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Political Islam: A history, from right to left

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By Nadeem Farooq Paracha

The term ‘Political Islam’ is an academic concoction. It works as an analytical umbrella under which political analysts and historians club together various political tendencies that claim to be using Muslim scriptures and historical traditions to achieve modern political goals.
The term first emerged in Europe soon after the First World Warto define anti-colonial movements that described themselves as Islamic in orientation. The term is a 20th century construct and its first prominent expression is believed to be Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, formed in 1927.
Political Islam covers a wide range of ideas and movements, emerging from within various Muslim sects, sub-sects and ethnic groups. These can be leftist as well as rightist in orientation.
Islamic Fundamentalism
Islamic Fundamentalism is a vague term. It is largely associated with various radical and militant tendencies found in the Muslim world. But critics of this definition claim that it only means the observance of the fundamentals of Islam.
So, even though it is usually attributed to the beliefs of modern-day extremist movements in the Muslim world, Islamic Fundamentalism is basically a firm belief in the theological musings of classical Islamic jurists and the reported traditions and sayings of the faith’s leading luminaries.
Initially, the term was largely understood (in the West) as the Islamic equivalent of the 19thcentury Christian Fundamentalist Movement in the United States.The movement believed in the literalist understanding of the Bible and was a reaction against modernism.
There is no clear consensus among historians on exactly when the term Islamic Fundamentalism began being associated with radical Islamic political movements. However, Western as well as Arab media had described the radical Egyptian Islamic activist and author, Sayyid Qutb, as an Islamic Fundamentalist when he was executed by the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966.
More than a political doctrine, Islamic Fundamentalism is a theological tendency that is opposed to modernist/rationalist interpretations of Islam’s sacred scriptures. From the 12thcentury Islamic scholars who dealt an intellectual blow to the faith’s early rationalists (the Mu’tazilites) to present-day Islamic literalists and apolitical Islamic evangelicals, Islamic Fundamentalism has largely remained frozen in an understanding of the faith developed centuries ago by ancient Islamic scholars and jurists.
Even though many Islamic Fundamentalists are vocal about their rhetorical demands for the imposition of ‘Islamic laws’ (Sharia), Islamic Fundamentalism has little or no political agenda.
It remains largely associated with apolitical conservative ulema, the clergy and Islamic evangelists.
Early Manifestations: Ahmed Ibn Hanbal (9th century Arabian scholar and theologian); Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi (16th Century Islamic scholar in Mughal India); Ibn Taymiyyah (12th/13th century Arabian theologian).
Cotemporary Manifestations: Tableeghi Jamat (Pakistan/India/Bangladesh/Indonesia); Farhat Hashmi/Al-Huda (Pakistan); Zakir Naik/Islamic Research Foundation (India); Dawat-e-Islami (Pakistan).
Neo-Islamic Fundamentalism
Term coined by acclaimed French expert on Political Islam, Oliver Roy,in 1998. Neo-Islamic Fundamentalism is not only a reaction against modernity but also a critique of traditional Islamic Fundamentalism.
Like traditional Islamic Fundamentalism, Neo-Islamic Fundamentalism too is literalist in its understanding of Islamic scriptures. But unlike Islamic Fundamentalism, Neo-Islamic Fundamentalism looks to impose various modes of social morality and piety through force. Neo-Islamic Fundamentalists are known to have used coercion and mob violence to achieve this.
Therefore Neo-Islamic Fundamentalists are more likely than traditional Islamic Fundamentalists to use political means to achieve their social and theological goals.
Early Manifestations: The Kharijites (7th/8th century Arab puritans); Ibn Abd Al-Wahab (18th century Arabian theologian); the Ikhwan (early 20th century Saudi militia).
Contemporary Manifestations: Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (Pakistan); The ‘religious/moral police’ Basji, Mutaween and Wilayatul Hisbah in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia; the Lal Masjid clerics (Pakistan).
Islamism
The term Islamism is derived from the 17th century German word, Islamismus, which, in the 18th century, was translated into English as ‘Islamism.’ Till the early 20th century it simply meant Islam.
However, when in the 1970s, the Muslim world at large began witnessing the emergence of various social and political Islamic movements, the term Islamism was revived by certain French academics studying these movements.
By the time of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and start of the Mujahedeen insurgency against the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan in 1980, Islamism began to mean the political expression of Islamic theology.
This understanding was largely based on the writings of Pakistani Islamic scholar, Abul Ala Maududi (d.1979) and the Egyptian activist Sayyid Qutb (d.1966) both of who had described the Qur’an to be the manifesto of their respective political organizations.
Founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna (d.1949); Qutb; and Maududi interpreted the Qur’an and other Islamic texts through the prism of modern political concepts and lingo. For example, Maududi expanded the Qur’anic concept of Tauheed (oneness of God) by claiming that it also meant the (political) oneness of the Muslim ummah that can only be achieved through attaining state power and a universal ‘Islamic state’.
Qutb implied that 20th century Muslim societies were in a state of jahiliyya– a term used by classical Muslim scholars to define the state of ignorance the people of Arabia were in before the arrival of Islam in the 7th century.
Qutb suggested that an armed jihad was required in Muslim countries to grab state power and rid the Muslims from the ‘modern forces of jahiliyya’ (which, to him, were secularism, Marxism, nationalism and ‘Western materialism’).
So Islamism — as it began to be understood from the early 1970s onwards — vigorously eschewed ancient commentaries on Islamic scriptures and Sharia. It rejected these as being stuck in the mosque or undertaken to serve rulers who had divorced Islam from politics. Islamism claimed that Islam was as much a political doctrine as it was a moral and social guide.
Islamism in this context became the intellectual fodder which shaped various Islamic movements and even regimes between the 1960s and across the 1980s. These included the Muslim Brotherhood’s movement against Egypt’s Nasser regime in the 1960s; its activities against the Hafiz-ul-Asad’s regime in Syria (in the early 1980s); the anti-Bhutto movement in Pakistan by the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) in early 1977; the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran; and the ‘Islamization programs’ of the Gen Zia dictatorship in Pakistan (1977-88); and the Islamization process in Sudan in the 1980s and 1990s; and the anti-Soviet Mujahedeen insurgency in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Early Manifestations: The Jamiat Ulema Islam-Hind (India); The Khilafat Movement – 1919-24 (India); Hasan al-Bana (Egypt); Abul Aala Maududi (Pakistan); Sayyid Qutb (Egypt); Nahdlatul Ulema Party (Indonesia).
Contemporary Manifestations: Muslim Brotherhood (Middle East); Hasan al-Turabi (Sudan); Jamat-e-Islami (Pakistan/Bangladesh); Dr. Israr (Pakistan); Hamas (Palestine); Islamic Republic Party (Iran); National Islamic Front (Sudan); Justice and Development Party (Turkey); Enaadha Party (Tunisia).
Post-Islamism
The term post-Islamism is often explained as a process in which Islamism’s political and ideological tendencies mutated to become more militant and extreme in nature. Soon after the Afghan Civil War in the 1980s when various Mujahedeen groups splintered on ethnic and sectarian grounds, they did not disband.
Instead, believing that it was through their efforts that the Soviet Union had collapsed, many such groups internalized their movements by trying to trigger ‘Islamic uprisings’ in their own countries. They also turned against the United States, the country that had been one of the largest donors of money, training and weapons to the Mujahedeen in the 1980s.
Various internationalist and local militant Islamic outfits emerged across the Muslim world. Much of their tactics revolved around devising devastating terror attacks through indiscriminate bombings (including suicide bombings) not only against security and political targets but also against civilian populations.
The idea was to create social, economic and political chaos in Muslim societies and then exploit this chaos to install ‘Islamic regimes’ like the one the Taliban had set-up in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.
This line of thinking narrowed the whole idea of Islamism to mean extreme displays of religious and sectarian xenophobia and violence bordering on nihilism. Post-Islamism also devoid of the intellectual tradition associated with Islamism, settling instead for radical polemical literature which advocates violent action and an extremely narrow worldview.
Early Manifestations: First incarnation of Hezbollah (Lebanon); Islamic Jihad (Egypt); Al-Gamaat Al-Islamiyya (Egypt); Sipa-e-Sahaba (Pakistan); Sipa-e-Muhammad (Pakistan).
Contemporary Manifestations: Al-Qaeda (Global); Islamic State of Iraq and Levant/Daesh (Global); Armed Islamic Group (Algeria); Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Pakistan); Boko Haram (Nigeria); Tehreek-i-Taliban (Pakistan); Taliban (Afghanistan); Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (Palestine); Al-Shabab (Somalia); Jamma Islamiya (Indonesia).
Pan-Islamism
Pan-Islamism was a reaction against the 19th century consolidation of European colonialism. This idea, which propagated the formation of a centralized universal Islamic caliphate, was initially seeded by the Istanbul-based Ottoman caliph Abd Al-Hamid II.
The leading intellectual proponent of early Pan-Islamism was Jamal al-din al-Afghani, a man of Persian decent. Afghani’s 19th century Pan-Islamism wanted to discard the political and intellectual lethargy that had crept in the Muslims’ way of thinking so that a more intellectually robust and politically modern universal Muslim polity could be built that was then able to challenge European imperialism and erect a universal Islamic caliphate.
Even though Afghani’s ideas did get some traction, by the late 19th century they largely faded away. However, these ideas returned to the fore with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War in 1919.
But by then Pan-Islamist ideas were largely adopted by radical Islamic outfits and individuals who eschewed Afghani’s modernist dimensions of Pan-Islamism and replaced them with more theological tendencies.
During the tussle between Egypt and Saudi Arabia between the 1950s and 1960s over the issue of which Arab country was to exercise more influence in the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia adopted a Pan-Islamist line to overcome the growth of Arab Nationalism and Islamic Socialism.
Pan-Islamism in the 1960s and 1970s meant the acquisition of western technologies and also the creation (rather, concoction) of ‘Islamic’ economics and even sciences largely financed by the Saudi monarchy and proliferated across the Muslim world.
This idea of Pan-Islamism began to flounder with the rise of Neo-Fundamentalism and Post-Islamism. It was however adopted by certain groups who retained the idea’s need to absorb academic and technological modernity, but intensified its anti-democracy tendencies.
From being a modernist intellectual tendency in the 19th century, to being a reactionary activist idea in the early 20th century, to becoming a Saudi-backed initiative between the 1960s and late 1980s, Pan-Islamism became a clandestine maneuver which wanted to infiltrate the militaries and intelligentsias in the Muslim world as a way to enact a new Muslim world order.
Early Manifestations: Jamal al-din al-Afghani; Maulana Abul Kalam Azad; Khilafat Movement (India, 1919-1924); Ubaidullah Sindhi; Abul Ala Maududi; Muslim Brotherhood.
Contemporary manifestations: Hizbut Tharir (Global); Islamic Salvation Front (Algeria).
From The Left
Islamic Modernism
Islamic Modernism is a broad-based term. Its ideological core is fluid and can shift both ways, to the left or the right. Yet, historically, it has always felt the most comfortable sitting at the centre.
Islamic Modernism is a 19th century construct. More than a reaction, it emerged as a measured and pragmatic response to the rise of European colonialism and the political, social and economic modernity which accompanied this rise.
The term Islamic Modernism was probably first used in Russia. In the late 19th century a group of Muslim activists and intellectuals in Czarist Russia who wanted Russian Muslims to adopt European Enlightenment ideas began to call themselves the Jadeeds or the Modernists.
The Jadeeds explained themselves to be progressive Muslims who were formulating an usus-ul-jadid or a modern methodology to reinvigorate Islam as a contemporary, living faith. Henceforth, many 19th century Muslim modernists elsewhere too began being known as jadeed Muslman.
The most politically and intellectually fertile years of Islamic Modernism were between the 19th and mid-20th centuries.
Islamic Modernism advocated a rational and contemporary interpretation of Islam’s sacred texts; the adoption of a scientific mindset; and the pragmatic absorption of social modernity. Islamic Modernists believed Islam to be a flexible and an inherently progressive and democratic faith.
The aim of Islamic Modernism was to make Muslim populations (who were disoriented by modernity) to embrace modern thinking and political institutions, and pragmatically adopt social modernity without compromising their Muslim identities.
Islamic Modernists also tried to contemporize Islam’s sacred texts and rationalize and express them in the context of modern political ideas such as democracy, capitalism and socialism; and of other more life-style-related aspects of modernity.
During the early and mid-20th century, Islamic Modernism shaped various powerful political movements, especially in Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Algeria, Tunisia and India/Pakistan. It began to decline as an idea from the late 1970s onwards, especially with the rise of Islamism and Saudi-backed Pan-Islamism.
Many historians and scholars perturbed by the rise of extremist ideas and consequent acts of violence in Muslim countries have begun to look back at Islamic Modernism to see if a contemporary and updated version of it could be revived.
Early Manifestations: The Mu’tazilites; Muhammad Abduh (Egypt); Rifa’a Al-Tahtwai (Egypt); Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (South Asia); Syed Ameer Ali (South Asia); Chiragh Ali (South Asia); Abdul Rauf Fitrat (Uzbekistan).
Contemporary Manifestations: Muhammad Iqbal (South Asia); Kamal Ataturk (Turkey); Muhammad Ali Jinnah (India/Pakistan); Ayub Khan (Pakistan); Dr. Fazal Rahman Malik (Pakistan); Dr. Khalifa Abdul Hakim (Pakistan); Ali Shariati (Iran); Farag Foda (Egypt); Habib Borguiba (Tunisia); Javed Ahmad Ghamidi (Pakistan).
Islamic Socialism
Islamic Socialism emerged as a branch of Islamic Modernism. Whereas Islamic Modernism had largely been sympathetic towards the idea of capitalism, a branch of it broke away after the 1917 communist revolution in Russia, to become known as Islamic Socialism.
Islamic Socialism attempted to equate Qur’anic concepts of equality and charity with modern Socialist economics. This idea when merged with active politics was aimed to trigger a cultural, intellectual and political renaissance in the Muslim world through whichever means necessary: revolution, the democratic process or through a military coup.
Islamic Socialism was also anti-clerical, socially liberal and mostly sympathetic towards communist powers, the Soviet Union and China. But it was not secular, as such. Islam was an important aspect of the idea. However, ideologues who shaped Islamic Socialism saw the ulema and clerics as agents of backwardness and exploitation. They insisted that there was no room for a theocracy in Islamic Socialism.
Islamic Socialism was a powerful populist idea in various Muslim countries from the 1930s till the early 1970s, before fading away.
Early Manifestations: The Waisi Movement (Soviet Union); Ubaidullah Sindhi (India); Ghulam Ahmad Parvez (India/Pakistan); Tan Malaka (Indonasia).
Contemporary Manifestations: Hanif Rammay (Pakistan); Pakistan People’s Party (Pakistan); Ali Shariati (Iran); Mujahideen-i-Khalq (Iran); Muammar Qaddafi (Libya); National Liberation Front (Algeria); Peoples Democratic Party (Afghanistan); Palestine Liberation Organization (Global).
Arab Socialism/Ba’ath Socialism
Arab Socialism and Ba’ath Socialism both evolved from Pan-Arabism or Arab Nationalism which began being formulated from the early 20th century as the Arab response to the rise of European colonialism. Both were also influenced by Islamic Socialism and Islamic Modernism.
In the Middle East, Islamic Socialism evolved into becoming a more nationalistic and revolutionary idea, mainly due to the creation of Israel (in 1948) and the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians from the area.
Syrian Arab nationalists, Michel Aflaq, Salah ad-Din Bitar are believed to be the originators of the Middle Eastern strain of Islamic Socialism that expressed itself as Arab Socialism and Ba’ath Socialism.
After studying the economic and political decline of the Arab peoples around the world, Aflaq and Bitar advocated the creation of a united Arab state.
For this they recast Arab nationalism by infusing into it a heavy dose of socialist economic ideas, progressive cultural and social outlook, and by reworking the idea of Islam inherent in it by evoking ‘Qur’an’s revolutionary spirit’ to counter injustice and inequality.
Aflaq and Bitar claimed that this would lead to a renaissance in the Arab world, turning it into an economic and political power.
Arab and Ba’ath Socialism appealed to the unity of all Arab nations on the basis of language/culture (Arab) and on the faith most Arabs followed (Islam).
They suggested that the Arab nations were being undermined by five forces: European colonialism (driven by capitalism); Soviet Communism; ‘decadent monarchies’ in Arab countries; Islamic conservatism; and the clergy who were keeping Arab societies in the clutches of backwardness.
Both the ideas offered a path between Western capitalism and Soviet communism by suggesting that all Arab nations come together as one state under a single ‘vanguard party’ of Arab nationalists who would impose socialist economic policies, modernize society through education, science and culture, separate religion from the state but continue being inspired by the egalitarian concepts of Islam.
In spite of being staunchly secular, Arab and Ba’ath Socialism celebrated Islam as proof of ‘Arab genius’, and a testament of Arab culture, values and thought.
Both the ideas flourished in the Middle East between the late 1940s and early 1970s, inspiring and enacting Arab Socialist regimes in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Algeria, North Yemen, Sudan and Somalia before receding from the early 1970s onwards.
Early Manifestations: Michel Aflaq & Salah ad-Din Bitar (Syria); Gammal Abdel Nasser (Egypt).
Contemporary Manifestations: Arab Socialist Party (Egypt); Syrian Ba’ath Socialist Party (Syria); Iraq Ba’ath Socialist Party (Iraq); National Liberation Front (Algeria); National Liberation Front (Yemen); Muammar Qaddafi (Libya); Sudan Socialist Union (Sudan); Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (Somalia); PLO.
(Courtesy:www.nayadaur.tv)

 

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Religion and Religions

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By Amir Suhail Wani

Religion, as far as dictionary meaning is concerned is “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods” or else as American heritage dictionary puts it “The expression of man’s belief in and reverence for a superhuman power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe”. These two definitions vaguely convey the meaning of religion in general, but it is highly impossible to give a harmonious and comprehensive definition of religion.

The issue of religion is a very subtle one and different people interpret it differently as demanded by their religion. The Islamic concept of religion may not be compatible with that of a Buddhist interpretation and alike the Christian picture of ascetic and celibacy may seem alien to Islam. But one thing that is invariably common in all religions is their allegiance and subordination to some superhuman powers.

 

All religions hold that the mechanism of universe can’t be self-substantial, but needs a divine will, divine power and divine energy to maintain its system. Religion teaches us to bow before this divine will, which permeates the whole universe and even what lies beyond the cosmic edges. By this subordination, religion wants to harmonize our position in the universe and to frame our actions according to the dictums of divine will.

The domain of religion is mainly spiritual, though it aims at the overall wellbeing of humans and aims at helping them to attain highest ideals of life. But before man could master his universe, religion teaches him to master his own self and helps him in unleashing the infinite power that already lies in the matrix of his constituents. The central point all thesis of knowledge be it philosophy, sociology, psychology, metaphysics or religion is man.

All the subjects try to see man from a particular view point and from a particular frame of reference. But religion transcends all frames of reference and analyses man in his totality. It takes into consideration his physical, mental, spiritual as well as metaphysical needs and thus aids him in perfectioning his attitude in this perfect universe. Religion prompts man to believe in supernatural, not on dogmatic basis, but on sound rational and analytic grounds. As Allama lqbal says:-

“Indeed in view of its function, religion stands in greater need of a rational foundation of its ultimate principles than even the dogmas of science. Science may ignore a rational metaphysics; indeed it has ignored so far Religion can hardly afford to ignore the search for a reconciliation of the oppositions of experience and a justification of the environment in which humanity finds itself.

That is why Professor Whitehead has acutely remarked that ‘the ages of faith are the ages of rationalism”. And by anchoring man with supernatural, religion next guides man through this infinite universe. It refrains from piece meal treatment of reality, rather sees reality as an organic whole and it does not see universe merely as a dichotomy of matter-energy but infuses in it a new spirit — the spirit that gives life even to pebbles and stones.

No matter how diverse their beliefs are, I pretend that the followers of all religions will agree upon these characteristics of religion, for they do not belong to any religion but to the religion on the whole. The historical evolution of religion is still another facet of religions that will require large amount of space for full description. But suffice to say that from theist’s point of view, religion was revealed upon the mankind by the supreme deity, to guide their conduct and to escort their transactions with the rest of universe. Time and again, God choose some blessed men and through them guided the whole of humanity from gloom to gleam.

Thus the origin of religion is divine, as opposed to atheistic stand who believe that religion is a social phenomenon which arises purely on the basis of man’s interaction with his universe. The atheists believe that due to his sheer fear of natural phenomenon like thunder, earthquakes and other natural calamities the early man reckoned the concept of divine to interpret these phenomenon. They are correct in saying that man needed explanation for these phenomenon’s and was scared by them. But to say that this fear gave birth to god hypothesis is highly unjustified, for man was already conscious of Supreme Being and thus sought refuge with him.

The lure towards religion and the concept of God is engraved very much in the psychology of man and to say that religion is something which arose as a social phenomenon and was imposed on the nature of man is highly disturbing—. Even most of the world’s greatest scientists were theists and openly confessed that the interpretation of this universe is impossible without invoking the presence of supreme conscious who directs its course. C.S. Lewis wonderfully wrote in The Problem of pain that “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell”. So the existence and acceptance of religion is a universal phenomenon even one may comply with it or not, its worth cannot be diminished. We shall now take up the concept of man in different religions keeping their implications in mind for future use.

Hinduism: – Hinduism is regarded as one of the most ancient religions of the world and in fact its origin is obscure to researchers and scholars. For academic purposes it can be said that Hinduism is the group of religious and philosophical traditions of India that accept the doctrinal authority of the Vedas and Upanishads, comprising the schools Mimamsa, Sankhya-Yoga, Nyaya-Vaishesika, and Vedanta. J.L. Nehru writes in his magnum opus the discovery of India, under the title “What Is Hinduism” that “In this quotation Vincent Smith has used the words ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Hinduised’. I don’t think it is correct to use them in this way unless they are used in the widest sense of Indian culture.

They are apt to mislead today when they are associated with a much narrower and specifically religious concept. The word ‘Hindu’ doesn’t occur at all in our ancient literature. The first reference to it in an Indian book is, I am told, is in a Tantric work of the eighth century A.C., where ‘Hindu’ means a people and not the followers of a particular religion. But it is clear that the word is a very old one, as it occurs in the Avesta and in Old Persian”. He further goes on to say that “The famous Chinese pilgrim I – Tsing, who came to India in the seventh century A.C., writes in his records of travels that the northern tribes that is the people of Central Asia, called ‘Hindu’ (Hsin-Tu) but, he adds, ‘this is not at all a common name … and the most suitable name for India is the Noble Land (Aryadesha)’ The use of the word ‘Hindu’ in connection with a particular religion is of very late occurrence”89.This account compendiously sums the rhetoric aspects of Hinduism. Now coming to its main tenets, we note that Hinduism is based upon diverse beliefs, rituals, customs and practices. Hinduism is also called the Vedic religion as is based upon the teachings inscribed in Vedas. Vedas form the fountain head of Hinduism and are the ultimate sources to which legacy of Hinduism can be traced. Although, it is difficult to fix any timescale for the composition of Vedas, but it is believed that around 1500 B.C., the Vedic age started, when the Aryans arrived in India.

It is believed that the facts mentioned within Vedas are infallible and invariable. It is also believed that Vedas were revealed to early mystics in course if their spiritual discourses, who expressed them in words. Thus it is assumed that the origin of Vedas is essentially divine. As Witzel puts it “We owe the transmission and preservation of the texts to the care and discipline of particular religious, or better, priestly schools (or, sakhas).

It should also be emphasized that both the composition and the transmission of the texts was completely oral for the entire Vedic period and some considerable time afterwards”.Thus the study of Hinduism is essentially the study of Vedas and affiliated texts. For convenience, the Vedas are divided into four main categories viz Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sam Veda and Atharva Veda. Each Veda deals with a particular aspect of human life. Besides Vedas, the religion of Hinduism stands on the texts of Upanishads. One of the most important doctrines in Hinduism is that of the theory of Karma, which states that action and its consequences are inseparable. Any deed, any thought that causes an effect, is called Karma. The Law of Karma means the law of causation. Wherever there is a cause, there an effect must be produced.

(The author is a freelance columnist with bachelors in Electrical Engineering and a student of comparative studies with special interests in Iqbaliyat & mystic thought. He contributes a weekly column for this newspaper that appears every Monday. He can be reached at: amirkas2016@gmail.com

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Criminalisation of Indian politics

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Shabbir Aariz

India after independence adopted the parliamentary form of government for it being the largest democracy in the world and a constitution with secular and democratic features as envisioned by its leaders who were part of the freedom struggle with laudable credentials.

Indian parliament was graced from the prime minister to the smallest member by the individuals who were like institutions unto themselves, the feature that continued, unfortunately not very long.
Soon after the first crop of leaders of independent India kicked the bucket, the degenerative metamorphosis of the system started setting in. People like Shashtri and Gulzari Lal Nanda and likes of them suddenly disappeared and the citizenry started suffering. Nehrus and Aazads those adorned the parliament were replaced by Pholan Devis and individuals with criminal background.

 

And as recently as 2018, the supreme court of India in its five judge bench including the chief justice, on a PIL by Public Interest Foundation & others V/S Union of India, observed that the citizenry suffers at the hands of those “who are nothing but a liability” to the country. The said bench however left it to the parliament to make a law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter the political stream.

The bench maintained that criminalization of politics strikes at the very root of democracy. This unsettlingly increasing trend of criminalization of politics, to which the country has been witness, tends to disrupt the constitutional ethos and strikes at the very root of its democratic form of government.

The judgement has also come under a great criticism for the reason that the Apex court instead of laying law has passed on the task to the parliament and the critics say that the judgment is disappointing because of the inconsistency and the fact that it “misses the wood for the tree”.

The apex court while sharing the petitioner’s concern about the growing criminalization of polity, which is a threat to the basic structure of the constitution. Still, it has expressed its inability to go beyond what it did, on the ground that it is bound by the doctrine of separation of powers between the legislature and the judiciary not to cross the “Lakshman Rekha’. The bench has ignored the precedents which it had set to determine what constitutes Lakashman Rekha. Petitioners had wanted the court to step in as the parliament had not enacted the requisite law to fill the void for so many years.

It was believed that politics is the last resort of the scoundrel and in India this is loud and clear as we see that criminals seek shelter in politics after contesting elections and even getting elected either to the parliament or state legislature.

It is also no secret that nexus between the criminals and some politicians exists.

Criminals need patronage and politicians need money and muscle that comes from the criminals to enable politicians to win elections.

And criminals also directly contest elections. Booths are captured, goons hired to mobilize or suppress turnout, criminals protected from the reach of law, favors showered and the competitive search for underground financing by the parties has made criminals most sought after commodity who in turn have sought space for themselves in the political stream and got it.

Studies suggest that a substantial percentage of individuals with criminal record of serious crimes like rape and murder, over the years have made it to the parliament and state legislatures. There have been political murders in India and the killers controlling the system never were brought to justice. Much of the nexus between the criminals and politicians has remained covert in the past but for the past few years it has not only been overt but also glorified in the ugliest manner.

We are witnessing mob lynching, killings, destruction of properties, humiliations and organized targeting of under privileged and voiceless citizens brazenly defended by the politicians in power. Meanwhile Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, 2008 Malegaon blast accused has been favored with a ticket by BJP for parliament elections in Bhopal.

The scnario does not only threaten the democracy but the basic edifice of India and there are no regrets or remorse for this socio-political degeneration and undermining the very constitution of India. So much so people involved in terror attacks that consumed lives of innocent people, have earned their freedom from the clutches of law through powerful political patronage. Feeble voices against the trend are indicted and gaged. The situation has come now to such a pass that it has attracted the attention of world bodies which have reported their concern on various happenings in India and have linked it to the human rights, which even if rubbished by the ruling class, does not do any good to the image of India.

It is, therefore, high time for the saner India to effectively rise against the menace and brave the adversity as that wrestles with you shall only strengthen your nerves and sharpen your resolve. Otherwise a society which is incapable of ridding itself of such barbarian element is indeed plunging into a primitive state of moral chaos and lawlessness.
(A leading lawyer and eminent poet, author contributes a weekly column. He can be reached at: vaklishabir@gmail.com)

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Refractory Brick Kilns operators in the State

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By Bhushan Parimoo

Was it a coincidence or the preponderance which accorded an opportunity to this writer to have privy to a deliberations, providing answers to many of unsolved riddles plaguing the J&K State Pollution Control Board.

It so happened the other day in one of the Office Chamber of the Board at Jammu Tawi. Discussion was between an owner of the daily English Newspaper and the coordinator of the Board, who had come to expedite the clearance of Plastic Bottles Manufacturing Unit.

 

To give legs to the file to run faster he raised the issue as a pressure tactics about the operation of Brick Kilns against norms.

Emphasising upon that he has raised the issue number of times, but things continue to be carried on unabated before the very eyes of the Board. The officer in chair meekly had no answerer to offer.

This refreshed the memory about the lines by Pearl .S. Buck Noble Prize novelist. In one of her novels The Promise “And promises were nothing but words, and words were bubbles of air, falling easily from men’s lips and broken and gone as though they had never been”.

What surprised this writer all the more that the coordinator took liberty knowing well that whole scenario in its totality is known to me as well .Because the matter had been consistently raised at various forum including him by me since 2014. Besides media has been consistently raising this serious issue umpteen times over the years.

It was last September on way to Pilgrimage to Badekali Shrine Handwara, I found Brick Kilns spewing huge quantity of smoke from their chimneys .The emission of  carbon dioxide  cause  serious  polluted air related diseases  beside adverse impact  on the environment.

Same was brought in to the notice of the authorities who concurred with the concern. Beyond it matter continued as it was being carried.

Still on pilgrimage I learnt that Advisor to the Governor Vijay Kumar had already held a meeting at Srinagar with regards to Brick Kilns functioning against Environmental norms, which was attended by Commissioner –cum-Secretary to the Government for Forest, Environment and Ecology Department, the Chairman and Member Secretary of State Pollution Control Board, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and others.

It was deliberated in the said meeting that in Kashmir Division none of 334 Brick Kilns active in manufacturing Burnt Bricks have Environmental Clearance. Badgam has the highest number 212, Anatnag 55, Pulwama 41,Kulgam 21, Shopian 3, Baramulla 2. While as Jammu South 44, Jammu North 85, Samba South 47.Samba 01, Kathua 41, Udhampur 9, Reasi 02. In Jammu Division these are not in conformity with the laid down eco-friendly technology norms.

All Brick Kilns use raw material from agriculture land against the norms. What transpired there in the above referred meeting has not been made public. State Pollution Control Board feigns ignorance about the meeting under an RTI, dated 9 January 2019, but do admit illegal function of the brick manufacturing units. Undeniable fact is that the matter has been deliberated thread bare in the meeting chaired by the Advisor Vijay Kumar.

Thereafter situation remained as it has been before. Now question arises did the Advisor drop hints not to act even as under rules authority is supposed to perform its legitimate duty. Or in other case did he directed to proceed under law which is generally it expected of him in a normal course. Then what made authorities not to act. It is a fit case before National Green Tribunal where citizens can claim damages on human life and environment.

The State Pollution Control Board is the sole authority established to ensure what is guaranteed under Constitution. But the orders of judiciary and National Green Tribunal are not being got adhered to. Commoner neither can afford to establish the unit nor he can influence the clearance agencies to establish these against laid down norms which are spewing death and destruction around? 

How these Units get permission which has to pass through various check and cross check passage to ensure these to be eco-friendly. It is well aware fact that every part of the machinery is well oiled to run it smoothly and noiselessly.

Hapless are the sufferers because civil society most of them retired or businessmen are busy to be in good books of the Government. State do has an act to regulate and control the establishment of Brick Kilns in papers never used. Jammu and Kashmir Brick Kilns (Regulation) Act, 2010, makes it mandatory that No brick kilns shall be established on any land which Is agricultural land; is fit for cultivation of any agricultural produce; has not been declared as Banjri-Kadim in the Revenue records; or is within the demarcated forest area of the State under the Jammu and Kashmir Forest Acts,.

Every application under sub-section (1) and sub-section (2) shall be made in the prescribed form and shall contain the particulars regarding the location of brick kiln, the size and type thereof and such other particulars as may be prescribed. It shall invariably be accompanied by the following documents:, site plan and Revenue extract duly attested by concerned Tehsildar indicating the title, location, status and type of land; II no-objection certificates from (i) Deputy Commissioner concerned; ii) State Pollution Control Board; (iii) Divisional Forest Officer concerned; (iv) Wildlife Warden concerned; (v) Director, Geology and Mining; (vi) District Agriculture Officer concerned;(vii) Block Medical Officer concerned;(viii) Tehsil Education Officer concerned; (ix) The Executive Engineer (PWD/R&B) concerned; and(x) Tehsildar concerned. (6) Before granting licence under sub-section (5), the licensing authority shall make or shall cause to be made a full and complete investigation in the prescribed manner in respect of the application having due regard to the following, namely: (a) the suitability of the locality wherein the proposed kiln is to be established;(b) the number of kilns operating in the area;(c) whether such kiln is not detrimental to the health of general public, habitations, water resources, fauna and flora in close proximity;(d) whether such kiln is proposed to be set up on land which is or was put to agricultural use, save as that the existing brick kilns, if set up on such land, though categorized as “Banjar Kadim”, should be relocated within a period of five years and punitive action shall be taken for non-compliance as per the rules to be framed under this Act;(e) the setting up of brick kilns should be allowed on the areas considered suitable for the purpose without any detrimental effect to the agricultural/productive land.

It is to be ensures  that  every holder of Brick Kiln licence shall abide by the pollution control laws in force and shall take all precautions, adopt such measures and install such devices as prescribed for protection of environment and control of pollution as may be directed by the concerned authority. Air pollution due to dust, exhaust emissions or fumes shall be controlled and kept within permissible limits specified under the relevant laws in vogue from time to time.

And then there are penalties for violators  contravenes or abets contravention of any of the provisions of this Act or the rules made there under, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees, or with both. The cognizance of offence no court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under this Act except on a report in writing of the facts constituting such offence made by licensing authority or any person duly authorized by the Government in this behalf. Apart from it these units are grossly violating Labour laws; incidents have been reported from time to time of bonded labour practices. Welfare schemes are denied to the workforce.

History of manufacturing of fire Baked Bricks in the Kiln is about 150 years old in the state. And the manufacturing procedure has remain by and large same hardly changed .Brick manufacturing had been started by Maharaja Ranbir Singh, in Kashmir during his rule. Maharaja owned a brick kiln which remained a major and assured source of his income apart from other royal revenues.

More significantly it had the name “Maharaji Seer’ (Brick in Kashmiri) .Because of the fact that Maharaja was the sole owner of such manufacturing enterprise.

Making them was the personal commercial enterprise of Maharaja Ranbir Singh. The term for the real estate affluence of a Kashmiri, the present writer, believes is the unforgotten phrase “Maharaji Seer” found in many house constructions of Srinagar of the recent past. Small, thin rectangular baked blocks of clay would accord its unique and distinct feature to Kashmir building architecture not seen elsewhere in the state.

This type of brick is still seen in several old houses in down town Srinagar. However, with changing times and use of modern- day European building materials, the houses in Srinagar no longer provide this conventional look of the brick used in their construction.  Any relics still left out must be preserved as state building heritage.(The writer is a Jammu based Environmentalist).

on pilgrimage I learnt that Advisor to the Governor Vijay Kumar had already held a meeting at Srinagar with regards to Brick Kilns functioning against Environmental norms, which was attended by Commissioner –cum-Secretary to the Government for Forest, Environment and Ecology Department, the Chairman and Member Secretary of State Pollution Control Board, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and others.

It was deliberated in the said meeting that in Kashmir Division none of 334 Brick Kilns active in manufacturing Burnt Bricks have Environmental Clearance. Badgam has the highest number 212, Anatnag 55, Pulwama 41,Kulgam 21, Shopian 3, Baramulla 2. While as Jammu South 44, Jammu North 85, Samba South 47.Samba 01, Kathua 41, Udhampur 9, Reasi 02. In Jammu Division these are not in conformity with the laid down eco-friendly technology norms.

All Brick Kilns use raw material from agriculture land against the norms. What transpired there in the above referred meeting has not been made public. State Pollution Control Board feigns ignorance about the meeting under an RTI, dated 9 January 2019, but do admit illegal function of the brick manufacturing units.

Undeniable fact is that the matter has been deliberated thread bare in the meeting chaired by the Advisor Vijay Kumar. Thereafter situation remained as it has been before. Now question arises did the Advisor drop hints not to act even as under rules authority is supposed to perform its legitimate duty. Or in other case did he directed to proceed under law which is generally it expected of him in a normal course.

Then what made authorities not to act. It is a fit case before National Green Tribunal where citizens can claim damages on human life and environment. The State Pollution Control Board is the sole authority established to ensure what is guaranteed under Constitution. But the orders of judiciary and National Green Tribunal are not being got adhered to. Commoner neither can afford to establish the unit nor he can influence the clearance agencies to establish these against laid down norms which are spewing death and destruction around? 

How these Units get permission which has to pass through various check and cross check passage to ensure these to be eco-friendly. It is well aware fact that every part of the machinery is well oiled to run it smoothly and noiselessly. Hapless are the sufferers because civil society most of them retired or businessmen are busy to be in good books of the Government.

State do has an act to regulate and control the establishment of Brick Kilns in papers never used. Jammu and Kashmir Brick Kilns (Regulation) Act, 2010, makes it mandatory that No brick kilns shall be established on any land which Is agricultural land; is fit for cultivation of any agricultural produce; has not been declared as Banjri-Kadim in the Revenue records; or is within the demarcated forest area of the State under the Jammu and Kashmir Forest Acts,. Every application under sub-section (1) and sub-section (2) shall be made in the prescribed form and shall contain the particulars regarding the location of brick kiln, the size and type thereof and such other particulars as may be prescribed.

It shall invariably be accompanied by the following documents:, site plan and Revenue extract duly attested by concerned Tehsildar indicating the title, location, status and type of land; II no-objection certificates from (i) Deputy Commissioner concerned; ii) State Pollution Control Board; (iii) Divisional Forest Officer concerned; (iv) Wildlife Warden concerned; (v) Director, Geology and Mining; (vi) District Agriculture Officer concerned;(vii) Block Medical Officer concerned;(viii) Tehsil Education Officer concerned; (ix) The Executive Engineer (PWD/R&B) concerned; and(x) Tehsildar concerned. (6) Before granting licence under sub-section (5), the licensing authority shall make or shall cause to be made a full and complete investigation in the prescribed manner in respect of the application having due regard to the following, namely: (a) the suitability of the locality wherein the proposed kiln is to be established;(b) the number of kilns operating in the area;(c) whether such kiln is not detrimental to the health of general public, habitations, water resources, fauna and flora in close proximity;(d) whether such kiln is proposed to be set up on land which is or was put to agricultural use, save as that the existing brick kilns, if set up on such land, though categorized as “Banjar Kadim”, should be relocated within a period of five years and punitive action shall be taken for non-compliance as per the rules to be framed under this Act;(e) the setting up of brick kilns should be allowed on the areas considered suitable for the purpose without any detrimental effect to the agricultural/productive land. It is to be ensures  that  every holder of Brick Kiln licence shall abide by the pollution control laws in force and shall take all precautions, adopt such measures and install such devices as prescribed for protection of environment and control of pollution as may be directed by the concerned authority. Air pollution due to dust, exhaust emissions or fumes shall be controlled and kept within permissible limits specified under the relevant laws in vogue from time to time.

And then there are penalties for violators  contravenes or abets contravention of any of the provisions of this Act or the rules made there under, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees, or with both. The cognizance of offence no court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under this Act except on a report in writing of the facts constituting such offence made by licensing authority or any person duly authorized by the Government in this behalf. Apart from it these units are grossly violating Labour laws; incidents have been reported from time to time of bonded labour practices.

Welfare schemes are denied to the workforce. History of manufacturing of fire Baked Bricks in the Kiln is about 150 years old in the state. And the manufacturing procedure has remain by and large same hardly changed .Brick manufacturing had been started by Maharaja Ranbir Singh, in Kashmir during his rule. Maharaja owned a brick kiln which remained a major and assured source of his income apart from other royal revenues. More significantly it had the name “Maharaji Seer’ (Brick in Kashmiri) .Because of the fact that Maharaja was the sole owner of such manufacturing enterprise.

Making them was the personal commercial enterprise of Maharaja Ranbir Singh. The term for the real estate affluence of a Kashmiri, the present writer, believes is the unforgotten phrase “Maharaji Seer” found in many house constructions of Srinagar of the recent past. Small, thin rectangular baked blocks of clay would accord its unique and distinct feature to Kashmir building architecture not seen elsewhere in the state. This type of brick is still seen in several old houses in down town Srinagar. However, with changing times and use of modern- day European building materials, the houses in Srinagar no longer provide this conventional look of the brick used in their construction. 

Any relics still left out must be preserved as state building heritage.(The writer is a Jammu based Environmentalist).

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