Maulana Mahmood Madani, India Today Conclave 2009

13 03 2009

Transcript of address by Maulana Mahmood Madani, former Gen Secy, Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind

The Dalai Lama made some valuable suggestions in the first session. If we follow them, it will mean a solution to 90 per cent of our current problems.

Today’s subject is what is the role of religion? In fact, the greatest problem is terrorism, which is a fact. And terrorism is giving a bad name to it. Today’s topic has changed from religion to Islam. But the crux of the problem is that terrorism is being used for political gains. People are using religion for political gains.

Who has been maligned by this? Religion, or plainly speaking, Islam. On the other side are those who have started the war on terror. It has its speakers, writers and fighters and they too have targeted Islam. One of the speakers said terrorism cannot be fought because there is no weapon to prevent suicide bombers. But I feel responsible people should neither lose hope nor show pessimism.

Some of us are putting up resistance against those who cause terror as well as those who are fighting it. Both—people who are causing terror as well as those who have started the war on terror—are helping breed terrorism. I meet people who disdain my appearance, especially my turban, my beard and my dress. To them, I am the symbol of a terrorist. Branding a particular appearance as terrorist or jihadi is helping terrorists achieve their nefarious designs.

A terrorist should never be called a jihadi. Jihad is mandatory for every Muslim as enshrined in the Quran but we will have to differentiate between jihad and terrorism. Jihad is being given a wrong connotation—shedding blood, indiscriminate killing, suicide bombing—and this has boosted the morale of the terrorists. Opposition to terrorism is the greatest jihad which is incumbent on every Muslim. We are also struggling to save the image of Islam and its misuse by vested interests.

I could not understand fully what Irshad Manji had said therefore I don’t know how to react. I hold madarsas is high esteem. I know of an organisation that runs 3,000 madarsas and another 12,000 are associated with it but these are an asset to India as well as Indian Muslims.

I am asked on television whether I love Islam or my country more. This is a tough question. If I say Islam, they call me unpatriotic. I am always asked to prove my loyalty to either Islam or to India. Now I say, I have two eyes and you should tell me I keep and which I should give away. But I give preference to my religion which has inculcated in me the spirit to lay down my life for the sake of my motherland.

Islam respects women but Muslims do not follow that. At the same time, Islam does not have casteism as well as parochialism but our society still practices it.

I regard India as a magnificent country and the best country for Muslims on this planet. We have a pluralistic society which is why India has spread the message of a civilised society. Our culture inspires us to love, not hate.

Women have different roles to play in a society and it is a known fact that if women are literate that community will remain literate. But women today face two cultures—one that raises the banner of advancement by creating nudity and the other that seeks to imprison them by curbing their rights. I feel women should be given the freedom to do what they want to do.

Transcript of Q&A session with Irshad Manji, Maulana Mahmood Madani and S. Gurumurthy

Akbar (moderator): …that was raised to Maulana Mohammad. Ali and he gave this answer in 1925 after the Khilafat movement. And I must say I was so happy to hear about gender bias, I say this to audiences which are predominantly Muslim when I get an opportunity to address them and I am very pleased that at his last conference about seven thousand Maulvis were there in Hyderabad when he was launching his continued effort to explain and challenge the philosophy of terrorism which he is doing all over the country, he asked me to speak and there I thought it more important.

And I keep telling my fellow Indian Muslims that if you do not eliminate gender bias in your society, you are not going to enter the 19th century – who is inviting you into the twenty-first? You are just not going to get it. And in fact it is a very valid point that he made that it is really the struggle for modernity that we are facing. I know the Pakistani High Commissioner is here, but I will beg his pardon, because I do want to make a point which I hope you will not take amiss – I do believe it very strongly so therefore I am making it, not in the purpose of nationalism but I hope with a little more, let us say, less emotional objectivity.

What is the difference between India and Pakistan? Indians and Pakistanis are the same people, they have same strengths, same weaknesses. I believe, it is my view, that we have moved in different trajectories because the idea of India is stronger than the Indian and the idea of Pakistan is weaker than the Pakistani. That is the basis. And what is it?

Basically, I believe that India was fashioned around a modern idea which is built around, what might be called, three equalities and one equity. Three equalities being equal political right, democracy – one vote, one person, religious rights – secularism, irrespective of your religion you are equal before the law, number three – gender equality, critical, gender equality is critical for the creation of a modern society, and fourth economic equity – you cannot have economic equality that is an absurdity, but economic equity over and over again our various government, successive governments have actually fashioned economic policy with a view that there can growth without social justice, there cannot be.

So, this is what makes us a modern state and I do not really believe that faith is sufficient glue for the creation of a nation. If any faith, if for example Islam was sufficient for creation of nationhood, why would there be twenty-two Arab countries? As simple as that, however, I know nobody is asking for the revocation of the two nations but I think it may still make sense for the revocation of what might be called the two nation theory.

Finally one point that Guru you made about the cutting of trees. No author can ever resist an opportunity to plug his book. Right! If you read the Shade of Swords, Hazrat Abu Bakr who was the first Khalifa to send out army, right, he defined the ten rules of Jihad. Rule number eight or seven is very clear, seven is that you cannot kill innocents and so on that is well known and well advertised. Rule number eight that you cannot destroy palm trees, that you cannot destroy trees; you cannot do what is called destruction of fields which is part of Koran philosophy.

You cannot touch anyone worshiping, even if it is idol worship and so on. So there are great things that we have to find in common, the point is what to find what is in common rather than to find what creates conflict. And I think on that note may I, there is still time, may be take questions. I am sure there are questions. Please identify yourself. I will have one request, which is not a request, please be brief and make it a question rather than a viewpoint. Remember that Uncle Aroon has invited only three speakers.

Irshad Manji: I must tell you that I don’t consider myself a moderate Muslim at all. There is nothing moderate about my position. What I am is a, mind it, reformed Muslim and it is a very important distinction that Americans, especially as they stumble over themselves to determine who is an extremist and who is moderate, I think the more important distinction to be made today is who is a moderate and who is a reformer. Let me just quickly explain what I mean by this distinction.

Moderate Muslims certainly denounce violence that takes place under the banner of Islam. In many cases, public opinion has pushed them to do so. But the problem is they still deny the role that religion plays in inciting the very violence that is committed in religion’s name. You will often hear the next time a bombing or a beheading takes place, an Islamist group claims credit for this, you will often hear moderate Muslims say – no, no, please don’t misunderstand, Islam has nothing to do with this.

Not only is this dishonest, as many of the terrorists themselves prove, when they quote from scriptures, okay, not only is it dishonest, but it is dangerous, because in their denial moderate Muslims in effect hand over the opportunity for reinterpretation to those with already malignant intentions. In effect moderate Muslims say, “you terrorist get to walk away with the show, we are not going to come back at you with bold and competing reinterpretations – we can’t, because if we did, then we will be acknowledging that religion does really play a role”.

And we can’t go there since Islam is perfect. We reform minded Muslims, who are in a much smaller vocal category, we say – hold on, we must go there. Just as liberal Jews and liberal Christians had reinterpreted their violent passages for a brand new context, we have to do the same. And reinterpretation is not the same as re-writing. As a matter of fact, the Kuran itself contains three times as many verses calling on Muslims to think and analyze and reflect instead of versus that tell us only what is right or only what is wrong. In other words, three times as many verses promoting ‘Ichdihat’ than verses promoting blind submission. So by that calculation alone, I believe Sir, reformed minded Muslims are at least as authentic as the moderate mainstream and quite possibly more constructive. Thank you.

Question: My name is Dinesh Trivedi. Evidently there is so much of light out here, the light of knowledge, yet there is so much of darkness outside. My question is, is this terror purely money and business oriented or is conflict of civilization?

Answer (Gurumurthy): See, it is a mix of both. The war on terror is as bad, as Dr. Madani said, Jihad itself. And there is a mix up of so many things – geo-politics, money, economic interests, personal prejudices and so you are absolutely right there is a civilizational dimension as well as political and economic dimension. But, the more important thing which I tried to emphasize, may be in a lighter vein I distinguished, how some religions have been able to avoid this kind of situation in which the monotheistic faith have landed themselves.

See single god religions have to be more careful. A multi-god religion like Hindu religion, you know, we made peace between gods, got them married or whatever and ensured that gods lived in peace. The monotheistic faith have allowed their gods to clash. It is purely failure of interpretation according to me. No god can clash with other gods. He can only try to see my flock is retained with myself.

So I think there is a tremendous failure of religious failure in monotheistic faith and more in Islam and to that extent I agree with my fellow panelist Irshad Manji that there is a failure of leadership and what requires, and I wouldn’t exactly use the word ‘reformed’ because it is not a very good word in these days because economic reforms have thoroughly failed, and so I would like to use the word ‘introspection’ instead of reform. Every religion needs introspection. Every segment of a religion needs introspection and every leader and faithful needs introspection.

Maulana Mahmood Madani: Me is bare mein kehna chahonga ki Guruji ne jo bat kahi hai who, partially me use agree karta hoon, ki yakinan apna muhasba hame khud karna chahiye aur sab mazab walon ko iske bare me dekhna chahiye, karna chahiye aur kiya bi jata raha hai, lekin reinterpretation ka jo issue hai, who bhi bilkul hona chahiye. Usse bhi mein agree karta hoon ki reinterpretation bhi hona chahiye, lekin mein isse agree nahi karta hoon ki reinterpretation kaun karega. Yahan par masla khada ho jayega ki reinterpretation kaun karega. Hamare yahan bahut sare legal problem aati hain to uske bare mein legal opinion li jati hain, Soli Sorabji ko pucha jaata hain – Mehmood Madani ko koyi nahin puchta uske bare mein na. Nahin puchta na? Kay Sanjay Dutt election lad sakte hai ya nahi lad sakte, mujhse nahin pucha jata hai. To baat yeh hai ki jo logon ki jo field hai, us field ke logon ko usmein kaam karna chahiye aur jaroor karna chahiye.

M.J. Akbar: Just one point. The three major monotheistic faiths – Christianity or Judaism, Christianity and Islam have one thing in common, they have the same God.

Question: You know I was wondering listening to all of you, what would be the final aim of, if I may say, the top management of terrorism? The people down, they use perhaps religion to make good people into terrorist, so they feel that alright if you do this you will go to heaven so people at the lower rungs what they do I can understand, but the real managers or the management of terrorism, what do they want and do they think they will succeed? Bombay saw about two hundred people dead, the papers mentioned that they were aiming at five thousand people to be there. Even if that had happened and what then, but if that happened do you think the terrorist would have earned whatever was ruling of a nation or capturing of a nation? What is it that the terrorist wanted?

Answer (Gurumurthy): For the terrorist, terror is an advertisement, it is a public relation campaign, it is a motivational exercise. This is where Bush went wrong. He made terrorist larger than they are, more powerful than they are, more motivated than they are. The hatred against Bush transformed into motivation for terror. We should never handle terror that way. The most important way of handling terror is for people here who accrue higher positions in the society to understand that you cannot tackle terror purely by modernity. Modernity is one of the targets of terror.

So we must understand the actual ground level reality and try to think of it. Actually, I find layers and layers of differences. So my feeling is a very powerful sustained dialogue is needed. And I found, probably Maulana Madani is one of the most important personalities of “Orthodox Islam”. But I don’t find any difficulty in talking to him. Both of us understand religion. Only those who understand religion, religious sentiments, can have the dialogue. We must promote dialogue between religions – honest dialogue, sincere dialogue, not false dialogue that all religions are same. They are not same.

All religions have the same goal – they don’t have the same goal. They don’t have the same methods. But all religions must learn to live together is the principle. That is the only way by which we can get over this menace, I entirely agree with Doctor sahab that we are promoting terrorists when we club them with Islam. But I would certainly say that Islamic scholars like him must come out and clarify that non believers in Islam do not mean Kafirs. Generally non-believer is a Kafir.

You ask a Hindu, he will say a Christian according to him is a believer; a Muslim according to him is a believer, only the person who doesn’t believe in any religion, a Hindu will consider him a non-believer. But a non-believer in Islam is considered to be a ‘non-believer’, then the problem arises. That is what I told him before we came here and that is my appeal to him. If this concept is accepted all the space which the terrorist want to occupy is denied to them.

M.J. Akbar: ‘Lakun De Nakun Velyadin” – very important and basic principle of the Koran, your religion for you and my religion for me. As simple. That is the best definition of secularism. We don’t impose upon each other. May I just in answer to that have one sentence? One of the purposes of top management, that was really a very good question, is to destroy alternative models of society through chaos with your inability to defend yourself. So each time it is a major test.

Question (Mohini): My question is to Madani Sahab. Religion is a personal affair. It is my personal relationship with my god. That is it. Why should any Mullah or any Sankaracharya or the Akal Takht or the Pope in Rome tell me what sort of relationship I should have with my God? Apne kaha ki kisi religious leader to precepts lay down karne hain. I don’t accept that. Can you convince me?

Answer (Madani): Dekhiye baat yeh hain ki, yeh baat bilkul sahi hai ki kisi ko, kisi ke saath zabardasti karne ka koi hak nahin hain. Lekin jab ham ek society mein rahte hain to hamari ek us society ko jo hum munasib samajhte hain – hamse sawal kiya jar aha hein ki ye Jihad ho raha hain, ab Jihad ke bare me bataye ki kya hai yeh. Yeh Jihad hai? Hum kehte hain Jihad nahin hain yeh fasad hain. Kehte hain na! Aur usko log pasand bhi karte hain, kyonki woh zarorat hai, woh zarorat hai is waqt ki hame kehne hai, ladna hain un logon se joh Jihad ke naam par fasad faila rahain hain. Asi hi doosere issues par bhi, jisko sahi lage maan lo, nahi sahi lage mat maano. Zabardasti toh kuch hein nahin isme. To joh bhi mazhab ho, jaise kal Dalai Lama Sahab the, woh compassion ki baat karte theh, love ki baat karte theh, aur bahut sari baatein unhon-ne kari. Kisi ko achcha lagega bilkul manega, kisi ko achcha nahin lagega to woh apne dil mein hate leke baithega – ki hame hate hain aur hate mein hi rahna hai.

To hain bhi hate wale log duniya mein. Yeh apni apni choice kit baat hain. Hum to bata sakte hain ki duniya ko modernization ki tarafh is taraf lejane wale log bahut bada challenge ban ke hain. Hamari civil society break ho rahi hain, tuth rahi hain. Hamara joh Hindi mein kehte hain, English zaban mein to culture kahte hain, Urdu mein hum log tehzeeb kahte hain. Hamari tehzeeb khatre mein hein. Tehzeeb alag cheez hai, mazhab alag cheez hai. Mazhab bilkul alag cheez hai – woh individual matter hain, bilkul sahi. Lekin hamari ek tehzeeb hai, hamari ek society hain, India ki bhi apni ek tehzeeb hai – sanskriti, hamari sanskriti joh hain, hame usko bachana hai. Hum modern ho jayen, bilkul ho jayen – apne kapdon se, apne khane pene se, lekin vichar se hamen modern nahin hona chahiye. Vichar hamara wahi rahna chahiye jo hamari sanskriti ne hame diya hain. Yeh ek khayal hai, aapko nahin achcha lagta nahin maniyein.

Question (Mohini): Aap keh rehe the ki jo interpretation hain religion ka woh kisi Maulvi se, ya Akal Takht se aana chahiye.

Answer: Meine Maulvi se nahin kaha. Dekhiye, har cheez ka ek field hai. Us field ka joh specialist ho usise aap karaiye. Jho aadmi jis field ke baare me jaanta nahin, mein Indian Penal Code ke baare mein nahi jaanta, kuch pada nahin uske baare mein, meri who field nahin hai, to mujhse uske baare mein koyi bhi nahi poochtha. Lekin dharam ke baare mein sab log sab se poochne lagte hain aur sab bolne lagte hain. Yeh problem aa jaati isme thodi se.

Question: I’am Anuradha from the SRM University. When a child is born, you know, the child is neither a Hindu or a Christian the child just takes the religion that the family follows. Later the child also has a choice to convert into the religion the child likes. What is the significance of religion? How important are these interpretations to them? Will our children become the victims of religion because we are not agreeing on a common understanding of what religion means to us.

Answer (Irshd Manji): If I may try to answer that very profound question and it is deep. Something else that is deep today in this modern world is the sense of meaninglessness. You know, we live in an age as everybody knows, of globalization and this relatively free movement of capital, of goods, of people, even of jobs what few exist now, but what it suggests is that people are thrown into chaos of their own. And so many people around the world don’t quite know who they are.

And so in a time of such aggressive fluidity it is easy for religion to become calcified to be source of absolutes and for people to cling and to be able to say through this I know who I am.

The problem with that notion of who I am is that it is actually not about who you are at all, it is about what you are. Identity is only about what you are. It is constructive, often in relation to the other – integrity, which is not identity. Integrity is much more complex. It takes into account your particular values, your personal narrative, your authentic journey in this world.

That I believe is one of the great transitions that we have both the opportunity and the challenge to make through our children, you know, in the years coming is that transition from identity into integrity and what are we teaching our children about integrity. If anything, do we even use that word in our own languages? Do we even understand that concept of homeness.

Because it allows us to be many contradictory things at once, whereas identity allows you to be only one thing at once and that reduces you as a multi-faceted human being to something far less than you actually are. And I wanted to springboard after that idea to quickly address the Gentleman’s question about – what is it that the terrorist want? I know sir, I remember very clearly that you were asking about the top tier management. But my constituency is a relatively a young one. In the people from whom I hear around the world are in their teens, in their twenties and in their thirties and many young fundamentalist actually do e-mail me, usually to berate me, but then I, you know, engage in conversation and I come to learn some of the insights about how they got to be where they are.

I must tell you I am amazed that this not reported in the media. But I hear this over and over again from young radicalized Muslims in the West that they are not just fighting, what so many people say is the racism of their society – that is easy, that is a lazy answer, what they tell me is that they are also actually fighting what they call the tribalism within their own, Pakistani in many cases, I am thinking of the U.K. in particular or Bangladeshi communities in particular, where their elders are saying to them this is who you are – which is really to say what you really are, this who you are, this is where you belong, this is what you believe. No questions allowed. End of story.

And you know what, in this world of free movement of information these kids are not to be infantilized that way. Do we really think that they are that stupid? Do we not realize that they are making decisions every single day as they navigate information and misinformation on the Internet. They feel utterly humiliated by their own and not just by their so-called outside oppressors. And so that makes them extremely vulnerable to anybody who preaches to them. And that is the power of religion.

Akbar: Thank you very much. Must compliment India Today for putting together such an erudite panel. Just by way of observation that is not a question, nothing official about it, for that I get plenty of opportunity otherwise, M.J. you talked about the two nation theory and very rightly said that what the two nations truly exist, that is a matter of fact, matter of history. But as regards the theory itself, let me tell you that this is still the feeling in Pakistan – that this is the glue which keeps the people of Pakistan together. But, I must also quickly add that this is in no way to suggest that on the average the people in Pakistan do not want good, better relations with India.

That is besides the point. But the fact of the matter is that the two nation theory, you know, sixty plus years ago there was an idea, a realization – the two nations have come to stay, but at the same time as I have said there is a genuine desire on both sides, I believe, to improve relations with each other. So that is about the two nation theory. Maulana Sahab aapne farmayah ki yahan aapko badhi pazerahi milti hai, yahan aapko badhi achi tarah se sunah jaata hain. Mein aapko yakin dilate hoon ki aap Pakistan Tashreef layen, apko wahan bhi isi kisem se aapko haatho haath liya jayega, jis tarah yahan liya jaata hain.

Question (Aroon): I am Aroon uncle, Aroon Chacha. It seems to me that most of terrorism which is happening today is happening in the name of Islam for whatever reason. And it seems to me also that they are also winning this war in terms of hearts and minds. What is it specifically that the Panel would suggest for media, politics, society as a whole, that how do you counter it? I know it is a big large issue, people had said in our conclave that you know, it is poverty, it is discrimination and the war on terror creates its own reaction. But, I think that these are all a minority. How do we fight this war on terror as individual, physically. Theological debates can happen, but in the end we have to deal with this on the ground.

Answer (Madani): Media ke point of view se keh rahan hoon, Islamist terrorist ka labze bandh kardena chahiye, isseh uneh support milit hai. Jihadi kehna bandh kar dena chahiye, agar musalman hain to kaha jaye Muslim terrorist. Islamic na kahen. Islamic keh dene se woh baat wahan chali jaati hain ki ye unko support hain. Unko usseh alag karna hai. Choteh se group mein unko sideline karna hai pure muslim ummah se aur Islamic world se.

Gurumurthy: Islamic scholars should be asked to deny that Hindus are Kafir. Second India is not Darul Harab. This should be unanimous opinion. Not one institution saying it and others denouncing it. This is the only way you can win a theological test with terrorism. See you can never contain it by any other means – secular means, modern means, military means, political means are inadequate. You have to get into the core of what is their claim over Islam. Their claim over Islam is that non-Muslims are non-believers, non-believers are not Muslims. You have to say non-believer means you don’t believe in any religion. The Hindu position should be taken by Islamic scholars; that is the only answer and the entire intellectual establishment should demand it.

Madani: Dekhiye, Muslaman is mulk mein minority hain and minorities hi kafi chalta bhi hai uske hawale bahut sari baaten hoti hain, seedhi bhi or ulti bhi. Mein manta hoon ki musalman is mulk ki second-largest majority hain aur musalman is mulk ka asset hain aur ushe asset banna hai, ushe mayus nahin hone dena hain, hopelessness usme paida nahi hone deni hain, usko mainstream me lana hain.

Yeh joh sawal aata hai baar baar, Musalman is mulk ko Darul Harab manta hai – achcha nahin mante ho to sabit karo, sab log mil karke fatwa do. Isi tarah se kaha jaata hai, ke tum log kafir mante ho isliye problem.

Hum kahten hain hum kafir nahin mante hai isliye problem hai, uske bawajood bhi problem hai problem ke bahut sare sources hain. Please gaddhe me mat dalo, deewar se mat lagao, aise kaam mat karo ki jisse logon mein hamesha yeh baat paeda rahe ki hum to mujrim hain. Terrorism pe humne shuruh kiya aur kafhi kuch kiya to kisi sahab ne mujhe kaha ki pahle fatwa lao tab manenge. To hum fatwa le Aaye. Ab kahene lage ki Darul Aman mano aur iska fatwa do. Woh fatwa bhi leaye. To ab sabh log mil kar ke kehane ke baad aur bhi kayi sawal khade ho gaye, log karte rahenge.

Irshad Manji: I haven’t had a chance to answer that question. Very briefly, we talk about you know ensuring that various schools of Islamic thought can agree that Hindus are not Kafirs or infidels of any kind. This again inculcates the Islamic interfaith blessing for marriage the one that is translated into Hindi actually makes the case for why the Hindus are believers in a way that Muslims can accept, so for those of you who are interested there are some copies for you.

Aroon chacha you asked and again I am taking you literally, you asked what is it that individuals can do because we are talking big pictures concepts here, what is it that you can do?

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‘Vote-bank politics aiding terror’

25 08 2008

‘Vote-bank politics aiding terror’
Monday August 25 2008 04:58 IST

Express News Service


CRY AGAINST TERROR: (From left) Andhra Bhoomi editor MVR Sastry, former head of RAW’s counter-terrorism wing B Raman, former Lok Ayukta Justice DJ Jagannadha Raju and former DGP TS Rao at a seminar on jehadi terrorism held in Hyderabad on Sunday.

HYDERABAD: A seminar on ‘Tackling jehadi terrorism’ was held at the Osmania University Law College here today under the auspices of Social Cause, a civil society organisation, on the eve of the first anniversary of the twin blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat Bhandar in the city.

Former director-general of police TS Rao, who was the moderator, said religious fundamentalism, entwined with vote-bank politics, was fuelling jehadi terrorism. “Despite concrete evidence that SIMI and other jehadi organisations had involvement in terror acts, some political parties are shielding them with evil motives,” he said.

Justice Jagannadha Raju said the unceasing extremist activities exposed the ineffectiveness of the current policies and legislations. Politically-motivated minority appeasement resulted in keeping stringent and effective modification of the existing laws at bay, he noted.

B Raman, former head of the Research and Analysis Wing, said global jehad took birth at a madarassa in Karachi, Pakistan, and produced several terrorist outfits including Lashkar-e-Toiba, al-Qaeda and, more recently, Indian Mujahideen.

“India has a good system, talent and infrastructure to deal with the threat but it is not ready to use the force. The police force is extremely motivated and untiring but political pressure is preventing the police from acting tough,” he said.





Mind of a Jehadi

30 05 2008

Mind of a Jehadi

By Amir Mir

(Appeared in Tehelka)

AL QAEDA chief Osama bin Laden has made jihad more central than ever before, sparking new global waves of inspiration to youth ready to give their all for the fight that he has come to symbolize. So blinded, often, is the commitment of the jihadi to the cause that those confronted with them are at a loss for counter-strategies.

He could be a dyed-in-the-wool product of a remote madarsa, bearded, aloof and intent on his purpose of establishing the Empire of the Faith. Or he could be a denim-clad graduate from a Western campus, modern to all intents and appearances, but equally single-minded in determination as his counterpart from the madarsa. He may have been part of the West and benefited from what it has to offer, but he also sees the “ills and injustices of its materialism, its determination to foist on the world an order and ethos it has created”; he is determined to fight it. As Giles Kepel, the leading French authority on Islamists, puts it in his important study, The War For Muslim Minds: “Al Qaeda was (and is) less a military base of operations than a database that connected jehadists around the world via the Internet… this organisation did not consist of buildings and tanks and borders but of websites, clandestine financial transfers and a proliferation of activists ranging from Jersey City to the paddies of Indonesia.”

In the final analysis, the jehadi is the same person, whether he comes from an ill-equipped madarsa or an affluent university, whether he comes from the poverty of the Orient or from the plenty of the West. He celebrates death in the service of Islam and resolutely believes that death in the service of the only cause worth serving is a one-way ticket to heaven. His biggest disagreement with the modern concept of democracy is that he does not believe religion is the private affair of a person but rather a complete way of life that necessarily includes politics.

Islam is his religion and his nation; it transcends boundaries, ethnicities, colour, creed and race. He rejects secularism and any social order other than that defined by Islam. He believes that Allah alone ——” is the sovereign and His commandments are the supreme taw of man. Of course, the theoretical reason why Islam had asked its followers to wage jehad was to create an egalitarian social order where the poor and the vulnerable would be treated with respect and dignity.

Jehad (struggle) never exclusively meant a holy war; it could have been a social, political, economic campaign as well. It was a fight against inequality, social injustice and discrimination. But today jehad has but one dimension — Kital, or violent struggle. And it has but one icon: Osama bin Laden, embattled with the Great West to establish the domination of his own realm of faith.

The mind of an Islamic terrorist is difficult for a non-Muslim to comprehend. What could lead a person to cause his or her own violent death is a question that is frequently raised. It is contrary to every human emotion that we have. Yet, we know there are hundreds of Islamic fundamentalists who are wilting to kill and be killed for Allah. An important reason is the promise that the gates of Paradise are under the shadows of the swords.

According to most leading Muslim scholars here, personally, spirituality, politically, intellectually and emotionally, the questions that an Islamic fundamentalist faces are stark indeed. Personally, he asks himself if he loves Allah more than his own life? Spiritually, he asks whether or not he is willing to sacrifice himself in Allah’s cause against the Shaytan’s power and the infidel’s military forces? Politically, he divides the nations of the world into two warring camps. The nations under Islamic rule are termed, the Land of Peace (Dar al-lslam) while the remaining nations are called the Land of War (Dar al-Harb). Intellectually, the answers to those questions are crystal clear to him. Emotionally, his only hurdle is the fear of death. Once this emotional fear is conquered, the person joyfully takes up the sword to kill and be killed in Allah’s cause, anticipating his entrance into the gates of heavenly Paradise. Thus, martyrdom is the only assured path to Paradise.





Mind of a Jehadi

30 05 2008

Mind of a Jehadi

By Amir Mir

(Appeared in Tehelka)

AL QAEDA chief Osama bin Laden has made jihad more central than ever before, sparking new global waves of inspiration to youth ready to give their all for the fight that he has come to symbolize. So blinded, often, is the commitment of the jihadi to the cause that those confronted with them are at a loss for counter-strategies.

He could be a dyed-in-the-wool product of a remote madarsa, bearded, aloof and intent on his purpose of establishing the Empire of the Faith. Or he could be a denim-clad graduate from a Western campus, modern to all intents and appearances, but equally single-minded in determination as his counterpart from the madarsa. He may have been part of the West and benefited from what it has to offer, but he also sees the “ills and injustices of its materialism, its determination to foist on the world an order and ethos it has created”; he is determined to fight it. As Giles Kepel, the leading French authority on Islamists, puts it in his important study, The War For Muslim Minds: “Al Qaeda was (and is) less a military base of operations than a database that connected jehadists around the world via the Internet… this organisation did not consist of buildings and tanks and borders but of websites, clandestine financial transfers and a proliferation of activists ranging from Jersey City to the paddies of Indonesia.”

In the final analysis, the jehadi is the same person, whether he comes from an ill-equipped madarsa or an affluent university, whether he comes from the poverty of the Orient or from the plenty of the West. He celebrates death in the service of Islam and resolutely believes that death in the service of the only cause worth serving is a one-way ticket to heaven. His biggest disagreement with the modern concept of democracy is that he does not believe religion is the private affair of a person but rather a complete way of life that necessarily includes politics.

Islam is his religion and his nation; it transcends boundaries, ethnicities, colour, creed and race. He rejects secularism and any social order other than that defined by Islam. He believes that Allah alone ——” is the sovereign and His commandments are the supreme taw of man. Of course, the theoretical reason why Islam had asked its followers to wage jehad was to create an egalitarian social order where the poor and the vulnerable would be treated with respect and dignity.

Jehad (struggle) never exclusively meant a holy war; it could have been a social, political, economic campaign as well. It was a fight against inequality, social injustice and discrimination. But today jehad has but one dimension — Kital, or violent struggle. And it has but one icon: Osama bin Laden, embattled with the Great West to establish the domination of his own realm of faith.

The mind of an Islamic terrorist is difficult for a non-Muslim to comprehend. What could lead a person to cause his or her own violent death is a question that is frequently raised. It is contrary to every human emotion that we have. Yet, we know there are hundreds of Islamic fundamentalists who are wilting to kill and be killed for Allah. An important reason is the promise that the gates of Paradise are under the shadows of the swords.

According to most leading Muslim scholars here, personally, spirituality, politically, intellectually and emotionally, the questions that an Islamic fundamentalist faces are stark indeed. Personally, he asks himself if he loves Allah more than his own life? Spiritually, he asks whether or not he is willing to sacrifice himself in Allah’s cause against the Shaytan’s power and the infidel’s military forces? Politically, he divides the nations of the world into two warring camps. The nations under Islamic rule are termed, the Land of Peace (Dar al-lslam) while the remaining nations are called the Land of War (Dar al-Harb). Intellectually, the answers to those questions are crystal clear to him. Emotionally, his only hurdle is the fear of death. Once this emotional fear is conquered, the person joyfully takes up the sword to kill and be killed in Allah’s cause, anticipating his entrance into the gates of heavenly Paradise. Thus, martyrdom is the only assured path to Paradise.





The Legacy of Benazir Bhutto: Pakistan’s Proxy Wars, Islamic Jihad and the Taliban

28 12 2007

The most horrific acts of terror in recent times has just been in the neighbouring pakistan. Benazir Bhutto the former PM of Pakistan has been killed in an allegged Alqaida attack. FACT prays for peace to her soul.

Another high profile victim for the fundamentalism and another round of applause for the fundamentalism from the stupidity.

The Legacy of Benazir Bhutto: Pakistan’s Proxy Wars, Islamic Jihad and the Taliban
by Dr. Subhash Kapila

Benazir Bhutto twice ousted as Prime Minister of Pakistan, prompted by fears of arrest is presently in self-imposed exile in Dubai for the last two years. Sensing that elections may be held by the Pakistan Army next year and with a political vacuum existing due to banishment of the last Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, she has been active in running around Western countries subtly projecting that she is the only viable civilian alternative to head Pakistan. With the inauguration of President Bush in Washington, she has already visited Washington in February and embarking soon on a second outing. Her campaign on Capitol Hill is aimed at impressing the American law makers and the think-tanks in Washington that she is a moderate Pakistani leader having nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalism, proxy war in Kashmir or with Taliban. Such a line carries conviction to the Americans when coupled with her personal charm and western education eloquence.

In India too, there are many advocates of Ms. Bhutto amongst retired diplomats of Nehru-Gandhi vintage, Track II participants and Generals/Admirals turned peaceniks. The Indian media glitterrati as is their wont, do not take pains to delve deep in to the political background of such leaders.

In the current security environment obtaining in South Asia in the India-Pakistan context, Indians are led to believe by opinion makers that Islamic fundamentalism, proxy war and Jehadi terrorism and the Taliban were and are the creations of Pakistan military rulers beginning with General Zia and now General Musharraf. This is only partly true.

The significant fact that has not been brought out by the Indian media and opinion makers is that Benazir played a significant role in drawing Pakistan deep into the Islamic fundamentalism morass, in escalating the Pak proxy war in Kashmir and giving active encouragement to the formation of the Taliban.

The aim of this paper is to highlight the active involvement of Ms. Benazir Bhutto in these activities as Prime Minister of Pakistan. Revelations in a recent book authored by the Director of the United States Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare eloquently highlight Ms. Bhutto’s complicity. (1)

Other published works stand referred to in order to substantiate Ms. Bhutto’s involvement in setting up the Taliban.For the record and also to enable readers to correlate contemporary events in South Asia, the two tenures of Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan were1.

1 December 1988 to August 1990.

2. October 1993 to November 1996.

Benazir Bhutto’s Islamic Fundamentalisation of PakistanBenazir Bhutto’s first advent as Prime Minister coincided roughly with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan where Pakistan was spearheading the American effort. Since strategic aims had been met, it would have been logical for the self-proclaimed Pakistani democrat Prime Minister to wind up the Islamic fundamentalist Mujahideen bases in Pakistan and their nurseries. No such thing happened.

On the contrary “Benazir Bhutto, who became the Prime Minister in 1989 had a profoundly different perception of the role and utility of Islamist terrorism. Convinced that Pakistan’s destiny lay in strategic alliances with such countries as Syria, Iran, China (PRC) and North Korea, Benazir Bhutto’s Islamabad re-examined all aspects of Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan and the world of State-sponsored terrorism became an instrument of crucial significance for Pakistani policy. Islamabad now committed to furthering Islamism in the heart of Asia . . . Islamabad recognized the growing specter of confrontation with the United States over strategic posture in the region. Still Islamabad shifted to active support for militant Islamism.”(2)

As a follow-up of Benazir Bhutto’s policy of exploiting Islamic fundamentalist terrorism as a state-sponsored tool, Pakistan was flooded with about 16000-20000 Islamist militants from over 20 countries all freely given visas for Pakistan. The Soviets had withdrawn from Afghanistan and surely they had not come for Afghanistan’s liberation. They had come for training in Pakistan and to fight for Pakistani state-sponsored Jehads from Kashmir to Central Asia.

General Zia as military ruler of Pakistan for eleven years preceding Prime Minister Bhutto could not achieve what she achieved in terms of Islamic fundamentalisation of Pakistan: ” In the quest for Islamic violence the camps of the Islamist Afghan resistance in Pakistan became to Sunni Islamist terrorism what Lebanon had been for radical leftist terrorism. Pakistan became a place of pilgrimage for aspiring Islamist radicals.” (3)

Benazir Bhutto on return to power in 1993 had not lost her zeal for Islamic fundamentalisation : “By the end of 1993, after her round of visits to Beijing, Pyongyang and Tehran, Bhutto clearly demonstrated her determination to implement these policies (Islamic terrorism as state-sponsored foreign policy tool) and realise this strategic posture as soon as possible. Markedly increasing Pakistan’s participation in the Islamist international terrorist system was an integral part of Bhutto’s new strategy.” (4)

Benazir’s active linkages with Pan-Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organisations stands adequately exposed in the book referred: “In mid-December 1993, Turabi (Sudanese Islamic fundamentalist leader) organised another “Popular Arab and Islamic Conference (PAIC) in Khartoum to discuss the next phase of the Islamist struggle . . . The PAIC conference focussed on the role of Pakistan . . . in particular Pakistan’s future active support for Islamist armed struggles and international terrorism. The official Pakistan delegation was led by two other Bhutto confidants (the other was a close Bhutto adviser from her party PPP) General Mirza Aslam Beg, the former Chief of Staff of Pakistani Armed Forces and Lt. General Hamid Gul, the former chief of ISI (Pakistani intelligence) . . . Their participation in the Khartoum conference and leading role in the formulation of Pakistan’s relations with the PAIC and the Islamist (read Islamic fundamentalist) world was proof that Bhutto’s Islamabad would continue to pursue Islamist policies.” (5)

Benazir Bhutto’s Duplicity with the United States: Forming a Trans- Asian anti-USA Alliance

Since Benazir Bhutto’s current visits to USA are related to garner US support for her installation as Prime Minister on return to civil rule, it is pertinent to highlight her duplicity with the United States and formation of a Trans-Asian and anti-US Alliance.

Washington should note that: ” The Islamist surge coincided with Benazir Bhutto’s return to power in Islamabad. Behind a facade of pro-Western and pro-democracy rhetoric she initiated a program designed to make Pakistan a central member of both the Islamic bloc and the Trans-Asian axis, an anti-US radical alliance stretching from the Mediterranean to North East Asia . . . Islamabad emerged from these alliances with distinct roles.” (6)

The roles assigned to Pakistan, can be summarised as follows:

*Pakistan would serve as centre for defence production for the Islamic bloc. This would also incorporate nuclear weapon technologies.

* Pakistan would be the financial centre for laundering Islamist drug money.

* Pakistan would acquire legally or illegally sophisticated western technology for its Islamic and other allies.

“Islamabad and its allies were convinced that Bhutto’s rise to power, especially in view of her pro-democracy rhetoric, would relax the western guard” and that “Pakistan would be able to acquire the necessary items . . . ” (7)

It seems that USA and the West were taken in by this approach.Bezazir Bhutto’s apologists may argue that all this was done under Pakistan Army’s pressure. It does not seem so as Bodansky clarifies that: “Pakistan’s growing role in the anti-US build up was one of Bhutto’s personal priorities (note ‘personal priorities’). Immediately after return to power in fall 1993, she embarked on a series of political moves that would formulate the new grand strategy for a post-Cold War and post- Gulf crisis Pakistan.” (8)

Benazir Bhutto’s Intensification of Pak Proxy War in KashmirIt needs to be noted that: “From 1972 to December 1989, Kashmir was not an issue of high crisis in Indo- Pakistan relations, though Pakistan continued to harp on it during this period.”(9)

It would be obvious from this that both in her father’s tenure as Prime Minister and that of eleven years of President Zia no major escalation took place on the Kashmir issue.

Kashmir was whipped up as an emotive and frenzied issue only by Benazir Bhutto when she came into power in 1989 and thereafter in1993. Never before had Kashmir been made such a provocative issue in Pakistani elections as done by Benazir Bhutto. She outdid what Islamic fundamentalists uttered on Kashmir. “Indo-Pak relations were to go off into a spin from the end of 1989” and that “The tenuous hopes of a new beginning (friendly Indo- Pak relations) came to a somewhat abrupt end in December 1989” (10).

This was mid-way in Benazir Bhutto’s first tenure as Prime Minister of Pakistan.The following need to be noted in relation to Benazir’s escalation of proxy war in Kashmir:* “Violence in Kashmir increased between December 1989 and February 1990. India had firm information about a quantum increase in the flow of arms and infiltration by trained terrorists.”(11)

* Benazir Bhutto visited POK for the first time as Prime Minister on 13 March 1990. She gave a historical speech at a public meeting in Muzzafarabad declaring the struggle in Kashmir to be a ‘holy jehad’.”(12)

The increased jehadi infiltration in Kashmir and acts of terrorism during Benazir’s tenures as Prime Minister was the manifestation of what has been discussed earlier, i.e., the adoption by PM Benazir Bhutto of state- sponsored Islamic fundamentalist terrorism as a foreign policy tool. Retrospectively, it can also be analysed that Benazir Bhutto was carrying a chip on her shoulder from the Simla Agreement 1972 days when she was a witness to her father Z.A. Bhutto giving in to Indian demands that Kashmir was to be a bi-lateral issue between the two countries.

The Taliban’s Creation During Premiership of Bhutto

Pakistan figures prominently in any discussions related to the Taliban in terms of creating this medieval monster in Afghanistan and the subsequent inhuman repression that the Taliban has imposed on the Afghans themselves. ISI also figures prominently in relation to provision of Pak Army cadres, military advisers and military hardware. However what does not figure is Benazir Bhutto’s role in its creation. The Taliban emerged forcefully on the Afghan scene in the period 1993-94 and captured the whole of Afghanistan, less the Northern Provinces by September 1996. It requires to be noted that all these developments took place during Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure as Prime Minister, i.e., 1993- 1996. As one author puts it: “Furthermore, there was considerable evidence to suggest that the Taliban were being strongly supported by the Pakistani government led by Benazir Bhutto, ironically a woman educated at Oxford and Harvard.”(13)

Initially, more than the ISI, it was the Bhutto party machine both at Islamabad and in the provincial capitals at Peshawar(NWFP) and Quetta (Baluchistan) which were active in the reinforcement and furtherance of Taliban operations. It is indicated that: “When the Taliban captured Kandahar, the ISI was initially more sceptical than the Government about the chances of further success. While General Babar( Bhutto’s Interior Minister) and the Jamiat-e Ulema-i Islam pushed for support to the Taliban, the ISI took a back seat. Thus Babar had a free hand in “civilianising” the initial support to the Taliban.” (14)

Benazir’s newly created Taliban ensured that they had the right connections in Pakistan to enable continued support as this would suggest: “And the Taliban soon developed close relations with several businessmen close to Asaf Ali Zardari- the husband of Benazir Bhutto, who in turn were given the highly lucrative permits to export fuel to Afghanistan. As the Taliban’s war machine expanded, permits for fuel supplies from Pakistan became a major money earner for Pakistani politicians” . . . (15) The linkages and implications are self evident.

ConclusionBenazir’s pretentious pronouncements are avidly lapped up in Washington and New Delhi as emanating from a committed democrat, a Pakistani politician of moderate hues and above all a Muslim with western educated secular values, in short someone New Delhi could trust in political dealings. The above record of Benazir Bhutto however does not match up with what she would like us to believe about her.Bodansky states that: ” Pakistan’s ascent in the Islamist terrorist system is particularly important in a strategic context. Pakistan’s growing involvement resulted in both escalation of the war by proxy in Kashmir and the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan, two movements that still provide shelter and closely cooperate with Osama bin Laden.” (16)

What Bodansky has not added to complete this summation is that in terms of contextual time-spans both these developments emerged during the two tenures of Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Benazir’s duplicity against the United States of America of forming a Trans-Asian anti- US alliance while mouthing platitudes on democracy during Washington visits indicates a fatal flaw in her political credibility. Comparatively speaking, former PM Nawaz Sharif appears far superior to Benazir’s Bhutto. He had at least the courage to fight an election in Pakistan on the agenda of improvement of Indo-Pak relations and won on this issue with an overwhelming majority.

Regrettably, Benazir Bhutto’s record on Islamic fundamentalism of Pakistan, escalation of the proxy war in Kashmir and the creation of the Taliban leads one to the conclusion that Washington’s assessments of Pakistani politicians and Pakistan’s political scene tend to be faulty and unreliable as inputs for any Track II diplomacy. Both these conclusions are pertinent presently for those advising and espousing the continuation of India’s cease fire in Kashmir.





India Appeases Radical Islam : Wall street Journal

30 11 2007

By SADANAND DHUMENovember 27, 2007; Page A18
Friday’s multiple bomb blasts in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh — which killed 13 people and injured about 80 — ought to give pause to those who see the world’s largest democracy as a linchpin in the war on terror. India’s leaders and diplomats seek to portray the country as a firebreak against radical Islam, or the drive to impose the medieval Arab norms enshrined in Shariah law on 21st century life. In reality, India is ill- equipped to fight this scourge.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati visits a man injured in last Friday’s bomb blasts in Varanasi.
Like neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, (and unlike Turkey or Tunisia) India has failed to modernize much of its Muslim population. Successive generations of politicians have pandered to the most backward elements of India’s 150-million strong Muslim population, the second largest in the world after Indonesia’s. India has allowed Muslims to follow Shariah in civil matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. An increasingly radicalized neighborhood, fragmented domestic politics and a curiously timid mainstream discourse on Islam add up to hobble India’s response to radical Islamic intimidation.

Most Indian Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism, and are more concerned with the struggles of daily life than the effort to create a global caliphate. Muslim contributions to the fabric of national life — most visible in sports, movies and the arts — should not be dismissed. Furthermore, religious zealotry in India is not a Muslim monopoly. Still, the notion that Indian Islam is uniquely tolerant, or somehow immune to the rising tide of world-wide radical sentiment, is a myth.
Last year, Haji Muhammad Yaqoob Qureshi, a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government, publicly offered a $11 million bounty for beheading the Danish cartoonists who had drawn the prophet Mohammed. In high-tech Hyderabad, parts of which are Muslim strongholds, three sitting legislators of a local Islamic party recently roughed up Taslima Nasreen, a Bangladeshi author critical of her country’s treatment of its Hindu minority and her faith’s treatment of women. Last week, the government of West Bengal state in eastern India had to call in the army to quell Muslim rioters in Calcutta, whose demands included Ms. Nasreen’s expulsion from the country.
India’s historically weak-kneed response to radical Islamic intimidation only encourages such behavior. In 1988, India was the first country to ban Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses.” (Ayatollah Khomeini issued his infamous death sentence on the author only after reading about disturbances in India.) In 1999, after terrorists hijacked an Indian aircraft to then Taliban-controlled Kandahar, New Delhi responded by releasing three prominent Islamic militants from prison in Kashmir. One of them, the British-Pakistani London School of Economics dropout Omar Saeed Sheikh, went on to mastermind the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. True to form, the authorities have responded to the latest outbreak of violence in Calcutta by bundling off Ms. Nasreen to distant Rajasthan, and from there to Delhi.
As in other democracies — Britain and Holland to name just two — a permissive approach toward radical Islam has only made the country more vulnerable to terrorism. In August this year, 42 people died in attacks on a Hyderabad restaurant and an open-air auditorium. Last year, a series of explosions on commuter trains in Bombay killed over 200 people. Two years ago, the Hindu festival of Diwali was rung in with bombs that claimed 62 lives in Delhi.
New Delhi has blamed the attacks on groups such as the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba and Bangladesh’s Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami. Though much of India’s terrorism problem is imported, part of it is homegrown. Instead of reflexively blaming Islamabad, Indians need to ask themselves why foreign terrorists appear to have little trouble recruiting accomplices from India. (The Uttar Pradesh attacks appear to be the work of a previously unknown outfit called Indian Mujahideen.) The bromide about the lack of Indian Muslim involvement in international terrorism, accepted unquestioningly by much of India’s liberal intelligentsia, must be called into question after the involvement of Indian doctors in this year’s failed attacks in London and Glasgow.
India’s experience offers important lessons to other democracies struggling to integrate large Muslim populations. It highlights the folly of attempting to exempt Muslims from universal norms regarding women’s rights, freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry. It reveals that democracy alone — when detached from bedrock democratic principles — offers no antidote to radical Islamic fervor.
Mr. Dhume is a fellow at the Asia Society in Washington, D.C. “My Friend the Fanatic,” his book about the rise of radical Islam in Indonesia, will be published by Melbourne next year.

click here for the article on Wal street journal article