By Mehmood ur Rashid
Jan 5 2019
In the frost bitten last week of December, the year just past us, a riotous incident at the Srinagar's cathedral mosque smacks of a fresh turbulence in a long frozen pond. In all such situations our response begins with condemnation, ends with fuming disapproval. And then everything stays where it was. But the signs tell us, things won't stay where they are. Coming events have begun to cast a long shadow.
The first major appearance of this Black was at the funeral of Esa Fazili, avowedly a member of IS in Kashmir. Carrying black flags, a group of masked men thrust into the room where Esa's dead body was kept. Eyewitness account says that these people barged their way into the room pushing even Esa's immediate family menacingly off, to take the dead body into control. Reportedly such people were seen at many other funerals, including that of prominent militants like Mannan Wani, and before that Dr Muhammed Rafi. The surfacing up of groups like Ansar Gazvat al-Hind, Jund al-Khilafah, and JKIS consolidated the talk of ISIS in Kashmir. We have boys who say they belong to these groups, and die. Their death is as real as the death of someone belonging to groups like HM. As painful, and as tragic, as the death of all others. On the one hand we call them “our sons”, and in the same breath we say ISIS is our enemy. It doesn't add up. Who do we deceive - ourselves!
True, the Resistance leadership in Kashmir opposed ISIS openly. Geelani Sahab took a lead in this, and denounced it at its early rumblings. But that opposition is vague, and half hearted. It puts a hypocritical cover over the deep seated contradiction between our ideological content and political practice. ISIS in Kashmir, whatever it is, will sooner or later bring that contradiction to fore.
The point is this: our opposition to ISIS is unreal, and totally ineffective. This new phenomenon has a potential of eroding all opposition in its way, because we essentially believe in the same politics that ISIS talks about. We have been all along promoting a vision of History that suits this ISISised mindset. We all subscribe to a Future ISIS openly says it works for. Our ideals, our legends, our examples, and our utopia - it's all one. A plain act of standing in front of a mirror can tell us that we are all Black. So who do we oppose, and why!
The West, the US, Israel, and India - all mixed into a grand conspiracy against Islam and Muslims, is now our favourite dish. We cook it, and then there is a serving after serving, and then another serving. An imaginary meal that neither finishes, nor mitigates our hunger. We are feasting on this table for long, and there is no palpable desire to search for some real food: food for thought.
And the first morsel of that food is that it's easier to fight the ISIS we fancy is part of some conspiracy. That ISIS is a thing outside, and no matter how hard it tries, Kashmir's Muslim culture, and its Resistance politics, shows no signs of buckling under that pressure. This too will pass. But how to deal with the ISIS within. The ISIS that we all are. The ISIS that we preach and pray.
What happened at Jamia Masjid is a clarion call to open our shut minds. It is not a challenge to Mirwaiz Umar alone. It cannot even be confined to Joint Resistance Leadership. It is a threat to all of us – the Islamists, the secularists, the moderates, the hawks, even the bystanders. All will be bombed to bits.
After the Hindu rightwing took power in India, new designs have unfolded. The Doctrine of State that says total oppression is the lone way to deal with Kashmiris, can, and will, if it has not already, connect to this phenomenon. This heralds a new doom. If that happens – may that never happen -Kashmir would be a locale of an exceedingly devastating violence.
But are we equipped to deal with this. Not at all. It needs a courageous revisiting of all our religious thought. Our resistance politics is also based on that thought, so a transformation of Resistance politics is badly needed.
The opposition to ISIS is bound to make some exposures, and also bring extreme violence in its wake. An unequivocal condemnation of this violence is just not enough. The buck stops at bringing into discussion the theological content that breeds ISIS.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Yasin Malik need to sit, and discuss seriously, how to deal with ISIS. Symbolism is just not going to do it. A politics based on some substance is needed. Some allusions may help. One, Syed Maududi’s emphasis on transparent, democratic, and non-violent politics. Two, Rashid Ghannoushi's reconciliatory national politics. Third, and the most crucial, Ghamidi's Counter Narrative.