Kashmir: Maintaining a chord between religion and politics

Graphic representation of two main religions practised in JK | Source: South Asia Blog

Kashmir conflict straddles on notions of religious and the political ever since its inception in 1947 or even before that in 1931. In this short essay, Waseem Makai grapples with the question of religion and where does this question arise in the context of the larger Kashmir problem, and are we at any liberty to do away with this delineation. 

I am writing on a theme which I believe is very critical and sensitive to talk about in Kashmir i.e. the relationship between Kashmir struggle and religion. However, I will try to approach the subject from a different standpoint wherein I wouldn’t enumerate the theological foundations of Kashmir struggle or provide justifications for the multiple activities which are carried out at the pretext of it. Rather, the core issue I want to grapple with is where does the question of religion arise in the context of Kashmir struggle? And do we possess any liberty to do away with its delineation?

If you are confronted with a situation where you are supposed to choose between two options but in a literal sense, there is only one, how would the question of not choosing the second one even arise in the first place? Let’s simplify it with an example. Islam does not encourage the invention of such weapons which shall have the potential of mass destruction like nuclear weapons. But Pakistan, which is the Islamic Republic,  does possess it. The natural outcome of the Islamic precept of forbidding procurement of weapons of mass destruction means that those who created this, those who assisted its creation and those who are protecting it, all have committed a punishable offence as per Islamic laws. But I don’t think you need me to tell you that the said judgement is not a genuine one because, in case of not having the nuclear weapons, the country would be wiped out at just a blink of an eye. (This is where Ghamidi comes heavily upon the concept of Nation States and wants us to strive to culminate all of these into a global world if we are to get rid of these monstrous and anti-human weapons). So, how will Islam govern the equation here? Or more precisely, does it even have a say here?

On occasions like 15th August and 26th January, schools send their children to participate in various functions. For this, nobody questions their loyalty vis-à-vis the Kashmir struggle, because the school administration doesn’t possess any say in the said situation. But if the participation is left at will, then taking part will become a debatable question, and genuinely so. But in the current scenario where the schools have to comply, how will you draw an Islamic/Non-Islamic binary here?

Now, let’s come to the main thesis of our subject. When we are being asked to draw insights from Islam that shall justify the Kashmir struggle, the question doesn’t call for an answer, for there shouldn’t be any such question in the first place. (William Dalrymple, author of Return of The King argues that occupation is the first cause of rebellion). One having only a smattering of history can conclude that whenever it transpires into the collective conscious of a community that they have been wronged, the rebellion starts right from the point the very idea of it is born. In the case of Kashmir, the country which threatens the very existence of Muslims is a double dose for Kashmiris. They will leave us spineless, homeless and penniless. Hence the revolt.

In the backdrop of all this, the narrative that usually is being held to the task is the inclusion of slogans like Islamic state or Caliphate by different groups like Hurriyat and Jamaat in their manifesto. This being the fact, does not however change the discourse of my argument. Political scholarship that of late came to the forth mainly from occidental scholars, have challenged the monopoly of West to create a state according to the terms and conditions set by its civilisation only (Salman Syed’s Recalling Caliphate builds on the very same challenge that if Islam is to be reformed, it is only possible outside of the discourse of colonialism and the machinations of hegemonic order). Therefore, striving to create a state, different than the modern nation-state, is a matter of academic debate which can be both corroborated or contested – as has been done by Wael Hallaq in his The Impossible State whose crux is that the Islamic State is an impossible state because modern state devoid of morality is a European invention with a clear European genealogy. The point therefore is, to strive to create a state of one’s liking, even though is a genuine adventure, remains a post-decolonisation-phenomenon, for which resistance is inevitable. The Jamaat working in Indian administered Kashmir and the Jamaat working in Pakistan believe in same principles of Islamic polity but it had a militant wing here only for it was meant to end the occupation, not establishing an Islamic state.

Lastly, the argument that in case of a tyrant ruler, stick to patience for revolt will lead to further chaos, is also not going to work. This is because political scientists believe that after the nuclear weapons came into the political landscape, it maintained a deadlock between different parties which had issues to resolve. Earlier, a small scale war was beneficial in a sense that it would end the dispute, but because of the fear of a nuclear escalation, rival countries have now come to a standstill concerning their pending issues. So, if waiting for the things to change is an option, it never will be so, for there will be no war, hence no solution.

Post-script: The question of invoking religion will surface only in a situation where there is any freedom to opt for it, the way there is a freedom to not opt for it. If it is not so, the debate will rest upon the premise of cause and effect only. Having said so, I fully accept the probability of my arguments being partially or fully incorrect. Disagreements will explore new vistas of the debate.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Wande Magazine.

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