Monthly Archives: December 2012

Bayazid Ansari & His Raushiniya Movement in the Af-Pak regions [16th-17th century]

By Naveed Tajammal

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One fails to understand, the logic why the present Kabul government and the Pakhtun, literary circles in general are bent upon projecting Bayazid as a ‘saint’ and a ethnic Pakhtun, and the region of his, later abode [in present Waziristan] a old Pakhtun region.

And that he was the founding father of Pakhtun Renaissance.

Abdul Qadir bin Maluk, better known in the literary circles as ‘Badaoni’ writes of Bayazid, in his book, ‘Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh’ translated in English by W.H. Lowe and printed by Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta 1884 volume ll p-360/361.

”If the egg of a black-natured Crow,

you put under a pea-hen of paradise,

If at all time of sitting on that egg,

You give it, its millet from the figs of paradise,

If you give it, its water from the fountain of salsabil,

If Gabriel, breathe his breath over that egg,

In the end the young of a crow is a crow.

And the pea-hen will spend her trouble in vain.”

Bayazid Ansari, was born in Jalandhar in around 1525 AD, he hailed from a old hereditary Qazi family, his father was Qazi. Abdullah and his father, Qazi. Shaikh Mohammad and line went to Qazi. Siraj ud Din, the first of the Qazi, entrusted with the region in remote past. In the childhood of Bayazid had shifted to the Barrak region [later called Karni-garan, or the stone-town],

Bar’rak the old town as then called, was till that time still on a major trade route, known historically as ‘the Rah e Sangh e Surakh’, it was the passage between Indus, and across through ‘Dar’ban’ a big staging area of Camel Caravans, on the west of present Dera ismail khan[at that time Dera ismail as such did not exist], This Barrak route[sang e surakh] was longer one, compared to the Gomal route, for onward move to Farmul and Ghuzz’nih’.[importance of Kabul had yet to emerge],The Gomal route had a problem, it was alright in dry seasons, but, come the rains, which came often, Gomal, had to be criss-crossed, for laden camels it was a serious issue on account of losses, sustained when waters were rapid.

This region was totally inhabited by people, who were non-Pakhtun, and the Language like-wise, was ‘Bargista’ or Barraki’. A book was compiled later in 1881,by Ghulam Mohammad khan, ”Qawaid e Bargista’, which is a book on the structure and Grammar of the Language, it were the later new-comers, who called the locals, as ‘Ormuri’ and they in return called them ‘Kash’. Lieut. R. Leech [J.A.S.B. vii 1838] gives a short ormuri-English vocabulary and quotes a few phrases of the language. According to Leech, and the tradition gleaned, as to how this lot [barraki] got settled on this old route, That, it was Sultan Mahmud of Ghuzz’nih who as a re compensation for the services rendered by this tribe in the extraction and safely bringing the Gates of Somnath, and their installation in Ghuzz’nih, that they were awarded this region in a perpetual grant.

However as per Major H.G. Raverty they were of Tajik origin [J.A.S.B,xxxiii.1864],but the fact remains their past is like a fly in amber.

As far as the Language was concerned it was admitted in the 19th century, that, Barraki or Ormuri had indeed borrowed by then freely from pushto yet, it was a borrowing only, and nothing ‘More’.

The fact remains it is strongly influenced by the old Dardic of the Indus region, which is also the base of our Lhandha, as termed by western linguists. The print of Barraki was seen till old Tirah valley and the Logar valley in present Afghanistan at one time.

Even in the Ayeen e Akbar era, it was still the Toman of Daur and Not as yet termed, as Waziristan as it presently is so-called.

And it would be out of context here to go in details of standard list of words and sentences of Barraki, at the moment in time.

Qazi Abdullah, sent his son first to the Khanqah of Shaikh Baha ud din Zakria in Multan, later Bayazid became a horse-trader, a profession which enabled him to travel far and wide, it was in ‘Kalinjar’ in India that he came under the extra ordinary charm of a Ismailia preacher/missionary, a Mullah Ismail.[who were called ‘Da’i, amongst themselves]. These Da’i, as the custom amongst them would commonly adopt a profession, such as that of a merchant, physician, oculist etc, and when they arrived in a new place, would first try and establish, in the minds of their neighbors, their piety, and benevolence and so consequently be very generous, with alms, and prayed in the common Mosque, here they picked the new, ‘proselytes’, as their reputation grew of a devout living and a crowd / circle of admirers increased, they picked the most apt, to whom they propounded cautiously, the doctrine, of their creed, in the first stage the curiosity of the hearer was aroused, and a spirit of inquiry as well, and so was impressed by the wisdom and knowledge of the Da’i, but it was a guarded affair, if any sign of restiveness were seen, or suspicion suspected on the face of the hearer the Da’i withdrew, but in the case it was seen that the hearer wanted more, the Da’i, proceeded into the hidden science of the religion, and the symbolic characters of its prescription, and if the hearer was seen hooked, the Da’i ,would go to the stage of hinting the outward, observation of prayer, the fast, the pilgrimage and the alms-giving, stating that they were of No consequence, unless, their spiritual significance was Not understood, now the new novice, was seen eager to learn more, The Da’i would start his preamble but, break it in between, hinting that such divine mysteries maybe only discussed or disclosed to one who had taken the oath of allegiance to the imam of the age, the chosen representative of Allah, on the ‘ruh e zamin’ .[the face of earth],and thus the sole repository ,of this hidden science, which can only be confided to those who prove themselves worthy to receive it.

The primary aim of the Da’i was to secure from the ‘Proselyte’ his allegiance, ratified by a binding oath, and expressed by the periodical payment which then, was followed in the initiation in the nine degree’s.

It was this Ismailia-Doctrine, which deeply impregnated the mind of Bayazid, the Ismailia emphasis on interiorization of religious rites and their secretive methods of work, fascinated Bayazid, and we find Bayazid a deeply introspective and seclusion loving later in life.

And so we find him travel ling to Qandhar in his quest, as a seeker, Earlier in the same Qandhar had come another ‘Mahdi’, and had established for a short period his ‘Mahdavia tenets, the man, Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri [1443-1502] had declared himself as the imam Mahdi of the time, and sent letters all over, inviting them to come and testify his claim, and accept him as the promised Mahdi.

He traveled all over India and came to Thatta [Sindh] in 907 Hijri and in 908 Hijri moved to Qandhar and later died in 1502 AD in Farah, and, was so buried there. The mahdavi thought laid great emphasis on ‘Zikir’ which we see, equally emphasized by Bayazid, and his followers.

Bayazid short of claiming prophet-hood, for himself had picked from the mahdavi and Ismailia traditions all such elements which could augment his religious prestige and establish his superiority, over the public at large.

Ismailia dogma preached the divinity of the ‘living imam’, and the Mahdavi the concept of the Mahdi or The Deliverer’, who would set the things right.

These two elements as are seen, became the focal point of the teachings of Bayazid, and his heresy. which were, to establish his spiritual superiority, and control over the Pakhtun people, who hailed such concepts, as long as they did Not, directly or indirectly, affect their tribal traditions.

The maximum, criticism was from two major personalities of the time, Syed. Ali of Tirmiz [1501-1584] and his khalifa, Akhund Darwaza [1533-1615] it was the pir-baba [syed ali] who had dubbed Bayazid pir e Ta’rik [the pir of darkness].

The Mughal power played the ‘Wait & Watch, as it suited them to see, the internecine conflict of various pashtun tribes, as a result of this Raushaniya movement on the frontiers of their Empire, which was slowly weakening the tribes. And so thought it unwise to jump in the fray till the whole situation crystallized. And as soon as it did, and posed a threat to the empire, the war was unleashed.

One of other major reason of Mughal intervention was the claim of Bayazid of being the Mahdi of his age, a person who, sets, right, all that has gone wrong in the religious and the political matters. Akbar the emperor with all his free-thinking, could never allow a new Mahdi to emerge, especially as this one had ambitions to conqueror his newly established Empire.

The British had followed the concepts of Akbar in relation to their so called scientific frontier of the forward policies, one finds almost a similar pattern, and, the region as well.

Abdullah khan Uzbek was a constant thorn, outwardly he maintained good relations. with Mughals, yet, inwardly as is seen helped to aid this movement, Akbar to pre-empt, this had created, a large extended Qandhar suba [province] and in between various Tomans, and sarkars, The successors of Bayazid [died in 1574] played havoc from the foot mountains of Kashkar [Chitral] down to Qandhar, and the trans-Indus regions. final credit to crush this movement goes to the Generals of the Mughal Army who as is seen, constantly waged a War against this movement it was only in 1626 AD, that the last of Mahdi ‘Ahdad’  was killed by a sniper shot fired from a musket, after Ahdad had moved to Qandhar, But even then his in-line successor, Abdul Qadir continued the war, and defeated the Mughal army under Zaffar khan, in 1627 AD, however in another encounter Zaffar Khan  turned the tables and forced Abdul Qadir to surrender, which he did, and was later inducted in the mughal army as the commander of 1000 men, Thus died the Raushiniya movement, and slowly people reverted to their old faith.

It would not be out of context to tell the tale of the rise of this family in the Mughal empire, another cousin much earlier by the name of Illahdad, had joined the Mughals, and taken service with Jahangir, emperor, who had bestowed the name of Rashid Khan upon him, this Rashid khan Ansari arose to the rank later of 4000 zat and 3000 sawar, and died in 1648 AD, his sons continued the service within the Empire, later we find one Asadullah Ansari, who had sided with Aurangzeb in his war of succession, and later arose to be the Governor of Orissa.

The writer has over 30 years of  experience in historical investigative research.

This is a cross post from Opinion Maker where it was first published: http://www.opinion-maker.org/2012/12/af-pak-intellectual-de-tracking/

Elections and religious minorities

LaboN pay aa’yee thee ik baat harf-e-haq ban kar Khabar,

yeh phaili sheher maiN, ZabaN daraz haiN ham.

By Brig. Samson Sharaf (R) : As the election fever intensifies and political parties select winnable candidates for each constituency, the religious minorities of Pakistan despite the cosmetic ‘Joint Electorate’ will be confined once again to the sidelines. Though the present electoral laws permit them to vote for candidates in the mainstream national and provincial elections, the choice of reserved minority seats is not theirs and will be at the whims of political party leaders. Once the main elections are over, every political party according to its proportion in the National and Provincial Assemblies will get a list of its share in special seats according to the priority list submitted to the Election Commission prior to the elections. It seems that the non-Muslims of Pakistan will have ‘no say’ in this indirect selection that violates Articles 51 and 226 of the Constitution of Pakistan. The selection process will be discreet and arbitrary based on no democratic practice or principal and casting of secret ballot. This argument also applies to all other special seats including women.

Though many petitions pertaining to the irregularity of the process are pending in the higher judiciary, the courts do not recognise the urgency in correcting the contradictions within the constitution in violation of the above mentioned Articles and the fundamental rights of its citizens; nor has any political party shown the moral inclination to come to the assistance of its fellow non-Muslim citizens. Pathetically and as a slur, the political parties failed to display any intent and desire to correct these imbalances amply demonstrated by the treatment meted out to religious minorities in the 18th Amendment, in the ironic name of national reconciliation. It is also sad that political parties that boycotted the 2008 elections have never raised their voice for these marginalised citizens.

Lost in the quest of winning candidates, political parties across the board have neither the time, nor the intent to address the issues in the larger interests of ‘diversity as strength’ and ‘nation building’. Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s ‘constitutional guidelines’ of August 11, 1947, lie buried in the debris of ‘opportunist constitutionalism’ and repeated ‘inventive nationalism’ that does not treat religious minorities at par with the majority community. Yet, as a silver lining, it is still possible to redress many imbalances under the aegis of the political parties, the Election Commission of Pakistan and the higher judiciary.

There remains a very strong feeling amongst the non-Muslim communities that the reluctant restoration of the Joint Electorate in 2002 was at best a cosmetic exercise to prove to the world the essentials of ‘political pluralism’. It had taken the resignation of Late Derek Cyprian, a Federal Minster to force the Musharraf government to adopt the Joint Electorate. At worst, it maintains the political intent in alienating religious minorities at the cost of ‘yes-men’ ready to serve their political masters. In essence, it is an exercise that enables political parties to select those to special seats that neither represent their real constituencies, nor gel with their people at the grass roots. In Punjab, it has been exploited to grab church properties through selected representatives.

Moreover, unlike the separate electorates wherein religious communities were proportionally represented, the new rules hold no such bars resulting in an imbalance in Parliament. Right now, out of the 10 seats in the National Assembly, eight are occupied by Hindus and two by Christians. In the Senate, only one Christian member is selected against three Hindus. In actual census, both religions are almost equal in population. The unrepresentative character gets more pronounced when one notices that most of the members selected from Punjab are Christians from Faisalabad, neglecting other areas of the province and the Hindus. The same also applies to selection of Hindus from Sindh at the cost of Christians.

Though the 1998 census puts the religious minorities of Pakistan at 3.86 percent, the population today can be estimated at 6,665,093. Yet, considering the demographic spread, the analysis of the electoral rolls and past elections, depict an entirely different picture. Christians varying from 6-2 percent of the population are mostly concentrated in Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Kasur, Sahiwal, Khanewal, Narowal, Rawalpindi, Karachi and Quetta. The major concentrations of Hindus are in Tharparkar, Umerkot, Mirpur Khas, Sanghar, Hyderabad, Badin, Ghotki, Jacobabad, Sukkur, Karachi, Dadu, Nawabshah, varying from 48 percent to 2 percent of the population. Converted into electoral constituencies, the conclusions are surprising.

There are 98 National Assembly seats where the non-Muslim votes, according to ECP lists of 2012, are more than 10,000. Of these, 58 are in Punjab, 37 in Sindh and one each in Islamabad, Quetta and Peshawar. In Sindh, the non-Muslim voters dominate in areas like Tharparkar, Umerkot and Mirpur Khas. There are three national constituencies in Pakistan where the votes of non-Muslims are more than 100,000. Eight National Assembly constituencies vary from 50,000-99,999,12 from 25,000-49,999, and 75 constituencies whose votes vary from 10,000-24,999 votes. This means that given an opportunity, the non-Muslims are capable of fielding candidates on general seats and capable of winning them in approximately 10 seats all over Pakistan; provided the political parties show the conviction and courage of fielding them. Alternatively, if properly utilised, they have the capability in these constituencies to swing results.

In another finding, in the 2002 elections, there were 82 national constituencies where the victory margin was less than the votes of non-Muslims. In 2008, this figure dropped to 59 mainly because the non-Muslim voters did not trust the electoral process. This means that the system does not enjoy their confidence. The political parties vying to win elections in these 98 constituencies have a choice to tap this potential or consign them to seclusion.

In the unkindest cut of all, even if the non-Muslims join political parties, the effort notwithstanding their qualifications, capabilities and services to the nation is to confine them to minority roles. The mental inertia that inhibits the bureaucracies of political parties and their leaders is far too strong to cut across self-created exclusive divides and open doors to diversity and exclusivity.

minoritiesOn their part, the non-Muslim communities in Pakistan also stand divided on religious and narrow self-centred basis. This divide is exploited by the political parties in their own numerical interests. Consequently, while there is a proliferation of selected and self-proclaimed community and prayer leaders, there is no cohesion in the ranks of non-Muslims to challenge the status quo through a unified concerted effort. Most, feeling disgusted and discouraged, take refuge in the many civil rights organisations and NGOs that operate as part of the civil society for the redress of grievances and political discrimination. This puts the issues related to religious minorities in international limelight, but unworthy of drawing the attention of political elites.

Elections 2013 are an opportunity wherein many imbalances in the system can be addressed through real co-option of the non-Muslims in the electoral process. This article should serve as a guide to all political parties and minority leaders to exploit the vast potential in ‘political pluralism’ to make credible changes in the electoral process and subsequent constitutional amendments. It is also time for the ECP and superior judiciary to address many petitions that lie at their doors and pass rulings based on the true spirit of the Constitution of Pakistan, before the elections are finally announced.

Note: All statistics are taken from Mr George Clement, former MNA, and Study on ‘Religious Minorities of Pakistan’ sponsored by Church World Services Pakistan/Afghanistan.

The writer is a retired army officer, current affairs host on television and political economist.This piece is a cross post from The Nation.