By Shahid Lone
“All happy families resemble each other but each family is unhappy in its peculiar way.”
Tolstoy’s pithy quote describes the haze and quandary of different pro-resistance groups who are working and striving for a common cause ‘Azadi’. Although, it is obvious that different systems of ideas would emerge but concern arises when flawed, incoherent narratives are manufactured by certain vested elements, which basically inherently lack cogent Onto-epistemological bases and contaminate the thought processes of young educated Kashmiris in the face of the nomothetic—idiographic dilemmas.
Islam has always played a vital role in Kashmir conflict by shaping the beliefs, values, attitudes and worldviews of its people. Whether sincere or hypocritical, wise or foolish, its invocation has political consequences. It stirs the human heart and provokes action. Sometimes it spurs people to revolt against a corrupt society, protest challenging the existing order, and other times it emancipates us and provides us meaning and purpose. In a politically and religiously charged environment like Kashmir, people rally around Islam because it gives them emotional strength and a great sense of intra-group cohesion and solidarity. And because Islam has tremendous capacity for arousing strong emotions and stimulating strong social cohesion, it is no surprise that Islam has been politically ‘exploited as a religious identity’ and Muslims get dubbed as fundamentalists and extremists .Ever since the philosophical constructs ‘secularism as sociology, scientism as epistemology’ were floated in intellectual and media circles, Islam has been triumphantly brandished as ‘a malevolent belief’, Quran labeled as “a violent manifesto” and its propagation dubbed as “orientation of sectarianism”.
Contrarily, it was the religion of communism, wherein the communist party (the church) and their Pope Marx and Apostle Engels ordered a rallying call for violence through Das Capital and The Communist Manifesto (perceived as books of revelations, containing ultimate knowledge and unquestionable wisdom) and issued the decree ‘violence is the mid-wife of change’ and termed it as dialectically inevitable and historically desirable. The fact of the matter is that the greatest slaughter of 20th century ensued because of communism’s ‘ahistorical-socio political experiments’. This absolutist, unrestricted, uninhibited ideology murdered people in war and domicile without compunction, without the inhibition of tradition, culture or religion.
This communist crusade resulted in the killing of 62 million people under the Soviet regime and murder of 35 million in China. Another fairly large elephant in the corner, an accomplice of Marxism in human annihilation and mass murder is capitalism or the capitalist class which has carried on from where the former left but protects itself in urban fashion in the academia, government, and politics. The church of godless liberalism also played a susceptible role in this savagery during French revolution (which was entrenched in liberalism and enlightenment principle), resulted in 40 thousand beheadings. An interesting source of truth on the matter is Philip & Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, which chronicles some 1763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history. Of those wars, the authors categorize 123 as being religious in nature, which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. However, when one subtracts out those waged in the name of Islam (66), the percentage is cut by more than half to 3.23%
The differences between secular-liberals and Islamists in Kashmir conflict do not stem from common “modus operandi” adopted by both to confront the occupational structure of the state. Prudence demands that both should jointly continue in this endeavor and form a strong united block and prove as a ‘power to be reckoned with’. The difference is purely based on philosophical paradigms, albeit paucity of space constricts my argument but let me briefly explain it. The ultimate interpretation of cosmos is either theistic or atheistic and the debate lies and must take place, if any, between these two philosophies. Belief or disbelief is neither a geo- political construct nor a post- colonial phenomenon. Since time immemorial, both have existed to deconstruct the riddles hidden in the cosmos, while atheistic philosophy does it by smothering God and theistic does vice versa with the philosophy of life, death, and resurrection. The claims of respective belief systems of being right and wrong were always contested and will continue to be so in future. We are venturing into a dangerous and futile exercise of blame game and accusing each other of super-imposing beliefs in the road to freedom and branding the beliefs as corrupt.
This state has been aptly put by Professor Keith Ward of Oxford University as ‘it is very difficult to think of any organized human activity that could not be corrupted. The lesson is that anti-religious corruptions and religious corruptions are both possible. There is no magic system or belief, not even belief in liberal democracy, which claims to prevent it’. So, it is obvious that violence and conflict are not religious monopolies, rather they are human phenomena and not unique to religion, as Prof. Stephen Carter argues in ‘Civility’.
Once the philosophical ‘secularization of knowledge’ was done by blending Hellenic and Hebrew worldviews, problems started fomenting and became the root of epistemo-theological snags in religion. Secularization of knowledge not only opened the doors to doubt and skepticism but to atheism, agnosticism, utilitarianism, dialectical materialism, human-chimp genome evolution and historicism in our times- all aimed at ‘smothering God’. Since certain fringe groups are trying to exploit our young-educated-freedom loving Kashmiri youths and impressing upon them that ‘religion is a human construct’ and it ‘restricts individual freedom, it becomes more evident and urgent for these educated youths to understand how ‘secularization of knowledge’ and thereof epistemological bias projects ‘God as delusion’ and ‘religion as opium of masses’ and ascertain for themselves how ‘social sciences are being used and exploited to question the very veracity of religions as divine guidance from the onset of the Enlightenment project, by contaminating disciplines like philosophy, political science, anthropology to psychology, history, and sociology’. Only then it will become clear how incoherent, conflicting and contrasting is their perception towards the notion of ‘inception of religion’.
Islam neither recognizes the liberal philosophical notion of the ‘Social contract theory’ nor is the man of Islam bound to it. What Islam propagates is the concept of individual contract, reflecting the covenants of his soul, sealed with one sublime God. Islam, in fact, validates two ties of kinship. One is Ummah (brotherhood based on a spiritual foundation of submission to God) and , two is An-Naas (brotherhood based on the bond of humanity as a single creation of God). The dichotomy is artificial as Muslim brotherhood cannot own the status quo as permanent between two alternate social paradigms. It is the duty of the Ummah to invite An-Naas to the Deen -al-Islam with compassion and intellectual fervor. When ‘Muslims talk of workers of the world unite, it means uniting the ummah and taking other oppressed classes on board, as well, to fight tyranny, occupation and oppression.
History is testimony to the fact that Prophet Mohammad exhibited this profound character of Islam in the Charter of Madinah’ and was later witnessed in Muslim Spain.
The other contested narrative we face in Kashmir conflict is that of martyrdom, which has a definite religious sanctity in Islam and is socially sacrosanct as well. This contestation is also purely philosophical. Martyrdom or self-sacrifice operations are those performed by one or more people, against enemies far outstripping them in numbers and equipment, with prior knowledge that the operations will almost inevitably lead to death. Strengthening the Islamic philosophical claim of martyrdom, the Quran says, (Verily, Allah has purchased from the believers their selves and their wealth, in return for heaven being theirs. They fight in the path of Allah, they kill and are killed. 9: 111). On the other hand, secular-liberal philosophy defines martyrdom through the atheistically social construct, that is, ‘laying down of life for a materialistic ideal, majority sentiment and societal reverence for bravery as an idea or action. And that’s why Secular-liberals claim that armed rebels in Kashmir yearn for ‘secular freedom’ while the shared experiences reveal the opposite to be true.
The state tries to use and exploit different religious and political ideologies to create sectarian strife and sow the seeds of civil war. Sectarianism has never existed in our freedom movement. Testimony to my argument lies in the Tabhleegi background of Commander BurhanWani, Barelvi background of incarcerated Sarjan Barkati (Freedom Chacha). However, when we, wittingly or unwittingly, try to deliberate upon these narratives, we are parroting the statist narrative and strengthening its occupational grip. Before the state starts manufacturing consent and pit Kashmiri Muslims against one another along sectarian lines, it is important shun such counter-productive debates. This will lead us to a trap where ‘every gain will be perceived as a loss and vice-versa’ and we will cease to ‘balance the gains and losses’. The state desperately wants us to compete in ‘systems of ideas’ so that it can reap benefits. In conflicts, it is the most simplistic but dangerous way of competing and it implicitly means accepting state legitimacy. Allowing the enemy to this arena will lead to the ideological or theoretical surrender of both, or at least to a significant loss of clarity and integrity of purpose.
Finally, if any of these belief systems are aspiring to form a state based on their theistic and atheistic interpretations, they will first have to tackle the present occupational dispensation joint. The spirit of the time stresses that these philosophical discussions and differences must be kept at bay and erroneous oversimplifications stopped and issues at hand are addressed. Once freedom is achieved, Kashmiris are enough mature to decide which system is best, considering its historical realities, deep spiritual traditions, inclusive and compassionate human nature of Kashmiris and shared experiences.
—Shahid Lone is a Doctoral candidate in Political Economy at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org