Mirwaiz Muhammad Yusuf Shah (19 February 1894 – 12 December 1968) was a mirwaiz of Kashmir. He also served as a President of Azad Kashmir. The Mirwaiz was a title given to the head Islamic imam of Kashmir going back at least 500 years. Yusuf Shah was born on 13 Shaban 1311 Hijri (19 February 1894) at Rajauri to Ghulam Rasool Shah.[1] In 1925, Shah started his education with Darul Uloom Deoband, where he was taught the ahadith by Anwar Shah Kashmiri. In 1931, he succeeded Attiqullah as the mirwaiz of Kashmir. In 1968 when he died, he was succeeded by his nephew Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq who had been his deputy since 1961.[2]

1931, April 3rd
His uncle, the Mirwaiz Maulana Ahmad-ullah passes away, he was the Mirwaiz of Kashmir for many years. Ahmad-ullah had always been pro-Mahajara rule. Yusuf Shah is chosen as the next Mirwaiz, he is not Pro-Maharaja.

1931, 25 July
Without the support of Yusuf Shah, the Lahore based All-India Muslim Kashmir Conference held a meeting in Shimla at the house of Sir Muhammad Zulfiqar ‘Ali Khan(Who was the brother-in-law of the Khalifa), to determine their course of action. Many notable dignitaries were present, including Sir Muhammad Iqbal, Sir Mian Fazl-i Husain, (the Nawab of Malerkotla) Sir Muhammad Zulfiqar ‘Ali Khan(Who was the brother-in-law of the Khalifa), (Shams a l-‘Ulama) Khwaja Hasan Nizami of Delhi, Khan Bahadur Shaykh Rahim Bakhsh, and several other Nawabs, a Deobandi professor, and high ranking administrators from both the Siyasat and Muslim Outlook newspapers. On Iqbal’s nomination, the members unanimously agreed that Mirza Bashir al-Din Mahmud Ahmad should become president, with ‘Abd al-Rahim Dard as his secretary, of what they called the All-India Kashmir Committee (AIKC)(see Dost Muhammad Shahid, Tarikh-i Ahmadiyya, Vol. 5, pp. 415-416, has his account of the committee’s formation and pp. 419-421, has the full list of members)(See Khan “The construction of the Ahmadiyya Identity”).

1931, Oct and November
IOR R/1/1/2164 in Fortnightly Report for the second half of October 1931 from the Resident of
Kashmir, F.9-C/30 (3 November 1931); see also IOR R/1/1/2531 in File No. 91 -Political (17 January 1934), in which a warning was sent to B. J. Glancy of the Glancy Commission cautioning that Shaykh ‘Abdullah is an Ahmadi even though he may say that he is not. The conclusion expressed in the file was that the authenticity of the source was dubious and likely to be linked to the opposition (i.e. the Ahrar), who were threatening to publish the fraudulent letter when ‘it suits them ’, as was repeatedly the case throughout Shaykh ‘Abdullah’s career. It is surprising that his affiliations with Jama‘at-i Ahmadiyya were persistently an issue with the Darbar as late as 1934, even though both Ahmadi officials and Shaykh ‘Abdullah himself consistently denied his religious commitment to the community(See Khan “The construction of the Ahmadiyya Identity”).

After totally falling out with the Qadiani’s, Yusuf Shah along with Sheikh Abdullah and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas founded the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference to oppose the king Maharaja Hari Singh‘s rule.[3] However, after a year, conflicts occurred between Abdullah and Yusuf Shah. In order to expand the group, Abdullah wanted to allow people of other religions to join it. This was opposed by Yusuf Shah who felt that he was “betraying the cause of the Muslims”. On 30 January 1932, Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah delivered a sermon at Khanqah-e-Naqshbandia in which he accused Shaikh Abdullah of being a Qadiani. Everyone knew that I (Shaikh Abdullah) was a Sunni, of the Hanafi sect. This event took place in the dead of winter when most Kashmiris do not leave their houses without their kartgris [braziers]. During the altercations which followed his allegation, these kangris were freely used as trajectories, injuring a number of people (Sheikh Abdullah, Flames of the Chinar, p. 39).

Consequently, Abdullah founded the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference. However the Muslims of Kashmir felt that it was a representative body of the Indian National Congress.[3]

As a result, under the leadership of Yusuf Shah, Muslim Conference entered into an alliance with the All India Muslim League and in July 1947, the party passed a resolution demanding the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan based on “geographic, economic, linguistic, cultural and religious conditions”.[3]

August of 1947
Yusuf Shah went to exile in Azad Kashmir.[4] He has also been the president of Azad Kashmir twice, once in 1952 and another in 1956.[1] He also served in the ministry of education.[4]

On 12 December 1968 (17 Ramzan), Yusuf Shah died at Rawalpindi.[4]


Links and Related Essays

House of Mirwaiz

Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah : His Life And Times