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Islamic Ideology ( 25 Aug 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Kashmir: 'Islam is not a slave'

Mohammed Wajihuddin

24 Aug 2008, TNN


Syed Ali Shah Geelani is perhaps the most polarising figure in contemporary Kashmir. In his many avatars as Jamaat-e-Islami member, Hizbul Mujahideen's political face and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat's hawk, the octogenarian, bearded leader has led mammoth rallies, courted countless arrests and penned several books, including a passionate prison diary. On August 15 this year, Geelani donned the garb of Islam's saviour and declared to an azadi-chanting, green-flag waving crowd at Srinagar's Lal Chowk: "Our goal is azadi baraa-e-Islam (freedom for Islam)."


The media, constantly on the lookout for soundbites, moved to the separatists' other engagements in the day, ignoring the import of Geelani's new diktat and its fathomless falsity. In a single stroke, the Hurriyat hawk had coated his territorial battle with an Islamic flavour. Like Pakistan's founding father, the frail Mohammed Ali Jinnah in the tumultuous 1940s, Geelani has again tried to stoke a disturbing, though somewhat dormant, debate: "Is Islam incompatible with a secular society and must a Muslim majority live only in an Islamic state?"


The chant of "freedom for Islam" is actually a gross misinterpretation of a faith which unambiguously calls God "Rabul Almeen (lord of the universe)" and Prophet Mohammed "Rahmatul Almeen (blessing for universe)". "Like the Hindutva hardliners hinduised the Shrine Board for Amarnath yatris, Geelani has used a political slogan to provide the separatist movement with a pan-Islamic colour. Muslims might have been enslaved or free in the last 1,400 years, but Islam has never been a slave to anyone. Since it's not a slave, it doesn't need to be freed," says Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer. "Islam is democratic in spirit and has no conflict with secular, composite nationalism, an idea that the likes of Geelani vehemently oppose."


In Geelani's warped views, all Muslims must strive for and live in an Islamic state. "It's as difficult for a Muslim to live in a non-Muslim society as it is for a fish to live in a desert," writes Geelani in Rudad-e-Qaf, his prison memoir. Bangalore-based Islamic scholar Yoginder Sikand, who has written extensively on Kashmir's composite culture, met Geelani a few months ago in Srinagar. "When I asked him to explain his theory of Muslims' discomfort in a non-Muslim society, he said that it was ordained by the Quran. If the separatists succeed, Kashmir will turn into another Talibanised Afghanistan," says Sikand.


How will an Islamised Kashmir, if it becomes a reality at all, look? To find that, don't look beyond Asia Andrabi, the leader of Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of Islam), who dictates head-to-toe hijab, issues fatwas against music and favours "covering" the women who dare to bare, preferably by sprinkling paint on them.


Geelani's ideological guru, Maulana Abul-Ala Maududi, Jamaat-e-Islami's founder, sought the idea of an Islamic state in a Quranic verse which says that if given power in the land, Muslims should establish salat (worship) and zakat (charity) and enjoin virtue and forbid evil. Maududi interpreted it as God's command to establish an Islamic state which needed to enforce the eradication of vice like adultery, drinking, gambling, vulgar songs, immoral display of beauty, promiscuous mingling of men and women, co-education and so on.


"Pakistan's original idea of establishing an Islamic state was never realised. Yes, Pakistan has a city called Islamabad, but true Islam remains in India," claims Akhtarul Wasey, who teaches Islamic Studies at Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia. "The Prophet proved Muslims could co-exist with non-Muslims through the Covenant of Medina he signed with the Jews. Both the Jews and the Muslims became citizens of Medina with their separate identities."


Wasey's argument on the inclusivist nature of real Islam is backed by historical truth. Wahhabism, a revivalist, puritanical movement, expounded by Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahbab in 1740s in today's Saudi Arabia, lost its exclusivist edge once it hit the shores of multicultural India. Darul Uloom Deoband, the Islamic seminary which traces its origins to the wave of Wahhabism, eschewed fanaticism when it met the tolerant, spiritual Sufi influences in India. Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind, Darul Uloom Deoband's extension, which fought the British Raj, opposed the Muslim League's "two-nation" theory. Jamiat's stalwart Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madni, under fire from some misguided maulvis of the League, had to explain his advocacy of composite nationalism in a book called Muttahda Qaumiat Aur Islam (Composite Culture and Islam). Madni was hauled over the coals, yet he didn't budge from his stand.


The idea of an Islamic state did not attract even the venerable Maulana Abul Kalam Azad though his zeal for Islam was unmatched. Born in Mecca and trained in Arabic and Islam studies before his family migrated to Calcutta, the erudite Azad celebrated Islam's inclusivism in an 1913 essay: "It is the Muslims' duty to serve humanity...Every part of God's land is sacred, and all inhabitants of the land are dear to them." At another place, Azad declares that God's land cannot be compartmentalised into pak (pure) and na-pak (impure).


The Kashmiri youth who dance to the tune of "Teri jaan meri jaan, Pakistan, Pakistan" would do well to take time off from Geelani's harangues and read Islam in its right context.




'Our aim is to set up Islamic Nizamiyat'

Q&A: Sayed Ali Shah Geelani

Aasha Khosa / New Delhi August 24, 2008,


Sayed Ali Shah GeelaniThe allotment of land for the Amarnath shrine board was a trigger for the azadi sentiment in Kashmir, Sayed Ali Shah Geelani, who has emerged a crowd-puller among the separatist leaders, tells AASHA KHOSA


We all know the history of Kashmiri separatism but what was the immediate provocation for the ongoing massive protests?

The upsurge has not happened suddenly. The sentiment for “azadi” was always there. However, the transfer of 50 acres of forest land to the Amarnath shrine board made Kashmiris realise once again how insecure they feel. This acted as a trigger. Suddenly, people have started thinking about the 100,000 acres of land that is with the Army. Under the guise of “Operation Sadhbhavana,” the Army has usurped huge parcels of land and seems to be expanding its network. I have information that the Army has seized 23 acres of land for opening a school in Pahalgam.


The schools being opened by the Army are for Kashmiri children. Why object to this?


I know the schools are meant for Kashmiris. But they are also meant to make them sing Vande Mataram and not offer namaz. The aim of these schools is to turn Kashmiri children into pure Indians. This is cultural aggression on our Islamic values and is not acceptable to us. In fact, apart from fighting for the right to self-determination for 62 years, we have also been fighting against the cultural aggression by India.


So the transfer of land is not the real issue as many have been saying.


Yes, they are right. Land is not an issue for us. It has just acted as a catalyst to shape peoples’ sentiments into an upsurge.


There are differences even among the separatists — some raise the slogan of azadi while people like you want Kashmir to go with Pakistan. How do you resolve this dilemma among yourself, beyond your occasional shows of unity?


Our unity is based on a single point — implementation of the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir (which ask India and Pakistan to hold a plebiscite in undivided Jammu & Kashmir to find out if the people of the state want to be with India or Pakistan). However, I do agree that there are differences among us. While I am for Kashmir going to Pakistan, there are voices that seek independence from both India and Pakistan. I also agree that there are people in Kashmir who would like to go with India. They argue that India has done so much for Kashmir. Others are fascinated by its secularism and democracy. But then we must not forget that there were discordant notes even when Indians fought the British.



In essence, Osama bin Laden’s crusade to establish Islamic rule across the globe seems no different from yours. Are you talking about Kashmir alone or the entire state, which includes Hindus and Buddhists, both of whom would not like to live in an Islamic dispensation of your dreams?


I want the right to self-determination for the entire territory of Jammu & Kashmir, including the areas under Pakistan. Let people decide once and for all which country they want to be with. The question of imposing an Islamic rule is different. Why do people object to it? If America and India can have democratic rule, others can have communism, why object to the Islamic rule?