I have never been a huge fan of my mother tongue 'Kashmiri' because I was not introduced to its lyrical qualities in my formative years; rather the frenzied obscenities found me at the receiving end as a toddler courtesy my mother and relatives. You can be assured it did not endear me to it ever and I developed a dislike for it which still persists to this day despite having overcome the 'conditioned cringing' every time I heard it spoken. Today I am rational and objective enough to see my prejudice towards it and I appreciate the vast literature written by great poets, dramatists, prose writers and fiction writers. 

I am in favour of promotion of the language but am not enthusiastic about its propensity for stretching names and dispensing nicknames for everything under the sun. One particular word I despise having been stretched from its proper pronunciation almost to become a curse word is 'philosophy'. Nowadays it can actually sound like a slur if anyone is called a 'phe-laasa-pharr'! I have often mused over this particular trait of my people – to call any conscientious, soft-spoken, slow-acting person as a philosopher or his/her resistance to jumping to conclusions based on half-truths and incorrect information as 'falsafa'. There's a negativity surrounding this word these days not to mention the fact that philosophy was not even in the prescribed syllabus of the University of Kashmir until a few years back. 

I often thought why until I came across Robert R. Reilly's book 'The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis'. Reilly in his book states the profound consequences of the triumph of al-Ghazali and the Asharites over the first fully developed school of theology, the Mutazalites, who advocated reason above text. He describes it as an "intellectual suicide", the nucleus of the end of the Islamic Golden Age and the decline of Islamic Civilization into a "dysfunctional culture based on a deformed theology" locked in determinism, occasionalism and ultimately fatalism. As I understand philosophy (a never ending experience) it means a stepping back and observing what is the right thing, the right choice. Combined with the Hellenistic concepts of ethics and the dynamic combination of the Mutazila school of thought; its champion being Averroes, the world would have been a much peaceful place to live in. But the culmination of Asharism into Wahabbism and its export by the House of Saud into still developing countries proved to be fatal and we can see the results today. 

My concern has always been the street talk, the gossip in social circles, the everyday analysis that happens in living rooms, marriage and funeral gatherings, corridors, buses, campus grounds, tea stalls, etc. The 'truths' propagated in these conversations would definitely reveal the lack of 'philosophers' and their philosophy - the stepping back obviously missing. Instead what is being peddled are the 'elders' stories', the politicians' version of truths, weekly sermons from pulpits, the proselytizing in lecture halls of classrooms, and university conferences, and of course the half media (there are no operational cinema halls and no particularly vibrant art scene in Srinagar). If the sources of these half-truths are traced one can find very clever cherry picking of historical incidents in history; the misinterpretations of holy texts; the vigilant surveillance on academicians by 'planted' students or colleagues; the watchdog function of the print media in shaping the narrative. This truth is the one which percolates down to the streets and shop fronts. 

We need to step back, philosophize. The time for attesting to the urgency of this is long gone as the blood keeps flowing every week whether it a secular Bangladeshi blogger on the streets of Dhaka or Ismaili men, women and children in a bus in Pakistan. If we do not reverse the intellectual suicide we committed centuries back, we will soon have a civil war in our midst. The zanadiqa (heretics) of yesteryear and today need to be pulled out of obscurity. The Incoherence of Philosophers by al-Ghazali which was so brutally refuted by Averroes in the The Incoherence of the Incoherence has to be coherently and openly discussed, debated, critiqued and reformed if necessary. Nothing and no one should be above reproach or criticism. The great traditions of the Kashmiri philosophers like Abhinavgupta (Aristotle of the East) and Utpaladeva are the ones which can rescue coherence of philosophy from obscurity.