Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
two ways in which the current discourse on terror obscures any meaningful
discussion on the subject. Both were apparent during the holiest Muslim month
of Ramzan which will go down in history as one of the bloodiest. In terrorist
literature, Ramzan is called the month of jihad and action. True to their
calling, they were able to murder and maim scores in Istanbul, Baghdad and
Dhaka, not to mention other smaller acts of so-called jihad.
these acts of terror, the involvement of ISIS was established, but the
worldwide reaction to the murderous campaigns was decidedly different. Attacks
in Istanbul and Dhaka received wide condemnation and were debated over and over
again as compared to the Baghdad attack which was by far the deadliest. There
were no marches, no candle light vigils for the nearly 250 Muslims dead (and
counting) in the Baghdad terror attacks.
Baghdad from Istanbul or Dhaka is that those dead in the former are all
Muslims, whereas a majority of those dead in the latter were foreigners.
Are we to
believe that the death of Europeans is more important than those of the
natives? This spectacle of asymmetrical mourning, which captures mind and media
space, has the effect of positing terrorism as a war between Islam and the
theorising is empirically false as majority of the victims of terrorism happen
to be Muslims. And that’s really the problem: there is a refusal to understand
terrorism directed primarily towards fellow Muslims. That being the case,
Muslims worldwide should be concerned about the phenomenon as something which
concerns them and therefore should be in the forefront of waging a battle
against this hateful scourge. What we see however, is just the opposite. Scores
of Muslims are in complete denial over the issue.
importantly, many of them have bought into conspiracy theories which claim that
all acts of terrorism is done by the Americans or the Israelis to give Islam a
bad name. Zakir Naik is not the only one who believes that 9/11 was an insider
job; there are millions of other Muslims like him. In their refusal to see that
they have a problem at hand, Muslims buy into fanciful conspiracy theories and
gloat in a largely self-perpetuated victimhood narrative.
aided by the Ulema and others who hardly have any sociological understanding of
religion, pronounce from the pulpit that Islam is essentially a religion of
peace. We have heard this after 9/11 and more recently after the Dhaka attacks.
This is where the second obfuscation starts: if you believe that Islam is
essentially a religion of peace, then there is hardly anything to do.
evidence to the contrary, this refusal to believe that Islam, like any other
religion or ideology, can itself be a source of violence, can only lead Muslims
to believe in nonsensical theories which understands Islamic terrorism as a
grand design to malign Muslims. The need of the hour therefore is that Muslims
must understand and accept that there are some verses in Quran which actively
exhort followers to kill in the name of Islam. More than that there are various
traditions of the Prophet, considered as holy as the Quran by Muslims, which
also do the same.
This is not
to say that of all the religious traditions, Islam alone subscribes to the idea
of violence. The same goes for the holy books of the Jews and Christians also.
However, owing to a number of factors, the Bible or the Torah do not hold the
same important place in the imagination of those who follow them as compared to
the Quran. Moreover, the march of secular polity has also made these books less
is different: most of the Muslim world still pledges that it will act in
accordance with the teachings of the Quran. In short it is the fountainhead of
most laws through which people are governed in Muslim lands. A refusal to
recognise that it can be the source of violence and legitimizing that violence
can only mean that Muslims have refused to engage with the text within the
context of modernity.
means that Muslims would have great problems with questioning some of the
verses of the text itself. It is not surprising therefore that even after
hundreds of years, the Quran today is not arranged chronologically making a
contextual reading of the text nearly impossible. Since the Quran does not
speak for itself, the hegemonic powers within the Muslim world have overwhelmingly
made it into a text of violence against the infidel. Those who think otherwise
hardly have the reach and the capacity to reach audiences which the former
always had a name. Whether it is done in the name of secular nationalism or inspired
by religion, it is easy to identify the ideology behind the terror. If today
Islam is being linked to acts of terrorism and violence, then the solution is
not close our eyes and blame it on others. The courageous thing to do will be
take the accusations seriously, engage with it and see if we are partly to be
blamed for the deep mess which we find ourselves in.
A NewAgeIslam.com columnist, Arshad Alam is a
Delhi based writer.
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Any sensible person interested in international affairs will not subscribes
to the fact 9/11 was an inside job. Any US government may tell lies to
outsiders but never to its own people who have elected them. US president told
a lie to the people in the Watergate affair and he was compelled to resign from
the Presidency. President Bill Clinton had an affair with a girl Monica
Lewinsky and the parliament (Congress) passed the motion that he should resign.
He escaped because the Senate did not approve by a slight margin. American democracy
is not like the Pakistan democracy.