Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Opportunism: Jamaat style I By Waseem Altaf

 Home and Madressah education, knowledge of Arabic, vast study of earlier texts on Islam and almost no exposure to modern education, yet ability to write colorful language, playing with high sounding words and experience in journalism was his qualification. A body of obscurantist literature, superficial in character, with almost no relevance to the dema...nds of a modern and progressive lifestyle was his contribution. A prolific journalist rather than a scholar, he wrote with great speed to feed his eager readers. He was well-versed in employing the power of the written word, the ability which, on the one hand has positively contributed towards bringing about numerous cultural and intellectual revolutions in human history, and many a times it has played havoc with the growth of human consciousness. When the disconnect between fact (read ground reality) and fiction (read ideology) becomes apparent, either the fiction dies down, or the “sanctified” fiction is cleverly exploited in one’s own interest. The philosophy and writings of Abul Ala Maududi, his followers and their conduct in real life is a classic case of ideology in the service of vested interest.

By 1938 he was against the formation of political parties, but in 1941 he had a change of heart and Maududi founded Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), with the prime objective of setting up of a kingdom of Allah in total rejection of secularism, democracy and nation-state where private and public sphere of man’s life would be governed by the principles of Islam. He considered them sinful and called for the total boycott of secular structures like the parliament, army, courts, educational institutions and government jobs. However his party later contested elections for the parliament, collaborated with the army, filed petitions in courts and penetrated into educational institutions and the government, setting their earlier ideology aside. Similar to Muslim Brotherhood, the JI focused on middle class professionals and state employees rather than traditional mullahs.

Although Maududi opposed Jinnah and a separate state for Muslims, however, he moved to Pakistan with some of his followers. Initially he advocated the religious-cum-spiritual revival of Muslims who would not aspire for power and lead by example. But as he had witnessed the strength, religion wields in grabbing political power through mass mobilization, as experienced in the creation of Pakistan, he changed his political philosophy. His new slogan was “The Country is God’s; rule must be by God’s law; the government should be that of God’s pious men.” The “defense of Islam” in an “Islamic” state was thus the bedrock of JI in the years to follow. Soon after the Partition, the JI began to pressurize the government to frame an Islamic constitution. The JI labeled leftists, secularists and ethnic nationalists as anti-Islam and non-believers. 

In 1953, the JI incited and carried out attacks against Ahmadis. The murder, looting and arson resulted in the deaths of 200 Ahmadis. The story was repeated in 1974 which culminated in declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims. Through his influence over Ch. Mohammad Ali, the then PM, Maududi was able to include the Objectives Resolution as the preamble to 1956 Constitution and the first Muslim country to be named “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

In the beginning, Maududi was critical of Pakistan’s alliance with the US but then focused on combating communism. The JI received money from Saudi Arabia and Saudi-sponsored Rabita al-Alam-al- Islami for global outreach, particularly areas under communist influence. A Dar-ul-Fikr was set up in Mansoora, the JI headquarters at Lahore in the late 1960’s to publish accounts of communist oppression of Muslims. Urdu Digest, a publication by JI affiliates, was focusing on liberation of co-religionists under communist control. Interestingly, in February 2009 a seven member delegation of JI led by Qazi Hussain Ahmed visited China. At a meeting with Vice-Chairperson of National People’s Congress Tali Waldi, Qazi said that the Sino-Pak friendship was immortal and would continue to deepen with the passage of time. 

Ayub Khan, who had initially deleted “Islamic” from Pakistan’s official name, added it later under pressure from the mullahs. Since PPP was socialistic while Awami League was a secular party the JI, fearing popularity of the two major political parties, was spearheading a campaign by 1969, for protection of Islamic ideology declaring that Pakistan was under threat from atheists, socialists and secularists. In the same year JI and Intelligence Bureau sponsored ulema, signed a joint fatwa declaring socialism and secularism as Kufr. In 1970 JI-sympathizer General Sher Ali Khan, Federal Minister for Information & Broadcasting and National Affairs during 1969-71 purged state and privately owned media of leftists and secularists. These were then replaced by JI cadres. In the 1970 general elections, the JI won just four seats out of a total of 300.

General Yahya’s military regime gave the JI a semi-official role in the former East Pakistan to act as the intelligence network for Pak Army, while it was part of the “military sponsored” six-party alliance of Islamist parties in East Pakistan called United Coalition Party.
In May 1971 the JI and Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT), its student wing, were part of a 50,000 strong, “army engineered” razakar (volunteer) force comprising Al-Shams and Al-Bader which acted as army’s death squads. In addition to killing of tens of thousands of nationalist Bengalis, Al-Badar reportedly killed 10 professors of Dacca University, five leading journalists, two litterateurs and 26 doctors in Dacca alone.( Continued)