Syed Haider Farooq Maudoodi, son of Jamaat-e-Islami founder Syed Abul A’la Maudoodi, is now a columnist in Lahore, Pakistan. The 69-year-old former pilot studied in an English medium school, but refuses to speak in English. He shared his observations on Jamaat’s politics in the sub continent, political Islam, militancy, state religion and the war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh, with the Dhaka Tribune.
Your father Abul A’la Maudoodi was the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, have you or any of your siblings have ever been involved with the party?
No we have never been involved with any kind of politics, neither Jamaat nor any other party. The fact is he never allowed us to be involved in any kind of politics. What was in his (Maudoodi’s) mind, only he knows. Not only my father, if you look at any other Jamaat leader, you’ll see they are not interested in engaging their sons in Jamaat.
Sons of the leaders are involved in many kind of work except for any Jamaat activities. There are many reasons behind it. One is, when you do politics based on religion, then you would be able to fulfill some of your aims; but ultimately you are also making many enemies in the different sects. Specially, when a politician involved in politics of religion dies, he leaves behind enemies for his children.
What do you think about Jamaat in Bangladesh?
Jamaat does not have any right to do politics in Bangladesh, particularly when they opposed the birth of it. They neither have the right, nor should they be allowed to do politics here. But, the scenario remained different. And, I think it is your leaders’ fault. Your leaders allowed them to do politics in this country after the independence. If you allow them to continue their politics then you have to accept the fact that their politics is based on religion. The question is who is behind this situation in Bangladesh?
See, the constitution Shaikh Saheeb (Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) left, is no more in the country. How did that happen? Who changed it? One needs to think about these too. People do not vote for such people (Jamaat). They neither had public support back then (1970) nor do they have it now. Almost all of their candidates faced huge defeat. Even, they got so few votes that their security deposits were forfeited.
Sheikh Saheeb banned Jamaat, isn’t it? Then who allowed them to come back again? You were in this country, think about it. Until and unless you find out where the power lies, which is supporting Jamaat, you would not reach the root of the problem.
And if you think the trial of the war criminals is weakening them, then you are wrong. It is a blessing for them. They can go to people now and claim: “We are being tried since we are in favour of Islam.” They have before and they will again exploit religious people using Islam and the war crimes trial.
What do you think about “Islam in politics,” particularly in this sub-continent?
Whenever religion was interpreted in a political way, it killed humans and it ruined humanity. Religion helps a person to become better. Every religion Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam they taught individuals to be a better person. Religion also taught us to understand that all of our forefather is one and we should not hate one another. The holy Quran does not talk about politics, it rather talks for the person so that one can become better.
Political interpretation of religion always brings destruction in the society. Nowhere in the holy Quran does it talk about administrating others. The holy Quran talks about individuals. It is about a person, not about administration or a system. If it was about regulating others then it would have talked about nine things how Khalifa would be appointed, how Khalifa would be removed from their power, what power they should posses, how Shura would be formed, how Shura would be dissolve, what kind of power Shura would hold, what would be the relation between Khalifa and Shura, when Khalifa would exercise power and when Shura would, who would prevail over whom when any disputes arise. But does the Quran talk about these things? No. If almighty Allah can take care of Holy Quran then he could have taken care of Khilafat (successors in politics) also. Religion is being interpreted in a wrong way. Religion’s aim is not about running a country.
Religion is being used here in politics so that politicians can take benefits of religious sentiment. They want people to cast votes out of that sentiment. The only reason for using religion in politics is to exploit people’s emotion. They gain sympathy from the religious minded people.
Jinnah Saheb (Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the founder of Pakistan) was a congress member before the partisan. In 1931, during the Khilafat Movement, Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi) supported Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad’s movement. But Jinnah resigned from Congress. At that time, Jinnah Saheb wrote a letter to Gandhi ji. He wrote: “You are using religion in politics and it will bring bloodshed only.” He also wrote: “Such usage would divide Hindustan (Before partition of Pakistan and India).” But sadly, what Jinnah opposed, he did the same at one point. He formed the Muslim League. What was the result? India and Pakistan separated.
Only based on two religions, these countries were formed. But was that fair? In Hindustan there were/are at least 17 religions. Then it should have divided into 17 parts, isn’t it? Was it not a dangerous step? So, it was divided based on who is Muslim and who is not. Hindu, Budhdhist, Shikh, Parsi they all were Hindu? It is indeed very very dangerous when such division took place based on some shallow speculation of religion, using religion. Such division in fact bring destruction of Islam.
All religion-based political parties are same. Look at the Muslim League. Their point is if you are a Muslim then join the Muslim League. Doesn’t that mean they are claiming that you are not a Muslim until you are joining them? That is how they (religion-based political parties) always exploit religious sentiments of people. People still are supporting them, because whenever one points out any flaws of theirs, they claim it is not a criticism of themselves (politicians), rather the person is criticising Islam! Have you ever seen any Moulavi (Islamic preacher) admitting their flaws? They use religion as a shield. They are the ones who are in Jahannam (hell) already. Not the ones who criticise such usage of Islam in religion.
We all know Islam is a religion of peace. The role that Jamaat played, particularly taking part with the Pakistan occupational army in the atrocities commited in 1971, how do you look at the relation between Islam and 1971?
Jamaat in 1970 took part in the national election using religion and they did not win. After that, they were used by the Fauz (Pakistani Occupational army). All these organisations including al-Badr, al-Shams were formed by the Pakistani Ocupational army. In a meeting, which took place in my home, General Niazi told them (Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami leaders): “We formed al-Badr, al-Shams. We provide you money, training, arms. How do you claim these are your groups?”
The al-Badr and al-Shams local in-charge here was Motiur Rahman Nizami. His superior was Khurram Jha Murad. There is a commission report which said Khurram shot 15 Bangali, who were forced to line up, only to see whether a three-not-three rifle was working or not. Islamic-minded people worked for the Pakistani army Vare ke Tattu ki tarha (like hired donkeys to carry goods).
We have to go back a little more to understand the whole scenario. There is a letter from Roosevelt to Churchill. Roosevelt told Churchill: “You are telling us to support you in World War II. Okay, we will do that. But weaken India and form two military states there.” So, one can easily understood who contributed here.
The war crimes tribunal is trying people who have allegedly committed crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War. If you look into this list, most of the accused, including convicted ones, are mostly from Jamaat-e-Islami's Bangladeshi arm. What is your observation regarding this?
Anywhere, if any people commit crimes against humanity, s/he needs to be punished. If those people have committed such crimes then they undoubtedly need to be punished. Locals (Bangladeshi) also had a duty to not let them do politics after independence. Who let them to come back to politics here? When Shiekh Saheb was gone, the party who came into power used them. If today Khaleda Zia stands for election, Jamaat will be behind her and money will follow wherever Jamaat is. What will be the consequences if they come to power, you and me both already know!
Do you follow the activities of Jamaat in Bangladesh and Pakistan? Have you found any similarities in their activities?
The two parties in the two countries are just the left and right hands of the same person. There is only one head controlling the both. There is no different heads for controlling them. Doesn’t matter whether its in India, or here (Bangladesh) or there (Pakistan).
The Pakistani media published news of Bangladesh there including the activities of Jamaat. The party is very much active there in two sectors education and information. They have total control over these two things. As a result, most often they publish news against Bangladesh government there. Most of the reports talk about how the Islamic-minded people are being convicted in secular Bangladesh. They also claim that people are being punished here because they talked for Islam.
In the war crimes tribunal, presently only the Bangladeshi war crimes accused are on trial. Do you think the Pakistani Army and other non-Bangladeshi war crimes accused should also be tried, either in Pakistan, Bangladesh or in any international court?
When the crimes tribunal was formed in Bangladesh and delivered a verdict, Pakistan Jamaat Ameer Syed Munawar Hasan held a press conference. There he asked the Pakistan government to send an ambassador to Hasina Wazed (Sheikh Hasina) to ask: “We have an agreement with Mujib that they would not try war criminals. Then how come they are trying the war criminals violating the agreement?” Now, I want to know: what agreement was that? Was there really any agreement which said you cannot try war criminals? You would not ensure punishment for the sake of justice?
The fact is there was an agreement with an option saying Pakistan can try 195 war criminals handed over to Pakistan after the independence. But did that trial ever take place? Till the end, General Niazi (Pakistan’s Eastern Command, General Niazi volunteered to face a court-martial regarding atrocities in 1971 in Bangladesh) said: “I was merely an army officer who was following orders from higher authorities. If the army had to face trial for following orders then there is no need to have armed forces.” Niazi said this in the Hamidur Rahman commission, to President Mosharraf.
In Lahore, there was a seminar where President Mosharraf was present. There too Niazi’s daughter pointed out that his father was being harassed (withholding pension facilities, seizing properties) for nothing. Niazi was also quoted in the Hamidur Rahman commission report: “Janab, I have telex from General Hasan and General Hamid saying if I hadn’t surrendered in East Pakistan, West Pakistan would have won. Tell me, as a sub-ordinate how would I not have followed my superior’s order? If you are blaming me for not taking decision by my own in 1971, then dissolve the army totally. For what am I being punished?”
There are people including Lieutenant-General Sahabzada Yaqub Ali Khan who resigned from Pakistan Army since they did not want to participate in the war (Bangladesh Liberation war of 1971). They were not punished for disobeying superior’s command. Rather Sahabzada was being appointed as foreign minister by Bhutto saheb (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, prime minister of Pakistan in 1973). Niazi’s point was, he faced court martial for following orders. And he very clearly also threw a legitimate question: based on what characteristics was such a court martial taking place? Based on which definition?
You have to think who is the main power holders using religious sentiment for all these sort of atrocities? Sometimes religious people just get trapped by these power holders. They can’t get out. There is also al-Badr, al-Shams member who went to Pakistan after the independence. And what are they doing now, in Pakistan? They are begging. So, they were actually also victimised by such politics. The person is not in question here; an institution victimising people using religion is the biggest threat.
Jamaat might also face trial for their involvement in the atrocities commited during 1971. How do you look into this?
As far as I understand, Jamaat here is not at all ashamed of what they have done in 1971. Rather they feel proud of that. They think what they did was right for Islam. They want an Islamic state which is against the thought of a secular state. They are gaining sympathy from religious-minded people here since they are saying the state should be an Islamic country. They already made the word “secular” a gali (a slang).
The biggest crime of Jamaat is that they made the word “secular” Ladin (against religion). Whereas the meaning of secularism is not that. Secularism is an attitude, an understanding which means Apna choro nahi, dusroko chero nahin (do not lose your origin and do not disturb other’s). But Jamaat is saying that they choose Islam and others who do not follow their political ideology need to be eliminated.
Forget about America saying do not serve the verdict since death penalty is against human rights. There are people in your country who are saying if they come into power, they will eliminate you. Think about them. Whoever talks against them is either an Indian agent, or secular or against Islam.
Since Khaleda Zia’s husband Ziaur Rahman took part in the liberation war, Khaleda Zia should have chose this side. She shouldn’t have chosen that side which was against the birth of this nation.
Do you think a party such as Jamaat-e-Islami have contributed to the rise of radicalism and Islamic militancy in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
Ultimately, all of their work leads to one thing. They successfully make Islam controversial. None has the right to judge who is more Islamic and who is less. Their work even led to a situation in Pakistan, particularly a movement against Bhutto Saheb, where we heard a slogan “Islam Murdabad” (Die Islam). Such a situation was the result of these religiominded-based politics. Only because Islam is used in politics, we have to hear the “Islam Murdabad” slogan.
Then what do you think of the Islamic State and Secular state?
If a state has a religion such as Islam and it says the formation of the state was done based on Islam like Pakistan, then the Taliban has every single right to take over. A state should not have any religion. Religion is for the people, not the other way around. Religion makes one better. The state is a roof under which every kind of people having different religions can stay.
A state holding a religion is indeed very alarming. If a country wants to practice democracy then it cannot have a religion. Democracy is always secular. Without being secular you cannot claim you are practicing democracy. “One man, one word” means everybody is equal; it means despite religious affiliation, all are equal. Who is Muslim, who is not, that is not a question anymore. If a state holds any religion, then it is practicing something else, not democracy.
But there are arguments from Islamic political parties that Islam is all about politics.
(In a satire way) If Islam is al about politics than those who are not voting for them are Kafir (people who do not believe in Allah).
Your father as the founder of Jamaat remains a mentor for the party in Bangladesh. As one of the sons of its founder, do you have any advice for the Jamaat?
(In a satire way again) they are far above taking advice. I do not think they are in need of any.