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The concept of Islamic State





Islamic State believes in setting up of a truly just state, writes SHAHNAZ BASHIR
The gradual imperial invasions of Ottoman Empire at the hands of Portuguese capitalists in 17th century opened it to the European Colonial careerists. The Empire, for seven centuries (from 1300 AD to 20th century), had had a remarkable, unrivalled expansion in most of the Middle-East and Europe. It marked the glorious times of the spread of Islam to the forbidden corners of world. After being pitted against the Ottomans, the Arabs had successfully yielded to the motives of British occupants for the false promise of independence. But when their designs triumphantly disintegrated the Empire and made Arabs enemies of their brothers in Turkey, British forgot the promise that perhaps they had never intended to keep. Consequently, the most powerful Muslim Empire was rendered dysfunctional within and explicitly began to be rechristened into a National State. Salim III laid the groundwork for new westernizing reforms and established Ottoman embassies in European Capitals. In 1860's the economy slumped and finally the Islamic Empire became bankrupt. The political and economic position of the Empire was in stalemate in 1890's when it conspicuously began to present a vulnerable overture for foreign conquests. Palestine was one of the pivotal parts of Ottoman Empire. In 1897 Zionists held their first conference in Basel to discuss their ultimate aim to create the Israeli state in the Ottoman province of Palestine. Same year marked the death of Sayyid Jammal-ud-din Afghani, a Muslim reformer, who had strived for a consensus amongst the Islamic states to gather and collectively confront the Western colonialism and hegemony. Finally, the publication of the Sykes Picot agreement in 1920 in the wake of Ottoman defeat in First World War, the Empire's provinces were divided between British and French, who established mandates and protectorates to further split the Muslim community of world.
The imperial takeover of the Ottoman Empire gave rise to the concepts of secular and national states. Britain, the proponent of these concepts in the former Islamic States had never itself observed secularism in its own place. The problem of Ireland had broken out of a rigid, aggressive intersectarian dispute of Catholics and Protestants. British largely as protestant never budged an inch on their radical sectarian stand which further troubled Anglo-Irish relations and developed political rivalry between the Northern and Southern Ireland.
With the adoption of radical secular and nationalistic policies in Turkey, power hungry politicians across the Muslim world began to imitate it and play with the essence of Islamic principles which formerly were the sole basis of conducting the affairs of the states. The decade of 1920's gave birth to, not only the nationalistic and secular conceptions of the states but, misconceptions: emanating from the misunderstanding contrived and fostered by the mischievous polity. It spread wrong notions about Islamic governance and Islamic political systems. The concept of Islamic State apparently became ahistoric and intolerant, which unfortunately continues to appear like that.
In 1921, Reza Khan led a brutal secularizing policy in Iran by executing the pioneers of Islamic movements. Jamal Abd-al-Nasser, Egyptian President, belonging to a tyrannical secular party, Free Officials, suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan Al Muslimeen) and imprisoned thousands of its members in concentration camps in 1952. In 1961, Muhammad Reza Pahalvi, Shah of Iran, announced White Revolution which further marginalized religion and widened the splits in Iranian society. Saddam Hussein in 1990 under the banner of secularism invaded Kuwait and inspired “Operation Desert Storm” for the Muslims of Iraq. All of them setting a perfect example that Iqbal epitomizes in form of this verse: Judda Ho Din Siyasat Se Tou Reh Jati Hai Chengezi
But all of these secularists' policies called for Islamic resistance movements. Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution was Iran's first step to overthrow the Phalvi dynasty's secular strategies. The Israeli victory and Arab defeat in 1967 led to a religious revivalist movement throughout the Middle-East, as the old secularist policies seemed discredited. In answer to the win of Israel, Sheikh Ahmad Yasin founded Mujamah (Congress), a welfare organization to campaign against the secular nationalism of PLO. Hamas an offshoot of Mujamah successfully launched a protest movement called Intifaada against the Israeli occupation of Gaza and West Bank. The secular inclinations of the successor of Jamal-abd-al-Nasser, Anwar Saadat, got him assassinated soon after his entrance into an agreement with Israel in 1981. Similarly, the leftist and secularist government led by Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his policies inspired the installation of the Islamic government of Zia-ul-Haque. The rise of Islamic movements became a phenomenal reality whenever the states, with majority of their populations as Muslims, were forced to accept secularist governments. In modern interpretation and deconstruction the term secularism means and is nothing but political debauchery.
In Kashmir, Jama'at-e-Islami was the first Islamic organization that challenged the political monopoly of the hooliginistic National Conference in 1953. The ideals of Jama'at did not bother NC on social counts uniquely, as much as the political principles embodied in those ideals. The ideals which were a primordial threat of first of its nature to the local political traditionalism of the nationalists. Stories abound, about how, in return to this challenge, the Jama'atis were persecuted. The conversion of Muslim Conference into National Conference in 1938 was the biggest ever blow to the political movement of Kashmir. The conversion changed the future course of the struggle for freedom and threw Kashmiris into another trouble. The secular agenda of National Conference interposed its identity with the colonial future of Indian Congress in Kashmir.
The Pandit, Sikh and Christian leaders had peacefully, though individually, worked with Kashmiri Muslims against the Dogra autocracy until the conversion. They could have continued to do so, systematically, under the umbrella of Muslim Conference and their strategies. But the change of name, policies and thus ousting of some members by its pseudo-secular promise made the party and its policies a sham. There are examples otherwise to prove how non-Muslims happily worked under Islamic principles.
In July 2006, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus (Kashmiri Pandits) in Tral, southeastern area of Kashmir “raised a joint forum, to which they unanimously called Islami Forum, to fight social evils and solve the problems of the society”. The creation of the Forum expelled all the doubts and apprehensions that non-Muslims do not accept to work or live under Islamic system and principles. “Hindu, Muslim Sikh Itihaad! News agency KNS reported that the residents called a congregation at Khankah-e-Molla, Tral. Besides Muslims, it was attended by a large number of people from Sikh and local Pandit community who had come from 126 villages of the area. The people unanimously raised an organization named Islami Forum with noted cleric Moulana Noor Ahmad Trali elected as its head, the KNS said (Greater Kashmir 10-07-06)”.
One more wrong notion that needs to be dispelled is that Jama'at-e-Islami is not the only organization aspiring for an Islamic state. On August 16, 2006 Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in a function at S P college, Srinagar wished for creation of the same in Kashmir after it regains its independence from India. It has become a trend to label all those, who aspire for an Islamic state in Kashmir, as Jama'atis which is grossly wrong. Although the majority of Muslims in Kashmir wish for the same and are non-Jama'atis. Another false attribution is calling Jama'at-e-Islami a confined or an organization of limited membership of Islamists. Hundreds of Christians are members of Jama'at-e-Islami in Pakistan. Mariya, an orthodox Christian in Pakistan represents Jama'at-e-Islami of Pakistan in the Pakistani Legislative Assembly. In an interview to BBC Radio Urdu Service, when asked why she feels that Jama'at is a special organization to be represented by an orthodox Christian like her, she said that she didn't come across any other ideology in the world, except J-e-I’s, which she felt could have best represented a country on religious, political, social, economic and moral grounds. (Ref. BBC Urdu Service Archives, June 2005)
Actually the spirit of an Islamic state already lives subtly in majority Muslim states occupied by unwanted forces of power. And even in that state the subjects have set an example of their tolerance towards their co-existent minorities within the state. "Muslim bothers helped us when no body came", quoted the headline on the front page of Greater Kashmir, May 2, 2006 after many Hindus were massacred by unidentified gunmen in Doda, J&K this year in the last night of April.

Islamists also believe that if Punjab were a Khalistan and Muslims were to live there with the Sikh brothers they would be represented and regarded equally as would be Sikhs in an Islamic State. In Maharaja Ranjeet Singh's empire which extended from Lahore, Pakistan to the north including Punjab in 19th century, 90% of his subjects in J&K were Muslims which remained untouched and unharmed because of his tolerant policies.

Though the concept of Islamic state in a state where majority of the natives are Muslims takes eventually a definite shape as soon as it achieves the political freedom. It is not a Utopia or a dreamt-of condition but evidently, as seen elsewhere in the world, an idealistic reality that shows itself up, the time it is born free and consolidates itself. As Gandhi realized this in the case of Kashmir and wrote in the letter to Pandit P N Bazaz on May 5, 1934, “Knowing that Kashmir is predominantly Musalmaan it is one day bound to become a Musalmaan State”. It is a different question that he later blessed Indian army to occupy the state. But a reality will still remain a reality.

The bottomline now, is to bust all the myths that mystify and malign the essence of an Islamic state.

Islamic state discourages communal fanaticism and bigotry and encourages strong communal harmony and tolerance. It by its nature rejects Westernization and colonialism but insists modernization of great arts, sciences, technology, life style and general development and progress in accordance with Islamic principles. Islamic liberalism is far more beautiful and secure than Western pseudo-liberalism. Islamic state also rejects discrimination on the basis of race, class, creed, caste and language yet regards him or her in high esteem whosoever practises piety.

The minorities in an Islamic state are called Zimmis (responsibility). Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, Taoists, Shintoists— are all Zimmis in an Islamic Empire. They are allowed full religious liberty, are allowed to organize their community according to their own customal law, but are required to recognize Islamic sovereignty. Besides Zimmis, Jews and Christians are regarded as Ahl-e-Kitab (people of the scripture) who by that identity enjoy wishful marriage propositions and brings them closer to Islam (Ref. Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong). Zimmis are also called “Protected subjects” in the premise of an Islamic state. An Islamic state is dutybound to provide protection and safeguard to the lives, property and honour of Zimmis. Islamic state does not believe in Nationalism in political terms but impresses upon the delimitation of State's extension on Islamic Principles. Similarly, Islamic state is not a national state but it gives its non-Muslim natives the right to legislation. Noted scholar and academic of Kashmir University, Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain writes in his book, Minorities: Islam and the Nation State, pp60, “Islam does not prohibit the participation of Non-Muslims in such legislation (which conforms to Islam). Umar Ibn Al Khatab (the second Caliph) sought the advice of Non-Muslim experts while devising procedures for the collection of revenue and settlement of lands in Iraq and Egypt. Binomin was known as one of the great leaders of the Copts in Egypt. Umar asked Amar Ibn Al As, the governor of Egypt, to consult Binomin regarding various affairs of administration, (cited in ibid, pp81, Islam and Jihad by A G Noorani).

Declaration of Umar Ibn-al Khatab (RA) at Jerusalem best exemplifies the concept of an ideal Islamic State. He said, “This is the protection which the servant of God, Umar the commander of the Believers, has granted to the people of Ayliya. The protection is for their lives and properties, their chapels and crosses, their sick and healthy, and for all their co-religionists. Their Churches shall not be used for habitation, nor shall they be demolished, nor shall any injury be done to them or to their compounds, or to their crosses, nor shall their properties be harmed in any way. There shall be no compulsion on them in the matter of religion, nor shall any of them suffer any injury on account of religion. The life and property of the Roman who leaves the city shall be safe until he reaches a place of safety…Whatever is written herein is under the covenant of God and the responsibility of His Messenger, of Caliphs and of Believers…Witness to this deed are Khalid Bin Walid and Amar Bin Al Aas and Abd Al Rahman Bin Awf and Mu’waya Bin Abi Sufiyan.” Written in 15 AH (Tabari, 3:609, trans. 12:191-2) Ref. Makers of Islamic Civilization! Umar by Shibli Numani (Oxford) 2004 ed.

Language is not a concern for an Islamic state as long as minorities are concerned. Language, after all, is a medium of communication and nobody should politicize it. Language settles after its evolution over thousands of years. There is nothing moral and immoral in any language. It depends upon the speaker to make it the either of the two. One can abuse in Arabic and praise in the same language. A language (particular) becomes the part of religious identity when it becomes the medium of divine communication to a respective community. Good Jews (not Zionists) and Copts besides Muslims in the Arab world speak, write, read and love Arabic. Not because Arabic is the religious language of Muslims but because it was there in the Arab world before the revelation of Holy Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Arabic was spoken in the times of Jahiliya also; from the times immemorial in the Arabian civilization. Muslims of Bangladesh speak and love their Bangla, the script of which comes from basic graphic Sanskrit alphabets. Though Urdu is a medium through which all the theological interpretation of Islam and its literature has come from and continues to come to South Asia. Urdu is a language in which our monumental literature, our revenue records, our identity, our civilizational history is preserved. It has been developed over hundreds of years. If shunning it means to get logically rid of an “alien language”, that some people feel has been thrust on us, than what is English. Then in the first place English deserves (logically) the first priority to be shunned off as a colonial language. Illogical campaigns to promote one language and destroying the other won't do. Urdu in Jammu & Kashmir is the unique bridge of communication amongst the people who live across the state. It is ironical that those who have made their professional carriers over the years only because of Urdu language have nose-dived in the campaign to erase the beautiful language along with their children. The children who have been spending an imperial life in West and don't have a sophisticated knowledge of hard facts and crude realities. One should not spit in the plate one gets fed from.

Muslim Ummah must unite for achieving back the glory it has lost. The triumph lies in unification, intellectual renaissance, prudence and in giving up the foolhardy trifles. For where has Prophet PBUH encouraged angry retaliations? Nowhere. But strategic retreats, love, unity and then with the discipline and patience would come the success.

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