Rahman, Dean at the School of the Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the
Beacon house National University, Lahore, has written the most comprehensive
book on jihad, the religious war of Islam, exercising the minds of Muslims and
non-Muslims alike. Interpretations of Jihad in South Asia: An Intellectual
History (OUP) begins with the erstwhile but now ignored thinkers like Sir Syed
Ahmed Khan and Maulvi Chiragh Ali who thought jihad was defensive war and not
conquest to collect more Jizyah (poll-tax on non-Muslims).
book looks at the lack of scholarly consensus on what jihad means, especially
in the hands of radical organisations such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
It takes 323 pages of the most absorbing scholarship to understand the radical
jihad, springing mostly from the authority of Ibn Taymiyya (1262-1328) and
culminating in the disputed hadith about Ghazwa-e-Hind, legalising and
prompting an uprising against India in Kashmir.
book rivets attention on the details of the phenomenon of extremism among
Muslims that has ended up in jihad, killing more Muslims than non-believers.
Pakistan has been the testing ground of theories of jihad that, some say, have
been ordained in the Quran, which also lays down Qital (killing) as an
injunction. Pakistan has been the victim of the covert war which was supposed
to be directed at the infidels. This should be instructive, given the aimless
bloodshed, unless Pakistan doesn’t care about it.
terms of governance, the jihadi state has to surrender internal sovereignty
because private jihadi organisations have to be located in civil society and
have to be exempted from municipal law in respect of their use of weapons and
training. States can tolerate the diminution of external sovereignty — mostly
owing to economic weakness — but they cannot survive the surrender of internal
sovereignty. There can be no governance when the state is not sovereign, even
internally. The problem of “extraterritoriality” has been the most pressing
problem in Pakistan’s governance under the doctrine of jihad.
than 50 per cent of its territory was outside the municipal jurisdiction of the
state since Pakistan had failed to bring the whole of Balochistan under the
normal writ of the state and had preserved till 2018 the Federally Administered
Tribal Areas (FATA) as a relic of the British Raj’s “buffer” territory. Jihad
created an extended “extraterritoriality” or “no-go areas” that assaulted the
big cities of Pakistan. In the smaller cities, the entire administration may
have been run by non-state actors, as happened in Toba Tek Singh when the
champion of Pakistani jihad, Lashkar-e-Toiba, was the most powerful militia in
discussion of law and order in Pakistan in the past has run headlong into the
state’s policy of (proxy) jihad. Because jihad was fought with mercenary
troops, there was a sharing of the sovereignty of the state with jihadi
leaders. There is resistance among politicians to the post-9/11 perceived
policy of giving up jihad because the world increasingly equates jihad to
terrorism through the FATF. There is apparently no realisation that jihad
militates against governance above all.
wonders at the book’s conclusion: “This study has concerned itself only with
ideas about jihad. Perhaps the crucial question, not addressed here, is whether
people are really influenced by these ideas? In short, is it because there are
radical interpretations in circulation on the internet, among role models of
the peer group, among friends and relatives, that people get radicalised? Or is
it that they join for other reasons such as poverty, lack of education, mental
illness, sexual frustration, or money?”
takes note of Suhail Abbas, a Pakistani psychologist who examined 517 men in
jail “for having attempted to go to Afghanistan to fight US troops”. His
conclusion was that all “Jihadis” suffered from “psychological morbidity”.
Ahmed is consulting editor, Newsweek Pakistan
Headline: The morbidity of jihad
The Indian Express