Violence at WAGAH
By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Nov 07, 2014
The greatest problem with Muslims is that they are lagging far behind in modern scientific education. It is modern education alone that can change traditional mindsets
A deadly suicide bomb attack took place on November 2, 2014, at the Wagah border in Pakistan. The blast left more than 60 dead and about 200 injured. Why should there be news of this kind from Muslim countries? Obviously, the purpose of this violence is to achieve some goal. But, whatever be the goal, the violent method has become quite irrelevant in present times. The violent method was perhaps relevant in previous centuries when people lived in a primitive and/or tribal culture. But, now we are living in the age of freedom and science. Now, the peaceful approach is far more effective than violence. But, it seems that certain groups of Muslims are still beset by outdated tribal obsessions and are totally unaware of the fact that times have changed and that peaceful methods have replaced violent methods.
It is a fact that no religion, including Islam, advocates terrorism or militancy. Islam is a religion of Peace. All teachings of the Quran are based on peace, directly or indirectly. For example, there is a relevant verse in the Quran that tells us that the peaceful way is the best one (4:128). Moreover, Islamic teachings are crystal clear with regard to sanctity of life. The Quran says, “Whoever killed a human being — except as punishment for murder or for spreading Fasad, disorder, in the land — shall be regarded as having killed all of mankind.” (5:32) According to this verse, life is the fundamental right of every human being. No one is allowed to take away a life, except by way of a judicial verdict that is issued after passing through the due processes of law.
According to my experience, the solution to the problem of violence lies in education. The greatest problem with a large section of the Muslim community is that its members are lagging behind in modern, scientific education. It is modern education alone that can change traditional mindsets.
There is another problem. Some Muslim thinkers of the 20th century have interpreted Islam in political terms. A number of such Muslims are obsessed with a politicised ideology of Islam. The need of the hour is to counter this problem. However, it cannot be countered by means of the gun. This problem can be solved only through ideology. It is not an issue of ‘gun versus gun’, but is rather an issue of ‘gun versus ideology’. We have to present Islam as a religion of peace. Changing minds through this method will take some considerable time, as it is a long-term method. Countering the problem with the gun cannot make those who are engaged in violence abandon their violent ways. Because these people are engaged in violence in the name of Islam, they can be stopped from indulging in such activities only if the true peaceful picture of Islam is shown to them.
The veracity of this method can be judged from the example of Kashmir. After Independence, militancy became widespread among a few groups of Kashmiri Muslims. We, at the Centre for Peace and Spirituality, quietly disseminated peaceful literature among Kashmiris. Today militancy in Kashmir has reduced considerably. The same literary campaign is required in other militancy-affected areas.
There is the widespread notion that Islam promotes violence. However, this is the result of sheer misunderstanding. The reason is that people fail to differentiate between Muslims and Islam. All these violent activities we hear of today are launched by misguided Muslims. It is this group which is to blame and not the religion of Islam.
It is a fact that some Muslims are engaged in militancy in the name of Islam. But, this is an example of the exploitation of Islam and not of the following of Islam. The problem is that under the influence of certain thinkers, some Muslims have come to believe in the concept of establishing an Islamic system in the world. For this, they require political power. But when they set out to establish this system, they see that a group is already occupying the political seat. So, they try to overthrow or unseat those who are in possession of political power. It is this thinking that has led such irate groups to perpetrate violence. But this thinking is completely un-Islamic, because Islam enjoins on its followers to follow its teachings at the individual level, rather than foisting them on others by force or violence.
Then, there is the question of why religions advocate peace and not violence. The reason is very clear. The target of religion, including Islam, is to bring about reform in the individual and not in the political system. And, any kind of spiritual or intellectual change can be brought about in an individual only when he is addressed peacefully. Only those who have set political targets for themselves engage in violence, and since religions do not have any political target, they do not enjoin violence. Islam has adopted a very practical formula in this matter, that is, idealism at the level of the individual and pragmatism at the level of society.
There is a prophetic saying that some Muslims will indulge in un-Islamic activities in their later generations. The Prophet was asked how this would happen. The Prophet answered that they would give Islamic names to non-Islamic activities. What is wrong with them is that they have given the name of jihad to their militancy to seek justification for their militant activities. The need of the hour is to correct this self-styled interpretation of Islam and then everything will fall into place.