Book Review: Hazratbal, History of the Holy Relic by Muzaffar Khan

History of the Holy Relic, not only covers the architectural, historical, social and religious importance of the Hazratbal shrine and the Holy relic, but also deals, in detail, with the heart wrenching story of how this shrine and holy relic was used by politicians in order to maintain their power in the valley.

Based on in-depth research, this book can be considered a final word on the history of Hazratbal Shrine. Muzaffar Khan, the author of this book traces back the journey of the Holy relic, its authenticity and many important historic moments of the shrine.

The 8 chapters in the book discuss the history of the Hazratbal shrine and the Holy relic; the background and management, its architecture and development. A sizable section deals with the horrifying sacrilege, the siege, how the holy relic was stolen and how the sentiments of Kashmiri Muslims were treated as trash.

The research conducted by the author leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind that the Indian state was behind the entire horrifying saga.

It was in 1963, that the holy relic was stolen from the shrine, a political game that cost hundreds of innocent Kashmiri lives. The book documents how the protest gatherings were fired at mercilessly resulting in  massacres.

Although the Government and the police were able to ‘replace’ the Holy Relic, but who were behind it and why it was done, still remains a mystery as the Government never released any official details.

Again on March 29, 1996 the book chronicles the event when the Indian troops were successful to spill blood in the premises of the Holy Shrine and even destroyed a large portion of it by using gun-powder resulting in 22 deaths.

To trace back the history of the shrine and the holy relic, the author has mainly relied on the original sources and oldest history books written in Sanskrit, Persian and Kashmiri language.

The book deals with Id-i-Milad and to remain objective in this regard, the author has quoted from Von Greunebam’s book ‘Muhammadan Festivals’ which leaves no doubt that this festival has nothing to do with basic Islamic teachings and was first celebrated by kings of Egypt only for amusement and lavishness.

At the end there are 8 pictures of Hazratbal shrine in different stages of history. There is also one picture of the holy relic.

This book is in dire need of a new revised edition as there are a few grammatical mistakes and a lot of typos that need to be corrected. This is a unique and well researched book on Hazratbal, its history and tragedies related to it. Everyone interested in history of Kashmir should own a copy.

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