Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Rise and fall of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan - Part 2


When the Jamaat was formed in 1941, in sub continent, the Muslims compared to the Hindu populace were impoverished, less educated and less powerful. This was because, unlike the Hindus, the Muslims had never embraced the idea of acquiring English education and of recognizing British authority in sub continent.

Since 1857, the British authority saw Muslims as trouble makers and Muslims felt vice versa as Englishmen had snatched the power from Mughals who were -somehow- termed as Muslims rulers. Hence, the Muslims did not have either the British education or the British favour and were neither able to acquire power nor prosperity. Syed Vali Reza Nasr, reports an incident, in the biography of Maulana Maududi, that in 1937 in which Maulana shared a compartment with the then Chief Minister-designate[1] of Bombay B.G. Kher, after which he became convinced to launch a movement against Hindu high-handedness.

Maulana, initially, had gathered the ideological basis to commence a spiritual movement. His “master frame” was well in place through his writing and his magazine, Tarjuman-ul-Quran, that had become increasingly popular since then. When Maulana initiated the formation of Jamaat, his vision was instant success as a few young scholars from all the mainstream sects of Islam joined his movement immediately without any reservations[2]. “Prominent ‘ulema’ or scholars joined the Jamaat including six from Madrasat-ul-Islah, four from Deoband, four Nadwis and two from the Ahl-i-Hadith” writes Khurshid Ahmed.

The Jamaat began as its movement as the Muslims – since Mughal era- astray the path of Islam, hence British rule is a divine punishment until Muslims find their way in spiritual authority of Islam religiously and politically.

By the year 1945, the “Jamaat boasted a membership of some two hundred and twenty four ulema, sixty of whom continued to teach at various dar- ul-ulooms (religious seminaries)” writes Khurshid Ahmed. It is important to note here that the number of two hundred and twenty four might not seem much given the size of the Muslim population in the subcontinent. But this was actually a sizeable number for the beginning of a movement, given that around sixty of them controlled mosques and the rest of the scholars would have had a large number of followers all over sub continent.

The induction of the ‘Ulema’ from the various sects also showed that the Jamaat was recognized by some of the most learned people amongst the mainstream sects of Islam. It is may also be relevant to note here that becoming an Islamic cleric, it takes minimum eight years of institutional educational[3] in the Islamic subjects and there were only a few Muslims who ventured for such a feat. By 1945, such religious clerics (Ulema) constituted about 40% of Jamaat’s total membership.

Pakistan Movement (1941-47) and Jamaat
In need of “reconstructing the religious thoughts of Islam” politically, Maulana Maududi “had from the outset opposed the movement for Pakistan.” He had opposed to the creation of the new State not on an account of mere opposition but because it was clear to him that Jinnah had no intention of making Pakistan an Islamic state. From this stage Jamaat faced a rival “Muslim Nationalism” competing to its original ‘master frame’ which Jinnah's Muslim League represented throughout its political campaign. The Muslim League argued that the new homeland for the Muslims of India would be a Muslim country, where the state religion would be Islam, but there was no harm in keeping a Western style democracy, parliament and law.

Furthermore, Muslim League founding fathers held that there was nothing terrible in adopting Western ideas, knowledge, culture and philosophy. On the other hand, Maulana Maududi held that a national government based on secular or Muslim[4] nationalism would not be different from the imperial government of India. He viewed Nationalism as an alien concept imported by colonialism to break up the Muslim world. Similarly he argued that the colonizers injected Western influence through their financial system, thought and all sorts of heresies into the Islamic way of life. Being a nationalistic phenomenon, a nation state could not be helpful in bringing about the Islamic socio-political system in newly formed Pakistan.

Maulana Maududi, therefore, rejected the existence of Muslim nationalism as incompatible with Islam. Interestingly, Maulana Maududi and Allama Iqbal had a great influence on Jinnah and made him realized the potential value of religion in politics. When the Muslim League started using religion in politics with great success and ended up scoring a remarkable victory in the elections of 1945-46, Maulana Maududi became convinced that “that Islam constituted the ultimate source of power and legitimacy among the Muslim community.” 

When Pakistan finally got independence Maulana Maududi realized that this was the chance to create a utopian Islamic state. A state which would not only legitimize the all encompassing nature of Islam in the eyes of the people of the sub-continent but one which would serve as an example for other states to pursue and lead to a worldwide Islamic revolution. This was the only reason that he finally recognized Pakistan as Islamic Republic of Pakistan and in coming years his efforts had proved that hypothesis.

[1] See also 'The Vanguard of Islamic Revolution' section Two Nation Theory
[2] Maulana Manzoor Numani and Syed Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi who later became the rector of famous Nadwat ul Ulema, Lukhnow were his initial partners.
[3] See the curriculum of Dars e Nizami taught in Pakistan religious seminaries called Madaris
[4]           There is no Islamic nationalism concept available since the advent of 19th century


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