The Bangladeshi government has ordered mosques and libraries across the country to remove all books written by a controversial Islamic scholar.
The chief of the government-funded Islamic Foundation told the BBC that the books by Syed Abul Ala Maududi encouraged “militancy and terrorism”. Mr Maududi – who died in 1979 – is the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. His works are essential reading for supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in the region.
Born in India, the Pakistani scholar is considered the most prominent theorist of radical Islam in modern South Asian history. But Bangladeshi officials say Mr Maududi’s writings promote radicalism and his ideological goal was to capture power in the name of Islam.
“His writings are against the peaceful ideology of Islam. So, it is not correct to keep books of Mr Maududi in mosques,” Islamic Foundation Director-General Shamim Mohammad Afjal told the BBC.
On the Bangladeshi Govt. daring step here’s is an excellent analysis by Ali Irtiza.
The government of Bangladesh recently started cleansing Mosque-Libraries off Maulana Maududi’s books. While on one the hand this step shows the secular purpose of the government, it also raises the issue of negation of freedom of expression, and a possible counter-productivity of the step as Hegelian dialectics would suggest.
While I am an advocate of freedom of expression myself, I think one should not forget the fact that Maududi’s thought and personality were both bloated and artificially pumped up by various regimes in some Muslim countries. It was a part of the larger agenda of creating, in US President Truman’s words, ‘an Islamic bulwark against the communist threat’. Therefore, when we see libraries and publishing houses abound with Maududi’s works, the situation reflects the state’s co-option of his thought and an engineering of public opinion on desired grounds using his works – the typical Orwellian explanation of state operations, and an anathema to freedom of expression and intellectual honesty.
Now, if a state retracts on its old follies, not only does it require to ensure a proper future course of action, it also needs to undo the past damage without which moving ahead isn’t possible. Deconstruction of the old myths is as important as the construction of new avenues.
An important point most of the people miss while approaching the issue of ban on Maududi’s books in Bangladesh is that fact that the government has removed Maududi’s books only from MOSQUE Libraries. One should know that most of Maududi’s works are political in nature and serve as the foundations of the crappy lore of Political Islam. Can anyone justify the pervasive presence of Maududi’s political books in Mosque-Libraries to me in first place? How did they reach there and what was the intent behind viciously spreading them? No one should give us this crap that a library is supposed to keep all sorts of books, because the person will have to first answer the question that how many mosque-libraries keep liberal political books? There was a clear intent behind keeping such books, and the state was complicit in the crime.
Let me present a clear example: It is quite a fact (for the sane ones) that the school/college curriculum books have been co-authored in GHQ and Mansura (a joint Army-Jamaat Islami venture). Let us hope against hope (or at least assume) that one fine day, the same ruling class, or an alternate one, realizes that the idiotic school/college literature has done enough damage and the narrative needs to be changed. It then amends the narrative and draws out the poison (it is so replete with) from the books. Should the effort not be supported then? Will such an effort be a negation of freedom of expression just because it is drawing out the poison that was once instilled into those books? I, for one, will support any such more but will want more to be done. I will want an alternate narrative, deconstruction of the old narrative and the realization of the past mistakes and its popularization among the masses. A multi-pronged approach.
Maududi, anyway, was an American stooge and served his imperial masters to his best. He owes his popularity as well as his stature to his masters. And it was his US-sponsored works that served as fertilizer (read cow-dung) for the crop of extremists that was bred and raised all across the world.
At a point of time when Political Islam has already shown its colors to the world, we, as those most affected by it, need a proper alternate narrative to it. And we also need to undo our past wrongs – albeit in a proper manner. The extremist narratives need to be deconstructed to the DNA, and this probably begins by dislocating its lynch-pin, something which should have been done long ago, and more importantly, in Pakistan.