Peddling The Peace Drug

The Times of India
25th January 1999


Q: Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan is one of the foremost supporters of the current proxy war being waged by the country in the Kashmir valley. But the founder and chief ideologue of the Jammat, Maulana Abdul Ala Maudoodi, had opposed Pakistani support to the tribal uprising in Kashmir in 1948 as being against the tenets of Islam. For this, the Pakistan government had charged him with sedition and he had spent several years in prison. His son and eminent theologian Maulana Haider Farooq Maudoodi, chief of a Jamaat faction called Jammat-e-Islami(Maudoodi) recalled this while speaking to visiting Indian journalist Sultan Shahin in Lahore and condemned the killing of innocent people in Kashmir as a double fraud on Islam as it was being perpetrated in the name of Jihad. In this free-wheeling interview, he reveals for the first time that his father's attitude was that of a drug-peddler who would not let his own children go near the stuff while selling the same to millions of other youngsters.

You have created a furore in Pakistan by opposing the so-called Jihad in Kashmir just as your father had done by criticizing the proxy war in the state in 1948. What inspired you to take up the cudgels against religious extremists?

A: The Jamaat-e-Islami leaders in Pakistan as well as Kashmir are sending young men to their sure deaths by teaching them a false doctrine of Jihad. But they do not send their own children for this `Jihad'. Kashmiri Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Gilani's son is studying in America. But when ordinary Muslim young men are killed in this proxy war, the Jamaat leaders go to their son having attained martyrdom. An old Kashmiri once pleaded with me, "Have some mercy on us. Do spare a few of our young men to at least take us to qabristan(burian ground). Do you want us to make our last journey on the shoulders of our women?"

My father had said that Pakistan could not enter into such a war with a country with which it had diplomatic relations. The right course from an Islamic point of view would be to break all relations and declare war before entering into any hostilities. You have opposed militancy in Kashmir being called Jihad. Yes, Jihad can only be declared by an established state. Neither the civil war in Afghanistan nor the militancy in Kashmir can be termed Jihad as Islamic theology requires that Jihad be performed by an organized state. This condition is so binding that when eminent theologian Shah Islmail Shaheed decided to wage a Jihad against the British, he went to Balakot in the tribal areas of NWFP and tried to establish a government so that he could declare Jihad in the framework of Islam. I do not think that even this fulfilled the condition, but it shows that he too realized that only an established state could declare Jihad.

Jihad is not the right or duty of an individual or group. If Pakistan thinks it can win a war against India, it should abrogate all treaties, break diplomatic relations and then declare and fight a war. The problem with a proxy war is that you cannot declare it and Muslims are not supposed to lie and cheat. So Muslim state, particular one with pretensions of being Islamic, simply cannot wage of proxy war.

Q: Some theologians have tried to justify militancy as coming under the Islamic provision of `Khurooj', i.e. a kind of revolt against established authority. Any comments?

A: Rebellion or Khurooj can only be justified in a situation where the established government is committing what is known in the theological terminology as Kufr-e-bawa. This means a situation in which the government asks people to do things proscribed by God and stops them from doing things prescribed by Him, i.e. `halal' is converted into `haram' and `haram' into `halal'. Such a situation does not exist in Kashmir. People are free to live according to their faith. If they have political or other problems, they can try to sort them out democratically and peacefully. Islam does not allow them taking up arms against the state.

Q: What is your reaction to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's efforts to impose Shariat laws in the country?

A: It is inhuman to implement Hudood laws within the present judicial and administrative system. Islam is for a system that does not punish one innocent wrongly even if it means letting go ten criminals. Our police has great expertise in writing false FIRs, in producing false witnesses and so on. If you cut people's hands under this system, it would be the greatest outrage. Give food to the hungry first, then think of cutting the hands of a thief. As for Mr. Nawaz Sharif, he simply wants to acquire judicial powers as well in the same of Islam.

Q: Do you see religious extremism growing in Pakistan?

A: Not really. The people of Pakistan are quite mature. Even though we have not had a long democratic experience compared with the Indian electorate, we have not allowed religious extremists like the one in Jamaat-e-Islami to gain more than a few seats in the National Assembly. The people are aware that these parties are led by lunatics.

Q: How come you grew up in this atmosphere of religious extremism and yet maintain balanced view of religion?

A: I think my father was aware of the dangers of the drug he was distributing for free. Indeed his attitude was that of heroin peddler. He would never allow his wife or any of his nine children to have anything to do with the Jamaat-e-Islami. He would not let us read any of his books (he wrote about 80 books all of which have a growing sale even today in several languages around the world). We used to be scolded if any of us was found anywhere near a Jamaat meeting.

Yet we got to see his minions, who are now running his organization, from very close quarters. Their character could have put us off Islam altogether. We used to ask him how he could think of bringing about an Islamic revolution with the help of such frauds and lunatics. He thought he could only use the people who came to him. But in his old age, he did get a taste of his own medicine. When he was on his death bed, these maulanas treated him as dirt.

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