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Jamaat-e-Islami: Challenges & the Way Forward

Jamaat-e-Islami: Challenges & the Way Forward
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Zaahid Mushtaq*


Amidst communal clashes of 1920’s in India on one side and emergence of Shudi movement through Arya Samajists on the other side, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar made an emotional speech from the pulpit of Jamia Masjid of new Delhi calling out people to stand up for the safety of Muslims and safeguard their interests. A young boy in his teens listening with heart to this heart-wrenching speech of a political Maulana made up his mind to prepare the Muslims at the political and intellectual front and in no time came up with a book that came to be known as Al Jihad Fil Islam and therein answered the most dreaded questions that people were asking about Islam. This boy grew to be called Maulana Syed Abu Ala Maudoodi and changed the whole discourse of subcontinent in coming years.

Syed Maudoodi established jama’at e Islami in 1941 and through this organ besides others worked for the socio-religious and political awakening of the Muslims of contemporary period and stood as the biggest obstacle and hurdle to all anti-Muslim forces of that era.

About Maudoodi, the leader and architect of communism in China said that He was the only obstacle besides Syed Qutub and Hassan al Bana Shaheed who stopped him from converting the Subcontinent into a communist state. The biggest contribution of Maulana was his presentation of Islam as an ideology in the era of ideologies and presenting Islam as an alternative to communism, capitalism and other western Isms of that era. This all he did through his mouth piece Tarjaman ul Quran and his Jama’at e Islami (since 1941). Jama’at Islami is by far one of the most influential movements in the world today, particularly in the countries of South Asia. Its influence extends far beyond the confines of the Indian subcontinent, and the writings of its chief ideologues have exercised a powerful impact on the contemporary Muslim thinking all over the world.

In Jammu and Kashmir, jama’at Islami was established through efforts of Maulana Saadudin Tarabali in 1942. In a society known for its popular Sufi traditions, where Muslims hardly differed from their Hindu neighbours in most respects, the emergence of jama’at Islami provided an important platform for the people’s expression of Islam, based on strict adherence to the Islamic law (Shari ‘at).The increasing popularity of jama’at has much to do with the structural, situational, and ideational factors specific to the changing contours of the general socio-political context of Kashmir, from 1948 when it came under Indian rule to 1989, the year that marks the onset of the armed struggle in the region. Jama’at had to struggle continuously and variously for its existence when the organisation and its activities were completely banned by the Indian authorities, but despite restrictions the morale of its charismatic leaders, the ruling authorities could never jail. When Kashmir was going through the reign of terror no member of jama’at resigned from membership. The state forces failed to separate Jama’at e Islami members from the right to self-determination movement.

After the honourable exit of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Jama’at confronted the problem of clarity among its cadre.

Except for the media created misconceptions to drown the movement in Jammu and Kashmir seventy-five years after its being, Jama’at e Islami faces a number of challenges as a socio-religious and political party. Jama’at e Islami needs to cope up with the challenges to make itself relevant with the changing contours of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and particularly with the passage of time. The organisation is a living entity and has to change with changing environment because every craft and every power soon grows old and is passed over and forgotten if it is without wisdom. To infuse the democratic and constructive tune among its dissenting members became an uphill task which it is facing till date.

Jammat lost its tack in the form of clear objective and modus operandi it should follow. Its members have passed through various types of situations in Kashmir, and ambiguity is reigning over the exact priorities demanded by contemporary times. It needs to develop a mechanism to address the ideological and practical intricacies faced by its members and infuse clarity among its members. Jama’at e Islami should be able to set an achievable goal before the members of the organisation and develop a modus operandi for its achievement because consideration to achieve short goals might prove detrimental.

Kashmir is a most sensitive issue and politics is shared among different cotters.  Being the party with of the largest cadre base, having sacrificed a lot for the freedom movement, it must hear cries of the killed and orphans, of blinded and disappeared and of widows and the halves, and hence be prepared to give a genuine political voice to the people of Kashmir.

Jama’at has to renew its political weight of and re-engage with various political quarters to create a unified voice for the oppressed nation.

Education which is the cornerstone of any nation and much more important pillar if the nation wants to progress. Right from inception, Jama’at e Islami engaged itself with the education sector. After the government failed to provide a comprehensive and competitive educational system to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, it was Jama’at e Islami which sets itself to fill the shoes by establishing alternative education sector to overcome the lacuna. Even in the present times, Falahi Aam Trust (FAT), which was established by jama’at e Islami holds the highest number schools in Jammu and Kashmir towering other private and semi-governmental trusts. After the insurgency in Kashmir and onslaught of state govt on the jama’at e Islami members, schools under the FAT were affected directly and hence deteriorating the education standards. The vacuum was filled by unorganised and autonomous private education, which, besides commercialization has glamorised education system at the cost of education itself. In the backdrop of this issue, jama’at e Islami should focus on reviving its education sector and regain legacy in this particular sector. Time has changed and people demand a more competitive environment, obviously because they invest hefty sums per month in the schools. It should hire professionals to make this sector more attractive and feasible for the middle-class students of the valley.

Jama’at e Islami should consider the reasons for the failure of various Islamic movements in the subcontinent as compared to that of Egypt, Palestine and Tunisia.

The fact of the matter is that it should be prepared to make necessary changes and alterations, in the organisational setup, foremost among them is to revisit the organisational structure and create necessary space for energetic and wilful youth. Jama’at should understand the ideological clashes and debates, the growth of knowledge and the emergence of new trends around the world and provide larger space for the new entrants rather than suffocating them with meagre opportunities and a serious note should be taken of the persons, behaving as hereditary masters in the Jama’at and choking such spaces.

Jama’at e Islami should comprehend the contemporary media control which is in the very run of influencing and building the general public opinion. It further needs to strengthen the society for acting as a sword arm and watchdog to protect the public interest against malpractices. One special priority for the crisis communication that has been often overlooked by this organization is the selection of the dynamic spokesperson. Any person tasked with speaking on behalf of the organisation should go through proper media training. A spokesman with excellent communicational skills and the right personality and capable of demonstrating sincerity and transparency during an interview should be selected to prevent the already tarnishing image of Jama’at. By saying “No Comment” or issuing a written statement could raise, and has raised in the past, red flags about the creditability and kept people wondering what is being hidden from them eroding the faith in the organisation.


*Author is studying English Literature at Aligarh Muslim University. He can be reached at

Disclaimer:  Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position of Oracle Opinions. 

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