Brought up under the shadows of Syed Abul A'la Maududi, preacher of Sharia-based state in the subcontinent against secular democracy, Syed Haider Farooq Maududi managed to rise above his father's fundamental ideology.
A strong critic of his father's Jamaat-e-Islami, the Islamic revivalist party from which Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami has evolved, Farooq is now in Dhaka on his first visit here after the Liberation War.
He talked to The Daily Star about his father's philosophy, party and present politics in South Asia.
On the creation of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1941, Farooq said his father's political ideology was a result of the era he was born in. “In the era he [Maududi] was born, there was communism, imperialism and he had made Islam also a system of ism, a system of life," he noted.
On religion-based politics, Farooq said, “Religion is for the people and people are not for religion. Religion makes a human being a good human being.”
However, religious sentiment is so deeply rooted in this region that no one is ready to listen to the right thing, he observed.
About his upbringing, he said his father never let his children read his books or allowed them to involve in Jamaat or any other likeminded politics. “If he ever saw us in a rally or demonstration, he would later call us and ask what business we had standing there. He totally kept us away from all these.”
“This is a tragedy of all our religious politics that we use people's children, but keep our own away from it as we all know about its negative impacts," he added.
Asked why his father had kept his children in the dark about his political views, he said, “The person who is at the helm knows about its inside well.”
Farooq also stated that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a senior political leader of the Indian independence movement, had warned his father about creating a religion-based party, saying that religious-minded people would gather under its umbrella, bringing about no good.
“That is exactly what happened. When my father founded the party, religious fundamentalists gathered around him. He (Abul A'la Maududi) used them for political purposes, knowing them how dangerous they could be," he added.
He said his father knew that the Jamaat-e-Islami had deviated from his vision, but he decided not to do anything about it for his advanced age.
Describing the Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan and Bangladesh as equals, he said Jamaat should not do politics in Bangladesh whose birth it had opposed.
Syed Abul A'la Maududi too had opposed the creation of Pakistan during the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 because, to him, Pakistan was a state for the Muslims, not an Islamic state.
“He [Abul A'la Maududi] said this is not Pakistan. He didn't accept Mr Jinnah's logic [of a nation state for the Muslims]. But ultimately he had migrated to Pakistan, where he floated the party saying that if you made Pakistan on the basis of Islam, we have all the right to make it an Islamic state,” Farooq said quoting his father.
He elaborated on how Jinnah had changed his stance about religion and allowed the practice of religion by the non-Muslims, declaring that the state would not interfere in the matter.
Asked if the Jamaat's opposition to Pakistan and then his father's doing politics in the very country can be viewed as similar to the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami's role here, he replied, “Though my father had opposed Pakistan, the circumstances were such that he had to migrate to Pakistan.”
Both Jinnah and Maududi had changed their stances. Jinnah had shifted his ground from creating a Muslim state to a secular one and Maududi from opposing Pakistan to trying to establish religion-based politics. “As a consequence, we are left in a state of chaos, as you can see now," said Farooq.
Working for a private airlines company, Farooq on several occasions had visited Bangladesh before 1971. He is a vocal critic of the protagonists of “Jihad” in Kashmir and writes columns in Urdu newspapers.