”. “It is not a sin or crime”, Saad-Ud-Din retorted. Miffed over counter argument Shaikh Abdullh ordered his suspension.

A few weeks, Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad toppled Shaikh Abdullah’s government to become the Prime Minister. Bakhshi reinstated Saad-Ud-Din and promoted him as headmaster. He was appointed headmaster Government High School Bandipora.

That brought him in confrontation with Bakhshi government as well when he refused to allow students to receive Bakhshi on his visit to Bandipora.

The National Conference workers complained to Bakhshi, who ordered Saad-Ud-Din’s transfer to Nowsherah Jammu.

That made him to resign from the government service and work permanently for the spread and growth of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Today Jamaat-e-Islami, launched by just three persons, is a big force in Kashmir’s political and religious domains, notwithstanding the differences some might have with Jamaat’s political adventurism and interpretation of religious thought.

All humans are fallible. Only Almighty Allah is infallible. No leader, however, would ever admit his or her fault. But Saad Sahab was different. He always believed in course correction.

In 1980, Jamaat Islami did not participate in parliamentary elections due to paucity of finances. The party had faced financial doom due to attacks on houses, orchards and other properties by irate mobs in the wake of Bhutto’s hanging in Pakistan in 1979. The workers, supporters and sympathizers of the Jamaat were not in a position to raise funds for the election.

A meeting of the district Ameer’s (district chiefs) was called by Saad Sahab at the party’s Maisumma headquarters. I, as editor of Azan, was also invited to the meeting. When the district Ameer’s expressed their inability to garner funds for the election, Saad Sahab suggested ‘why not to withdraw from election politics permanently”.

Qari saifuddin, who himself was not keen supporter of election politics, retorted “it is at your insistence that Jamaat participated in elections”. “We did an experiment but failed. Why to do it time and again. Let us accept our omissions and withdraw”, Saad Sahab said.

No further debate was held on the issue.

Saad-Ud-Din was jailed by different governments on several occasions as Jamaat-e-Islami chief.

He was a great Islamic Scholar, writer and poet besides a never-ceasing preacher.

He has authored around a dozen books and pamphlets besides translating Aurad-e-Fatheya in Urdu. Dr Hameed Naseem Rafiabadi once beautifully interpreted the translation of Aurad-e-Fatheya by Saad-Ud-Din: he (Saad-Ud-Din) used mysticism (tasawuf) as a tool to spread the message of Islam instead of confronting it.

One couplet of Saad-Ud-Din is quite enough to understand as what kind of poet he was and what was the thrust area of his poetry. Koun Kah’ta Nahi Khuda ko Khuda—-Mien Ne Jab Kaha Sazaa Payee

کون کہتا نہیں خد ا کو خدا
میں نے جب کہا سز ا پائی


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