They converted from Hinduism to Islam but did not leave Hindu tradition and culture and accept Islamic culture.
Dr Muhammad Qasim is one of the longest serving detainees in Kashmir, having spent more than two decades in prison. He was brought to Rainawari hospital on 4th July, 2015 for medical checkup where GK reporter had a detailed interaction with him. Following are the excerpts of the interview.
Tell us something about your early life?
I was born in 1967 at Zaldagar, Srinagar. Youngest of the five siblings, I received initial education from Modern Islamia High School. Then I graduated in Commerce from Islamia College, did MA in Islamic Studies from Kashmir University. My M.Phil and PhD is from the same university.
How and when did you join the resistance movement?
I have inherited the spirit of resistance. My grandfather, Ghulam Muhammad Faktoo was associated with Muslim Conference. In 1951 he was forced by National Conference to migrate to Pakistan where he breathed his last. My father, Ghulam Nabi Faktoo was affiliated with Awami Action Committee till 1977. In 1989, when I was preparing for ICWA exams, I met Khalid ul Islam, who was the then deputy Chief Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, and I formally joined the resistance movement.
You are one of the first few who joined armed resistance in J&K. How do you differentiate the armed struggle of 1990 from that of today?
The armed resistance of 1989-1990 yielded its fruit in just two years. It is evident that an armed underground movement cannot have the objective of chasing away the entire armed forces. The target at that time was to abolish the writ of the government. As we all know, from 1990 to 1992 India had lost her writ over Jammu and Kashmir as has been accepted by the then Governor of J&K, Jagmohan, in his book. The former prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi is also on record saying that “Kashmir is slipping from our hands”. In my opinion if Pakistani leadership of that time had shown some spine, and engaged the Indian leadership, and at the same time Kashmir had had some visionary leadership India could have been forced to set Kashmir, and the Muslim majority areas of Jammu, free. Today the armed resistance movement is going on in a very hostile environment but militants are neither able to abolish India’s writ, nor they are able to create any problem for the Indian institutions.
In 1999 you were released on bail, and for one year you were free. Instead of joining back an armed group you chose to form a religious organization– Muslim Deeni Mahaz. Were you fed up with the armed struggle?
Not at all! When I was released in 1999, the armed groups, except Hizb, LeT and Jaish were not in a position to work on the ground. Therefore after thorough consultation with my teachers and colleagues, I reached the conclusion that I should work in the masses for the ideology of Khilafah, besides looking for means and resources to make our struggle indigenous and self sufficient. Until the Indian forces are in Kashmir only an ignorant can undermine the importance of armed struggle.
You could have joined Hizb, Lashkar or Jaish?
Answering this question while in prison would be difficult, you can read about this in my detailed autobiography someday. Insha Allah.
APHC was formed after your arrest, how do you see its formation?
APHC was formed at an inappropriate time; with its formation the armed resistance started weakening. Probably this was the reason that in its initial years APHC was given so much political space by India, and once militancy was weakened the space was all snatched back. After the formation of APHC the writ of India was restored once again, and relations grew between some pro-resistance leaders and India; that led to the dilution of the credibility of these leaders.
Does that mean you are against the formation of APHC?
First, let me tell you I have seen no instance in history where an enslaved and militarily controlled nation has gained freedom through negotiations! Political struggle can only keep the spirit of the freedom alive and nothing else! But now the role of APHC needs to be seen in the perspective of the Indian brutalities and weakened militant struggle, then we cannot undermine the importance of the APHC.
How do you see the break up in APHC?
The fielding of proxy candidates by Peoples Conference in 2002 assembly elections, clean chit given to them by the then APHC chairman, and then the joining of electoral politics by Sajad Lone, proves that the protest by Syed Ali Geelani was appropriate and timely. But if pressure could have been built to take action against PC, instead of splitting the APHC it would have far better effects on the conglomerate. The split only resulted in one faction moving closer to Delhi. In 1944, when Qaid-e-Azam visited Kashmir, he knew that NC was very close to Congress yet he tried for an alliance between NC and Muslim Conference. Because he knew that only this way NC could have been saved from becoming a tool in the hands of Congress. Similarly the negative forces in APHC could have been stopped from going toward Delhi if APHC would have remained a single entity.
You term participation in elections as Haram, but the religious organizations here don’t share your point of view?
When we believe in Islam as a complete way of life then we have to accept that it guides us in individual and collective matters. The Islamic politics is based on the principle of monotheism, and the secular democratic system is based on the idea of sovereignty by majority. Therefore we consider participation in this system as Haram. As far as the religious organizations are concerned they propagate against only those forms of Shirk that are not detrimental to the government, therefore they choose to be mum on elections.
In your statements, time and again you have been asking people to shun hypocrisy. Is this hypocrisy prevalent only in the common masses and not in the leadership?
No! We have traits of hypocrisy as a nation. Take for example the political system of India in Jammu and Kashmir; the assembly members are Kashmiris, voters are Kashmiris, election duty is performed by Kashmiris, those who are active to crush armed resistance and pro-freedom leaders are Kashmiri policemen, the judges and lawyers who uphold Indian constitution and its laws are Kashmiris, the people in administration are Kashmiris,— we ourselves are tools of Indian control, and are doing everything to consolidate and prolong it. And with it we want independence from India, if this isn’t hypocrisy what else it’s?
Does that mean you don’t consider Government service lawful under Shariah?
Right! When more than 500 Ulema of undivided India could give a Fatwa that it is haram for Muslims to serve in Bristish civil and military administration, they could call for civil disobedience and non-cooperation movement. We also consider the Indian control of Kashmir as unlawful and the administration that is serving this control will be unlawful as well. Thus, serving in this administration is unlawful. The question is how can a man who from 10 am to 4 pm is a faithful servant of India, suddenly become a pro-freedom activist by shouting azadi slogans after 4pm. This person should either be an ignorant or a hypocrite.
You have always called for ending the sentimental approach, and looking for practical means. What do you mean by that?
I have no problems in saying that the resistance politics has shrunk to being sentimental and reactionary. The people are sentimentally attached with Pakistan and practically they are serving the Indian control. Only sentiments can’t change the destiny of a nation. It is necessary that these sentiments be given a practical shape, else how can these sentiments be of any significance.
You are considered as a staunch believer in the ideology of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. Are you satisfied with the Kashmir policy of Pakistan?
Right now Pakistan is going through the most dangerous period of its history. TTP and Baloch terrorists have created a very volatile situation in Pakistan. Both these terrorist networks are being used by India to keep Pakistan busy internally so that it cannot play an active role in Kashmir. It is evident that the resistance movement not only requires our continuous and active efforts, it also needs Pakistan to be a politically, militarily and economically strong entity. We are aware of the difficulties that Pakistani government is up against, but our sincere request to them is that they should not change their just and legitimate stand on Kashmir. The Indian government has been encouraged by many of Pakistan’s wrong decisions. Government of Pakistan has to understand that until the Indian control of Kashmir continues the idea of Pakistan will be under question?
From which political leader do you draw inspiration?
The last 13 years of Qaid Azam have inspired me a lot. I reflect on these 13 years a lot and find political guidance from them.
Some time back you had asked people to be wary of people like Javed Ghamidi, Waheed ud Din Khan, and Dr Rashid Shaz. Can you elaborate on that?
It is difficult to elaborate on deviations of these people in this interview. It needs an elaborate book, and some ulema have written about this as well. I will just point out few things. If you ponder over the work of the orientalists and these few deviated people you will find some commonalities in their works:
Wahi is the perfect manifestation of Mind and not something that comes from Heavens.
Virtue and Vices are something related to the nature of a person and not related to Shariah. (This is the literary meaning of Virtue and Vice not its meaning in light of Shariah)
Uswah Hasanah is not Uswah Kamilah, therefore it cannot lead us in different times and places.
Hadith are not a source of Islam. Only Quran can be an authentic source. Hadith are non authentic just like Torah and Injeel and thus can’t be treated as an authentic reference.
After the Messenger left this world nobody can be called as Kafir or Mushrik.
In fact, a very dangerous trend is prevalent in the Ummah: the invention of new things in Shariah and to deviate from the understandings of Islam by Ulema Salaf is considered to be research work and Ijtihad. Some people want to gain popularity by latching on to this methodology and most of the times the people who fall prey to these deviation have never understood Islam and Quran in its original language, and don’t know the understanding of Islam by Ulema Salaf. If they have some knowledge about Islam it is only from secondary sources.
Tell us something about the history of Rejection of Hadith?
In a nutshell the history of this rejection of Hadith is as old as the history of hadith itself. It appeared on the scene in the first century and then grew with history.
How are the teachings of Waheed ud din Khan, Javaid Ghamidi and Rashid Shaaz deviant?
I will tell you in a nutshell that their teachings destroy the basic differences between Islam and Kufr. Islam, with its clear outline of beliefs, and teachings is turned into something like Hinduism, a total chaos of beliefs. If you once utter the Kalimah you will always remain a Muslim it does not matter if you have beliefs that are in contrast with that of the Quran, Hadith and Ulema al Salf. That is once you enter Islam there is no way a person can cease to be a Muslim, thus Islam shrinks only to a verbal acceptance and a few customs.
Does that mean rejection of Hadith destroys the essence of Islam?
Quran and Hadith can’t be taken separately from one another. Quran is zikr and Hadith is its elaboration. Therefore in every period of history instead of Quran the personality of Messenger and Hadith have been at the target of the enemies of Islam.
What are the reasons that the society in Kashmir could never be transformed into a true Islamic society even though Muslims ruled this land for about 500 years?
Genetically a majority of population in Kashmir is Hypocrite. They converted from Hinduism to Islam but did not leave Hindu tradition and culture and accept Islamic culture. They accepted Allah but didn’t reject the Taghoot. The imprints of Hindu traditions are found in their thinking, traditions and practices even today. Here a society based on monotheism was never really found, neither a need for Islam outside the Masjid was realized. Here 90% Muslims are Muslims only because they were born in Muslim families that is the reason RSS still dream sof converting Muslim Kashmir into a Hindu Kashmir.
Sectarian rifts have considerably increased in Kashmir; what is your take on it?
Till religious seminaries, darsgahs and mosques are built on sectarian lines, this rift will go on increasing. The unity of Muslims is related to the institution of masjid, and if the institution of mosque is based on sectarian outlook, the unity can never be achieved. In Sharaiah if a single mosque suffices for a locality, building a second one is unlawful. In our valley Jummah and Eid congregations are held in every lane, thus killing the very essence of these congregations and severely denting the unity of Muslims.
Some people say if separate mosques are not built, people won’t be able to pray peacefully in a single mosque due to differences in various schools of thought.
First, this is not right; if people belonging to different sects and masalik can pray together behind one imam in Kaba and Masjid Nabawi what stops them from the same here. In reality it is all because of sectarian prejudice and hatred towards one another. The sectarian extremism is a sign of ignorance.
Do you believe that Jammu and Kashmir will ever get independence from India?
Yes In Sha Allah! If we did not have this hope then why would we be part of this movement. The stagnation and inertia that has crept into this movement is because India has deliberately spread this hopelessness, and some of our own people are unwittingly spreading this hopelessness.
How much time will it take?
Before Almighty Allah we are answerable for our efforts, and not the results. Success is from Allah. Second, we came under Indian control in 1947; this is the time when the renaissance of Hinduism was triggered after a period of 2000 years. The Hindus had been in decline right from the end of Maurya dynasty. When this period of decline ended, Hindus got their hands on a vast state through the Englishmen, especially the wicked tactics of Lord Mountbatten. it is exactly like the Jews who through the treachery of the Britain, especially Balfour, got a State and that was the initiation of their renaissance after 2000 years of humiliation. So this is the time of renaissance of the Hindus and Jews. Therefore the freedom struggle for Palestine and Kashmir is going to be long and patient one. But justice will prevail In Sha Allah.
Do you have any hopes of your immediate release?
I have not lost hope in the mercy of Allah. Second, in a resistance movement it hardly matters whether the political activists are inside or outside the jail. A political activist can work for the resistance movement wherever he is.