The Long March to Dhaka: The Rise of Hathazari and 13 points to consider

This coming Saturday Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi, an elder respected Islamic scholar, rector of the Hathazari Institution (Chittagong), keeper of the Madani-Deobandi learning tradition, will march to Dhaka with gazillions of fellow protesters. I saw 5 million written somewhere, but to apply the Bangladesh number function, perhaps 200 000 might be a suitably boring speculation.  Efforts are being made by organisers to train  protesters to resist any provocations from political parties  and police. If attacked they are to respond by calling on the names of Allah. Last Friday's demonstrative jumma on the streets of Dhaka, from a different end of the Islamic Establishment could be thought of as a dress rehearsal.

Glorified is My Lord, The Magnificent: An image of last Friday's congregational prayer on the streets of Dhaka. Islami Andolon Bangladesh gathered in the capital to protest corruption and nepotism as well as demand restoration of the caretaker government system for political transition and new legal protections against religious defamation
From the looks of things (thursday night) the government is using pet qaumi leaders, coercion of transport operators and its political supporters to prevent protesters arriving in Dhaka. The guardians of the liberation war narrative ( Sector Commanders and Nirmul Committee) will be striking (what exactly?) from after jumma and the language of jamaati infiltration has been used from the highest level to create suspicions and leave the door open to ruthless suppression.

Meanwhile tweeters in London, as if they are trying to demonstrate the bangladesh governments point, and in true isoc dokhol reterritorialisation mode, continue to paint jamati and misunderstood bhashanian stripes over the long march with twee imagery illustrated below, drawing on the cultural resources of blitz spirit (lie) and #stopkony2012 propaganda with absolutely no irony.

These troubled and challenging times remain an opportunity for jamat to transform, not return to form.

Anyway, back to where this is coming from.

Boro Who?

 Alternatively known as Boro Huzur (big respected Islamic teacher) this is the leader who basically stopped Dr Imran H Sarkar of Shahbag from entering Chittagong last month and making a mess.

With the people of Dhaka generally sick and tired of Shahbag and educated youth organising things like pro-lungi walks against the outrageously snobby folks of the Baridhara Society, Bangladesh observers have been scratching their heads over the rise of this Boro Hujur, who has caused the Awami League to offer sacrificial bloggers in an attempt to buy him off. This betrayal of youngish bloggers has struck realism into some previously deluded people and apparently changed the political chemistry.

Where did that come from?

People are scratching their heads (and arses) because they do not recognise the political formation and have been dwelling in their own bubbles too long. Its like a new mathematical function that performs nebulous magic, only we don't really know how it works. Deoband doesn't go for political power, it makes assertions on occasion, often fruity, it doesn't do the NGO dance, nor does it seek approval from the seculib establishment. Its primarily interested in Islamic education as it sees it. A second-hand account goes so far as to say that political publications are banned from the campus.

But now, functionally it appears like a previous generation of religious revival is saving the arse of its errant young cousin islamists, to understand this we need to drop the year zero 1971ism and reconnect with the History of Muslim Education in occupied India.

Deoband and Alighar were established around the same time, after the failure of the Independence war of 1857 to kick the British invaders out of India. Alighar set a modernist track and went for institutional funding, while Deoband's epistemic politics was to develop the traditional system, stay with the people and reject funds from corrupt princes and corporates.  They set up in East Bengal soon after with variable impact and resilience of mission. Here's my cartoon of the two approaches.

Dhaka University was the Aligharian's Bengal Muslim project set up in 1921 as compensation to Bengal Muslims (upper-middle class ones) after the British bowed to Swadeshi terrorism objecting to their partition of Bengal. Hathazari Madrassa was established in 1896.  Both are older traditions than Bangladesh itself. Dhaka University nurtured, amongst others, Muslim Leaguers, Awami Muslim Leaguers, Awami Leaguers and now by popular perception Nutters & Nasthiks .

Its important to note that Deoband's Shah Ahmad Madani proposed Composite Nationalism in opposition to the League's two-nation theory and was well respected by the Indian Congress. The Madanite tradition is political is a non partisan sense, I see them as offering a nuanced, unpretentious non-jamaat, Islamic and human position on Bangladesh today as evidenced in this video.

Bangladesh Government getting a good bollocking

Awami Leaguers supporters are generally religious people, but the current environment makes it hard for them to reconcile their faith with what their party is doing. Shooting Jamati bogeymen on sight is ok, they have a back story for that which demonises them as rapists, murderers and tendon cutters, but the charges of atheist promotion, as well as the scholar killings and persecution provoked the usually quiet and non-attention seeking religious establishment to assert itself.

The government should have thought about the consequences when firing and killing religious worshippers across the country on 22nd February. Most pitiful at the time was the corporate, yellow and self-serving media's spinning of the story of the day being about journalists, not the members of the public being brutalised.

The most amusing indignation was a friend on facebook, who has never even returned a salam to me expressing rage at protesters setting fire to prayer rugs in mosques. I hope he is still my friend. Most ironic was that 22nd February is a day after 21st February, 'International Mother Language Day' one of the important dates in the cultural nationalist calender.

Boro Hujur's 13 demands.

Talukdar Saheb, a forthright and articulate Islamic-forces blogger in Bangladesh, translated Boro Hujur's 13 points as raised with an assembly of Islamic scholars early last month. They are translated from a Naya Diganta account. I found them much food for thought, and at times problematic, yet these are legitimate demands from a legitimate theological quarter that need to be met with a public dialogue and understanding, not sharpened knives. An ecological (not confrontational) politics of Bangladeshness isn't threatened by them and starts with salam.

I suspect these demands will be mischievously portrayed to titillate anti-terror taste buds, but this is real Bangladesh, not an NGO fantasy representation of smiling subaltern suckers.

1)  Reinstatement of ‘Absolute trust and faith in Allah’ in the constitution of Bangladesh and abolishment of all laws which are in conflict with the values of the Quran and Sunnah.

This is a minimal Government do-no-harm commitment that the pre-war Awami League would have no problem with. But its just words at the end of the day, in elite documentation. If only we lived in the names and with the names of Allah, rather than exploiting them as badges and enchantments.

2)  Enactment of (anti-defamation) law at the parliament keeping death penalty as the highest form of punishment to prevent defamation of Allah, Muhammad (S.A.W) and Islam, and prevent spreading hate against Muslims (highest penalty prevalent for defamation is 2 years).

This is a good discussion point, might also add something about making sh!t up about people defaming islam like the false-accusation of adultery. Its a debate that needs to be opened up to include the non-secular majority and recognise how rules are so easily exploited by gutter politics. I dont think that a death penalty is congruous with the higher objectives of the Sharia ( protection of faith, life, intellect, dignity, property).  Also a libel law is needed to restrain wild talk and media liararchy.

3) Immediate end to the negative propaganda by all atheist bloggers in a leading role in the so called Shahbag movement who have defamed Allah, Mohammad (S.A.W), and Islam and their exemplary punishment.

Relatively specific, doesnt appear to typecast all bloggers or shahbaggers, nor call for their deaths. I would also add the get-out-clause for apology and the seeking forgiveness. Many Shahbaggers and Awami Leagers have cornered themselves and are looking for an exit strategy.

4) End to all alien cultural practices like immodesty, lewdness, misconduct, culture of free mixing of the sexes, candle lighting in the name of personal freedom and free speech.

I love this too much to adequately put into words. its like getting a bollocking from a grandfather. Vintage Deoband and totally feeling the naffness of candle4executions.

5) Abolishment of the anti-Islamic inheritance law and the ungodly education policy. Making Islamic education compulsory in all levels from primary to higher secondary.

Contemporary policies and laws from which their voice has been excluded. Compulsory education stuff is good, esp with a focus on akhlaq. They are not the first to point this our nor will they be the last or only islamic perspective on inheritance and soulful education.

6) Declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims by the government and put a stop to their negative and conspirational activities.

Fossil from previous govt movement. Better framed as Ahmedis as citizens with right to life et al, even if they dont let the rest of us into their prayer halls. Islam has the right to define what it isn't.

7) Stop instating more statues in the name of sculpture at road intersections and educational institutions to save Dhaka the city of mosques, from becoming the city of statues.

This is about political aesthetics, a challenge to the artistic community and the soviet looking statues everywhere.

8) Remove all the hassles and obstructions at Baitul Mokarram and all mosques in Bangladesh which prevent Musallis from offering prayer. Also stop creating obstruction for people to attend religious sermons and other religious gatherings.

Right to assemble, worship and learn. no brainer, but lots of social bias these days.

9) Stop the spread of Islamophobia among the youth through depiction of negative characters on TV plays & movies in religious attire and painting negative stereotypes of the beard, cap and Islamic practices on various media.

I agree with this sentiment. Its important to raise the point otherwise seculibs and trash culture will carry on relentless and unresisted.

10)Stop anti-Islamic activities at Chittagong propagated by several NGO’s and Christian missionaries under guise of religious conversion.

local issue. clearly he's got problems with his local developmenshire

11) End to the massacre, indiscriminate firing and attacks on the prophet loving Muslim scholars, madrassah students and the general public.

On 22nd february they ate bullets. hatefull bullets meant for dehumanised jamatis. This we must agree with.

12)End to all threats against Islamic scholars, madrassah students and Imams and Muslim clerics of mosques throughout the country.

Ulama getting shot shocked us all the other day. This is a typical union-type demand. The consequences of razakarology on the whole society have been terrible. systematic evidence gathering should be encouraged to make this explicit to stupid people.

13)Immediate and unconditional release of all detained Islamic scholars, madrassah students and members of the general public and withdrawal of all false cases filed against them. Compensation to families of all injured and deceased and exemplary punishment to all those responsible.

same as 12. I think Shayk Nouri Hamidi has been released now. who knows who else they have locked up. Deobandis, who should know all about fidelity of reporting events given their hadith expertise, haven't been good record keepers/makers in recent weeks.


Talukder Shaheb said...

Excellente! At this rate Shahbagis will have to be relegated to the museums to be designated as relics of history!

Saad said...

Mr. Fug, I cannot believe they had to put in the Ahmediya takfir clause into their list of demands.

All of the other demands are eminently reasonable, like stopping government torture, and Islamophobic activities.

But why did they spoil it by adding a clause against a religious minority?

And how ridiculous is it to ask a secular government to do takfir?

They've spoiled the movement somewhat by including that clause.

Ibn Mahmood said...

Well done fugstar!! A very informative and refreshing article. The point made about Jamaat is also a valid one. Keep up the good work