The question that arises is that what does all this history of Islam got anything to do with an organization of a fashion show in Kashmir valley?By Javaid Beigh
Kashmiris continue to push Kashmir into abyss of backwardness, conservatism, radicalism, intolerance and orthodoxy, which is further sinking Kashmiri Muslim society into a dark well of narrow mindedness and making Kashmir valley a butt of joke not just in the world but also in Muslim Ummah. The reaction of conservative elements in Kashmir valley to a fashion show recently held in Srinagar valley, amply showcased Kashmiri Muslim society as one of the most inward and regressive Muslim societies that seems to be trapped in a bygone era of puritan Islam, refusing to move ahead with times.
More than the act of opposing the organisation of fashion show in Srinagar by a group of conservative Kashmiri Muslim women as a supposed affront to “Muslim culture” and Islam, it is the justification given by young Kashmiri Muslim women covered in Iranian Abaya that caught the attention of Muslim English language media around the world. While the fight between traditional and modernists is not something that is a hallmark of Kashmir only but the sheer ridiculous, factually incorrect and bogus arguments given by protesting Kashmiri Muslim women against the fashion show exposed the intellectual bankruptcy and extremely radicalized worldview of Kashmiri Muslim society at international level. The protesting Kashmiri Muslim women were quoted as saying that such fashion shows are against “Muslim culture” and will promote immorality and prostitution in Kashmir valley. Giving example of medieval Spain, they asserted that medieval Spain, once a Muslim majority state promoted such immoral activities and then slaughtered Muslims. This ridiculous and factually incorrect example not only insulted the glorious Muslim rule in Spanish Iberian peninsula but also showcased the propaganda level low intellect of religiously radicalized minds of young Muslim men and women of Kashmir valley, who are now so much brainwashed by half baked propaganda style interpretation of Islam and Muslim culture by a network of clergy driven education system that once a culturally secular and vibrant Kashmiri society is rapidly collapsing under the weight of religious orthodoxy, puritanism and radicalism.
Coming first to medieval Spain’s Muslim dynasties. Islam was a prominent and widespread faith on the Iberian Peninsula beginning with Umayyad conquest of Hispania (medieval Spain). Most Muslim dynasties of Spain were of Moroccan “Moorish” origin that ruled a large area of Iberian Peninsula in present day Spain and Portugal, which they called “Al-Andalus”.
The Al-Andalus was a beacon of learning and one of the leading cultural and economic centers throughout the Mediterranean Sea across both Europe and Islamic world. The golden period of Islamic Empires that was based on advancement in science, astronomy, mathematics emanated from educational centers of Al-Andalus. “Älhambra” palace complex remains the most iconic architectural and cultural symbol of Spain’s Muslim rule.
The rule of Muslim empires of “Al-Andalus” finally came to an end after repeated attacks from Christian kingdoms from North in a systematic campaign called “Reconquista”, wherein Christian kingdoms from Europe gathered to drive Islamic rule away from European continent.
The question that arises is that what does all this history of Islam has got anything to do with an organization of a fashion show in Kashmir valley? The bizarre and factually incorrect history given by Kashmiri Muslim protestors of Spain’s Muslim kingdoms with an aim to supposedly preserve “Muslim culture” of Kashmir ended up insulting rich and glorious culture and history of Islam and Muslim communities. The Moorish Arab kings of Al-Andalus neither conducted “fashion shows” in their kingdoms not did they promote prostitution or any other immoral activity. And they did not butcher their own Muslim citizens. The fall of “Al-Andalus” was brought down not by so called “flesh trade” but by attacks from Christian kingdoms from Europe, which weakened Muslim rule over Iberian Peninsula.
The greater question however remains about the hypocrisy of Kashmiri Muslim society, which tries to act more Muslim than even Arabs. At a time, when most of the Muslim world including Saudi Arabia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Indonesia, Central Asia and even Pakistan and Bangladesh are confronting religious radical elements in their respective countries by asserting pride in their pre-Islamic culture – whether it is Hindu dances in Indonesia’s Muslim majority Java Island or Hindu-Sikh spring festival of “Vasant” / “Basant” in Pakistani Punjab or pre-Islamic Zoroastrian Nawruz festival in Islamic republic of Iran and Central Asia, Muslim societies are trying to come out of the two decade old cultural destruction caused by the radical and puritan middle eastern version of Islam. Even the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is unleashing many pathbreaking social and cultural reforms that allows greater freedom to women and opening of cinema halls etc., the Kashmir valley however curiously continues its sinking down in the swamp of inwardness and conservatism.
Kashmiri Muslims once upon a time used to be one of the most forward-looking Muslim societies in South Asia, where dance, music, poetry, painting etc. defined the artistic and intellectual image of a Kashmiri Muslim in wider Muslim world from Tajikistan to Tibet. Yet, today, we see the damage that five decades of the penetration of puritan theologies of Islam from North India Muslim seminaries and three decades of invasion of puritan religious influences from middle eastern countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran have done on Kashmiri Muslim society. The modern, secular and progressive Kashmiri Muslim have either left Kashmir valley and live in different metropolitan cities of India or have migrated abroad to Europe, Australia and North America. The Kashmir valley is left only with the vast majority of religiously radicalized and cultural and socially inward-looking young Muslims with an orthodox, intolerant and warped image of Islam, Muslim culture and history of Islam. The younger generation of Kashmiri Muslim men and women have unfortunately not been exposed to Kashmir’s rich, varied, secular and dynamic cultural history and have instead been raised on propaganda driven religiously orthodox education, which has shrunk the understanding and worldview of an average young Kashmiri Muslim man and woman to a narrow understanding of the civilization and history of Islam, the consequences of which will be devastating and damaging for future generations of Kashmiri Muslims.