By Balbir K. Punj
One of the ?Secular? myths is that Islamic terrorism is a product of poverty, illiteracy, and oppression. The ?Secular? formulation is that Islamic terrorism is completely divorced from the theology of faith. In other words nothing is wrong with the Islamic religious injunctions – only some Muslims are bad and do not abide by true Islam which preaches peace. One wonders how come most of the devout Muslims from Mohammed bin Qasim to Aurengzeb; and Said Qutb to Osama bin Laden have misunderstood Islam while ?secularists? alone (who perhaps had never turned a page of Quran and Hadith) understood it correctly.
?Secularists? also claim that modern education and economic opportunities (thus reservation) act as an anti-dote to Islamic fundamentalism. This ?secular? postulation has times and again been pricked like a soap bubble by stinging realities. Tariq Ahmed Dar, the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operative now in Delhi Police'snet for financing and facilitating Delhi bomb blasts, is the latest to debunk that myth. Dar (33) is a science graduate who works as a sales representative for leading Pharmaceutical MNC Johnson and Johnson. He, as a freelance journalist, also contributed articles in a weekly Mount Valley magazine published from Srinagar. But he maintains a third vocation as a LeT operative.
LeT is no Irish Republic Army or ETA (Basque Terrorist Group) in Spain with a separatist agenda. In its pamphlet ?Why are We Waging Jihad? the group identifies its agenda as restoration of Islamic rule over all parts of India. It views the dilution of Islamic authority in India after the death of Aurangzeb as a historic wrong that should be corrected. We might disagree over LeT'scapacity to do so but not on its intention. Now, when an educated person becomes a shareholder in such a project, and facilitates killing of innocents, how will our secularist friends explain that?
But what is true of Dar is truer about Osama bin Laden, Dr. Omar Saed Sheikh, late Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantasi of Hamas, or Mohammed Atta etc. Egyptian Ayman al Zawahri, number two man in Al-Qaeda, is a doctor whose family has produced a list of distinguished surgeons and doctors. They are educated, sometimes in the West. Some of them are super rich while others are well-off. The terrorists who participated in 9/11 kamikaze mission on WTC and Pentagon were affluent Saudis. Yet they worked for extending the medievalist agenda of Islam that calls for destruction or subjugation of non-Muslims. Is this not a paradox?
Terrorism is not the result of disaffection or dissatisfaction. It is a product of an ideology masquerading as religion that divides humanity.
The point I wish to make is that ?modern education? par se, or affluence par se, does little to alleviate fundamentalism while illiteracy and poverty don'tbeget them. Islamic terrorism is not the result of disaffection or dissatisfaction. It is a product of an ideology masquerading as religion that divides humanity into Momins and Kafirs and the world into Dar-ul-Islam and Dar-ul-Harab. Until this ideology is not discredited and abandoned Islamic terrorism will only intensify not subside. And this can never happen until world community calls for a frank debate on Islam in media, academia and everywhere else possible. Any such exercise in Independent India is termed as communal by ?Secularist cabal? (read Congress, Communists and Muslim communalists combine).
Islamic terrorism is borne out of Islamic theology, but that is only half the story. It is the Madrasas, or Islamic seminaries, where this theology is hammered into the young and impressionable minds that are breeding grounds this intolerance. And it is the Muslim clerics, who have selflessly and incessantly, kept Islam alive through all thick and thin of ages responsible for this. Thus the Samaritan suggestion to modernise the madrasas is preposterous. To teach computer and science to a Madrasa student will be to provide a modern tool to perpetuate a medieval mindset.
But isn'tthis article about ?non-Madrasa? products, often doctors and engineers, who took to Islamic terrorism? Truly, so and that is an enigmatic aspect of Islam. In other religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism normally educated people have played the role of reformers and moderators. Most of them have made themselves unpopular with religious conservatives to champion the cause of equality, liberty and fraternity. In short there has been evolution in the history of all other religions. But, sadly the case is different with Islam.
Religious reformers are heroes in other religions but demonised in Islam. The very concept of reform runs contrary to Islam, which is proclaimed as the perfect religion for all mankind for all times to come. The Koran says- ?This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion? (Al-Maa?idah 5:33). Thus human beings are not expected to think over it, improvise, fine tune, or question it. Anything that has to do with ?free thinking? is against Islam. While in adherents of other religion are often heard swinging between faith and doubt; believing and questioning God it'snot so in Islam. In Islam, which emerged amongst tribes of Arabia, there is no tradition for debate, dissension, introspection and consensus. There is only command, execution, obedience and punishment. This has created such a mindset in the entire community that an innovator is looked down upon while radicals enjoy more social acceptability.
There is no tradition for debate, dissension, introspection and consensus. There is only command, execution, obedience and punishment. This has created such a mindset in the entire community that an innovator is looked down upon while radicals enjoy more social acceptability.
Swami Vivekananda who visited America twice and stayed abroad for years did not like everything about the West. But did he say that the West should be destroyed, Christianity should be disbanded and Hinduism should be imposed upon westerners? No he spoke of cultural and intellectual exchanges between India and America. But Syed Qutb of Egypt was in the US for two years (1948-1950) and became disgusted with western civilization and ideologies. He returned to Egypt and became a militant Islamic thinker- and his book Milestones became the fountainhead of modern Islamic revivalism. He called for destruction of non-Islamic civilizations and ideologies and imposition of Islam.
The Muslims with modern education hardly have any standing in their own community that is under the stranglehold of clerics. The ?rational? Muslims who write in newspapers are merely to befool us since most of us neither read Islamic theology nor its history.
(The writer a Rajya Sabha MP and Convener of BJP'sThink Tank can be contacted at [email protected])