Concord and Conflict

Greater Kashmir

I am not literary, the way you are; neither by aptitude nor by ambition. However, I have been reading you from school days and have a fair idea that you stand for morality, rationality and intellect. And I mean it really, not ironically. The theme of your previous write-up is as relevant and to the purpose, as always, but it takes me great courage to say that you have not chosen a suitable example to your context. Your hero is truly not charismatic. Differences can be celebrated but better if sorted, because that gives harmony. I would desist quoting any philosophers or the like, because human history is a witness that desk writers (including myself) could never bring any revolutions. In this context, a standard example would be that communist revolution was brought about by Lenin, without whom Marx would not have been so widely known, not withstanding any volumes of Das Kapitals written. Take the example of prophet Haroon who despite being more conversant than his brother Moses, was not chosen for the lead role by Almighty. Similarly, Iqbal stood quite high on the pedestal of intellectual curiosity but let us agree that we did not find him in any practical endeavors of public life. 

He would rather write to Jinnah to work for the aspirations of people. These kinds of limitations of the majority of literary elites and the consequent surrender to the methodology and mannerism of the Prophet Muhammad {PBUH} have been very directly confessed by Michael H Hart when he wrote, “Although the sermons of human equality and liberty and fraternity were delivered before also but the only person who was supremely successful on both religious and secular fronts was Muhammad.”  The perfection of ISLAM is not just in terms of intellect, rationale or morality but more in its attainment of public good. I do not need to go into the miraculous transformations in the human mindsets and consequently in the institutions of family, society, polity, governance, economy, judiciary or women emancipation, brought about by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) through the instrument of Quran. You know it better than me. That model of life and living was like a dream which I wish may once more come true to live through.  Perfection in attainment could not be without perfection of means. Those means were best known to Abu Bakr who would prefer his death to any alteration in them. Emotions give us a lift in being more positive about what we have reasonably believed to be true, though I agree in their proper quantification. However, in the same breath I want to assert that when we fall short in emotional association with a cause, we are bound to fail as an intellectual aspirant as well.

This is where Ghamidi comes in the scene. Do you know the Bedouin who never sewed buttons in his shirt just because he had once seen the prophet in that attire. Compared to that, how would you rate Ghamidi’s devotion who very easily chose to optionalise the mandatory like keeping fast, growing beard or following a dress code. What is the compelling need of the hour to do so? We know that these obligations are much more than just being symbolic. Even if symbolic alone, yet he can’t dilute. Proposing the irrelevance of an established practice is a direct hint at aiming for its abrogation.  If these practices were only a matter of choice then there should at least be a handful of examples from amongst the people of faith. Forget the customary, he also makes soft tries to reorient the otherwise well proven institutional framework.  He is okay if any sectors of economy are interest driven triggering misery for the poor.  He is fine if Jesus doesn’t come back to level the Himalayan allegations against him. He would ignore if music only amuses us and does not adulterate us.  In short he is okay with the footsteps that reach the uncommitted sin. On the other hand, Quran bewares us not follow in the footsteps of Satan. This is because satan is insistent and not instant, gradual not abrupt. And that is why we say, nip the evil in the bud.  Islam is offered to us as a wholesome package which can be rejected at will but can’t be taken in parts. If Ghamidi is not sure of its wholesome perfection and efficacy, he is free to declare his version of Din-i-Elahi.  His emotional deficit can be gauged from his diffidence to the Quranic prophecy of recurrence of golden Islamic era towards the end times. If his mind does not find a substance for it, does not his heart yearn for it? While as the contemporary Muslim scholars have reduced Islam’s rich and complex intellectual legacy to a set of authoritarian rules, this fellow has done a bigger harm by giving a loose rope to the practices that do not stop before committing the sin. The two important branches of classical Islamic education viz hadith and jurisprudence are particularly targeted by him. This reductionist approach is designed to eliminate both the scholarly space of inquiry and the room for individual reflections traditionally granted to the followers of Islam.  As for instance, Imam Ali would be seen grappling with the idea of black holes and Umar with the matters of inheritance. Usman plunged into the affairs of administration and Aisha excelled in jurisprudence.  We have different beautiful interpretations for Alif Lam Meem and there is every reason to discuss if the barzakh could mean an earthly barrier or a cosmic one. Let us collaborate for a knowledge project where we talk sense and be not a sensation. The only prerequisite is to maintain the abstract or else we may need to change the title of the project as well.

Qudsia Gani is Faculty (Physics), Govt. College for Women, M.A. Road Srinagar