Kashmiris must have an independent politics, but not isolated
Views from Srinagar
MEHMOOD RASHID HE shock felt at the loss of Muslim political power by people like Iqbal, Maududi, Abul Kalam, al-Banna, Qutb, and many other towering Muslim personalities of the recent past was unimaginably immense. The idea of an Islamic civilisation that once swept the world, and ruled for over thousand years, produced two things at a time. One, a profound pain that made these minds lastingly restless. Two, an architectonic Islamist-politics that envisioned a future where the loss can be recovered. Iqbal’s poetry is drenched in this yearning for a global Muslim political power, rooted in the lands of Islamic civilisation.
Those who take the context away and wish to understand a mind like Iqbal or Maududi do a great injustice to all such personalities. We can be critical of their ideas, and we must be if knowledge has to grow, but these personalities are our civilisational assets. They are our greats and if any meaningful politics has to emerge in the Muslim world it has to be mindful of this distinction. The spirit and soul of these great men must inform our collective efforts in the future. We can repudiate many of their ideas, and the foundational ones too, but even for a minute we cannot severe from them.
It was this severing of ties that pushed Kashmir to disaster. One wonders what Sheikh M Abdullah was doing by slipping into Nehru’s shadow, and at the same time projecting himself as a great admirer of Iqbal. It simply doesn’t add up. When the ideas like Indian nationalism, a secular politics, an idea
Tof a plural society were being thrust on us from the times Muslim Conference was converted into National Conference, we were estranged from the given strengths of our politics. All the brilliant political and intellectual ideals, like secularism, democracy, nationalism, and pluralism turned into fake political projects, once transported to Muslim lands. Simply because they were operated against people’s interests. Kashmir is a glaring example of that. How could a mass leader, as Sheikh Sahab was, be unmindful of such a harrowing amputation. We were cut off from the body of which we were, and still are, an inalienable part. One reason we can locate is Sheikh Sahab’s insensitivity towards the pain that the greats like Iqbal and Maududi felt. Sheikh Sahab could not expand the frame of his politics. He remained limited to opposing the Dogra rule, and in that missed the larger plot. No man alive could take the political decisions as were taken by Sheikh M Abdullah. May be he never made a choice, and what was offered to Kashmir’s Freedom Movement as Sheikh’s choices were never his. Because none of the political choices about the Muslim politics anywhere in the world can be real if the Muslim civilisational spread, both historical and geographical, is not live in the background. The choices can still be different, but invariably informed by the essential Muslimness of our politics. Those propagating the idea of independent Kashmir need to guard themselves against making such political fallacy. While fighting for the freedom of a people, you can’t lose sight of the civilisational and geographical advantages. After all what is politics if not the strengths inherent in the Lands and Peoples that comprise your web of relationships. In any corner of the world no people are completely isolated. Kashmiris must have an independent politics, but not isolated. We have relations beyond our immediate, and imposed, borders. Back to the context. If anyone has to fathom the pain that the loss of political power inflicted on Muslim mind, he can listen to one of the memorable speeches delivered by Syed Maududi. The title of this speech is “Tehreek-e-Islami Ke Unattees Saal – 29 years of the Islamic Movement.” In that speech he talks about the times when Khilafat Movement in India had failed, and Muslims were in a state of total ruin. It was in those days that Abul ‘Ala travels from Delhi to Hyderabad, his birth place. As the man himself narrates, he finds a Congressman, some Dr Khare, in the compartment.
‘The way Muslim passengers on board were behaving in presence of that Congress leader, alarmed me about the future of Muslims in the sub-continent. I couldn’t believe that here are the people who ruled this country up until yesterday, and here is how obsequiously they behave in presence of a person who they presume to be their future ruler. English were yet to leave, and we had already started behaving like slaves .... I reached Hyderabad, and couldn’t sleep for nights together’. This is in a nutshell how Maududi’s experience is summed up.
Here is another such experience. When Raashid Gannouchi, now famed Tunisian Islamist leader, was warming upto Islamist activities in Paris, his brother visited him. Making the mother’s illness as an excuse he wanted Gannouchi to come back, actually wanting to see him out of such “idiotic” activities. Gannouchi accompanied his brother travelling by land through Spain. Here is how Gannouchi’s biographer puts it:
“In the city of Cordoba they visited the grand mosque and toured with great distress the relics of the Islamic civilization. The visit affected the brothers immensely. Gannouchi wept bitterly and so did his brother, in spite of his non-commitment to Islam at the time. Ghannouchi’s elder brother had at a young age memorized the Qur’an but became less religious as he grew up. He eventually stopped praying altogether, and that was, according to Ghannouchi, due to the influence of the secular atmosphere of the 1950s and 1960s. —Courtesy: GK