Khwaja Farooq Rezu Shah, Owais Raheem and Reetu Asrani, Founders, Kashmir Sufism Society
Founders of the organisation, Khwaja Farooq Rezu Shah (Chairman), Owais Raheem (co-founder) and Reetu Asrani (co-founder), believe that Kashmir is the epitome of Sufism and is the only place on earth which has been visited by such revered,
spiritual personalities like Guru Nanak Dev, Lord Rama, Laxman and Sita, Jesus Christ, Prophet Suleiman, Rumi and Shankaracharya, among others.
The enchantingly beautiful land of Kashmir is the true reflection of Paradise. The pristine environment and the charismatic landscape meticulously crafted by nature lend a divine aura to the valley. Famous Sufi saint Bulbul Shah was able to persuade the king of the time Rinchen Shah, to adopt Islamic way of life. The foundation of Sufiyana composite culture was laid when Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists started coexisting in an atmosphere of love and brotherhood. Devotion in human life, simplicity, discipline and sanctity are the guiding spirit behind the Sufi cult. Since then thousands of Sufi saints, in the past several centuries, have spread the light of Sufism. Their sacred thoughts and deeds illuminated the land and the minds of the people.
Sheikh-ul-Alam or Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali, Alamdar-e-Kashmir (the Standard Bearer of Kashmir), is considered the living symbol of Kashmir, and the guiding light of its people. As a saint, revolutionary and poet, he had significant impact on the thoughts and mindset of the people of Kashmir. His thoughts have influenced generations for more than five centuries, creating a culture of maximum religious tolerance with an unshakable faith in the omnipresence of God. He preached non-violence and talked about inequality, injustice, tyranny and social evils. He always stressed the unity of Hindus and Muslims.
There are many other saints like him, and it is to pay homage to them and spread the message of Sheikh-Ul-Alam that the Kashmir Sufism Society will organise seminars, music concerts and Sufi retreats. In the future, the founders also have plans to produce a series of short films on Sufism in Kashmir.
Founder Chairman of Kashmir Sufism Society, Khwaja Farooq Renzu Shah, who is also the direct descendent of Muslim king of Kashmir Renzu Shah, has written eleven books on Sufism. In fact, his Sufi Mankabat on Bulbul Shah has received several national and international awards.
He believes in “Love as Revolution” and will deliver lectures throughout the world from the end of this year to yield tangible results. Khwaja Farooq Renzu also believes that no Sufi association, Sufi scholar or Sufi believer is complete unless he has visited Kashmir and practiced ‘Darood Khawani’ of Sufi order , which is a part of spiritual meditation, imbibing divine energy in individual’s mind and heart, where he is able to feel closely the blessings of great God.
Before Khwaja Farooq Renzu was born, his mother Muhtarama Sara, who was a devoted religious woman, had seen a dream in which she saw her son born with the word Allah written on his forehead. Khwaja Farooq was born with the word Allah written on his forehead, which has become his mark of identity.
A firm believer in Sufism, co-founder of Kashmir Sufism Society Owais Raheem is a well-known professional photographer and documentary filmmaker of Kashmir. He has produced and directed many documentaries on diverse subjects, which have been screened at various international film festivals throughout the world.
He has decided to use his creativity and professional expertise to spread information about Kashmir Sufism throughout the world through Kashmir Sufism Society, and this has become the main objective of his life.
Reetu Asrani, also a co-founder of Kashmir Sufism Society, completed her graduation from Mumbai University and post graduation in media studies from St Xavier’s Institute of Communications. Her late father, Vishindas Asrani, was a writer-publisher who had written 52 books. His book ‘Sufi Saints of Sindh’ earned him world-wide recognition. Asrani started her career in writing at the age of 12 by writing short stories for children’s magazine. As she grew up, she wrote for many popular newspapers including Times of India and Mid-day, features for international magazines, scripts for All India Radio and Doordarshan and columns for various websites. She anchored shows on radio and TV channels like Sony, Zee, DD Mumbai and Aastha. She also owns a production house and produces documentary films.
Since 2003, she has done lot of research in Kashmir. Her weekly column on Kashmir appeared for one year in Mumbai’s newspaper ‘Twin city Times’, and she has authored two books on Kashmir. Her columns on Kashmir have appeared in travel magazines like ‘An Indian Journey’.
She has jointly produced and directed along with Owais Raheem, seven short films on Kashmir, which highlights the beauty and culture of the valley.
Tips for people who want to become social entrepreneurs? It is duty of every individual to contribute in some or other way for the benefit of the society. Even if a few like-minded individuals from every village, town or city join together and pool in their professional attributes to create welfare organizations, it will certainly help a great deal to transform the society and world at large. It is easier said than done but nothing is impossible if you are determined.
We all should dream, for dreams are sure to turn true. Kashmir Sufism Society was just a dream initially, but it turned into a reality because of the contribution made by each of its members.
It is often seen in our country that many promising social organizations fail due to slack functioning. It is important to handle your social organization with complete professionalism and proper planning like any of your business venture and you will surely succeed.