From time to time in history there has been a call raised by people who cared (or seemed to care) for Culture, Architecture, Language and even Religion. The call has always been, “back to basics”. This call can be heard in Kashmir these day’s, in fact the tone of the call is too aggressive to qualify to be called a “Call”.
Kashmir has always presented itself as a place where religious tolerance is taken seriously, even Mahatma Gandhi accepted this when during partition riots he said that he saw the only ray of hope coming from Kashmir.
During Ramadan this year I was in Kashmir after a long duration of almost five years. When Iftar time (time for breaking fast) came I realized a lot had changed since the last time I was here during Ramadan. I was confused about when I was supposed to break my fast, on hearing which azaan (call for prayer) was I supposed to allow my lips to touch first drops of water for the day. Later I was to discover that this was just the tip of the ice-berg. The whole Kashmiri society was subtly in conflict with itself or to put it more appropriately, it is in conflict with a younger self (the generation-next, mostly).
Kashmir has been centre or hub of Suffism for centuries (most refer to suffism as the moderate form of Islam), it has had its effects on how the people of the valley perceive & practice Islam. There are certain practices [like Duaye Subuh; special morning prayer supplement etc.] prevalent in Kashmir which can not be found in any part of the world. All (majority of) such practices can be traced to some suffi saint. Now the new generation (a sizeable number & growing continuously) with all the worldly knowledge at its fingertips, thanks to internet and other technologies, is kind of rebelling against all these practices and are even declaring these un-Islamic. This has created kind of rift among the old and young. Old people are of the opinion that the younger generation doesn’t respect them or the suffi saints and the younger generation feels that the older generations were sheer ignorant with little or no religious knowledge, what ever they had been practicing for ages is un-Islamic. Thus leading a call for back to basics from these energetic young people, so as to correct all that has been going wrong.
People who are well versed with Islamic history know that this is not something absolutely new, from time to time there have been similar calls but the only thing that seems to have changed are the people and their way of approach. The religious scholars of the earlier times would bring the conflicting parties together at a single platform and try to discuss the problem, if possible hammer out a compromise (that is how the Sunni’s became the largest firqa/ sect amongst Muslims). currently in Kashmir with this conflict raging on subtly (for now), are there any scholars or intellectuals of such intellect and caliber who can facilitate this discussion in a proper and appropriate way, so as to stop the intoxication of young minds with hatred against fellow Muslim brothers and avoid a blood bath in future (as we are seeing happening in Pakistan on daily basis; bombings of mosques and other religious places).
With no one seemingly concerned about this, thus avoiding acceptance of existence of a problem in society, the future doesn’t seem to be too bright. We can only hope that the scholars and intellectuals realize the gravity of the situation and decide to address it other wise the ray of hope which had given Ghandi hope, may be soon turned in to a big fire ball!!!!