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The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam
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07 Dec 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com
Muslim Response To Mumbai Terror In Sync With The National Mood, But What Is Wrong With Our Intellectuals?

By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

December 07, 2008

From the very moment it became clear that the terrorists who attacked India recently in Mumbai were Pakistanis, Indian Muslim anger against Pakistan and the godfathers of terror in that county has been expressing itself in a variety of ways.  They are particularly angry that these marauders have been maligning the fair name of Islam and its image as a religion of peace. They seem to instinctively understand that Indian Muslims’ peaceful co-existence and continued integration in the national mainstream is not in the interest of Pakistan’s permanent establishment. It negates the Two-Nation Theory on which their country is ideologically based. They keep trying - and, fortunately for us, failing - to instigate communal violence on any pretext that may become available to them. They did that in the aftermath of Bombay riots in 1993. Dawood Ibrahim-organised serial blasts took 250 civilian lives and caused 700 injuries alongside massive economic disruption but India refused to fall in the Pakistani trap. Our country is displaying the same commitment to secularism now and thanks God for that.

Muslims recognise the reasons behind Pakistani desperation to attack our secularism, our tolerance and national cohesion, our growing prosperity. India presents a complete contrast to their divided house, virtually every ethnic community seeking to secede, every sect bent upon destroying every other sect, killing its members in as large numbers as possible. Only the day before yesterday a Sunni suicide-bomber killed 20 Shias in a mosque in an event that has become routine in that country. Hence the Mumbai Muslims’ refusal to bury the Pakistani dead in their graveyards, refusal to mourn the loss of Babri Masjid on December 6 this year, which has become an annual event, a sort of another Muharram since 1992. Muslim fury at a clear Pakistani attempt to foment wider violence against them resulted in their participation in large numbers in fellow-citizen’s efforts to show solidarity with the families of those who had died in the latest invasion of our territory – 40 out of 172 killed were Muslims – and condemn the barbaric atrocities while paying homage to those brave policemen and commandos who laid down their lives in the service of nation.

But as we open the Urdu newspapers on 6 th of December, we find the editorial pages recycling the same material they keep doing every year on this Moharram II day, the same bemoaning of the “shahadat”(martyrdom) of the Babri mosque, without explaining how can bricks and mortar become “shaheed”-  will they go to Jannat, one naturally wonders. You won’t  find any of these newspapers ever bemoaning the “shahadat” in Saudi Arabia of Islam’s holiest shrines and greatest heritage buildings, that were living proofs of the historicity of many events in Islam’s and Prophet Mohammad’s life (PBUH).

Then you find Rashtriya Sahara reproducing historian Amareesh Mishra’s conspiracy theories about Mumbai terror being the work of Israeli and Hindu Zionists’ handiwork. You open your mailbox and find several Muslims enthusiastically lapping up Mishraji’s theories and circulating them. Just sample one sentence of what a widely-circulated e-mail by convenor of the Mumbai-based Muslim Intellectual Forum, Firoze Mithiborwala, reads: “As far as the terrorists who attacked Mumbai are concerned, they are in all likelihood… controlled by the American CIA, the Pakistani ISI and the Israeli MOSSAD.”

As Zulkif Manzoor, a Ramanujan Fellow at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore has been quoted in The Hindustan Times as saying: “Such poisoned opinion has only helped to strengthen prejudices (against Muslims).” Clearly our intellectuals are forgetting that Amareesh Mishra is a Kanyakubaja Brahmin and can say what he will, but we can’t, not at this time.

Now does this mean that we are second class citizens; we don’t have the same rights as Brahmins or others? No it doesn’t mean that at all. We are and have been free to express ourselves in whatever way we will; our newspapers have been spreading venom for long - part of the reason why we have alienated ourselves to a certain extent from some sections of society and also injected cynicism in the minds of some of our youth. Mercifully, not many non-Muslims read Urdu newspapers. More mercy, not many of our own youth read Urdu newspapers either; that would have poisoned their minds beyond redemption perhaps.

We have been free and have misused our freedom to the hilt. What is different this time then? Well, as theatre personality Amir Reza Khan explained in a NDTV discussion, right now WE ARE AT WAR. And this war has been declared by a country inhabited by fellow-Muslims and not only in our name but also in the name of our religion. They have been posing as saviours of Indian Muslims and practitioners of Islam. Rules of the game are different in a war. We do, therefore, need to wear on our sleeves not only our patriotism but also a few verses of the Holy Quran preaching peace and opposing violence. As actor Shah Rukh Khan pointed out in his interview with Barkha Dutt on NDTV, it is not only Muslims in India, but all over the world who are being called upon to explain that Islam is not a religion of violence.

To those who love to spread conspiracy theories here is one that is more grounded in reality and common sense. Backed by US Imperialism, Christian crusaders and Israeli Zionism, Saudi Arabia has for decades been damaging Islam, not only destroying Islam’s heritage buildings, but also spending billions of dollars to spreading a view of Islam that says that Muslims should not only kill all non-Muslims but also those Muslims who do not believe in this murderous version of Islam. Like the known enemies of Islam from the time of the first crusades, this Saudi Islam believes that Islam spread with the power of the sword that the Prophet and his successors wielded. Now use your imagination and you can easily surmise what the Crusader, Zionist game is in protecting the Saudi regime and promoting Saudi Islam, even after 9/11, while they destroyed the only bastion of secular and tolerant Islam in the Middle East, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, on a manifestly false pretext, and turned it into a Saudi or Iranian version of sectarian and intolerant Islam.

Fortunately the common Muslim understands the need of the hour that some of our intellectuals and journalists do not. I would appeal to Muslims to continue to walk the extra mile in condemning the Mumbai attacks and distancing themselves and their religion from Osama bin Laden’s or Hafiz Saeed’s version of Islam that has spawned Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and similar scourges.


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Mansoor Hallaj

Date 7 December 2008 19:26
 Background of recent Ethnic and Sectarian Clashes in Pakistan

America backs Shia-Sunni and Ethnic Wars in Pakistan

As per Daily Dawn dated 25 August 2008, Sectarian organisations regrouping in city [1] As I have opined earlier that there is no clash between Urdu Speaking Community with the Pashtuns settled in Karachi. Both the communities have been enjoying excellent relations with each other since the days of Late. Khan Abdul Wali Khan rather both of these communities are important for each other and for City's development in particular and for Sindh Province as well, no clash of interest between them whatsoever. If City Nazim Karachi Mr Mustafa Kamal would care to apply his mind before opening his Illogical Mouth! This applies also to Mr Altaf Hussain [Founder of MQM]!

American Military Establishment [CIA-National Security Agency and add NATO as well] is inciting a Multi Dimensional War against Pashtun Community in Pakistan and i.e. Inciting Ethnic Clash between Pashtuns and Urdu Speaking Community in Karachi - Sindh, Barelvi-Deobandi Clash in Darra Adam Khel/ Tribal Belt/settled Area and last but not the least Shia Sunni Clash in Kurram Agency. Notorious US Military Contractors Vinnel Corp and Blackwell Contractors have successfully done that in Iraq which resulted in Catastrophe of Unabashed Bloodletting.

Quesion is why the Americans have targetted the Pashtuns. Because Pashtuns hold control over Goods Transport Trade [2] and since USA is bombing the Unarmed and Non Combatant Civilian Pashtun unabashedly and shamelessly. These bombing could interrupt the US-NATO's [2] War on Terror, therefore to neutralize the Pashtuns, the American Spymasters have devised an strategy to engage Pashtuns everywhere. [Read the refences and details in the end]


The Former US Diplomat to Pakistan Ryan C Crocker had submitted a detailed Research Paper of US Strategy to Incite Shia-Sunni Strife in Iraq.


However, the United States, the existing Arab regimes, and the traditional Sunni clerical establishments all share an interest in avoiding instability and revolution. This shared interest makes the establishments in the Sunni world America’s natural partners in the struggle against Al-Qaeda and similar movements. If American strategists fail to understand and exploit the divide between the establishments and the radicals within Sunni Islam, the United States will play into the revolutionaries’ hands, and drive fence-sitting Sunnis into its enemies’ ranks. 2 Outsiders of the Sunni World Sunni Islam is a very big tent, and there have always been clashing philosophies, and insiders and outsiders, within Sunnism.*Throughout the past century, the most important of these clashes have occurred between Sunni reformers and the traditional Sunni clerical establishment. The ideology espoused today by Al-Qaeda and similar groups can be traced directly from the
 nineteenth-century founders of modernist reform in Sunnism; Al-Qaeda’s leading thinkers are steeped in these reformers’ long struggle against the establishment. The teaching of these reformers has been heterodox and revolutionary from the beginning. That is, the reformers and their intellectual descendants in Al-Qaeda are outsiders of today’s Sunni world. For the most part this struggle has been waged in Egypt, Sunni Islam’s center of gravity. On one side of the debate, there is Cairo’s Al-Azhar, a seminary and university that has been the center of Sunni orthodoxy for a thousand years. On the other side, Al-Qaeda’s ideology has its origins in late-nineteenth century efforts in Egypt to reform and modernize faith and society. As the twentieth century progressed, the Sunni establishment *Shiism, Islam’s other great branch, has at least as much diversity, but is beyond the scope of this essay because Al-Qaeda is a militantly Sunni movement
 with no appeal in the Shia world.

National Defense University National War College THE ORIGINS OF AL-QAEDA IDEOLOGY Implications for U.S. Strategy Christopher Henzel Course 5602:

Military Thought and the Essence of War Expanded Paper Faculty sponsor: Colonel James E. Harris, USA Faculty advisor: Ambassador Ryan Crocker April 20, 2004 Word Count:4554

1 “The fight against the enemy nearest to you has precedence over the fight against the enemy farther away….In all Muslim countries the enemy has the reins of power. The enemy is the present rulers.” -– Abd al-Salam Faraj, tried and hanged in connection with the 1981 assassination of Anwar al-Sadat1“Victory for the Islamic movements…cannot be attained unless these movements possess an Islamic base in the heart of the Arab region” -- Bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, 20012“We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia3…. The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize. We have to ensure the fulfillment of the democratic revolution4…. –- Michael Ledeen, of the American Enterprise Institute, 2002 The leader of Sadat’s assassins, Bin Laden’s chief ideologue, and a leading American neo-conservative supporter of Israel all call for a revolutionary transformation of the Middle East. However, the
 United States, the existing Arab regimes, and the traditional Sunni clerical establishments all share an interest in avoiding instability and revolution. This shared interest makes the establishments in the Sunni world America’s natural partners in the struggle against Al-Qaeda and similar movements. If American strategists fail to understand and exploit the divide between the establishments and the radicals within Sunni Islam, the United States will play into the revolutionaries’ hands, and drive fence-sitting Sunnis into its enemies’ ranks. 2 Outsiders of the Sunni World Sunni Islam is a very big tent, and there have always been clashing philosophies, and insiders and outsiders, within Sunnism.*Throughout the past century, the most important of these clashes have occurred between Sunni reformers and the traditional Sunni clerical establishment. The ideology espoused today by Al-Qaeda and similar groups can be traced directly from the nineteenth-century founders of modernist reform in Sunnism; Al-Qaeda’s leading thinkers are steeped in these reformers’ long struggle against the establishment. The teaching of these reformers has been heterodox and revolutionary from the beginning. That is, the reformers and their intellectual descendants in Al-Qaeda are outsiders of today’s Sunni world. For the most part this struggle has been waged in Egypt, Sunni Islam’s center of gravity. On one side of the debate, there is Cairo’s Al-Azhar, a seminary and university that has been the center of Sunni orthodoxy for a thousand years. On the other side, Al-Qaeda’s ideology has its origins in late-nineteenth century efforts in Egypt to reform and modernize faith and society. As the twentieth century progressed, the Sunni establishment *Shiism, Islam’s other great branch, has at least as much diversity, but is beyond the scope of this essay because Al-Qaeda is a militantly Sunni movement  with no appeal in the Shia world.

3 centered on Al-Azhar came to view this reform movement as more and more heterodox. It became known5as Salafism, for the supposedly uncorrupted early Muslim predecessors (salaf, plural aslaf) of today’s Islam. The more revolutionary tendencies in this Salafist reform movement constitute the core of the challenge to the Sunni establishment and the chief font of Al-Qaeda’s intellectual heritage. A Century of Reformation In contemporary Western discussions of the Muslim world, it is common to hear calls for a “reformation in Islam” as an antidote to Al-Qaeda.6These calls often betray a misunderstanding of both Sunni Islam and of the early modern debate between Catholics and Protestants. In fact, a Sunni “reformation” has been underway for more than a century, and it works against Western security interests. The Catholic-Protestant struggle weakened traditional religious authorities’ control over the definition of doctrine, emphasized
 scripture over tradition, idealized an allegedly uncorrupted primitive religious community, and simplified theology and rites. The Salafist movement in Sunni Islam has been pursuing these same reforms for a century. 4 More importantly, the current calls for “a reformation in Islam” carry with them an implication that the traditional Sunni clerical elite is the ideological basis for Al-Qaeda, and that weakening the traditional clerical establishment’s hold on the minds of pious Sunnis would promote stability. In fact, the opposite is clearly the case in most of the Sunni world. The mutual condemnations that the establishment and Salafist camps have exchanged over the past century, no to mention the blood shed by both sides, make this clear. Even in Saudi Arabia, which is exceptional because the religious establishment there is itself Salafist, the regime and its establishment Salafist allies have asserted themselves against revolutionary religious  tendencies repeatedly since the 1920s, and are belatedly doing so again now.

The revolutionary Salafists are outsiders. Their movement, from its origins a century ago until today, has been at odds with the Sunni establishment. By tracing the movement’s ideological development over the past century, one can see why Al-Qaeda’s leaders have chosen their present strategy: the experience of their movement drives them to view their opponents within Sunni Islam – “the near enemy” – as a more important target than non-Muslims – “the far enemy.” Theology and Politics: Ibn Taymiyya The medieval Sunni scholar Taqi ad-Din Ahmed ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328) is an important reference for today’s revolutionary Salafists.*Ibn Taymiyya needed an argument that would rally Muslims behind the Mamluke rulers of Egypt in their struggle against the advancing Mongols from 1294-1303. Some objected that there could be no jihad against the Mongols because they and their king had recently converted to Islam. Ibn Taymiyya reasoned that,
 because the Mongol ruler permitted some aspects of Mongol tribal law to persist alongside the Islamic sharia code, the Mongols were apostates to Islam and therefore legitimate targets of jihad. Today’s revolutionary Salafists cite Ibn Taymiyya as an authority for their argument that contemporary Muslim rulers are apostates if they fail to impose sharia exclusively, and that jihad should be waged against them.8Although Ibn Taymiyya’s medieval theology is important to the contemporary Salafists, Salafism had its true origins in modern times, in the reform movement at Sunni Islam’s Egyptian core in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This reform movement arose out of the reaction of Muslims in the Ottoman Empire to the growing dominance of the West in international politics, in science, and in culture. Napoleon’s occupation of Egypt, the French colonization of North Africa, and Britain’s domination of Muslims in India and later
 Egypt all dealt profound shocks to a Muslim world that had, until the eighteenth century, confidently regarded itself as superior to the West. Muslim Rationalist: Al-Afghani Jamal ad-Din Al-Afghani (1839-1897) launched this modernizing reform movement in Islam, one strain of which, as we will see, developed later into the revolutionary Salafism the United States confronts today. Chiefly through his preaching and pupils in Cairo, Al-Afghani spread the idea that Muslim defeats at the hands of the West were due to the corruption of Islam. Al-Afghani admired Western rationalism, and saw it as the source of the West’s material strength. Rather than advocating secularization, however, Al-Afghani taught that rationalism was the core of an uncorrupted “true” Islam, the Islam supposedly practiced during the golden age of Muhammad and his first few successors. Al-Afghani believed that if this spiritual *See appendix for a list of key Sunni reformers.

7 revival of Muslim society were accomplished, the Muslim world would soon develop the intellectual equipment it needed to redress the West’s technological and military advantages.9Al-Afghani’s teachings flew in the face of conventional wisdom in both the Muslim world and the West. Most Ottoman reformers who contemplated the disparities between Western and Eastern power concluded that the Ottoman Empire needed to adopt the science of the West, and set aside much of the thought of the East, a tendency that culminated in Attaturk’s radical secularism. Al-Afghani differed in that he diagnosed the Muslim world’s problem as theological at root, and prescribed as the cure a religious revival. Al-Afghani also taught that political struggle, even revolt, was sometimes called for, a view that departed from that of orthodox Muslim thinkers, who believed the unjust ruler should be admonished, but nevertheless obeyed. Al-Afghani’s attempts to identify
 Western rationalism with primitive Islam, as well as his teaching on rebellion, brought condemnation from the Sunni clerical establishment. He failed to win a popular following for his ideas, and was deported from Egypt by the regime of the Khedive Tawfiq.10

8 But Al-Afghani’s students had a lasting impact on the next generation of Muslim thinkers. Sunni Reformers: ‘Abduh and Ridha Al-Afghani’s leading student was Muhammed ‘Abduh (1849-1905.) He rose to become Grand Mufti of Egypt, making him the only prominent Salafist to have made a career among the clerical elite. ‘Abduh was a modernist: like Al-Afghani, he contended that Islam, properly understood, was compatible with the rationalism of modern Europe. This proper understanding could be found in the supposedly pure religion practiced during the first few generations of Islam. Importantly, ‘Abduh also taught that private judgment (ijtihad) was a valid means by which contemporary believers could understand “true” Islam in a modern light.11‘Abduh’s followers took his ideas in two divergent directions after his death. Some used his teachings to advocate secularization in the Muslim world. They had much impact over the next fifty years,
 blunting Muslim resistance to Arab socialism and nationalism, but the logic of their views led many of them12into outright secularism, taking them out of the debate among Sunni believers. The other school of ‘Abduh’s followers used many of his reforming ideas to move down the path that led to today’s Al-Qaeda. ‘Abduh’s pupil and biographer, Mohammed 9 Rashid Ridha (1865-1935) emphasized his master’s teachings on the idea of a pure Islam of the aslaf, and on the idea that individuals and societies that adhere to “true” Islam will prosper in this world. This was an especially attractive promise to Muslims living under European occupations. Ridha’s circle viewed the early Muslims’ conquests as God’s reward for their pious obedience. If only Islam could be cleansed of its medieval encroachments and (in Ridha’s version) the errors of both modern Westernizing philosophers and Shias, then political success would follow. Ridha believed
 the establishment clergy incapable of leading the reform movement he desired, and hoped (in vain) for the formation of a new cadre of religious scholars to be educated in new, reforming seminaries.13Al-Banna and the Muslim Brothers The Egyptian Hassan Al-Banna (1906-1949) studied with Ridha’s circle as a young man, and in 1928 launched in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood, the first modern Islamic political movement. Al-Banna sought to unite and mobilize Muslims against the cultural and political domination of the West. However, the Brotherhood eventually reached an understanding with the regime of King Faruq, which saw the Brothers as a useful counter to nationalist movements. As 10 a result, revolutionaries among the Salafists began to feel less and less comfortable with the Brotherhood. Just as these differences within the Brotherhood were coming to the surface, the Free Officers overthrew the Egyptian monarchy in 1952.
The new socialist and nationalist military regime suppressed the Brotherhood in 1954, claiming it was linked to a plot to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser. Reform Movements beyond Sunnism’s Core Meanwhile, other Sunni reform movements beyond Sunni Islam’s Egyptian core were maturing independently of the Salafists. Wahabism, a puritanical Sunni sect, first arose in the 1700’s, but remained confined to the sparsely populated deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. In 1816, Sunnism’s orthodox core, in the form an Egyptian army acting in the name of the Ottoman Sultan, reached out to Arabia to destroy the first Wahabi state. Ridha, early in his career, condemned the Wahabis as heretical, as did all mainstream Sunnis. But Ridha gradually came to sympathize with the Arabian dissenters.14Wahabi influence throughout the Sunni world grew as oil wealth fed Saudi power in the 1960s and 1970s. Like Wahabism, the Deobandi and Barlevi movements of South Asia developed
 independently of the reformers at Sunnism’s Egyptian core. The Deobandis and Barlevis 11 attempted to address the problems of South Asian Sunni Muslims who went from being the ruling minority of the Mughal Empire, to living after 1857 under direct British rule as a minority among South Asia’s Hindus. Their solution was to call on believers to exclude non-Muslim influences from their lives, build purely Muslim institutions, and strive to live a wholly Islamic life, as understood by the movements’ scholars.

It was not until the 1960s that these South Asian currents influenced the revolutionary Salafists, through the writings of Pakistani cleric Abul Ala Mawdudi (1903-1979)15and their impact on another Egyptian outsider, Sayyed Qutb. Sayyed Qutb Qutb (1906-1966) was the next bearer of the revolutionary Salafist flame. An educator and member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qutb warned against the Westernizing influences that continued to permeate the Muslim world during the 1940s and 1950s. Qutb had no formal theological training, but, hearkening back to ‘Abduh and Ridha, believed it the duty of the ordinary believer to seek out the supposedly pure Islam of the aslaf.16Expanding on Ibn Taymiyya’s teaching on jihad against apostate rulers, Qutb argued for struggle against the secular regimes of the Muslim world, even if this meant 12 killing Muslims. Qutb was also influenced by Mawdudi’s call on individual Muslims to exclude non-Muslim influences from their
 lives and institutions. Qutb’s endorsement of Mawdudi began a convergence between the revolutionary Salafists and the South Asian movements.17The Nasser regime hanged Qutb in 1966.18Nasser’s secular agenda, his socialism, and his spectacular defeat in the 1967 war generated opposition to his regime and disillusionment with secularism in general. Some of this opposition flowed into the ranks of the underground Islamic political movements. The Muslim Brotherhood had by this time split with the revolutionary Salafist movements over the Salafists’ calls for overturning Muslim states and societies. The Brotherhood became the most significant Islamic political opposition to Nasserism. However, the revolutionary Salafists, who viewed Qutb as a visionary martyr, gained adherents as well. Thousands from both movements languished in Egyptian prisons. After Nasser’s death in 1970, his successor, Anwar al-Sadat, attempted to co-opt both traditional Islam
 and political Islam as counters to the political left. The Sadat regime at first tolerated the growth of a Salafist campus movement calling itself Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya (the 13 Islamic Group), but the Jamaa began to turn on Sadat when he delayed his promised institution of the sharia code. Around the same time, a more radical faction splintered from the Jamaa, calling itself simply Jihad. Sadat suppressed both groups in the late 1970s. During the 1970s, one of those who spread Qutb’s message and updated his strategy was Abd al-Salam Faraj, an electrician and self-taught theologian for the underground Jihad in Egypt. Tried as a leader of the conspiracy that assassinated Sadat in 1981, Faraj used the proceedings to present his manifesto, The Neglected Duty. Along with theological arguments justifying violence, The Neglected Duty echoes Qutb on the need for a strategy that attacks the “near enemy” – apostate Muslim regimes – before the “far
 enemy” – meaning Israel, the U.S., and other western powers interfering in the Muslim world.19Faraj also accused the Muslim Brothers and the establishment Egyptian clergy of collaborating with the secular Egyptian regime. The Neglected Duty was widely read throughout Egypt and the Muslim world. Mustafa, Zawahiri and Bin Laden After Sadat’s assassination and the ensuing crackdown on both the Muslim Brothers and the revolutionary Salafists in Egypt, some Salafists gravitated to a sect headed by an 14 engineer named Shukri Mustafa. Mustafa’s group, building on Qutb’s writings, preached the “denunciation as unbelievers” (takfir) of almost all of society, and separation from them. The traditional religious establishment of Al-Azhar denounced these “takfiris” as heretics. Mustafa was hanged in 1977 for the kidnapping and murder of a senior Al-Azhar cleric.20

The guerilla war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from 1979-1989 was the incubator for the next stage in the development of Islamist doctrine and strategy. Many Arab volunteers there coalesced around revolutionary Salafists who remained outsiders to the Sunni clerical establishment, even as some of the Arab governments, and the United States, funded them. Many Arabs in Afghanistan came under the influence of the Egyptian physician Ayman al-Zawahiri, a prolific writer whom many found persuasive, but who, like all the revolutionary Salafists, was condemned by the Al-Azhar clerical establishment. Zawahiri claims to have known Faraj personally; the doctor eventually became a leader of one of the Egyptian Jihad groups.21Zawahiri met Osama bin Laden in Peshawar, Pakistan during the guerilla campaign against the Soviets. The two collaborated closely, Zawahiri contributing his skills as an ideologist, Bin Laden his organizational 15 talents and
 financial resources. The two publicly announced the merger of their groups in 1998, completing Al-Qaeda’s development into the group that challenges the U.S. today. Al-Qaeda Strategy Today Zawahiri remains Bin Laden’s deputy as leader of Al-Qaeda, and the Egyptian doctor’s writings provide the best insight into the terrorist organization’s current strategic thinking. In his 2001 book Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner, Zawahiri identifies and prioritizes the goals of what he calls the “the revolutionary fundamentalist movement” as, first, achievement of ideological coherence and organization, then struggle against the existing regimes of the Muslim world, followed by the establishment of a “genuinely” Muslim state “at heart of Arab world.”22Zawahiri views the current stage of the jihad as one of worldwide, revolutionary struggle, to be waged by means of violence, political action, and propaganda against the secular Muslim regimes
 and secularized Muslim elites.23Zawahiri argues that, because the terrain in the key Arab countries is not suitable for guerilla war, Islamists need to conduct political action among the masses, combined with an urban terrorist campaign against the secular regimes, with attacks on “the external enemy,” i.e., the United 16 States and Israel, as a means of propaganda that will strengthen the jihad’s popular support. Zawahiri wants his Salafist readers to keep in mind that the Arab establishments are the real targets, even if “confining the battle to the domestic enemy…will not be feasible in this stage of the battle.”24Highly visible attacks against external enemies, and the inevitable retaliation, Zawahiri explains, will rally ordinary Muslims to the radicals’ cause, strengthening the main struggle, the one against the current regimes of the Muslim world. As Zawahiri writes in Knights: “The jihad movement must…make room for the Muslim nation to participate with it in the jihad for the sake of empowerment. The Muslim nation will not participate with [the jihad movement] unless the slogans of the mujahidin are understood by the masses… The one slogan that has been well understood by the nation and to which it has been responding for the past 50 years is the call for jihad against Israel. In addition to this slogan, the [Muslim] nation in [the 1990’s] is geared against the U.S. presence. [The Muslim nation] has responded favorably to the call for the jihad against the Americans…the jihad movement moved to the center of the leadership of the [Muslim] 17 nation when it adopted the slogan of liberating the nation from its external enemies.”25…[Striking at the U.S. would force the Americans to] personally wage the battle against the Muslims, which means that the battle will turn into a clear-cut jihad against infidels.”26This passage shows that the revolutionary Salafists do not  expect to actually defeat America or its allies (whatever Al-Qaeda propaganda may claim.) Instead, the attacks are a means toward the end of changing the character of the conflict, changing it from a campaign waged by a small faction of extremists against the regimes of Muslim world, to “a clear-cut jihad against infidels,” which would, the Salafists hope, attract wide support among the Muslim masses.

27Zawahiri views the current phase of the jihad as a revolutionary war, and the ideological component of the struggle is thus very important. Like Mao28and the North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap29, Zawahiri considers political and propaganda action to be just as important at some stages as military efforts are. “The jihad must dedicate one of its wings to work with the masses, preach, provide services…the people will not love us unless they feel that we love them, care about them, and are ready to 18 defend them.”30This last point—-convincing the people that the revolutionary Salafists are “ready to defend them,” again illustrates how Zawahiri sees terrorist strikes against the external enemy as a means of making propaganda among the Muslim masses. He calls on his followers, at this stage of the struggle, to “launch a battle for orienting the [Muslim] nation”31by striking at the U.S. and Israel. The immediate goal is not to destroy
 Israel or even drive the U.S. out of the Middle East; rather it is to “orient the nation.” The Masses and the Pious Middle Classes For all the importance that Zawahiri attaches to political action and organization among the masses, the revolutionary Salafists have had, at least up until the U.S. invasion of Iraq, little popular response to their efforts. In his 2002 book Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam, Gilles Kepel argues convincingly that contemporary political Islamist movements can succeed only when they are able to mobilize, and maintain an alliance between, the masses and the pious middle classes. Natural tensions between the two constituencies are inherently difficult to control, and are repeatedly the downfall of contemporary political Islamist movements, most notably in Algeria. The 19 Ayatollah Khomeini was the only really successful leader of such a movement, and this may have had much to do with factors unique to Shia Islam.32The
 closest thing so far to a Khomeini-style success in the Sunni Arab world was the rise and fall of the Algerian Front Islamique du Salut (FIS.) The FIS convinced the pious middle classes that it was non-violent and did not threaten stability, while showing a sufficiently revolutionary face to Algeria’s masses of alienated young men to mobilize them. The result was a series of FIS electoral successes that would have resulted in a democratically elected FIS regime had the Algerian military not intervened in 1992. When the FIS was unable to control the rage of its underclass supporters over the coup, and violence erupted, the pious middle classes largely deserted the movement, leading to its collapse.33 Similarly Egypt’s revolutionary Salafists have been discredited by their violence, especially the Luxor massacre of 1997, when the Jamaa slaughtered sixty foreign tourists. This and other outrages sickened many Egyptians, who might otherwise have given
 the Islamists a hearing. This revulsion, as much as the regime’s ruthless crackdown, so weakened the Jamaa that, by 1999, its imprisoned leaders had publicly declared a unilateral ceasefire.34

20 Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia is exceptional, as mentioned earlier, because Salafism there is a doctrine of the insiders, the clerical establishment. However, even in Saudi Arabia, the centuries–old partnership between the Al-Saud dynasty and the Wahabi clerical establishment gives the establishment Salafist clerics in important interest in suppressing the revolutionary strain of Salafism. Quintan Wiktorowicz and John Kaltner describe this split between violent and non-violent Salafists, noting the prominence in the latter group of leaders with Ph.D.s from Saudi universities.35Both the establishment Wahabi clerics and the Al-Saud have sometimes failed in their efforts to keep the revolutionary Salafists out of Saudi Arabia’s establishment clergy, and until 2001 actually connived in establishing them outside the Kingdom. Since September 11, 2001, and the May 2003 bombings in Riyadh, the regime has worked, with mixed success, to suppress its
 revolutionary Salafists. Strategic Implications for the United States Almost all of the thinkers who shaped Al-Qaeda’s ideology were outsiders. Afghani, Ridha, Al-Banna, Qutb, Faraj and Zawahiri all battled the clerical and government establishments of their time. Only ‘Abduh penetrated the 21 clerical establishment (and he would probably condemn the violent factions of today’s Salafists.) Like their intellectual forbears, Al-Qaeda and today’s other Salafist revolutionaries remain outsiders, locked into a century-long philosophical struggle with the traditional Sunni clerical elite, and engaged in political struggle with Arab regimes. The revolutionary Salafists fight because they want power, and because they hate the secularism and corruption they associate with the current Sunni Muslim regimes. (The regimes’ undemocratic nature has not been an important motive for the Salafists over the years.) The revolutionaries have failed so far to
 mobilize and unite the masses and pious middle classes of most Arab countries. They no longer enjoy the overt support of any government on the planet, having lost their state in Afghanistan, been defeated in Algeria, and fallen out of favor with their erstwhile allies in Sudan’s military regime. The Salafists’ current strategy, as Zawahiri described, is to provoke, on an international scale, a cycle of violence and repression that will mobilize the Sunni masses. The American invasion of Afghanistan failed to bring about this mobilization. However, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, combined with U.S. support of 22 Israel’s policies in the occupied territories, may at last be triggering the radicalization of the masses and middle classes of the Arab world that Al-Qaeda hoped for. Sunni Islam’s most active reformers over the past century have been its outsiders, the Salafists; these reformers’ revolutionary wing is America’s enemy. It is the
 insiders of Sunni Islam who are America’s natural allies. Western advocates of “reformation” understandably want to see the existing secular, westernized classes in Muslim countries gain the upper hand. But these politically weak classes are small elites viewed with suspicion by the masses. Any American effort to strengthen these elites must be a project for several decades, to be carried out quietly and with the greatest caution. The United States would gain little if more among the Muslim masses came to regard Muslim liberals as agents of the global hegemon, bent on depriving Islam of its capacity to resist a Western culture that most view as morally depraved.

The U.S. should instead exploit its ties to the existing regimes of the Sunni world in order jointly to combat the revolutionary Salafists. The U.S. struggle against al-Qaeda and similar groups will be chiefly a matter of intelligence and police work, with perhaps a role 23 for special forces in ungoverned areas.36Only the existing Muslim regimes, in coordination with American investigators and spies, can defeat the cells of Al-Qaeda and similar groups moving among the Sunni world’s masses. The United States needs to support and to engage with these undemocratic regimes even more closely U.S. security services are to be granted the liaison relationships with local services that are essential to the real war against terrorism. Washington should set aside, for now, its ambitions for democratic revolution in the region, at least until the Salafist revolution is contained. Similarly, the U.S. must avoid positioning itself as the foe of the traditional
 Sunni clerical establishments, or provoking some of them into sympathy with their erstwhile foes, the revolutionary Salafists. If mainstream Sunnis come to view the United States as bent on a campaign to weaken or remake traditional Muslim culture, then more and more mainstream Sunni believers will conclude that the revolutionary Salafists they once reviled were right all along. At that point we really would see the clash of civilizations sought by both Al-Qaeda and some U.S. pundits.

24 Appendix Some Anti-Establishment Movements and Reformers in Sunni Islam

Ibn Taymiyya 1263-1328

Peripheral Revivals and Reformers

Wahabis(Arabia) c.1745-present

Deobandis (South Asia) 1867-

Present Reformers at Sunnism’s Core

Al-Afghani 1839-1897

Abduh 1849-1905


Al-Sayid 1872-1968

Revolutionary Salafists

Ridha etc. 1865-1935

Al-Banna 1906-1949

Muslim Brothers 1928-present

Mawdudi 1903-1979

Qutb 1906-1966

Revolutionary Establishment

Salafist Wahabis


Faraj d. 1981

Zawahiri b. 1951

Bin Laden b. b. 1957 Al-Qaeda


1 Muhammad Abd Al-Salam Faraj, The Neglected Duty, sections 68-70. Translated in Johannes J.G. Jansen, The Neglected Duty: The Creed of Sadat’s Assassins and Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East (New York: Macmillan, 1986), 192. The title of Faraj’s book is also sometimes translated as “The Forgotten Obligation.

2 Ayman al-Zawahiri, Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner. Serialized in Al-Sharq al Awsat (London) 2-10 December, 2001. Translated by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, document number FBIS-NES-2001-1202. Maintained on-line by the Federation of American Scientists,

(24 October, 2003.)

3 Michael Ledeen, The War against the Terror Masters. (New York: St. Martin’s, 2002 and 2003), 172.

4 Ledeen, 216.

5 ‘Abduh called his teachings “salafiah.”

6 For example, Paul Wolfowitz said “We need an Islamic reformation, and I think there is real hope for one.” David Ignatius, “The Read on Wolfowitz.” The Washington Post, January 17, 2003, A23.

7 Salafist reformers even echo some aspects of Calvinism, teaching that personal faith and piety will be rewarded with worldly success.

8 Ibn Taymiyya wrote and taught on a wide range of the theological and political issues of his day. Most of Ibn Taymiyya’s work had to do with issues that do not concern today’s disputes within Islam, such as the extent to which Muslim theologians should incorporate the philosophy of classical Greece. Ibn Taymiyya also concluded that apostasy might not always be punishable by death, a position today’s revolutionary Salafists of course do not focus on. Muslim rulers jailed Ibn Taymiyya several times.

9 Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798-1939. (Cambridge University Press, 1983), 115-117.

10 Hourani, 109.

11 M.A. Zaki Badawi, The Reformers of Egypt. (London: Croom Helm Ltd.,1978), 35-95.

12 Hourani, 170. Secularizing disciples of Abduh included Lufti Al-Sayyid (1872-1968), Qasim Amin (1865- 26 1908), and the brothers Mustafa (d. 1947) and Ali (1888-1963) Abdul Raziq.

13 Hourani, 228. For a mainstream Sunni criticism of Ridha, see Answer to an Enemy of Islam. (Istanbul: Waqf Ikhlas Publications, 1993.)

14 Perhaps this was because Ridha realized that he himself was moving outside the Sunni mainstream, or perhaps he was impressed by the political success of the Wahabis’ patron, Ibn Saud, who re-established the Saudi state in 1902 and conquered Mecca and Medina in 1924-25.

15 Gilles Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 23.

16 In the Shade of the Quran is Qutb’s exegesis on the Quran, written while in prison.

17 One Salafist admirer of Qutb, the Palestinian-born, Egyptian-educated Abdullah Azzam (1941-1989), obtained a professorship at a Saudi university in the 1970’s, where his students included Osama bin Laden. Azzam played an important role in the convergence of Egypt-based revolutionary Salafism and Saudi revolutionary Wahabism. This convergence was consummated during the guerrilla war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

18 Robert Siegel. “Syed Qutb’s America,” National Public Radio website, May 6, 2003.

(11 March, 2004).

Like many of the revolutionary Salafists to follow him, Qutb appears to have been radicalized partly by a direct encounter with the West. Sent to study at the University of Northern Colorado in the 1940s by the government of King Faruq, Qutb wrote later of the sexual decadence and secularized religion of the United States.

19 Faraj (in Jansen), sections 68-70.

20 Kepel, 85. The establishment compared the Takfiris to the Kharijites of the seventh century, who are universally reviled by mainstream Sunnis for failing to respect the consensus of believers and for denouncing fellow Muslims as unbelievers.

21 Zawahiri, Knights, 74.

22 Zawahiri, Knights, 80. “Egypt particularly.”

23 Zawahiri, Knights, 72-73.

24 Zawahiri, Knights, 71

25 Zawahiri, Knights, 75.

26 Zawahiri, Knights, 78.

27 It is a strategy analogous to the failed attempts of European leftist terrorists in the 1970s to set off a revolution with terrorist attacks aimed at provoking indiscriminate government crackdowns.

28 Ilana Kass and Bard O’Neill, The Deadly Embrace(Lanham, MD and London: University Press of America, 1996), 13.

29 Vo Nguyen Giap, People’s War, People’s Army (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1962.)

30 Zawahiri, Knights, 75.

31 Zawahiri, Knights, 76.

32 Such as the obligation on each Shia believer to choose and to support a “source of emulation” among the clergy. In at least one sense, Khomeini, like the Sunni Salafists, was also an outsider to his religious tradition: his doctrine on veleyat e-faqih -- rule of the jurisprudent -- is viewed as heterodox by some senior Shia clerics. It will be interesting to see whether Shia clerics in post-Saddam Iraq, now able to speak out with more credibility on Iranian politics, question the legitimacy of the doctrine on which the clerical regime in Iran is based.

33 Kepel, 254-275.

34 Kepel, 297.

35 Quintan Wiktorowicz and John Kaltner, “Killing in the Name of Islam: Al-Qaeda’s Justification for September 11.” Middle East Policy. Washington: Summer 2003. Vol. 10, Iss. 2; 76.

36 American conventional military power is in most cases not the appropriate tool with which to combat revolutionary Salafism. Only in cases where a state, like Taliban Afghanistan, cooperates with terrorists, will conventional U.S. military power be of use against the revolutionary Salafists.


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KARACHI: Sectarian organisations regrouping in city By Azfar-ul-Ashfaque [1]

August 25, 2008 Monday Sha'aban 22, 1429

Nato vehicles set on fire in Karachi By Tahir Siddiqui [2]

August 25, 2008 Monday Sha'aban 22, 1429



This is in response to Sultan Shin's article, "Muslim response to Mumbai terror in sync with the national mood, but what is wrong with our intellectuals?"

Let me first comment on the email under circulation which revolves around  historian Amareesh Mishra’s conspiracy theories about Mumbai terror being the work of Israeli and Hindu Zionists’ handiwork. I was also in receipt of this email. But I refused to read such bad stuff and I dismissed it immediately as a figment of imagination. What one failed to understand was the underlying conspiracy behind such a theory. He was not speaking out of love to Muslim cause but to ignite passions and create unrest among the Muslims against Hindutva forces. Besides,  he wanted to succeed where Pakistan failed to cash in. The Urdu Press, irresponsible as it is ever before, playing into the hands of such forces and writing such stuff that would raise the temperature of the Muslim youth. This is not the time to behave so irreponsibly when the responsibility of guiding the Muslim youth on a righteous path lies with such powerful media. Thanks for its low level circulation in the south, particularly Tamilnadu, the Urdu Press could hardly make any dent into the otherwise peaceful co-existence between various communities here in Tamilnadu. I cannot speak for the reaction from the responsible Muslim intellectuals to such reports emanating from such Urdu newspapers in northern part of India but one thing is sure that Muslim intellectual has a duty cut out for them to guide our youth aright. But as I understand they are not doing any service to the Muslim cause or to the nation at large. This is the pathetic state of the Urdu newspapers in India. Are they trying to ape the style of their counter part in Pakistan, is not clear. What is clear is that they are certainly playing into the hands of the divisive forces.

Mourning in Islam is haram and I have been saying this for a long time, no matter who does it. Whether it for so called 'Shadat' of Imam Hussein or 'Shahdat' of Babri Masjid, there is no justification for the Muslims to mourn such events of history. As for Babri Masjid is concerned, Sultan Shahin, has rightly asked the question that how could the structure of bricks and sand would attain martyrdom in Islam. Why Muslims are so oversensitive to an event which has no relevance in Islam or its followers. At the worst, the vandalisation of the Masjid by the insane karsevaks, could be termed as reprehensible act of insanity. Beyond that the Hindu press called it a 'national shame' and majority of the Hindus did not approve such actions and according to them what was the difference between the action of Aurangazeeb, the Moghul Emperor, infamous in history for his act of destroying temples and the Hindutva forces that aped him to carry on the same act of insanity when they destroyed and demolished the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya? As public memory is short, so they forgot the event. But for Muslim, the memory is strong and it is revived every year on 6th of December as an event to protest and demand its reconstruction in the same place. I for one who feel that Muslims have no business to make such a demand to reconstruct the mosque in the same place. "Masjid Wahin Banegi" is the slogan chanted every year and nearly 16 years have elapsed since the event took place. Such a demand is bordering on stupidity as this would never happen in future for two reasons. Firstly, the case is pending in the court of law for more than four decades and secondly this place is equally but emotionally important to Hindus, for they believe it to be the birth place of Lord Rama. In any case, it is an emotional issue that would certainly raise tempers and would not augur well for the Hindu-Muslim unity. But on the other hand, if Muslim proactively hand over the site for the construction of a Ram Temple on the condition that the Babri Masjid be reconstructed side by side, would be easily acceptable to the majority of the Hindus. This suggestion is on line with the existence of Mandir-Masjid at Srirangapattinam constructed by a true secular Tippu Sultan, which still stands today as a monument of secular credentials of a great Sultan, who refused to change the name of his capital Srirangapattinam after a Muslim name. Such people alone are revered in history. Will Muslims of India particularly Babri Masjid Re-building Committee take a leaf out of the life of Great Tippu Sultan and demonstrate large heartedness by donating the land voluntarily for the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya?

For Muslims of India, we do not need any version of Islam to follow than the one given to us by our beloved Prophet Mohammed PBUH. Who is this Osama or Hafiz or Ibne Wahhab and why should one follow their form of Islam, when the Quran and Hadits are before us in their original forms. It is the duty of the Muslim intellectuals to come out in open not only to condemn terrorism or related activities but also all those organistions that are spreading the hate in the name of Islam much to the discomfort of ordinary Muslims who are by and large believe in peaceful co-existence. Let us distance ourselves from the activities and preachings of these radical organisations. Not only that, we must also dissuade our children from joining such organisations in future. The best things we can do is to give modern education to our children and towards this end, we need to open more and more educational insitutions without deviating from the path of Allah and Rasool SAW.

India's unity in diversity is the cynosure of all eyes and more particularly of Pakistanis. They are sure to keep India on a boiling pot all the time, since they promised to do so after the loss of East Pakistan in a one sided war in 1971. It is a great conspiracy to wage a proxy war with India with such sporadic terror attacks every now and then. Whether it is Govt of Pakistan or its official machinery is behind all these training camps of terror outfits, a detailed but thorough investigation alone would reveal. Till then, it is very clear that there are elements within Pakistan whether it is Dawood's D-Company or Jaishe Mohammed or Lakshare Taoiba, that they are out to destroy the social fabric of this country. The Mumbai carnage took India to the brink of war with Pakistan and that is what they wanted to keep the powder dry. Luckily, India refused to fall into their trap and the political leadership of this great country showed  great maturity and political sagacity in dealing with such a dangerous but ticklish situation. India weighed different options particularly in the wake of such public hysteria, ouotcry, anger and frustration calling for a firm and decisive actions. India is well aware of the danger associated with such actions and taken the recourse to diplomatic pressure on Pakistan. US, which is an ally of Pakistan in the war on terror, sent its special emissary in Condaleeza Rice to avert a crisis but to convey a strong message to Pakistan. Either Pakistan should act fast or US would do on their behalf. The President-elect Obama too cautioned Pakistan while asserting the rights of India to protect its internal security. The whole world joined India in condemning the dastardly and cowardly terror mayhem that left 200 dead and scores wounded. Those killed including people from Japan, US, UK, Germans etc., and thus it became an issue of all other countries. This time the enormity of attack was so huge that the world refused to buy any story emanating from Pakistan that the attack was carried out by non-state actors but they were Pakistanis. Can Zardari and company deny their nationality. The theory of CIA-Zionist conspiracy is nothing but a diversionary tactics being spread by vested interest and our Urdu press is joining in the orchestra to fan the fire, in the already heated atmosphere. These people never thought for a moment how it is going to help the already battered Muslim community in India. This is the height of their irresponsibility with which the Urdu press is behaving in India, which is very unfortunate. A good couself shall soon prevail over them.

I appeal to Muslims particularly intellengtsia to bahave responsibly in maintaining peace which is so vital to their own existence. It is to the great credit of the Hindu brethren that they refused to act emotionally against Muslim community for they were well aware that among the 195 killed 40 were Muslims including six members of a family awaiting to board the train to Patna. This is the greatness of the people of this country. They stand united in the hour of crisis, whether war or terror attack. We, the Muslim, salute the great spirit of the people of this country. It is our duty to express our solidarity with the people of this country. Not only that, we must delivere more to be secular first and last. We must also dismantle all such jamats and madrasas that are engaged in spreading hate campaign against other communities. Time and again it has been laid emphasis that Islam believes in peaceful co-existence. Allah is "Rabbul Aalamin" meaning the "Lord of the Univers" but Islam never said, Allah is "Rabbul Muslimeen" meaning He is the Lord of Muslims alone. All the people of the world to whatever religion they belong, are the children of the Lord of All Universes, that is, Allah. Hence it is our duty to love them as our own brothers and sisters. There is no place for hate in Islam. We, the Muslims of India have to live with our neighbours of different faith and we have to deal with them in our daily life including that of commerce. Are our merchants are selling to only Muslims or our Muslims are buying things only from Muslims? Are we constructing houses only for Muslims or for others? These are the questions we have to ask through introspection. We have to live here and deal with all sorts of people not based on one's religious faith but as human beings and equal partners. Respect their faith and in return they will respect your faith and religion. This is what is known as brotherhood and peaceful co-existence. It is happening for centuries and we, the Muslims of India resolve to preserve our unity with life.

Aamir Mughal

RE: Muslim response to Mumbai terror in sync with the national mood, but what is wrong with our intellectuals? Then you find Rashtriya Sahara reproducing historian Amareesh Mishra’s conspiracy theories about Mumbai terror being the work of Israeli and Hindu Zionists’ handiwork. You open your mailbox and find several Muslims enthusiastically lapping up Mishraji’s theories and circulating them.


Conveyor Belt Hacks The Indian media's ask-no-questions reporting does not bode well  Nasim Zehra Magazine | Dec 15, 2008

(The author, Fellow, Harvard University Asia Center, is also Consulting Editor with Duniya TV in Pakistan)

As news of the unfolding Mumbai terror attacks spread countrywide, shock and horror were woven with sorrow and sympathy here. But soon this empathy began transforming into disbelief. Even before the bloody saga in Mumbai had ended, sections of the Indian media was pointing accusatory fingers at Pakistan, claiming the terrorists had been trained in Karachi.

The terrorists were still inside the buildings, but the Indian media was already reporting on their nationality, the weapons they carried, the phones they were using! Who provided them the information? Could that information be believed? Sure, available information must be provided to the viewer but shouldn't reporters also raise questions arising automatically from the 'information' provided to him/her? Only government channels act as 'conveyor belts', passing on the official version to the people. Here are some vivid examples:

An Indian TV network interviews one of the terrorists holed up in a hotel surrounded by commandos, but no one wonders why his phone hadn't been jammed. And how did the terrorist call the TV reporter? Or did the latter call the terrorist? If yes, then how did he/she get the number?

On the second day of the carnage, an Indian Major General says Pakistan was involved; the Indian prime minister talks of the 'external' forces and the Indian foreign minister insists on Pakistan's complicity. No questions are asked about evidence, doubts raised that the assessments may be premature; not even a suggestion that the possible source of terrorism could be from within India. No one remembered what Jeremy Kahn wrote in the September 29, '08 Newsweek. Kahn reported, "Several people arrested after the Ahmedabad blasts reportedly told authorities they'd attended paramilitary camps in India, not in Pakistan or Bangladesh. Authorities now fear these camps...have trained hundreds of radicalised Indians in the past few years."

No one asked whether the in-depth information the terrorists had about their targets suggested local support. The number of terrorists also kept changing—from eight to 12 to 25 and now, finally, 10. The reportage was incredible. For example, did anyone check how it was possible for Pakistani terrorists to travel in fishing boats for over 500 nautical miles?

The post-blast reporting has been a bit simple—buy the government's version, dramatise it like Hollywood does, and raise questions that the government wants raised. For example, should India attack terrorist camps? On December 2, the host of a CNN-IBN programme, 'Nation's Survival', said, "I don't want to be war-mongering but our question is, should India attack the terror camps?" Some 95 per cent said yes.

Asked by the host of the Dawn News morning show why a section of the press was blaming Pakistan, an Indian journalist gruffly responded, "I think it is very insensitive of those raising the question that why are some in the Indian media blaming Pakistan." And then you had Simi Garewal telling NDTV she would like to see Pakistan carpet-bombed.

One of the Hindi channels said a Karachi-based character, Chacha Rehman, masterminded the Mumbai attacks. Chacha is a character who often finds mention in the Indian press. Don't believe me? In 1999, Rediff ( reported, "Mohammad Kasim Lajpuria alias Mechanic Chacha, an accused in the sensational serial bomb blasts case that rocked Bombay in 1993, was arrested in Nepal yesterday, almost six-and-a-half years after the incident. Earlier, after being arrested by the Nepal police, Mechanic Chacha was handed over to a CBI team...."

No one even bothers to recall the number of times the Indians have wrongly accused Pakistan of fomenting terror—Chattisingpora, the Parliament attack, the more recent Samjhauta Express blasts in which a serving Indian Lt Colonel may have been involved.But the Indian media, in the service of patriotism, opted to ask no questions.

In Pakistan, we learnt at extremely high cost that the 'ask-no-question' brand of journalism, whether on foreign policy or internal security, ultimately contributes to the creation of the Leviathan, increasingly aided by the 'purists', the militarised and the 'uncompromising' ideologues/communalists. It's this Leviathan that wreaks havoc on the very nation it must protect. The media cannot abandon its role in keeping it in check. We in Pakistan learnt this the hard way. Which is why we are bewildered by our Indian counterparts' ask-no-questions brand reporting of the Mumbai carnage.

Aamir Mughal

RE:You open your mailbox and find several Muslims enthusiastically lapping up Mishraji’s theories and circulating them. Just sample one sentence of what a widely-circulated e-mail by convenor of the Mumbai-based Muslim Intellectual Forum, Firoze Mithiborwala, reads: “As far as the terrorists who attacked Mumbai are concerned, they are in all likelihood… controlled by the American CIA, the Pakistani ISI and the Israeli MOSSAD.”

Weekend Edition December 5 / 7, 2008

1992 vs. 2008 Mumbai's Charge of the Lightweight Brigade By FARZANA VERSEY

If you believe for a moment that the residents of Mumbai are angry about the recent terror attacks, then they have succeeded in fooling you. There is no anger; there is irritation. Their daily routines have been mucked up. For those 60 hours when terrorists took hold of what have been constantly referred to as 'landmarks' of the city, they sat glued before their television sets. They saw the image of Indian wealth and power being destroyed by invisible men. They were not interested in those men. They were not interested in anything beyond the fact that these men– men who ate dry fruits, for pete's sake – had held five star hotels hostage.

No one was talking about the 58 people who died at the local train station or the 10 others who died at the hospital or the taxi driver whose vehicle was burnt and so was he. Or even the cops who took the bullets.

They may cry themselves hoarse at peace marches, they may cry themselves hoarse on panel discussions, they may cry themselves hoarse in petitions that sound like school essays, but their sensitivity is like froth on lager; it will settle down after a  few sips. They are basking in their newfound role as conscience keepers; the international press is watching global India in all its glory as they stand dressed as global citizens near the Gateway of India with black smoke rising over the dome of the Taj Mahal Hotel in the background. It is both symbol and saviour of their pathetic attempts at downward mobility. It is a counter-reaction. After all, the terrorist wore Versace, until now the uniform of their kind. They audaciously claim that there is no time for resilience anymore; they won't take it. Resilience? They have been spitting it out, a sardonic sneer being the new expression. It is a sad sight, for the chauffeurs of the cars they drove up in, the person who ironed their clothes and the valet who waited on them till they were all set for their date with the candle-light dinner of sound bytes, all those minions had to show resilience. They had to travel by the local train to bring these people to the streets. This is resilience.

They can shudder as much as they want before that dome wrapped in smoke. Do they recall another dome? The one that was broken down with hammers by our own people, egged on by senior leaders? Soon after December 6, 1992, and the demolition of the Babri Masjid, there was no such spontaneous expression of grief or anger. 900 people were killed in cold blood, hunted down because of the faith they were born in. Reports gave figures of more than 200,000 people, most of them Muslim, fleeing the city during the riots. Cops who took part in the death dance were promoted; no politician was asked to resign. In the subsequent revenge bomb blasts, orchestrated by an underworld don and not by the local Muslim population, unlike what happened in Gujarat in 2002, 250 people died.

Those who are railing against the government today had kept quiet then. Quiet at a time when the government and the police had backed the local lumpens, our very own citizens.

They were not bothered because the areas targeted did not house their cocktail party circuit. Some did express disgust when they heard stories about the Muslim driver asked to remove his pants in the street to confirm his religion. They were disgusted by the sheer indelicacy but they had an ace up their sleeve – he was a mere driver.

Today, the people who would run down the elite are speaking up for them; they are all into rubbing shoulders and back-scratching. It is a limited edition utopia: our elite vs. their elite. If you don't play their game, you are as bad as the terrorists. 'Condemn' is the catchword. I have refused to do so. One mainstream newspaper journalist wanted my opinion and said the same thing. He mentioned some liberals who were condemning. I said I condemn those liberals and I condemn the government of India. My views were not carried. I did not expect them to. I can hit out at the government only if I belong to one elite group. They are going to decide. They will constitute the citizens movement. Men and women who had never heard about such groups are now parroting the names of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. One aging film star even said that this time India has become exposed to international terrorism. His utter ignorance did not strike anyone, for we have been blaming the outside hand, mainly Pakistan, for years. In effect, only because this time his people were the targets he has discovered such a phenomenon.

In 16 years nothing has changed. A week after this carnage, a flight attendant serving on a private airline was pointedly asked by a passenger what religion she belonged to. He spewed out, "Why the bloody hell are you Muslims doing this to our country?"

She calmly replied, "Sir, this is my country too."

He shot back, "I don't think so, because people from your community are behind these attacks."

She was on the verge of tears but said bravely, "Sorry Sir, they don't belong to India. They are not Indians."

I have had 16 years of practice, yet sometimes the tears flow; sometimes I am taken aback. We are being pushed into a corner unless we play the game of 'we are all one'. I call it a game because ever since that December there has been suspicion. My superficial elitism, an elitism I have fortunately never internalised, makes it easy for them to hit out differently. There is irritation that I am not the poor, illiterate Muslim that fits into their pigeonhole. There is disapproval that I don't dress up in standard Muslim clothes, or speak in a standard Muslim way. I don't have a big business enterprise where I can flash secularism if I employ Hindus like Azim Premji does. I am not a film star like Shahrukh Khan who can happily claim a Pathan allegiance and will still be considered acceptable because he says cute things like he is a monkey entertaining people. I don't even have the good sense to join in token gestures of sympathy and denounce terrorism and talk about Islam as a religion of peace. They are irritated because I do not quote anything from the Quran, but can bring up Shakespeare and Neruda and revel in Urdu poets like Faiz and Faraz.

In 1992-93, there were a few who had told me, "As truly secular people it is our duty to protect you Muslims."

I don't buy into their protection business. Therefore, the minute I open my mouth I become "that Muslim woman using the minority card". It does not strike them that I may not be safe myself, and it is rather dismissive to say I am having fun flaunting the minority status.

No paranoia here, yet I will be accused of it.

India's big legend, superstar Amitabh Bachchan, can show how disturbed he is and how afraid by saying that he has loaded his licensed pistol and keeps it under his pillow now. No prominent Muslim would be able to say that, so there is no question of someone like me even dreaming about a scenario of possessing a licensed gun. Suketu Mehta wrote in The New York Times, "This is the problem, say the nativists. The city is just too hospitable. You let them in, and they break your heart." It is interesting that he uses a term like nativists at a time when he is hailing the wealthy 'outsiders' for the rich dreams they have sponsored.

He is buffering an exclusivist notion by showing concern about the cream of society. He is concerned about how the terrorists want people to keep out of Mumbai, which contradicts his nativist theory. He is concerned that cricket matches won't happen for a while. Does he remember that a local political party had dug the pitches and prevented any cricket match with Pakistan in the city? He comes up with a rather insensitive analysis when he states, "In 1993, Hindu mobs burned people alive in the streets — for the crime of being Muslim in Mumbai. Now these young Muslim men murdered people in front of their families — for the crime of visiting Mumbai…Their drunken revelry, their shameless flirting, must have offended the righteous believers in the jihad."

For being a much-touted global citizen and an expatriate he seems to believe that it is kosher to make the Hindu-Muslim divide clear. (Incidentally, what is the connection between tourists and Hindus?) He ought to know there is a difference between Hindus and Hindutva groups and Muslims and Islamist goons. Somewhere it bothers him too, like it does the elite, that these goons were not bearded or wearing skull caps; they drank and made merry. They were so much like the young men in pubs in any part of the world. Mumbai is a city of transaction but the free market can hardly be construed as breaking the barriers. If anything, it is most elitist. It is a thoroughly 'Show me the money' scenario and individualism prevails. The privileged class is also a product, the creation of the 'manufacturing company'; we politely call it ethos.

Today's dissent is peripheral, not feral. It is cultivated in the factory of prototypes, assembly-line ideas that subsist on amnesia.I shall always remember November 2008 and never forget December 1992. Surface scratches irritate, but don't last. I still have the anger from old wounds.

Farzana Versey is a Mumbai-based author-columnist. She can be reached at

Aamir Mughal

RE:It negates the Two-Nation Theory on which their country is ideologically based.

Dear Sultan Sahab,

Background and Harsh Reality of Two Nation Theory and so-called Islamic Ideology of Pakistan:

1 - Secular Republic or Islamic Republic of Pakistan

2 - Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 1

3 - Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 2

4 - Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 3

5 - Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 4

6 - Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 5

7 - Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 6

8 - Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 7

9 - Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 8

10 - Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 9

11 - Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 10

12 - Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 11

13 - Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 12

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