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Home > News > Report

Srinagar fire destroyed ancient Holy Koran manuscripts

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar | July 07, 2004 20:35 IST
Last Updated: July 07, 2004 21:23 IST

The mysterious blaze that destroyed the historic Islamia School in downtown Srinagar on Monday, July 5, destroyed some of the oldest manuscripts of the Holy Koran, besides causing anguish to thousands of Kashmiris.

Established in 1898, the school was the beacon of education and intellectual pursuit for the local people who were then mostly illiterate and backward.

"As it grew, the school became an icon of the forward looking progressive Kashmiri Muslims, whose entry into this prestigious institution opened for them the ultimate horizons of learning outside the Valley," said a state official.

It is therefore quite natural that some of the first educated Kashmiri Muslims were alumni of this institution: from the legendary Kashmiri leader Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, who incidentally was the first Muslim post-graduate in science from Kashmir, to the present chief minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. A galaxy of educated Kashmiris owes its allegiance to the Islamia School.

The school had a matching oriental college for Islamic learning attached to it, which made it possible to acquire knowledge in sciences and literature and blend it perfectly with the teachings of Islam.

Mufti, who visited the site, was nostalgic about the years spent in the Oriental College, the theology wing of the Islamia School, and recalled several teachers who were faculty members then. The chief minister had taken his university examination also in the gutted school building.

The chief minister has ordered an inquiry into the gutting of the historic school and even offered government help in rebuilding of "the great educational landmark if the governing board of the institution feels the government can help".

The school was run by the local educational organization, the Nusrat-ul-Islam headed by the Kashmir Mirwaiz family. "But politics and political loyalties were kept out of the school walls so that it was seen as a heritage and legacy by all locals," said a school official.

Outside the school, people were angry and upset about the destruction of the school.

"Legacies do not die so easily," said Mohammad Maqbool, a retired schoolteacher in Srinagar, "The school would be soon rebuilt, its libraries and laboratories would have some of the latest equipment in the near future. But the fire that burns is the mysterious cause of the conflagration and which might never heal fully."

More reports from Jammu and Kashmir

More reports from Jammu and Kashmir
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