Monday, March 12, 2012

The Rise and fall of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan - Part 1


Despite over half-a-century of its existence, the Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan is at cross roads. Its mixed record of success & failure includes survival in the face of state repression during Auyb martial law, worse political decision making such as active role in the formation of Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) -a political alliance formed in 1990 to topple the govt of Benazir Bhutto- or providing legitimacy to Pervaiz Musharraf’s Legal Framework Order (LFO) using the platform of Mutahidda Majlis e Amal (MMA) but a general failure in an attempt to gain power reins avowedly for the Islamization of Pakistan, are common causes to eye on.

A brainchild of the great Syed Abu A’la Maududi, the Jamaat was initially a  movement of immense potential, but neither was it able to reach its goal nor was it able to follow the plan of its founding-father who had laid down for it, decades before.

In the process of formation of Jamaat, Maulana Maududi had left a legacy that has shaped political Islam as we know it today. Maulana authored nearly 120 books and pamphlets, made around 1,000 speeches and wrote, the Tahfim-ul-Quran, a practical and political explanation of the Quran. The ideology he created affected the principal leaders and practitioners of political Islam in today's modern world. Philip Jenkins, a well known historian, documents that Syed Qutub Shaheed and Hasan al-Banna of Egypt borrowed Maududi’s ideas and applied them to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Ayatollah Khomeini, not only in contact with Maulana Maududi personally, but also translated some of his works into Farsi. The Palestinian Jehadist & jurist, Abdullah Azzam, who was instrumental in garnering ideological support for the Afghan war in the Arab world and thought to be a teacher of Osama bin Laden, is also known to be deeply influenced by Maududi's literature.

With this great success of its founder, the failure of the Jamaat is all more alarming because it happens in Pakistan, a country where Islam provides guidance for and regulates every aspect of life and occupies centre stage in the social, economic and political life of all Pakistanis. Admittedly, the polarized religious beliefs & low literacy rate in underdeveloped areas, the illiterate average Muslim differs from the Islam of the urban educated class where Jamaat dominates, and non-practicing Muslims, though all accounting for the failure of religious forces in Pakistan but the imprint of Islam, nonetheless, is clearly visible on Pakistanis.

The canvass of religious forces in Pakistan is quite distributed, well colourful too, but here we will account for the failure of one of the most organized, self controlled, and technologically educated religious force; Jamaat Islami Pakistan, under the stewardship of Syyed Munawaar Hassan, an educated & transparent religio-political leader who belongs to the immigrants of British India settled in Karachi, is guiding its sinking Titanic. For both tangible and intangible failures, we'd pose the questions as follows:

  • How did Jamaat e Islami interacted with successive regimes in Pakistan and with what results?
  • Can the Jamaat be regarded as a successful political force like others rose from bottom to top onto Pakistan's political map in last three decades?
  • What strategy did it follow in its aim of Islamizing the government and politics of Pakistan?
  • Has Jamaat been consistent in pursuing the strategy it adopted to transform Pakistan into an Islamic political system?
  • Why has the Jamaat reached this impasse?
  • Lastly, can political movement activity account for the Jamaat’s failure? (This question is there since long and became the root cause of number of departures from Jamaat such as late Dr. Israr Ahmed & Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi exits.)

Let’s try to answer the preceding questions by looking at the Jamaat ideology and initial strategy first, and then summarize the Jamaat’s interaction with the state from the years 1941-2010. Second, analyze how an organized political force theory could apply to the Jamaat, then review theory to provide a framework for the analysis; and finally it will use results to reason for the Jamaat’s success or failure.

[1] In this article, we will trace the performance of the Jamaat from 1941-2010 in the light of political force that could impact the masses. To provide evidences, the article would use the translated versions of Maulana Maududi’s original texts by Prof. Khurshid Ahmed; Maulana’s biographies written by his most credible biographers, Syed Vali Reza Nasr, Syed Asad Gilani, Khurram Murad and Prof. Khurshid Ahmed; the results of 1970 election which were the only fair national elections held in Pakistan; the Pakistani constitutions of 1956, 1962 and 1973, and the Objectives Resolution of 1949; and finally, other books written on the Jamaat-e-Islami.

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