Think It Over
Why glorify Jehad?
By M.S.N. Menon
IN one word, frustration-frustration that its grandiose claims are rejected by the world-that Islam is the greatest religion of the world, that Muslim rule was a boon to mankind.
Facts speak a different story. On religion, in general, this is what George Bernard Shaw had said: ?Religions are of no use to us today to understand the universe we live in. Their understanding of the origin of life is plain fairy-tale, their astronomy is terra-centric, their notion of the starry sky is childish. People who are educated in these scraps are unfit to be citizens of any country.?
But in the Islamic world, where religion is all, the Mujahid is ready to set out on a bloody Jehad, take to unremitting violence, with one single objective: to convert the world into Islam. For what purpose? To make people ?unfit? to be citizens?
?Why is it,? asks Salman Rushdie, ?that the faith they (Muslims) love breeds so many violent mutant strains?? Because, (if I may answer the question) violence is built into Islam. Fight those who do not believe in Allah, says the Quran. That has poisoned the entire Islamic faith. It is thus the only religion which calls for violence to convert the world.
To assert, after this, that Islam is all about peace, which is the usual refrain of Muslims, is to fool the people. No non-Muslim will ever believe such apologetics today.
Islam glorifies Jehad against infidels (kafirs). But was not the purpose of religion to redeem man from his brutal life of violence? Was not religion expected to ennoble human life? With so much of endemic violence in Muslim societies, how does Islam become the ?greatest religion?? Think it over.
But, surely, you may say, there must be some provocation for the present terrorist violence? Not at all, Rushdie writes: ?The terrorist wraps himself in a world of grievances to cloak his true motive.?
What is this true motive? Rushdie says: ?Whatever the killer was trying to achieve, it seems improbable that building a better world was part of it.? Yes, building a better world has never been the larger Islamic objective. In fact, the terrorist is engaged in pulling down what generations had built up. ?Such people,? he says, ?are, to offer a brief list, against freedom of speech, multiparty system, adult suffrage, women's rights, pluralism, secularism. In short, they are potential tyrants, not Muslims.?
What is the way out? According to Rushdie, we must arm ourselves with our own certainties to meet the certainties of the fundamentalists.
Look at the pattern of Muslim response in the world. Almost the whole world has abolished monarchies. Not the Muslims. Every religion has gone through reform. Not Islam. In fact, the Reformation, the Renaissance, the Age of Reason-all these passed by Islam without the least impact on it. Every society has gone through political, social and economic reforms.
The point is: Muslims have denied themselves the only means-the democratic way of life-to bring about change. Why? Because they are afraid of a democratic society, where reason will prevail, where every individual will have a say in all matters, including religion.
Be that as it may, absence of debate and consensus can only leave one alternative-the way of violence. Is there any wonder if violence is increasingly the choice?
The alternative is the mosque, the real enemy of the Muslims, where dissent can be expressed only in religious terms. But in this case, the Mullah will take over the leadership. He will exhort the Muslims to return to ?pure? Islam as a solution to all problems. In the process, he will establish his tyranny over the faithful.
One can understand this. But how is one to understand the psyche of the Islamists, the educated Islamic fundamentalists? Those who bemoan the demise of the Caliphate? To Bin Laden, the collapse of the Caliphate was the turning point in the fortune of Islam. He says: ?Let the whole world know that we shall never accept that the tragedy of Al Andulus would be repeated.? To him, Andulasia represents the glory of Islam and its fall a great betrayal. But that is not how the Spanish historians saw the advent of Islam in Spain. That is not how Firdausi, the author of Shahnama, saw the conquest of Iran by the Arabs. That is not how India looks at the Islamic advent in India. They all saw it as a nemesis.
In fact, this is not how even the greatest historian of Islam, Ibn Khaldun (13th-14th century) saw the Islamic expansion in the world. About the destructive habits of the Arabs, this is what he has written: ?Mark how all the countries of the world, which have been conquered and dominated by the Arabs, have had their civilisations ruined, their populations dispersed and even the soil itself apparently transformed.? He goes on to describe the havoc the invaders caused.
Indeed, a terrible indictment of Islamic rule! India should know, for it has suffered the most at the hands of Muslim invaders.