By Soroor Ahmed (Khabrein.Info)
Without commenting on the serious ideological debate going on in the last many years over the issue of political participation or formation of party, one is inclined to believe that Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is, at present, nowhere in the position to confront any eventuality called political party.
At the very outset it needs to be explained that a large number of its 7,000-odd arkaan (members) have never been trained for political activism in practice in the modern age. Of late there has been sharp fall in the intellectual level, understanding of the global, national and local situation and political acumen. Many of its members have ended up falling in the category of something between a Tablighi Jamaat preacher and Jamiat-ul-Ulema maulana. Perhaps its founder(s) never dreamt that one day the organization will have an army of confused lot in its rank.
Their knowledge of Muslim Ummah has deteriorated so much that a sizeable number of its members were, till lately, unable to understand as to whether Muslim Brotherhood and Ikhwan-ul-Muslameen are one outfit or two. This notwithstanding the fact that Ikhwan’s literature has enriched many of Jamaat’s libraries. It is only after Egypt witnessed big upheaval that they got some idea of what actually is happening in the Middle East.
Many of the Jamaat members and associates are perhaps not aware of what has been explained in Surah Rome (Rum). The early Muslims of Makkah, though they were only handful of them when Persia and Rome fought, were well aware of what was happening in the battlefield thousands of kilometers north. So they had no difficulty in understanding the very essence and meaning of the initial few verses of that Surah. Today in this era of internet a large number of Jamaat’s workers are groping in darkness and are unaware of the reality around them. The tragedy lies not in them, but in their training and upbringing.
The political understanding of its leaders as well as rank and file can be measured from many instances. For example on February 16 last one of its former members of central Majlis-e-Shura (Central Advisory Council) invited the Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar, in Patna to release his book on a Musslim freedom fighter, hitherto not touched by any historian. Interestingly, the gentleman is not from Bihar, but neighbouring state, Jharkhand. He did not stop there he went on to applaud Nitish Kumar for staging the third revolution in Bihar. Only Allah knows what he meant by revolution. This, inter alia, reflects his political naivety.
Sometimes back Amir-e-Halqa (state party chief) of a state unit was about to send an invitation letter to the chief minister of that particular state inviting him as the chief guest for one of the programmes organized by Human Welfare Trust, an NGO run by central leaders of Jamaat for the uplift of the Muslims. He stopped only when he was reminded at the final moment by an acquaintance who has organizationally nothing to do with Jamaat. He told the Amir-e-Halqa that inviting the chief minister who is running the government with the support of the BJP is in contravention of the basic policy of Jamaat.
A few months back the Andhra Pradesh unit of Jamaat-e-Islami thoughtlessly went on to support the Telengana movement. The champions of this movement within the Jamaat were not at all equipped to convince the very rank and file of the organization itself, not to speak of others. So when the state Amir of Andhra Pradesh went to a coastal city to attend a meeting he had to witness resistance from the crowd.
With Jamaat leaders lacking so much political sense how would it go about launching, supporting or patronizing any party with political aim and objective. This remains a million dollars question.
There is no denying the fact that in Jamaat top leadership there is serious dearth of experts on legal and constitutional matters, sociology, political science, history, media and public administration. They have hardly any understanding of how the system works yet they make tall claims of providing an alternative political model. The Jamaat top echelon is packed with some Ulema, NRIs and those who have degrees in engineering, medicine, commerce, management, science, literature, economics etc. There is absolutely no contempt for their scholarly depth in these fields. What is being argued is that political activism demands at least basic knowledge of subjects related to governance and other related issues.
There are many senior leaders of Jamaat, who have little idea of what is the Central Subject, the State Subject and what is Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution. This is the basic requirement for all those who boast of political activism. Some of them, like an ordinary maulana or a layman, ended up praising the chief minister of a state after an off-campus branch of Aligarh Muslim University came up there. They were not aware that AMU is a central university and falls in the Central Subject and the chief minister has hardly anything to contribute except facilitating plot of land demanded for it.
A gentleman from Kolkata is in the habit of writing articles for Urdu newspapers. He has been doing so for the last many years. But for readers it came as a big shock when, in one of his write ups, he showered praise on the chief minister of another state. His entire article was based on the propaganda machierny of the said state, which was far removed from the ground reality. This gentleman failed to cross-check the fact before putting pen to paper. If after so many years of investment men and women so close to Jamaat do not understand the media then when will they fathom it.
Another state-level leader of Jammat was––in a small meeting––all praise for a state government for very good work done by the Food Corporation of India in procuring foodgrains. What is strange is that he, perhaps could not understand the matter, even after another more informed leader pulled him up stating that the FCI is a central government agency and it is the Centre and not the state government which has raised the Minimum Support Price.
The simple question is: How can an organization, which has stopped––or say never started––grooming and training its cadres on the political line ever dream of forming a party. Perhaps the Jamaat leadership has under-estimated the Congress, the BJP, the Left and even other regional parties and is too much impressed by organizations like Jamiat-ul-Ulema. One of its senior leaders was heard claiming that Muslim leaders like Maulana Mahmood Madani and Abdul Wahab Khilji have declared their intention to support the proposed party to be formed with the blessing of Jamaat-e-Islami. Perhaps he was not aware that Madani is a Rajya Sabha MP of Rashtriya Lok Dal, the party of Ajit Singh, which has no relevance anywhere in the world except in some Jat-dominated districts of West UP. With Madani clan locked in a bitter struggle for supremacy among themselves where was the need to quote Mahmood’s stand on the proposed party.
After all we in India have many one-election wonders. United Minorities Front won 17 seats out of 56 it contested in the Assembly election held after the Assam Accord of 1985. In the following election it was virtually wiped out, notwithstanding the fact that the state has about 35 per cent Muslim population. The All India United Democratic Front won 10 seats in the 2006 Assembly election in Assam and this time it is facing a stiff challenge as a couple of its MLAs have crossed over to Congress. Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, its founder, has now suddenly thrown his weight behind Mahmood Madani faction of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema, when, till a few weeks back, he was with Arshad Madani faction. Ajmal has done good social works in Assam but his political acumen is yet to be tested.
If Jamaat-e-Islami wishes to be so much hopeful of these Ulema and community leaders who have not kept their own house in order the less said is better. We can not bank on their support and quote these leaders in the meeting with the hope that they would be helpful in the long run.
So far sociological understanding of the leadership is concerned the scene is extremely pathetic. Sometimes back a workshop was organized in a tribal heartland of India where selected members of Jamaat from all over the country were assembled. Several prominent Muslim and non-Muslim social activists, scholars and journalists were invited. What came as a big shock is that most of the members of Jamaat present there had hardly any idea about tribes of India. They failed to differentiate between Schedule Castes, Schedule Tribes, Backward Castes and Extreme Backward Castes. Yet they are gearing up to join hands with the downtrodden and work with them for an alternative party.
So far social stratification among Muslims is concerned none were prepared to accept and positively discuss it, obviously because it is ‘blasphemous’.
True, it is not possible to inculcate all these knowledge to all the members and associates. But if Jamaat is really sincere in floating the party with a difference it should at least groom its cadres in that way and make them aware of the ground reality first and than go for any such adventure later.
However, Jamaat is putting the cart before the horse. Some of its leaders argue that the rank and file would soon learn the ropes once the party is formed. Therefore, there is no need to train them before hand. But such move has the potential of becoming suicidal in the future as politically naïve cadres can easily be used and hoodwinked by the vested interest and the media.