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Islam and Politics ( 18 Aug 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Separation Anxiety: ‘Geelani should re-read Islam’

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


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.

Source: The Times of India