Mufti Faiz-ul-Waheed: A scholar who translated Quran in jail

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During the four years of his detention in Kot Bhalwal Jail, Mufti Faiz-ul-Waheed dedicated his time in translating the Quran and by the time he was released in 2000 he had finished the book’s first-ever translation into his native language Gojri.

Waheed, a renowned Islamic scholar of the Jammu region who died yesterday, was arrested for the first time in 1995 and was later released in 1996. He was again arrested in 1997 under the Public Safety Act (PSA), a law that allows detentions for lengthy durations without trials.

He was then released in 2000.

“He dedicated his jail time in translating the Quran and he also wrote two or three books during the detention,” said Maulana Irfan Rasheed, Waheed’s son-in-law. Waheed’s translation of the Quran into Gojri was then published in 2004 along with the books.

Waheed was from a Gujjar tribe, which is a marginalized community in Jammu and Kashmir, who have been herders and low in literacy but, as such, his quest for knowledge assumed significance.

Born in 1964 in a remote Dodasan Bala village of Rajouri district, Waheed initially pursued Islamic studies in Thanamandi and later went to Uttar Pradesh where he continued learning at different institutions. In 1984, he was admitted to the prestigious Darul Uloom Deoband, where he completed his ifta in 1991.

He then taught Islamic studies in Agra till 1994 and afterward founded an Islamic seminary Madrasa Markaz Maarif Ul Quran in Medina Hill, Bhatindi in Jammu city. “He also started a school there and students up to class 12 were taught there,” Rasheed said.

In 2007, Waheed completed his eighteen days aitikaaf — Islamic practice of spending a few days in a mosque during Ramadan to devote oneself to worship — in southern Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

Later, he decided to continue doing aitikaaf every year at a new place. “He used to make people understand one chapter of the Quran every day during Ramadan. He would spend around eight hours doing so. Then he would also summarize the Quran,” said Rasheed.

This year, Waheed had been in aitikaaf for a few days before he started to feel the symptoms for COVID-19, said Yasir Aaffaaq, a Surgery Resident at Acharaya Shri Chander College of Medical Science (ASCOMS) Jammu who had attended to the scholar.

Due to being symptomatic, Waheed had to leave his aitikaaf midway and return home to continue home isolation where his health condition continued to deteriorate in the next few days. “His saturation kept falling and then he was admitted as a case of COVID bilateral pneumonia with high severity,” said Aaffaaq.

Before he was shifted to the ventilator, Waheed’s condition remained stable for around three days. “Then for the next three days, he was maintaining his vital statistics. Then suddenly he had sepsis. His blood pressure fell abruptly and his kidney function got compromised,” said Aaffaaq, adding that Waheed kept moving toward multi-organ failure. “We got his dialysis done but post-dialysis he could not maintain his vitals. Today was his second dialysis session planned.”

In the past three days, Waheed had stopped responding to the treatment and was not maintaining his blood pressure. “I knew that he was non-salvageable for at least eighteen hours. It was expected,” said Aaffaaq.

During the course of his illness, Waheed was going through treatment for bilateral pneumonia and was being given high doses of steroids and immunomodulators. In order to prevent the chances of black fungus, he was also being given antibiotics and antifungals, Aaffaaq said. “Eventually when his condition kept deteriorating, we stopped all his medicines and kept him on the bare minimum,” he added.

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