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OPINION | The identity crisis of the religiously devoted and religiously radicalized

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OPINION: The identity crisis of the religiously devoted and religiously radicalized
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Growing beard or wearing religious signs, should not be mistaken for deep radicalised thoughts…..”

By Shafqat Mir
28 Oct 2020

The word radicalization is often misunderstood and associated with religion.  It may hold some true for certain sections of the society, but at large it is often misunderstood. Growing beard or wearing religious signs, should not be mistaken for deep radicalized thoughts.  Radicalization is the extreme form of expression with no tolerance for others view point or belief. Therefore, appearance and abiding with religious beliefs cannot be quantified by radicalisation.  However, propagating ideas/ beliefs and representing it in a manner, where it becomes counterproductive for the society may be termed as radicalisation.  Why the society changes and does the social engineering play a role in it? These are certain issues which need to be understood, before undertaking any major decision which would affect the society.

   The Kashmir valley is renowned for its Sufi culture, the “Shrine and Mazar”   are an integral part of the social beliefs. However, the Sufism embraced by Kashmiri’s is now slowly transiting to more hardliner sect of Islam.  The heterogeneous community of Kashmir, where often one gets surprised by common surnames, shared by both Hindus as well as Muslims e.g. “Bhat”, “Khatana”, “Shah” and so as. It is a unique feature of the society which reflects the fabric of the society.  However, the nefarious design of dividing the community by our neighbour in 90’s, succeeded in breaking the umbilical cord of this heterogeneous society.  The design was borrowed from the disintegration of erstwhile USSR and Yugoslavia, based on the assumption of religious fighters defeated Soviets in Afghanistan and Capitalism succeeded communism. However, despite all odds the design was defeated but so called seed of “JIHAD” was planted in peace lovers Kashmiri mind-set, with blessings of “Arab World”. The projection of Pakistan as the custodian of Islam and saviour of Kashmir, was also propagated through carefully designed propaganda.

      Over a period of time, this process of armed rebellion against the popular government was perceived as liberation struggle and exploited by all the stakeholders of the society.  The cycle stabilised after a period of two decades but this was too late, as the society was now volatile and looking for stabilisation. The change in religious thoughts became more and more extreme with glorification of militants as ‘Jihad Warriors”. However, not able to succeed in its own design, again intellectual borrowing to replicate the “ARAB SPRING” was attempted to be replicated in the valley.  This involved mass protests, stone pelting and agitation, thus bringing the life to a standstill. But very soon the steam fizzled out due to calibrated positive actions by multiple government agencies. 

     However, the society still continues to be test bed for new strategies and ideas, in order to achieve total brainwash. The unabated opening of new madrasas and visit to gulf countries in addition to cash inflow in the name of donation/charitable trusts, remains unchartered ocean of exploration. This was never perceived as a potent threat and remained under the carpet, over the years.  Recently the manifestation of terrorism has shaken the society that how much more and at what price? The anti-establishment sentiments are now more and more religious in nature. The “Shrines and Mazars” of valley are drying due to lack of followers. History teaches us that these social engineering leads us to disaster and no weapon is more potent than the weapon of religion. It is an old practice to establish own beliefs by destroying the old beliefs.

    Islam and Hinduism both propagated the aspects of devotion through music and practising Sufism is a very common phenomenon for those who believe in Islam. These parallel ideologies not only gained prominence but their co-existence is a very unique and admirable. The traditional visit to graves is still considered very auspicious in Kashmiri society. The popular culture of Qawalis and singing songs is one the most mystical experience of experiencing spiritual healing and faith in the almighty, by all sections of the society. The attempt to destabilise and carryout social engineering by our adversary would never succeed in the valley, provided us carrying the steps towards revival of Sufism.

The teachings of Sufi culture would bring the harmony, where the Kashmiri brothers of different religion would once again sit in the lush green meadows , under the canopy of Maple tree, enjoying the divine view of valley & feasting on traditional Kashmiri “Culinary delicacy and Kahwa” being served in the same plate.

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