Saturday, November 6, 2010

Muslim scholars berate Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s attempts to add fuel to the Kashmir fire on Independence Day

Source: The Times of India

By Mohammed Wajihuddin

Last week, Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani called to stone-pelting comrades in Kashmir to celebrate August 14 (Pakistan’s Independence Day) and observe August 15 as Black Day. But the septuagenarian separatist leader’s provocative utterances have few takers among Muslim scholars who have studied Islam’s journey from its birth in the deserts of Arabia to its contemporary status as a religion of 1 billion-plus adherents. The likes of Geelani, these scholars say, are not just the enemies of Kashmir, but bad followers of the faith too.

To the stone-pelting boys in the streets of Srinagar and Sopore, the hawks have sold a rosy dream: Pakacceded Kashmir will be a haven of peace where they can freely practise Islam and preserve their culture. But the scholars rebut this, calling it nothing but a chimera which will lead to the already bleeding Valley’s destruction.

Noted Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan who has written prolifically on the Kashmir issue for over four decades records an interesting and instructive incident in his seminal work Amane-Alam (Peace for The World), first published in 2004. Khan writes that in the early 1990s two educated Kashmiri youth who were not militants, but condoned acts of militancy against India, met him at his New Delhi home. Khan tried to convince them that their struggle was neither Islamic nor would it bring any freedom. The boys, recalls Khan, insisted they were on the verge of achieving a spectacular success soon. A shocked Khan offered the boys his diary to write it. The boys wrote: “The Kashmir which will be created after separation from India will be an Islamic Kashmir, Insha Allah.’’ Khan told them it was an illusion and while they were still there, he penned in the same diary his own thoughts: “If a separate Kashmir is ever created, it will neither be an independent Kashmir nor a Pakistani Kashmir. It will be a barbad (destroyed) Kashmir. The Kashmiris have only two choices, an Indian Kashmir or a destroyed Kashmir.’’

Sultan Shahin, editor of, a popular portal which strives to reclaim Islam from the clutches of jihadists, provides a perspective on why an independent or Pakistani Kashmir can never be established and why it won’t survive if it does. Shahin, a virtual warrior against petrodollar Islam, says he recently had a heated argument with a Pakistani friend at an international conference. “When a muezzin calls for prayers, my mother tells me to go to a mosque. But I am sure your mother pleads with you not to visit the mosque because she is not sure if you will return alive from there,’’ Shahin told his Pakistani friend. “This is the reality,’’ he elaborates. “Kashmir too will be sucked into the cycle of sectarian and linguistic violence that is bleeding Pakistan almost every day. India can and should give greater autonomy to Kashmir, but for well-known reasons, it cannot afford to lose the state.’’

The demand for a separate or Pakistani Kashmir is based on a skewed, selective reading of Islam. It was Geelani’s ideologue, Jamaate-Islami’s founder Maulana Abul Ala Maududi and Egyptian scholars Syed Qutub and Hasan Al Banna before him who propagated the theory that Islam wanted Muslims to strive and establish an Islamic state. Fed on a heavy dose of such exclusivism, Geelani and his ilk find life in a non-Islamic state oppressive.In an interview, the separatist leader had once declared: “For a Muslim to live in a non-Muslim-dominated society is as difficult as it is for a fish out of water.’’

Scholar Asghar Ali Engineer calls such Islamic supremacist ideology a complete antithesis of Islam. “The Quran never asked Muslims to live only in an Islamic state. It simply asks followers to establish a peaceful, compassionate society,’’ says Engineer. He maintains that Kashmiris’ disenchantment with India should be justly addressed but adds that most Kashmiris don’t love Pakistan either.

The argument that the Muslim-majority Kashmir must either go to Islamic Pakistan or become a separate, sovereign Islamic state defies the Valley’s own history. While many Muslims in North India might have backed Jinnah’s two-nation theory, the Kashmiris by and large had rejected it. “Sheikh Abdullah’s Muslim Conference was rechristened National Conference to eschew exclusivism and broaden its acceptability. The Kashmiriat (Kashmir’s distinctive culture) that the separatists want to preserve can be preserved only in a secular, democratic, multicultural India,’’ explains Akhtrul Wasey, who teaches Islamic Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia. “Geelani should re-read Islam.’’

And when he does it, perhaps the hawk will realise that patriotism is part of the Muslim faith, not something to be tossed out of the window in the hope of a chimeric Islamic state.


An Open Letter to Syed Ali Shah Geelani

From Kamal Hak

Mr. Syed Ali Shah Geelani,

Now that Yasin Mallik has openly accused you of exploiting Islam, I feel vindicated. I along with lakhs of my fellow Kashmiri Pandits have always held that view. All the displaced Kashmiri Pandits hold the exploiters of Islam responsible for the loss of their moorings. I believe no religion including Islam will permit the barbaric persecution of a minority. I also believe in the inherent philosophy of love and brotherhood that was propagated by all messengers of God, whom Hindus call Avtars and Muslims call Prophet. I am not a great student of religion and, therefore, I cannot have an in-depth knowledge of the philosophies behind the great faiths, but I am sure no religion teaches hatred for fellow human beings. It is the hypocrites like you who have not only brought misery to their fellow beings but have also tarnished the name of their religion.

I don’t know you personally and except on one occasion, we have never crossed paths with each other. Whatever impression I have about you has been gathered through your writings, speeches and media interviews. And, of course, my very brief silent confrontation with you nearly a quarter century back has been responsible for my firming an opinion and image about you being a fundamentalist involved in exploiting the delicate religious feelings of the people for the furtherance of your political ideology. Though, you will not be able to recall that incident but I still nurture the vivid memories of that afternoon as it gave me the first hand impressions of dichotomy between your preaching and practice. One day, it would have been either 1980 or 1981, when as a fresh man out of the college and on the threshold of starting my career as a Medical Representative, I found myself stranded in the village of Doabgah on the Baramulla- Sopore road. My companion, that day, was another young man from Sopore who was also in the process of establishing his pharmaceutical business. While in the village, we found you addressing a small congregation in a nearby open space. It was a fiery speech full of political rhetoric and religious fire. As a young Pandit boy, I found your speech mortally scaring and intimidating. I desperately wanted to leave the village, though my companion, a great fan of yours, kept constantly reassuring me about your virtues of not differentiating between the people of different faiths. Nevertheless, a lone non-muslim amongst the sentimentally charged populace was proving to be beyond my comfort levels. Unfortunately, due to some blockade enroute, no buses were coming from the Baramulla side, which could have taken me away to Sopore on way to the security of my home in Srinagar. Meanwhile, we kept waiting for the busses that never came. Some time latter you finished your address and we were given to understand that you would be going back to Sopore in your vehicle. My friend, out of concern for my eagerness to reach home, volunteered to request you for giving me a lift up to Sopore. I was hesitant but on his assurance I allowed him to approach you with the request. Soon I saw him returning with his head down, cheeks red and the expression that told the whole story. As usual, the Almighty was both merciful as well as beneficent that day. Some time later a taxi screeched to stop besides me. It was my neighbour driving home after dropping somebody in another village. Many years latter I learnt at the very beginning of the Holy Quran, the first invocation reads, “In the name of GOD, the most Merciful and Beneficent.” And throughout the holy Quran, GOD’s name is thus invoked no less than 113 times. I also believe the Prophet is quoted as saying “O Ali, the best of qualities in this life and there after are the words of courtesy, generosity, and to forgive those who inflict injustice on you.” I know for sure, that taxi driver is an illiterate person and would not able to interpret the subtle niceties of religious scriptures, but that day he proved to be a true follower and practitioner of his faith. I wish I could speak the same about you the one who claims to lead his life according to divine commands and prophetic sayings.

At times, I also feel you are a confused person who isn’t clear about his objectives. On one hand you claim Iqaamat-e-Deen as your objective as Maulvi Abbas Ansari and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, according to you, are now drawing inspiration from “un-islamic ideologies like secularism, socialism, nationalism and even communism.” Yet, on the other hand you want Kashmir to become a part of Pakistan even though you also believe Pakistan rulers have not been able to live up to the moral standards which Islam demands.

You have been highly critical of some leaders whom you believe have not been acting in the true spirit of Islam and claim you invite people towards Islam and present its philosophy as a complete way of life. I have no objections towards anybody living by the tenants of his faith. But, one can’t only practice what is politically convenient for him. How can you explain the exodus of an entire populace of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir? You are against secularism and pluralism, which in itself points towards your practice of exploiting the religion to suit your own agenda. I gather, when Prophet Mohammad took over the administration of Yathrib (Madina), its population consisted mostly of two large Arab (Aws) and three Jewish ( Khazraj) tribes. The Madinan Arabs wanted the Prophet to administer the strife torn city as an outsider with no vested interests in the local disputes. They also wanted this potential messiah to be part of their group and not the rival Jewish tribe. Upon arrival in Madina, the Prophet set about getting all parties together to sign a covenant, which would set standards for pluralism, tolerance and cooperation between various religious and ethnic communities. The covenant gave equality to all its citizens and accepted the coexistence of different religions in the community. The messiah’s inspiration was the Holy Quran, which makes it incumbent upon Muslims to accept and respect all the previous messengers without distinction.

“The Apostle believeth in what had been revealed to him from his Lord, as do men of faith. Each one of them believeth in God. His angels, His books and his Apostles. We make no distinction between any of his Apostles.” (Quran 2:285)

The Holy Quran states on more than one occasion that if people, Jews, Christians and Sabeans lived by their tenets they would have their just reward. “ Verily they who believe and they whom are Jews, Christains, Sabeans whoever believes in God and the Last Day, and does that which is right shall have their reward with their Lord. Fear shall not come upon then neither shall they grieve.” (Quran 2: 62)

Your assertion of only Nizam-e-Mustafa being the ultimate goal for your Tehreek-e- Hurriyat goes against not only the traditions laid down by Bul Bul Shah, Shahmir, Badshah, Nund Reshi etc, whom your co-religionists in Kashmir hold in very high esteem, but it is also against the teachings of the Quran. Nizam-e-Mustafa in a hundred percent Muslim society is understandable but in a society as diverse as Kashmir, it would amount to coercion. My small study has been able to find at least three references in the Holy Quran, which say, “There is no compulsion in matters of faith.” (Quran 2.256, 10.99 and 18.99)

Many Muslim scholars and writers have described the propagation of Nizam-e- Mustafa as an exploitative tool employed by certain people to serve their purpose. These writers even claim, slogans like Nizam-e-Mustafa have been deliberately kept vague by its propagators to create confusion among the masses. These writers further claim since the concepts of “Aqamat-e-Deen”, (Establishment of Deen), “Hakoomat-e-Illahia”,(Government of Allah) or “Islamic Nizam” failed to cut much ice with the society earlier, a new term “Nizam-e-Mustafa” was invented. Further, concept attached to it varies form sect to sect. Different Islamic sects have even disagreement on the personality of Mustafa, let alone “Nizam-e- Mustafa”. It is pertinent to point out here that in 1951 twenty one Muslim religious scholars from different sects passed a unanimous resolution demanding all Government Laws in Pakistan be based on “The Book(Holy Quran) and Sunna”. Twenty years later, Maulana Madoodi, one of the main supporters of the resolution had to declare, “ It is impossible to make a set of public laws as per The Book and the Sunna which all Muslim sects will unanimously accept as Islamic”. In an article published by Idara Tolu-e-Islam, Lahore in 1977, the writer has made a significant observation, which says, “ The flag bearers of Nizam-e-Mustafa belonging to various Islamic sects have their own Fiqah (Jurisprudence). It is evident as all these sects considere their own Fiqah as unchallengeable Islamic law, no set of laws could be made which will be acceptable to all, their differences are so deep that each one of them have declared the other as Kafir , at one time or other.

You have also strange logic for justifying the militant activities of fidayeen by terms their violence as sacrifice. Nothing can amount to more blatant exploitation of religion then that. “….. and GOD calls to the home of peace.” (10:25). Kashmir press is now openly accusing you of playing your politics as a Pakistani stooge and interpreting the religion to suit your convenience.

You may have your reasons for playing the politics the way you do. The justification of that politics is a subject matter of a different debate, however, one needs to understand enough blood has been spilled over the beautiful vale of Kashmir. The madness needs to stop now. Otherwise, the history will not pardon the people who have prostituted Kashmir according to their own peculiar religious and political beliefs.


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