Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Writings of Maududi

I've been reading the speeches of Abul Ala Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami and a vocal proponent of a theocratic state in the early decades of Pakistan. His Islam is all about politics. The arrival of Islam in the ethos of the state is more important for him than its arrival in the hearts and lives of Muslims. This is mostly because he believes that once the state is Islamic, it can compel Muslims to be righteous. In this attitude he sets aside the centuries-old tradition of patient and laborious preaching to convince Muslims to bring their lives into accordance with Islamic injunctions. Instead he chooses the easier alternative of harnessing the modern state with its wide reach to force morality on Muslims. In doing so he underestimates the value of free will and forgets that Muslims must be righteous to please God, not out of fear of the state.

Maududi also talks at great length about intermediaries usurping religious authority and inserting themselves between God and His subjects. Islam has no priesthood is his mantra. But he seems to have no problem in interpreting Islam for mass consumption and in expecting everyone to follow it, if not because of the substance of his thought than on penalty of the ire of his Islamic state.