By Mushtaq Sikander, New Age Islam
27 February, 2014
A Talk with PEACE activist and writer Dr Javed Jamil
Islamic Scholar and Director PEACE and Executive Chairman, International Centre for Applied Islamics as well as Editor monthly Islam, Muslims and the World, Dr Javed Jamil in a conversation with Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, about his early life, writing, Economic Fundamentalism, Science, Islam, Communalism and various social issues
Tell us something about yourself?
I studied medicine at the Lucknow Medical College. I am a physician specialist and practiced medicine for thirty years before devoting my complete time and energy to Islamic scholarship and the cause of humanity.
As you stated that you were trained professionally as a Doctor, so when did you switch over to Islamic Scholarship?
I was involved with the Islamic scholarship from the very beginning. In the school I was trained in the Hindi background rather than in Urdu or English that I mastered later on. My letter to the Editor was published in the reputed Indian Express when I was still studying in school. I then started writing articles in various journals like Impact, Radiance etc. Even some of my articles were published outside India in the Arab world.
What were the reasons that compelled you to write?
It was an inner urge and passion that burned bright and compelled me to write. I was not from an Urdu background and was studying Medicine, but due to my multi dimensional attitudes and inclinations I was able to balance both my studies and extra co-curricular writings. I was also a theatre activist, Ghazal singer and captain of my college cricket team. I took a lot of interest in extra co-curricular activities besides my formal studies.
You started writing as a novelist and poet in Urdu or you were initially writing in English on Islam too?
As I stated earlier that I was not trained in Urdu or English, but I self studied and developed some command on them. I was deeply influenced by Islam since my childhood. So I started writing about Islam. The writing in both languages was going on simultaneously. Regarding my Urdu novel, it was inspired by my college events and conceived during my student days. It deals with the story of a college student, the turbulences of his student life that ultimately ends with suicide. As far as my poetry is concerned, my collection of Ghazals, “Rahguzar” has been published by the Urdu Academy of the government of Uttar Pradesh (U.P). I must add here, that I never had any Ustad (teacher) for my poetry.
You are not only a Writer but an Activist too. What were the reasons that inspired your activism?
The Shah Bano Movement became the cause of my activism. I was among the pioneers of the movement in U. P. though being just twenty three years old. The first public demonstration against the Supreme Court verdict was organized in Saharanpur at my call in which more than 50000 Muslim marched against the court intervention in Personal Law. From 1984-1991 I was quite active in community affairs. I was also Chairman of Majlis e Tahaffuz that was formed during the crises in Madrasa Mazahar al Uloom. Then people began to pull me towards electoral politics and I was not ready. The activism was also hampering my medical practice. Hence in early 1990s I was compelled to give up activism and concentrate on my medical practice and writing.
So how did you organize support for Shah Bano case and became a pioneer of a movement that was to rock whole India?
On the very next day of the verdict, I gathered a few concerned people. We decided to bring out a Juloos the bery next Friday. Those days mass demonstrations by Muslims were uncommon, but I along with others organized huge protest demonstration against the Shah Bano case verdict. The Ulema of all sects participated and the demonstrations then spilled to other parts of India.
In the aftermath of Shah Bano case verdict that was then revoked due to the strong protests of Indian Muslims, we witnessed that Rajiv Gandhi gave permission for reopening the Babri Masjid gates in order to appease the Hindu majority. This led to Babri-Masjid Ramjanmabhoomi controversy flare once again, that ultimately led to demolition of the Babri Masjid by Hindutva Fanatics on 6th December, 1992. Do you think that Shah Bano movement was the precursor for demolition of Babri Masjid?
I don’t think these two have any links with each other. Babri Masjid controversy started when idols were placed inside it during one night in 1949. The communal problem was raking India much before Shah Bano movement and that was responsible for the demolition of Babri Masjid not the other way round.
So what is your reading of the Communalism?
Since the privatization started in India, it was supposed to face a reaction. Leftist Forces were strong in 1980s and were resisting the privatization project. In order to break the resistance against privatization, communal riots were orchestrated in various parts of India. The leftist parties too got entangled in the communal problem, leaving the field open for Privatization. At that time media also played an important role in giving hype to the communal problem. Today if a Muslim religious leader delivers some speech or issues a press note it will rarely be carried by the media, but those days they got full coverage.
So it means that communal problem has economic roots?
Yes, certainly it has. The communal riots were orchestrated to divert attention from larger elite economic goals.
Your answer may be partially correct, but the major communal riot in India after partition was the Jabalpur 1961 riots. Then there was no privatisation?
Then it was a partition legacy, but after that communal riots were orchestrated to accomplish larger economic goals.
What about massive Gujarat 2002 communal riots?
Gujarat riots are a blot on Indian Democracy and Secularism, but now the trend is to contain communalism. First the Corporations and those associated with privatization Project got hold of the Hindutva Forces and they started to support them. They used them to orchestrate the communal riots and achieve their economic goals, but now they too are not in favour of communal riots.
So you mean to say that Communalism will show a negative trend with more privatization and Globalization?
One of the concepts that frequently crops in your writings is that of Economic Fundamentalism. What does the term mean?
It is the crux of most of my writings and a central theme too. It means the supremacy of the Economics in the world. The world is governed by Economics and all other matters come under its purview. This Economic Fundamentalism is much more dangerous than it is being considered till now. I am trying to create awareness about the demon of Economic Fundamentalism.
So are you of the opinion that the struggle for power among the countries and the hegemony all are related to the greater control on Economy?
Yes, ultimately all are related to economy. Economic Fundamentalism and hegemony of West over the rest world are the ultimate goals of big powers.
So can Marxism be an answer to this onslaught of hedonist capitalism, what you call as Economic Fundamentalism?
Marxism and Capitalism both are the manifestations of the Economic Fundamentalism. In capitalism few control the economy and in Marxism you have a state control. In both cases the ultimate aim is the same.
But still can’t Marxism as a tool be used to understand the capitalism and be an alternative to it?
No. When it comes to Economic Fundamentalism both are the same. The difference only is that Marxism tries to create a forced equality. But in terms of moral values, family values, negation of religion and tendency to hegemonies the world, both are the same.
So how can Islam offer a remedy and alternative to Economic Fundamentalism?
In Islam there is no Economic Fundamentalism. The ultimate aim of Islam is to inculcate a Holistic concept of Peace. Everything has to change according to the same. Islam doesn’t permit commercialization of human weaknesses like sex, liquor, pornography, prostitution etc. It is this concept “Dangerous Economics” that Islam rules out. In Islam, oral values, integrity of character, godliness and true equality are important with no room for hegemony.
If Islam is the answer to Economic Fundamentalism, why has Islamic World failed to protect itself from this demon?
I have discussed in my new book, how Islam has provided the answer to Economic Fundamentalism. I have depicted with practical examples and statistics that wherever Islam is being followed it is having a good impact and the problem is not as worse as in other Nations that are non Muslim.
But the Economic Fundamentalists have created an elite in Muslim world too, who are implementing their programmes?
Yes, I agree with you. But still on the Societal and individual level the economic fundamentalists haven’t been as successful as they have been in other nations. Still Islam is offering a resistance and being an impediment towards achievement of their nefarious economic goals, which they have been successful to accomplish in other non Muslim nations.
Do you then witness Clash of Civilizations doctrine as factual?
No, there is just clash of interests not civilizations. Initially there was clash of interests among the Christians between Catholic (practicing) Christians and Economic Fundamentalists. Now there is clash of interests between Economic Fundamentalists and Muslims. Hence they are occupying Muslim lands.
So the War on Terrorism is a camouflaged war for furthering Economic Interests?
Since 9/11 attacks we have been discussing terrorism not tyranny. Tyranny has annihilated millions and terrorism is the by product of Tyranny. I condemn all forms of violence, but there needs to be a balance in condemnation. It is alleged that Al Qaeda is responsible for killing of more than six thousand people, but U.S till now has killed more than two million people. Hence I need to condemn U.S two million times for their crimes against humanity.
Can Inter-faith Dialogues help in narrowing the divide among people?
They too have become a victim of Economic fundamentalists. Inter Faith needs to change its face and unite to fight against economic fundamentalism. Westernization and economic fundamentalism are the enemies of Christianity too. All big religions i.e. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam need to form a united alliance against economic fundamentalism
Are the insurgencies that go in the name of Naxalism and Maoism in India, bitter fruits Economic fundamentalism?
Yes, I am myself concerned about their plight but they are using wrong tactics while struggling for a just cause. Instead they should use mass non violent demonstrations as tools for realization of their genuine goals.
So where do you see India in the face of Economic Fundamentalism?
India is a country run by Corporates. All laws are made in the Corporate Houses. It is a Corporatocracy not a democracy.
Then how should we resist these corporate houses and their economic fundamentalism?
A multi pronged strategy is needed for an effective resistance. In the country, 90% of the tax revenue is coming from the common people, despite the fact the wealth is confined in a few hand only. The commercialization of human weaknesses like sex is continuing unabated. The economic disparities are growing wider with each passing day. The need is to work and resist at every level. We need to generate awareness about economic fundamentalism and the host of issues related with it. Along with it mass campaigns need to be organized. Then we need to have legal amendments. Every constitution of every country needs to have a list of “Fundamental Prohibitions” that can tackle the economic fundamentalism.
You are also the Editor of a monthly magazine, Islam, Muslims and the World. What were the reasons that led you to publish this magazine?
It is my way of entering the activist field once again. The idea behind issuing this journal is that it is based on new offensive ideology unlike the one ushering from Inferiority complexes, that we Muslims have. It is an initiative by Muslims to reach out to the global audience. Its concerns are Universal not Muslim centric only.
There are numerous magazines, journals and newspapers published by the Muslims in India. So how is your magazine different from others?
Others aren’t discussing the issues, concerns and problems of Mankind but Muslims only. Islam is not for Muslims only it is for the whole mankind. Hence every problem in any part of the world is the problem of Muslims and it needs to be addressed and tackled by them. We want to remove the Muslim centric complex among Muslim, and present them as Universalists.
Don’t you think that Muslim Ulema are the impediment as far as Universalism of Islam is concerned? They have retrograded Islam and made it synonymous with sectarianism?
The Muslim Ulema are unaware of the present. They don’t know the challenges of the present world and the issues related with it. They only react when some problem crops up.
So it means that Ulema are reactionary?
Not all Ulema, but most of them are, as they don’t know what the world and Muslims around them need. They are still occupied with the medieval mindset as formed and reinforced by their madrasa education.
You have recently published the document Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination and Roadmap. So what does your Muslim vision of Secular India comprise?
My vision is for better, tolerant, plural and peaceful India. My other books are meant for the whole world but this document is particularly meant for India. My vision is for a comprehensive and holistic education of Muslims. The Muslims need to empower themselves educationally, ideologically, and above all, economically; only then they can affect the course of things. They must develop an opinion and have a say on every issue. Every matter facing the mankind must be dealt by them.
But don’t you think the tag of terrorism against Muslim youth is the biggest impediments and obstacles for Muslims of India to play a bigger role in nation and peace building?
The opposite can also be true. Muslims are the most backward and poor people of India. Though there are certain structural biases and prejudices against them, they themselves have given up the struggle that could lead to their betterment and progress. Muslims have media like Peace TV and ETV Urdu and scores of journals and newspapers in print, but it is a sign of their apathy that Muslims never discuss national Issues, confronting the whole country. The minority syndrome is so deeply embedded among Muslims that they can’t think beyond smaller community issues confronting them. The need of the hour is to develop media that can be an alternative to the mainstream media and discuss national issues. Till then the stereotyping by media will continue and Muslims will suffer.
I agree with your opinion, but Muslim Media howsoever small or flawed in its approach, it is suffering from the apathy of Muslims, especially the Muslim middle class. They are too individualistic and not concerned with issues facing Muslims. They don’t subscribe to the Muslim journals or magazines that are essential for their survival. What do you have to say about this apathy?
If we change our approach and start talking, it will slowly start impacting their lives too. The middle class would then come forward and help in development of a vibrant Muslim media.
You have also written about Science and Islam. Do you see them in confrontation or conciliation with each other?
The true science and Islam have no reasons to be in confrontation with each other. Islam is the truth, and sciences too find and explain the truth through observations and experiments. But the current sciences have two faces: Practical sciences, which are very successful and philosophical sciences, which are nothing but a farce created under the patronage of forces of economics. The theories like those related to the creation and governance of the universe and mankind have been purposely designed to keep God and godliness out of the world. All scientific institutions are funded directly or indirectly by the corporate; they can’t allow theories than can give a boost to religion. So, developing theories of Physics and origin that do not need any external hand or design are the ultimate aim of the atheistic world of science today. This situation cannot change unless the forces that sustain this approach are not uprooted. When atheism and atheistic secularism rule the world with total domination of all international institutions, scientific philosophies cannot be expected to support the concept of God. Even health organizations like WHO cannot come up with a call for campaign against promiscuity, prostitution, homosexuality, alcohol and gambling despite the fact that they have killed more than 1 billion humans in last 25 years.
Do you believe that all the theories of Science are present within Quran, like Big Bang Theory?
Big Bang theory is a false theory. Unfortunately some Islamic scholars have described it as consistent with Quran because they do not know the ultimate implications of the Big Bang. Moreover, Big Bang is not a theory of creation. It is theory of rearrangement of already existing mass-energy. My coming work, “Quran’s Paradigm of Theoretical Physics” tries to develop a new theory, called “Universal Theory of Relativity”.
You are also director PEACE and executive Chairman, International Centre for Applied Islamics. What are their activities?
I have been working at the National and Global level. I believe in the comprehensive empowerment of Muslims. I have envisaged establishment of Applied Islamics University. Though the dream is still in paper only, but I want to see it in practical terms too. Many people are supporting me morally but none is coming forward for supporting the project materially. All my publications have the same goal of realization of dream project of establishing Applied Islamics University. I also wish that the subject of Applied Islamics be included in madrasa curriculum too.
But the Ulema are too rigid for any inclusion in their curriculum of Dars e Nizamiya?
The Ulema need to play the biggest role for empowerment of Muslims. It is our duty to make them understand the real issues and problems confronting the Muslims. If they understand the real challenges and demands then they will leave behind narrow sectarian goals and have larger aims. The snake of Economic Fundamentalism needs to be recognized and killed by our joint efforts.
Any message for humanity?
The humanity must understand their ultimate goal: Peace. Peace of this life and peace in Hereafter. The humanity must learn to differentiate between friend and foe. Their biggest enemy is the devil of economic fundamentalism which has made the mankind slave of their desires. Once they uproot it, the true peace will prevail.
Dr Javed Jamil can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir and can be reached at email@example.com
Opposing the Supreme Court judgement in the Shah Bano case was probably a mistake. It exacerbated anti-Muslim feelings and was fully exploited by Hindutva forces. We need to work towards more enlightened personal laws, better integration with the larger community, lesser emphasis on separate identity, and consistent attempts to ameliorate hostility and paranoia.