‘Azadi’ for what?

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If Talibanism hijacks the freedom movement

 

From the tone that he used, and from the way he spoke about the concept of “jehad” I gathered that he thought that a Muslim was meant to do only one thing in life: kill or get killed

 

Recently I had an argument with a Taliban-minded person when he said Kashmir is part of Pakistan. India is occupying it forcibly. I said to him, Kashmir is neither part of Pakistan nor of India. It is a disputed state. Its future is yet to be decided.

He did not stop there. He said when Kashmir becomes “azad”(free) it has got to be a caliphate. I asked him how could Kashmir become part of Pakistan and a caliphate at the same time? Pakistan is not a caliphate.

He said that in addition to freeing Kashmir from Indian occupation, Muslims need to overthrow Pakistan’s political system because it is satanic in nature. When I asked him why he considered Pakistan’s political system satanic, he replied: Pakistan is a democracy. Democracy is a satanic concept. It has no place in Islam.

Upon this I asked some more questions: If you consider democracy satanic and un-Islamic, how will you establish your caliphate? How will you appoint your caliph? Is there a set procedure in Islam for appointing a caliph? Then I informed him that every ruler appointed to head the Muslim state after the demise of the Prophet (peace be upon Him), was appointed in a different way from others which signified that there was no set procedure in Islam for appointing rulers. He said the best way to appoint a caliph was the way Taliban appointed Mullah Omar. I said Mullah Omar became chief of Afghanistan with the help of brute military force and that I did not consider him a caliph. He was astonished at my “un-Islamic and heretical” behaviour.

He then said the appointment of caliph would be decided by members of “sualeh jamaat” among Muslims. I asked him, who will decide who is “sualeh” (pious). What was the criterion for being “pious”? If political space were declared to be a preserve for the “sualeh” only, opportunists would feign false piety. Once they capture political power in the name of establishment of caliphate they will do with opponents exactly as Communists did in Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, etc. I told him squarely that if by “pious group” he meant the religious organisations that supported Talibanism, then I didn’t subscribe to any “sualeh jamaat”.

From the tone that he used, and from the way he spoke about the concept of “jehad” I gathered that he thought that a Muslim was meant to do only one thing in life: kill or get killed.

Even previously, during the early part of his political life, MA Jinnah had remained aloof from the Khilafat Movement launched by Indian Muslims under the leadership of Moulana Mohammad Ali against the dismemberment of Turkish Caliphate

This encounter made me feel that after “azadi” Kashmir may fall prey to the Taliban mindset in the name of caliphate. So it is time for leaders that to tell people just why Kashmir is fighting for “azadi”. Is it for the establishment of caliphate or is it to end the political uncertainty that has besieged Kashmir since 1947? Can a Kashmiri vote for India if the latter allows a plebiscite? If no, why not? Can he vote for Pakistan? If yes, what for? For the sake of caliphate? But then Pakistan was never envisaged by its founding fathers to be a caliphate. In fact, Allama Iqbal through his December 1930 presidential address to Muslim League at Allahabad had stated clearly : “The creation of autonomous Muslim states will not mean the introduction of a kind of religious rule in such states”; Muslim League through its March 1940 Lahore Resolution demanded: “Independent Muslim States in the North Western and Eastern zones of India for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative, and other rights and interests”; again through its April 1946 Pakistan Resolution at Delhi it demanded: “The zones comprising Bengal and Assam in the north-east and the Punjab, the NWFP, Sind, and Baluchistan in the north-west of India, namely Pakistan zones, be constituted into a sovereign independent state with a view to saving Muslim India from the domination of the Hindus, and in order to afford them full scope to develop themselves according to their genius”; and MA Jinnah, through his inaugural address to the Constituent Assembly of would-be Pakistan on 11 August 1947 at Delhi stated: “You are free; your are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State. Thank God we are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.”

Even previously, during the early part of his political life, MA Jinnah had remained aloof from the Khilafat Movement launched by Indian Muslims under the leadership of Moulana Mohammad Ali against the dismemberment of Turkish Caliphate. And Allama Iqbal vigorously supported the abolition of Turkish Caliphate. Allama said: “The Grand National Assembly has exercised the power of Ijtijad (which means to exert with a view to form an independent judgement on a legal question) in regard to the institution of Khilafat. According to Sunni Law, the appointment of an Imam or Khalifa is absolutely indispensable. The first question that arises in this connection is this – should the Caliphate be vested in a single person? Turkey’s Ijtihad is that according to the spirit of Islam the Caliphate or Imamate can be vested in a body of persons, or an elected Assembly. Personally, I believe the Turkish view is perfectly sound. It is hardly necessary to argue this point. The republican form of government is not only thoroughly consistent with the spirit of Islam, but has also become a necessity in view of the new forces that are set free in the world of Islam. The truth is that among the Muslim nations of today, Turkey alone has shaken off its dogmatic slumber, and attained to self-consciousness. She alone has claimed her right of intellectual freedom; she alone has passed from the ideal to the real – a transition which entails keen intellectual and moral struggle (p.157 The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam).”

So, it would be in the fitness of things if the leaders of the present “azadi” movement, while keeping the Muslim League history in view, answer the title question before Talibanism hijacks “azadi”.