Sunday, June 26, 2016

ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ISLAMIC TERRORISM Part III Dr. Ishanand Vempe

ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ISLAMIC TERRORISM

Dr. Ishanand Vempeny

(Published in Jeevadhara, Vol.XLVI, No.273, May 2016, pp.66-85)



III.      THE ROOT CAUSE IN ISLAM ITSELF?

As we have hinted at earlier, fundamentalism and to some extent terrorism are found in practically all the world religions. The Khalistan movement too was a terrorist group in Sikhism confined mostly to the Punjab. There are Buddhist fundamentalist groups in Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka with local interests. Similar groups in Hinduism like Shiv Sena, Sri Ram Sena, Bajrang Dal, etc. are much localized and with very limited supports from the majority of Hindus. But the sad truth is that the Islamic terrorist groups like the ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Taliban and the like seem to have their units all over the world both Muslim and non-Muslim.

According to Taslima Nasreen a liberal Muslim writer, Islamic terrorism is a threat to the whole world:

“Islamic fundamentalism is not a negligible problem. If one wants to address this problem, one has to go to its very roots. Preaching principles of freedom of expression alone won’t do any good. One has to know that mantra makes terrorists tick and influences them to take up arms. It is important to stop indoctrination of children with irrational religious faith at home or institutions like madrasas or mosques. They should be raised to have logical, rational minds and to adopt scientific outlooks that are able to distinguish between right and wrong. I strongly believe that as long as Islam remains unreformed, there can be no end to terror.”[1]

People have become skeptical to the Muslim assertion that Islam is a religion of peace. Recently I came across an article in which the author says that “the biggest joke of the 21st century is the assertion that Islam is a peace-loving religion”.

An Islamic scholar said in an interview:

“We hear, very often, Muslims say: ‘This has nothing to do with Islam.’ This is a spontaneous reaction of Muslims on the street. But, in fact, it’s a false reaction. This too is a part of Islam. From the beginning there has been some tolerance towards Jews and Christians, but other non-Muslims (unbelievers) had to convert or die. So these fanatics are following this line, with one difference: They call ‘unbeliever’ (kafir) anyone who is not like them, even the Shia, the Yazidi or the Christian.[2]

          The same idea of the responsibility of Islam as a whole is shared by Raghu Raman. He says:

“Strategists as well as the political and security leadership continue to christen these attacks based on their location. So we have the Madrid attack, followed by the London attack, the Mumbai attack, and so forth. However, labeling them in this way veils the fact that while each attack saw the targeting of the people of a particular city by a different terror groups, the underlying motivation, training, ideological guidance and other essential ingredients of waging war have the same fountainhead. Therefore, each attack must be given the same degree of global mindshare, regardless of the target city.”[3]
         
The American unwillingness, indeed the unwillingness of the West as a whole, to trace the source of fundamentalism and terrorism in Islam itself, leads them clueless for a solution against Islamic terrorism. Thomas Friedman calls it the inability to call a spade spade. Their search for political correctness does not allow them to put blame on Islam in a generalist way. Friedman says:

“When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam from the recent explosions of violence against civilians (most of them Muslims) by Boko Haram in Nigeria, by the Taliban in Pakistan, by al-Qaeda in Paris and by jihadists in Yemen and Iraq.[4]
         
Non-Americans like us Indians it is not difficult to find the Western unwillingness to go to the source. It is the need of Arab oil controlled chiefly by Saudi Arabia. In the book mentioned earlier Sleeping with the Devil the author has pointed out that the Saudi Arabian Islam, centered on Wahhabism, is very much responsible for Islamic terrorism especially the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre.
         
a.     The Mysterious absence of authoritative Fatwas against Terrorism

Fatwa is one of the weapons wielded by the Islamic leadership both religious and political, when the Islamic ‘law’ is broken, chiefly by the Muslims. In the recent past there have been galore of fatwa’s in India alone. These fatwa’s have been even in small matters like playing chess, etc. But there had not been serious and authoritative fatwa’s against the cruelest and inhuman behaviors of Muslim terrorists like the ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram and so on.  

According to Holy Quran every Muslim should be a “Witness” to Allah’s mercy and justice. The following verses are just few samples from many:

“O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it is (against) rich or poor: For God can best protect both.” (Quran 4:135)

“O ye who believe! Stand our firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God, for God is well-acquainted with all that ye do.” (Quran 5:8)

        
“O ye who believe! Cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury – like those who spend their substance to be seen of men, but believe neither in God nor in the Last Day.” (Quran 2:264)

Islamic preaching with gentleness

“Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious; for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who  receive guidance.” (Quran 16:125)

The brutal killing of innocent people like Sisters of Mother Teresa goes directly against many of the teachings of the Quran especially through the above verses. There are many more verses in this Holy Book which command the Muslims to be kind and merciful. Rightly therefore the Islamic columnist and scholar Sadia Dehlvi writes:

“Clearly, the usual response, ‘Islam is a religion of peace’; rings hollow in the midst of the brutalities and slaughter that Muslim terrorists are perpetrating. Sadly, they are succeeding in globally projecting Islam as inherently violent… Nothing defames Islam more than ISIS using the image of Prophet Muhammad’s seal on their flag.[5]

b.     The Galore of Fatwas against dubious and unimportant issues

But lo and behold! There have been galore of fatwas in India and other countries on relatively insignificant and dubious matters.

“In a fatwa or religious decree, issued in response to a question from a caller to a Saudi TV show, Grand mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheikh said that the game was ‘the work of Satan,’ like alcohol and gambling, despite its long history in the West Asia. Chess is played across the Arab world.”[6]

Even against a smaller and dubious issue, the most authoritative body of Indian Islam issued the following Fatwa as reported by various Indian Newspapers. The Indian Express wrote:

“Deoband fatwa against chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. India’s largest Islamic Seminary Darool Uloom Deoband, has issued a fatwa stating Muslims should refrain from chanting the slogan ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ as it was against the basic tenets of their religion… The fatwa states that chanting the slogan was against “tauheed”, or the “oneness of Allah” which forms the core of Islam.”[7]

The figure of speech ‘personification’ does not seem to be opposed to Islam. A poet can personify a bird, animal, tree, plant, star, cloud, etc. but it has to be questioned whether such personifications are against the Muslim tenets or not.

c.      Why no Fatwa against Inhuman Cruelty against the Nature of Allah?

There is no fatwa against the most inhuman and barbaric deeds like the torturing and burning of the Jordanian pilot. Practically most Muslims chant the following Quranic verse which is at the beginning of the Holy Book Quran: “Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim” which means Allah is most gracious and most merciful. About this verse the translator and commentator A. Yusuf Ali says: “By universal consent it is rightly placed at the beginning of the Quran, as summing up, in marvelously terse and comprehensive words, man’s relation to God in contemplation and prayer.”[8]

Any non-Muslim and most Muslims would accept that the followers, indeed the children (‘aulad’) of Allah, should have at least some qualities of mercy and compassion. This has to be fundamental to Islam. At the beginning we have seen the brutal and inhuman cruelty perpetrated by ISIS and its allied branches like Boko-Haram. But the shocking thing is that no noted Muslim leaders or associations including the Darool Uloom Deoband did not pronounce any un-ambivalent Fatwa against this behavior which have been carried on for quite some years especially after the 9/11 World Trade Centre. People know that Saudi Arabia and the Arabic states are supporting the terrorists with money and misinterpreted Quranic verses. This duplicity makes the non-Muslims believe that Islamic authorities do not believe that ‘peace is a desideratum’ for Muslims. This double-standard in fatwas makes the non-Muslims like the above quoted Western Writer, who wrote “The biggest joke of the 21st century is the Islamic proclamation that Islam is a peace loving religion.” 

There have been some fatwas in the recent past against Islamic terrorist groups. But they are too late and too few. Here below we shall give an example of a recent fatwa:

“About 1.5 million Muslims in India have signed a statement condemning terrorism, and 70,000 Islamic clerics have joined in a fatwa condemning the Islamic State. The clerics agreed that terrorist groups should not be recognized as “Islamic organizations.” The dual statements were issued from a Sufi shrine near Ajmer, in the state of Rajasthan, during a religious festival there.”[9]




[1] The Times of India, Taslima Nasreen, “Will Gunmen Get Me Too?” January 13, 2015, p.14
[2] JIVAN, “Reasons for the rampage”, Nov.-Dec. 2014, p.14
[3] Indian Express,Raghu Raman, “One world, one battlefield”, November 18, 2015, p.11
[4] Indian Express,Thomas L. Friedman, “You can’t dance around the topic of radical Islam”, January 25, 2015, p.7
[5] Times of India,Sadia Dehlvi, “A Muslim Crossroads”, January 22, 2016, p.18
[6] Times of India, Ben Hubbard, “Top Saudi cleric forbids chess, calls it un-Islamic”, January 23, 2016, p.13
[7] Indian Express, “Deoband fatwa against chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, April 2, 2016, p.1
[8] Holy Quran, Ed. & Tra., A. Yusuf Ali, published by Amana Corp., 4411, 41st St., Brentwood, Maryland 20722, USA, 1983, p.14
[9] Link: https://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=27926

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