USCMO, Muslims Mourn the Loss of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and Uphold His Dream of a Free Kashmir
for those who believe, and on their Lord alone rely …
and those, indeed, who when afflicted by injustice,
they themselves defend their rights and honor. …
For as to those who choose to defend themselves,
after having been wronged,
there is no cause whatever for blame against them.
—The Quran, 42: 36,39,41
(Washington, D.C., 9/5/2021) – The US Council of Muslim Organizations, on behalf of our member institutions and American Muslims, expresses its condolences and deep sorrow for the passing of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the great defender of the rights and freedoms of the Indian-besieged and -occupied Kashmiri people. His soul passed to the mercy of Allah on Wednesday, September 1, ‘the very symbol of resistance” to the government of India’s brutal and draconian policies of oppression in Jammu and Kashmir, as one political analyst aptly put it.
Jailed in 1962, by increasingly Hindu-Chauvinist Indian authorities, for nearly a decade, and repeatedly in the years since, including in 2013, interlaced with interminable house arrests, including from 2008 until the day of his death, the Honorable Syed Geelani still succeeded to keep the light of faith and hope of freedom burning in the hearts of Kashmiris with brilliant political leadership, fueled by his incandescent knowledge of and practiced attachment to the Quran and its Messenger, on him be peace.
Even as his health began to fail almost fatally in 2019 – when, in a massive admission of the broad love and deep reverence the esteemed Syed Geelani commanded among Kashmiris, the Indian government placed a near regiment-sized military presence around the house of this bed-ridden 91-year-old who could barely breathe due to a massive, untreatable respiratory infection – his beloved granddaughter tells the story of spoon-feeding him between verses of his incessant recitation of the Quran, punctuated by his intermittent rasping exhortations to her: “Do not give up on freedom. Zulm chu ne poshaan! Never shall oppression last!” With these words, the Honorable Syed Geelani was echoing to her a teaching-parable of the Quran: As for the foam of the sea, it washes away as cast scum. Yet as for that which benefits people, it remains upon the earth (Sûrat Âl ‘Imrân, (3:17).
Our beloved Syed Geelani’s family, even then knew that the Indian government would trample his rights in death as they did in life. “They will not let us do anything in case [his death] happens. They want to handle all of it,” his brother, Naim Geelani, said then. His wish at the end of his life was to be buried in the Martyr’s Graveyard in Eidgah, Srinagar, and the Kashmiri people wished it for their champion.
But sightless despotism has only a cold stone in its hollowed-out breast. As the Quran tells us: “For it is not the eyes that become blind, but the hearts within the chests that go blind.” The Indian occupying authorities “snatched his body and forcibly buried him” before dawn, family members said.
How different was Syed Geelani’s heart, beating full and alive! This beloved and humble giant did not restrict his heart’s vision nor its courage to opposing the imposing Indian behemoth scorching sky and earth in Kashmir’s paradise (nor even to Pakistan when their leaders sought to compromise the Kashmiri people’s right to choose their own path and communal life). Rather, from both dungeon and detention at gunpoint, he spoke full-throated truths to the world, upholding the persecuted of Palestine, the maltreated of Myanmar, the crushed Chechnyans, and other suppressed and subjugated peoples near and far.
Our Honorable Syed Geelani was, indeed, that rarest of figures, emerging from destitution as a child to become a scholar-lionheart for his tyrannized people, while retaining and never losing his high nobility, his uncompromised morality, his devotion to God and truth, and his humble asceticism.
The Prophet Muhammad, on him be peace, has said: “Renounce the world, and God will love you. And renounce what people possess, and people will love you.”
Syed Geelani, Allah have mercy on him, is a proof of this prophetic truth.
We condole ourselves, the global Muslim community, and all the truth-seeking, freedom-loving of the world on our loss of him.
O Allah! Purify his soul as a white cloth is purified from grime. Cleanse him with water, ice, and snow. Push the earth from his sides. Make spacious his grave. Fill it with Your Light. Make it a patch of Paradise and let him see his place in it, until you remarry his soul with his body and raise him up, with those upon whom You have bestowed grace – among the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs, and the righteous.
Publication: US Council of Muslim Organizations