Tuesday, 6 December 2016

To whom to Turn?

Interviewing Sheikh-al-Alam(R.A) on Contemporary Politics!

Let us imagine Sheikh-al-Alam visiting Kashmir and people thronging to him for few words in these difficult times.
      First of all I am skeptical of the possibility that any political or religious organization will easily allow a visit by Sheikh-al-Alam to Kashmir, the way Christ is not welcome by clergy in Dostovesky’s The Brothers Karamazarov. We have almost wiped out Reshis and surely wiped Reshi values thanks to “sab ka saath for vikaas” or what is called development hoax. There are religious organizations sans that true piety which welcomes the other including religious other, at least on certain plane. There are political parties that don’t know even ABC of the science and art or “religion” of politics as understood by Greek, Muslim and other Masters across traditions. Hosting Sheikh-al-Alam would be an embarrassment except for majzoobs and those we see on roads oblivious of the world of sun and shade. Reshsis as in-charges of shrines would be, generally speaking, the most embarrassed group if the Sheikh would visit Kashmir. There are hardly any Reshis in fact who would be there to receive him. Beggars we find around shrines are not Reshis. The Sheikh would be a nuisance on marriage parties, in road projects, in offices of DDCs, in streets full of sound and fury signifying little and hatred against the projected other. Both ann and vann are fast disappearing.
      Now anyone who has some  idea of who is Sheik-al-Alam, will not  dare to appear before him, not to speak of asking question or an explanation. Since interview is impossible but we keenly desire to have an Alamdar today, a modern Alamdar – we have been desperately imagining or projecting some as Alamdars or quasi-alamdars or his vicegerents in political sphere – but all of us can agree – and I am sure regarding them as well who have been thus sanctified in public imagination too will agree – that our Saviour is not recognizable in them, we may fulfill the desire by an imaginative attempt of conducting an interview with him to comment upon contemporary politics. But one must be granted license to err in writing the dialogues and begin with an apology for misrepresenting the saint and perhaps even those in Kashmiri politics whom one knows – only partly knows – by words and deeds but not in their hearts. Being conscious of such adages as “Adam basten menz chi sir, raddi khaliyiq chi maqbooli haq, judge not” and convinced that God does work in history and earthly powers are ultimately remote controlled in certain sense – God works through them – one is tempted to avoid  making bland generalizations and pass judgments. However some study of the Alamdar’s poetry allows one to formulate some points.
      I give a question to Sheikh Saheb, one to Geelani Saheb, one to mainstream leadership, a stone pelter and common Kashmiri who identifies partly with all of them and none of them.

#Sheikh Abdullah: 
“I converted Muslim conference to National Conference to be more inclusive of heterogenity in the State. I didn’t believe in two nation theory and considered theocratic State against secular Sufi ethos. I fought against feudal lords who were posing as gods. I tried to win freedom as far as possible, failed in my grand project. I didn’t die a happy man who had no regrets. I too am an erring human. My people feel I have left people on a leaky boat in a storm. Is there a way out for them?
Sheikh-al-Alam:
I am not interested in necessarily siding with either Pakistan or India, both products of an ideology called nationalism that is more problematic in itself to begin with and someday people will laugh over it and those who know the expanse of their souls refuse to recognize any LoCs anywhere, least of all those that are drawn on mistrust or hatred of the other. God doesn’t see the world in terms of Muslims and Non-Muslims. God has no political party or chosen leader. My focus is how much one has controlled the self that seeks its empire. I am not asking if you are a Muslim or Hindu (Mo zan Hound ti Musalman) defined in certain limiting exoteric and political terms as God is not worried about it but if one is an Imago Dei. God judges us – the Self judges the soul – by seeing how truly one behaved towards  the demands of our own heart. The rest is only accidental or incidental for God. People have been divided  in their estimate of you but God’s estimate is based on what your own deepest self proclaims. History might judge you differently in different ages, even different decades but you judge yourself. Conscience judges us so clearly after death. I, as a slave of God and so-called 7th Reshi, am not commanded to judge anyone. God judges, history judges. How history has judged you or will judge you is for history and your legacy. I had been too busy watching my own self, my own faults, fearing death’s judgment to afford fault finding or psychoanalysis of my people. I resolutely tried not to seek any personal empire in the world and I hope that I have nothing to hide from my people. I voiced my own faults though people in their generosity attribute them to themselves and not to me. Before the Absolute, all is disequilibrium. Our very existence is a sort of transgression. I gave everything to people, to God’s community and in turn public reveres my memory till date. True freedom is freedom from all labels, all exclusive identities, all attachments and of course attachment to the empire of self/ego. It means to be, in Molvi Rumi’s sense, trackless, pathless.
      Your people, feeling much better after you helped them fight oppressors in feudalist camp, are much mature today than when you left them. They don’t need to be told about many choices now; they have seen who is who and what is what. Their souls have been left wandering by those who should have educated them to find themselves, to be more aware of what is going on in the world, especially in relation to the tumult and chaos in their souls. God isn’t defeated in His purpose. His Mercy reaches even in the deepest darkness of hell to cool it one day. Kashmir has been passing through purgatory of a sort. God sees all things although he might seem to wait. He judges and takes account, in His own wisdom of every betrayal if it indeed qualifies as one. All is ultimately a grand play and we are asked only to act our parts well leaving worrying out of grand design of the play to Him.

#Mainstream politicians:
We have heard that spiritual authorities have given Kashmir to India and that is why we are not part of the Hurriyat camp and wish to serve people in our own way. Our worry is about uncertainty and violence that erupts anytime.
Shaikh-al-Alam: First point, those who know secrets of spiritual sultani don’t divulge them publicly in the sense people can have an axe to grind, taking leave of hard thinking. Spiritually elevated minds also think and decide what appears to be the best course of action. And there can be different opinions. In spiritual empire there are no chosen nations states. There are long term plans for which some political choices might be called forth and proceedings of meetings in the higher world that have a bearing on this world are not published for the profane audience. Some flashes overheard or partly exposed don’t make a clearly formulated ideological position for which one could question or even seek an explanation or perhaps even a clarification from such persons supposed to hold spiritual authority.  All that is aimed by spiritual authorities is better governance within the limits that are imposed within the very order of things. Pro-Pakistan saints or Pro-Azadi spiritual personalities are not unknown either to Kashmiris. Violence that would follow upon certain change in dispensation is also to be taken into account, gains and losses of collective good and the fact that scandals must come or do come as we approach further into future in the last age or Kalyuga is also there that has to be factored in final calculus for judging or understanding  the world.
      Violence in one’s own soul needs to be controlled and then one better knows the answer. Violence with which one pursues political ambitions trumpeting the rights of the fellows and people one claims to represent is to be addressed.

#Syed Ali Geelani: How long shall your people wait and suffer and Tagoot have the say?

Shaikh-al-Alam: As long as Tagoot within lives in the form of empire of self, as long as people need to transcend attachments and prejudices and violence within.
      We have countless reasons to thank God for what is the case. We should be able to see God works and is not defeated and that the Devil ultimately is in service of divine economy (“protectors of K'abba can come from idol houses”). If you have been able to make new generation discontented with the stink around that is itself an achievement for which you should be thankful to people. Its new generation, I am informed, is more aware of its sins and transgressions against conscience, of  human side of their leaders, of inherent limitations of all human efforts to construct a Utopia, of inevitability of  dampening of revolutionary fervor and time being out of joint for some reasons not of their making, of gradual working out, sometimes through violence, of contradictions that characterize humanly interpreted texts or ideologies. God is in control, believers believe and seers have witnessed something of the secret of destiny and providence that moves all things towards the Good “however rough hewn we may our ends.”

#Stone Pelters: Your Kashmir – and our souls – have been sold cheap and we think they could be reclaimed by offering our lives and since we don’t have guns we pelt stones to express our outrage.
Shaikh-al-Alam: I  wish to draw your attention to the stony hearts fashioned by deeply entrenched systemic or structural injustice of the world divided into contesting interests of various classes/identities. Try to better comprehend the disease in the soul of the politician, in the worker who is forced to sell his labour and sometimes conscience for his leader, in the person who grabs power and oppresses, in the ignorance that is ultimately the root cause of all ills including the political, in the person who is used for any ideological end and adopts means regardless of being fair and foul. Where are Kashmiris who can claim to be truly in possession of themselves, in being able to claim moral agency in the sense Plato, Muslim hukama and the fraternity of saints want us to be.

#CommonKashmiri:  Yeth wavi haley choung kus zalaey? To whom to turn? What is good politics?
Shaikh-al-Alam: You yourself have to be lights unto yourselves as Buddha put it. What have you done to be better educated yourselves or your children or your neighbours and relatives? Are you good humans or living truly as God’s servants or friends? Judge those who claim to be your leaders after you judge yourself. Who amongst you can claim to be immune to temptations  to build a big house, serve a big lavish feast, declare his/her glory or secure  power and promote relatives? Don’t judge your leaders, introspect your own weaknesses and ask yourself what you could do to spread light or true knowledge (Irfan). To see the way needs “consecrating life to the search for Truth.” And one needs to “tighten the belly to learn (the virtues of) patience/Give up his ego/ Contemplates Him in seclusion” And I ask you “Who longs to live by the sweat of one’s mind/ Who shows fortitude in provocation/Who shares meals with the hungry/Who scorns anger, greed, illusion, arrogance and self conceit”?

PostScript:
At the end I hope someday Kashmiri leadership gets mature enough to learn to conduct dialogue in the Habermasean sense and refrain from calling names or judging their ideological opponents and move forward by accepting moral-spiritual test that is Alamdar and that would be a step towards freedom we all seek in whatever sense we have idealized it or understood it as none is perfectly happy with the contemporary status quo.

http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/story/229548.html

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