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Jammu And Kasmir
[Admin - OLD Thread is at http://indiaforumarchives.blogspot.com/200...nd-kashmir.html]

Dear Yogi,

I do not understand why the spread of Christianity is regarded with such
suspicion and hostility...nor why over-zealous missionaries in Kashmir are being blamed. The book you cited is doomed to confuse everyone and ultimately fail because it treats Kashmir as a unique situation, when, in fact, it's the entire Islamic world that is looking inward and making hard decisions about Islam as a viable religion for the future of the world..

In the Sudan, the very active slave trading and genocide, by some
estimates in Darfour alone – over 50,000 people killed and 2.2 million
displaced from their homes and in urgent need of relief aid – this
includes the systematic rape of African Muslim women and girls, as well
as their enslavement. In her scathing Report to the United Nations
(August 11, 2004)Commission on Human Rights about the situation in
the Sudan, the Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings could not
have been clearer on the motives. This is arousing an international
solidarity against Islam and its violent and repressive spread. People are
flockinmg in the thousandsa every day to Christianity there...even where
there are no missionaries left alive.

For the past 1,400 years Eastern Christians have lived with, endured,
and coped under Sharia (Islamic law). The first Islamic conquests took
place during the last decade of the rule of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius
(610-641).Note history records them as "conquests" not willing

Syria, Egypt, and Palestine were lost to Christianity (again, not
peacefully). Christian leaders such as Patriarch Sophronius of Jerusalem
made deals with Caliph Omar for the protection of his flock and of
Christendom's Holy places.

Despite Islam's claim of tolerance, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Coptic,
and other Eastern Christians found themselves under terrible conditions.
While not immediately forced to convert, Christians were forced to
submit and to accept their new rulers as their masters. Economic
pressures and discrimination contributed to the eventual forced
conversion of millions of Christians to Islam.

The losses of Eastern Christianity continued following the invasions of
Byzantium that were begun by the Seljuk Turks in August 1071.
Steadily, Greek Christians were converted to Islam and adopted Turkish
and Arabic as their languages. In 1453, Sultan Mehmed II achieved one
of Islam's most notorious conquests when he conquered Constantinople
and defeated the Christian Empire's last Emperor Constantine
Paleologos.A reminder to you sir, to read your hsitory books. The
Crusades were never an attack on a legitimate Islam, but rather a
defense against attacks and an attempt to salvage the holiest of God's
historical places as they fell, as were desecrated by Islam....just
recently the tomb of the patriacrch Joseph, whom Muslims proclaim to
love as one of their own prophets, was sumarily destroyed by Muslims
just to spite the local Jewish population..now oil cans and old car parts
litter the site: the poor patriarchs must be watching from Heaven in
shock at such desecration of their graves.

Europe eventually made peace with the Sultan at the expense of
Christian Greeks, Serbs, Rumanians, Bulgarians, Albanians, and
Armenians. The peace didn't prevent Christian boys being kidnapped
and taken to the Janissaries for conversion to Islam and political
indoctrination. Women were taken into harems, Churches were
converted into Mosques and Christians were forced to acknowledge the
superiority of their rulers. "Zakat" a special tax was imposed on
Christians. Disputes between Christians and Muslims were heard
in ""Islamic " Courts where Christians could never be equals and could
never win.

At the dawn of the twentieth Century, there were still millions of
Christians in the Turkish Ottoman Empire. In 1915, the Young Turks
began a process of slaughtering one and a half million Armenian
Christians. Furthermore, the Greeks of Pontus and Asia Minor were
likewise targeted for extermination.
In Kashmir, as elswhere across Central Asia, there was no peaceful
conversion. The records of Sikander and others like him have endured
and proven how Islam came to dominate Kashmir. I am not familiar
with the history of India so I shall refrain from commenting on situations

No, it was never peaceful, in spite of your previous long defense of
Sufi Islam....even Sufis protected and supported all Islamic-Shariat
enforcements, whether for slavery, dimmitude, or death to non-
believers. Sufis protected no one that Islam would not protect.

We have all seen the claims that Islam is the fastest growing religion in
the world....but people fail to take into account this is based upon a
runaway birthrate (quantity instead of quality)....In fact around the
world Islam is the fastest declining religion in the world, and there just
aren't enough zealous missionaries in existence to be responsible for
this new rush of converts back to Chrsitianity....

Al-Jazeera ran an in-depth article a few months ago, and I wish I could
find it again so I could include it here: basically it admitted that 16,000
converts per week (their most conservative number) around the world,
and over a million every year are leaving Islam.And that's in spite of
missionaries, not because of them.

So you see, sir, it isn't just in kashmir, and it isn't because of America,
or CIA plots, or oil, or missionaries in Kashmir or Iraq...it's because
people choose peace, and people choose to enter the modern world
with kind hearts and good souls.

The words of the Quran are sealed forever. This means that forever
there will be the unrest in the world brought on by the extremists and
malcontents and just plain nasty men who will sieze upon the words of
the Quran and see "Taliban" "jihad" "terrorism" "Shariat" (which means
cutting off of hands and feet and stoning) or Christians as "monkeys and
pigs" not worthy of respect or equality. There will always be bullies, and
they will always find a way in the very way the Quran is worded..

...the Quran cannot be changed...but people can, and they will continue
to change and make choices of their own free will. The choice is for
peace and love. The choice is for tolerance. Now I have probably
offended that nice gentleman in London who supports CAIR.....but I'm
sure he's aware of all these truths and conflicts too...

Perhaps it's not as bad as you fear to be a Christian (again) especially in
Kashmir which was virtually all Christian before arrival of Islam.
That's why Issa's tomb is there. I believe it's the will of God that the
Valley return to Christianity. :-)
Wishing you peace, Suzanne
The Spread of Christianity in Kashmir : Book Review

[In Urdu: Wadi-i Kashmir Mai Isaiyat Ka Farogh Aur Uske Makruh
Aza`im: Ek Tafsili-o Tahqiqi Ja'iza]

Book Review by Yoginder Sikand of Muhammad Saeed ur-Rahman Shams, ed.

(Srinagar: Shaikh Mohammad Usman & Sons, Madina Chowk, Gaukadal,
2004), 46 pages, Rs.10, Year 2004

Yoginder Sikand

Two years ago a flood of reports suddenly appeared in the Indian
press revealing an alarming number of conversions of Muslims to
Christianity in Kashmir. Figures of the number of such converts in
the past ten years varied greatly, with some putting the total as
high as 20,000. In the absence of any detailed research on the
subject it is difficult to make a reasonable estimate, but the number
is sizeable enough to have caused considerable consternation as well
as soul-searching among Muslim religious authorities in Kashmir, as
this booklet reveals.

This booklet consists of three articles written on the subject of
Muslim conversions to Christianity, with an introduction by the
Mirwaiz of Kashmir, Maulvi Muhammad Umar Faruq, head of the Muttahida
Majlis-i `Ulama of Jammu and Kashmir (MMUJK), a recently-established
association of Kashmiri `ulama that is involved in seeking to counter
the threat of Christian evangelism in the region. The articles
provide interesting glimpses into the social, economic and political
factors behind the spate of conversions, the methods used by
Christian missionaries to win converts as well as the responses of
Kashmiri Muslim religious organisations.

In his brief introductory note, Mirwaiz Umar Faruq describes the work
of the Christian missionary groups in Kashmir as a major threat,
suggesting that the missionaries use material inducements to win
converts, and hence claiming that their work can hardly be said to be
sincere. He refers, in this regard, to the work of the MMUJK, and
suggests that it undertake a range of activities and programmes to
promote Islamic awareness among the Kashmiri public, protect Muslim
identity and thereby counter the Christian evangelical challenge.

Two articles included in the booklet echo much the same views, and do
not go beyond the level of generalities, thus providing little
understanding of the exact process and factors for the conversions in
Kashmir. In his article, the noted Pakistani Deobandi scholar
Muhammad Taqi Usmani describes the Christian evangelical project as
little less than a cheap gimmick, accusing the missionaries of using
money, and promises of jobs and education to lure unsuspecting, and
largely poor, Muslims into the Christian fold. In this the Maulana is
probably correct, and this may well be true for some, or even most,
Christian missionary groups. Yet, whatever their motives, this ought
not to be used as an argument to altogether deny the important
contributions that some Christian institutions and dedicated
activists are making in helping the suffering and the needy. What,
one must ask, are the Muslim counterparts of the Christian
missionaries doing for the poor, and the victims of the unceasing
violence in Kashmir and elsewhere? Pretty much nothing is the answer,
except for loudly haranguing their enemies and lamenting their
plight, and refusing to speak out against the barbarities perpetrated
by self-styled Islamists in the name of Islam. Which, in turn,
explains why Christian missionaries have moved in to do their own
thing and so can hardly be blamed. The Maulana conveniently glosses
over this rather inconvenient fact, and, instead, goes on to develop
an elaborate and abstruse theological argument seeking to prove that
Christianity as it exists today is a corruption of, and a major
deviation from, the original teachings of Jesus. Roughly the same
argument is made by another Deobandi `alim, Mufti Arshad Ahmad, whose
article also appears in this book. Titled as `Kashmir Main Isaiyat Ke
Badhtey Qadam' (`The Growing Influence of Christianity in Kashmir'),
it hardly refers to Kashmir at all and consists simply of an angry,
although not entirely unmerited, diatribe against the missionaries.

The third article, by the Kashmiri Deobandi scholar Maulvi Muhammad
Mir Qasmi, is the book's saving grace, being well-argued and
informative. Titled `Kashmir Main Kitney Musalman Isai Bane?' (`How
Many Muslims Have Become Christians in Kashmir?'), it provides a
fairly detailed account of the working of various Christian
missionary outfits in the Valley. Qasmi provides varying estimates
of the number of Muslim converts to Christianity in Kashmir in the
last ten years, from 12,000, as claimed by the Srinagar-based
newspaper `Greater Kashmir', to 20,000, a figure cited by the
Kashmiri Urdu paper al-Safa. He then goes on to provide a broad
historical overview of the Christian missionary presence in Kashmir,
starting with the first European missionary, Robert Clarke, as early
as in 1854. Clarke was followed by several other missionaries,
Catholic as well as Protestant, some of whom set up educational
institutions catering to the Kashmiri elite, in the hope of winning
them to Christianity, and then, through them, hoping to reach out to
the masses as well. Some of these schools still exist and are
regarded as among the best institutions in the state. Yet, Qasmi
notes, these missionary endeavours were not particularly successful,
and the number of Kashmiri Muslim converts to Christianity remained

The situation has drastically changed in the last fifteen years in
the state, Qasmi says. Taking advantage of the plight of the poor and
the victims of the ongoing strife, he says, numerous Christian
missionary groups have established their presence in the Valley. Most
of them are generously financed by rightwing, fundamentalist
Christian evangelical orgaisations based in America and western
Europe. Qasmi provides a detailed account of various missionary
organisations presently working all over Kashmir, suggesting a well-
organised campaign to spread Christianity, often disguised in the
garb of helping hapless Kashmiris. Some of them are engaged in some
sort of social work, such as providing employment, medical assistance
and education, details of which Qasmi provides, but these are clearly
meant simply as an evangelical tool.

Qasmi speaks about a carefully designed division of labour between
various missionary organisations in order to make their work more
effective. Thus, for instance, Frontiers works among the Gujjars of
Dar, near Srinagar, Agape Mission is based among the Hanjis or house-
boat owners in Srinagar, Gospel for Asia focuses on the villages
along the border with Pakistan, The Goodway is active in the Patan-
Magam-Tangmarg triangle, Campus Crusade for Christ works among
students in Pulwama and Srinagar, Eternal Life Ministries among
leprosy patients in Nagin, and Operation Agape among surrendered
militants. Some missionary organisations have tried to develop
culturally more acceptable forms of communication in order to make
for more effective communication with prospective converts. This, for
instance, is the case with the Noor-i Hayat Church, the al-Bashar
Fellowship and the al-Masihi Jama`at Fellowship, whose `Muslim' names
have probably been deliberately chosen in order to make them seem
somewhat innocuous and culturally familiar to their Muslim target
audience. Some of these groups have also prepared propaganda material
in the Kashmiri language, using forms and styles that the local
Muslims can easily identify with. Such, for instance, is the case of
an organisation that distributes free audiotapes on Christianity at
Batamaloo, located in the very heart of Srinagar.

Qasmi argues that for many Muslim converts, conversion is simply an
economic choice. He writes that a sizeable number of the converts
adopt Christianity simply in order to avail the educational, medical
or economic assistance that missionary groups promise to provide them
with. To buttress this claim he refers to a number of converts who,
after joining one denomination and reaping material benefits of some
sort, then choose to join another, rival Christian denomination if
they are promised further material gain. For some Kashmiri converts
as well as other Indian Christians employment in missionary
organisations based in Kashmir also provides a good source of income,
far beyond what they could otherwise expect. Such, for instance, is
the case of a Manipuri missionary associated with the American-funded
Operation Agape, who lives in a posh locality in Srinagar. Qasmi
quotes this missionary as saying that for him his work is simply a
job, and that he took it up because he could find no alternate
employment in his home-state. A similar case that Qasmi cites is of
a Kashmiri Muslim convert who works with the US-based German Town
Baptist Church in Pulwama. An unemployed graduate, he now receives a
regular salary and his missionary employers have promised to send him
abroad for higher studies.

At the same time, Qasmi also admits that not all converts to
Christianity choose to adopt the faith simply out of economic
motives. He refers to some converts whose change of faith was
motivated by genuine spiritual concern, or as a result of being
impressed with the dedication and sincerity of the Christian workers
that they came in touch with. Such, for instance, is the case of a
certain Sarwan Khan, a resident of Poonch, whom Qasmi describes as
the convenor of all Protestant groups active in Jammu and Kashmir.
Qasmi writes that Khan chose to become a convert principally out of
disgust at what he saw as the local Muslims' neglect of the plight of
their needy co-religionists. Qasmi refers to some other converts,
mainly poor people as well as victims of the ongoing violence in
Kashmir, who chose to accept Christianity because their fellow
Muslims were indifferent to their misery, while the Christian workers
whom they came into contact with willingly helped them. Qasmi refers
to the case of an old widow, whose only son was killed, leaving her
alone to fend for her three daughters. No Muslims offered to help
her, and so she was forced to take the assistance of a Christian
missionary. Impressed by the missionary's generosity and dedication,
she decided to convert to Christianity. She explains her conversion
as a protest against Kashmiri Muslim leaders who, she claims, keep
talking about piety and religion, but do nothing to help the poor.

Qasmi argues that in order to meet the missionary challenge, Muslim
organisations need to get their act together and engage in
constructive social work among the poor instead of simply fighting
polemical battles. He outlines a broad programme for Muslim religious
organisations and leaders to adopt, most importantly being promoting
education, not simply Islamic but modern as well, among poor Muslims
in the state who are the most vulnerable to the blandishments of the
missionaries. Qasmi's other suggestions include starting medical
centres, employment generation projects, orphanages and vocational
training centres to help the poor and the needy. He stresses that the
Jammu and Kashmir Awqaf Board, which controls most Muslim endowments
in the state, should play a leading role in this regard, given the
vast resources at its command which have not been put to proper use
all these years. Qasmi also recognises that in many cases the
conversions reflect a growing disillusionment among many Kashmiris
with the ongoing violence in the state, as well as a yearning for
peace. Unfortunately, he chooses not to elaborate on this vital
point. However, it is clear that for at least some converts the
continued violence in Kashmir, in which certain radical Islamist
groups are deeply implicated, must certainly have been a cause of
disillusionment leading them to choose to convert to Christianity, a
fact that Qasmi himself admits in passing.

As probably the only available book on the subject, this book
provides useful insights into the dynamics of Christian missionary
work in a politically very sensitive part of the world, although it
lacks sufficient ethnographic depth. Given the fact that the American
establishment now sees right-wing Christian missionary groups as a
major ally in its military involvement in the Muslim world, as
exemplified most clearly in Iraq today where missionaries are working
in tandem with the American occupation forces, the book points to the
urgent need for more in-depth and detailed studies of the political
economy of Christian missionary groups, many of them American-funded,
working among Muslims today, including in Kashmir.
Kashmiri Samiti opposes grant of autonomy to J-K:
[India News]: Mumbai, Mar 13 : Arguing that the separatist "ruse of
Kashmiriyat" would get strengthened if Jammu and Kashmir was granted
greater autonomy, an organisation for displaced Kashmiri Pandits has
opposed revival of talks on the issue.

"This move would only strengthen the hands of separatists whose
ultimate objective is to de-link Kashmir from India," Kashmiri Samiti
president Sunil Shakdher said in a statement here today.

"The notion of 'Kashmiriyat' is a ruse by separatists to equate Islam
with it. There have lately been some noises among some local Muslim
leaders that Kashmiri Pandits should come back. This is only for
public consumption. Privately, they say that if the Pandits return
they would have to join the struggle for `Azadi' (freedom)," Shakdher

"The position today is that Kashmir is without the Kashmiri Pandits.
All talk of existence of a multi-cultural ambience is a farce
designed to hoodwink national and international public opinion," he

Kashmiri Pandits have demanded a separate homeland within the
territory of Kashmir province, centrally administered under the
Constitution of India, after detailed deliberations and inputs from
the ground, Shakdher said. PTI
Islamists and Hindutva Chauvinists: Two Sides of the Same Coin

This interview was conducted by Yoginder Singh Sikand with X, a
social activist from Jammu and Kashmir who requested anonymity. Here
he talks about his views on a possible resolution of the Kashmir

Q: The ongoing violence in Jammu and Kashmir has severely impacted on
inter-community relations in the state. What can be done to promote
some sort of dialogue between the communities?

A: I agree with you when you say that inter-community relations here
are not the same as they were two decades ago. At the same time I
disagree with the argument that some people put forward that Hindus
and Muslims simply cannot peacefully coexist. But I would admit that
in Jammu and Kashmir there are people with extreme views in each
community, who use religion to preach intolerance and hatred. This
has happened all over South Asia, and not just in our state alone.
Unfortunately, I do not think there are any organized efforts
underway on the part of civil society organizations here to promote
better inter-community relations.

Q:: How do you look at Islamist groups like the Lashkar-i Tayyeba and
the Jama`at-i Islami? Do you think they reflect the views of most
Kashmiri Muslims?

A:: These are armed groups and command most of whatever strength they
do by the force of their weapons. They certainly do not represent the
views and beliefs of most Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, who do not
agree with their understanding of Islam. The Lashkar and many people
in the Jama`at seem to think that you can be a proper Muslim only if
you live in what they call an Islamic state, but this is not true.
This argument is wrong, but it is a persuasive one for many. Before
1947 the Muslim League claimed that Islam needed a territory of its
own to prosper. What followed was the `Islamic Republic' of Pakistan,
which is neither `Islamic' nor a Republic! Don't misunderstand me. I
am a believing Muslim myself but I cannot agree with this notion that
the mere fact that one shares the same religion with others means
that one belongs to the same nationality and must live in the same
state, which is what the Islamists argue. The hollowness of this
claim was exposed no sooner had Pakistan come into being, with
mounting ethnic, linguistic and sectarian tensions between the
different Muslim groups living in that country. These factors played
a more important role in Pakistani politics than Islam. Even today,
because of the injustice that they feel subjected to, many Baluchis
and Sindhis in Pakistan are demanding the right to self-
determination. I fear that if Kashmir joins Pakistan, in a few
decades the Kashmiris will also start demanding freedom from Pakistan
and Punjabi domination.

Q: How do you feel that the problem of Kashmir can be eventually

A: Violence is no solution at all, and I think most Kashmiris now
feel this way. Any solution to the issue, to be acceptable, must
ensure that justice is done to all the ethnic, linguistic and
religious groups living in the state. Otherwise, if the voices of
some groups are suppressed there is bound to be constant instability.
I think that any future political set-up for Jammu and Kashmir must
necessarily be secular and democratic. This is not simply because of
the large and significant non-Muslim minority in the state, but also
because the single largest group, the Kashmiri Muslims, do not, as a
whole, want to live under a so-called Islamist regime. And then, you
must realize that the Muslims of the state are not a homogenous
community. In addition to the Kashmiri Muslims, you have Dogra
Muslims, Gujjars, Bakkarwals, Kargilis, Punjabi Muslims and so on,
and they have their own diverse political views. I personally think
that the majority of the Muslims of the state would not like to live
in Pakistan, given its history of military rule, Punjabi domination,
sectarian rivalries and backward economy. On the other hand, India is
the cause of some of its own problems. It never allowed true
democracy to function in Kashmir and consistently rigged the
elections in the state. In any case, it is pointless discussing what
has happened. I think no solution to the problem can afford to leave
out the voices and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It
is not simply a problem concerning India and Pakistan alone, and so
the voices of the people of the state must also be taken into
account. And by this I mean not simply the Kashmiri Muslims, but all
ethnic, linguistic, sectarian and religious groups, Muslims and
others, who live in both parts of the divided state of Jammu and
Kashmir. The people of both parts should be allowed to interact and
dialogue among themselves.

Q: What the advocates of Kashmir's independence or accession to
Pakistan generally overlook is the impact this might have on Hindu-
Muslim relations in the rest of India. What do you have to say about

A: Yes, you are very right. There may be 10 million Muslims in Jammu
and Kashmir, but Muslims in the rest of India number, say, 14 times
that. It is obvious that if Kashmir becomes independent or joins
Pakistan, Hindu fascist groups in India would be even further
strengthened. It would further reinforce their argument that Muslims
are communal, that they cannot be loyal to a non-Muslim state and so
on. It might lead to a wave of attacks on Muslims in the rest of
India and will perhaps even permanently ensure Hindutva hegemony in
India. However, I do not think that the Islamists in Kashmir and
Pakistan, who claim to be fighting to defend the rights of Muslims
all over the world, are really bothered about what happens to the
Indian Muslims if they succeed in their designs in Kashmir. It is the
same as the position of the Muslim League when India was partitioned
and Pakistan was created. The leaders of the Muslim League were not
at all concerned about the fact that the Muslims in what became the
Republic of India had to suffer, and continue to suffer even today,
because of the Partition demand. So, I think that any solution to the
Kashmir issue that ignores its possible consequences for the Indian
Muslims, who account for 14 times the Kashmiri Muslim population, is
unacceptable, even from the Islamic point of view, which the so-
called Islamists conveniently forget.

Q: So what you are saying is that the radical Islamists and the
Hindutva rightwing feed on each other, and, in a sense, need each

A: Yes, exactly. One always needs an opponent to justify one's own
aggressive intentions. So, that is why I say that Islamists and
Hindutva fascists cannot survive without each other despite claiming
to be the most inveterate foes. Islamist radicalism in Kashmir is, in
a sense, a response to Hindutva aggression, and Hindutva gets further
reinforced by Islamist radicalism. It is a vicious circle. The fear
of Hindu hegemony also created Pakistan, although it is a different
matter that this was no solution at all. It only further exacerbated
the communal problem. Likewise, I think that if Kashmir becomes
independent or joins Pakistan and what they see as their rival—India
or the Hindus—are no longer on the scene, rival armed militant groups
might start fighting each other, and we could witness a civil war as
in Afghanistan.

Q: Islamists claim that they will establish what they call
a `genuine' Islamic state in Kashmir, which will ensure social
justice and equity for all. How do you see this claim?

A: I think this is all empty propaganda. Can you tell me the name of
even one Muslim country where such a state exists? These people have
been fed on the writings of people like Maududi and Sayyid Qutb, who
only created fanciful theories of their own. They do not have any
clear economic program. They deliberately do not talk about the
details of the polity that they want to establish, because they have
no idea how to run a modern state. This is the same in the Hindu case
as well. Hindutva ideologues say they want to establish Ram Rajya,
but we know the sort of Rajya they want to establish means death and
oppression. There is nothing as a blue-print provided in Islam, or in
any other religion for that matter, for running a modern state. We
need to think pragmatically, not in narrow ideological terms.
Future of Kashmir !!!!

My dear Sir,

does the thought ever occur to your goodself that what
would have happened if like pakistan India would have
become a hindu state.


A democracy is any day far far better than a religious
state or autocarcy or dictatorship.


Well your statement about muslims staying back because
hindu's wanted them to stay back....... is nothing but
sheer nonsense. You seem to have developed a tunnel
vision about the world around you.


I don't get my facts from Movies like you. I don't
need to talk numbers Sir, the very fact the number of
muslims in India today outnumber their Pakistani
counterparts states it all.


And why in God's name have Bihar, Assam and other
states come in this ongoing debate regarding the
chances of Kashmir being the IT hub of India. You
statements do not make any sense Gauhar.





Hindutava has so much space for Islam that it is
tolerating you on its very heart when you are
badmouthing it and wounding it.

Had ever KP's wanted land, they would have laid claim
to the entire Kashmir.


The Emergence and Development of the Jama‘at-i-Islami of Jammu and Kashmir (1940s-1990)
Yoginder Sikand
The Jama‘at-i-Islami is, by far, one of the most influential Islamic movements in the world today, particularly strong in the countries of South Asia. Its influence extends far beyond the confines of the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent, and the writings of its chief ideologues have exercised a powerful impact on contemporary Muslim thinking all over the world. Much has been written about the movement, both by its leaders and followers as well as by its critics. Most of these writings have focused either on the Jama‘at’s ideology or on its historical development in India and Pakistan.[1] Hardly any literature is available on the evolution and history of the Jama‘at in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. This is unfortunate, because here the Jama‘at has had a long history of its own, which has followed a path quite distinct from the branches of the movement in both India and Pakistan. Furthermore, the Jama‘at has played a crucial role in the politics of Kashmir right since its inception in the late 1940s, a role that has gained particular salience in the course of the armed struggle in the region that began in the late 1980s and still shows no sign of abating.

Little serious academic work on the Jama ‘at-i-Islami of Jammu and Kashmir (JIJK) has been attempted so far. Most of what passes for ‘authoritative’ information on the JIJK are impressionistic accounts by journalists and politicians, that either extol its role as brave ‘warriors of Islam’ or, alternatively, as ‘Islamic fundamentalists’ or ‘Muslim terrorists’. The historical development of the JIJK in the changing socio-political context of Kashmir is completely ignored in these obviously prejudiced and entirely one-sided descriptions. They tell us next to nothing as to why and how the JIJK managed, over the years, from its inception in the late 1940s till the outbreak of the armed struggle in Kashmir in 1989, to make deep inroads into Kashmiri Muslim society, creating a large support base for itself. What was it that made for the growing appeal of the JIJK’s expression of Islam, based on a strict adherence to the Islamic law (shari‘at), in a society known for its popular Sufi traditions, where Muslims hardly differed from their Hindu neighbours in most respects? The standard Indian explanation, repeated ad nauseum by Indian journalists and politicians alike, is that the rapid rise of the power and influence of the JIJK is simply a post-1990 phenomenon, with the organisation having been propped up and liberally financed by Pakistan. This, however, as I shall attempt to show, is a clear misreading of the phenomenon. While it its true that the JIJK has, indeed, received moral and political backing from Pakistan, and while there is ample evidence to show that the Hizb-ul Mujahidin, the armed group thought to be associated with the JIJK, has been a key beneficiary of Pakistani assitance, the growth and spread of the JIJK as a strong force in Kashmir must be traced to much earlier than 1990. The increasing popularity of the JIJK has much to do with structural, situational and ideational factors specific to the changing contours of the general socio-political context of Kashmir, from 1948, when it came under Indian control, to 1989, the year that marks the onset of the armed struggle in the region.

This article seeks to trace the historical development of the Jama‘at-i-Islami of Jammu and Kashmir [JIJK] in the Indian-administered part of the State, from its inception in the early 1940s, to the late 1980s, when it was declared as a banned organisation by the Indian authorities for its involvement in the armed struggle for Kashmiri self-determination. This period is crucial, neglected though it is in contemporary journalistic accounts of the JIJK, for it was then that the organisation grew into a force to be reckoned with, with a following running into tens of thousands. The basic argument that this article develops is that the origins and subsequent growth of the JIJK in the period 1948-1990 must be seen in relation to the changing social contexts the times, in which a more assertive and activist expression of Islam came to be increasingly articulated by sections of a newly-emerging Muslim Kashmiri middle-class. Till the late 1980s, before the onset of the armed struggle in Kashmir, the core support base of the JIJK was, despite its sustained efforts at expansion, largely limited to this class. This had, as we shall seek to show, much to do with the Jama‘at’s own style of operation, the issues that it focused on, as well as its opposition to popular forms of Islamic expression that are still very deeply-rooted in Kashmir despite the efforts of generations of Islamic reformers.

The article begins with a brief overview of the ideology of the JIJK and its organisational structure. Next, it places the growth of the JIJK in the historical context of growing Kashmiri Muslim awakening, first against Dogra rule, and then, after 1947, against Indian control. It then goes on to deal with the actual development of the JIJK in the period under discussion, looking at the organisation’s activities and policies as they developed over time, and reflecting on how it was that it emerged as a powerful party on the eve of the launching of the armed struggle in Kashmir in 1989/90.

The JIJK shares a common ideological framework with branches of the Jama‘at elsewhere, based as it is on the voluminous writings of its founder, Maulana Sayyed ‘Ala Maududi (1903-79). Maududi’s writings have been extensively studied elsewhere, and so need not detain us here. Put briefly, Maududi sees Islam as a complete ideology and code of life (nizam-i-hayat), covering all aspects of a Muslim’s personal as well as collective existence. For Islam to be enforced in its entirety, it is necessary for Muslims to struggle for the establishment of an Islamic state or states, ruled by the Islamic law. Democracy, or the rule of the people, is seen as un-Islamic, for it is said to go against the Islamic understanding of God as the sovereign authority and law-maker. For the same reason, Western-style secularism, the separation of religion and politics, is condemned.

The JIJK expresses its commitment to this understanding in the preamble to its constitution, first adopted in November 1953, and later modified by its majlis-i-shura (Central Advisory Committee), first in March 1969 and then again, at a meeting of its majlis-i-irkan (Council of Basic Members), in August 1985.[2] Here, it describes its ‘creed’ as ‘There is no Got but Allah and Muhammad [may peace and God’s choicest blessings be upon him!] is His messenger’, and explains this as follows:

The first part of this faith, regarding the unity and uniqueness of God as the Supreme Deity and the negation of the existence of any other being worthy of being worshipped, implies that the Earth and the skies, i.e., the whole Universe and whatever exists therein, owe their existence to God, who has created them—the Sustainer, the Controller, the Law-giver, the Rightful Deity and the Lord of us all.[3]

It then goes on to elaborate on this first part of the Islamic creed of confession. The unity of God, it says, implies that a Muslim is one who ‘deems or recognises none except Allah…as real ruler, patron, fulfiller of desires, provider of needs, protector and helper’ and accepts ‘ no one [else] as the Lord of the Worlds, the Supreme Authority, the Most Powerful’. God alone, it asserts, has ‘the authority to command or forbid’, and hence ‘to recognise any mortal’s authority to be an absolute law-giver or legislator…[is] violative of His law’. Consequently, every Muslim ‘must make the likes and dislikes of Allah the sole criterion of his/her own likes and dislikes’. In accordance with this, a true believer should, ‘in matters concerning moral behaviour and conduct of social, cultural, political and economic activities--in short, in every sphere of activity--allow himself/herself to be guided by the guidance of Allah’. He or she must ‘acknowledge only the Divine code, rejecting any other code which is not in consonance with His Command and Guidance, and whose divinity has nor been established’.[4]

Elaborating on the second part of the Islamic creed, the JIJK’s constitution explains that a true Muslim is one who believes that Muhammad is God’s last messenger, whose message is meant for all humanity, for all times to come. The Prophet has been commissioned by God to ‘set an example for all human beings’. Thus, it is obligatory for a Muslim to ‘accept, without questioning, whatever teaching and guidance stands proved to have emanated from the Holy Prophet Muhammad’ and to desist from whatever the Prophet has forbidden. None but the Prophet must be acknowledged as ‘the permanent and absolute leader’, and his practice (sunnah), along with the Qur’an, should be the only source of guidance in one’s personal and collective life.[5]

The constitution then goes on to discuss the primary objective of the JIJK, which it describes as striving to ‘establish God’s religion’ (iqamat-i-din), inspired, it says, ‘by the sole desire to earn Divine pleasure and secure success in the Hereafter’. The din, it adds, is that religion that has been taught by all the many prophets whom God has sent through the ages, revealed in its ‘final and perfect form’ through the last of the prophets, Muhammad. This religion is Islam, the only ‘authentic, pristine existing din’ and the only one which is ‘sanctioned by Allah’. [6]

In order to establish the din in its entirety, the JIJK constitution lays down that in the furtherance of its objectives it shall be guided only by the Qur’an and the Prophetic sunnah, while ‘other things, viewed as secondary, shall be taken into consideration provided they are not outside the scope of Islam’. In this regard, the JIJK shall not, it says, ‘employ ways and means against ethics, truthfulness and honesty or which may contribute to strife on earth’. It shall, on the other hand, ‘use democratic and constitutional methods while working for the reform and righteous revolution’.[7]

The JIJK sees every Muslim, male as well as female, as playing an important role in the ‘establishment of the din’. However, for this purpose, it sees the need for a special Islamic party (jama‘at) to be established to lead the struggle. The JIJK sees itself as this party, which every ‘conscious’ (ba-sha‘ur) Muslim should be associated with.[8] Accordingly, membership of the JIJK is open to any person, irrespective of caste, linguistic group, race or tribe, who agrees with its understanding of the Islamic creed and, on doing so, consents to be governed by its rules.[9]

Taking a pragmatic stand on the matter, the JIJK recognises that after joining the jama‘at, its members ‘shall have to change themselves gradually’. The minimum that is required, however, is that they should ‘at least know the difference between Islam and Jahiliyat (ignorance)’, be ‘conversant with the limits imposed by Allah’, offer the regular prayers, the supererogatory prayers (nafil), engage in zikr (remembrance of God) and regularly recite the Qur’an. Further, they should ‘submit before Allah’s injunctions’, abandon all customs, practices and beliefs that are in conflict with the Qur’an and the sunnah of the Prophet, and lead a pious life. They should, as far as possible, ‘not have any close social relations, apart from ordinary human relations, with morally corrupt people and those who have forgotten God’. Instead, they should ‘keep contact with righteous and God-fearing people’. They must focus ‘all their activities’ on the mission of establishing the din and ‘disassociate from all such activities, except real and essential needs of life, as may not lead towards the set goal’. They should see their mission in life as presenting to others ‘the creed and the objective of iqamat-i-din’.[10]

Two salient features of the ideology of the JIJK as set out here are particularly noteworthy. The first is a distinct opposition to Western-style democracy and secularism, based as these are on the concept of the sovereignty of Man, as opposed to the sovereignty of God, and on the principle that religion should have no bearing on public affairs. Second, an implicit challenge to popular Sufism, in which Sufi saints, living and dead, are believed to be able to intercede with God on behalf of a believer. This belief is seen as standing in sharp contradistinction to Islamic monotheism. By stressing the need for the institutions and processes of society at large to be based on Islamic law, the JIJK effectively challenges the individual piety associated with popular Sufism, which is typically seen as world-renouncing and in opposition to Islam’s stress on balanced worldly involvement. Calls for creating a society based on the shari‘at can be seen as a sharp critique of many practices associated with popular Kashmiri Sufism that are said to have no basis in Islamic law.

Organisational Structure
The JIJK follows a consultative method of functioning, headed by the President (amir-i-jama‘at) and a team, the markazi majlis-i-shur’a (Central Advisory Council), who are elected by the Council of Representatives. The members of the latter body are chosen by the basic members of the JIJK (irkan-i-jama‘at), the amir and the secretary-general (qayyim-i-jama‘at). They hold office, ordinarily, for a three-year term. They together elect and can remove the amir and the members of the Central Advisory Committee.[11]

The amir is the head of the JIJK. The members of the organisation are ‘bound to obey him’ as along as his commands are in accordance with the teachings of Islam, but in this, obedience is to be paid not to the person or the office of the amir as such, but, rather, to the directives of Islam and the mission of the JIJK. For his part, in matters of morals, piety and commitment, the amir should ‘on the whole, be the best of all in the jama‘at’. His term ordinarily runs for three years, but he may, if the Council of Representatives so agrees, be elected repeatedly to the office.[12] The amir carries on his functions with the help of advice from the Central Advisory Council, members of which, again, hold office, under ordinary circumstances, for a period of three years. Their basic function is to oversee the functioning of the organisation. They must also ‘keep a watch on the amir’.[13]

The organisational structure of the central level leadership of the JIJK is replicated at the lower levels. The JIJK has two provincial wings in the Indian-administered part of the state—one being the Kashmir valley and the other being Jammu. Each provincial wing is headed by a provincial amir (amir-i-suba), who is assisted by a Provincial Advisory Council (suba’i majlis-i-shur’a) and a provincial secretary (qayyim-i-suba). The chain of command and authority is then further carried down to the district level, where, in each district, the JIJK has a district amir (amir-i-zila), a District Advisory Council (majlis-i-zila) and a secretary (qayyim-i-zila). The JIJK has a similar set-up at the sub-district level (tehsil), and, finally, at the local (muqami) level, where it has a system of ‘circles’ (halqa). A circle of the JIJK can be set up wherever there is more than one member of the organisation. It is headed by a local amir (amir-i-halqa), who is elected by the local members.[14]

Kashmir in the Early Twentieth Century: The Socio-Political Context

Under the Hindu Dogra rulers, Muslims, who formed the vast majority of the population of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, accounting for over 80% of the population, remained an ill-treated, oppressed community, mired in poverty and almost completely illiterate. The Raja treated the entire state as his personal possession. In a letter to the British Resident in 1897, the then Dogra king, Maharaja Pratap Singh, wrote, ‘The state is my property and belongs to me and it is all my hereditary property’.[15] Most lands were owned by the Raja himself, a small class of the Dogra feudal nobility or the Kashmiri Pandits, who exercised a virtual monopoly in the state services. In 1921, a Pandit writer noted that 90% of the houses of the Muslims of Srinagar, the state capital, were mortgaged to Hindu money-lenders.[16] As Prem Nath Bazaz, one of the few Kashmiri Pandits to have sympathised with the plight of his Muslim countrymen and to have supported them in their cause for freedom, wrote, ‘Dressed in rags which could hardly hide his body, and barefooted, a [Kashmiri] Muslim peasant presented the appearance rather of a starving beggar than one who filled the coffers of the state’. Most Kashmiri Muslim villagers, he said, were ‘landless labourers working for absentee landlords. They hardly earned, as their share of the produce, enough for more than three months’, being forced to spend the rest of the year unemployed or labouring in the towns in British India.[17]

The origins of Islamic reformism in Kashmir, of which the JIJK is a product, may be traced back to the late nineteenth century, which witnessed the birth of new stirrings among the urban Kashmiri Muslim middle-class, championing the interests of the Muslim majority community against Dogra rule. One of the pioneers in this regard was the Mirwa’iz of Kashmir, Maulana Rasul Shah (1855-1909), head of Srinagar’s Jami’a Mosque. Distressed by the pathetic conditions of his people and with the widespread prevalence of what he saw as un-Islamic ‘innovations’ (bida‘at) among them, he established the Anjuman Nusrat ul-Islam (‘The Society for the Victory of Islam’) in 1899. The Anjuman aimed at spreading modern as well as Islamic education, based strictly on the Qur’an and Hadith, combating bida‘at, as well as creating political awareness among the Muslims of the state.[18] Through mass meetings and personal contacts, the Mirwa’iz and his associates preached against the superstitions and practices that had crept into popular Sufism, calling for Muslims to mould their lives according to the shari’at, and, ‘to become real Muslims (haqiqi musalaman) and true human beings (sahih insan)’.[19] The Mirwa’iz seems to have encountered stiff opposition from some quarters, notably from some custodians of Sufi shrines, but his efforts at preaching his reformist doctrines earned him considerable popularity, being given the title of ‘the Sir Sayyed of Kashmir’ (sir sayyed-i-kashmir).[20]

In 1905, the Anjuman set up the Islamiya High School in Srinagar, where modern scientific as well as Islamic education were imparted, and, over the years, it developed several branches in small towns in Kashmir. Rasul Shah was succeeded by his younger brother, Mirwa’iz Ahmadullah, who expanded the work of the Anjuman further, setting up an Oriental College in Srinagar.[21] Under his successor, Mirwa’iz Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Shah, the Anjuman developed links with Islamic reformist groups in India. Yusuf Shah was himself a product of the reformist Dar-ul ‘Ulum madrasa at Deoband[22], and after he returned to Kashmir on completion of his studies in 1924, he set up a branch of the Khilafat Committee to popularise the cause of the Ottoman Caliphate among the Kashmiris. Later, he played a central role in bringing many reform-minded Kashmiri ‘ulama, mainly Deobandis opposed to popular Sufism, onto a common platform, the Jami’at-ul ‘Ulama-i-Kashmir (‘The Union of ‘Ulama of Kashmir’). To popularise the reformist cause, Yusuf Shah set up the first press in Kashmir, the Muslim Printing Press, launching two weeklies, al-Islam and Rahnuma, to broadcast the views of the Deobandis and to combat what were seen as the un-Islamic practices of the Kashmiri Muslims. He also translated and published the first Kashmiri translation of and commentary on the Qur’an, so that ordinary Kashmiris could understand the Qur’an themselves, rather than having to depend on the custodians of shrines for their religious instruction.[23]

In the early twentieth century, links with Muslim groups in other parts of India, notably the Punjab, Delhi and Aligarh, brought a new breed of emerging and educated Kashmiri Muslims in touch with Islamic stirrings outside the state. This growing Islamic consciousness first manifested itself in the form of the Ahl-i-Hadith, a Muslim reformist movement whose origins in South Asia go back to the late eighteenth century. The Ahl-i-Hadith saw the decline of the Muslims as a result of their having strayed from the path of the Prophet and from strict monotheism (tauhid), and sought to purge Muslim society of what they saw as ‘un-Islamic’ accretions, most notably the ‘blind following’ (taqlid) of the four schools of jurisprudence (mazahib) and the beliefs and practices associated with Sufism. The Ahl-i-Hadith did not emerge as a mass movement, however, for its fierce opposition to Sufism and the schools of jurisprudence earned it the wrath of the Sunni establishment. It did, however, manage to win a limited support among sections of the Muslim urban elite.

In Kashmir, the origins of the Ahl-i-Hadith go back to the late nineteenth century, when a Kashmiri student of an Ahl-i-Hadith madrasa in Delhi, Sayyed Hussain Shah Batku, returned to Srinagar and began a campaign against the unlawful ‘innovations’ which he saw his fellow Muslims wallowed in.[24] As in India, the Ahl-i-Hadith in Kashmir did not manage to secure a mass base, however, owing principally to fact that the Kashmiri Muslims were deeply rooted in their Sufi traditions. Khan, in his study of the history of Srinagar, writes that by the early 1920s, prior to the arrival of the Ahl-i-Hadith, Sufi shrines, to be found in almost every street in the town, had emerged as ‘the chief centres of superstition and charlatanism’, controlled by ‘crafty, hypocritical and materialist mullahs’, who ‘kept the common folk in the dark’. Priesthood, an institution foreign to pristine Islam, was deeply entrenched, with the custodians of the Sufi shrines emerging as ‘an important exploiting agency in an organised manner’. For most Kashmiris, Islam seems to have been ‘nothing more than the observance of a certain set of rituals’. Khan sees the Ahl-i-Hadith as the first organised effort in Kashmir to raise its voice against these ‘superstitious practices’ and to appeal to Muslims to reform their beliefs and customs in line with the shari‘at.[25] Although eventually the Ahl-i-Hadith failed in its efforts to extirpate bida‘at in Kashmir, its reformist agenda did pave way for the JIJK to attempt, in the years that followed, to follow in the same path, albeit in what was certainly a less direct and threatening manner.

By the early years of the twentieth century, the growing awareness of their oppression at the hands of the Dogra rulers, goaded the emerging generation of educated Kashmiri Muslims, influenced by new stirrings of Islamic reformism, to seek measures to redress their grievances. An event of great significance in the evolution of Kashmiri Muslim political consciousness was the mass agitation that erupted in the valley in 1930, in protest against the desecration of the Qur’an by a Dogra soldier stationed in Srinagar. The agitation soon took the form of a popular movement, with demands being made for an end to the oppressive Dogra rule. This movement gave birth to the Muslim Conference in 1931, headed by the charismatic Sheikh ‘Abdullah, championing the cause of the Muslims of the state and calling for the institution of democratic rule.

Pitted as they were against the Dogra state, which openly projected itself as a defender of Hinduism, and against the entrenched Pandit elite, who exercised a virtual monopoly in the administration and, in addition, owned vast estates, it was but natural that the growing assertion and awakening among the Kashmiri Muslims would seek to define itself in religious terms, and that, as the mass movement that erupted in the wake of the Qur’an desecration incident in 1930 so strikingly illustrates, Islam would be a powerful idiom in articulating protest and opposition to the regime and local elites. This does not, however, mean that the Kashmiri Muslim movement was directed against the Hindus as a community as such. As Prem Nath Bazaz, a noted Kashmiri Pandit politician observed of the agitation against the oppressive Dogras, ‘Though conducted by the Muslims, the struggle was national in essence. It was a fight of the tyrannised against the tyrants, of the oppressed against the oppressors’.[26] These appeals to Islam in mobilising the Kashmiris against the Dogras were to have powerful parallels in the post-1947 period, when anti-India feelings were sought to be articulated by groups such as the JIJK, India being identified as ‘Hindu’, and the threat to the Kashmiris as a threat to Islam itself. Even Sheikh ‘Abdullah, fiercely nationalist Kashmiri that he was, was clever enough to realise the importance of religious symbols in his mobilisational appeals. Thus, it is not surprising that he attempted to use the Sufi shrines of Kashmir, including the one regarded as most holy, the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar housing a hair of the Prophet, as platforms to organise mass rallies and demonstrations. Yet, as Sheikh ‘Abdullah began to develop close links with Congress leaders in India, differences began to develop within the Muslim Conference on the issue of religion. This was brought to a head in 1938, when the faction led by Sheikh Abdullah decided to name itself as the National Conference in an effort to bring non-Muslim Kashmiris into the struggle for a democratic Kashmir. The other faction, led by Choudhry Ghulam Abbas of Jammu, protested against this decision, and separated from ‘Abdullah and his supporters, styling themselves as the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference. By the mid-1940s, the National Conference, under ‘Abdullah, the ‘lion of Kashmir’ (sher-i-kashmir), had emerged as by far the most popular movement in the Kashmir valley. It had, however, little influence in the areas where Muslims were a minority or in a slim majority, such as Ladakh and in some districts of Jammu. In 1946, the National Conference launched the Quit Kashmir movement, mobilising mass support in an effort to put an end to Dogra rule in Kashmir. This movement failed to receive enthusiastic support from Muhammad ‘Ali Jinnah and his Muslim League, whose Pakistan movement had, by this time, won a mass following among the Indian Muslims. Sheikh ‘Abdullah now drew closer to the Congress, bitterly critiqued the ‘two-nation theory’ of the League, while leading a struggle for an independent, secular Kashmir. Although the National Conference now managed to rally most Kashmiri Muslims behind it, this did not mean that Islam had ceased to play an important role in their lives. Rather, their enthusiastic support to the National Conference and their cold reception to the League suggested that while firmly rooted in their Islamic traditions, they were fiercely opposed to what they saw as the possibility of ‘alien’ Muslim rule if they were to join Pakistan.[27]

The Origins of the JIJK
It was in this context of the growing political awakening in Kashmir and the emergence of Islamic reformist groups that the JIJK took root. Its earliest leaders, almost all of them from middle-class families, many with Sufi connections, seem to have been greatly disillusioned with the course that Kashmiri Muslim politics was taking. Between the ‘secular, composite nationalism’ of the National Conference and the ‘Muslim nationalism’ of the Muslim Conference, they saw little to choose from. Instead, they believed, their hope lay in Islam, in the way it was being presented in the writings of Sayyed Abul ‘Ala Maududi.

One of the earliest JIJK activists, who was to lead the organisation as its first amir for many years, was Sa‘aduddin Tarabali. His early life provides important clues about the social composition of the JIJK in the early ‘40s and its attraction for sections of the emerging Kashmiri Muslim middle class. Sa‘aduddin was born into a family with long Sufi connections, linked with the renowned Sufi mystic, Ahmad Sahib Tarabali of Srinagar. He was one of the few Kashmiri Muslims of his generation to have studied till the graduation level. He had also received a traditional Islamic education, earning the ‘alim degree as well as being a hafiz, having memorised the entire Qur’an.[28] His association with the Jama‘at-i-Islami began in his youth, when he came across Maududi’s journal, the Tarjuman al-Qur’an. So impressed was he with Maududi’s analysis of the Muslim situation in India in his Musalman Aur Maujuda Siyasi Kashmasksh (‘Muslims And The Present Political Turmoil’)[29], published as a series in his journal, that he wrote a letter to him. Maududi wrote back, and this was the beginning of a long and close relationship between the two.[30]

After his graduation, Sa‘aduddin worked for a while as a teacher at the Anjuman Nustrat-ul Islam’s Islamiya High School in Srinagar. Later, he was appointed as head master of the government school at Chrar. Here, he began introducing Maududi’s writings to a number of young Kashmiris. From Chrar, he was shifted to the government school at Shopian, where he taught science for a year. In Shopian, then a hub of Kashmiri politics, Sa‘aduddin managed to bring many young Kashmiri men under his influence. One of the most prominent of these was Maulana Ghulam Ahmad Ahrar, an active member of the Majlis-i-Ahrar, an Islamic reformist group, who was to go on to play an important role in the later establishment of the JIJK.[31] Like Sa‘aduddin, Maulana Ahrar also belonged to a family known for its Sufi connections. He received a traditional Islamic education, first at a seminary in Lahore, and then at the Madrasa Nusrat-ul Hasan at Amritsar, where he came into contact with Hakim Ghulam Nabi, who was to later become the first secretary-general of the JIJK.[32]

As the number of Kashmiri Muslims influenced by Maududi gradually rose, thanks to the efforts of Sa‘aduddin and Maulana Ahrar, a meeting of like-minded people was organised in 1942 at Badami Bagh, Shopian. This is regarded as the first, although unofficial, ijtema (gathering) of the Jama‘at in Kashmir.[33] Soon after, Maududi called an ijtema of readers of his Tarjuman al-Qur’an at his Dar-ul Islam centre at Pathankot in order to discuss the agenda and working of the Islamic movement. Sa‘aduddin was invited but could not attend it.[34] In 1945, the first all-India ijtema of the Jama‘at-i-Islami was held at Maududi’s centre at Pathankot, which Sa‘aduddin and Maulana Ahrar attended, along with two other Kashmiris, Ghulam Rasul ‘Abdullah and Qari Saifuddin, the latter a scion of a family of Sufi Pirs, who was later to go on to occupy various top posts in the JIJK.[35]

Sa‘aduddin’s stay at Shopian was short-lived. After a year, he left to pursue further studies at the Prince of Wales College, Jammu, after which he was appointed as a teacher at the government middle school at Baramulla. Here, too, he cultivated a circle of young Kashmiri Muslims, to whom he introduced the writings of Maududi. From Baramulla, he was shifted to Srinagar, his home-town. Later, owing to his growing preoccupation with the affairs of the Jama‘at, Sa‘aduddin gave up his government job and devoted himself full-time to spreading the network of the organisation. He is said to have led an extremely spartan life, donating all his spare money to the Jama‘at, so much so that, according to one account, he did not have money to make a second suit for himself.[36]

Another of the early activists of the movement in Kashmir was Hakim Ghulam Nabi of Pulwama. He, too, was born in a Pir family. He received his early education in Delhi and then went to the famous reformist Islamic seminary at Deoband, the Dar-ul ‘Ulum, where he enrolled for the maulvi fazil course. He later trained in Unani (Greek) medicine. He was known for his good knowledge of Arabic, Urdu and English, and was also a prolific writer. Under Maulana Ahrar’s influence, he got involved with the JIJK, and later rose to the positions of deputy amir and secretary-general of the organisation. [37]

Perhaps the most well-known of these early Jama‘at activists was Sayyed ‘Ali Shah Gilani. He was born in 1929 at the village of Zurimanz, in the Bandipora tehsil of Baramulla district. Although his family were Sayyeds, descendants of the Prophet, Gilani’s father was a poor manual labourer in the canals’ department. Yet, he had great hopes for his son, whom he sent to the madrasa attached to the Masjid Wazir Khan in Lahore at the age of fourteen for a traditional Islamic education. From there, the young Gilani went on to enrol at the Oriental College, Delhi, where he came to develop an interest in the writings of Muhammad Iqbal. Later, he returned to Kashmir, where he became active in National Conference politics, being appointed as the secretary of the unit of the party in his ancestral village of Zurimanz. In 1946, at the height of the Quit Kashmir movement against the Dogras, he was introduced to one of the most senior leaders of the National Conference, Maulana Muhammad Sayeed Masudi by a left-leaning activist of the party, Muhammad Anwar Khan. Masudi, who had made the Mujahid Manzil in Srinagar his headquarters, was so impressed by Gilani that he appointed him as a reporter in the National Conference’s organ Akhbar-i-Khidmat. The Maulana looked upon Gilani as his own son. In 1948, he arranged for Gilani to shift to Mujahid Manzil and stay with him. He arranged for his education, and with his help Gilani was able to complete the Urdu adib-i-fazil course, the munshi fazil course in Persian and a course in English. Thereafter, he was appointed first as a teacher at the primary school at Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, and then at the high school at Rainawari.[38]

In his spare time, Gilani would spend hours at Nur Muhammad’s book shop at Maharaj Ganj. One day, Nur Muhammad lent him a book by Maududi, which, apparently, he found so absorbing that he stayed up the whole night reading it, and then read it two times over again. Describing his feelings on reading the book, Gilani wrote, ‘At an unconscious level I developed a strange love for the author, thinking how beautifully he had expressed the feelings that lay deep down in my own heart, and I wished I could get to read more of his writings’.[39]

Among the staff at the Rainawari school where Gilani was teaching, several had by then come into association with the Jama‘at, including Qari Saifuddin, Ghulam Hasan Rizvi and Ghulam Nabi Andrabi. Gilani soon developed a close relationship with them, particularly with Qari Saifuddin, who introduced him to the other writings of Maududi. Soon, Gilani became a confirmed convert to Maududi’s cause. Hardly having completed his twentieth year, Gilani was now active in the work of the Jama‘at, attending meetings of its activists organised in people’s homes.[40] He finally became a full-fledged member of the JIJK in 1953.[41]

A common thread seems to run through the biographies of most of the early activists of the JIJK, who later went on to become leaders of the movement. They all seem to have belonged to middle-class families, many with Pir backgrounds. Their standing as members of Pir families gave them a position of leadership and authority within their own local communities, in which the Pirs and their descendants were traditionally looked upon with considerable respect and reverence. Many of them had received a traditional Islamic education outside Kashmir, in places in Punjab, the United Provinces and Delhi, which introduced them at a young age to changing currents of Islamic expression. Clearly, being exposed to new Islamic trends, they were increasingly dissatisfied with the existing conditions of religious belief and practice in Kashmir, in a context where Sufism, the dominant form of Islam, had degenerated, for the most part, into rituals and un-Islamic beliefs associated with the cults of the saints. Their commitment to a sort of Islam that condemned the cults centred around the graves of Sufis can be read as a revolt against their own family traditions, seeing these, in some way, as responsible for Muslim marginalisation and powerlessness. Their quest for a more socially and politically involved and activist Islam can be seen as part of the larger Kashmiri Muslim middle class-led struggle against, first, the Dogras, and then, after 1947, Indian rule. Islam, for them, was a call for political assertion in a context of perceived Muslim powerlessness, as well as a call for personal piety and dedication to God’s Will.

This new breed of Kashmiri youth were equally dissatisfied with the secular, western-educated leaders of the Kashmiri struggle against the Dogras, people such as Sheikh ‘Abdullah, who ‘would capture the minds of the people by reciting the Qur’an, but who themselves did not follow its teachings in their own personal lives’, as they were with the traditional ‘ulama and Sufis. As for the latter category, they were seen as ‘ignorant of the need for ijtihad’, the creative interpretation of Islam to meet the challenges of the changing times, challenges which the new generation of educated Kashmiri Muslims were increasingly having to come to terms with. Their expression of Islam was understood as being ‘restricted just to the four walls of the mosque’, and ‘unable to prove itself in the wider world outside’. They were seen as politically passive, ‘regarding the government as the shadow of God on earth’, and, instead of ‘mustering forces to combat falsehood’, they were ‘seeking to prove falsehood as the truth’. In addition, they ‘lacked the inner strength and the wide vision’ to carry forward Islam ‘as a movement and revolution’. The young men who formed the core of the JIJK leadership in its early years clearly had a different vision in mind.[42]

The Early Years
As we have seen above, four Kashmiris attended the first all-India ijtema of the Jama‘at-i-Islami at Pathankot in 1945. There it was decided that the Jama‘at should begin organising itself in a planned manner in Kashmir. Following this, three Srinagar-based Jama‘at workers, Sa‘aduddin, Qari Saifuddin and Muhammad Hussain Chishti, met to discuss plans for the expansion of the movement, and Sa‘aduddin was chosen as the amir to lead the organisation in the state, holding the post till his retirement in 1985.[43] The Jama‘at now began holding regular weekly meetings at the Jami’a Masjid in the heart of Srinagar. Gradually, the numbers attending these meetings rose. Soon, a study centre was opened in a room provided by Sayyed Muhammad Nabi in Naya Bazar, where Islamic literature, including Maududi’s writings, were kept for reading and public distribution. From Srinagar, the work expanded to other parts of the Kashmir valley, with Qari Saifuddin and Ghulam Rasul ‘Abdullah travelling extensively to spread the message of the Jama‘at. Shortly after, in late 1945, the first large, organised ijtema was held in Srinagar, which was attended by between seventy and a hundred people from all parts of Kashmir, mainly government servants, but also including a fair number of youth and traders.[44] In his inaugural speech to the gathering, Sa‘aduddin, declared:

The aim of this ijtema is to present the invitation [da‘wat] of Islam before the people of Kashmir. This is not a new invitation for them, because, much earlier, Hazrat Amir-i-Kabir[45] had spread the light of this message in this land, because of which darkness and the sin of associationsim [shirk] had disappeared and almost all Kashmiris had become Muslims…However, our state today is such that, leave alone making an unbeliever a Muslim, no true Muslim can be fully satisfied with us. Our Sufi shaykhs, our venerable elders and our spiritual seekers are engrossed in their own world of illumination [kashf] and miracles [karamat], but the sad state of Islam in this land today is beyond all description. Is this not proof enough of the fact that today we are totally ignorant of the true spirit of Islam, that we have limited our understanding of Islam to a few limited rituals, that we have ignored Islam’s universal scope, and, consequently, have presented it in such a way that today’s revolutionary age is not willing to accept the Islamic revolution? [46]

Lamenting the sad state of Islam in Kashmir and inspiring his listeners to join the movement for its revival, Sa‘aduddin added:

History tells us that Islam possesses such a system, because of whose truth and universalism, the cultures and even languages of the most civilised countries of the world were abandoned by their people and they recognised the supremacy of Islam as their sole source of spiritual and worldly success. Today, when the world is in such a dangerous situation, when the very existence of the human race is threatened, when every community wants, at any cost, to impose its will and its self-made laws on the others or to enslave them, is it not appropriate that we should, once again, present before the world the broad Islamic revolutionary programme? Accepting this programme and acting upon it is the only way to destroy racial, national, territorial, social and economic differences at once, to completely eradicate slavery, for through this path one comes into the obedience and slavery of the One Supreme God. This programme, in reality, is the mission which all the prophets, from Adam [may Allah bless him!] down to the Holy Prophet Muhammad [may peace be upon him!] presented before humankind, and this, indeed, is the invitation that the Jama‘at-i-Islami is today presenting before the whole world.[47]

Growth and Consolidation: The Post-1947 Period:
With the Partition of British India in August 1947, Maududi shifted from Pathankot in East Punjab to Lahore. Later, the same year, war broke out between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Gilgit, Baltistan and Muzaffarabad were taken over by Pakistan, while the Kashmir valley, Ladakh and most of Jammu fell to Indian control. Jama‘at activists in Kashmir, based primarily at Srinagar, seem to have ardently advocated the state’s accession to Pakistan, but in the face of the National Conference and India’s overwhelming military power, could do little. While most Kashmiri Muslims appear to have rallied behind Shaikh ‘Abdullah, an influential and numerically not insignificant section continued to nurse the hope of their state being allowed to join Pakistan. This pro-Pakistan constituency was later to become a strong base of support for the JIJK.

As increasing numbers of people, mostly educated, young students, traders and lower-and middle-ranking government employees began being attracted to the JIJK at this time, the organisation turned its attention to institutional development. The years 1947-52 saw the setting up of the first Jama‘at schools, wherein secular disciplines and religious sciences were integrated, the launching of the party’s newspaper, the Urdu Azan (1948), first as a monthly and then as a weekly, and expansion in propaganda work in mosques.[48]

Till 1952, the JIJK was governed by the constitution of the Jama‘at-i-Islami Hind, the Indian wing of the Jama‘at, which, after the Partition in 1947, had been set up, separate from the Pakistani branch of the Jama‘at, as an independent organisation. However, owing to the disputed status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, in 1952 the Jama‘at-i-Islami Hind decided that the organisation in the state should be separated from its Indian parent-body. As a result, the Jama‘at-i-Islami of Jammu and Kashmir came into being. Shortly after, an ad hoc committee of JIJK leaders was constituted to draft its own constitution, under the leadership of two of its stalwarts, Maulana Ahrar and Ghulam Rasul ‘Abdullah. Work on the constitution was completed in November 1953, and in that month, at a special meeting of the members of the JIJK, it was accepted and passed.[49]

In order to elect an amir for the new organisation, a special meeting of the JIJK was held at Barzalla, Srinagar, in October 1954. Sa‘aduddin, who had led the spearheaded of the Jama‘at in the state all these years, was elected amir by a large majority. Two months later, the newly-formed Central Advisory Committee had its first meeting, in which Hafiz Muhiuddin was chosen as the JIJK’s secretary-general, while four district amirs were also appointed. Soon after this, Sa‘aduddin gave up his post as a government school teacher, and despite the immense financial hardship that his family had to face as a result, devoted himself full-time to the work of the organisation, being elected, once again, in 1956, as amir.[50]

One of Sa‘aduddin’s important concerns at this time was the spread of the JIJK’s activities in the Jammu province. Till now, work had been concentrated largely in the Kashmir valley, while the Muslims of Jammu had been neglected. This needed urgently to be redressed, particularly since in Jammu the Muslims, once forming the largest community in the province, had, after 1947, been reduced to a small and insecure minority[51], who had, in the Partition riots, been badly affected, with thousands having been slaughtered by Hindu and Sikh mobs abetted by the Maharaja’s forces, and many more having been forced to flee to neighbouring Pakistan.[52] The issue of extending the work of the JIJK in the Jammu province was raised at the annual meeting of the Central Advisory Committee in 1957, and soon after, Maulana Ahrar was despatched as a representative to the area. He made an extensive tour of the province, noting the great destruction that the Muslims there had suffered in the Partition riots, and observed, to his dismay, that many of them ‘had become Hinduised in terms of culture’. He warned his colleagues in Kashmir that if the Jammu Muslims were not immediately helped ‘they might soon turn Hindu in matters of belief and faith itself’. In his report he suggested that the only way in which their situation could be remedied was for Kashmiri Muslim government employees who shifted to Jammu in the winters to be mobilised to spread Islamic awareness among them. The Maulana pointed out that top-level Kashmiri Muslim government bureaucrats could not be expected to do this, for they had little interest in or enthusiasm for Islam themselves. Rather, he pinned his hopes on ‘the lower class government employees who still have a great love for Islam in their hearts’.[53]

In the course of his three-month visit of the province of Jammu, including the Muslim-majority districts of Rajouri, Poonch and Doda, Maulana Ahrar discussed his plans with junior Kashmiri Muslim government servants and addressed public meetings at various mosques, where he also distributed literature published by the Jama‘at. At one of these meetings, he put forward a five point proposal to the local committee for administering Muslim endowments, the Anjuman Awqaf-i-Islami, requesting them to do away with the insecurities and fears that the Muslims of Jammu were facing; to undertake steps to spread education and Islamic consciousness among them; to set up Islamic schools in every Muslim-dominated locality, where the Imams of the mosques should teach Muslim children the Qur’an, their salaries being paid by the Awqaf board; to regularly inspect this work; and to appoint special missionaries to preach Islam among the Muslims living in outlying rural areas.[54]

The 1950s were, then, a period of considerable expansion of the JIJK, in terms both of numbers as well as geographical reach. Many young Kashmiris, increasingly disillusioned with the autocratic ways of the ruling National Conference and what was seen as its selling Kashmir’s interests to India, began enrolling as sympathisers and members. The arrest of Sheikh ‘Abdullah in 1953 and his subsequent imprisonment for well over a decade for allegedly challenging the legitimacy of Indian rule in Kashmir, as well as India’s consistent denial of democratic rights to the Kashmiris, drove growing numbers of Kashmiri youth to join or at least to sympathise with groups opposed to Indian control, the JIJK being one of these. The JIJK, it should be noted, has been one of the few political groups in Kashmir to have consistently maintained that the issue of Kashmir’s political future is still to be resolved and that India’s control over the territory without seeking the will of the people of Kashmir is in complete violation of the UN resolutions on the subject. The JIJK’s commitment to Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan won it the support of significant numbers of Kashmiris as opposition to India mounted, on account of India’s refusal to abide by its promises to the Kashmiri people, the fear of the rising challenge of Hindu chauvinism in India, the perceive threats to the religious identity of the Kashmiri Muslims, the failure of the state to absorb the growing numbers of educated young men in jobs in the public sector, the almost complete absence of employment opportunities in the private sector, the continued hold of the Pandits at the top level of the administrative service and the repeated rigging of elections in order to have a pliable state government in power which would pander to New Delhi’s wishes.[55] It would, however, not do to attribute the growing popularity of the JIJK at this time simply to its role as an oppositional force. Equally important for many was its programme of Islamisation of society and its advocacy of personal piety alongside with social transformation in the direction of establishing what it called an Islamic system.

Although the JIJK may not have been able to carve a large following for itself among the ‘ulama, many of who, being associated with various Sufi orders or with the Deoband school, remained opposed to it, it did appeal to sections among a new class of Kashmiri Muslims, educated in modern schools that had begun to come up in Kashmir after 1948. These were young men, typically from lower-middle class families in towns such as Srinagar, Baramulla and Sopore, disillusioned with what they saw as the ‘world-renouncing’ and un-Islamic popular Sufism of the shrines, seeking a form of Islamic expression that would satisfy their need for religious and cultural authenticity, while at the same time being in tune with the demands that modernity placed on them and answering their need for political assertion and community activism. They were often the first generation of educated members of their families, products of the sweeping reforms that Sheikh ‘Abdullah had introduced in his short spell as Prime Minister of the state before the Indian authorities arrested him in 1953. These reforms had broken the power of the Hindu landlord class in Kashmir, transferred land to the tillers of the soil and had opened up hitherto closed avenues of upward social mobility for many Kashmiri Muslims through a rapid expansion of the educational system and the public sector.[56] The JIJK, with its abundant literature, its opposition to ‘un-Islamic’ features of popular Sufism, its forceful advocacy of modern as well as Islamic education through a network of schools that it began to set up, and its commitment to community work and political assertion, readily appealed to sections of this new generation. Education in the expanding government school and college system had widened their horizons, while, at the same time, raising their expectations of worldly advancement. With the failure of the state to provide employment opportunities commensurate with the growing numbers of educated youth, many of them began turning to overtly anti-Indian parties, including to the JIJK, fiercely opposed as it was to Indian rule.

For many Kashmiris, the JIJK seemed to offer a form of Islamic expression and commitment in sharp contrast to what was seen as the world-renouncing popular Sufism associated with the shrines, which came to be increasingly seen as un-Islamic and as responsible, among other factors, for Muslim decline. The JIJK appeared as a movement that not only sought to rescue the Kashmiris from their un-Islamic ways, taking them back to pristine Islam, but also enabling them to cope with contemporary challenges. The JIJK sought not only to promote religious consciousness, but also attempted to address issues of immediate, this-worldly concern to people most affected by them. Thus, in a long list of issues that the JIJK took up for public debate by organising rallies in various parts of the state, a JIJK spokesman mentioned the following: the protection and enforcement of Muslim Personal Law; unity of all Muslims; the growing spread of the use of alcohol; increasing corruption in the state administration; the interference of the ruling party in the functioning of the state bureaucracy; the hoarding of essential commodities; the agitation in Jammu launched by Hindu militants to fully integrate Kashmir with India; the resettlement of Muslims affected by violence in parts of the state; providing fertilisers to farmers; the issue of Kashmir’s disputed status; the indiscriminate arrest of students; proper rules for the police and a raise in their salaries; employment to Kashmiri Muslim youth in Arab states; expanding employment opportunities in the state; maintaining the minority character of the Aligarh Muslim University; violence against Muslims in India; provision of clean drinking water to towns; proper health care; and police attacks on protesters.[57] The JIJK also sought to render practical help to people in need, such as providing relief to victims of natural disasters and legal assistance.[58] These were issues of direct concern to people as the sought to manage their daily lives. Custodians of Sufi shrines, in contrast, would rarely, if ever, devote their attention to these ‘worldly’ matters. It is, then, not surprising that growing numbers of educated Kashmiri youth found themselves veering round to the JIJK, if not to actually enrol as members but at least to sympathise with its cause, disenchanted with both the traditional Sufis as well as with the state.

Despite its gradual growth from the 1950s onwards, the JIJK had to contend with considerable resistance from several quarters within the Kashmiri Muslim community. Many Muslims associated with the popular Sufi traditions saw it as part of a wider ‘Wahhabi’[59] nexus. Its message of Islamic reform, with its insistence that Muslims should go directly to the Qur’an and the sunnah of the Prophet for guidance, by-passing the authority of the Sufi saints and denying the intermediary powers that were attributed to them, was seen as an attack on cherished beliefs by practitioners of the cults that had developed around the graves of the Sufis. It was also felt to be a threat to the authority of the custodians of the shrines, the class of Pirs, who commanded great respect among the ordinary folk. Allegations were levelled against the JIJK by what it called ‘monopolists of religion’, of promoting ‘wrong beliefs’ (bad ayteqadi) and of ‘denying the Sufis’ (auliya-i-allah ke munkar).[60] Others accused it of being deniers of the Prophetic traditions’ (munkar-i-hadith), ‘obscurantist’ (qadamat pasand), ‘communalist’ (firqa parast), ‘anti-national’ (mulk dushman) and even of being agents of the CIA.[61] Opposition from these quarters to the work of JIJK activists was reported from many places. Thus, in August 1957, local Muslims protested against a JIJK ijtema at the village of Dengi Vich in Baramulla, at which Sa‘aduddin was present. Sa‘aduddin tried to reason with the protesters, saying,

We are your brothers. We believe in Allah, His Prophet and the Hereafter, and we only talk about these matters with the people…You must understand that the communists might soon come here, and they do not believe in Allah, His Prophet, the Qur’an and the Hereafter. Your brave maulvis will probably themselves welcome them with garlands of flowers.[62]

Even the reformist Ahl-i-Hadith group, which shared a common legacy of Islamic reform with the JIJK, but which competed with it for much the same potential support-base, did not spare the Jama‘at from attack, probably fearing, like the custodians of the Sufi shrines, that the Jama‘at was succeeding in winning over a number of its own potential supporters. For instance, in December 1952 local Ahl-i-Hadith activists in Shopian started a virulent campaign against the JIJK, telling the people that,

The Maududi jama‘at have adopted the appearance of Muslims but, in actual fact, they are so far from Islam that the prayers said behind an Imam who belongs to that sect are unacceptable [to God]…In short, they are even worse than the Mirzais[63], Qadianis and Bahais, and so they should be completely avoided.[64]
The Jama‘at, however, responded to these allegations with tact. It saw many of its critics as simply motivated by a threat to their own interests because of its increasing influence. Qari Saifuddin noted that some ‘selfish mullahs, for whom religion is a means for livelihood’ were opposing the party for their own petty reasons. The JIJK’s political opponents were branding it as anti-Sufi, he said, simply in order to malign its image, fearful of its growing popularity. The Jama‘at, unlike the Ahl-i-Hadith, it may be noted, advocated a non-confrontationist and relatively moderate stance vis-à-vis the Sufis. Its approach in ‘nullifying shirk and advocating tauhid’, notes a sympathetic observer, was ‘one of tactical compromise’.[65] Rather than directly opposing the veneration of the tombs of the saints as un-Islamic, the JIJK sought, in some cases, to operate from within existing Sufi frameworks in order to present what it saw as the true monotheistic teachings of the Sufis, which had, over the centuries, been covered with layers of superstition. Thus, for instance, Qari Saifuddin was himself chairman of the famous Sufi shrine at Khanyar, Srinagar, for seven years and translated the sayings of the fourteenth century Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani, founder of the Muslim Rishi order and considered to be the patron saint of Kashmir, from Kashmiri into Urdu. The JIJK organ Azan also regularly brought out special issues on various Sufi saints of Kashmir who had played an important role in the spread of Islam in the region.[66] Likewise, Sa‘aduddin translated Mir Sayyed Ali Hamadani’s Persian Aurad-i-Fatahiyya
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War in Kashmir: An Indian Muslim Perspective - Syed Mohammad Sadiq

The continuing conflict in Kashmir, that has taken a toll of several thousand lives, today still shows no sign of ending. India and Pakistan as well as the several self-styled jihadist groups active in the region appear completely unwilling to make any major compromise in their respective positions. As an Indian Muslim, a student of Islam, and as someone who is seriously trying to practise my faith and understand it objectively, I feel that because the conflict is often framed as an Islamic jihad it is necessary to examine it to see if this labeling is legitimate at all. If indeed it fits the case of an Islamic jihad there can, to my mind, be no question of not supporting it. On the other hand, if, despite the claims of various militant groups, the war cannot be considered an Islamic jihad, I personally believe that there can be no Islamic justification for it. It might well be considered to be a struggle for national self-determination, but cannot be said to be an Islamically legitimate jihad.

Scholars of Islam are unanimous in agreeing that jihad, understood here as physical battle against non-Muslim enemies, is possible only under certain circumstances. There are strict rules governing the declaration and conduct of jihad, and in order to judge whether or not the current militant movement in Kashmir is indeed an Islamic jihad, it is pertinent to examine it in the light of each these conditions.

Many Muslim scholars hold that resort to armed jihad is not allowed against a state that grants its Muslim citizens the freedom to practise their faith. All other problems that Muslims might face by living in such a state have social or political causes, and hence must be solved through social and political means, and not through armed conflict wrongly labeled as jihad.

India, at least in theory, is a secular state, and its Constitution guarantees full freedom of religion, including of the practice and propagation of religion, to all its citizens. It is true that the rights of non-Hindus, particularly Muslims, in India are being trampled upon today and that the Indian Muslims are being actively persecuted by Hindutva groups, often in league with the state. However, no fair-minded person will deny that the growing popularity of the appeals of Hindutva groups in India owes, among other factors, to the widespread fear psychosis among many Hindus triggered off by self-styled jihadists in Kashmir. When groups like the Lashkar-i Tayyeba claim, as they repeatedly do, that their ultimate aim is to have the Islamic or Pakistani flag flying atop Delhi's Red Fort, and when such groups attack and kill Hindus in Kashmir and elsewhere with impunity, it is bound to have a reaction, and naturally this works to increase the support of right-wing anti-Muslim Hindutva groups among Hindus in India, leading, in turn, to increasing attacks on Muslims in the country. It cannot be denied that the violent rhetoric and actions of Hindutva groups and self-styled Islamist groups active in Kashmir feed on each other. In other words, true freedom of religion for Muslims (and for others) in India, which is what the aim of any legitimate jihad should be, can be secured only through active struggle against both right-wing Hindu as well as self-styled Islamist groups. The rhetorica and tactics of the self-styled jihadists in Kashmir, therefore, are completely counter-productive from the Muslim point of view itself.

In this regard, it must also be remembered that prior to the launching of the militant movement in Kashmir in 1989, and even today, for that matter, the Government of India has not placed any restriction on the freedom of religion of Muslims in Kashmir or elsewhere in India. In fact, it is a well-known fact that even prior to the outbreak of militancy in Kashmir, the region had hardly any Islamic institutions, despite Muslims being a majority. Students who wanted to go in for higher Islamic education would generally take admission in madrasas and universities in other parts of India. Almost no Islamic literature of note was produced in Kashmir, and even the Islamist Jamaat-i Islami of Kashmir, which has been in the forefront of the anti-Indian movement, was dependent almost entirely on the literature produced by the Jama'at-i Islami Hind. Islamic bookshops in Srinagar and other towns stocked, as they still do, books almost entirely published by Muslim scholars from other parts of India, there being very few Kashmiri Islamic scholars who had devoted themselves to such literary pursuits. If at all the uprising in Kashmir was indeed motivated by purely religious concerns, one wonders why this was the case.

Jihad must always be done 'fi sabil illah' or 'in the path of God'. In other words, it must be undertaken simply for the sake of the faith. If it is launched for personal or worldly aims, such as for political independence, joining accession to another country or acquiring political power, it cannot be deemed to be a jihad.

The Kashmiri militant movement was launched not by Islamist groups, but, rather, by the secular Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). It was only later that when Islamist groups such as the Jama'at-i Islami felt that the JKLF was emerging as a major challenge to their own authority that they reluctantly decided to join the militant movement. Further, Pakistan also decided to lend armed and other forms of support to the Islamists, finding that their goal of getting Kashmir to join Pakistan worked more in its interest than the pro-independence JKLF. In other words, the militant movement was launched not 'in the path of Allah' (fi sabil illah), which is a precondition for a legitimate jihad, but simply for the sake of a particular political agenda. This means that the movement cannot be considered to be a jihad in the Islamic sense of the term.

Jihad, as a rule, is a defensive war. The Qur'an is replete with exhortations to the believers to desist fromaggression against others. It allows for the taking up of arms only when Muslims are persecuted on account of their faith. On no account can Muslims attack non-Muslims who are not opposed to them. The Qur'an explicitly states that God does not forbid Muslims from being kind and dealing justly with those who have not fought them because of their faith. In the course of the war in Kashmir, militants (as well as, of course, the Indian army) are known to have committed considerable atrocities against innocent civilians, Muslims as well as others. This goes completely against the rules of Islamic jihad. In the case of some self-styled Islamist groups such atrocities have been no minor aberrations or exceptions. For instance, the Lashkar-i Tayyeba has consistently sought to present all Hindus as 'enemies of Islam' and hence as legitimate targets. This is completely un-Islamic, and one regrets that Islamic organizations have not had the courage to openly issue fatwas to condemn this as totally unacceptable and declare the Lashkar and similar groups as enemies of Islam.

Islam gives the utmost importance to peace. In fact, Islam is the only religion whose very name means 'peace' (salaam). One of the names of the attributes of God is also al-Salaam or the very embodiment of Peace. The Qur'an repeatedly tells the believers that if aggressive non-believers incline towards peace, they, too, should make every effort in the same direction. Jihad, in the sense of defensive war, is governed by strict codes of conduct. Thus, unarmed enemies, women, priests, children and the elderly are not to be harmed.

It is true that the Government of India's proposals for dialogue with the militants have not been unconditional and that it has always insisted that the status of Kashmir as an 'integral part of India' is non-negotiable. That in itself is, of course, unacceptable. Yet, in accordance with the Qur'anic dictate that if one's enemies incline towards peace, Muslims, too, must do so, it was incumbent on the militants to actively work for peace, rather than creating even greater strife. The word 'Islam' means peace, as Muslims believe, the Prophet was sent as a 'mercy (rahmat) to the world', but how far, if at all, we must ask, have the Kashmiri militants been able to abide by the commandments of Islam and the model of the Prophet in this regard? In actual fact, as will be readily admitted, they have done the gravest damage to the image of Islam. By their bloody actions they have only succeeded in convincing many non-Muslims that Islam is a violent, bloodthirsty religion that has nothing to do with peace. In other words, they have done grievous harm to Islam rather than serving it.

Before launching a jihad, Muslims must make every effort to convey the message of Islam to those opposed to them. This is, what, in fact, the Prophet did when he and his early disciples had to suffer great persecution at the hands of the Qur'aish in Mecca. In the absence of efforts to convey the message of Islam to their opponents before launching a defensive war, no armed struggle can be considered a legitimate jihad. Furthermore, in accordance with the tradition (sunnah) of the Prophet, Muslims must first seek to migrate from the land where they are being persecuted (hijrat), and only then, after all other efforts have failed, can they take up arms in self-defence.

As mentioned above, a precondition for declaring armed jihad is that first all efforts should be made to convey the message of Islam to one's opponents. If they refuse to accept it and still carry on active persecution of Muslims on account of their faith then only is it allowed for Muslims to take up arms in their defence, and that too provided only if they continue to be oppressed. The Kashmiris have done nothing in this regard. No recent Kashmir 'alim or Muslim scholar or organization is known to have made any effort whatsoever in da'wah work among non-Muslims in Kashmir or elsewhere in India. None of the militants involved in any of the various self-styled Islamist outfits have ever made any such efforts. On the contrary, by their actions and rhetoric they have only made da'wah work even more difficult, having led many non-Muslims to believe that Islam is a religion of terror. This clearly suggests, then, that their struggle can in no way be considered a legitimate jihad.

Muslim scholars are generally agreed that the jihad can only be launched when Muslims possess enough military strength to combat their opponents. If they lack this strength, war would cause even more damage to the Muslims, and therefore it cannot be considered a legitimate jihad. It is also argued that if war would create more problems for Muslims than it would solve it may not be legitimate.

It is readily apparent that the Kashmiri self-styled jihadists are no military match for the Indian army. In the course of the last almost two decades, most of the several thousand people who have lost their lives in Kashmir have been Muslims. Thousands of Muslim women have been widowed and many more Muslim children have been orphaned. The war has caused unimaginable damage to the Kashmiri Muslims while not bringing them any substantial gains. Further, it is also undeniable that the conflict in Kashmir has made life for the Muslims in the rest of India much more difficult and insecure. The activities of self-styled jihadists in Kashmir have given a tremendous boost to Hindu terror groups, who now attack Muslims with impunity. If Kashmir succeeds in separating from India the pressure on the Muslims remaining in the country would bound to increase. Their credentials would be held in even greater suspicion than now and demands would even be made that they should leave the country. The Muslims in the rest of India, taken together, number more than 10 times the Muslim population of Kashmir. Hence, from a strictly Islamic perspective, the interests of the former take precedence over the latter. Since it is in the interests of the Indian Muslims that Kashmir stay with India, the Kashmiri militants must recognize this if they are sincere about their commitment to Islam.

It is high time concerned Muslims stand up and defend the fair name of their religion from being sullied by self-styled Islamists in Kashmir and elsewhere who are motivated simply by hatred of people of other faiths and who are using religion for their own base motives. It is tragic that Islamic organizations and Muslim 'ulama choose to remain silent on the continued abuse of Islam by such groups. They are ever eager to pass fatwas of infidelity against anyone threatening their personal interests, but turn the other way when terrorists misuse the faith for their own political agendas. This is not to deny the equally culpable role of the Indian state and Hindu terrorist groups. They too are equally condemnable. However, as Muslims it is our duty to see that our actions are in accordance with the teachings of our faith. Others would be held responsible by Allah for their own actions.

These are just some random thoughts that emanate straight from the heart. I do not claim to be an Islamic scholar, and my understanding of Islam is indeed limited.
This guy was sending money to the terrorist to kill hindus and indians in kashmir valley
Dr. Ayyub Thakur – A True Kashmiri
Murtaza Shibli

In early 90s, at the peak of Kashmiri armed resistance, I would spend hours listening to fellow journalists and all sorts of other people offering free analysis and comments about the situation – a tradition still very strong and flourishing. It was the latest and unedited information about the JKLF ‘area commanders’, Amanullah Khan’s future statements and the movements of larger than life Azam Inqillabi, a militant commander in his late forties, who sent his photographs to the press wearing battle fatigues with Kalashnikov rifles, pockets full of grenades and claims that he is living thousands of feet above the sea-level at some unknown destination. This gave a lift to my spirits in dingy local newspaper offices in Srinagar, adding a certain degree of mythical character to the milieu.

There was mention of other names and characters notably – Sheikh Tajamul Islam, Ayyub Thakur and Ghulam Nabi Fai. Everyone seemed to know about Dr. Ayyub Thakur as Jamiat-ut-Tullaba leader and university scholar, praised for being Kashmir’s first ‘nuclear scientist’. Some know-alls ‘revealed’ that Thakur and Fai were the real architects of ongoing militant struggle and were working abroad. However, the first detailed account of Dr. Thakur came from a friend and classmate Abdul Lateef Malik of Arwani. Lateef Malik alias Qari Abdul Basit was a Jamiat member who later became Hizbul Mujahideen chief for ‘education and guidance’ and was killed by the army in some border village in Poonch on his way back from Azad Kashmir. Much later another friend and a top militant commander who defected to the Indian side told me about his meetings with Ayyub Thakur in early days of militancy. He described him dangerous, guileful and cunning. A Pandit sitting next to him said that he is ISI chief in the UK and was responsible for the killing of Kashmiri Pandits.

My first encounter with Dr. Ayyub Thakur occurred in a cold December afternoon in 2000. I still remember first thing he asked when I called for an appointment was if I was comfortable and need any help. He invited me home and offered to pick me up from the nearest tube station – Ealing Broadway. As I walked out of the station wondering how to recognize each other – he came from nowhere racing towards me saying Hey Jenab Assalamu Alaikum in strong south-Kashmir accent and hugged me tightly. It took me a while to come to the terms. Bewildered, I asked him as to how he recognized me? His answer was simple and innocent: ‘I can recognize muzloom Kashmiris from a mile. Helplessness is writ large on our faces’.

At his West London home, as we sipped Kaeshir chai his favourite with bakirr khaene, we talked about Kashmiri politics to literature, about the people, his dreams and fears, about our families, as he knew my father from his student days. He quoted from Kashmiri poetry and phrases, exhibiting his love for his land and the people. I was surprised to see the intensity of his passion and calmness of approach flowing with gentle ease. He talked about music and his love for Habba Khatoon’s poetry and songs sung by Shamima Dev, wife of his one time friend from his university days Ghulam Nabi Azad, now a leading figure in Indian politics.

During my stay in London, whenever we met we talked endlessly – his repertoire was full of anecdotes and experiences – all about Kashmir and its people. After few months, when I was leaving for Kashmir, he again invited me for a lunch and gave me gifts, as he would do with every Kashmiri – related or unrelated, known or unknown. Later, when I came back to the UK, Dr. Ayyub was of great help in every way possible and the relationship grew stronger.

He was the only Kashmiri leader hated by both India and Pakistan for his guts and courage. He never compromised his beliefs and remained unmoved against India. He would also criticize Kashmiri political and militant leadership whenever he felt the need. Equally he would oppose any anti-Kashmiri moves by the Pakistani government and was the only Kashmiri to confront the Pakistani military establishment. He controlled them all, with a powerful discipline and provided both future direction and moral instruction.

He was very weary about growing criminalisation of Kashmiri militancy and politics. As early as 1990 he was the first to condemn misuse of gun in Kashmir, a time when Kashmiri leaders of all hues and sizes were singing symphonies in praise of gun as the only tool of Kashmir’s deliverance from the centuries old serfdom. He continued his open and uncompromising attacks on Kashmir’s separatist leadership and wanted all of them to go public with their personal assets in order to keep the political movement transparent. All opposed the move and lobbied against him at every possible place. As a result, his press statements and the news about him were often blacked out not only by the Indian side but by the Pakistani media too. There seemed a strange and tacit understanding between the two sides and it was all against him. When the Indian government was accusing him of supporting terrorism and demanded his extradition, I strongly felt that Pakistani media was silent about the whole issue. I called an official of a Pakistan based Kashmiri news agency and asked him for the reasons. He showed his helplessness and replied that he can only do what he is told to do and cannot offer any further explanation.

Soon after 9/11, the Indian government took advantage of the new atmosphere of fear and accused him of funding terrorism in Kashmir through his charity Mercy Universal and demanded his extradition from the UK. Mercy Universal came under growing scanner from the British security agencies. Its funds were frozen and the British media joined the witch-hunt calling Ayyub Thakur a terror professor and terror nuclear scientist etc. As the accusations grew thicker, everyone including me got worried about him. But he remained unfazed, though disturbed by the fact that to prove his innocence is consuming most of his time. But all along he remained faithful of the British justice system and his fondness for it grew to an absolute when the charity was acquitted and allowed back to work.

He was scholarly and thorough with a very sharp memory and good analytical skill. This gave him enormous advantage in his long-term judgments and placed him above those gullible souls taken in by appearances, ‘statements’ or ‘gestures’. He always remained strong in his convictions and beliefs. After 9/11 and subsequent American attack on Afghanistan, when all the Kashmiris advocating ‘freedom struggle’ tried everything to jettison their ‘jehadi’ image, Dr. Ayyub continued to support the idea of militant struggle as a way to bring India to the negotiating table. He openly supported the calls from Jehad Council whenever he felt necessary. He also increased pressure on the Pakistani Government to rehabilitate Kashmiri activists in Pakistan who are living in very poor conditions.

Despite his strong opposition to the Hurriyat Conference leaders on certain issues, he remained their strong defendant outside. He would argue with Pakistani politicians and intellectuals about the need for strong Hurriyat Conference. When Syed Ali Geelani wanted to float his own section of Hurriyat and sought support from Ayyub Thakur, he avoided it as he felt the move was not good for Kashmiris. As a result, Geelani’s Hurriyat launch was delayed by few months. Finally, when Syed Ali Geelani launched his Hurriyat, I was in Srinagar. One of the rival Hurriyat leaders told me that it was the handiwork of Ayyub Thakur. I just smiled at the strangeness of self-propelled intrigue.

As a public figure, he has been described variously. Some Kashmiri nationalists accused him of being a fundamentalist pro-Pakistani while as the Indians called him an ISI agent and a pro-Pakistani militant supporter. Ayyub Thakur was a true Kashmiri whose ideology and political beliefs could be questioned, but not his love and passion for his homeland. He was the embodiment of the old school of Kashmiri innocence that is epitomized by warmth and love. His eyes would lit up whenever he talked about his life in Kashmir, vast expanse of lush greens, his time at the Kashmir University, his friends and class mates. And he would often long for those days.

He remained a true and traditional Kashmiri till his death with all his etiquettes and mannerisms intact. I would drink Kaeshir chai with chout every time I visited him. As a Kashmiri he would only eat rice at his home and would insist on eating it elsewhere. I have enjoyed razmah daal, yakhaen and other Kashmiri delicacies at his home and he was a host par excellence. His love for his language remained strong and no surprise, his children speak it at home. He would always help a Kashmiri irrespective of his ideology, faith or allegiance. He would provide financial assistance, accommodation and try to sort out all their problems. He was a mentor, a friend and a benefactor who remained rest-less to do things for Kashmir and Kashmiris. He never asked anything in return nor did he force his political beliefs on anyone.

I first realized about his illness when my wife told me about his continuous coughing for more than a year, which he did not think much of. However, in late 2003 just a few days before Ramadan he left a message on my phone saying that he is going to America for a health check. I got a bit concerned but later spoke to him on a couple of occasions and all seemed under control. After that Ramadan when he came back, I noticed his unique and inconsolable descent into old age, and he suddenly looked frail – not as much his body – but his grip over his breath and gait. However, he refused to acknowledge it, the concerns of his family and friends and off course doctors. He all but discounted it and continued to work with the pace he had set himself as a young student activist. He did not like it when, on a couple of occasions, I told him that he must realize he is getting old and his body cannot support his activities or vast energies of his mind.

With every passing day, he got busier as he was launching a new organization ‘Justice Foundation’ which he did not wanted to, but was drawn into by the circumstances. He thought about it obsessively and was busy preparing for its constitution and was finally exhausted by it. I saw sacks under his eyes – his days were replete with less slumber as he perfected the syllables of his document for weeks in the end. There was no limit to the violence he did to himself in order to nurture his ideas and visions for his people.

However, he was set in his ideas. What he believed was rightful and true vision for his people and country had not changed in his imagination ever since he left Kashmir more than two decades ago. He was kind of Peter Pan – who grew in the outside world – but his real world which he had left behind remained static. Despite many heated discussions, countless examples I would pluck from my life in Kashmir, he refused to acknowledge that Kashmir had changed anything little – let alone the ideologies and allegiances, the psychographics and sociographics. My often-rude analysis and judgments of what he thought made him sometimes angry but often irritated. He would discount my uttering by simply calling me a ‘pagal’ or mad, but conducted himself with grace and charm. It never bothered me, as his remarks were always embedded in true love and respect.

Due to his political involvement, his family suffered a lot and a highly emotional and loving Dr. Ayyub could not see his parents as they died in Kashmir. But he never made a great deal about it, as he knew that his suffering was not alone and was the consequence of his beliefs and sensibility, but shared by millions of voiceless Kashmiris. He sighed, but never cried. He suppressed yearnings, longings and disappointments. Every passing day caused him to dream and dream more about his Kashmir. Any action on the ground, no matter how demoralizing and painful gave his thoughts a lift.

At the hospital bed at Queen Mary’s, I would come to see him almost daily, talking to his family and friends. The hope was fast receding, but no one would acknowledge it. I talked to his friends and could feel the tensions rise and grow by every day, but no one said a word, at least to me. On his last night in the hospital while I was going back home with Ghulam Jeelani, his brother-in-law, I could feel the time had come. Next day, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai called me briefly saying it was all over. Finally Dr. Ayyub was dead. It was the first feeling of losing the sense of gravity. I was numb as I tried to gather my self to say my last salaams.

At his deathbed in the hospital, when I stole a final glance at him, his face, in repose looked radiant and peaceful. With white beard and flowing moustache he looked like a maharajah plucked from a Mughal miniature. Despite being overwhelmed by a charade of grief, I felt at peace too, for I took consolation in the fact that he was heading for a far better place, where all that he will face will be truth.

A couple of days ago, when I was about to finish this write-up, I visit his grave in the Greenford Cemetery, a walking distance from my flat. As I say fatiha, feelings rush fast through my heart – a collage of events – I feel heaviness in my breast and tears rush through my eyes. Soon it blends with dust, which blows, but I feel nailed to the ground. Suddenly the piercing chill of the late afternoon weather wakes me up and the cruel calculus of survival kicks me to leave. I head home with a sack full of fond memories.
The Poverty of Radical Islamist Philosophy: The Jama'at-i Islami of Jammu and

Yoginder Sikand

Some months ago, when holidaying in Jammu, I happened to visited a Muslim
bookshop. That is where I chanced upon a book titled 'Ashob-e-Dahr' (roughly
translated as 'Calamity of the Times') and authored by Qari Saifuddin, a leading
spokesman of the Jama'at-i Islami of Jammu and Kashmir and one of its

The book is a collection of Qari's Islamically-inspired Persian poetry. Since I
cannot understand Persian I cannot comment on the quality of his poetic
creations. Fortunately, the book carries a lengthy preface by Qari in Urdu,
which I can read. The preface neatly summarises the radical Islamist vision of
the Jama'at, and probably also reflects the contents of the poems as well.

Radical Islamism is premised on the notion of a sharp distinction and an
inherent and undying antagonism between Islam and other religions. Islam and
other faiths are, then, put in a permanent adversarial relationship, there being
no possibility of any compromise between them. Consequently, Islam comes to be
seen as perpetually surrounded by a host of enemies. Since Islam is seen as the
only true religion acceptable to God, those who are branded as 'enemies' of
Islam are, by definition, regarded as 'enemies of God' as well. All the problems
of the Muslims are then traced to an alleged grand conspiracy against Islam by
its manifold 'enemies'. Thus, Qari begins the preface of his book by appearing
to suggest that the ills of all the Muslims, including of Jammu and Kashmir, are
a result of a plot by non-Muslims to destroy Islam. He claims that the head of
the intelligence department of the Crusaders', a certain German called Hermann,
addressed the victorious Muslim commander Salahuddin
Ayubi, who finally drove the Crusaders out of Muslim lands, thus:

"Respected Sultan! This war that we are fighting is actually one between the
Church and the Ka'ba, and this shall carry on even after we die. We will not
fight on the battlefield. We will not besiege any forts, but we shall besiege
the religious faith of the Muslims. The allure of our daughters, our wealth and
our culture, which you call immoral, shall cause a gaping hole in the wall of
Islam, and then Muslims will start hating their own culture and loving the ways
of Europe".

The alleged meeting between Hermann and Ayubi is used by Qari to symbolise what
he sees as the eternal war between Islam and non-Islam. The travails of the
Muslims, the Qari goes on to elaborate, stem from this alleged anti-Islamic
plot, which has resulted in Muslims refusing to abide by the injunctions of the
Qur'an and accepting the Prophet Muhammad as a perfect to emulate. Muslims must
realise, Qari says, that prosperity in this world and in the life after next
cannot be had unless they firmly follow the Islamic shari'ah in all aspects of
their lives, from the seemingly most personal to the collective. The shar'iah is
presented as a complete system, a comprehensive body of rulings. It is also seen
as completely distinct from all other systems of law and belief, which are,
accordingly, dismissed by Qari as 'batil' or 'false' and even as 'shaitani
nizam' or 'Satanic systems'. The possibility that the shari'ah might share
certain ethical perspectives or legal injunctions in common
with other, non-Islamic, religions or belief systems is completely ruled out or
else conveniently ignored.

Re-living the shari'ah in their own personal lives and struggling to impose it
as the norm for society as a whole to be governed by is considered by Qari as an
urgent imperative for every Muslim. He appeals to his readers thus:

"Stand up and remove laziness from your hearts and rekindle the light of life.
Reawaken your spirit and bring it to act and then you will see that the necks of
your enemies will be in chains (dushmanon ki gardaney zer-e-zanjeer hai). Stand
up and capture the world, which is today based on falsehood and deceit. Then,
establish a just world which will be free from the dark stain of deceit. Build
such a world that shines with the light of the Prophet, a world whose beauty
lies in obedience to the path of the Prophet, a world which is coloured in the
dye of the Qur'an and is fragrant with the perfume of the Prophet".

Every Muslim, Qari appeals, must be fired by an irrepressible zeal to establish
this utopian dispensation. He explains his own condition thus:

" A voice from the unseen has awakened a hidden pain in my heart, which has now
burst forth like a fire-temple (atish kadah). This furious fire in my heart is
so intense that before it the flame that burns in the heart of the
fire-worshipping mendicant pales into insignificance".

Muslims, Qari appears to believe, are destined to rule, not to be ruled by
others. This follows from the general Islamist insistence that Islam 'has come
to rule, not to be ruled over'. That is why for Qari, and for most other
Islamists, the fact of Muslims living as minorities in non-Muslim countries
under 'un-Islamic' rule is simply intolerable. Islam and political power, in
this understanding of Islam, come to be seen as inseparable. Muslims must
consistently struggle to establish Islamic rule. In this regard, Qari urges his
readers to take a cue from the path of Khomeini, lauding his achievements in
'liberating his people from oppression'. He hails the revolution that Khomeini
ushered in as 'being free from strife' (shor-o-shar se pak). He also exhorts his
readers to take a cue from the Afghans who fought the Soviets, and claims that
in doing so the Afghans were motivated simply by their love for and dedication
to Islam.

They, he says, 'taught the Russians the meaning of life', that the 'beauty of
life lies in service to the Creator'. 'They called the irreligious Russians to
the path of the true faith', he claims, and 'cleansed the Russians' hearts of
the dirt of war'.

All these, Qari opines, are valuable lessons for the Muslims to remember and
profit from. He sees Muslims as 'enslaved' in many other parts of the world, and
urges them to take to the path of Khomeini and the Afghans to liberate
themselves. Presumably, his message is primarily directed at the Kashmiri
Muslims in order to enthuse them to rise up against India. As a true hardliner
Islamist ideologue, he glorifies revolution for its own sake, and is wholly
uncritical of movements that claim to be heralding an 'Islamic' dispensation but
which have resulted in murder and mayhem on an unimaginable scale, as in Iran
and in Afghanistan after the Soviet expulsion.

Like almost all other Islamist ideologues, Qari speaks in the most vague terms
of the 'Islamic alternative'. He appears to believe that a mechanical imposition
of the shari'ah is the solution to all of Kashmir's ills. If only the Kashmiris
follow Islam in their lives and struggle to set up an Islamic state, all their
manifold problems will somehow cease, presumably with divine help. He appeals to
the Kashmiri Muslims in this piously formulated homily thus:

"Strengthen your bond with Allah so that God might become happy with you. Make
the path of the Prophet your guide and travelling companion, and acquire the
love of the Prophet as your wealth. When your inner self is enlightened by the
spark of the faith, the accursed Satan will flee. Protect the true faith and God
will protect you. Appeal with Muslims to unite to gain success, because the
Prophet said that Satan runs away from the community (jama'at). If Muslims were
become one they will emerge as a very powerful force. God alone grants victory,
which can only be achieved by obeying Him. So, make the Prophet your model".

I do not, for a moment, deny the importance or value of religious faith. I can
fully understand the Qari's impassioned appeal for firm trust in God, this being
a central tenet of almost all religions. What is worrisome, however, is how in
Islamist discourse Islam comes to be seen as a complete system in itself and
seemingly premised on an undying opposition to all other belief systems and
ideologies. This is clearly reflected in Qari's preface and in almost all the
literature I have read by Islamist ideologues. This, of course, is not unique to
Islamism. The same logic underlines the claims of all fundamentalist ideologues,
Christian, Hindu or other. It leaves absolutely no space for sharing across
narrowly inscribed boundaries, and no room for dialogue and cooperation.

Equally disturbing is a complete blindness to empirical reality, as evidenced,
for instance, in the
Qari's wholly uncritical adulation of the Khomeini regime and the Afghans who
fought the Soviets and later fell out among themselves and slaughtered each
other in the thousands. This is also clear from Qari's complete lack of concern
for non-Muslims in Kashmir, who do not merit any mention at all in his book, and
who, presumably, would be condemned to second-class status of dhimmi-tude or
worse in the state that Qari dreams of establishing. This, of course, logically
follows from his basic premise of an undying hostility inherent in the relations
between Islam and other religions, pious Muslims and upholders of 'falsehood'.
Again, I must admit, Islamists like Qari are hardly unique in this regard, a
dogged obsession with rhetoric and blindness to plain and simple reality uniting
them with fellow fundamentalists in other communities as well. As religion gets
transformed into ideology, Islam comes to be reduced to a set of powerful and
emotive slogans ('Islam provides full social
justice'; 'Islam solves all problems and guarantees peace', 'East or West,
Islam is the best', Qari and his cohorts would claim). Qari, like others of his
ilk, is careful to limit himself simply to the level of hollow generalities and
hot, but empty, rhetoric. Thus, he says nothing at all about all the complicated
issues of how the ideal polity that he hankers after would be governed, his
claims that Islam provides an ideal blueprint for a model society
notwithstanding. Presumably, he knows nothing about such mundane matters. Little
knowledge, it is rightly said, can be a very dangerous thing indeed.
Since I don't get enough time to reply to all the posting I will try to reply to the various emails addressed to me in a single one starting with the observations of my friend Gauhar.

So what we, KPs, believe in is a myth and what you, KMs, believe in is truth...lots of laugh on your naive-ness. "KPs user to rig exams"...hmm that is why only a handful of KPs use to make it to the medical college, engineering college and KAS. So if not a single KP got into these institutions that is when things would have been fair, wow! I think we KPs should be thankful to the KMs for this generosity. I guess that is why you are so thrilled about KPs having fled the valley...

So it indeed was Jagmohan who conspired to kick KPs out of Kashmir and not the gun wielding terrorists. Thanks for clarifying this for me. I wonder if the organization called "Tigers of Allah" was floated by Jagmohan. Since a poster (I still have it and even gave a copy to Mr. G.N.Fai) from that organization was posted on my house asking us to leave or face death...didn't know that Jagmohan went to such depths. I am pretty sure he even supplied the cassettes to the mosque which were played on Jan 19th 1990 asking KPs to leave or face death. He probably was involved in killings of the prominent KP leaders like Tiklal Taploo, Sarvanand Kak, Justice Ganju, etc. Thanks for opening my eyes.

You strongly seem to believe that the only problem of Kashmir were us KPs and whether it was fudging the census numbers or exams we were the culprits. No wonder that you are so happy that we had to leave.

So the problem of Kashmir is a "right of self determination" issue. Hmm....I have the full page add that was published in all leading news papers in the Valley in Jan 1990. The add was by JKLF and it clearly said that "the current struggle in the valley is to establish Islamic law there and no one should think or treat this struggle as anything else". I am sure you are going to dismiss this as either my lie or still better, my myth but KPs like me know the truth and propaganda by KMs like you can not change it. Ask your JKLF leaders for the real truth and not the one they want you to believe in.


Someone wrote about the home loans taken by KPs. Yes in 1980s KP took loans and built houses in suburban cities and are still paying back those loans. We weren't as privileged that the state govt. would have written off those loans. A lot of KP sold their houses, which if you go by UN rules amounts to extortion. Since they had to sell their houses under unfair conditions but KMs don't really care since they got ready made houses for dirt cheap. A cousin of mine who had build a similar home by taking loan from his employer (a bank) and never got to move into the house and it was burned down as he fled the Valley. Unfortunately he hadn't yet insured the property and is paying back the loan and will continue to do so till his daughter reaches marriageable age.


Someone mentioned about we KPs not forgetting the fateful day of Jan 19th 1990 when the KM's have been living similar days everyday. Well the big difference is that we were driven out/mistreated by people we thought were our friends, our neighbors, our brothers. So my dear it is not easy to forget a betrayal like that.


Some other guy mentioned Panun Kashmir group to be a right wing conspiracy. So when KMs ask for independence it is genuine struggle and when KPs ask for a safe zone to live in it is right wing movement. Wow, what double standards.

I guess I have said enough for one day. So long. More later.
Syed Sahab,

GandhiJi(Mahatma) had mentioned it better
"Democracy is not a govt where it elements act like sheep; In democracy individual opinion is jealously guarded and so I feel, the minority has complete right to act totally different from the majority"

if you have doubts read your Father of Nations collective works of MahatmaGandhi vol 5 : under the topic "Majority and Minority".

Thanks for this wonderful quote of the Mahatma. He was a true believer of democracy and human rights. I consider him to be the most brilliant and courageous man in many centuries.

You should not be harsh towards Yash. I am sure you have seen the VHP/RSS beneath his veneer of a balanced intellectual. He is a mere victim, and an example of what has happened to the entire Indian intelligencia. Perhaps the greatest loss to India in recent times has been that of saffronization of its educated and economic elite. If you go to the US you will see what I mean. You will get horrified by the manner in which wealthy, and highly educated Hindus speak about Muslims there.

It is quite ironic that the Hindus who used to accuse the Muslims of being the perpetrators of the two nation theory are the very people who are doing their utmost at making it a success. Nowhere have their attempts been more successful than in Gujarat and Kashmir, with Godhra and Babri Masjid being their biggest showpieces.

Ashish ganju wrote:

To have tourist arrive in Kashmir directly or via Pakistan will require a huge infrastructure to be built which may take a while and in the meantime access thru India may be the only way for tourists to get there and again something India may not allow/support.

I guess you should take a lesson or two in geography and try to
learn something about Kashmir; the only natural outlet of the VALLEy
is thru Pakistan (alonside the Jhelum) AND Kashmiris have been doing
trade thru:

1)Pakistan, the city of Rawalpindi was the conduit for Kashmir'r trade.

2) Central Asian states: The influence of central Asia is visible
everywhere in Kashmir (Culture, behavior, art and architecture)
Kashmiris (just around 50years back) traded thru Ladakh (People may
NOT know where Samarkand is in Kashmir, but the word is still in
common vocabullary)

Let me cite an example: The Shrines of Kashmir have a triangle
shaped top with square base, across south Asia we see only domes, in
Pakistan and India alike) This design is seen in Turkey etc etc and
it has been even said that they are similar to design of Pagodas.

<b>SO WE NEVER HAD A ROAD LINK TO INDIA (the highway was being built
around the 1940's) and WE DO NOT NEED ONE. As an independant state
we can make use of the old routes which we ARE NOT allowed to use
now and you know in 21st CENTURY we have something called
Aeroplanes: things which fly and transport people and stuff from
place to place, pretty amazing it is for you to know this. You might
now say hey the weather in Kashmir is not good even for such stuff.
Good point but Delhi Intl Airport is right on top of the list of the
airports with a hell lot of fog, Srinagar aint have that problem.</b>

Ashish ganju wrote:

Next how will its defense be managed, the big support that Kashmir
cause enjoys from average Pakistani or ISI or its political parties
is in making Kashmir a part of Pakistan. So these elements of
society, ISI and politicians will have two options, one to invade
the independent Kashmir and make it part of Pakistan or continue the
state of unrest in Kashmir and not let it flourish and then
systematically grab it. Again if Kashmir would look at India for
help, all they are going to get is a cold shoulder.

<b>WHY are you worried about how WE deal with all these elements. It is
going to be OUR problem ( you did say lets consider hypothetical
situations, so dont try to move beyond your point) You really DO NOT
NEED TO worry your brain too much.</b>

Ashish ganju wrote:

To make sure it doesn't lose Kashmir they are not going to honor any
article 370 type of deal and just like PoK, the Valley will be
flooded with people from all over Pakistan and within couple of
decades pure KMs are going to become extinct.

Seriously you need medical attention, you are sufferring from

Ashish ganju wrote:

Given all this and the fact that India is already a regional
superpower and soon to be one of the World's superpowers,

Oh and by the way India houses 50% of WORLD's Poor and this 50%
lives below the poverty line! Superpower: A super-man-power base for
sure you are!

Ashish ganju wrote:

Or you too are like others who say one thing and follow something
completely different and my reference is to people who talk
about "right of self determination" but their ultimate aim is to
establish an Islamic rule across Kashmir and the rest of India.

What problem do you have with PEOPLE who want to ESTABLISH Islamic Rule across Kashmir. Your are already OUT OF KASHMIR. IT IS NO LONGER YOUR HOME. So STOP trying to be the boss and telling us what we should and shouldn't do.

<b>Geelani boycotts Pak national day function</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Geelani had adopted a tough posture on the eve of the Pakistan day criticising Islamabad for allowing running of the bus between Srinagar and Muzzafarabad which, according to him, was a virtual acceptance of Line of Control as the permanent border between the two countries<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>PoK Hindus waiting to crossover into India</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->"Our community is the real saga of the divided family as a result of the 1947 holocaust. Unfortunately, none of our community members are boarding the bus to Muzaffarabad on April 7," Social Republican Volunteers Association of erstwhile Muzaffarabadi Hindus (SRVA) chairman Vijay Sehgal told reporters.

After partition, most Muzaffarabadi Hindus left behind a large number of relatives behind. <b>"Some of them died and some are still living with their families, now Muslims", </b>he said.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> BJP bounces back in J&K
From Our Correspondent

Shri Kavinder Gupta of the BJP has been elected as the first Mayor of the Jammu Municipal Corporation giving serious jolt to the Congress which had been employing all fair and foul means to secure the top post in this city of temples.

In a keen contest, Shri Kavinder secured 36 votes in the 71-member Corporation against 34 to the Congress nominee, Bansi Lal. One rebel winner in the Corporation of the Congress did not vote.

In the recently held civic elections in this state, the BJP captured 25 seats despite foul play and misuse of official resources by the Congress which secured 27 seats in addition to two by its share-holder in the state coalition, the PDP. The BJP had fought the elections in alliance with Shiv Sena which secured one seat. Six seats went to the National Conference, one to the BSP and nine to the independents.

The BJP fielded its nominee for the mayorship whereas the post of Deputy Mayor was left for the National Conference which fielded their nominee, Shri Dharmvir Singh.

As there was infighting in the Congress, the party had put up Shri Bansi Lal Gupta for the post of Mayor although he was elected to the JMC as a rebel when he defeated the party's official candidate, Shri Gurmeet Singh.

Some ministers of the Congress were behind the candidature of Shri Bansi Lal. They not only helped in his victory but also insisited on fielding him as party nominee for the top post of Mayor.

However, in the initial phase, the Congress had planned to field Smt. Rani Balowaria, wife of the state Chief Secretary for the post of Mayor. Under this plan a special Ward No. 71 was created at the eleventh hour with a voter's strength of 446, whereas under law the normal strength should have been over 5,000 votes. Moreoever, this was just a part of Sidhra area outside the city where only the senior officers reside. This ward has little contiguity with the city limits as the whole of Sidhra was not included in the ward.

As certain ministers and some others in the Congress were backing Shri Bansi Lal Gupta, ultimately Smt. Bulowaria was put up as party nominee for the post of Deputy Mayor. She defeated the National Conference nominee with a margin of merely two votes.

The Congress leadership including some in New Delhi had gathered here to employ all kinds of means for securing victory in the election for mayorship but they failed because of the united fight by the opposition against attempts of the Congress to capture the post. This has obviously created flutter in the Congress as the party has lost to the BJP and independents at about half a dozen places. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Develop Empower Synergize India (DESI) (www.desiumd.org), invites you to a panel discussion titled:



Sunday, April 10, 2005.
2:00 to 4:00 pm, 1212 Tyser Auditorium, Van Munching Hall,
University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Since late 1989, the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan, has seen a resurgence of a vicious movement of religion based terrorism. As many as 40000 lives have been lost in this conflict over nearly 16 years of a sub-conventional war. Among the worst victims are the Kashmiri Hindus who have now become the targets of one of the most successful, though little known, campaigns of religious cleansing of an indigenous minority.

This panel discussion will take a close look at the decade old threat of 'Jihadi' terrorism in South Asia, of which the recent acts of terror in other parts of the world seem like echoes.

Panelists include:

Subodh Atal:
Foreign Policy Analyst, affiliated to The CATO Institute.

Peter Bergen:
CNN's terrorism analyst, Adjunct Professor at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University.

Husain Haqqani:
Former advisor to Pakistan Prime Ministers and Visiting Scholar,
Carnegie Peace Endowment.

Subhash Kak:
Delaune distinguished Professor at Louisiana State University.

Sanjay Tiku:
Kashmiri Hindu, University of Maryland.

The discussion also aims to shed light on the politics behind the prevailing condition and try to find out the role of the international community in solving the problem.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Army to counter PTV propaganda with DTH kits</b>
The Indian Army is installing direct to home (DTH) kits in villages close to the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan to counter "Pakistan Television propaganda".

Called the Army's Operation Sadbhavna (goodwill) project, it will provide villagers in the mountain areas an opportunity to watch Indian television, where state-run Doordarshan's low power transmitters are not powerful enough to reach, but Pakistani transmitters are.

"The step is being taken to provide entertainment to the villagers living in the remote mountainous areas and above all, to counter Pakistani television propaganda," said an Army spokesperson.

He said DTH kits were being provided free of cost by the Department of Information and Broadcasting, while the Army was bearing the cost of purchasing 29 inch television sets.

"The television sets will be placed in community places like the panchayat house. Small generator sets will also be placed for electricity back-up," the spokesperson said.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Anti-tank rocket launcher recovered in Doda </b>Jammu, April 3. (PTI): An anti-tank rocket launcher, capable of targeting from a distance up to 600 meters with accuracy, was today recovered from Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir, defence sources said.

The shoulder fire anti-tank weapon, weighing around nine kg, was found from Manu Mangat forest area when security forces busted a hideout there late this afternoon, they said.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Celebrate a culture of human rights in South Asia!

Breakthrough, Asia Society & Syracuse University present:


Thursday, April 7 - Saturday, April 9, 2005
Asia Society and Museum, 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, New York City

A three-day film and video festival featuring dynamic full-length films and
documentaries by well-known South Asian directors and independent
filmmakers. The films showcase contemporary human rights issues addressing
HIV/AIDS, women’s rights, sexuality, peace and conflict. Renowned film
directors Sabiha Sumar, Rituparno Ghosh, Zia Mian and Aminul Islam, along
with leading human rights activists, will lead post-screening discussions.

Thursday, April 7, 6:30 p.m.

Phir Milenge (We’ll Meet Again) (Revathy Menon/2004/160 mins./35 mm/India)
The first Bollywood film to spread HIV/AIDS awareness tells the story of a
successful young woman who loses her job due to her HIV status.

Friday, April 8, 6:30 p.m.

Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters) (Sabiha Sumar/2003/95 mins./video/Pakistan)
Set against the social turmoil of Pakistan in 1979, this film tells the story of a
Muslim widow as she comes to terms with her haunted past. Director Sumar
joins the discussion.

Saturday, April 9, 12:00 - 2:15 p.m.
Documentaries: Beyond Conflict

· Search for Freedom (Munizae Jahangir/2003/54 mins./video/Pakistan) Through
a feminist lens, this documentary explores the lives of four path-breaking
Afghan women based in Pakistan, who were affected by the political and
social turmoil in Afghanistan from the 1920s to the present.

· <b> Crossing the Lines: Kashmir, Pakistan, India (Pervez Hoodboy and Zia
Mian/2004/47 mins./video/Pakistan) This film, a critical balanced look at
the recurring violence in Kashmir, challenges viewers to look at the
situation with new eyes.? Made possible with generous support from Irfan Kathwari Foundation, Inc.</b>

Saturday, April 9, 3:00 - 5:15 p.m. Documentaries: Resisting Boundaries

· Love for a Longer Life (Dhurba Basnet/2002/27 mins./video/Nepal)
Courageous stories of individuals, leading positives lives, confront the
HIV/AIDS pandemic in Nepal.

· Many People, Many Desires (T. Jayashree /2004/46 mins./video/India)
Cutting across class, gender, language and caste, this film explores the
identity issues and status of sexual minorities in India.

· Facing the Future (Aminul Islam/2002/26 mins./video/Bangladesh)
As violent acid attacks against women in Bangladesh increase, civil society
agitates for stricter punishment for perpetrators and better care for victims.
Director Islam joins the discussion.

Saturday, April 9, 6:00 p.m.

Chokher Bali (A Passion Play) (Rituparno Ghosh /2003/167 mins./35 mm /India)
This film highlights the plight of widows in Bengal in the early 1900s, a
time of rising unrest.? Director Ghosh joins the discussion.


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