By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
18 Jan 2014
Dear Ghulam Mohiyuddin Saheb, What kind of resistance can one recommend to the intellectuals and leaders of Indian Muslim community who do not even show any consciousness of the rising threat of Islamic extremism emanating from various sectarian ideologies related to Salafism-Wahhabism. Muslims may behave in an appalling manner in India or abroad but you will not find the slightest sign of introspection in our leaders, and of course, no self-criticism ever. Indeed you will be declared a Murtid the moment you even speak of a Muslim, particularly a Wahhabi Muslim, doing anything wrong anywhere.
Only a couple of days ago, as reported in Indian Muslim Press and New Age Islam, some extremist Muslims set ablaze the printing press of a publication and ransacked its offices in Cuttack. The General Manager of the publication had apologized unconditionally for publishing an imaginary photograph of Prophet Mohammad (saw) and clarified that it was not the publication's intention to hurt the sentiments of the Muslim community. This was clearly an honest mistake. How would an average non-Muslim know we are so allergic to photographs of the Prophet? Every publication including New Age Islam today hunts for photographs to illustrate stories. Muslims had no reason whatsoever to turn violent. Indeed, we should not resort to violence; take the law of the land into our hands, even if the publication were intentional and openly meant to offend Muslims. Unlike many Muslim-majority countries where non-Muslim minorities are treated as second-class citizens, we Muslim minorities do have legal methods of protest and struggle available in this Hindu-majority country.
However, if you express this opinion publicly you will be considered a Hindu agent and hence a Murtid and Kaafir. Under the reigning ideology of Salafi-Wahhabism, and its different branches, particularly ahl-e-Hadeesism, it now becomes imperative for other Muslims to eliminate you. You are the first and foremost enemy of Islam, according to Ibn-e-Abdul Wahhab, as you have not shown hatred and enmity in your action and words towards non-Muslims (this term includes all those Muslims who are not Wahhabis).
On the other hand if a Hindu in Hindu-majority India criticises other Hindus for acts of violence, he is a Mujahid in the eyes of our community. You know Teesta Seetalvad. This Hindu lady is known for taking up causes of human rights violations against Muslims. She is fighting for the victims of anti-Muslim Gujarat violence in 2002. She was declared a Mujahida (female Mujahid) by our Ulema and has recently been promoted in our male-chauvinist society to the status of a Mujahid (male Mujahid).
Compare this with the case of Taslima Nasrin. She is in a similar position. Though belonging to the majority Muslim community, she fought for the rights of Hindu minorities of Bangladesh who were and are being killed and whose human rights are violated in many ways. You know how reviled she is in Muslim society. We preserve our rotten eggs for an opportunity to throw at her. And, of course, some of us must be sharpening their knives and cleaning their guns.
So what advise can you really give to such insensitive souls. Have you heard a word from any of our intellectuals, leaders, condemning this completely unwarranted violence on the part of Muslims in Orissa? Did you hear even a squeak from them when Indian Jamaat-e-Islami batted publicly for the convicted war criminals of Bangladesh? Does anyone protest when Maulana Ludhianawi calls India Kufristan? When he asks Muslims to prepare their sons for Jihad to eliminate Muslim minority sects? When he asks Muslims to carry swords or dagger with them all the time even during Namaz prayers?
However, among many other urgent things, what we should do immediately and of course, we at New Age Islam are contributing our bit in these tasks, is:
a) refute the supremacism, exclusivism, violence inherent in Salafi-Wahhabi-Ahl-e-Hadeesi ideology;
b) present a moderate narrative of Islam consistently, repeatedly, systematically to our ignorant people who are being and have actually been in large numbers turned away from moderation and inclusivism of the teachings of our Sufi saints.
Many of our people may continue to visit shrines of these Sufi saints who brought Sufism to India, continue to seek their intercession, and yet have imbibed the violence and exclusivism of the Wahhabi ideology. These people will hate to be called Wahhabi but have developed a Wahhabi mindset. So we have to oppose the violence and exclusivism of Wahhabism and related ideologies, not any sects. Apparently, the killer of Salman Taseer Shaheed belonged to a Bareilwi sect who claims to be Sufism-inspired. I am not aware that even Bareilwis of India have condemned this killing. I remember reading Urdu newspapers in those days and wondering what is the difference between the reaction of Ulema in Pakistan and India to the violence perpetrated against a moderate Muslim who had dared to show sympathy for a wrongly convicted innocent Christian woman simply accused of blasphemy without any evidence whatsoever.
Similarly many people who think they belong to Wahhabi, Salafi, ahl-e-Hadeesi sects do not know what Wahhabism stands for. They maybe hereditary Salafi-Wahhabis, just as many of us are just hereditary Muslims or for that matter Hindu or Christian.
So the lines have got completely blurred and moderates willing to take up the cause of peace and pluralism and inclusivism must clarify that we do not oppose or support any sects, we simply oppose the violence and exclusivism and supremacism and intolerance inherent in certain interpretations of Islam popularly known as Wahhabism-Salafism or Ahl-e-Hadeesism.
If a so-called Sufi or Bareilwi expresses support for violence, we oppose him or her too. To take a concrete example, if Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan Bareilwi did announce bounties on the heads of Taslima Nasrin and former US president George Bush, as reported, we condemn this act too. If Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi, also called by devotees, Mujaddid alf-e-Saani and considered a Sufi, espouses violent Takfiri, exclusivist, intolerant ideas, his ideas too should be condemned.
On the other hand if there are ideas expressed by Salafi-Wahhabi-ahl-e-Hadeesi ideologues like Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Qayyim and Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab or Syed Qutub and Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi that appeal to us, there should be no hesitation in expressing appreciation for them. For instance, I like some of these Wahhabi ideologues' consistent struggle against superstition that has crept into Muslim society and I see no reason why I should not express my appreciation. Similarly Jamaat-e-Islami madrasas appear more connected to modern technologies like computer, internet and other requirements of the New Age like mastery over English language. Many madrasa graduates from Sufi-Bareilwi stream send their own children to Jamaat-e-Islami madrasas for this reason. One reason is, of course, that Wahhabi madrasas are better-funded, but this is also a matter of ideas. So we should have no problem appreciating this aspect of their practice. So moderates should clarify that they support and oppose certain ideas regardless of the source. This is a war of ideas, not of, for and against any sect or group.
The long and short of it is that moderates should expose and refute extremist ideas of those ideologues who claim to find extremism and violence and totalitarianism and fascism inherent in Islamic teachings. And at the same time we should keep articulating a moderate, tolerant, spiritual, peaceful narrative of Islam coherently and consistently.
The important thing to remember is that while you may not run the risk of being killed immediately, if you are engaging in this battle in India, you will certainly be accused of sectarianism and divisiveness if you oppose sectarianism and divisiveness of the Wahhabi ideologues. Wahhabism is opposed to sectarianism; they want Islam, indeed religion, to be one. Their methodology is to eliminate all other sects and religions from the face of the earth. The killings of Sufis, Shias, Ahmedis, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jews is a part of this "non-sectarian", "non-communal," "humanitarian" strategy. However, anyone who stands up for honesty should be prepared to be accused of, even sent to jail for "dishonesty." That is the way of the world. You can see instances everywhere, everyday. So my advice, for whatever it is worth, to moderates who want to fight violent Wahhabi takfirism and extreme sectarianism, is to be prepared to be accused of not only lying and obfuscation but also sectarianism and of even supporting violence.
You see, Ghulam Mohiyuddin Saheb, Wahhabis are a very dynamic, energetic, vibrant, confident group of people. They are completely brainwashed and have developed great conviction in their violent ideology. They are massively funded by petrodollars and protected by the sole super-power of the world. On the other hand, moderates are a dying breed. They have no support from any quarter.
I have always thought I belong to the moderate mainstream. Moderation certainly was mainstream until a few decades ago. But is it still mainstream? I am beginning to wonder now. Khwarij (ideological seceders from Islam) have come to power in some parts of the Muslim world for brief periods and their influence has risen or waned. But never before have their ideas gone mainstream on the large scale as now. So if any moderate Muslim intellectuals are left in India, it's high time they rise from their sleep and take up cudgels on behalf of what they believe in. [Please remember that every generalisation contains some exceptions. So do not think I am not aware of the few who are already doing so in various fora.]
Do you notice a certain dispiritedness and defeatism in my voice? That will be a wrong impression. I do get deflated at times, but I am not defeated. Two reasons. I firmly believe in the strength of peace, moderation and pluralism and acceptance of other religions and ideas in Islamic thought. Two, the general tendency of human mainstream is towards peace, though a section of humans may get sidetracked towards supporting violence sometimes, as happened in Germany and Japan in the middle of last century. This may happen for a variety of reasons. But humans always get back to supporting peace, wanting a peaceful life, in harmony with others. Muslims can be no exception. Khwarij have always been defeated by mainstream Muslims. They will be defeated again. So there is no reason for us to lose hope. But the battle has to be joined, risks taken.
Earlier Comments On The Subject:
Sultan Shahin Sahab, what kind of a resistance are you recommending to Indian Muslims? How exactly should we confront the Ahle-Hadeesis?
By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 1/17/2014 1:37:25 AM
Didn't Salman Taseer become a martyr at the hands of Mumtaz Qadri, a Barelvi? Wasn't the assassin showered with rose petals and the Barelvi Ulema issue a fatwa against performing the funeral prayer of Shaheed Salman Taseer? Wasn't he assassinated fighting the blasphemy laws which are so dear to the Sufi/Barelvi?
Mumtaz Qadri had confessed to murder on the grounds that he objected to Mr Taseer's calls to amend the country's controversial blasphemy law
Qadri's lawyers told the BBC when he was charged that although he admitted killing the governor, he argued that it was not unlawful because "he killed an apostate who insulted the prophet".
Lying and obfuscation is second nature to the Barelvi Sectarian.
By Observer - 1/16/2014 11:49:37 PM
Petrodollar Islam is on the march. And not just in Pakistan. The situation in India is in some ways worse. While you find moderates in Pakistan risking their lives, and actually losing their lives, remember Salman Taseer Shaheed, to oppose Salafism-Wahhabism, Ahl-e-Hadeesi terrorism, in India, you can't even mention these terms for fear of being branded sectarian. Those who believe there should be only one sect, theirs, and the rest should be eliminated, have the temerity to accuse others of sectarianism. And these others, the so-called moderates, the less said about them the better. What would they do when they will actually come under attack here as much as the moderates are in Pakistan.
By Sultan Shahin - 1/16/2014 8:50:10 PM
Sad to see that Sufi or moderate Islam is in retreat in face of intolerant and violent extremism in Pakistan. Saudi money is largely responsible for this hardening of Islam.
By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 1/16/2014 1:57:17 PM
Source of earlier comments: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/the-saints-go-marching-out-as-the-face-of-islam-hardens-in-pakistan/d/35295
Sultan Shahin sahib, thanks for your spirited and comprehensive reply. There is nothing in your reply that I can disagree with. We must condemn and resist violence, coercion, intolerance, exclusivism and supremacy in Islam. We must make Islam a religion of peace, co-existence, reconciliation, compromise, inclusiveness and respect for the beliefs of others.
Upholding and advancing principles that would make sense to any reasonable Muslim would be a better basis for a movement or a crusade than putting it on a sectarian footing. A sectarian clarion call would only have the effect of consolidating the sects.
Wahhabi-Salafis are a powerful and very well-endowed sect compared to moderates. It is expanding, spreading from country to country, and has some very violent elements. Its members are much more ready to fight and to even sacrifice their lives for their cause than the moderates ever will be. The moderates do need to think and rethink their strategy and develop a narrative that is authentic, powerful and inspiring.We do not at this time have either such a narrative or strategy.
Despotisms such as the Soviet system or Apartheid, and hopefully Islamism, eventually fall because of their own weight, but in the mean time sensible Muslims do need to be united, coherent, loud and clear about what is evil and should be shed and what is truly Islamic and should be preserved and made to grow.