Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh

Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh a political party advocating for incorporating Islamic ideology into state system. From the early 1930s an attempt was made to float a political party under the leadership of Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi with an objective of launching Islamic movement in India. Activities to that end began from 1932 through a monthly journal Tarjuman al-Quran. Maulana Maududi expressed his difference of opinion with the Muslim League’s ideology in his lecture on Way to Establish Islamic Hukumat delivered at Aligarh University in September 1940. In February 1941, a programme was undertaken to hold a convention for launching a new political party. Accordingly, in a meeting held in Lahore on 25 August 1941, the Jamaat-e-Islami was established with Maulana Maududi as its ameer or chairman.

The first convention of the party on all-India basis was held on 19-21 April 1945 at Pathankot in the Punjab. After the partition of India in 1947 the party was divided into Jamaat-e-Islami Hind with headquarters in Delhi and Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan with its central office in Lahore. The central leadership of the All Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami was vested upon Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, the founder-ameer of the party.

Names of Ameer-e-Jamaat Period
Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi    1947-1972
Ufayel Muhammad                            1972
Quazi Husain Ahmed                        1972
Maulana Zakaria                              1972- July 1973
Md. Shafiqullah                                July 1973- September 1974
Maulana Abdul Khaleque                   September 1974- March 1975
Sayyid Mohammad Ali                      March 1975-September 1975
Maulana Abdur Rahim                       September 1975-1978
Maulana Abbas Ali Khan (Acting)       1979
Professor Golam Azam                      1979-2000
Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami         2000-

During the Bangladesh war of liberation in 1971, Jamaat-i-Islami joined hands with the Pakistan occupation army against Bangladesh’s independence and for the integrity of Pakistan and acted as its auxiliary force in perpetrating genocide and crimes against humanity in Bangladesh by organising private forces in different names.

After the emergence of independent Bangladesh, Jamaat-e-Islami ceased to exist as a political party due to the prohibition of communal organisations and use of religion for political purposes under Article 38 of the 1972 Bangladesh Constitution. In 1976, when the Islamic Democratic League (IDL) led by Maulana Abdur Rahim obtained permission from the government, the Jamaat activists began to operate under the banner of IDL. Some Jamaat leaders contested in the general elections of 1979 as nominees of the Democratic League, and six of them were elected. In 1979, the ban on religion-based political parties was withdrawn by the General Ziaur Rahman’s government, and thus Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh was revived. Maulana Abbas Ali Khan was elected as acting Ameer of Jamaat.

Jamaat-e-Islami has been continuing its activities in Bangladesh from 1979. The party secured 10 seats in the Jatiya Sangsad elections held in 1986. During the movement against autocratic rule of Hussein Muhammad Ershad, the Jamaat members in the Sangsad resigned on 3 December 1987. The 8-party alliance led by awami league, 7-party alliance led by BNP, 5-party alliance and the Jamaat-e-Islami participated in anti-Ershad movement. The movement of the alliances turned into a mass upsurge at the end of 1990. General Ershad was compelled to resign from the presidency, and hand over power to the caretaker government headed by Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed.

In the Jatiya Sangsad elections of 1991, Jamaat contested in 35 constituencies and secured 18 seats in the Sangsad. The party rendered its support to BNP in forming the government, and thereby secured two out of 30 reserved seats for women in the Sangsad. In December 1991, Professor Golam Azam, who returned to Bangladesh on a Pakistani passport in 1978 was elected Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh after his Bangladeshi citizenship was declared valid by the High Court. Golam Azam continued to hold this office till December 2000.

The Jamaat-e-Islami joined the movement for introducing caretaker government system in mid-1990s. To intensify the movement the Jamaat members of the Sangsad resigned in December 1994. In the Jatiya Sangsad elections held on 12 June 1996, the Jamaat could secure only 3 seats. In December 2000, Professor Golam Azam resigned and Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami became Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh.

In the general elections held on 1 October 2001, the 4-party alliance led by BNP secured more than two-thirds of the seats in the Jatiya Sangsad, and the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, a partner of the alliance, secured 17 seats. As a member of the alliance, Jamaat was included in the government of the 4-party alliance headed by Begum Khaleda Zia with two of its members, namely Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami and Maulana Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid in the cabinet.

In the Jatiya Sangsad elections held on 29 December 2008, Jamaat-i-Islami under the 4-party alliance contested in 39 constituencies, and secured only 2 seats.

In view of the popular demand for the trial of war criminals, the alliance led by Awami League that came to power in 2008 established the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh (ICT-BD). The Tribunal judged the war crime allegations against collaborators of the Pakistan occupation army, including some top leaders of Jamaat-i-Islami Bangladesh. The Tribunal found the accused guilty and delivered verdict of death sentence for two front-ranking leaders of Jamaat-i-Islami, namely Abdul Qader Mollah and Mohammad Qamaruzzaman. The verdicts have already been implemented. The Chief mentor of the party, octogenarian Golam Azam, was sentenced to life-term until death instead of capital punishment on compassionate ground in view of his age and ailing health, who passed away in captivity. In the case of the Chief Prosecution vs Golam Azam, the Tribunal, taking the contextual circumstances coupled with documentary evidence into consideration, observed that Jamaat-i-Islami as political party intentionally functioned as a ‘criminal organisation’ during the War of Liberation in Bangladesh. [FM Mostafizur Rahman]