Developing a Social Movement Based on Islamic Belief in Bangladesh

Background:

“The most important time is now (Leo Tolstoy, Three Questions)” in the history of Bangladesh – depending on the current activities, next couple of years is going to determine a future which is quite unpredictable at the moment, as the conflicting parties failed to dominate over their rivals in spite of farm stand-point far away from each other. There is little or no consensus or tolerance on the issues they are fighting for, one bloc is not ready to allow its opponent, though it’s a conflict of ideas and thoughts only, to express or preach maintaining minimum courtesy of democracy. Most of the debating factors have divided the nation into two opposing factions.

‘Islam’ is one of the most important, if not the fundamental, question – a factor that has become a bone of contention among its supporters and detractors. Concerned parties based on the belief are marching toward 180 degree opposite direction naming two factions as ‘Astiq’ and ‘Nastiq’. Quarrels everywhere – print and electronic media supporting the said factions have engaged in publishing instigative news and views followed by violent clashes in the streets which have become a big concern for the people who embraced Islam as their way of life and are willing and expecting to practice the teachings of Islam in a peaceful and hassle-free situation.

Most of these followers are not active participants, may or may not be supporters, of the movements those exert all their efforts in establishing Islam politically, i.e. to establish an Islamic state. This section of people is in a fix what to do. When Islamists fight/struggle in the street, suffer in jails or martyred, this section cannot join them, still sympathetic and questions oneself whether his physical inactiveness is okay or it’s a kind of hypocrisy. On the other hand, their social standing does not allow them to leave everything and join the street-force. Mainly the professional significance of this group provides the logic to maintain the status quo.

Key national debates like, “trial of war criminals”, “death sentence”, “Hafajat”, “Jamaat”, “Shahbag”, “Blog” have so much associated with Islam now-a-days that it is hardly possible for a true Muslim to exist here bypassing all those phrases.

In this backdrop, many individuals and groups from diverse discipline, demography and class were discussed as part of a survey, conducted with a view to obtain clear understanding on what concerned populace is thinking exactly.

Groups:

Among the people discussed, three groups were found to be prospective who may be nurtured. First, who learned and practiced Islam in their young ages, dreamt and exerted effort in establishing an Islamic society/state, but in their practical life are not or cannot be part of any Islamic organization because of personal/social/professional importance/priority. Second, after 9/11 a portion of the young people, especially students being familiar with Islamic ideology decided to dedicate their time and effort for the cause. As there is no proper platform/guidance for them, some of the lot is in a point to accept Islam as an extreme commitment. Third, general people, who are sympathetic to Islam, study and practice the teachings in person and socially, separating themselves from “mean” political environment.

The first group is hugely resourceful – they are trained, possessed both Islamic and worldly skills and contributing effectively in the society from their position. Most of them are solvent, possess leadership quality, maintaining sound family and social life and side-by-side feel pain for what’s going against Islam in the country. Most importantly, this group is ready to act if appropriate platform is found. The second group is also coming up, getting maturity and gradually making their position in the society. In terms of Islam, this group is a bit puzzled as most are not properly guided and they may not have comprehensive information on Islamic issues. The third group has already their position in the society; they are inclined to Islam while needing to acquire comprehensive knowledge on the creed.

Arab Spring:

The recent Arab uprising backed by Islamists has huge impact, especially on first two groups who were inspired by everyday events occurring in the ME countries. They have keen interest on the facts, observing present activities and its future aspects. Besides different models adopted at different countries has become a serious talking point among the group members, many of whom are eager to apply the same in Bangladesh perspective. Among them, the Egyptian model and the Turkish model are the most talked-about and have got popularity.

In Egyptian model there are two organizations active in the field – Ikhwan and Justice and Freedom Party. In a revolutionary declaration, Ikhwan left politics and register them as a NGO. Justice and Freedom Party was formed by the patronization of Ikhwan to act in the political front with the people who left Ikhwan for conducting political activities. Members of Ikhwan would never be engaged in politics who would work in the social front – they would perform mainly dawa and social service activities.

In Turkey, inspired by the writings of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, especially Risal e Noor, Noor Jama’at was formed by the disciples of Said Nursi. It’s not a formal organization, if an organization at all and also the structure of the organization is unrecognizable and unclear, yet it’s a strong community dominating in Turkish society. But thousands of people build their life based on the teachings preached by Said and many have dedicated their life and career in spreading and establishing the spiritual teachings of Said Nursi.

 

Inspired by Fethullah Gullen who is a disciple of Said Nursi and resides in USA, Gullen movement is another virtual organization (rather community) that comprised of another cluster of people who are organized among themselves in such a manner that its existence is felt all around the world especially in health, education and social welfare sector. Interfaith dialogue is another priority of this movement. This community has huge impact in the modern Turkish society and politics.

Justice and Development Party (AKP) is in the government in Turkey till 2004 (?). Earlier this party was banned four times by the than secular junta. But the party, supported by the people whose ideology is Islam, came to power after making huge success in solving problems of the citizens through different city corporations. Members of Noor Jama’at and Gullen movement are the main workforce in administration, military, bureaucracy and all sectors of the society and with direct support rendered by them, the Islamic-minded AKP party is making tremendous success and overcoming obstacles in Turkey.

Jama’at e Islami (JI):

JI is considered as the mainstream Islamic movement in the country. Other Islamic groups, whether like it or not, follow JI in their plans and actions, sometimes unknowingly. JI achieved many successes in Bangladesh – they are a recognized party having required power to influence and insist political balance of the country to some extent. They established dozens of financial, educational, social organizations which have become very successful. The student front particularly was so successful in producing quality leadership in a huge number during the last decades. The organization has reached grassroots and recent clashes with the government have proved their preparation, strength and mantle as a dominating force in the country. They have also developed a huge base of Islamic literature, made significant progress in the cultural and media front. JI can never be ignored in the politics of Bangladesh.

Yet JI has been criticized by different quarters and the reasons cannot be ignored. It is evident that, after four decades of working, JI are not an organization of choice for the mass people and issues related to ’71 are not resolved yet. Urban literate middle class is the source of JI manpower and there are only few rural pockets where they have dominance. Many Islam-loving persons also consider them as “too political”. JI’s other activities – dawa, training, charity – are overshadowed by its political programs. Because of corrupted political culture of the country, many people thinks that JI is also doing conventional politics like AL and BNP and most of such actions are imaged as political motive and worldly gain. Moreover, JI’s rigid organizational structure is an obstacle to many who wishes to accompany them in their struggle for establishing Islam in the state power. Most importantly, JI largely failed to attract tailor-made outputs from the student front which is considered as the leadership factory for the movement. After completing student life, the trained and seasoned recruits are not only reluctant to join JI – some even derailed from the teachings those were implanted at their young age.

Findings:

It was found, while discussing and analyzing the feedback from the first two groups, that they are extremely resourceful, they are more talented and knowledgeable than their active peers, more effective in the society and life and of course, more prospective. They may lack in terms of sacrifice, dedication and commitment which was also not tested as they were never given the scope to perform in an appropriate platform.

It was also found that JI and other contemporary Islamic organizations of Bangladesh were avoided by the prospective groups mentioned above because of four reasons – too political, too rigid, conventional and not suitable for who tend to think out of the box.

It was also opined that because of party politics and ‘too political’ activity, status of Islam in Bangladesh has come to a dire strait that may lead to the point of destruction/elimination.

It is more desirable that the society be Islamic rather than the state. It is the ‘Civilization of Islam’ comprised of Islamic societies, lasted more than thousand years which we are proud of while the Islamic state persisted only few years. The state is only a tool/mechanism to develop a comprehensive Islamic society. By this time, too much emphasis (top priority) was provided here for the expected “dreamland”.

Considering all the above, it was expressed by all in an astonishing consensus that there should be a community building social movement emphasizing self-correction and inter-family bonding based on Islamic belief and teaching, devoid of politics and conflict.

Nature:

  • It would be a virtual organization, rather a community. The members may form different kinds of organizations that would be patronized by the community.
  • It would be a social movement – non political, non violent etc.
  • It would not perform any social work or charity job directly, but community would encourage such effort.
  • It would not be a NGO, but NGOs formed by the members would be supported by the community.
  • Main job of the society would be to develop an Islamic society by building family networks (community)

Mission

  • To achieve satisfaction of Almighty Allah by putting endeavor to re-build the civilization based on Islamic belief.

Vision

  • To build societies based on Islamic practices all over Bangladesh
  • To build communities based on Islamic brotherhood and introduce effective community based services for the members of the community

Objective

  • Self development by providing emphasis to self-purification
  • Building ideal family as per Islamic teachings found in Qur’an and Hadith
  • Inter-family bonding by virtue of Islamic norms and practices
  • Social movement as a foundation for global Islamic civilization

Strategy

  • Development of Curriculum for an ideal family, community and society
  • Introduction of regular Events for the families, the communities and the societies
  • Target based Dawa, education, guidance and networking programs

Society Structure

Societies made up of the families – families are the building blocks and also the lowest unit of human society. When Rasul (sm) started preaching Islam in the early years of Makkah, mainly families were targeted. Family after family accepted Islam and developed a bonding among them that was so strong (bunynum marsus) that even the highest level of torture and oppression could not separate them. The network of families was so tight that the whole community collectively faced all kinds of adversity. The group of Muslims that migrated to Abyssinia was also comprised of families who stayed there for around 15 years as a community appreciating each other – otherwise it would have been very difficult for such a small group to survive as a believer in a Christian majority society.

This family bonding was given formal/institutional shape by Rasul (sm) after migration to Madinah where families were tied/bonded one-to-one basis to form a strong society-base against the Jew community who were then dominating the Madinah society by controlling trade, finance, production etc. That was the foundation based on which other societies were formed in Damascus, Baghdad, Istanbul, Delhi etc and combination of all those societies built the Islamic civilization which is termed as the Golden Age. All the societies contributed as per their capacity to the advancement of the civilization and also the societies complemented each other in the process. States, institutions, organizations (arguably) contributed very little, only played some supporting role in building the civilization that never emerged in the history of mankind.

The proposed structure is based on the natural (fitrat) process of society development based on family-unit. In early years there were Tribes between the family and the society and the concept of tribe gave so many advantages. Each tribe had their area(s) of specialization and society was enriched by the knowledge and skills nourished primarily in the tribes. Besides, social responsibility and discipline were also maintained through tribal channels. The Club/Community (level 4 and 5 below) notion was thought from this point of view, in absence of tribes in the present day scenario.

 

Level

Definition

Curriculum

Event

Remarks

Poribar A family
  •   24×7 routine
  •   Tajbeed
  •   Introduction to Islam – complete code of life
Day:

  •   Qur’an Tilawat
  •   Dua, Zikr, Tasbeeh
  •   Jama’at (Salat)

 

Week:

  •   Family meeting
  •   Tahazzut
  •   Dawa

 

Month:

  •   Nafal Siam

 

Quarter:

  •   Tour/travel

 

— Father and/or Mother would be Head of Poribar– One-man family is allowed
Nikotjon 5 Poribar
  •   Same as Poribar
Week:

  •   Sahih Qur’an
  •   Group study

 

Month:

  •   Monthly meeting
  •   Night-time prayer
  •   Dawa

 

Year:

  •   Tour/travel

 

— to be headed by a Head of Poribar by rotation
Poroshi 8 Nikotjon
  •   QLC
Week:

  •   Qur’anic language

 

Month:

  •   Study circles
  •   Night-time prayer
  •   Bi-monthly meeting
  •   Dawa

 

— Body of Poroshi would be comprised of a representativefrom each Nikotjon– to be headed by each member by rotation
Club (Shongho) 10 Poroshi– Should have a common meeting place
  •   To be designed
Month:

  •   Dawa
  •   Blood donation

 

Quarter:

  •   Quarterly meeting

 

Year:

  •   Picnic

 

— Head and body of Club would be selected/elected for 1   year
Community 10 Club– Should have a community center owned by third party
  •   To be designed
Month:

  •   Dawa

 

Half-year:

 

Year:

  •   Fare
  •   Sports, cultural program/competition

 

— Body of Community would be comprised of a   representative from each Club– to be headed by each member by rotation
Society 10 Community
  •   To be designed
Month:

  •   Dawa

 

Regular:

  •   Seminar

 

Year:

  •   Fare
  •   Sports, cultural program/competition

 

— Body of Society would be comprised of a representative   from each Community– to be headed by each member by rotation
Kendra Central forum There should be no formal body. Persons would be selected   on selection basis (?). The members would act as mentors for the lower   levels. Members would preside by rotation. — To be designed

— There’s a proposal to include Islamic Teaching Series by Dr. Jamal Badawi in the curriculum.

Level

Responsibility

  1. Poribar
Family values
  1. Nikotjon
Responsibility towards neighbors
  1. Poroshi
  2. Club   (Shongho)
Community development and community services
  1. Community
  2. Society
  1. Kendra

— Heads and members of bodies would not participate any politics or organizations

— There should be separate structure for professionals and students

  • This is just a proposition – to start and to storm your brain with something and finish with a firm definite goal and structure. Let’s talk, discuss, inform and share with everyone so that a consensus may be reached with something very better than this proposition.
  • It’s more important to act and improve everyday than to think and think and think for the quest of a perfect ending.

10 Responses

  1. Zahidul Hasan
    Zahidul Hasan at |

    It’s a good start up. We should disseminate this idea among the young generation (involved in Islamic Movement) of Bangladesh. I also found the urge of re-thinking in current Islamic Movement in Bangladesh in the write up of BJI leader. We should come up with more writings on this issue.

    Reply
  2. Abu Sulaiman
    Abu Sulaiman at |

    Though tough to implement but it is important to start. So before implementing in the field level this write-up would help to consolidating the total structure of a future organ…

    Reply
  3. Abu Sulaiman
    Abu Sulaiman at |

    It is more desirable that the society be Islamic rather than the state. It is the ‘Civilization of Islam’ comprised of Islamic societies, lasted more than thousand years which we are proud of while the Islamic state persisted only few years. The state is only a tool/mechanism to develop a comprehensive Islamic society. By this time, too much emphasis (top priority) was provided here for the expected “dreamland”.

    ……

    Reply
  4. Abu Sulaiman
    Abu Sulaiman at |

    লিখার এক অংশে উল্লেখ করা হয়েছে যে, জরীপের অংশ হিসেবে সমাজের বিভিন্ন লোকজনের সাথে আলাপ-আলোচনা করা হয়। এ জরীপ সম্পর্কে বিস্তারিত জানতে চাই। কারা, কখন, কিভাবে এ জরীপ কার্য পরিচালনা করেছিল? এ জরীপের উদ্দেশ্য এবং ফাইন্ডিংশ কি ছিল? হাইপোথিসিস কি ছিল? ইত্যাদি… চমৎকার একটি পরিকল্পনাকে সুন্দরভাবে উপস্থাপন করা নিঃসন্দেহে প্রসংশার দাবী রাখে…তো ধন্যবাদ।

    Reply
  5. Salman Arju
    Salman Arju at |

    Good idea indeed.
    However, one of the major problems of IM in Bangladesh is that the model follows a ‘top down’ approach rather than ‘bottom up’. If you are one of the top policy makers of IM, it is easier to implement it. In contrast, if you are at the grass-root level, it will take huge efforts to convince the top policy makers about the issue raised elsewhere.
    Jazakallah Khairan.

    Reply
  6. Shahidul Hoque
    Shahidul Hoque at |

    A comprehensive and well-researched writing undoubtedly.

    I hope this valuable one will be translated in Bangla too.

    Just have some comments:

    1. “Heads and members of bodies would not participate any politics or organizations”- a. what does it mean by “Heads and members of bodies”? b. How much permissible for an Islamic social organisation to divorce politics for it’s leaders whereas politics is one of the most fundamental particle of any society? c. If it remains out of politics, then why not facilitate members from all political spectrum?

    2. Not only Arab spring resonates the Muslim World, if we exclude borders and maps, then every Islamic societies somehow get resonance from each other. It doesnt matter where and when it happens.

    My point here, we consider Turkey and Egypt as model, but there are still some models available in other parts of the World who were not get chance to take state power or was out of state power. In that case, how can any organisation take inspirations from a model that was successful due to it’s succession in politics whereas it will remain out of political activities?

    Reply
  7. idris ali
    idris ali at |

    jajakAllah khair. Nice idea. Some suggestions: 1. Go ahead with clean hearted by the help of Allah. Who will be in harmony 2.Plz set the positive n challenges side by side study global movents success n failurity as well sustainability strategy. 3. Set an active link with global polarised movements n set the lessons from their experiences. 4. Set a goal to tie up a bridge betn the islamic groups active in the socio-eco-politicals. Set a separate sub-group to be intimated with the rivals making careful observation 5. Set a strategic planning to produce n supply the resource persons in diversified fields. 6. Be visioneryfor playing rules at every sectors including active applications of laws n orders, professionals, unions, controllers, etc. InshaAllah we will be one of the units of the desired chain links n elements of bunyanum marsus. Allah the Exalted accept our every steps to the way of Jannah. Ameen.

    Reply

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