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From the Desk of Editor (18 Jan 2014 NewAgeIslam.Com)

The Rising Threat of Islamic Extremism in India: Moderate Intellectuals Must Join the Battle against Supremacism, Exclusivism, Sectarianism, Fascism and Violent Takfirism in Muslim Society



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

URL:  http://www.newageislam.com/from-the-desk-of-editor/sultan-shahin,-editor,-new-age-islam/the-rising-threat-of-islamic-extremism-in-india--moderate-intellectuals-must-join-the-battle-against-supremacism,-exclusivism,-sectarianism,-fascism-and-violent-takfirism-in-muslim-society/d/35326



  • 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.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 1/18/2014 7:21:01 PM

  • if mr sultan is serious he should think first what is attractive in wahabism. what is its strength? why brailvis convert to wahabism not vice versa? blaming saudi money is i think weakest point in his arguments. well there may be money involved. can only money  produce the jehadis or followers? can mr sultan shahin buy me? i am poorer compared to him. Brailvis as they say are mainstream Muslims. they have freedom to operate their mazars/dargahs and schools at least in India if not in Pakistan. Are they short of funds? are not they collecting money through mazars? where it is going? how come sajjadanasheens are rich? Are Brailvis poorer than Devbandis?
    every ideology runs through its core principle. every ideology sells some goodies to buy followers. money is required no doubt. but there are many poor Devbandis who remain devbandis through out their lives. they never turn to brailvisim. why?

    these two sects are rival as Shias and sunnis are. Imams/leaders of both sects for their vested interests don't allow peaceful co-existence. they don't want to loose their followers.

    By rational mohammed yunus - 1/18/2014 11:51:56 AM

  • dear Sultan Shahin saheb.
    let me congratulate you that I receive greetings like 'Allah Hafiz' from Brailvis too. Devbandis/Wahabis /Ahle hadeethis are Sects of Islam. They just use another interpretation of the holy text. you can't say they are kafir just because they are using different interpretation. any interpretation is valid otherwise how can you say Ahamdis are  Muslims. Since you call all believers in one Allah and the prophet Muslims, it means their interpretation is valid.
    Since we are dependent on scholars for understanding the holy text, it is subjected to create division. they have their biases and interests. to day you are cursing wahabis tomorrow some other sect will do the same. this element of intolerance and orthodoxy can't be separated from the religions particularly from Islam. i have sufficient reasons to believe that if the sufis/barailvis get the power, they will create the division because power corrupts people. what is the guarantee all brailvis are selfless? what is the guarantee due to extreme love and respect for the prophet brailvis will not issue the fatwa and kill the critics of the prophet and blasphemy laws. will brailvis put garland of flowers round the neck of Tasleema Nasreen or salman rushdie or salman taseer. who can take the gurantee no mumtaz qadri will take birth in future among the barailvis.
    the nature of religions has been like this. if you want to shut your eyes it is your choice. you can't throw all responsibility on one or two sects of Islam. history of Islam is soaked in blood due to sectarian hate despite the Quran warns against sects.
    Can you tell me which Wahabi was behind the Abbasi and Ummvi bloodshed? Which Wahabi was behind the creation of shias and resultant bloodshed. do you deny the hate between two Quraishi leaders died with the birth of Islam. Did Islam really changed the hearts to an extent they forgot the tribal tendencies?
     your intention may be pure and noble but the realities are harder than you think. you can't kill wahabism. period. of course you can do efforts. i wonder why a journalist and learned man doesn't understand the root cause.
    Sorry if i bothered you.
    faqat aapka nindak

    By rational mohammed yunus - 1/18/2014 11:20:35 AM

  • dear mr rational,
    your "i am labled as wahabi and i received not even a fraction of dollar or Saudi reyal or Quwaity Deenar. what an irony!" made my day.

    it had me ROTFL!

    by the way, if and when you get those lovely arabian deenars, please do not forget me. i am your brother in doubt.

    By hats off! - 1/18/2014 10:50:16 AM

  • dear hats off
    a religious man commit the evil with full conviction that he is doing good. otherwise how is it possible that people are blown just because they don't belong to his sect or his religion. these people think they are earning paradise.
    Petro dollar or wahabi Islam is an idiosyncrasy of Sultan saheb. i don't know why he forgets all hateful material available in holy books. i am labled as wahabi and i received not even a fraction of dollar or Saudi reyal or Quwaity Deenar. what an irony! those who receive money according to Sultan saheb are not burning their midnight oil on this site.

    By rational mohammed yunus - 1/18/2014 10:30:10 AM

  • religions by definition are exclusive, divisive and supremacist.

    every religion (bar none) has its own set of victims. islam has its kuffar, christianity has its pagans and hinduism its untouchables. the real tragedy is that even in spite of such clear textual basis for discrimination and violence against the "other", we have a tendency to think that a white lie is the way to sell these unfortunate texts as benign.

    if at all there is any universality among religions, it is the inherent intolerance, and the hidden violence cloaked in false piety. religions encourage people to stop from thinking. if that does not work, we can always behead the thinkers, or burn them at stakes or pour molten lead into their ears.

    the real tragedy is not that illiterate and unthinking people who kill in the name of religions, but the educated thinking people who keep parroting their white lie that "all religions preach peace".

    they do. but this peace is only within a religion, never between them.

    By hats off! - 1/18/2014 8:25:16 AM

  • I don't think the problem is with Wahabism or Ahlehadeesism, it is with Islamism because all these people and sects, which you repeatedly write about and flash in your news section, take their ideas from you holy book. Correct me if I am wrong. Is it not written in your Quran that non-Muslims will be thrown into hell and there will be no helpers for them and God curses them both in this world and in the next?" Is it not written in your sacred Hadiths that your Prophet Muhammad said that I am victorious because of terror? Is it not written in your Quran that God turned, may be Jews, into Apes and some other animals. How can there be inclusivism and peace when your holy books preach violence? I know that these verses were time bound, but majority do not know and even care. A young jihadi will not know anything about historical criticism; he will not understnad that a pariticular thing or idea or law is time=specific and not for eternity. For him to blow temples and churches or even shrines, he merely hears his jihadi-teacher to read the Quran, say "kill the kafirs wherever you find them" and he will act the same. You are unnecessarily blaming Wahabism or Ahle hadesism, the blame should be put on ... (you can very well fill in the blanks).
    By Harsh - 1/18/2014 8:02:12 AM

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