DAWN’S ‘50 years ago today’ column is a valuable piece of journalism. Besides evoking nostalgia among us of the old generation, it fascinates the young ones, because they get to know things they did not know.
In its Nov 10 issue, under the heading ‘Maudoodi’s six points’ Dawn carried a policy speech made half a century ago by the Jamaat-i-Islami’s (JI) founder in Karachi’s Arambagh. The context needs to be grasped.
It was the early 1960s, with Field Marshal Ayub Khan reigning in full glory. While all parties were non-functional, the JI alone was relatively active.
Even though a new constitution had been promulgated on March 1, 1962, by Field Marshal Ayub Khan, who also lifted martial law when the indirectly elected assembly met on June 9, 1962, the country would continue to remain in martial law’s penumbra till the end of his regime in 1969.
Better days were still to come for the JI, for Ayub had an inept home minister in Habibullah Khan. Unable to stand what by any standards was modest criticism, the government banned the party in January 1964 and Maudoodi was arrested. The JI went to court and — it goes to the credit of Ayub Khan that he didn’t influence the judiciary — the Supreme Court rescinded the ban. The JI came out stronger.
A perusal of the Maudoodi speech makes it clear that the later five points were essentially in support of the first one — the establishment of an Islamic state — and clearly spelled out not only party philosophy but also the means for achieving that aim.
All the five points laid emphasis on following the democratic path and unequivocally pleaded for civil liberties, minority rights and a free press.
Maudoodi’s arrest in 1964 was for reasons that were frivolous, for the government had accused him of being a foreign agent and indul-ging in subversive activity.
However, less known perhaps to today’s generation was his arrest in October 1948 when the Kashmir war was on, and even though the Pakistan Army had not yet moved into Kashmir, Pakistani tribesmen had entered the battle to save people in Jammu from extermination by the Maharaja’s soldiers.
While the 1964 arrest was the handiwork of a dictatorial government, his arrest in 1948 was ordered by Liaquat Ali Khan, Jinnah’s right-hand man and Pakistan’s first prime minister, who was incensed by Maudoodi’s opinion that the tribal invasion of Kashmir was not a jihad.
Maudoodi’s reasoning was that only a state can declare a jihad and no individual or group has the right to wage a private jihad of its own.
He showed this consistency in other matters, for he declared categorically in his writings that punishments for violating Islamic hudood can only be carried out by an Islamic government. Read, for instance, his interpretation of Ayat 33 of Surah Bani Israel (Tarjume Quran-i-Majeed, ma’e mukhtasir havashi, page 731-33).
All along the Pakistani part of his political career, and despite his bitter opposition to some governments, Maudoodi never advocated khurooj (public uprising) for fear that it could lead to bloodshed whose primary victims would be not the rulers but the people.
In this he was not breaking a new path but echoing the views of leading imams and ulema of yore who — no matter how bitterly opposed to the caliph or sultan of the day — refrained from making inflammatory pronouncements and issuing fatwas that could arouse popular passions, cause bloodshed and tear the social fabric apart.
Imam Abu Haneefa, for instance, lived in both Umayyad and Abbasid times, and welcomed the latter when they overthrew the former. But as time passed and the Abbasid rulers acquired the trappings of Persian shahs, he lost all hope of a return to the caliphate in the real sense of the term.
Jaafar bin Mansur, the second Abbasid caliph and builder of the empire, tried to bribe and browbeat Abu Haneefa into becoming his qadiul qadat (chief justice), and thus legitimise his rule, but he refused. He considered Mansur despotic and monarchical and denounced his persecution of Aliids.
But instead of calling for khurooj, Abu Haneefa approached individual generals to persuade them not to obey Mansur in his war on the Aliids. He was arrested and tortured, and though he died when he was out of prison, many historians think he died from the long-term effects of the torture.
Today, the JI’s policies deserve to be assessed against Maudoodi’s road map to ‘Islamic revolution’. To wit, the JI leadership must dispel the impression in some quarters that its policies have tended to lend indirect support to militants who kill people on charges ranging from theft, adultery and fahhashi to being spies of the ‘infidel’ Pakistani state.
Would Maudoodi have kept quiet on the bombing of mosques and schools, hospitals and funeral processions, peace jirgas and hospitals, the shops of barbers and tailors?
In brief, would the JI’s founder have upheld the ‘jihad’ which more than a dozen militant groups are waging on Pakistan at the behest of Osama bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahari, who officially declared that his organisation was at war with the state of Pakistan?
The change in the JI’s policies had begun in the late 1970s when bad health kept Maudoodi from paying full attention to party affairs. He had opposed Ayub’s military dictatorship, but when Zia took over on July 5, 1977, his party swung to the dictatorship’s side, and sent party volunteers to Afghanistan for the US-led anti-Soviet ‘jihad’.
Let it also be recorded for history that when journalists were whipped, Zia’s information minister was Mahmood Azam Farooqi, a JI leader. Today, the JI denies that it received money as part of the Mehrangate dole, and let us accept its denial. Would Maulana Maudoodi have pursued policies which would have compromised his party’s image?
The JI’s boycott of the 2008 general election has given rise to misgivings. The JI leadership must take steps to remove this misunderstanding and perhaps read their founder’s six points which place emphasis on free and fair elections and the availability of democratic avenues for all.
The writer is a member of staff.