A Fascinating Life History of Ustod Sa’odat Shoh of Hunza Valley, Northern Pakistan

March 11, 2019

By Fazal Amin Beg


Ustod Sa’odat Shoh belongs to one of the largeest Wakhi Pamiri setttlements called Gulmit (the headquarters of an international borders magistracy of Hunza with China and Afghanistan) within Gilgit-Baltistan Region.He was born in 1944 in his hometown. He is among those early and wonderful teachers of Hunza (in the second generations) who served the community and taught the children with great zeal and commitment not only in serving and promoting secular education but rather also in sustaining religious education to make the purpose of educational endeavors balanced.
Although, he himself brutally encountered and entrapped in the chains of health issues such as sustained head-ache, hearing impairment and so on, Ustad Sa’odat Shoh didn’t allow such challenges to be any genuine issue in front of his strong determination strategic involvement for acquiring, providing and promoting education. He therefore opted to avail his primary and secondary education and serve his community. In this connection, he championed his mission and long with his job and communal services, he studied up to his Bachelor’s of Arts (B.A.). he also contributed enormously in voluntary capacity, particularly in line with religious education, first aid services (as health guard) to his community and many more.
Apart from the above, Ustod Sa’odat Shoh could also be seen proactive in poetry composition, particularly in Wakhi. For the first time, he composed one of his poems in the 1970s. A book of his poetry composition I have collected and developed and that is almost ready for publication in the near future, once overall finalization of the collection of his poetry comes up. His logic-based poetry spins around devotional, social, nature and homeland.
His interesting and detailed biographical interview I had taken in December 2014 in Gilgit. His life history, as I’m publishing here, is thus based on that particular interview in addition with series of discussion with him on the subject matter.
The life history of Ustad Sa’odat Shoh here thus consists on his early life, his familial background, his early education, the the socioeconomic conditions of the community in the early decades, a kind of comparison of the old days and modern societies of the same valley, his engagements in voluntary capacity and so on.
As part of the lively tradition, I’m keeping the descriptions of his life in the same way as narrated by Ustad Sa’odat Shoh in his own way. The biography will sound as the narrator himself is talking to you. I hope the readers will enjoy reading his biography and will draw invaluable insights out of his experiences and observations.
Birth and Childhood
There was no tradition of writing dates of birth in the old days as there was no formal education system. However, based on an estimate probably I was born in1944. My age-mates are Arab Khan (may be few months younger than me) and more particularly Mulo Ruzi son of Chumi from Chipursan: his mother has breast-fed me. But Goharullah Beg son of Tawallah Beg (of Kamiris) and Ghulam Uddin Khan son of Muhammad Sayab Khan (of Gulmit center) are elder than me: howeve; the latter was my classmate, when late Sanaullah Baig of Baltit was our teacher in the Diamond Jubilee school in Gulmit (established in 1946).
What I could recall of my childhood may be interesting. I was in the lap my father in the court of Mir Ghazan Khan in Gulmit. He then seated me on the ground. Ghazan Khan asked my father: “Is he your child?” my father replied: “Yes, he is my son.” Ghazan Khan then appreciated me by saying: “Bravo! Bravo!” This is what I remember of my childhood when I was in my father’s lap.
As I witness my childhood, my mother has a great share of taking care and bringing me up. She was highly affectionate towards me. Although, my father had also his affection and care for me, he would sometimes create a type of worry in my mind against my wishes (likeness and dislikeness). However, I must say he would make available everything for me in eating and wearing. Nothing lacked in our house. The clothes (I may exaggerate) that were in England and America during that period were perhaps also available for me in my house and I’d put them on .
In our childhood, there were various types of sport activities like jugun, tũpũk, mindek and the like. I would take keen interest in such activities as I was very active in playing jugun (polo), t̃ũksũri and so on. Besides, there used to be other sports like stoyg, qũmũt̃, pal kẽt̃ak and others.

Family and Kinship Relationship
My father’s name was Izat Shah Son of Muhabat Shah, belonging to the Gulbast lineage group and Buduley tribe of Gulmit. He had two brothers named muhabat Hayat and Sifat Shah. I have no sibling and am the only child of my father. While Muhabat Hayat had no child as he has come across accident (fall down from the mountain during hunting and has passed away. While Sifat Shah has the only child, a daughter married with Sang Ali of Ghulkin. When Sang Ali’s first wife (my first cousin) could not reproduce any child he then re-married with her second wife (Bibi Najaf, interestingly she stood also the only child of her father, Sifat Shah Son of Sultan Mahmood).
My mother, zebi Numma, was daughter of Qul Muhammad of the Quli clan of Passu. My mother’s elder sister was married in Khyber with Amir, belonging to the Sakhi family. She had three brothers named Muhammad Ilyas, Muhammad Abbas and Muhammad Qazi.
My wife’s name is Izat Sultana and her father’s name is Khushdil Khan, belonging to the Bori clan of Gulmit. I have three sons and three daughters. My elder son is Jamhur Shah married with a daughter of late Amirullah Baig of Chorshambi clan of Gulmit. My second son is Shahdil Jan, got married with a daughter of Hasan Baig of Posh clan of Jamalabad. the third one is Zahid Jan and has not got married yet as is still pursuing his university education (although also engaged with employment with organizations like FOCUS) My first daughter, Malika Zarin, is married in Murkhun with Muhamamd Rahim son of Mayun, belonging to the Posh clan. Durshad Begum, my second daughter, is married with Malik Shah Son of Khudayar, belonging to the Buduley clan of Kamaris (Gulmit). My third daughter, Bibi Gulshan, was married with late Irfan two years ago (belonging to Nakhchirey clan of Ghulkin) but Irfan along with other nine persons passed away when they encountered the tragic vehicular accident in the wedding party on 22 August 2012 at hussaini. Bibi Gulshan is now at home and engaged with her employment in Rawalpindi.
Muhabat Shah (my grandfather) had a brother named Himayat Shah but the latter couldn’t continue his progeny. Muhabat Shah had three sisters: one was mother of Zinat Shah and Mansur named Khũnz̃oyik; second was Bibi Ron, married in Khyber and her children are Makhi, Kabir and others.
My grandfather had two daughters. One was married with Khalifa Satk and she was mother of Khalifa Sultan Shah, Bali and Himayat. The second daughter was married with Sultan Mahmood and she was mother of Khalifa Sultan Ahmad, Firozuddin and Sifat Shah.
Muhabat Shah’s father’s name was Iso; while her mother was a daughter of Arbob Muhammad Ali of Gulmit, belonging toArbobon or political family of Upper Hunzalikewise, mother of Qul Muhammad of Passu was also a daughter of Arbob Muhammad Ali and sister of Arbob Khairullah Beg, Hassan Ali, Arbob Shukufa Shoh, Taighun Shoh, Kukan Beg and Amon Shoh. Sulton Bigim, the third sister of my grandfather was married in the family of Arbob Dolik: mother of Nurik, Nurul Din and Mirzo Hassan.
My great grandfather, Iso, had a brother name was Atother called Tayfur Shoh; and his sons are Sayful and Shohd Big Zinatullah Baig thus son of Sayful. Iso and Tayfur shoh’s father was Maqbul Shoh; and Maqbul Shoh’s father was named as Atto Big son of Gulbast. Gulbast and Arbob Nazar were brothers. If my family lineage is taken from a single line, it will carry on in an ascending order in the following sequence: Salar shah son of Jamhoor Shoh son of Sa’odat Shoh son of Izat Shoh son of Muhabat Shoh son of Iso son of Maqbul Shoh son of Atto Big son of Gulbast.
Apical Ancestor: A Historical Background and Story
The oral narratives inform us that Gulbast and Arbob Bai Nazar were brothers. Some say their mothers were real sisters and daughters of Qozi Makhzum of Chilkand village of Afghan Wakhan. Some say that Gulbast has come to Gulmit from Yishkũk (Chipursan valley) when Yishkũk was going under a huge flooding disaster. However, beyond these ends we don’t know for sure that where our apical ancestor has come from.The intresting story regarding the flooding disaster of Yishkũk follows as under.
There was a yova, male yak (uncastrated), of Gulbast. The yak never came under his control. When the time of flooding had to come, the previous night Gulbast has seen a dream where a Sufi saint (said to be Bobo Ghundi) has strongly advised him to leave the place as the next day there had to come a flooding disaster. Gulbast was anxious of his loads and riding. In the morning he found out that his yovva had come at the door of his hut; and bowed before him when Gulbast was going to load it. He has thus quitted the area and migrated to Gulmit while after his departure the area and people have evidenced the flooding disaster and the Yishkũk submerged under the flood and destruction occurred. All 300 houses and 300 yurt dwellers ended up; people died and the like.
Educational Background and Achievements
Now, I am going to describe something about my childhood memoirs related with my nursery class when I was introduced with the primer for the first time. The accounts follow in this manner.
There was no formal teacher at that time. My family members prepared zharzh tẽbaq (composed of cooked milk and butter in it, and big size of breads called nigan in Wakhi or chapatti in Urdu).some of our extended family members were called. Khalifa Sultan Ahmad, being a cousin of mine and learnt gentleman, tied white strips of cloths around my thumbs, gave the primer in my hands and asked me to follow him by saying alif, be (alpha, beta). The zharzh tabaq was in front of us I don’t know exactly why my thumbs were tied with white strips and what does it mean. It might have remained as a custom. Let’s assume if white is symbolized with light and strips being tools of kindling the dark.
I did not go somewhere for formal pursuence of the classes aftermath. Whenever someone oriented with the nursery level books, I learnt from them, more particularly I also availed some lessons from my cousin Ferozuddin (the first teacher of Passu) He would then give me assignments of learning the lessons. In this manner, I finished my nursery level education at home for a year.
When a teacher, named Momin Hayat II, came in the DJ school of Gulmit, he also came up once. I got a lesson or two from him as well in my house at Kamaris. I was too young and could not ply down to Gulmit on daily basis for 5 kilometers. Later, however, for a very short period, informally I also walked down to DJ school as the classes were being conducted in the compound of the old Jamatkhana (community hall) of Gulmit. There was no plain roads like today rather would walk down and up through the arduous foothpath, developed basically for domesticated animals, I was perhaps seven year old by then. In such informal way, I got lessons and learnt my nursery level education.
When Master Sanaullah of Baltit came to the DJ school as teacher, along with other classmates, I formally started my education from Grade 1. We continued with him up to primary level. Master Sannaullh however advised us that we should continue our classes as private students with him as there was no middle school in Gulmit. Those who could afford time did avail the opportunity but those who could not afford, time-wise, could not continue. I am one of those unlucky students who could not spare time for further education. Our family members did not allow us mainly for the purpose Of tending animals. The same happened to your uncle Gohar Ullah Baig as well.
“Who will tend the livestock?”, our family members would argue. They were of the view that we were capable of talking with the outsiders in Urdu if someone came to our areas and that is sufficient. “So, what is the need of further education”, they added.
Our elders had their worldview of education confined only to learning a language and could not foresee beyond. Now, people could realize the benefits of getting formal education. Other classmates and I therefore were left behind in education. If there were scholars or schools available, we would have acquired our further education; but it could not happen and we needed to struggle on our own, particularly in my case. I heard that late Ali Baqa was appearing in the exams and has passed his middle level education (Grade 8). This encouraged me as well.
I thus borrowed the books of Grade 8 from Naraymon (Noor aman son of Amiruddin Shah) and Rahmatullah Beg (son of Zafarullah Beg). I was afraid that the borrowed books will be taken back immediately and I will be empty handed. I therefore studied them for the whole nights and finished them. There was a mathematics book that I practiced and finished in one night by looking at and understanding the examples illustrated in it. Finally, I appeared in the Grade 8 exam in 1974 as at that time Master Sanaullah had come to conduct the examination in the government school, Gulmit. I anyhow passed my exam with good marks. Afterwards I appeared again as a private candidate in matriculation exam. My batch fellows were Rahmat Ullah Beg of Gulmmit, Nasir Karim of Hussaini, Amir Ali and Akbar Shah. I passed my matriculation also with good marks in 1977.
After some years of my matriculation, I then prepared myself for the intermediate llevel examination as an external/private candidate. In 1982, I did pass my F.A. For the B.A., I registered myself as a regular student with the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) but due to the strong and continuing headache, I could not sustain my educational pursuance, despite the fact I was enthusiastically carrying out the assignments and also qualified the first semester exam where I was sent the result card in 1985. It was this same year that I then went to Karachi for the purpose of my head-ach/migraine treatment.

Early Life Companions and Classmates
Companions of my childhood were Arab Khan, Goharullah Beg, Nazar Ali Shah (Ilchi) and others. We used to play together. While my classmates of childhood were Rai Ghulamuddin Khan, Hassanullah Baig, Abdul Rasheed and Sher Ali of Gulmit; Mardan Sheik of Ghulkin; Mashkhul Alam, Shabul, Ghulam Ali and Amir Hayat of S̃his̃hkat; and many more. Arab Khan Son of Muhammad Rafi was one year junior to us in Grade 4; while Goharullah Beg son of Tawallah Beg was one year senior to us in Grade 6 (and probably he quitted education afterwards for tending livestock).

The Headache as My Lifelong Health Companion
It has become very difficult for me to remember exactly the dates or years of many developments in our area due to my health problem. Once the headache started, it would take minimum 24 hours, otherwise 74 hours to calm down. My life was disintegrating and I was in a serious position. I would then offer mal-e Imam of my lands or sacrifice other properties. This led to provide me a significant relief as i escaped from the verge of last breath due to the perilous disease before my marriage in 1970.
Life Partnership and Spouses
I got three marriages in my life. The first married within our own family, with daughter of late Muhammad Azim who then got married in Sisuni. This marriage took place when I was a child of eight or nine year as I was in the DJ school and Master Sanawullah had also attended my wedding. My wife was also too young. Probably after 2 or 3 years, she left our house. I then after two or three years, married with a sister of Ilchi (her name was Mumak). We then got separation again. She was married with brother of Ali Aman’s wife of Passu in Sherisavz Chipursan (in the Sakhi lineage group of Quli clan). There was no tradition of asking children regarding marriage partnerships and it took place based on family arrangement and relationship.likewise, there was such tradition of marrying their children at an early age. On the other, we were not aware of choosing life partners my earlier wives and I was two young and could not understand each other’s habits and behaviors and thus we got separation.
When engagement took place with my third wife, Izat Sultan (11 year younger than me), my parents had asked me and taken my consent; and then we got married in 1970

Socioeconomic Condition of the People
I am going to share now some accounts of my early life as anevidence reflecting the socioeconomic situations of the people.
Dependence of our community was entirely on local products and produces; and there was no supply from outside world regarding food alternatives. Our people would therefore relied on the cultivation and harvesting of crops like wheat, barley, faba-beans (baqla), peas and so on. Within horticulture, people depended heavily on the varities of apricot trees. They would draw out enormous dried apricots and people from upper parts of Gojal such as Shimshal and Chipursan in particular would come and take the dried apricots. In return, sheep and goats were provided. After reaping their crops, it was highly difficult for people to sustain their food and connect themselves positively with the next summer. It was evidenced that in winter, people got entrapped with food security.
But why was it so? It does not mean people had little or less land resources when I take my family’s case. Rather these resources were enormous from my grandfather’s time. But my interest from the beginning was like this as is no: an enthusiasm for getting education and knowledge.
Apart from the woolen cloths, no other stuffs were available. There used to be sargaz, woolen rolls that out of this shirts were made and put on that used to remain always in people’s bodies. Or another product like bet, cloak, and frontal side opened that were tied with a kind of bet from the middle called miyun. It was not easy to get more pairs of such clothes and hardly in those houses who were termed rich would have hardly one pair; otherwise almost all had just a single cloth worn all the time. Resultantly, the cloth will get infected by the z̃hang (lice eggs) and uncountable lice produced. People used to scratch themselves, their heads and bodies due to itches out of unhygienic behaviors. When we remind our past, almost all people (young and adults) had such worst condition in such matters. Parents would take an anti-lice campaigns and kill the lice as per norms of that time because there was no availability of soaps either. But when we evidence today’s experiences, these are quite the opposite. People live their lives with great care and cleanliness. Clean clothes are worn out. When the clothes get slightly dirty, they are put off for washing.
There used to be torn out sandals, traditionally long shoes produced locally. Or we were supposed to walk bare-footedly. We cannot witness today such harsh realities as we had in the past (especially that time of my childhood).
Although, we have made enormous advancement in our physical quality of life today, what we have done for refining our souls, especially the youths of today, is a highly big question. Do they still scratch themselves spiritually or have brought some improvement in their spiritual domains as well?
very small quantity of youth are seen that they have taken to balance themselves regarding their worldly and spiritual matters by at least practicing their religious obligations. It is not only the beautiful clothes and attractive bodies that have to go one day and merge with the sand after death. The actual thing which will sustain is the soul and for that purpose spiritual development through serious religious practices. This would be my earnest request from the youth to deliberate seriously and come in action regarding such kinds of highly important obligations in order to prosper their life. They should ask themselves why we have come in this world. Where we’ll go next after we leave this world? So what are obligations upon our shoulders in this world? Without such inquisitions and positive actions, a person may not be termed human.
The economic challenges, as described above, emerged of the community either in winter or spring when the grains or flour of the weak households ended. In this connection, there was a good mechanism of internal lending of grains locally termed as tol.when a person needed to look for a tol, he would carry his dhock (a bag made out of sheep or goat) and would lend grains from those who were well-off. When the harvesting time ended, the borrower used to return the same amount of grains to the lender. I witness when my father also used to give grains to the needy people. In return, along with the principal amount of grains, one or two jũt̃i of grains were given by the lendee as profit.
Previously, there were enormous difficulties and challenges for the people. Loads were carried on our backs, especially the lower class people called borwar. In the later phases, those who were free from carrying such kinds of load also got involved in it. I mean, I myself am an example as I have also carried the loads of bed or something else up to Passu, Khyber and up to Gircha probably in the 1960s.These were particularly loads of those people, who used to come Hunza from the down-country and there was no remuneration for such kind of jobs.

The State of Nature, Natural Forces and Human Encounters
Let me recall and narrate something about the natural forces impeding upon the human activities and society when I had grown up to 10 or 15 years. There used to be huge snowfall that we could not go out of our homes. Time and again, we would sweep and drop down the snowfall from our roofs that produced a giant level of snow piles in the streets and reach up to the roof of the second story of the traditional houses called sũrũ kut. It was chilly cold and it seemed we were born for dropping down the snowfall.
The wind was also highly strong. When it started blowing, it would make fall down the trees. There were enormous examples found this connection. A high level of coldness it produced. When we compare these days winter with that period, it seems there is no coldness, indeed. These days, sometimes snowfall comes but slightly and sometimes there is no snowfall in winter in our villages. In the contemporary period, the weather condition is very good and pleasant in a contrast to the past as I evidence.
As described earlier, people depended entirely on their pastoral and agricultural mode of livelihood. Particularly on the pastoral side people were engaged with their livestock like sheep and goats, cows and the like. The number of wildlife and predators like snow-leopards, wolves, foxes were also in abundance and they would attack the domesticated animals all the times.
The snow-leopard used to attack on and enter in the pens of sheep and goats and eat them away and destroy. For instance, let me quote a case.
Once, a snow-leopard entered in a pen at Bat̃bakor (upper Kamaris). One of the famous and powerful hunter’s late Sharofat Shoh son of Arbob Shukufa Shoh dared and strategically attacked the snow-leopard among the sheep and goats in the pen. He invaded the leopard from his rear and caught its tail and did not provide chance to the snow-leopard to attack him. There thus remained a wrestling between both wrestlers in the form of human and the king of the wildlife of the mountains. However, late Sharofat Shoh did not let the strong snow-leopard and showed his strength upon it. Other people also entered and the snow-leopard was killed. It is to be noted that a snow-leopard is bigger than a sheep and goat but highly powerful and strategic and that is why is termed as the giant wrestler in the native parlance as palwon.
The second case and narration of a snow-leopard attack on the sheep and goats follow here as it says.
A snow-leopard has eaten away the sheep and goats and has gone up to the hard and inaccessible cliff across the J̃ũc̃har ravine towards Chamangul (Gulmit). People have asked my late father if he could go with them, fire precisely (as was well-known for it) and kill the snow-leopard. My father has carried his Russian gun with and has reached to the J̃ũc̃har. The snow-lepard had hid itself behind artimisa (tẽpesk in Wakhi). My father has pointed at the leopard with precision and fired. The snow-leopard has fallen down from the height of the cliff and died. It was thus brought at the village in Kamaris, as there was a flat big stone. The snow-leopard was laid down and skinned as I remember and witness this scene. Late Zafarullah Beg had a big dog named Guldor that was left over it. The dog was however scared of the leopard and it barked and run away. After skinning the leopard, the skin was filled with chuff that was then hanged in the sũroy, entrance gallery of the traditional Wakhi house, and it seemed that was a living snow-leopard.
The purpose of filling the skin with chuff was to help sustain the skin in its proper condition. Second, it was a sign of bravery of the hunters. Third, the Mirs needed it and it was given as a gift by the hunter(s) to the Mir.
Besides, there used to be communally collective hunting operation of the wolves because they would attack the domesticated animals and eat them away. I myself have also been part of the collective hunting of wolves. We used to make the wolves run away from the open places in the village surroundings and entrap them in a closed and narrow ravine at a place called Kũsũndarchin. Once we were carrying out this operation and some people had gone up to the mountain while others in the surroundings of the ravine. From the top, the people cried that the wolf escaped and went down and be careful down. I had taken the gun at the point. At once, the wolf appeared; and I immediately fired. That ran away. However, interestingly, that had wounded. Although, it ran away, later on we learnt that wolf had died.
There is still another interesting story of wolf hunting operation, which I had killed with an axe. That wolf had eaten a male-sheep of ours. There was a slight snowfall on the ground. We traced the wolf with the help of its footprints on the snow. Late Ghulam Hussain informed us that the wolf has taken the trap along with itself and has gone away. So all of us, the community members of Kamaris, left for the operation by tracing its footprints on the snow. The footprint led us towards the territory of the Ghulkin community and interestingly the trap when has stroke the stones has made its signs on the stones. When we reached at the forest site, we noticed the wolf moving up towards the glacier morains and the trap was moving here and there like a pendolem. We started running towards it but who will reach to its pace. Ilchi however taking its direction from the other side had already reached to the top of the morain. By then my cousin, Zinat Shah, and I also reached there too. Ilchi himself was though scared of the wolf tried to frighten the wolf by waving his long stick from a distance but it did not reach the wolf. My cousin Zinat Shah also waved his axe as he was also scared of the wolf; but he also reverted. There was a rock on the morain and the wolf would try to jump up to ascend but failed many times. Now, it was my turn for the trial. I stroke the wolf with my axe on the ear side. It jumped up on the rock and fall down and I would strike it on the same place. After many strikes on it ear side, the wolf finally laid down. I had worn a white clothe and with the strikes on the wolf, the blood would sprinkle on my cloth and made my entire clothe red from top to bottom. We dragged the wolf from that place and brought it to Kamaris. What did the people do with it further, I don’t know then. This wolf was however very big in size; and all male members of our community of Kamaris had taken part in this operation.
Entering in the Teaching Profession and continuing education
I joined teaching profession in 1971. But it is noteworthy that the D.J. School Kamaris was established in 1970 and late JCO (Retired) Dad Ali son of Khalifa Sultan Ahmad was the founding teacher who was remunerated Rs. 15/- (fifteen rupees only). After serving for a year, he joined military force and the position remained vacant. I was therefore asked to teach in the school.
Initially, the classes were run from the Nursery to Grade 3; and in the later phase, the classes were extended up to Grade 5 when the school was upgraded at primary level. There was no school building and the classes were started from the Kamaris jamatkhana and its compound. As there was no proper place and classes we took at different places where ever available. We took classes in the gardens and also in the langar of Odver Jamatkhana. When we further confronted with the space problem, I took the students in my old house and continued classes for many years until the DJ school building was constructed probably in 1977 at the mound site with the newly built Kamaris Jamatkhana. The school building and Kamaris road were constructed in the same year.
In the beginning, I received a salary of Rs. 20/- (twenty only). With the course of time, it increased and when I was leaving teaching, my salary had reached almost 5,000/- (five thousand only).There were perhaps only 15 students in total in the beginning. With the passage of time, the number of students increased. After serving for 25 years, I had to leave the school by acquiring a gratuity of almost PKR 74,000 (seventy four thousand only) in the year 1996. I then left for Karachi to get treatment of my lifelong headache.
When I returned from Karachi, I was called by the senior officers of AKESP that I should re-join the DJ school Kamaris. I however declined this offer due to my health problem. They anyway compelled me to join the school again. I was offered over PKR 4,000/- as I was leaving AKESP before this offer, it was easer than 5,000/- (five thousand only). I was in a dilemma to accept this offer as I was highly concerned of my genuine health issue. Anyhow, I had to accept the offer and continued teaching for more than four years. In 2001, I perhaps got retirement from AKESP on medical ground I was bestowed upon a pension of only twelve hundred rupees. Through Old Age Benefit Increment, it has increased, especially during Musharraf regime and at present (December 2014) i get PKR 3,600/- (three thousand six hundred only. Altogether, I served the DJ school totally for 29 year: from 1971-1996, and 1998-2001.

Life in Karachi
I have spent sometimes of my life in Karachi too. For the first time, I went to Karachi in 1964 in order to visit and see this grand city; and I stayed with my maternal uncle Muhammad Qazi in Kh̃aradar. This visit however did not prove fruitful as I became ill. Second time, I visited Karachi in 1967; and Goharullah Beg, Arab Khan and I were together. In overall, five times, I have been to Karachi and stayed there for different periods.Besides Kh̃aradar, I have lived in Sher Shah for nearly a year. Our friends and mates were late Sultan Madad of Odver (Gulmit); Hayder son of Bashran Ali and Ghulam Muhammad son of Muhammad Arif of Passu; Qazi of Gircha; late Adina Baig of Jamalabad; and others.
I’d like to share an interesting story of mine pertaining to tea-preparation in the house where we lived in Sher Shah and it may be interesting to the audience and it stood very famous among our community.
In my childhood and youth, I was an independent person within my family in my village; and I could not understand the situations regarding cooking when I was there in Karachi. Once, late Gul Muhammad, Mutabiat Shah and many others visited us in our house in Sher Shah. I was asked (as it was then my turn of cooking within our rented house) to make tea for the guests. However, I could not understand anything and got confused in the kitchen. There was a small pot probably spared for the kerosene oil. Did not smell it and I used it for pouring water in the cooking vessel to prepared tea. The tea was anyway served to the guests; and the tea which the guests and hosts drank was filled with kerosene smell. Afterwards, a joke was made upon me that “Sa’dat Shah” had cooked tea out of the kerosene oil” and not water.
There is another interesting story of my kitchen life in Karachi. Once, I was asked to make dough as we would work in our shared flat on rotation basis. I perhaps poured more water in the flour. It thus turned like bat (a traditional Wakhi food) as the flour stools on top of the water. Now, I tried to squeeze the flower but it couldn’t turned into dough and flower seemed like swimming of boats in a lake. The resulted liquefied stuff consequently dripped down. When one of my roommates took this dough to the bakers in order to make bread and cook, the baker has reacted that it was not dough, and should be taken back to the house.
Although, during those days, different parts of Karachi had facility of electricity especially on the roads, Sher Shah where we lived was deprived of this great boon it was situated on the suburb. There was also no gas system available for us to cook and we depended on kerosene oil.
Voluntary Services
In 1969, when the Shia Imami Ismaili Council was introduced here in Gulmit, Mr. Bahadur Shah and I were the first members of this council from Kamaris, as Arbob Sadan Shoh was the first President. Late Rai Ghulam Uddin was performing as Secretary and contributed highly. He performed significantly every task. He had that much capacity that even the rules and regulations for the villages he made with consensus in ine with marriages, deaths and so on. Likewise, there were members from other villages like late Tawar Shah from Ghulkin, as I remember. I served Ismaii Council for Gulmit for two tenures.
As a volunteer, I have also served the Aga Khan Volunteer Corp within the Shia Isma’ili Local Council for Gulmit for over 12 years as I have been awarded with a certificate of recognition in this regard as well. I served as a Kamaria of Kamaris Jamatkhana for over 12 years: two times with late Mukhi Dollat Shah and twice with late Mukhi Zinatullah Baig. My name was being proposed for Mukhi but I apologized and declined due to my lifetime headache. I feared that I may not be able to perform such extraordinary voluntary job.
For almost 25 years, I also served Ismaili Tariqa and Religious Education Board (ITREB) for Gulmit as In-Charge and Religious Guide of Rligious Center for Kamaris. Although, I actually started teaching religious education in 1980, my formal appointment was made in 1981 after getting the appointment letter. Al-Wa’iz Abdul Hameed had come to Kamaris Religious Center. On the recommendation of Arab Khan, I was called. Abdul Hameed, after taking my consent, asked me to carry on the task of Religious Guide.
In total, we were 12 Religious Guides at entire Hunza level who were paid a small honorarium; but I was not getting it for a long time from the beginning. One day, I went to ITREB Office Karimabad. When I asked the related office bearer, he said there was not my name as a Religious Guide. However, after contacting Abdullah Jan, they searched extensively and got the appointment letter finally among the mess of documents. Provision of honorarium for me thus started from this point onward that included between PKR 200/–300/- (two hundred to three hundred only) per month.
There was a grand gathering in Chamangull of the community regarding inauguration of the new school. Late Mukhi Muhammad Ghulam was a bit critical on me that why I had entered in the khalifagi I also acquired two years khalifagi training (trained in performing the rites and rituals of the community) despite the fact that there was again my insistent apology from Atimadi Fida Ali and Al-Wa’iz Muhammad Aslam for not including me in the above said training due to my lifetime teasing headache. They however urged and included me in the program keeping in view the lack of relevant human resources in the area. After I acquired khalifagi training, it proved productive as I passed on with A Grade. I was then asked to carry on the khalifagi, though facing bitterly my health issue. For two years (1989-1991), I continued the duty of performing the rituals in the houses of marriages and especially death; but was highly troublesome and could not continue in the given circumstances where my health deteriorated. I thus requested and informed the respective office bearers that I was ending this voluntary services in compulsiontraining and was then quitting it as there were their request earlier from the office bearers of ITREB to produce a khalifa to conduct the ritual performance. I kept silence and not tried to justify as I thought people would become displeased. I however asked myself to be patient, although Qari Nazar Muhammad emphasized me to respond him I did not heed his suggestion keeping in view my health condition lest I make someone angry.
I have also acquired training on Qirat of Qur’an. Besides I have also performed as a volunteer orator and I speak to the community audience in various occasions in the calendar year like Eids and salgirah. Recognizing such voluntary services, His Highness, Prince Karim Aga Khan conferred upon me the title of “Huzur Mukhi” and aso a certificate of teaching for 10 years. Besides, I also learnt Farsi language on my own and can read and understand this language. As an optional subject, I had Farsi and obtained good marks.
Performance of Religious Center Kamaris
It was well-known to all that where ever the students of religious center for Kamaris took participation in the religious competitions like speeches, devotional recitals or , quiz at local level or Hunza level, they stood many times on higher positions like getting first positions. Even these students also took part in religious competitions at Gilgit-Baltistan level as once I myself did go with them in Ghizer district (Ishkoman/Phandar). However, the sudden sickness of Layla Parveen daughter of late Dad Ali hampered upon her speech the next day and she could not qualify for the first position; and another competitor stood on this rank. The high performance and getting cups in speech competition by Kamaris religious center was anyhow rotated in different Jamatkhana by then Chairman, Mr. Rahmatullah Beg, hwen we arrived from Ghizer.
Likewise, our students used to qualify competition of “Du’a recital” as one of my own daughters, Bibi Gulshan, had also stood first she had also take first position in a speech competition in Altit and got a big shield that was later on returned probably she was paid for the shield and it was taken back.
Besides, at Baltit, our students also qualified the competitions and stood first such performance also held true at local level competitions like in Gulmit, Ghulkin as in Ghulkin in a quiz competition, four students of our center won the competition. At Passsu, students of our center won the devotional poems recital and speech. The sharper students were Layla Parveen, Bibi Gulshan, daughter of Rahmat Nazar (married in Ghulkin), Shahdil, Sikandar, Inayat and many more.
Imparting Training of Qura’n
As I had already acquired training of teaching Qura’n, Rahmatullah Beg son of Zafarullah Beg of Gulmit was the Chairman of ITREB and he asked me to impart Qura’n trainings to the religious guides. I was however a bit less confident, anyway on his insistent and confidence, I carried out the Qaur’anic training to the religious guides that continued for one week. The participants and management thus liked it and extended their appreciations to me.
Besides, I also gave training of Qura’n to the senior students of Kamaris and Odver during the time of either summer or winter. I would teach them Qur’anic verses so that they should better read and understand the texts.
Many of those students we could see at present are in the universities and have got married as well. Their pronunciation of reading Qur’an are appreciated. I have also taught these students the Arabic Prayers (Du’a).
The current students have not acquired that kind of training and their pronunciation of the Qura’nic verses/texts are not up to the mark as they are not oriented with such kind of teaching/training. Although, I was keen to teach them, there were replies that there is no permission from the related institutions. However, it is noteworthy that the training sessions I conducted, I have always got recognition from the ITREB and its Chairmen like Rahmatullah Beg and Nazir Ahmad Bulbul by providing me “Certificates.”
Construction of the Jamatkhanas
Construction of the old Kamaris jamatkhana, the land donated by my grandfather,was earlier than Odver. Old Kamaris Jamatkhana was built by Ustod Sumbul as a symbol of his apprenticeship probably in 1953 or 1954, after one or two years of construction of Central Jamatkhana Gulmit in 1952While Odver Jamatkhana was constructed in 1956 and I evidence that Mir Muhammad Jamal Khan had come himself for the inauguration it is to be noted that the new Jamatkhana of Kamris was built and inaugurated in 1983.
The First Visit of His Highness, Prince Karim Aga Khan to Hunza
When Imam of the Time, Shah Karim Al-Hussaini, visited Hunza for the first time in 1960, we walked from Gulmit to Altit across the Karakoram Highway (KKH) from the side of Ghareyat and Sarat. People had carried their children on their back and some were holding the hands of the elderly children. I myself had become too hungry and in this situation I fall down on my face. Some food was brought from someone. I energized myself and resumed my travel ahead. After worst exhaustion and torned away of our sandals (long traditional Wakhi shoes), we finally reached Altit and stayed in the houses of the native Altit community spared for the community of Gojal. Besides, they also provided some food, although, people of Gojal had carried along with them the breads (like pũt̃ok). It was, of course, generosity of the community of Central Hunza that they extended their extraordinary hospitality towards us.
Imam of the Time first blessed his meeting with the community of Gojal at Altit. What I observed when Hazar Imam entered in the didargah, being young, and when he spoke and gave us directives, his voice was toally different; and it sounded very different and of someone that was in absentia (not of this world) and above all humans. Imam of the Time slowly talked near the ears of Mir Muhammad Jamal Khan and the Mir would thus translate from English to the native language the directives of the Imam to us. Hazar Imam directed us not to get away of our cultures handed over to us by our ancestors rather maintain and sustain it. This much I remember out of the first visit.
Acquisition of Health Guard Training as a Volunteer
Although, I can’t recall the exact year, it was probably in the 1970s, two doctors had come to Gulmit and they provided us training of six weeks on “Health Guard” in the Federal Government School. There were many local participants. From Gulmit there were late Rai Ghulamuddin, Mukhi Ibadat Shah, Muhammad Ajayib, late Ghulam Muhammad, late Aqil Shah, late Imamdad (son of late sultan Ahmad), Tahir shah, Muhammad Abdullah; from Dalgiram there were Sultan Akbar, and many others. At the end, we appeared in a written test and I obtained first position; while Sultan Akbar stood second.
Although, we had to work as a volunteer to the community and we had been provided precious medicines and medical kit, this training proved very fruitful in terms of knowledge and skills as we had then to use those basic knowledge and skills to address the basic health issues of the community by providing them First Aid and so on. Besides my other two colleagues (late Aqil Shah & late Imamdad), I was responsible for Kamaris and Odver and I was called in the houses wherever any individual had health issues. After diagnosis of the disease, I would provide them medicines and if necessary also give them injections.
Treatment of patients we carried out around diagnosis of their diseases and the diseases had their symptoms. Diseases and their symptoms entailed pneumonia,tab diq (tuberculosis), Fever, cough, malaria, typhoid and so on. The medicines we received after a specified interval, probably biannually and we would keep them in our cupboard and provide them to the patients.

Situations of Health Challenges and Strategies before getting Health Guard Training
Before acquiring “Health Guard Training”, and absence of any dispensary in the area, our people highly depended on the indigenous strategies of dealing with the health challenges and issues.
1. If a person came across headache or cough, kũknor-e choy)tea made of poppy) was made to address this issue. This remained highly recommendable.
2. If a person came across any wound, chirogh was recommended to be grinded and put on the wound and tied. Although, the wound did not healed rapidly, people however were satisfied.
3. If a person encountered stomach pain, shirughan (milk+oil/butter) was recommended for the person to be drunk.
4. If a person had handav, towel or scarf was made wet of water and tied around his head. Symptoms of handav were high fever and shivering.
5. There used to be kuftigig̃h that was termed as irreversible disease.
6. Pũzũvsekh (literally as needling in the heart) was a highly severed stomach disease and people used to die.
7. Spreg̃h (chickenpox) was another dangerous disease that was in abundance again and when patients escaped of this disease, his or her face seemed like pinched holes. As for example, late Abdul Amin of Odver had his face reflection of this disease. Spreg̃h emerged on all parts of a human body in a red scabby form possessed. When the dispensary came to our area, a special injection was given to the patients. Prevention injection of chickenpox was given to all people in Hunza of all age groups, especially children.
8. There was also hũryanz̃, smallpoxes.
9. Among all, the worst disease was kũri (laprosy). As there was no treatment, a patient of this disease was therefore quarantined from all angles (food, accommodation and interactions banned with other family and community members. His accommodation was made out of the village settlement where people should not go. This was termed in Wakhi as shak kẽsal, worst disease.
10. There was still another disease called daghlej probably for tuberculosis.
It should be noted that the government’s dispensary in Gulmit was established in the 1960s. There was graveyard on the dispensary site earlier than construction of the dispensary building.

Abolition of the Former Hunza State
After calling Mir Muhammad Jamal Khan to Gilgit, in 1974, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto abolished the former Hunza State so that there should not be autocracy but rater democracy and that continues till today. Mir Muhammad Jamal Khan himself was highly venerable and mild ruler. However, what I could observe that both democracy and autocracy models are not successful. People of both camps just quarrel with each other and there is no benefit to the public. The public is anxious and wait for prosperity.
Everywhere people kill each other. If there has to democracy, it should bring prosperity to the communities but we can’t evidence anything in this regard. Imam of the time also emphasizes that there ought to be democracy but no progress comes up by the way
The reasons are different. No one wants to take the right paths specified by Islam and His Highness and if peoples and rulers take those right paths, there will be success. The world communities take lesson from His Highness’s directions and guidance and why not Pakistan?
Imam of the Time takes pride and states that Pakistan is his homeland; and the place of birth of his honorable grandfather, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah. What Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan has done for the Muslims of India and what Prince Karim Aga Khan has been doing for Pakistan is before all sensible peoples. Why do the rulers and sensible people not take the advice and guidance of His Highness? It is really a bad luck.

Social Behaviors and Interest in Poetry Composition
Poetry depends on an individuals’ thoughts and ideas of one’s childhood, youth and old age. When I was young, I was reluctant of those actions of people that were negative as per norms. I preferred behaviors of love and affections, peace and happiness. In addition, my trend was towards the religious paths from my childhood. I was not aware of the standards and procedures of poetry but I would try to compose some verses on my own. For a long time, I could not track my poetry appropriately. However, with the course of time, my mind came towards poetry and gradually it improved and I progressed. There were also some other factors that would impede in my creativities and I would pause/stop in the middle. When people would then ask me that I was composing poetry why have I stopped it. This would thus remind and push me towards poetry again. I would thus try and compose a poem or two according to my capacity.
, I think there was no proper poetry of mine and I had stopped again. But when you (Fazal Amin Beg) called me from Gilgit in autumn 2014, I was re-energized and my enthusiasm multiplied when you encouraged me towards poetry composition. I thus started collecting my poetry pieces from different places. There is a huge number of books in my cupboard and when I compose poetry on pieces of papers or in notebooks, I keep them in the middle of or among the books in the cupboard. I then forget where I left them. In this manner, the poems get lost as my mind doesn’t function sometimes properly as there are many other factors regarding my anxiety.
The first poem that I composed was probably in the 1970s, as I can’t recall my memoirs exactly. I however remember the first stanza of this same devotional poem that followed as under.
Ay sohib-e du jahon qodir, tuwet dar har zamon hozir
Osonep car tu har mũshkil, Ali Mũshkil kusho Sulton
Although, the lyrical or love poems were not that much encouraged by our people, the devotional poetry they highly appreciated and liked very much. However, what I could recall of the past, there were no visible Wakhi poets both in Gulmit or at Gojal level. One of the renowned scholars of that time in our valley was late Ghulom Ali Shoh of Gircha (whom I never met but heard a lot about him). People usually referred him as mentally a bit upset. God knows whether he had any such problem or people could not understand him due to his scholastic approach.
Likewise, there was late Prince Sultan Khan of Gulmit, another distinguished scholar who would sometimes become angry. While assisting him, I have accompanied Prince Sultan Khan to various places and homes. Reaching at the doors of himes, he would kick on the doors and call “Open the door!” Sultan Khan has come.” If they opened the door late, he would strike his feet on the door. We would then enter in his house.
Prince Sultan Khan was an ocean of knowledge. Never I have seen or witnessed anywhere such a knowledgeable personality. He was highly affluent in Farsi when he would begin reading or speaking in this language. He was highly well-versed in Farsi when he would explain the meanings of the Farsi prose or poetry. Before A person ended his or her question, late Khan would give answer to him or her with great logic, argument and in convincing manner. Academic or other professionals coming from out of Hunza, being scholars or others, were also impressed and astonished due to his high academic stature and caliber. Never he has entrapped but remained consistent in replying positively to the questions of a person. We had not that much education so that to learn to a significant level from him. Prince Sultan Khan used to come to Kamaris and stay there in the house of Ilchi (Nazar Ali Shah), being his foster brother as the latter’s mother had raised the former.

I’m grateful to Ustad Sa’odat Shoh who graciously shared with me his detailed biography and insightful Wakhi poetry around various themes.
My particular thanks goes to my great friend, Ghulam Rasul of Gulmit, Deputy General Manager of National Rural Support Program (NRSP), for all his facilitation and hospitality in December 2017 when I was in Sargoda for the purpose of finalization of the poetry book. It should be noted that both of us, Ghulam Rasul and I, are among the early students of Ustad Sa’odat Shoh.
In the same manner, I’d like to pay my gratitude to Shahdil Jan and his wife Zohra Shahdil Jan for their kind facilitation during different occasion, particularly in facilitating and mediating both of us apparently disabled (Ustad Sa’odat Shoh in terms of his hearing and I myself in terms of my eyesight).

I’m also thankful to my brother Ghulam Amin Beg and family for his encouragement and providing me an environment for the endeavors around such academic missions. Otherwise, I may not have come up to such contributions .

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply