Jamaat e Islami Hind: 75 years of journey

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Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s newly-elected Ameer Syed Sadatullah Hussaini (3rd from left) addressing the press conference in New Delhi on April 8, 2019.

By Moin Qazi

The Partition of India brought a new configuration of Muslim leadership in its spate. After Partition, Jamate Islami was reorganized and moved to Pakistan as Jamaat-i-Islami Pakistan. The party’s remaining cadre in India formed the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, a separate organization that shares JI’s ideological aspirations. The intellectual inspiration primarily came from Syed Abul Ala Maududi, an ideologue and a staunch proponent of political Islam.

With the division of original India, several towering personalities who held unbridled leadership and authority in undivided India moved to Pakistan. With them, there was an influx of Muslims from Indian provinces for what looked like better pastures in the new nation. However, a considerable population continued to remain c India.

Several national organizations earlier guided Muslims of entire undivided India at the time of Partition. The Partition divided Muslims. A smaller section moved to Pakistan, but a large and influential area remained tethered to their original homeland, that is, India. One organization, Jamate –Islami – Hind, also got partitioned in the process. It splintered away from the original IIH and adopted leadership responsibilities for Muslims who remained in India The Indian wing of Jamaat-e-Islami (JIH) became the foremost organization for Indian Muslims JIH believed in giving confidence to Indian Muslims. It did not compromise the philosophy of undivided JI. It preferred to focus on new political situations and concentrated on formulating policies that made Muslims adapt to the unique circumstances following the Partition.

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s history demonstrates that it is a highly disciplined organization where monopolization of leadership at all levels is strongly discouraged, and ethical conduct is encouraged. This policy gives the cadre a clear perception of the internal cadre of the robust nature of the Jamaat’s Discipline. It infuses confidence in them that leadership is based on meritocracy and has little to do with lobbying.

JIH was banned twice in Independent India, and its top leaders were jailed. But its cadre remained firmly moored to its mission despite the new development that created several problems and uprooted many families. Due to their efforts, JIH is a nationwide organization with a strong presence in South India. Its frontal organizations are active at the mohalla levels.

The public perception of JIH, which had suffered a temporary jolt, has changed, and .. During the covid relief work, the Jamaat collaborated with social groups across all spectrums to achieve maximum impact. Although it believes in establishing a society based on Islamic values, it shares platforms with secular and left-leaning people for evolving solutions to social problems.

JIH is highly active in every field – from media to human rights and rehabilitating displaced populations. The secular character can be perceived because JIH has spread its network among civil society groups of many hues and stripes. The Jamaat has always coordinated with other like-minded Mulsim organizations under a single umbrella to achieve maximum results in social work. It is not a simple matter that hundreds of frontal organizations are affiliated with the Jamaat and are working in close collaboration with it in perfect coordination. JIH works very professionally. It has a very robust Human Resources Department, generating talented human potential and later getting absorbed in the corporate sector, where they hold important positions. This is something that other organizations may learn from JIH.

Indian Muslims contributed to the country’s freedom struggle with the same sincerity as any other community. Whenever the country has gone through tough times, Muslims have strived to preserve the unity and sovereignty of the nation.

It is unfair to argue that Muslims have a caste system. Several Muslims who were insulated from the influence of mainstream Muslim organizations adopted local customs, which later became a norm. But the JIH is now holding regular camps and collaborating with several other organizations to cleanse the Muslim mindset of these contaminated seepages. Jamaat Islami has used various tools in its policy toolbox to evolve strategies to end sectarianism. One of the positive objectives of the Jamaat is that it infuses the true spirit of Quranic teachings and precepts, which has now spread rapidly through the rank and file of the community.

There has been too much discussion on the religious aspects of the policy of the Jamaat. But closer scrutiny would show that the Jamaat indeed focuses on simultaneously building the ethical character of Muslims along the lines of the Qur’an. The Jamaat also supports and encourages intellectual freedom and new research that can infuse fresh vigour into the organization.

The best example of Jamat’s social contribution is the remarkable and sacrificial work done by its vast cadre of volunteers during the outbreak of covid. There have been cases of community hospitals managed by Jamat’s medical cadre. The provision of food grains and cooked food at rehabilitation camps were lauded even by government officials at the local and official levels.

The Jamaat has also repeatedly emphasized that it has risen above the repetitive arguments by its leaders where they used the logic based on the old reasoning that Indian Muslims had a choice to go to Pakistan. Still, they stayed back because of their loyalty to India. In many cases, Muslims had no choice because they were territorially so integrated and well-settled in several parts of the country that the logistical problem made it impossible for them to leave India.

On the positive side, we must now showcase the significant contribution of many learned Muslims who have imparted efficiency in many spheres. JIH has come a long way from the misperceptions about it and is now widely considered a custodian of secular Muslim culture. The perception of the intellectuals has also changed because Muslims’ social work has been intensively visible even by the secular media. This is helping public acceptability for the organization, and the Jamaat is on its way to becoming a critical mainstream organization.

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