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Islam and Politics ( 18 Dec 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Politicking Islam: Bangladesh Scenario


By Rashid Ahmed

December 18, 2013

THE culture of Hartal started with Gandhi launching the “Ahinsa” (non violent) movement against the British Raj. This actually meant people voluntarily closing down shops, business houses, offices, and even courts of law. There was no question of using force or causing violence to enforce Hartal. Gandhi’s Hartal actions included processions, meetings and demonstrations but all peacefully, not by breaking and burning buses, vehicles and shops or killing or hurting people.

The mayhem in the name of political programme in Bangladesh completely opposes the nature and objectives of strikes, shut-downs and blockades. We know our constitution gives us the right to demonstrate, protest and raise objections and hold meetings and castigate the government, but the constitution never gives the right to ‘force’ the people into suffering by unleashing violence.

Recently I was reading a book titled “Islam”, written in 1954 by a Christian named Alfred Guillaume. The writer was Head of the Department of Near and Middle East studies and was a teacher of Arabic in London University. He talked about Islam as one of the most liberal religions and that the Quran and our Prophet (pbuh) clearly recognised Christianity and other revealed religions. Jesus Christ has been mentioned many times in the Quran. In the foreword of “Islam” Alfred Guillome says — considering the meaning and tenets of Islam — “I can call myself a Muslim”.

But, Islam in our political context has been radically misinterpreted.

Having mentioned this, one must dwell a bit on Hefazat-e-Islam and Jamaat-i-Islami. Our Jamaat -i-Islami is the branch of that Jamaat-i-Islami founded by Abul A’la Maududi. After the partition of India in 1947 he migrated to Pakistan and renamed his organization Jamaat-i-Islami Pakistan (JI of Pakistan) and the Jamaat-i-Islami of Bangladesh became a division of the Pakistan Jamat-i-Islami. In Pakistan Maududi started a campaign against the Ahmadiyya community, resulting in the bloody Lahore riots of 1953. To control the riot there was a selective declaration of Martial Law in Lahore. Maududi was arrested by the military headed by Lt. General Azam Khan and in the military court Maududi was sentenced to death for instigating that riot. But the death sentence was changed to life imprisonment by presidential pardon. The life imprisonment was also revoked by influential foreign lobbying. In 1958 JI in Pakistan was banned by Martial Law administrator Field Martial Ayub Khan.

Now by the recent Judgments of the International Crimes Tribunal we know how Jamaat leaders and activists were involved in killing so many valuable lives with the help of the ruthless Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams groups. It was a shame that BNP had allied with the Jamaat and in their government some Jamaat leaders were even ministers riding in ministerial cars with Bangladesh flags.

Now that Jamaat has been banned by the High Court, they are still allied with the BNP. With the current violent attacks throughout the country, it is crystal clear that the same people who unleashed atrocities on Bengalis in 1971 are trying to destabilize the country.

Now I want to go back to the time of our Prophet (pbuh) to explore what could be the punishment for a person who betrays and fights against his own people and country. At the battle of Khandak 800 Jews were given death sentences to be executed in a single day. The crime was that this particular tribe from Medina, “Banu Qurayza” fought their own people. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) asked one of the Jewish leaders of Medina who himself was wounded in the fight defending Medina along with our Prophet, to try and sentence Abu Sufian and his army for attacking their own people.

When our Prophet (pbuh) migrated to Medina with the Muslims of Makkah there was a treaty with all the Medinites — that if Medina was attacked, everyone, irrespective of Jews, Muslims or Christians will defend Medina.

The Jewish Leader in his judgment said that the tribe has defied the treaty and took Abu Sufian’s side and therefore attacked their own people and committed treason (‘Ghaddari’) and by Jewish law this offence is punishable by death sentence.

Looking at the capital punishment of the Jamaat leaders in the perspective of Islam, there cannot be any objection to the death sentences awarded to them for acting in a vicious way against their own people in 1971.

The leader of the Hefazat-e-Islam made some unpalatable comments on our ladies in the society. The reply was given by the acting Editor of “Desher Patra” a Bangla newspaper. She wrote that during the time of our Prophet (pbuh) ladies used to sit in front of our Prophet (pbuh) without any screen or curtain in between. In Makkah and Medina even today women s and men pray together under the same roof of the mosque with no curtains separating them. Ladies used to go to war with the Prophet (pbuh) and nurse the injured soldiers, even help in the burials of the dead. In one battle, the head of the treatment centre of the (“Begana”) soldiers was a lady named Rufaydah (RA). In the same war a lady named “Umme Amara (RA :) took part in the defence wielding a sword herself. What will the Hefazat-e-Islam say to this?

Rashid Ahmed is a Neurologist.