‘Experts’ redefine Islam at govt-sponsored lit fest

Wasim Khalid

Srinagar: Insiniuating that the youth of Kashmir who have picked up arms against the state were practising “radical Islam”, speakers at a three-day, government-sponsored Sonth Literary Festival said “Kashmir had the best type of Islam”.
The festival is organised by Lehar (NGO) and the Directorate of Tourism at SKICC.
Senior journalist Prem Shanker Jha, who recently defended deceased journalist BG Verghese for giving a clean chit to soldiers accused of Kunan-Poshpora mass rape, said, “Islam in Kashmir is totally against violence. It is the most peaceful and close to the spirit of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).”
He said not just Hinduism but Islam “also had become civilized” in Kashmir.
In the past, the government and its various agencies have been trying to define Islam and Kashmiriyat in ways that suit the official interests. For them Islam practiced in Kashmir is Sufi Islam and “non-violent Islam”, and Kashmiriyat, according to them, was a “blend of” Sufi Islam and Shavism”.
“If Kashmir stays with India, it will help the 180 million Muslims of India,” he said. This line of thinking, which many perceive as pitching the fate of 180 million Indian Muslims against the political aspirations of their co-religionists in Kashmir, has been sharply criticised in Kashmir.
Delhi-based socialite and writer Sadia Dehlvi said “the purest form of Islam existed in Kashmir” and expressed concern over the “radicalization of Kashmiri youth”.
The author of Sufism: The heart of Islam, Dehlvi said that young people were “getting more and more radicalised which was a cause of worry and concern”.
She said it was “good to express trauma of Kashmir through art”.
“God lives in broken hearts.”
Noted Kashmiri poet Rahman Rahi said Kashmir had a 5000-year-old history, but nobody now likes to speak in Kashmiri language.