As the radicalism and terrorism engulf the Islam and madrasas are becoming breeding grounds of kafirophobia, Bharat is showing the path leading Islamic world to sanity.
At present the Islamic subcontinent comprising of Middle East and North African countries is in the state of utter turmoil. Muslims of different sects are killing each other. Millions are running away from their countries and seeking asylum in Dar ul-Harb of kafirs, in Europe. The citizens of these countries rallied in support of giving asylum to the refugees. Many European countries have extended helping hand to these refugees, even after being aware that there would be potential terrorists among them. On the other hand, Governments and rebel militias in the Islamic countries are on the killing spree, killing their brethren and countrymen. Saudi Arabia has offered to build 200 mosques, the potential source of terrorism in future in spite of offering more humanitarian help.
As reported in The Times of India (September 26, 2015), “Just as planned the 168 year old Sibtainabad Imambara in Lucknow played host to an unprecedented joint Shia-Sunni namaz on Eid-ul-Zua on Friday (September 25) to send out a message of sectarian unity”. It was heartening to read the news on the background of stampede at Mina which resulted in death of nearly 800 pilgrims and trampling of hundreds. As the blame game started between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, it went on to the extent of condemnation of Saudi Arabia by Iran in the UN General Assembly.
There were some incidents reported from Islamic the countries which hurt the spirit of Ummah– universal brotherhood of Muslims. On September 18, a Mosque at the Pakistan Air Force base at Peshawar was targeted by terrorists where 42 people were killed. Tehreek-e-Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier in June, the Sindh Province Government had declared to crackdown on 48 madrasas as they were involved in promoting terrorism and supporting militancy. After June 26 attack, Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid announced that 80 mosques will be closed within a week for spreading extremism. Similar incidents of terrorism originating in the places of prayer were reported from other Islamic countries.
Why should the places of religious prayers be the targets of both the Governments and the terrorists? Because, these being sources of radicalisation and hotbeds of terrorist activities. What is taught in the madrasas? Apart from the Islamic religious texts, the mullahdom inculcates kafirophobia mentality in the trainees. Taliban owes their origin to the madrasa orientation. The non-believers are often condemned in the Holy Koran. Prophet Mohammad had to struggle and wage war for establishing the new faith. The teachings of the yore have remained the central theme of the preaching in the madrasas all through the world. Soon after the Prophet, there was vertical split in the believers and two major sects emerged. It started the perpetual feud and unending sectarian conflict between Shias and Sunnis. Each started condemning other as kafir. It has continued till today.
Growth of Islamic population gave rise to more numbers of sects and sub-sects. These further added to the endemic feuds in every part of the world wherever Islam reached. Bharat is no exception. There has been deep chasm among the Muslim sects here. On the recent meet of various Islamic sects held at Kozhikode in Kerala to counter IS threat, Mohamed Nazeer in The Hindu (September 27) reports that the meet exposed the deep rooted differences among the various Islamic sects and organisations in Kerala. In northern states of Bharat and Pakistan, it is between two major schools of thought, Deobandis and Barelawis. Both these sects originated in UP, not far away from each other. I happened to discuss with a mufti, a Muslim legal expert, from a traditional school in Bareilly. He condemned Deobandis as kafirs. In presence of a kafir, Deobandis, being sophisticated enough, did not condemn fellow sunnis as kafirs, however they expressed severe animosity towards Barelawis. The feud between Deobandis and Barelawis boils down to the level of untouchability in Pakistan.
These madrasas traditionally have been the centres of radicalisation in Bharat and abroad. What is the gist of content of teaching in madrasas all over the world such that these have come under the scanner in several countries? It is “hate kafirs; keep them away; try to convert them to one’s own sect and sub-sect, kill them if they do not get converted; unleash terror on their women and children; drive them out.” It has been systematic cultivation of kafirophobia– hate kafirs to the end. It soon reached to the level of insanity and deplorable state. Islamic countries have suffered from this insanity for centuries. Now the extremist outfit ISIS is exploiting to the hilt the deep rooted kafirophobia which was cultivated through weekly sermons and even on the family dining tables. Thousands of young men and women are making bee line to reach mirage of ISIS caliphate, Dar ul-Islam of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, while the local Muslims are fleeing away to the Dar ul-Harb. At this stage it is difficult to ascertain whether millions of refugees risking their own life and that of their family members have realised that the extreme kafirophobia cultivated in the Islamic societies the root cause of the bloody wars in their countries.
Path to sanity Bharat
After Pakistan forsook Saudi Arabia for participating in Yemen war, the mood of Saudi Kingdom towards Muslims in the South Asia has changed. Earlier Asian Muslims were treated by their Arab masters like loyal dogs. After this treachery they hold Pakistanis worse than pigs. The Bharateeya Muslims too are no exception. Bharateeya Muslims can no longer espouse tacit support from their Arab masters. Under these conditions, initiative to write off sectarian differences between Shias and Sunnis is a welcome move. Way back in the last NDA regime, Atal Behari Vajpayee had taken initiative to bring about peaceful understanding between these two sects over the Muharram procession in Lucknow. Invariably there used to be skirmishes between these two sects leading to law and order disturbances. These had then stopped. It is a welcome step. At least on the prayer ground, the feeling of brotherhood can prevail reducing the hateful feeling of kafirhood for each other. If this gesture continues and more interactions occur among these two sects, animosity towards each other is bound to reduce. In turn the outlook towards other sects and religions, Hindus and others will mellow down. Intensity of kafirophobia will reduce. Sanity will prevail. For us, the Bharateeya citizens, any Hindu who considers other person as an untouchable, any Christian who considers other person as a heathen and any Muslim who considers other person as a kafir, they are all committing sin against God and humanity.
However the organisers will have to be extremely cautious to guard against the divisive forces. The mullahdom which had vested interest in continued feud will have to be kept aside. As such Muslims can pray without call given by a mullah. Anybody can lead the prayer. So the test lies in keeping these divisive elements away. Why this caution? As reported in TOI, endorsement for this joint namaz was obtained from top religious authorities, including Maulana Al-Sayyid Ali Al-Sistani of Iran. Clerics of both sects in the city had welcomed it. To begin with, it is okay to seek concurrence from the religious authorities, but in future it should be our internal affair. In the world today, none should be considered as a kafir. Let us hope the kafirophobia gives way to the feeling of bhaichara (Brotherhood) and overall communal harmony gets deeply rooted among different sects of Islam and between the different religions as well. India has shown the potential to lead the Islamic world to sanity.
Dr Pramod Pathak (The writer is a Vedic Scholar and Goa based freelancer)