Jamat-e Islami, A Common Inheritance of Pakistan and Bangladesh

By Obaidullah Khan

Bangladesh and Pakistan have some common features with respect to their foundation. Both were made for the Muslims of the Subcontinent (not for Islam). A sense of deprivation and desperation played the key role behind their coming into being. And then a common inheritance, Jamat e Islami, with an identical part to play in the formation of these two sovereign and independent states, was another similarity. Unfortunately, for both states that role was antagonistic and in support of the parent unified countries, united India in case of Pakistan and united Pakistan in case of Bangladesh. So in a sense Jamat e Islami in both the cases supported the preexisting scenario and opposed the independence movement of these states. Surely as patriot Pakistanis we are aggrieved in the case of Bangladesh but what has been done is done and we cannot change the past and bitter realities.

If Jamat e Islami supported the united Pakistan and opposed the exclusion of a part of it, then certainly, as it appears prima facie by this proposition, Pakistan should respect the Jamat’s faithfulness and patriotism for its support on such cause and allying with the Pakistan Army against the rebellion movement of that time which ultimately became successful unfortunately, from our perspective. But the issue here is whether the role of Jamat could be attributed to patriotism in 1971 or just another attempt to gain some vested interests?

In order to learn the lessons from the past misdeeds and to ensure the correct path in future we must judge the validity of any historical event or series of events in the same perspective and the prevailing situation at the time when they took place. Otherwise the conclusion would be just the same as one can have by referring to any ambiguous excerpt without the exact context. As I mentioned earlier that this is the same Jamat that adhered to the same ideology with regard to the creation of Pakistan as well as the creation of Bangladesh and there was no paradigm shift when it confronted the case of Pakistan or Bangladesh. Only our perspective changed, first it was against Pakistan and then was perceived in favour of Pakistan . It can be said that Jamat e Islami is not confused or obscure in its ideology, philosophy or policy, only our state, establishment and our people are, for not understanding precisely what the Jamat stands for. One should analyze the philosophy and ideology and objectives of Jamat e Islami through the perspective of its basic constitution. The picture that emerges after this analysis present a quite clear depiction of the Jamat and the principles it sticks to.

The critical study the fundamental constitution of Jamat reveals that neither it endorses any loyalty or allegiance to any state or its constitution, nor it validates democracy. Yet despite all that the Jamat is, wholeheartedly, involved in the politics wherever it survives, in this age of democracy. To camouflage this harsh standpoint it vociferously exploits religion Islam for its vested interest. So that it becomes very difficult for an ordinary mind to grasp the meanings in between the lines. Sugarcoating any orientation by Islam or any prevalent religion has always been a cherished way to carry out the true agenda of vested interests. For Jamat, the countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh could have a great potential to bring about their business. These countries consist of a society where majority is Muslim by faith and generally illiterate. These people usually follow their religion blindly as is expounded by the clergy. The politics in the name of Islam is an immensely profitable and a devious ploy to confuse and get confused in Pakistan as well as the Muslims all over the world in general. Even then the majority of these countries never voted for the Jamat in democratic systems. So Jamat has to support dictatorship or army actions or if possible create such an atmosphere that can topple any democratic system of government. The ultimate goal has always been, is and will be to get hold of ultimate political power.

Coming to the study of their constitution, I would like to refer to the section 3 of the Jamat Constitution that pertains to their ideology and then its interpretation says as under

دفعہ 3…..عقیدہ

.. تشریح:

1. انسان اللہ کے سوا کسی کو ولی و کار ساز، حاجت روا اور مشکل کشا، فریاد رس اور حامی و ناصر نہ سمجھے، کیونکہ کسی دوسرے کے پاس کوئی اقتدا ر ہی نہیں ہے۔

2. اللہ کے سوا کسی کو نفع و نقصان پہنچانے والا نہ سمجھے، کسی سے تقویٰ اور خوف نہ کرے، کسی پر توکل نہ کرے، کسی سے امیدیں وابستہ نہ کرے کیونکہ تمام اختیارات کامالک وہی اکیلا ہے۔

 3. اللہ کے سوا کسی کو بادشاہ ، مالک الملک اور مقتدرِ اعلیٰ تسلیم نہ کرے، کسی بااختیارِ خود حکم دینے اور منع کرنے کا مجاز نہ سمجھے، کسی کو مستقل بالذات شارع اور قانون ساز نہ مانے اور ان تمام اطاعتوں کو تسلیم کرنے سے انکار کردے جو اللہ کی اطاعت کے تحت اور اس کے قانون کی پابندی میں نہ ہوں، کیونکہ اپنے ملک کاایک ہی جائز مالک اور اپنی خلق کا ایک ہی جائز حاکم اللہ ہے۔ اس کے سوا کسی کو مالکیت اور حاکمیت کا حق نہیں پہنچتا۔ نیزاس عقیدے کو قبول کرنے سے یہ بھی لازم آتا ہے کہ:

4. انسان اپنی آزادی و خود مختاری سے دست بردار ہوجائے، اپنی خواہشاتِ نفس کی بندگی چھوڑ دے اور اللہ کا بندہ بن کررہے جس کو اس نے الٰہ تسلیم کیا ہے۔

 I am only translating the bold and underlined text here

  1. None other than God has any authority whatsoever in this world.
  2. All the authorities vest only in God.
  3. One must not
    1. surrender before any sovereign except God,
    2. consider any self claimed authority whatsoever worthy to give orders or bar anything,
    3. admit any legislature and must reject any subjugation before any such authority which is not in compliance and in accordance to the divine laws,

because the only legitimate ruler and titleholder of the creation is God and none other is worthy to claim any such authority.

  1. One should surrender one’s freedom and `autonomy.

It becomes evident from these provisions that in the sacred name of God how they hide their ulterior motives by not accepting any writ of state over them and they declare themselves above the law. When Jamat is seemed to recognize the legitimacy of a state or sermonizes democracy it is neither written in their fundamental constitution and nor is the goal they strive for. The ultimate objective, as I mentioned earlier, is to get hold of political power by hook or by crook. The political notions, such as democracy, rule of law, writ of the state and upholding of the constitution, are only acceptable as far as they are in convergence with the primary objectives of the Jamat and if they happen to be divergent anywhere then nothing is preferred against the primary objectives of the Jamat, which are, no doubt, to get hold of authority of the highest order in a state. For reference I quote the section 4 of its constitution that states its objective.

4….نصب العین

جماعت اسلامی پاکستان کا نصب العین اور اس کی تمام سعی وجہد کا مقصود عملاً اقامتِ دین(حکومتِ الٰہیہ یا اسلامی نظام زندگی کا قیام)

تشریح: ”الدین“، حکومت الٰہیہ اور اسلامی نظامِ زندگی۔ تینوں اس جماعت کی اصطلاح میں ہم معنی الفاظ ہیں۔

Meaning thereby that the prime objective and the purpose of the struggle of Jamat e Islami is the establishment of Deen (the path), which is, as has been put in brackets, the regime of God or setting up the Islamic way of life. This is further interpreted as the Deen, Godly regime and Islamic way of life are synonymous in the terminology of Jamat. No one dare to ask how the Godly regime is to be established? Is it God Himself who is going to rule as a prime minister with Jamat as His cabinet? They would answer in negative that the direct revelation is now closed. So how the God would rule His regime? The ultimate answer of this perplexity is the hierarchy of the Jamat would establish its regime in accordance with “the Sharia”. The one and only Sharia as expounded by the one and only Jamat e Islami and none other is its partner therein. In other sense the source of Sharia has become more than what had already been considered before Moudoodi, the Quran, the Sunnah, the Hadith and the Jamat. The last of all is final while the former three are the subject to the interpretation of the fourth source. Let’s suppose hypothetically, if, God forbids, Jamat accomplishes its goal and succeeds in establishing its Godly regime then Quran and Hadith would become the subject of interpretation while the word of Jamat e Islami will become final. Simply because when you make an interpretation as a law of the land, this means you have finalized the issue and there is no further room for difference of opinion. It is necessary to finalize an interpretation to make it the law of the land for running the business of state. That is why religion is not considered the subject of the state but a personal matter between a person and his God.

So when the Jamat adopts a policy it does not do it for the cause of any state or to show or prove its patriotism, it does it if and only if it is beneficial to itself. Now it depends upon these benefits in which direction they lie and in whose favour they fall.

Before the creation of Pakistan, Muslim League was the flag-bearer of the independence movement and autonomy for them but within the democratic framework. This was enough to ensure that the League envisaged a democratic autonomy for a minority that would ultimately become a majority it their struggle would be fruitful. Jamat at that time, very rightly analyzed that the Muslim majority was following Muslim League whose leadership was secular and under the guidance of Jinnah there was no chance of getting any dominance over the state in the offing. So they opposed the leadership of Muslim League and demand of a separate autonomy as envisioned by the League. But the demand of Muslim League became a reality and now it was impossible to overlook the new reality where despite the secular leadership majority belonged to Muslims. This was a fertile ground to sow seeds of the Jamat policies and to achieve the agenda they always looked for. With this in mind they embraced Pakistan by coming and establishing their functionary here. Unfortunately the newly born Pakistan was deprived of leaders like Jinnah who passed away very early. Thus regrettably no one questioned their past behavior and their objectives were overlooked once again. For achieving its goals, democracy has always been a big hurdle because majority always rejected their program. Hence other measures were required to pursue the goals now. In the first attempt they played Islamic Ideology card and then Ahmadiyya Issue in 1953. The only way left to get power was undemocratic measures and to blackmail the state with violence and confrontation. But at that time their endeavour to challenge the state went off track and backfired. Fortunately for Pakistan and unfortunately for Jamat that attempt foiled and Jamat and other clerics failed to accomplish what they struggled for. Perhaps the Jamat was impatient or the time and opportunity was not ripe or our state was in more sensible hands overall. Consequently the newly born Pakistan witnessed the first ever Martial Law in 1953. Probably that was the moment when the Jamat realized that ultimate power vested in the Army. So it changed its strategy and allied itself with the Army. At that time the first nexus between Army and Jamat established. The first offspring came as the Two-Nation Theory tailored to manipulate Islam as a pretext for keeping the East and West Pakistan together. That was a lame attempt that proved to be futile after the fall of Dhaka. But this remained a trump card for Jamat to strengthen their political position and a strong relation with Army. The war of 1971 was the opportunity to prove its allegiance to the Pak Army and suppress the masses that were not ready to accept Jamat agenda. If the side, Jamat was fighting with, could win then it could be a chance to rule the East Pakistan with no rivalry at all.  But Jamat as always underestimated the situation and fell with Dhaka. Unfortunately our establishment failed to learn the lesson that keeping religion as a mean to strengthen nationalism is a dangerous ploy and now the state is reaping the harvest of terrorism based on the same religion based ideology they sown to keep the state united, but failed in the very outset.

Another salient feature of the Jamat e Islami is grooming a mindset based on its religio-political philosophy that is not limited to official members only. The followers who are ostensibly not its official members yet espouse its philosophy resulting in a typical Jamati mindset. Another reason of its success till day is that it continually infuses this typical Jamati mindset into various powerful and effective institutions. The most important of them is the Army, then bureaucracy, media, lawyers associations, judiciary etc. Army was heavily penetrated by Jamat mindset in 70’s and 80’s. The enticement was Jehadi ideology expounded as well as physically supported by Jamat. Our establishment undermined the fact that every country keeps an army today but they do not espouse Jehadi Ideology. So there is nothing special in that ideology. That might be a good ploy against our eastern neighbourhood but in the western border nowadays we have another enemy that happens to be Muslim too. Once again Jamat is consistent in its philosophy of Jehad but our state is on the suffering side. We had seen a small upshot of that rift that has been created due to the ever changing situation of the state of Pakistan. The Jamat keeps its priorities and to hell with the state. Fortunately our disciplined Army has learnt some precious lessons from the past misdeeds and sidelined itself from the dangerous path of not Jihad but Jihadism. Yet it seems they have still a long way to go further to become Pakistani Army rather than Islamic Army.

Bangladesh repeated the same mistake, of sanctioning the Jamat in their newly born country, that Pakistan had made. To this day Jamat is an entity that has a considerable strength and substantiality there. The other major mistake the present regime is committing that it is prosecuting the individual members of the Jamat e Islami in their country and punishing them after a long period of 42 years. The real flaw they are undermining is they have let the Jamat to function as a legitimize entity and never took any action against its legitimacy as a political party. And punishment to individuals, who are now in their end years of age and after considerable lapse of time, would do nothing fruitful but might have severe political repercussions. It might provide a fresh air to the Jamat politically and in getting support from the opposition parties as well for having common goals against the government. It would be far better to disband the Jamat e Islami Bangladesh than to punish its individuals after 42 years of the crimes they committed. They need to learn from the mistakes Pakistan have made. Bangladesh government, instead of solving the problem at its core, committing fatal political and judgmental errors. These errors could go against the present regime and in favour of Jamat and ultimately against the state of Bangladesh.

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