Winds Of Change
The anti-State rhetoric, so typical of religious preachers until some time back, has begun to crumble, giving way to a new season of ethics and tolerance. But there is still some work to be done in areas of ugly infight among varied schools of thought.
THE wind has changed direction. So have some voices in the Valley. Thankfully, religious preachers indulge no more in anti- State rhetoric. There are no provocations against the State. Politics is neither discussed nor preached in sermons. There is caution and there are red lines which nobody wants to breach.
A good, good change
The visible changes post events of August 2019 are more about behavior and conduct of people. The perception among a good section of population is that the discourse among the populace and in public arenas, including mosques, has significantly changed and moved away from separatism. The most ‘irresponsible’ section of the society – yes, sadly the preachers and mullahs – is observing what could be, in military terminology, described as maximum restraint. They no more shout and provoke the faithfuls against the State and the system. There are no divisive sermons. There is no more yelling in mosques. Rather, a trend has started wherein preachers and their followers upload audio visuals on
social media asking people to refrain from social evils! For the first time in the last 35 years, the mullahs and preachers are talking about social evils. There is a thrust
on eradication of evil which has crept into the society over the last 30 years. There are lectures on morality and ethics. There are talks on making good citizens out of the
public. Youngsters are told not to abandon their aged and ailing parents.
There was a time when these mullahs and preachers would remain mute at the degradation and the degeneration of the Kashmiri society and this lasted more than 30 years. In fact, they would not only shut eyes at the low undercurrents, they attributed everything to the so-called ‘Kashmir problem’. There was competitive extremism at play in mosques. The mullahs never spoke about societal values, past traditions, mutual existence and tolerance. Hate and hatred were the only things they would preach and promote. They would inculcate a culture of exclusivism and supremacism in the younger generation. It has been
wisely said that one can’t keep snakes in his backyard and expect them only to bite his neighbours. Eventually the narrative of extremism and hatred reached the doorsteps of these mullahs and preachers. Only then they realised its dangers and fatality. As the State reinforced its authority, they withdrew from such political rhetoric. There is clearly a departure from the past practices. Whether the departure is tactical or real, demands
thorough investigation and research.
The downside story exists too
That said, there is another side to the picture. There is a zone that needs clearing still. The zone that creates delusion, hatred and confusion. The infight among different schools of thought has reached a climax in Kashmir. Some illiterate preachers with a very narrow worldview, indulge in trolling each other. They stoop too low to prove the other wrong. There is a virtual war going on on social media, between various schools of thought that have some representation in the Kashmir valley. For example, the Salafi and Jamaat-e-Islami (the Deobandi school) have such differences with the Barelvi school on a daily basis. The downside is that the social media has made the job easier for these illiterate and
undereducated religious preachers when it comes to reaching out to the public. Every attempt is made by both the schools to malign each other. Unfortunately, there still are people in large numbers who, without actually looking into the credentials of
these religious mongers, get influenced. There is a growing culture of manufactured lies being attributed to the pious predecessors never heard of earlier, to prove others wrong. Scholarly discourse is completely missing. But then, hope floats. Hope that this little residue of hatred too washes off and leaves us clean and shining. As we are meant to be.