“Jamaat-e-Islami needs peaceful environment to contest elections”

Amir-e-Jamaat Mohammad Abdullah Wani tells Syed Asma that it hardly matters to Jamaat-e-Islami if Kashmir is under America or India 

Amir-e-Jamaat Mohammad Abdullah Wani

Kashmir Life (KL): Is Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir a socio-religious organisation or a religious and political organisation?

Mohammed Abdullah Wani (MAW): Jamaat-e-Islami is a religious cum political organisation; but we do not take part in active politics. For us, religion and politics are not two different things. Islam is a complete religion and it teaches us everything including politics.

KL: If Jamaat-e-Islami is a religious cum political organisation then why is it alienated from active politics?

MAW: We have not alienated ourselves from politics; we just don’t participate in active politics. Jamaat-e-Islami has been a part of electoral processes in the past, but when conditions changed, the executive board of our organisation took a decision to boycott polls.

KL: What do you mean by passive politics?

MAW: Politics has two parts. One is participation in active politics and other is preparing people for participating in politics. We ignore active politics, but make people aware that politics and religion [Islam] are co-related. We catch people young and teach them how our religion can guide us to make world a better place to live. We are preparing people to become good citizens and Jamaat-e-Islami is interested in spreading Islamic message which teaches equality, love and brotherhood. The organisation has always encouraged people to avoid haram and corruption. We wish they avoid violence, sectarian division and other negative things that spread hatred leading to wars and bloodshed. As I told you, in the past we have participated in the state elections. Syed Ali Geelani was Jamaat-e-Islami’s representative in the state legislative assembly. But then the conditions changed and we chose to stay away from active politics.

KL: Whatever you said so far covers religion only. What do you teach people in politics?

MAW: The present politics is area specific. And it is full of favouritism, which is wrong. We teach people that the world belongs to Allah and He is the only existing superpower. We make them understand: one world, one God. And make them remember about the world here after. We would like people to avoid hatred.

KL: Jamaat-e-Islami is in Kashmir since 1946. How far have you been successful in inculcating the teachings of Islam?

MAW: We are contend with our work and our success is huge. Jamaat-e-Islami in Kashmir started with only four members but now it has 5000 members. Isn’t it a success? And let me tell you, it is not easy to be a basic member of Jamaat-e-Islami. One has to go through lots of tests and scrutiny. And I am counting only basic members, rest I do not count.

KL: Apart from increasing the party’s foothold, is Jamaat-e-Islami witnessing any change on ground?

MAW: We are working to increase the foothold and it is these people [Jamaat members] who will bring the change.

KL: Coming back to politics. Was it after 1989 that Jamaat-e-Islami disassociated itself from active politics?

MAW: When insurgency started, Jamaat-e-Islami became an easy target for India. Many things were done to curb Jamaat-e-Islami’s activities and many forces were created against Jamaat-e-Islami. But we never compromised on our policies.

The organisation even faced ban after Jamaat-e-Islami’s contestants gave tough fight to Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah and Mirza Afzal Beg. Apart from targeting our political wing, our schools were made to suffer as well.

KL: Will Jamaat-e-Islami ever contest elections again. And what are the suitable conditions for the organisation to participate?

MAW: Jamaat-e-Islami needs peaceful environment to contest elections. We do not want to contest elections in a disturbed environment where a law like AFSPA is in place and youth are picked up every now and then. Besides, we want people should be allowed to move freely even in the midnight.

KL: You only need free movement, even if massive militarization continues or a Hindu fanatic party leads the state?

MAW: Yes, even it is India or America or anyone, it does not matter. Army is not supposed to be among people but are supposed to man the borders. See, if the conditions are favourable we can meet people, mobilize and sensitize them but if the conditions are not supportive and we cannot reach out to people. We do not want to contest elections when people are not allowed to practice their rights freely.

And about the Hindu fanatic party – Kashmir issue is sensitive which has evolved with time and passed through many stages.

KL: Does it mean you are not with people when the conditions are not peaceful?

MAW: Jamaat-e-Islami has always been there for people and would always be there for them in coming years. We believe it is not only legislative member who can help people, we – people sitting outside the system, have been helping people quite decently. An assembly member is there to make laws. But we all know J&K is a disturbed area and thus acts and laws do not matter here.

KL: If you need ideal condition to contest elections with no PSA and AFSPA. Don’t you think you need to have your men in the assembly who would participate in law making?

MAW: Our only duty is implementation of Islam. It will never change whether we are inside or outside the assembly.

KL: What did Jamaat-e-Islami do when it was a part of assembly? 

MAW: Our men said the same thing [implementation of Islam] there as well.

KL: If we ignore the political side of Jamaat-e-Islami and concentrate on the religious front. How far do you think you have been successful?

MAW: Yes we have been successful. I can assure you that a Jamaat-e-Islami member can never do corruption or anything wrong. He will never misuse his powers and would be among the best of Muslims and best of humans.

KL: As a religious organisation, has Jamaat-e-Islami been able to stop any social evil or has it been vocal to stop any wrong doing in the society so far?

MAW: There are ways and means to deal with the things. One is punishing the guilty which only the government can do. The other part is sensitization and mobilization of the people. We can bring them close to Islam, so that one day they will distance themselves from wrongdoing. Rest we can’t do anything. We are not a part of the [government] system so we can’t be strict with guilty. The basic problem is there is no Islamic Sharia being followed and there is not Islamic rule. In a secular state we can’t implement Islam properly.

KL: Are you waiting for secularism to end? Secularism was there even when Jamaat-e-Islami started in Kashmir.

MAW: True, but we are mobilizing people who will ultimately seek change. If people decide all over the country and get their representatives in the constituent assemblies and the parliament the change will come for sure.

KL: If Jamaat-e-Islami is not ready to contest elections how will you reach to the assemblies and parliament?

MAW: We are working on mobilizing people. We have fought elections in the past and when the conditions would seem suitable we will again contest.

KL: Is Jamaat-e-Islami fearful of losing?

MAW: No, it is not fear of losing but we are just being cautious and thus not contesting elections. The conditions are not supportive and the people are not allowed to use their rights properly. It is all under the occupation of Indian Army. When the circumstances will change we will be back in the field. I would like to call it diplomacy and not fearfulness. If we were afraid we would be sitting at home rather than working in the field.

KL: Jamaat-e-Islami is accused of supporting a particular political party in the recent elections.  How far is that true?

MAW: We have not. At least the basic members [5000] have not and I am sure about it. We had passed clear orders that no member of Jamaat-e-Islami can cast his/her vote or participate in the electoral process. Instead, they were ordered to keep themselves alienated from the elections. I can guarantee about basic members but of others, including well-wishers and friends, I have no idea. And honestly, they are free to do anything. I am not answerable on their part.

KL: What is Jamaat-e-Islami’s affiliation with Hurriyat (G)?

MAW: Presently, we have no affiliation. Earlier, when Hurriyat conference started, it had representatives from almost 33 parties including Jamaat-e-Islami, but later on we had some disagreements and chose to back-off. Today Jamaat-e-Islami is not associated with any of the political or religious organisation.

KL: But if we look at Tehreek-I-Hurriyat, it is full of Jamaat-e-Islami members?

MAW: May be, but after the organisation had differences we [Jamaatis] parted ways and we expelled all those [who are part of Tehreek-i-Hurriyat] from the basic membership of the party.

KL: What were the differences?

MAW: Jamaat wanted to take religion and politics together but Syed Ali Geelani wanted to focus only on the political part [Kashmir issue] and ignore religion for a while.

KL: What was Jamaat-e-Islami’s affiliation with Hizbul mujahideen?

MAW: When insurgency started JKLF was the first to start the [armed] movement. Many organisations supporting the movement popped up later, Hizb was one of them. It was more religion oriented so it was affiliated with Jamaat-e-Islami, besides, Mohammed Ahsan Dar, one of its commanders once gave a statement that it is a part of JI. And unfortunately then we [the members of JI] all were in jail, so no one from JI was there to retaliate.

KL: Recently there was controversy regarding Jamaat-e-Islami’s property purchased on Syed Ali Geelani’s name. What was it about?

MAW: Jamaat once had a policy of registering the organisation’s property in name of its basic members. The two properties, one at Bulbul Bagh and other at Hyderpora were purchased on Geelani Sahib’s name. He was then heading the political wing of Jamaat-e-Islami. Later, due to differences in ideologies we parted ways. Jamaat-e-Islami, respecting Geelani Sahib and the larger Kashmir issue did not take away the properties from his possession even after he [Syed Ali Geelani] was expelled from the organisation. But when we heard that he has donated Hyderpora’s property to the Milli Trust of Tehreek-i-Hurriyat we raised our voice against it. Jamaat-e-Islami has now decided to keep the property with him till he is alive. Besides, the organisational set-up has learnt a lesson and took away other properties from other members and registered them under different Trusts to avoid any such controversy in the future.


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