Jama’t’s New Amir
Like the election process within can Jama’t become democratic without!
MEHMOOD UR RASHID
This week Jama’t-e-Islami J&K elected its new Amir - President. The process of the election of Amir is unique to Jama’t and holds a lesson or two for other parties. The academic differences with Syed Maududi on the idea of leadership and larger opinion aside, it was he who set the precedent himself. When none matched his stature in Jama’t, Syed Maududi withdrew from its headship making way for Mian Muhammed Tufail, someone not remotely linked with him by way of kinship. This set a democratic tradition within the party. Another wonderful feature is the handling of power. The ethical teachings of Islam, like many other ethical systems, have tried to restrain Power by putting limits to it; on the one hand making it responsible to the consultation within the group and on the other invoking the idea of God and the Last Day. However, the ethical side is always subject to the dangers of personal and group corruption. It needs a method and system to leash the Power. Jam’at is a nice example here. Nobody puts forth his candidature for the post of Amir and canvassing is completely disallowed. These characteristics have made the internal functioning of the organization smoothly democratic; that is why we see a line of Amirs in Jama’t e Islami J&K - from the first Amir, Late Sa’d-ud-Din to the Amir elect, Muhammed Abdullah Wani.
So far so good. But democracy as a functional force doesn’t go a long way in this organization. That is where this organization stumbles, and fails to cover the distance that it is justly able to cover. Within the party, things are almost programmed. There is too much of unanimity in the organization, which makes it less receptive to possible shades of opinion. Now look at the fact that those belonging to the party strictly adhere to a set terminology, an established way of talking and limit themselves to a known pack of themes. Though the party is completely non-sectarian, but stern adherence to the literature produced in the early period of this organization tends to make this party an in-group phenomenon. Why Jama’t could not grow in terms of its influence on the people outside the party has something to do with the closed mind of the party.
Another striking absence on the count of democracy in this party is its idea of tolerance and accommodation. Jama’t-e-Islami, may be not openly, is largely dismissive of the other. They do concede the right to differ but with a sense of extreme compunction. The theoretical exposition on the subject of tolerance in Syed Maududi’s Tafheemat undergirds an idea of tolerance that makes it difficult for the party to work with others or to accord respect to the differing voices. Though the biographical accounts of Syed Maududi make us believe that he would respectfully engage as a person with even his staunchest adversaries, but his ideas on the subject of tolerance created a dilemma for this party. One would like to see this party model itself on the example of Syed Maududi’s ethical self rather than his explanatory notes on the idea of tolerance. When it sets firm in the mind that what Jam’at preaches is the Truth, and something that Islam actually demands from its followers, it imperceptibly breeds disrespect and rejection of the other. It means that God is always on the side of Jama’t, and what is left for others is devil himself. Now it is not only the religious other, it is within the same religious denomination that we identify many others and living together, not to speak of working together, becomes an impossible task.
On the theoretical level Jama’t faces the challenge of dealing with the other from its beginning. The Amir elect, Muhammed Abdullah Wani, can only do well to his party by making brains work on this question. There is no harm in studying other opinions on this subject. For us in Kashmir, as well as Jama’t in Kashmir, the subject carries a sense of urgency with it. The divisive trends, real and hyped, need a thinking response from people at large and from parties like Jama’t in particular.
We all know what Jama’t-e-Islami J&K went through in the mid 1990s. How Security agencies and an elaborate network of renegades launched a systematic murderous campaign against its cadres. Rebuilding this party wasn’t an easy task. To whatever extent they have done it is commendable but making Jama’t relevant and productive to Kashmir in future asks for a renewed thinking on some of the fundamental questions. For this, Jama’t will not only have to talk to people but listen to them. The exchange of ideas in a respectful environment, accepting the possibility that others can be equally right, can open up new horizons for this party. This party is a real institution that we have amidst us and if it becomes creative we can all benefit from it. Muhammed Abdullah Wani has a real task to perform; making Jama’t and the people of Kashmir talk to each other. Wish him luck on this count.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 15 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 15 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 16 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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