The practitioner of Islamic Polity

The second volume of the autobiography sheds light on Geelani as a political leader

Book: Wular Kinaray – II
Author: Syed Ali Shah Geelani
Publisher: Millat Publications Hyderpora
Price: Rs 450
Reviewer: Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain

Literature can be divided into three categories in terms of content. The first category obviously remains the literature of ideas. The second is the literature about events. The third category pertains to literature on individuals. A biography definitely falls within the last category. But despite Wular Kinaray being a biography it can’t be exclusively placed within the third category. Syed Ali Shah Geelani is not a man of Ideas only but has spent whole of his life in pursuit of an idea. The idea of Islamic polity, which in the words of Iqbal “is the realization of the spiritual in human organization.” Maududi provided it an elaborate interpretation and Geelani dedicated his life for realization of this idea within the space and time of Kashmir. Since the status quo remains an impediment in realization of this idea, he is pitted against it for past six decades. It is conviction to an ideal that makes Geelani distinct from other cotemporaries and enables him to confront General Musharaf like his mentor Saad-u-Din who refused to budge the line of General Zia-ul-Haq on Kashmir.  The biography of author thus remains replete with references to Quran, hadith, poetry of Iqbal (RA) and writings of Maududi. The present volume adds poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz; this  being relevant in the sense that Geelani too spent most of his decade long prison life during the time period covered in this volume. This volume unlike first received a mute response at first instance. Thanks to the statement of Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, it too became subject of debate and received a vast publicity and the market.
I had the privilege of going through first volume of Wular Kinaray prior to its publication. I made certain observations some of which were accepted by the author whereas others didn’t find his favor. He mentioned it in the preface of the first volume. I too put my observations on record while reviewing the first volume in the columns of Greater Kashmir. For the reasons best known to the author and his publisher, the second volume was only dispatched to me after being sent to the press. The first volume mostly pertained to personal life of Geelani and his pre-occupations with the work of Jama’t Islami. The second volume is more important as it pertains to life of Geelani as a political leader. The first volume though written loosely didn’t carry any factual mistakes, these however remain associated with present volume. One can easily notice it while going through the event related to his efforts for adoption of a legislative assembly resolution after demise of Syed Abul Ala Maududi. Geelani sahib mentions that he had asked Sheikh Sahib to facilitate a condolence resolution on the same lines as was passed in context of the death of Imam Khomeini. Geelani’s memory has failed in narrating this event as Khomeini expired after the death of both Maududi and Sheikh Abdullah. This weakness in narration becomes obvious in context of geography as well. He refers river Neelam (Kishan Ganga) thrice as river Sindh. Weakness in the domain of history and geography can land leaders to misjudge the events and draw wrong conclusions. These mistakes could have been overcome hadn’t the publisher monopolized the proof reading. Despite some factual errors, the volume is indispensable for understanding the present day politics of Kashmir.
 The volume is compact in terms of its language and style of narration. First hand information on certain issues makes it easy to understand his position and role in politics. He did fight elections as a member of Jama’t abiding by its decisions. The election however didn’t lead to change of his stance relating to Kashmir. Consequently he had to face imprisonment as an MLA at least thrice for a considerable period of time and was charged once with the offence of challenging accession of Kashmir to India. He acknowledges the fact that he did ask people to sell their TV sets and purchase arms for self-defense. He along with other politicians nevertheless faced detention as soon as insurgency erupted in Kashmir. Geelani remained in jail when Mirwaiz Molvi Farooq was assassinated. He again was in jail when Qazi Nisar was assassinated. Same holds true about other similar events of early 90s.
Another important aspect of the book pertains to his ordeals during imprisonment, the torture and third degree treatment which he experienced in interrogation centers is a reflection of the gravity of the human rights situation that prevails in Kashmir. If a person who has been prominent leader of opposition in the legislature and the one who has been member of legislature thrice faces such a third degree torture, one can understand what can be the fate of an ordinary detainee.
As an MLA, he did raise voice against vices of liquor, deliberated on issues of legitimacy of accession and faced detention but one doesn’t notice activism beyond these domains within the legislative tenure of Geelani. This may be because of lack of feedback and articulation needed for such an endeavor. Geelani sahib has been graceful in narrating his engagements with those about whom he often remains critical. He narrates everything positive that he came across in his engagements with Sheikh Abdullah and other politicians of his times. In spite of suffering in every possible way during National Conference rule he visited Sheikh Abdullah during his last illness and participated in his funeral as well. ….  While doing so he minces no words about his stand on various issues.
One last word, price of the book is too high for a student and needs to be taken care of through publication of student edition. 
The reviewer teaches law at Central University, Kashmir.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 14 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 14 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 15 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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