New Age Islam Special Correspondent
03 October 2019
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister on his return from the US has stated that those standing by Kashmiris were doing "jihad" and Pakistan will support Kashmiris even if the world does not. “Whether the world is with the Kashmiris or not, we are standing with them.” Notably, while Imran Khan has remained totally silent on the Uyghurs—the Muslim minority in Xinjiang which is the actual case of Muslims facing the religious persecution—he has gone to the extent of saying this on Kashmiri Muslims: “It (standing by Kashmiris) is jihad. We are doing it because we want Allah to be happy with us”.
This is perhaps the first time Pakistani state has declared the “Jihad” in Kashmir. Earlier, it was told in the Paigham-e-Pakistan—a documented anti-terror fatwa sought by the Government of Pakistan and signed by 1,800 ulema of different Islamic sects in Pakistan—that any Jihad which is not declared by state is not legitimate.
Now that the Pakistani Prime Minister has officially declared "jihad" in Kashmir, it is an open invitation to the terrorist ideologues and organisations across the world and particularly those operating in Pakistan to wage war against India particularly in Jammu and Kashmir. Indian ulema and Islamic scholars, have refuted the Pakistani war cry of Ghazwatul Hind and the renewed religious rhetoric of “Jihad-e-Kashmir," on several occasions, but merely rhetorically. No serious effort has been made to study the Jihadi or Islamist extremist narrative and engage with it. NewAgeIslam.com has been attempting to evolve a new consensus over a theology of peace and pluralism to replace the present consensus over the traditional theology of violence and supremacism, but no support has come to us from the ulema. They merely keep on spouting rhetoric which may please the powers-that-be but is not helping moderate our thoughts towards accepting all religions as spiritual paths to salvation. Until Muslims accept the pluralistic message of Quran in this regard and let go of supremacism, nothing much will change.
More worryingly, through his religiously motivated speech at the United Nations General Assembly and his following obsessive statements, Imran Khan has tried to lure the common Indian Muslims to ‘rise up against the Indian state’. It's time for the Indian Islamic leaders, scholars and ulema to show sagacity and seek to strengthen the nationalistic perspective of Indian Muslims.
Recently, prominent Indian Islamic leaders gathered at the Press Club of Geneva to hold a dialogue on the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir. General Secretary of the leading Indian Muslim organisation Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (JUH), Maulana Mahmood Madani and an eminent Custodian of Dargah Ajmer Sharif Syed Salman Chishti, represented the Indian Muslims’ position on the current situation in Jammu & Kashmir. The conference was attended by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and several South Asian scholars, and chaired by Paulo Casaca, Executive Director of the South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF), to explore a range of topics related to the image of unrest in the region since the beginning of August.
Maulana Madani, representing the Indian Muslims, averred: “Two thousand clerics produced a resolution on behalf of all Indian Muslims calling for the state of affairs in Kashmir to remain an internal issue, one that is not for interference from outside.” There is no question of ownership in his opinion. “Kashmir,” he asserted, “is an integral part of India, with no compromises.” Maulana Madani further emphasized the Indian Muslim perspective that, “Pakistan is using the name of Islam to show support to Kashmiris, but on the contrary, it has nothing to do with Islam.” He told that his own organisation had held a conference earlier this month.
Syed Salman Chishti, on behalf of Sufi Muslims in India who venerate the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, strongly condemned the false claims made by Pakistan of disruption and mayhem in the Kashmir valley after revocation of Article 370 on 5 August. Chishti stated: “Indian Muslims have welcomed this decision and they believe that Jammu & Kashmir was, is and will always be an integral part of India.” Chishti urged the people in India and abroad to understand the situation of Jammu & Kashmir and respect the revocation of Article 370 as “an internal Indian matter”. Both Syed Salman Chishti and Maulana Mahmood Madani asserted that “the reality on the ground is much different”. Chishti stressed that because of the revocation and subsequent developments in the region, “the voices of everyday people in Kashmir who have been oppressed by Pakistan will no longer be silenced”.
Thus, Indian Muslim leaders have been asserting that the entirety of Jammu and Kashmir, including the Pakistan-occupied portion of Kashmir, is part of the country. Historically, a considerable number of Islamic organisations in India have supported the Indian government on the Kashmir issue. Recently, the leading Barelwi and Deobandi organisations have also showed their satisfaction with the scrapping of the Article 370. Much like the largest Deobandi organisation in India, Jami’at Ulama-e-Hind, the biggest Barelwi organisation in the country Jama’at-e-Raza-e-Mustafa has also backed the Indian government’s stand and recent decision on Jammu & Kashmir. National General Secretary of All India Jama’at-e-Raza-e-Mustafa and General Secretary of Tanzeem Ulma-e-Islam, Maulana Shahabuddin Razvi released an official statement in which he said that “irrespective of faith and creed, every peaceful citizen of India would welcome the Indian government’s decision on Jammu & Kashmir on August 5” ……. “It is our firm faith that Jammu & Kashmir has been and will remain the integral part of India”, he said.
The nationalistic sentiment among many Indian Islamic leaders was clearly visible during the Surgical Strike by the Indian Army in PoK. Both Barelwi and Deobandi leaders in India supported the army action. Spokesperson of Darul Uloom Deoband, Ashraf Usmani stated: “When it comes to the matter of national interest, we are with the government”. The Barelwi Grand Mufti in India Maulana Asjad Raza Khan and the Barelvi leader Maulana Shahbudeen Razvi also supported the surgical strikes. Maulana Shahabuddin Razvi said: “Pakistan was spreading terror in Kashmir and the action taken by the Indian Army had open support of Indian Muslims, as Islam is against terrorism and killing of innocent people”. The Sunni-Sufi leader in Maharashtra, Maulana Syed Alamgir Ashraf said, “We appreciate steps taken by the Indian Army against terrorists. The Narendra Modi government has done the right thing and Muslims across the country are with him.”
When it comes to the Kashmir issue, one would have a hard time finding an established Indian A’alim (Islamic scholar) who does not stand by the Indian government. Even the chief cleric and president of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Maulana Jalaluddin Umri, while attending a conference in Lahore, gave an interview to the Pakistani Urdu weekly Friday Special in which he said: “Pakistan should forget about Kashmir”. He was also critical of Pakistan for its lack of democracy, lack of development, obsession with Kashmir, and the internal violence within the country. [Note that the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is different from the Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir which has recently been banned].
However, the extremist fringe mostly the Salafist preachers and some clerics of other orientations are vehemently opposed to the pro-India stand of the above Barelwi and Deobandi organisations. For instance—Ilyas Sharfuddin, former aid of Zakir Naik who was also associated with his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), has openly decried and criticised Maulna Mahmood Madani for his recent remarks on the Kashmir issue.
Generally, Indian Islamic scholars do not wish to take a stand on issues where the government security apparatus is in control, such as cross-border terrorism, the LOC, and Kashmir. They believe they are not qualified to speak on concerns being handled by the Indian ministries.
However, there is a common feeling among the top Indian ulema that Indian Muslims have greatly suffered the consequences of the creation of Pakistan and they continue to suffer from Pakistan’s anti-India activities. Therefore, almost every leading Muslim organization in the country has openly supported surgical strike by the Indian Army against terrorist camps in PoK. And now with the same sentiment, some of them are showing an avowed support to the government’s stance on Kashmir in the tough days after the Article 370 has been abrogated.
Now after the Pakistani state has declared “jihad” in Kashmir, these Indian Islamic institutions, scholars and ulema have to be consistently and systematically strengthened to make their voices stronger. Given the official declaration of “Jihad-e-Kashmir” by Pakistan, the Islamisation of the Kashmir issue will probably grow apace. Clearly, more and more radical Islamist outfits and individuals will join the ranks of militancy and terrorism. A lot of misguided individuals and miscreants may get involved in subversive activities in the country intended to cause disaffection. There is a crucial role that the Indian ulema can play.
But from their conduct so far, it's difficult to feel very hopeful. While they do support the government position on Kashmir by and large, when it comes to dealing with the traditional Islamic theology of consensus, they don't say a word. It is this theology that is used by the Jihadis to radicalise our youth and the Ulema are not prepared to go beyond peace rhetoric.
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