In a first-of-a-kind initiative aimed at countering radicalisation in Jammu & Kashmir, nearly 550 religious leaders, 200 women and 200 youths from Kashmir came together to reject the “flawed” interpretation of jihad as Islam’s ‘advocacy’ of killing innocent people and put forth the “correct” counter-narrative focused on ‘peaceful co-existence’.
The event coincided with Pakistan Day that commemorates the adoption of Lahore Resolution on this day in 1940 and which was traditionally observed in Kashmir too. The confluence of religious scholars from different parts of Kashmir was organised as part of a civil society initiative by J&K Nationalist People’s Front, with which Art of Living Foundation founded by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is associated. Of course, with J&K LG Manoj Sinha joining the event as chief guest, the initiative has the backing of the UT government as well. A similar event was organised in Jammu earlier this year.
As per the correct interpretation of Quranic verses, cleric Mufti Mohammad Aslam said on the sidelines of Srinagar conference, Islam does not teach its followers to take lives of fellow humans or bring them to harm but to protect and peacefully co-exist with one and all, irrespective of their religion. He said ‘jihad’ really means fight with one’s own ‘nafsaani khwahish’ (deadly sin).
Sinha, in his keynote address, said that some Islamic scholars who had either not studied religious texts in detail or were deliberately focusing on only a part of the teachings and wrongly interpreting them, “were doing great harm to not only Kashmir and India but to the entire world”. He said similar efforts to involve Islamic scholars in putting out correct interpretations of Islamic texts were being take up across the world to counter radicalisation.
“Islam teaches one to practice peace, harmony and sensitivity. It is this correct interpretation of Islam that all the Muftis and moulvis gathered here today shall propagate among the people through their Friday sermons from mosques in J&K. A similar message shall go out to those studying at madarsas here, as well as to family units, especially the mothers, to educate their children so that they do not get swayed by ‘false’ narratives being peddled to radicalise them,” Mufti Mohammad Nasiruddin said.
Sheikh Muzaffar of J&K Nationalist Peoples’ Front said that women were roped in as they are the first institution of learning for a child. Similarly, the attempt shall be to modernise madarasa education not necessarily through a government intervention but by involving the clerics teaching there to voluntarily propagate the counter-narrative. Muzaffar added that some parties, for the sake of vote-bank politics, had played along and encouraged clerics to peddle wrong interpretations of Islam.