It has been more than ten days for me in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir. Unlike my last trip two years ago which was a unique trip in one week, it was completely raining, in 2011 and I was dazzled by the beauty of the valley but this time I don’t have such a good feeling.
As I’ve observed, Kashmir has its own language and history in art and culture but now it is extremely influenced by Indian culture more and more, each passing year. Many restaurants serve Indian food; in ‘Lal Chowk’ which is the main square and market area in Srinagar, majority of shops are selling Indian dress; and more unfortunate than anything else, you smell dirty piss besides the streets, which is common thing in India, not in Kashmir which is and was famous for cleanness. Today, Kashmiri shawl which is famous all around the world is being produced in India but sells in the name of Kashmiri shawl. I saw even if somebody talks to shopkeeper in Kashur, he would answer in Urdu.
Cultural transaction is something desirable, as it enriches both sides of this transaction. But when it comes only from one side and destroys the other, it is a big threat.
During last few days I’ve been in some intellectual meetings with Kashmiri students. One of the important topics was ‘Preserving Kashmiri Language’ which is called ‘Kashur’.
As the influence of Indian culture is not something hidden for anybody, understanding of why Kashmiri youth are talking about preserving their own language is not something difficult. I am not going to talk about what was detail of those discussions and why it is necessary. I’d like to emphasize on one issue. One guy who was discussing the the language and was pro-Urdu because he considered Urdu as a source of Islam for Kashmiris. It was so strange for me to hear such reasoning.
I don’t know how many percent of Islamic scholars are from Pakistan or India and talk, speech and publish their works in Urdu. But I am almost sure there are few positive intellectual impacts from them to the Muslim World.
If we have a look at Pakistan and India, hardly have we found significant intellectual work in Urdu and whatever we find have very little impact. Pakistan is facing with many extremisms, beliefs and revivals and in India, Muslims are helpless. So, what is the benefit of getting Islam in Urdu?
Of Course the main sources of literature of Islam are in Arabic. As the official language for education in Kashmir like rest of India is English, students can easily access huge amount of intellectual works which have been published by Islamic scholars all around the world in English. So, why somebody should leave these two languages for studying Islam and pick up Urdu instead?
Isn’t it anything else then we are limiting our horizons ourselves? Why we define our world in such a limited manner?
As an Iranian I feel language is the back bone of any culture, if strength has to be escalated it must be done by strongly preserving language, speaking and writing in it, to take it to a next level in order to create a positive change.