Ban on Jamaat e Islami , Unconstitutional, Undemocratic

Jamaat e Islamia1

The current comprehensive crackdown  on Jama’at-e-Islami though not unprecedented is  unique at the same  in many respects.In the past whenever there was a ban  placed on it, it was on the instigation of local political players. It is interesting to note that when emergency was declared in India in 1975 by Mrs Gandhi, Jam’at was left out of its purview. At the most they were perceived to pose a threat to the political arithmetic of the state power politics as they also  challenged Indra –Abdullah Accord . It was  Sheikh Abdullah who put even their legislators behind bars. But Mrs Gandhi  lifted the ban and enabled them to participate in both parliamentary and Assembly elections  from  1977 onwards.Again the ban was put on it in 1990 and lifted in 1993.

As every Kashmiri, they  too supported freedom struggle but were Initially  averse  to  militancy in 1990 but later supported it.  After  brutal onslaught  on Jama’at members and cadres by the  state, the organization became almost dormant politically but continued with  their  invaluable  contributions  in the field of  education, advocacy of religion, social service to the down trodden and marginalised sections of the society, more so to  the education of  destitute orphans and preservation of  Islamic culture and values. Hence they had ceased to be a ‘ threat to any internal security’ long back   when they were almost decimated  and hence the question of  their ‘unlawful activities’ does not arise.The question which  arises  is that what is unique and special about the teachings  of   Jamaat e islami which sets it apart from  other religious organizations and vulnerable to the state high handedness.

To answer that question we have to go back to the inception  of this organisation in  undivided India when Maulana Maududi  founded it in 1941 in Lahore having initially  75  well educated members.

It was established with the objective of reviving  Deen (religion) which  implied a reconstruction  and renaissance  of  the  exegesis of Quran,Sunnah and  Islamic theology in line with discovered scientific  knowledge and modern temper .Maududi  undertook the task of reinterpreting Quran in the light of the knowledge made available by scientific research .The muslims of his time were drenched in illiteracy  and  un Islamic  conventions, beliefs and superstitions and had forgotten the dynamic, vibrant and  scientific  message and temper of Islam which invites people to move on earth, to  think, to meditate on the wonders of nature, to explore it and this world as also on the purpose of human life. In fact it was a message of constant striving  and struggle rather than inaction and  inertia. He was disgusted with the sorry state of affairs in muslims and  wanted to cultivate a scientific temper in them as was  tried before him by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and gave a  call for action  to fight the  hermetorial life style  of  sluggishness and mental indolence in which most muslims had taken the defeatist  refuge after the end of Moghal rule in India.So the purpose was not either to gain political power or a limited social service but to raise genuine Islamic consciousness and   revolutionize the behaviours and conduct  of muslims’ in this  life- here and now- to succeed in the hereafter.Reinterpretation of Quran was done to satisfy the modern mind at the same time who were not quite satisfied with traditional exegesis as that had not taken into consideration the new developments in science which did not exist at the times  in which they lived.

There was a young science graduate in Srinagar  Saad –u-din  who was attracted to this new call through Madudi’s literature and along with other two friends Qari Saifudin and Gh  Ahmad Ahrar of Shopian founded JK Jamaat e Islami after participating in a jamaat All India  conference in 1945. So it predates Kashmiri struggle for the right to self determination.The objective was reiterated as Iqaamat e Deen, establishment of God’s religion with the desire to earn God’s pleasure and success in the hereafter.They also spelled out their methodology of achieving their objective through peaceful and democratic means  while working for reformation and  changing  of the decadent  consciousness of their people.

Therefore their basic purpose was to serve the cause of Islam in our day to day lives and not to establish Mumlekat e khudadad in political terms. The influence of their teaching was felt wherever they worked in terms of establishing Islamic cultural values of daily conduct and cultivating scientific temper  through their teachings.I have always been impressed by the people influenced by Jamaat’s  love of all branches of  knowledge and  reading habits , by   their logical  coherent  talk,  informed  speech, affable manners, soft skills  and good command over Urdu and better pronunciation . After the Jamaat  bore the brunt of state oppression and  suffered hugely, it transformed itself and   has  been politically silent for the past more than 15  years while carrying on with their educational and social work alone. Some people say they even supported PDP covertly at the hustings. Keeping these facts in view,the  current crackdown on them is completely  unwarranted, unjustified, undemocratic, unethical and against all constitutional safeguards for religious organizations who peacefully  carry their work of advocacy and contribute their bit to educational and social life. We urge the govt of India to lift the ban on Jamaat immediately, release all  its  members and cadres who have been picked up, defreeze their accounts and let them live  normal lives. This is not a crack down on few people but on an entire society because of their grass root base, vast reach and influence. If the GoI  thinks they can stamp out all resistance  to their rule by such high handedness, they are labouring under misconception. This will only increase people’s anger and  hatred manifold  in the entire society and make any  reconciliation impossible. You can’t wish away the issue by denying it but wisdom lies in addressing it to resolve it for all times to let the whole south Asia live in peace and harmony If you have the claim that Kashmiris are your own  citizens, then you  have to prove it  by respecting their rights and not  destroy the whole society like this.It is not  some fascist  ideology that you are trampling over but a particular   civilizational  force  that will only grow    stronger and  break boundaries forcibly  to find  the outlet to sustain and perpetuate itself.

Hamida Bano, Professor , Department of English, University of Kashmir


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