Government continues to foreground discourse of Kashmiriyat
in its outreach towards contentious political mobilisation in Kashmir.
Kashmiriyat as a master signifier aims to effectuate the political totality in
Kashmir. It fixes meaning of whole range of floating signifiers like religion,
politics and development. Politics, for example, is conceived solely in terms
of economic development and good governance (referred to here as ‘distributive
politics’). Kashmiriyat forces a similar closure on multiple ways in which
religion shapes (or can shape) political subjectivity in Kashmir. Rishi
tradition is set as the condition for unorthodox and non-subversive religious
experience in Kashmir.
The article highlights the religious orthodoxy of Kashmiriyat through the contestation it faces at the hands of other religious orientations. All along, the dialectical process of Islamic acculturation equally disentangled Kashmiri identity from merely local religious dynamics undergirding the discourse of Kashmiriyat and subjected it to the hegemonic processes emanating from the wider Islamic world. Kashmiri Muslims, acting under these dynamics, were always likely to constitute themselves in ways entirely different from the one presupposed by Kashmiriyat.
In so far as the constitutive other of Kashmiriyat is the religious orthodoxy implicated in subversion and violence, the article highlights that religious orthodoxy, irrespective of its sociopolitical implications, being the only mode of the social representation of religion cannot be eliminated in any ultimate sense. Rather, it is only in a democratic set-up open to social antagonism that it can reproduce, transform and face its own contingency. Orthodoxy in Islam, at least in its social manifestation, is, as everywhere else, itself an exercise in power and hegemony. It rests on the contingent notions of piety and belief. As such, allowing multiple and determinate politico-religious manifestations to occupy the centre stage in democratic space can bring out the political (hence, democratic) potential inherent to both Kashmiriyat and Islam. Rather than carving out a niche for politics, the approach in Kashmir must be informed by the concept of indeterminate democratic space. This space is a result of the awareness that some forms of social antagonism, rather than any narrative of harmony and coexistence, condition the existence of any real democratic space.
The article also contextualises its arguments by referring to wider global debates, prompted by worldwide religious resurgence, wherein social thinkers attempt to rethink the nature of public space in liberal-democratic societies and explore the conditions of its inclusivity. Moreover, the paper briefly refers to Islamic scholars like Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and Abdullahi An-Na’im who, by their critique of ‘political Islam’, have helped to shape alternative modes of political reasoning in Islam. Their reasoning equally problematises the religious inclusivity of the modern public space and its capability to live with plural public articulations. The article is also expected to contribute to the much wider debate about the strategic and normative ramifications of participation of religious citizens in the modern liberal-democratic space and the nature of its inclusivity.