Interview in Speaking Tree, The Times of India.


Mohsin Bin Mushtaq Shah’s  poetry springs from a heart full of angst and insight, hope and love. He tells MONA MEHTA that Kashmir, to him, is a symbol of love, not hate.

He is a medical doctor by training, and a Sufi by inheritance and intuition. His poems caress you like a whiff of fresh air, cutting through the smog of mistrust and gloom in the Valley. Says Mohsin who lives in Srinagar, Kashmir,“My verses talk about two things: Kashmir, and love and tolerance.” He was in Delhi recently and recited his poems to an appreciative audience at the recently held Times Literary Festival. Mohsin believes that it is his duty to express his anguish and that of his people through his writings, whether in prose or poetry.

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MIr Sayyid Ali Hamdani (Ra) tried to spread the message of love and tolerance, and Mohsin too strives to do that through spontaneous verse, as in: ‘i exhume my heart in verses’

“There are three genres of poetry — one which talks about love of God – ishq e haqique; love of man — ishq e majazi and a third which states that only love of man can lead you to the love of God.This is my kind of poetry,”he says. The young man’s poems also address Kashmir, which is ‘no less than God’s poem itself ’.“As a poet it is my duty to write about the pain of Kashmir,” he says.

In Kashmir,Sufi poetry might have started with the Shaivite mystic Lalleshwari (Lal Ded) but some half a millennium since, sensitive poets like Mohsin are seeking to restore to the Valley all the love and longing for the Beloved that once enriched a culture of understanding and compassion.


Poems at the Karbala Conference, University of Kashmir.

What else do you need from your words, when your words are known for the eulogy of Hussain and the Karbala.  Two of my poems were read at the Karbala Conference, held at the Ibn e Khaldun auditorium, University of Kashmir. The video is on youtube and the original text in this post.

The original poem – hussain taught me love.


After this poem was published on social media, I got numerous queries asking me If I happen to be a Shia. It was astounding to know the prevalence of prejudice that perhaps, if a person writes eulogy for Hussain(Raa), he has to be a Shia. In view of the queries, I wrote my answer in form of a poem – disclaimer.


Zulekha in the Land of Rumi!

For the descendants of heart, madness and love are no different. They are one. Love the soul and madness the body. Taking one away from another quashes both of them. Leaving them gasping, withering and vanishing. When love knocks at the door -often in the hour of deep slumber- the human soul is entirely transformed to a different being. Where he loses all of the self and vanishes into the religion of love. No self, no nothing. I completely go with Victor Hugo’s careful remark in Les Miserables To love another person is to see the face of God.

One day, similarly, love knocked at the door of Queen Zuleikha. She was looted of herself, she no more was Zuleikha, she was Yousuf, and she was Love. Zuleikha was the wife of Potiphar the Egyptian. While most of the orthodox texts see a phase of seductress in her, Rumi the master, sees a mad lover in her. For Rumi she is a type of the lover, like Majnun, so lost in her love for Yousuf that she hears every phrase and every natural sound, the wind, the fire’s crackling, birdcalls, as messages from Yousuf. Zulaikha’s lust for Yousuf represents the soul’s wailing for God.

Begins love struck master Rumi;

“Zuleikha  let everything be the name of Joseph, from celery seed to aloes wood. She loved him so much she concealed his name in many phrases, the inner meanings known only to her.

When she said, The wax is softening near the fire, she meant, My love is wanting me.

If she said, Look, the moon is up, or The willow has new leaves, or The coriander seeds have caught fire, or The king is in a good mood today, or Isn’t that lucky, or The furniture needs dusting, or The water carrier is here, or This bread needs more salt, or The clouds seem to be moving against the wind, or My head hurts, or My headache’s better, anything she praises it’s Joseph’s touch she means. Any complaint, it’s his being away.

When she’s hungry, it’s for him. Thirsty, his name is a sherbet. Cold, he’s a fur. This is what the Friend can do when one is in such love.

The miracle Jesus did by being the name of God, Zuleikha felt in the name Joseph. When one is united to the core of another, to speak of that is to breathe the name Hu, empty of self and filled with love.”