Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
21 January 2017
The recent data released by the National
Investigating Agency (NIA) regarding cases of terrorism in 2016 took the
national media by surprise. One of the ‘surprising’ elements that came out of
the NIA briefing was the only about 20% madrasa graduates had been found to be
involved in terror related cases. The majority of Muslim youth who are
implicated in terror cases by the NIA are graduates of regular colleges, some
even having engineering degrees. But why is it surprising at all. It fits the
pattern of overall association of modern educated Muslims and their fascination
for aligning with terrorism.
In majority of the cases of terror related
activities, university and college educated Muslim youth far outnumber madrasa
graduates. After all, Osama was not a madrasa graduate, neither were Muhammad
Atta and others who made 9/11 a possibility.
While this must come as a huge relief to
madrasas who are always under the scanner of intelligence agencies and have been
accused of being involved in promoting terror, it should not be made out that
nothing is wrong is with these madrasas. But we will come to that later.
The simple reason in the Indian context why
madrasas are not knee deep in terror is because they just do not have the
capacity to do so. The sophistication that is required for arms training and
the knowledge that accompanies such training simply eludes a madrasa graduate.
Within their madrasas they are too engrossed
in literal textual hair splitting and in repeating a knowledge system which has
absolutely no relationship with the present world. When an average madrasa
graduate in India cannot locate USA on the world map, then it is too much to
expect from him to be involved in the obliteration of America. When average
madrasa graduate is taught that it is the Shia and the Ahmadias who are the
enemies of Islam, then it is natural that their energy will be channelized in
countering them rather than thinking about waging jihad against the Hindus.
When an average Barelwi madrasa student is
too busy learning that Deobandis are spreading kufr, then there is no way he
can be planning in terms of destroying India. The simple argument therefore is
that madrasas do not have the time to think of Christians or Hindus to paint
them as the enemy. They are too busy and consumed by the internal enemies of
Islam, that countering them becomes the first priority. It is therefore not a
surprise that madrasas are not in any position to produce graduates who would
be willing to wage a jihad against India.
The more troubling part of course that came
out in the NIA brief was the involvement of AhleHadis in terror related
activities in India. Now it will be a long shot to call the AhleHadis a
terrorist organization but there will be some questions asked if this pattern
continues that members of AhleHadis are found to be involved in such
activities. Similar allegations have been thrown at them in the context of
Kashmir militancy. In the valley it is not just acts of terror but also their
involvement in the anti-Sufi tirade has long been commented on. It is time
perhaps that the AhleHadis in India comes out with a categorical statement
making its stand clear in relation to Islamic terrorism in India.
But perhaps the most surprising part of the
NIA brief was the involvement of TablighiJamaat. Owing allegiance to Deoband,
the Tablighi Jamaat has been understood as a movement of piety which shuns
violence. Its parent body, the Deoband, has denounced terrorism in categorical
terms. Some policy pundits have gone to the extent of calling the TablighJamaat
as the role model for Muslims across the globe to follow. So what has gone
wrong with this quietist movement? The answers will always be complex and of
course a lot will depend upon the individual biographies of members who are
involved in such activities. But what can be said is that no one is immune from
the murderous charms of Islamism. And denouncing terrorism does not mean that
one has denounced the worldview which gives rise to such acts in the first
The fact the no Barelwis where found to be
involved in such activities should also be taken with a pinch of salt. Just
because so far there has been no involvement of the Barelwis so far does not
mean that concepts like jihad, kufr and kafir have become redundant for them.
Before the liberal camp starts celebrating this face of moderate Islam, they
will do well to remember that the killer of Salman Taseer was a Barelwi and
that till his eventual hanging, he was utterly convinced that killing the
infidel Taseer was a divine Islamic commandment.
The traditional focus on madrasas as a site
of jihadi extremism should thus be jettisoned in favour a broader focus on the
lure of Islamism, the existing pedagogical practices within Islam and the
Muslim-Kafir dichotomous worldview which many readings of Islam today provide.
is a NewAgeIslam.com columnist
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