Taj Hashmi 14 February 2019
As the Jamaat-e-Islami’s founder Maulana Abul A’la Maududi (1903-1979) despised democracy, so do all his adherents. Soon after establishing the Jamaat in 1941, he admired Mussolini and considered him to be his role model. He also called himself the “Amir” or “Dictator/Fuherer” of the Jamaat-e-Islami. The JI chiefs in Bangladesh and Pakistan are still called “Amir”. So, the JI is NOT just another Islamic party. It is an Islamofascist party. Given the chance, it would establish another Taliban, or even worse, ISIS type-Islamic State. And Saudi Arabia is the biggest patron of the Jamaat-e-Islami. And we know what type of “Islamic” state is the Kingdom!
There is nothing hear-and-say about it. Maududi has written in his books that he wanted to establish an Islamic State in Pakistan, where the non-Muslims will live as Zimmis or protected people (not as equal citizens). On someone’s asking Maududi if India became a Hindu State, what the Indian Muslims should do, he said they should accept the second class citizenship. I once interviewed Abbas Ali Khan, who was the Acting Amir of Bangladesh Jamaat in 1990 or 1991. I feigned I was in love with the JI and asked him: “Huzur, we are not that strong, how would we ever capture power?” He told me:” Do you think we will ever come to power through elections? We will come to power with other means”! What is Jamaat’s “OTHER MEANS”? Any idea!?
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab World and the JI in Pakistan and Bangladesh are sister organizations. Al Qaeda emerged out of the former, and several violent Islamist outfits emerged out of the JI in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
By the way, I don’t buy the cheap and unsubstantiated Awami propaganda about Bangladesh JI’s links with the JMB, HUJI(B) and other splinter Islamist terror outfits in Bangladesh. I also do NOT believe that the Hasina Government hanged four Jamaat leaders because of the so-called War Crime Tribunal (the Tribunal is a cruel joke — the Skype Scandal proved it beyond any doubts) proved them as “War Criminals”. The Tribunal failed to prove Nizami, Mujahedi, Mollah, Mir Qasim, and Sayeedi as war criminals (period).
However, my contempt for the politically motivated Tribunal does not mean I admire Jamaat-e-Islami or condone its long-term conspiratorial politics, which is about establishing Islamofascism in Bangladesh and elsewhere. Historically, the JI has been playing the ridiculously premature and inept political games. In the 1940s, when Jinnah and Pakistan were the two most important words on the lips of the bulk of Indian Muslims — especially in north, northwest and eastern India — Maududi wrote volumes against Jinnah and Pakistan. To him, Jinnah was simply unfit to spearhead the movement for a Muslim Homeland (or Pakistan). Maududi did not like Jinnah as he had always been dead against theocracy and an Islamic State.
After Pakistan came into being, Maududi had to flee to Pakistan to save his life during the mammoth anti-Muslim rioting in East Punjab. Soon, Maududi started fanning the anti-Ahmadiyya flame in Lahore and elsewhere in Punjab. In 1953, Maududi was arrested for stirring up the anti-Ahmadi riots in Lahore (many Ahmadis got killed) and was sentenced to death. Thanks to Saudi Arabia’s pleading, the Pakistan Government spared his life. Then comes 1971! Maududi and his party vehemently opposed the creation of Bangladesh and collaborated with Yahya Khan. Then Maududi and his party collaborated with the Pakistani military dictator Zia ul-Haq (it is believed that Zia himself was a member of the party) and Pakistan since then has become a hotbed of Islamist politics. Thanks to the Jamaat and Maududi’s untiring efforts, draconian Sharia law – including the death penalty for blasphemy against Islam – is integral to Pakistan’s constitution and legal code. We know how illiberal and intolerant the Pakistani polity has become since 1977. Then Maududi’s men joined the US-Saudi-sponsored “Jihad” against the Soviet Union and destabilized Afghanistan. The rest is history.
In Bangladesh, initially Zia ur-Rahman did NOT favour the registration of the Jamaat-e-Islami, he only allowed the Islamic Democratic League to continue its “Islamic” politics in Bangladesh. However, in 1979 the JI was registered as a political party in Bangladesh.
The thoroughly corrupt and unethical dictator General HM Ershad played the Islamic card in the Zia ul-Haq-style! In 1988 he illegally amended the Constitution through an illegitimate parliament and declared Islam as the “State Religion” of Bangladesh. Interestingly, Ershad’s Prime Minister Kazi Zafar said Islam as the “State Religion” was a gambit to contain the Jamaat-e-Islami, so that the Islamist party did not remain the sole champion of Islam in the country.
Meanwhile, in May 1986 the Jamaat-e-Islami, along with the Awami League under Sheikh Hasina had contested the first farcical parliamentary elections under military dictator Ershad. While Ershad’s Jatiya Party won 153 out of the 300 seats in the Parliament securing 42.3 per cent of votes, said to have cast by more than 61 per cent of the voters, the Jamaat-e-Islami captured the third highest number of seats and votes ten and 4.6 per cent respectively, after the Awami League’s 76 seats and 26.2 per cent of votes, respectively. The Jamaat along with the Awami League and most other registered political parties in Bangladesh, except the BNP under Khaleda Zia (which boycotted the polls) legitimized General Ershad’s illegitimate military rule. By the way, British poll observers and journalists termed the elections a “tragedy for democracy” and a “cynically frustrated exercise” [Shakhawat Liton, “Ershad’s desperate bids go in vain”, Daily Star (Bangladesh), August 28, 2010. So much so for Jamaat-e-Islami’s “democratic credentials”!
Then the JI supported only to oppose the first BNP-led government under Khalida Zia in 1991. So much so that it openly sided with Hasina’s Awami League to topple the first democratically elected government in post-Ershad Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the JI and Awami League, Hasina and Nizami, Hasina and Ghulam Azam had become the best of friends. Awami League’s Presidential candidate Justice Badrul Haider Chowdhury even went to Ghulam Azam’s house to seek his “Dua”, because the JI had 30 MPs and MPs elect the President in Bangladesh! After the trial and execution of top JI leaders as “war criminals”, the party is in a state of hibernation. Although the party is barred from contesting elections in Bangladesh, in the recently held grossly rigged parliamentary elections on 30thDecember 2018, several JI members contested the polls using the BNP’s election symbol, paddy sheaf but failed to capture any seat in the parliament.
These points are some eye-openers for people who think the JI is just another Islamic party and is committed to restoring democracy. Nothing could be farthest from the truth. The Jamaat is not an Islamic party committed to restoring democracy, it is an Islamofascist party committed to establishing an Islamist totalitarian state in Bangladesh, in accordance with the teachings of its founder, Maulana Maududi. Last but not least, as appears in his op-ed on the latest round of farcical elections in Bangladesh, former US Ambassador William Milam believes that as an ally, the Jamaat-e-Islami was a big political liability for the BNP. Some BNP leaders also believe that it is time their party part company with the Jamaat.