Home and madressah education, knowledge of Arabic, vast study of earlier texts on Islam and almost no exposure to modern education, yet ability to write colorful language, playing with high sounding words and experience in journalism was his qualification. A body of obscurantist literature, superficial in character, with almost no relevance to the demands of a modern and progressive lifestyle was his contribution. A prolific journalist rather than a scholar, he wrote with great speed to feed his eager readers. He was well-versed in employing the power of the written word, the ability which, on the one hand has positively contributed towards bringing about numerous cultural and intellectual revolutions in human history, and many a times it has played havoc with the growth of human consciousness. When the disconnect between fact (read ground reality) and fiction (read ideology) becomes apparent, either the fiction dies down, or the “sanctified” fiction is cleverly exploited in one’s own interest. The philosophy and writings of Abul Ala Maududi, his followers and their conduct in real life is a classic case of ideology in the service of vested interests.
By 1938 he was against the formation of political parties, but in 1941 he had a change of heart and Maududi founded Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), with the prime objective of setting up of a kingdom of Allah in total rejection of secularism, democracy and nation-state where private and public sphere of man’s life would be governed by the principles of Islam. He considered them sinful and called for the total boycott of secular structures like the parliament, army, courts, educational institutions and government jobs. However his party later contested elections for the parliament, collaborated with the army, filed petitions in courts and penetrated into educational institutions and the government, setting their earlier ideology aside. Similar to Muslim Brotherhood, the JI focused on middle class professionals and state employees rather than traditional mullahs.
Although Maududi opposed Jinnah and a separate state for Muslims, however, he moved to Pakistan with some of his followers. Initially he advocated the religious-cum-spiritual revival of Muslims who would not aspire for power and lead by example. But as he had witnessed the strength, religion wields in grabbing political power through mass mobilization, as experienced in the creation of Pakistan, he changed his political philosophy. His new slogan was “The Country is God’s; rule must be by God’s law; the government should be that of God’s pious men.” The “defense of Islam” in an “Islamic” state was thus the bedrock of JI in the years to follow. Soon after the Partition, the JI began to pressurize the government to frame an Islamic constitution. The JI labeled leftists, secularists and ethnic nationalists as anti-Islam and non-believers. In 1953, the JI incited and carried out attacks against Ahmadis. The murder, looting and arson resulted in the deaths of 200 Ahmadis. The story was repeated in 1974 which culminated in declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims. Through his influence over Ch. Mohammad Ali, the then PM, Maududi was able to include the Objectives Resolution as the preamble to 1956 Constitution and the first Muslim country to be named “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”
In the beginning, Maududi was critical of Pakistan’s alliance with the US but then focused on combating communism. The JI received money from Saudi Arabia and Saudi-sponsored Rabita al-Alam al Islami for global outreach, particularly areas under communist influence. A Dar-ul-Fikr was set up in Mansoora, the JI headquarters at Lahore in the late 1960’s to publish accounts of communist oppression of Muslims. Urdu Digest, a publication by JI affiliates, was focusing on liberation of co-religionists under communist control. Interestingly, in February 2009 a seven member delegation of JI led by Qazi Hussain Ahmed visited China. At a meeting with Vice-Chairperson of National People’s Congress Tali Waldi, Qazi said that the Sino-Pak friendship was immortal and would continue to deepen with the passage of time. Ayub Khan, who had initially deleted “Islamic” from Pakistan’s official name, added it later under pressure from the mullahs. Since PPP was socialistic while Awami League was a secular party the JI, fearing popularity of the two major political parties, was spearheading a campaign by 1969, for protection of Islamic ideology declaring that Pakistan was under threat from atheists, socialists and secularists. In the same year JI and Intelligence Bureau sponsored ulema, signed a joint fatwa declaring socialism and secularism as Kufr. In 1970 JI-sympathizer General Sher Ali Khan, Federal Minister for Information & Broadcasting and National Affairs during 1969-71 purged state and privately owned media of leftists and secularists. These were then replaced by JI cadres. In the 1970 general elections, the JI won just four seats out of a total of 300.
General Yahya’s military regime gave the JI a semi-official role in the former East Pakistan to act as the intelligence network for Pak Army, while it was part of the “military sponsored” six party alliance of Islamist parties in East Pakistan called United Coalition Party.
In May 1971 the JI and Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT), its student wing, were part of a 50,000 strong, “army engineered” razakar (volunteer) force comprising Al-Shams and Al-Bader which acted as army’s death squads. In addition to killing of tens of thousands of nationalist Bengalis, Al-Badar reportedly killed 10 professors of Dacca University, five leading journalists, two litterateurs and 26 doctors in Dacca alone.
When Bhutto assumed power on December 20th 1971, the JI burned his effigies in Lahore and declared the day as “black day.” When PTV showed surrender ceremony in Dacca, the JI led public protests, describing it as an attempt to humiliate the army. In 1973 the Amir of JI appealed to the army to over throw Bhutto’s government due to its inherent moral corruption. Despite being Islamist and declaring secularists as kafirs (infidels), the JI joined hands with Bhutto’s secular opponents to achieve the goal of political power. In the early seventies, the JI launched a campaign called “Bagladesh Namanzoor”to destabilize Bhutto and to absolve the army of blame for the loss of country’s Eastern Wing,
In 1973, Burhanuddin Rabbani, a Maududi inspired Afghan cleric, fled to Pakistan, and was hosted by the JI. Thus began a partnership between the JI, the ISI and the Rabbani group.
When Zia overthrew Bhutto in 1977, the JI distributed sweets in streets of all major cities.
Maududi later supported Zia’s regime by endorsing his Islamization initiative. Zia ul Haq met JI Chief Mian Tufail Mohammad for 90 minutes the night before Bhutto was hanged. The following day, the JI supporters took to the streets to celebrate Bhutto’s death. Although the JI’s constitution prohibits coming into power using underground means, yet the JI was part of Zia’s cabinet holding the ministries of Information and Broadcasting, Production, Water and Power and National Resources. Professor Khursheed Ahmed, a JI ideologue, headed the Planning Commission to draw up plans for Islamizing the economy. The JI also supported Zia-ul-Haq’s referendum held in 1984.
Qazi Hussian Ahmad while supporting Zia’s Hadood Laws argued that woman were emotional and irritable, with inferior faculties of reason and memory hence their testimony in a court of law should be discounted. Women can be bracketed with the blind, handicapped, lunatics and children. However , later, Qazi got his own daughter Samia Raheel Qazi elected to the parliament. The JI later became the pillar of Zia regime and his “Islamic” state. In 1979 when Maududi died Zia attend his funeral.
In 1988 the ISI assembled a coalition called IJI of Islamist parties to serve as the army’s proxy in a controlled political system. The JI was the frontrunner in the ISI-sponsored IJI. The JI and its weekly Takbeer, during the 1988 election campaign ran photos of Benazir and her mother dancing with President Ford. These were even airdropped over the city of Lahore using aircraft from Lahore Aero Club. This was with the full collaboration of the ISI. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the JI Chief, after her victory declared her a decadent western woman and a risk to national security.
In 1989, when the ISI forged an interim Afghan government in Peshawar, the JI recognized it and held rallies in its support, although it did not have a single Afghan city under its control. When in 1998 Mast Gul a militant Kashmiri militant came to Rawalpindi, a rally was jointly organized by JI & ISI which was shown on PTV, where JI openly condemned the Bhutto government and called for Jihad against India.
In the early 1990’s JI & ISI-backed Hizbul Mujahideen began “Jihad” against JKLF, liquidating them in Indian Administered Kashmir. By the mid-90’s, the JI was openly recruiting ‘volunteers’ for the ‘Kashmir Jihad’.
In 1996, the JI began a campaign demanding Benazir Bhutto’s ouster. After a series of unexplained bomb blasts, sectarian killings, and mysterious murder of Murtaza Bhutto, Benazir’s government was dismissed on November 5th 1996.
The JI also welcomed Pervez Musharraf when he toppled a democratic government, however, when he was not found much accommodative, the JI turned against him. When in 1999, Vajpayee came to Lahore, the JI threatened to block Vajpayee’s bus route and held street demonstrations all over Lahore. Nawaz Sharif planned to arrest Qazi Hussain Ahmed ahead of the agitation yet he could not, as Qazi was staying at the home of an official of the military intelligence.
Although the JI and IJT enjoy little popular support yet a highly structured system of committed cadres is JI’s mainstay. Continued indoctrination and deep penetration among various sections of the society characterize its organizational strength. From trade unions to teachers’ associations to women wings to charities, the JI is active. The JI and IJT workers would threaten and blackmail anybody from university administration to Railway Board, to newspaper owners and even the governments of the day.There are countless incidents where university teachers have been thrashed, students terrorized, offices of newspapers ransacked and mass protests organized, to achieve certain objectives. They act unscrupulously when it comes to vested interests. Typically wearing a beard and a shalwar kamiz, appearing decent, advocating good conduct and preaching ethics, but in real life, they would write obnoxious anonymous letters to the parents of a liberal female student ,threaten and pillage the office of a state functionary for taking disciplinary action against an employee belonging to the JI, bring people on the streets to protest against initiation of music classes in the university, forcibly occupy hostel rooms and all this in the name of Islam, yet would accept dollars, riyals and rupees in bulk from the USA, Saudi Arabia and the deep state respectively, again, in the name of Islam. They saved tons of US dollars but also tried to save US enemy No.1 Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the mastermind of 9/11, who was arrested from the residence of a JI leader in Rawalpindi. They would oppose military dictators, feudal lords, seculars and communists if they do not serve their interests, yet would support all of them if they do. They have the license to label something Islamic or un- Islamic and see which label carries greater opportunity to exploit. The expression “Islamic opportunism” aptly describes the conduct of this entity which has significantly contributed to our present day plunge into a bottomless ocean of retrogression and bigotry. Maududi is long gone but his legacy continues to haunt all those who aspire for a liberal and progressive Pakistan.