From Dreams To Grave

By Yasir Ashraf

A twenty-year-old student of Degree College Bemina at Srinagar, Malik Iqbal’s passport was ready as he had interest to go abroad, for further studies in Islamic studies. But luck didn’t support him. On 13 September 2010 afternoon, after attending Friday prayers, Iqbal was leaving towards Tangmarg town to join a procession against the burning of Quran in United States of America (USA). Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) men interrupted the procession and opened fire on the protestors. In just some seconds of firing, a young life had been snuffed out. Iqbal was dead.

Iqbal was accompanied by his cousin to join the procession. As soon as they joined the procession, suddenly forces arrived and start shooting at the protestors. Malik Aadil recalls the scene and says: “when we reached at the main Tangmarg market, suddenly police and CRPF men appeared and fired without any warning”. A bullet pierced through Iqbal’s chest, hitting his heart. Iqbal lay senseless on the ground in a pool of blood. He was still alive when his cousin and other protestors rushed to the spot. “At first I thought he will be safe. When forces opened fire, everyone was running for his life,” with teary eyes, Aadil remembers the horror. “We lost each other’s sight, because of panic created by forces”.

By then some boys, his aunt, uncle and Aadil, reached out to Iqbal. “Somebody called me on phone that Iqbal has got a bullet injury. We rushed to the spot, only to find him unconsciously lying in a pool of blood. After then I know nothing,” says visibly distraught, Iqbal’s aunt, Nighat Ara, sitting against a cracked wall of her house. At a very young age Iqbal lost his mother. He was then raised by his aunt, Nighat. “He was more than my own son Aadil. He was just a few years old when he lost his mother. He died in my lap, I can’t forget that moment,” she says, fighting back her tears. She has watched Iqbal growing old.

Iqbal
Malik Iqbal

They put him in a Tata mobile and began proceeding towards sub-district hospital. From there he was referred to Srinagar’s Jehlum Valley hospital. When Iqbal was taken to the Srinagar hospital, his lungs were working. But all efforts to save him and quick treatment failed. He died the same day.

The son of a Government employee, Malik Iqbal grew up dreaming of being an Islamic scholar. Inside his room, his aunt sits silent but eager to talk about Iqbal, and his uncle speaks of Iqbal as if he was his childhood friend. He seems visibly upset of losing his young and talented nephew, Iqbal.

After passing class 12, Iqbal was able to get admission in Degree College Bemina, and at the same time he was also studying Islamic studies from Salafi College. “I know him since childhood, he was very brilliant in studies. He would always top in exams,” says Aadil. “Being a student of arts he would offer tuitions for medical subjects. He was not wasting time. He would maintain a personal dairy also.”

He would spend most of his time in his own library preparing for his speeches and sermons. His library contains books from communism to socialism, Ahmediya sect to Shiat sect of Islam, from Barelvi to Wahabi cult. One will find every kind of literature in his library; library contains worth more than three lakh rupees books. Adil confirms Iqbal’s love for literature and beauty; beauty of nature.

On one page of his dairy, Iqbal penned his thought of dream, he writes:

Last stanza of “my dream”

Will I really achieve for my heart

For my dreams and my thoughts!

My beauteous bride and my pride

Everyone will be pray to my guide.

Aadil says that Iqbal achieved what he ought in his life. “Once he shared his dream with me and he said that he wants to sacrifice his whole life for Islam.

I enquired, do you want martyrdom?

He replied ‘Yes’.

I think he really achieved what he longed for. His bride and pride was Islam”, Aadil says proudly.

It was at late night dinner, a few months ago, that he revealed something.

He was about to get passport to join studies in Madina University in Saudi Arabia. He suddenly declared that he will be leaving for further studies “we didn’t dissuade him, because we knew that he was going to do something extra-ordinary for himself, for his family,” says his uncle Showket Ahmad Malik, who works in high court. “We really felt proud of him, the way he thought, but unfortunately….” Showket stops’, pressing his eyes with his fingers, raise his head and continues “he gave his life for sacred cause, we are proud of him. Allah is best knower”, he brushes his beard with his right hand.

Showket’s mobile has his nephew Iqbal’s photo as wallpaper, a fair complexion boy in his early 20s, center parted hair style. A thin beard, wearing jeans looking sharp and quick. This is how Iqbal looks like; he somehow resembles his uncle Showket.

Iqbal has four other siblings, three sisters and a brother. “I had little contacts with Iqbal, because I lived with my maternal grandmother before his (Iqbal’s) death. But I feel proud in saying that I am his brother,” says his brother Malik Muzaffar, who left his studies after passing class 12. “He always suggested me to restart my studies, which I am doing now. He was a caring brother”, says Muzaffar.

Iqbal was a firm believer of Islam and its principles. He had great space for fate in his life. On one of his pages in dairy, the day before he was killed he wrote one of the finest lines of famous poet in his leaf of dairy:

 But!

                                            Everyone is slave of the fate!

                                            Next is what?     (S.T Coleridge)

For Iqbal, fate was much more important. A slave to his own fate and destiny, which led him to his grave; without tombstone, no name, no date or place of martyrdom, no verse of Quran, no Urdu couplet. He is like an unknown citizen in his ruined paradise.

Thumbnail photo: Burhaan Kinu

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