Islamic Terrorism in India

Most Muslims are not terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims

Jammu and Kashmir government hires schoolteachers linked to fundamentalist organization, Jamaat-e-Islami

Posted by jagoindia on July 24, 2009


Where the state pays for teachers of hate
Praveen Swami
Date:23/07/2009 URL:

The Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to hire hundreds of
schoolteachers linked to the Jammat-e-Islami.

Back in 1945, Islamist ideologue Abul Ali Mawdudi called on his
followers to “change the old tyrannical system and establish a just new
order by the power of the sword.” He demanded that members of the party
founded in his name “seize the authority of state for, an evil system
takes root and flourishes under the patronage of an evil government, and
a pious cultural order can never be established until the authority of
government is wrested from the wicke d.”

Last week, the National Conference-Congress government quietly
moved to help realise Mawdudi’s ugly dream. Hundreds of jobs, a Cabinet
decision taken on July 14 mandates, will be handed out to schoolteachers
linked to the Jammu Kashmir Jamaat-e-Islami, the party set up in
Mawdudi’s name. More than 440 Falah-i-Aam Trust teachers will now be
inducted into the State school system. Seventy-four unskilled workers
who lost their jobs when Falah-i-Aam schools were closed down in 1990
will also get State government jobs.

For years, successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir have ruled
out fresh recruitment, saying the State can barely meet the salaries of
its existing employees. Only recently were Rehbar-i-Zirat agricultural
scientists, who are provided a stipend if they cannot get a job, told
that there was no early prospect of employment. By hiring the
Falah-i-Aam teachers, the National Conference evidently hopes to build
bridges with its decades-old Islamist adversaries. But the costs of the
decision could prove horrific.

Early in the 20th century, Kashmir saw the emergence of the
religious neo-fundamentalist movement that was to lay the foundation for
the rise of the Jamaat-e-Islami. From the outset, education was a core
part of the neo-fundamentalist programme. In the minds of the religious
right, education was an instrument

In 1899, Mirwaiz Rasul Shah – whose grandnephew and clerical heir
is today the All Parties Hurriyat Conference chief – started the Anjuman
Nusrat ul-Islam (Society for the Victory of Islam). It aimed not only to
give Kashmir’s nascent middle class modern scientific education but also
eradicate folk Islam and create a religion-centred political
consciousness. The Anjuman funded the creation of the Islamiya High
School in 1905. Rasul Shah’s successor, Mirwaiz Ahmadullah, went on to
set up the Oriental College in Srinagar. In turn, Ahmadullah’s
successor, Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah, set up Kashmir’s first printing press,
and used the two magazines it published to rail against what he saw as
heretical practices embedded in Kashmiri folk Islam.

Perhaps the most important voice of the neo-fundamentalist
movement was the Jamaat-e-Islami. Drawing on Mirwaiz Rasul Shah’s early
efforts, it went on to create an educational empire.

Born into a family long-linked to Kashmiri Sufism, Tarabali had
come to despise the faith of his parents, seeing it as the cause of the
political weakness of the people of Kashmir. Early in his life, he
encountered the work of the seminal Islamist ideologue, Maulana Abul Ala
Mawdudi, through the Islamist journal Tarjuman al-Quran. Tarabali also
despised the socialism of Jammu and Kashmir’s most important political
figure, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.

Having started his career as a teacher at the Islamiya High
School, Tarabali went on to work at government-run educational
institutions at Chrar-e-Sharif, Baramulla and Shopian. Before he left
government service to devote himself full time to Jamaat-e-Islami work,
Tarabali had succeeded in recruiting dozens of young men from elite Pir
caste families. Most were from Baramulla, Shopian, Srinagar, and
Pulwama – the very areas which have seen clashes between police and
stone-throwing mobs since last summer. “Islam, for them,” scholar
Yoginder Sikand has noted in his seminal study of the Jamaat-e-Islami,
“was a call for political assertion in a context of perceived Muslim
powerlessness.”

Among the young who joined the Jamaat was Syed Ali Shah Geelani –
now the patriarch of Kashmir’s Islamist movement. Geelani, like Tarabali
and many other Jamaat leaders, started his adult life as a
schoolteacher. He first worked at the government-run primary school in
Srinagar’s Pather Masjid area, and then at the Rainawari high school.
Many teachers at the Rainawari school, interestingly, went on to become
influential figures in the Jamaat-e-Islami.

From the outset, the Jamaat understood the centrality of education
to its political project. According to the account of Pakistani scholar
Tahir Amin, Jamaat schools were intended to prepare the ground for a
“silent revolution.” The Jamaat believed, Mr. Sikand has written, “that
a carefully planned Indian conspiracy was at work to destroy the Islamic
identity of the Kashmiris, through Hinduizing the school syllabus and
spreading immorality and vice among the youth. It was alleged that the
government of India had despatched a team to Andalusia headed by the
Kashmir Pandit [politician and state Home Minister] D.P. Dhar, to
investigate how Islam was driven out of Spain and to suggest measures as
to how the Spanish experiment could be repeated in Kashmir, too.”

In Jammu, where the Jamaat feared that Muslims battered in
Partition violence would give up Islam, Maulana Ghulam Ahmad Ahrar
called for the setting up of schools to spread education and Islamic
consciousness.

Not long after independence, the Jamaat set up the first of what
would become a network of schools in Srinagar’s Nawab Bazaar, with five
students and one teacher. The organisation developed its own textbooks,
built around a curriculum that included English, Arabic, Urdu,
mathematics and Islamic studies. The Jamaat cadre were appointed
instructors. In time, many Jamaat-run schools evolved into higher
secondary institutions. Students, Mr. Sikand records an observer as
saying, were “inspired to work for the victory of Islam, jihad in the
path of Allah, freedom and self-determination of the Kashmiri people.”
Many of the students, Pakistani scholar Alifuddin Turabi has recorded in
an essay on the contribution of educational institutions to the Kashmiri
secessionist movement, went on to play a key role in the jihad that
began in 1989.

During the Emergency, Sheikh Abdullah cracked down on the Jamaat.
Some 125 schools run by it, with over 550 teachers and 25,000 students,
were banned. So were another 1,000 evening schools run by the
organisation, which reached out to an estimated 50,000 boys and girls.
In one speech, Abdullah described the Jamaat schools as “the real source
for spreading communal poison.”

But Jammu and Kashmir’s crackdown on the Jamaat proved
short-lived. In 1977, the party founded the Falah-i-Aam trust and
charged the Doda-based Islamist activist Saadullah Tantray with reviving
its school network.

The Jamaat also formed a student wing, the Islami Jamaat-e-Tulaba.
Helped by Saudi Arabia-based Islamist organisations, the IJT soon grew
into a powerful force in schools and universities. In 1979, the IJT was
granted membership of the World Organisation of Muslim Youth, a
controversial Saudi-funded body which financed many Islamist groups that
later turned to terrorism. The next year, the IJT organised a conference
in Srinagar which was attended by dignitaries from across West Asia,
including the Imam of the mosques of Mecca and Medina, Abdullah
bin-Sabil.

By the end of the decade, the IJT had formally committed itself to
an armed struggle against the Indian state. Its president, Sheikh
Tajamul Husain – now a mid-ranking leader of the secessionist movement –
told journalists in Srinagar that Kashmiris did not consider themselves
Indian, and that the forces stationed there were an “army of
occupation.” Mr. Husain also called for the establishment of an Islamic
state. A year later, in 1981, he reiterated his call to his followers to
“throw out” the Indian “occupation.”

In 1990, as the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir gathered momentum, the
state cracked down on the Jamaat-e-Islami once more. The party was
banned, and the Falah-i-Aam schools were shut down. Promises were made
that the teachers would be brought into the State school system.
However, fearful that the Falah-i-Aam teachers would misuse their
position to spread the Jamaat message, successive governments went slow.

No great imagination is needed to see what the Jamaat hopes to get
from the party affiliates whose salaries will now be paid by the Jammu
and Kashmir government – and the tragedy that could lie ahead.

In the Jamaat’s view, scholar Mohammad Ishaq Khan has noted,
“Kashmiri Muslims need to be converted afresh.” In 1945, Tarabali called
for the institution of an authentic Islam “because of whose truth and
universalism the cultures and even languages of the most civilised
countries of the world were abandoned by their people.” For his part,
Mawdudi warned believers that under a secular state, “the civilisation
and way of life which he regards as wicked, the education system which
he views as fatal: all these will be so relentlessly imposed on him, his
home and his family, that it will be impossible to avoid them.”

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah – whose secular credentials are
impeccable – must act to prevent the poisoning of the State’s school
education system.

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