Thursday, 29 May 2008

Kashmiri struggle and Jihad

Kashmiri struggle and Jihad
Shabir Choudhry written in 1998
Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs (If it is to be published then it must be published as a Director IKA.) email:

Writing on the above topic is surely going to generate controversy, as many people have set ideas about the Kashmiri struggle and Jihad. And when you endeavour to show them logic and the other side of a coin, they get irritated. It is at that time they assume the role of issuing "fatwa's" based on their wrong perception of Islam and Jihad. This tunnel vision of Islam and Jihad and its interpretation generally give distorted view of Islam

Normally I do not challenge or even interfere with the business of "mullahs", as they have their own set agenda to follow, and I have my own which is the unification and independence of Kashmir. What prompted me to write on this topic is the attitude and shallow understanding of Jihad of some participants who attended the meeting of Kashmiri leaders on Sunday 28 May in London. It was appalling to hear their understanding of Jihad and its implications.

Whereas I am willing to sit in the feet of Alam -e Din and learn from him knowledge about every aspect of human life, but I felt obliged that I need to educate these "mullahs" on the subject of jihad. Because I don't have beard and don't have Qari, Molana, or Alama with my name it must not be assumed that I don't have knowledge of Islam.

During the meeting, in light of their knowledge, they limited jihad only to "Bandook and Kartoos"- gun and bullet. Jihad, of course, has much greater role and meaning than gun and bullet. And there are clear guidelines as to when and where to use "Banddok and Kartoos". When their attention was drawn to the killing of innocent non -Muslim civilians, one Qari Sahib defended this by saying that Islam allows "eye for eye". This is completely wrong interpretation of the Islamic rule related to "eye for eye" matter. Even if we take Jihad, as they interpret it- Bandook and Kartoos, still there are strict rules, which must be followed if that is to be called jihad, and that is absent in Kashmir.

Background to Jihad

Jihad in the sense of Banddok and Kartoos is obligatory when there is aggression, enemies have taken our land, property, deprived us of freedom etc. Or when you are not attacked but another group of people is victim of aggression and gross injustice, and it is in your power to save them from that aggression. Allah SWT says: "And why is it that you do not fight in the way of God and the way of the mustazafin of men, women and children" Verse 75 Surah Al-Nisa.

Clearly the meaning of that is we must fight for God and for the men, women and children who are subject of torture, tyranny and misery. It is obvious that jihad is obligatory in defence of the above, but even this was not granted to the Muslims until they migrated to Medina. While they were in Makkah, Muslims were subject to all forms of torture, misery and humiliation. Repeatedly some of them asked for the permission to defend them, but it was not granted, although they were allowed to migrate from Makkah. It was during the second year of Hijrah when the first verses on jihad were revealed. In Surah Hajj: "permission (for warfare) is given to those who have been attacked and definitely wronged"

It is clear the tone of the verse is of defence. In this verse we are asked to do jihad in defence - resistance against cruelty, injustice and transgression.

In Surah Baqarah, Allah SWT says: "And fight in the path of God with those who are fighting with you and do not transgress, God loves not those who transgress." 190

What this means is that we should only fight those who are fighting us, but we must not cross the limit. Those who are fighting with us, we must fight them, in other words fight a certain group of people who enemy has prepared for this purpose or fight them in the battleground. It is very clear that we are not to fight with those who are non- combatant- that means we must not fight men, women and children who are civilians; and if we do, that is transgression - against the order of Allah SWT. And Allah SWT has the ability and power to punish those who transgress in the name of jihad.

Islamic law relating to jihad goes further than that and tells us not to even cut down trees or destroy their crops, in other words deprive them of economic resources, because it will be the ordinary people who will suffer as a result. The Islamic law regarding jihad clearly tells us not to attack non-combatants and not to inflict misery and suffering on civilians. It goes further and tells us to protect even those combatants who have asked for protection; and if another person attacks such person, he should be saved from this attack.

Situation in Kashmir

Now let us turn our attention to what is happening in Kashmir. Indian forces in Kashmir are forces of occupation, and they are inflicting pain and misery on the Kashmiri people. We must fight them because they have taken away our freedom. But in doing so we must not:

• Fight or kill non-combatants, be they Muslims or non-Muslims
• Kill our political opponents
• Kill those with whom we have personal grudge or animosity
• Attack places of worship of other faiths - and the list goes on.

Under the cover of jihad all the above has happened, and is still happening in Kashmir, and it is to that I strongly protest, as it is against the Islamic teaching. And no group or party should be allowed to use the name of Islam and jihad to project their political or other agenda.

In the name of jihad innocent people have been killed in Kashmir, political opponents, especially of JKLF leaders, have been eliminated, and people with gun have settled personal grudges. Non - Muslims have been killed, expelled from their houses and bombs are thrown in market places where innocent people are killed. In some cases personal rivalries are settled by accusing them of being an "Indian agent" and killed - no evidence, jury or decision is required. In one instance a wedding party of Hindus was discriminately shot and many innocent people lost lives just because they were not Muslims.

Jihad must be carried out in accordance with the Islamic rules, not to satisfy personal ego and to settle personal rivalries. Compare the above with the example personally provided by Hazrat Ali, where he had his opponent on the ground and just before he could kill him, the opponent spat at his face. Hazrat Ali spared his life and walked away. The opponent was surprised by this and asked why he had spared his life. Hazrat Ali responded that he was fighting him in the name of Allah - performing his religious duty; and if he had killed him after the spitting incident, people might think that it was personal revenge.

This is philosophy of Jihad. No one is against Jihad as it is very essential part of Islam. But people who tarnish the name of Islam and Jihad for their political and personal gains must be challenged and exposed. People can support jihad if people conducting jihad are following the Islamic rules, but if all the above continues in the name of jihad then it would be difficult to distinguish between jihad and "Fassaad", and it is important to separate the two.

As far as "eye for eye" matter is concerned, yes Islam says that if one person slaps the other, the other has right to slap him back, but forgiveness is better. Or where one is killed the victim's family has right to ask for culprit's head, but again forgiveness is better. But where one's wife is raped, family members killed and house ransacked, either by an individual or army personnel, the Islamic law does not allow the victim to satisfy his revenge just by repeating the same crime. He cannot go and rape culprit's wife or kill his family members, as they are not perpetrators; or just go and kill anyone from that race or tribe. So the rule relating to "eye for eye" matter could not be abused in the name of Islam or jihad.

Rights of people in Gilgit and Baltistan

Allah STW says: "Why is it you do not fight in the way of God and the way of the deprived" 4.75

Here Qurran talks of the deprived people as well. Deprived of what? Does it mean deprived of freedom and deprived of basic human rights? If that is the case what about the rights of people of Gilgit and Baltistitan and Azad Kashmir? A question here must be asked, are we to help only those who are under the clutches of non- Muslims? What about those who are oppressed and deprived of all basic rights by Muslim rulers? Why is it that these jihadies are quiet on the plight of these people.

The Islamic ruling is that Muslims must free mankind from the chains of bondage and oppression. It doesn't say that only non- Muslims are to be freed from bondage. Jihad is obligatory in this situation - a jihad against injustice and oppression. Islam loves peace but does not allow humiliation and submission. We have to help the oppressed people even though if they don't ask for help. The fact that they are oppressed and the fact that we are aware of their fate compel us to perform our duty to liberate them from oppression.

But the problem with the above is that if we speak, never mind fight, for the rights of people of Gilgit and Baltistan or Azad Kashmir, we are labelled as pro - Indian. They won't take this as pro - Kashmiri stand. I have been told many times that what you say is true but we must not speak about it because the enemy - India could use this for their advantage. In other words I have been not only encouraged but also pressurised not to tell the truth because it hurts some people, or policy of some people. No matter what people say it is time that we call spade a spade, and if some "mullahs" or some policy makers don't like it then so be it.

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