November 12, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5518

Jamaat-e-Islami Founder Maulana Maududi's Son: 'He Never Let Us Read His Books'; 'Whenever Religion Was Interpreted In A Political Way, It Killed Humans And It Ruined Humanity'; 'Religion Is For The People, Not The Other Way Around'

November 12, 2013
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bangladesh | Special Dispatch No. 5518

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi, son of Jamaat-e-Islami founder Abul A'la Maududi

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi is the son of Syed Abul A'la Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest mass religious organization of South Asia. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, it also functions as a political party. In India, its role has focused on religious propagation and educational advancement of Muslims, and has stayed outside of politics. Several top Jamaat-e-Islami leaders in Bangladesh have been convicted of war crimes this year by a tribunal set up by the secular government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Syed Abul A'la Maududi opposed the creation of Pakistan out of India in 1947, but once it was created he migrated to Pakistan.

Before 1971, Pakistan was comprised of two entities geographically separated by India: West Pakistan and East Pakistan. However, following a sustained discrimination against Bengali-speaking people in government jobs and state policies by Pakistani leaders, a linguistic movement for liberation ensued, leading to state repression and atrocities such as rape and killings being committed by the Pakistani military in East Pakistan, and the exodus of Bengalis to India, which intervened militarily. In 1971, East Pakistan became independent. During the liberation movement, Jamaat-e-Islami opposed the creation of Bangladesh.

In October 2013, Syed Haider Farooq Maududi visited Bangladesh, where he gave interviews to Bangladeshi newspapers. In the interviews, Syed Haider Farooq Maududi talks about how he and his siblings were brought up by his father, Syed Abul A'la Maududi, who is viewed as South Asia's foremost Islamic scholar, who worked for the advancement of a religious Islamic state. However, as revealed in the interviews, his son indicates that the elder Maududi kept his children away from politics and public activism, and did not allow them to read his books.

The following are excerpts from his two interviews, in which he talks about the destructive role of religion.

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi: "Religion Is For The People And People Are Not For Religion"; "[My] Father Never Let His Children Read His Books Or Allowed Them To Involve In Jamaat Or Any Other Likeminded Politics"

Following are excerpts from an interview with The Daily Star:[1]

"On the creation of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1941, Farooq said his father's political ideology was a result of the era he was born in. 'In the era he [Maududi] was born, there was communism, imperialism, and he had made Islam also a system of ism, a system of life,' he noted.
On religion-based politics, Farooq said, 'Religion is for the people and people are not for religion. Religion makes a human being a good human being.' However, religious sentiment is so deeply rooted in this region that no one is ready to listen to the right thing, he observed.

"About his upbringing, he said his father never let his children read his books or allowed them to involve in Jamaat or any other likeminded politics. 'If he ever saw us in a rally or demonstration, he would later call us and ask what business we had standing there. He totally kept us away from all these.' 'This is a tragedy of all our religious politics, that we use people's children, but keep our own away from it as we all know about its negative impacts,' he added. Asked why his father had kept his children in the dark about his political views, he said, 'The person who is at the helm knows about its inside well.'

"Farooq also stated that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a senior political leader of the Indian independence movement [and independent India's first education minister], had warned his father about creating a religion-based party, saying that religious-minded people would gather under its umbrella, bringing about no good. 'That is exactly what happened. When my father founded the party, religious fundamentalists gathered around him. He (Abul A'la Maududi) used them for political purposes, knowing them how dangerous they could be,' he added. He said his father knew that the Jamaat-e-Islami had deviated from his vision, but he decided not to do anything about it for his advanced age.

"Describing the Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan and Bangladesh as equals, he said Jamaat should not do politics in Bangladesh, whose birth it had opposed. Syed Abul A'la Maududi too had opposed the creation of Pakistan during the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 because, to him, Pakistan was a state for the Muslims, not an Islamic state. 'He (Abul A'la Maududi) said this is not Pakistan. He didn't accept Mr. Jinnah's logic (of a nation-state for the Muslims). But ultimately he had migrated to Pakistan, where he floated the party saying that if you made Pakistan on the basis of Islam, we have all the right to make it an Islamic state,' Farooq said quoting his father. He elaborated on how Jinnah had changed his stance about religion and allowed the practice of religion by the non-Muslims, declaring that the state would not interfere in the matter.

"Asked if the Jamaat's opposition to Pakistan and then his father's doing politics in the very country can be viewed as similar to the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami's role here, he replied, 'Though my father had opposed Pakistan, the circumstances were such that he had to migrate to Pakistan.'

Both Jinnah and Maududi had changed their stances. Jinnah had shifted his ground from creating a Muslim state to a secular one and Maududi from opposing Pakistan to trying to establish religion-based politics. 'As a consequence, we are left in a state of chaos, as you can see now,' said Farooq. Working for a private airlines company [as a pilot], Farooq on several occasions had visited Bangladesh before 1971. He is a vocal critic of the protagonists of 'Jihad' in Kashmir…."

Syed Abul A'la Maududi, founder of Jamaat-e-Islami

"[If The Koran] Was About Regulating Others Then It Would Have Talked About Nine Things: How Khalifa [Caliph] Would Be Appointed, How Khalifa Would Be Removed From Their Power… How Shura Would Be Formed, How Shura Would Be Dissolved, What Kind Of Power Shura Would Hold…"

Following are excerpts from his interview with The Dhaka Tribune:[2]

Question: "Your father Abul A'la Maududi was the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami. Have you or any of your siblings have ever been involved with the party?"

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi: "No we have never been involved with any kind of politics, neither Jamaat nor any other party. The fact is he never allowed us to be involved in any kind of politics. What was in his (Maududi's) mind, only he knows. Not only my father; if you look at any other Jamaat leader, you'll see they are not interested in engaging their sons in Jamaat. Sons of the leaders are involved in many kind of work except for any Jamaat activities. There are many reasons behind it. One is, when you do politics based on religion, then you would be able to fulfill some of your aims; but ultimately you are also making many enemies in the different sects. Specially, when a politician involved in politics of religion dies, he leaves behind enemies for his children."

Question: "What do you think about Jamaat in Bangladesh?"

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi: "Jamaat does not have any right to do politics in Bangladesh, particularly when they opposed the birth of it. They neither have the right, nor should they be allowed to do politics here…. And, I think it is your leaders' fault. Your leaders allowed them to do politics in this country after the independence. If you allow them to continue their politics then you have to accept the fact that their politics is based on religion…. Sheikh Saheb [founding leader of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman] banned Jamaat, isn't it? Then who allowed them to come back again?"

Question: "What do you think about 'Islam in politics,' particularly in this sub-continent?"

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi: "Whenever religion was interpreted in a political way, it killed humans and it ruined humanity. Religion helps a person to become better. Every religion -Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam - they taught individuals to be a better person. Religion also taught us to understand that all of our forefather is one and we should not hate one another. The holy Koran does not talk about politics, it rather talks for the person so that one can become better. Political interpretation of religion always brings destruction in the society.

"Nowhere in the holy Koran does it talk about administrating others. The holy Koran talks about individuals. It is about a person, not about administration or a system. If it was about regulating others then it would have talked about nine things: how Khalifa [caliph] would be appointed, how Khalifa would be removed from their power, what power they should possess, how shura [executive council] would be formed, how shura would be dissolved, what kind of power shura would hold, what would be the relation between Khalifa and shura, when Khalifa would exercise power and when shura would, who would prevail over whom when any disputes arise. But does the Koran talk about these things? No. If almighty Allah can take care of holy Koran then he could have taken care of Khilafat (successors in politics) also. Religion is being interpreted in a wrong way. Religion's aim is not about running a country. Religion is being used here in politics so that politicians can take benefits of religious sentiment. They want people to cast votes out of that sentiment. The only reason for using religion in politics is to exploit people's emotion…."

General A. A. K. Niazi Told The Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Leaders: "We Formed Al-Badr, Al-Shams [Armed Groups To Crush Bengalis Fighting For Independence]; We Provided You Money, Training, Arms"

Question: "We all know Islam is a religion of peace. The role that Jamaat played, particularly taking part with the Pakistan occupational army in the atrocities committed in 1971 [leading to emergence of Bangladesh], how do you look at the relation between Islam and 1971?"

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi: "Jamaat in 1970 took part in the national election using religion and they did not win. After that, they were used by the Fauz (Pakistani occupational army). All these organizations, including al-Badr, al-Shams were formed by the Pakistani occupational army [to crush Bengali-speaking people of East Pakistan fighting for independence].

"In a meeting, which took place in my home, [commander of Pakistani armed forces in East Pakistan who surrendered in 1971] General A. A. K. Niazi told the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami leaders: 'We formed al-Badr, al-Shams. We provided you money, training, arms. How do you claim these are your groups?' The al-Badr and al-Shams local in-charge here [in East Pakistan, now-Bangladesh] was Motiur Rahman Nizami. His superior was Khurram Jah Murad. There is a commission report which said Khurram shot 15 Bengalis, who were forced to line up, only to see whether a three-not-three rifle was working or not. Islamic-minded people worked for the Pakistani army Vare ke Tattu ki tarha (like hired donkeys to carry goods)…."

Question: "Do you follow the activities of Jamaat in Bangladesh and Pakistan? Have you found any similarities in their activities?"

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi: "The two parties in the two countries are just the left and right hands of the same person. There is only one head controlling the both. There is no different heads for controlling them. Doesn't matter whether it's in India, or here (Bangladesh) or there (Pakistan). The Pakistani media publishes news of Bangladesh, including the activities of Jamaat…. Most of the reports talk about how the Islamic-minded people are being convicted in secular Bangladesh. They also claim that people are being punished here because they talked for Islam."

"[Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami] Is Saying That They Choose Islam And Others Who Do Not Follow Their Political Ideology Need To Be Eliminated; There Are People In Your Country Who Are Saying If They Come To Power, They Will Eliminate You; Think About Them"

Question: "In the war crimes tribunal [set up by Bangladesh to try the 1971 war crimes], presently only the Bangladeshi war crimes accused are on trial. Do you think the Pakistani Army and other non-Bangladeshi war crimes accused should also be tried, either in Pakistan, Bangladesh, or in any international court?"

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi: "When the crimes tribunal was formed in Bangladesh and delivered a verdict [convicting top leaders of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami for 1971 war crimes], Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami emir Syed Munawwar Hasan held a press conference. There he asked the Pakistan government to send an ambassador to [current Bangladeshi Prime Minister] Sheikh Hasina Wajed to ask: 'We have an agreement with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that they would not try war criminals. Then how come they are trying the war criminals violating the agreement?' Now, I want to know: what agreement was that? Was there really any agreement which said you cannot try war criminals? You would not ensure punishment for the sake of justice?

"The fact is there was an agreement with an option saying Pakistan can try 195 war criminals handed over to Pakistan after the independence [in 1971 of Bangladesh]. But did that trial ever take place? 'Til the end, General Niazi (who volunteered to face a court-martial regarding atrocities in 1971 in Bangladesh) said: 'I was merely an army officer who was following orders from higher authorities. If the army had to face trial for following orders then there is no need to have armed forces.' Niazi said this in the Hamidur Rahman Commission [Inquiry Report]…. There are people, including Lieutenant-General Sahabzada Yaqub Ali Khan who resigned from Pakistan Army since they did not want to participate in the Bangladesh Liberation war of 1971. They were not punished for disobeying a superior's command….

"You have to think, who is the main power holders using religious sentiment for all these sort of atrocities? Sometimes religious people just get trapped by these power holders. They can't get out. There are also al-Badr, al-Shams members who went to Pakistan after the independence. And what are they doing now in Pakistan? They are begging. So, they were actually also victimized by such politics. The person is not in question here; an institution victimizing people using religion is the biggest threat."

Question: "Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami might also face trial [as an organization] for their involvement in the atrocities committed during 1971. How do you look into this?"

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi: "As far as I understand, Jamaat here is not at all ashamed of what they have done in 1971. Rather, they feel proud of that. They think what they did was right for Islam. They want an Islamic state which is against the thought of a secular state. They are gaining sympathy from religious-minded people here since they are saying the state should be an Islamic country. They already made the word 'secular' a gali (a slang). The biggest crime of Jamaat is that they made the word 'secular' [into] Ladin (against religion). Whereas the meaning of secularism is not that. Secularism is an attitude, an understanding which means Apna choro nahi, dusroko chero nahin (do not lose your origin and do not disturb others). But Jamaat is saying that they choose Islam and others who do not follow their political ideology need to be eliminated…. There are people in your country who are saying if they come to power, they will eliminate you. Think about them. Whoever talks against them is either an Indian agent, or secular or against Islam…."

"If A State Has A Religion Such As Islam And It Says The Formation Of The State, Like Pakistan, Was Done Based On Islam, Then The Taliban Have Every Single Right To Take Over"; "If A Country Wants To Practice Democracy Then It Cannot Have A Religion"

Question: "Do you think a party such as Jamaat-e-Islami has contributed to the rise of radicalism and Islamic militancy in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh?"

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi: "Ultimately, all of their work leads to one thing. They successfully make Islam controversial. None has the right to judge who is more Islamic and who is less. Their work even led to a situation in Pakistan, particularly a movement against Bhutto Saheb, where we heard a slogan 'Islam Murdabad' (die Islam). Such a situation was the result of these religiominded-based politics. Only because Islam is used in politics, we have to hear the 'Islam Murdabad' slogan."

Question: "Then what do you think of the Islamic State and Secular state?"

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi: "If a state has a religion such as Islam and it says the formation of the state like Pakistan was done based on Islam, then the Taliban have every single right to take over. A state should not have any religion. Religion is for the people, not the other way around. Religion makes one better. The state is a roof under which every kind of people having different religions can stay.

"A state… [having] a religion is indeed very alarming. If a country wants to practice democracy then it cannot have a religion. Democracy is always secular. Without being secular you cannot claim you are practicing democracy. 'One man, one word' means everybody is equal; it means despite religious affiliation, all are equal. Who is Muslim, who is not, that is not a question anymore. If a state holds any religion, then it is practicing something else, not democracy."

Question: "But there are arguments from Islamic political parties that Islam is all about politics."

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi: "(In a satire way) If Islam is all about politics then those who are not voting for them [i.e. the religious parties] are Kafir (people who do not believe in Allah)!"


[1] (Bangladesh), October 6, 2013. The original English of the interviews has been mildly edited for clarity and standardization.

[2] (Bangladesh), October 7, 2013.

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