By Mirza Yawar Baig
11 September, 2014
Looking at the headlines it appears that a story is being built – gradually one article at a time; linking one incident to another, using conjecture in the place of hard evidence – to create the new bogeyman – the Indian Muslim as a ‘fifth column'. A simple search for the meaning of the term revealed this: A fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group—such as a nation or a besieged city —from within. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilize openly to assist an external attack. This term is also extended to organized actions by military personnel. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defence lines by secret sympathizers with an external force.
This trend is nothing new of course but it is certainly something that has taken a new energy today from tragic happenings in the Middle East – in particular, the rise of the ISIS – the so-called Islamic State. I say so-called because strangely or not so strangely come to think of it – it contradicts every criterion of a true Islamic state, yet it calls itself that. So I gave it another name - Isn't Isn't - It isn't the Islamic State by any stretch of the imagination.
The problem of course is that discourse belongs to those who choose to speak and so those who are silent are to blame if the discourse takes a turn they don't agree with or accept. When the truth must be spoken, silence is culpable. Add to this the problem that apparently some young people who don't have the ability or knowledge to understand international politics are getting taken in by the propaganda of the ISIS and are tending towards it. that is why I love Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s wonderful reminder:
“Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic? Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.”
I, as a common man, have the same access to news – papers and TV news – as anyone else. I don't spend time on social media as I really don't have time for chatting and whatnot that happens there. But I have read enough and do have enough of a world view to know that anyone who goes by ‘official statements' of any political organization or by newspaper or TV headlines, without asking some critical questions, is bound to head off in the wrong direction. If there ever was a time to which the adages – deceptive appearance or wolf in sheep's clothing – could be applied, it is this time. It appears as if all wolves are wearing sheepskin and bleating like lambs while sharpening their fangs for the fatal bite. Anyone who falls for that, needs a brain transplant.
So what are the questions that I asked and suggest those who think, should ask?
1. How is it that in a world, if you transfer anything over $ 5000 through a perfectly legal bank transaction, you are asked for justification; an entire war is being funded by a lot more than $5000 and those funds are not being frozen?
2. How is it that when a single individual who dares to call himself a ‘Mujahid' – is immediately labelled a ‘jihadist' and is tracked, arrested and incarcerated – an entire army is allowed to be recruited and equipped and is allowed to plunder and murder at will and no action is taken?
3. How is it that someone who calls himself Amir-ul-Mumineen – Leader of the Believers – he and his people - go against all rules of the Sharia’h and murder innocent Christian and other civilians, kill journalists and non-combatants, shamelessly publish videos of these despicable, Haram actions, destroy churches, desecrate and destroy tombs of Muslim scholars and even Prophets?
4. Whose interests are really being served to have something like the ISIS operating in that theatre – the interests of Muslims globally or the interests of those who are famous for fighting proxy wars seeking the portraying and labelling of Muslims in highly negative terms?
5. Finally how is it that someone who claims to be the Khalifa (Ameer-ul-Mumineen) is silent about the genocide in Gaza? I won't venture to speculate on the reasons. Actions speak far louder than any words possibly can.
The answers to these questions are more than obvious and so we and anyone with any intelligence can only reject the ISIS as being a false flag operation. We reject the ISIS, Boko Haram, Shabab and all other such organizations and condemn their actions and condemn those who play these games at the expense of the lives and blood of innocents. We demand an end to all wars and all games played by the rich and powerful which the poor and oppressed pay the price of. We call upon all intelligent people to use their intelligence and not fall into the propaganda traps being woven to achieve nefarious ends of cynical pitiless people who care for nobody.
As for Indian Muslims and the narrative being created against them – as I mentioned it is nothing new – but if Muslim youth fall into the propaganda trap of ISIS or such organizations and do things which appear to support them, not only will they expose themselves to prosecution but will give credence to those who are seeking to label Indian Muslims as less than patriotic and possibly traitors. So we advise anyone who will listen to us to reject anyone who supports the ISIS or any such outfits.
Demanding that Muslims must condemn the ISIS is typical xenophobic and communal nonsense. We don't have to condemn something that we didn't create nor support. Let those who created ISIS condemn it and stop supporting it. Let them freeze their funding which will stop them as surely as a hole in the head. Let their creators and funders understand that they are not fooling anyone. We the people of the world and we the Muslims are more than aware of what is going on and are able to see the schemes behind the events. We are not fooled by the whimpering of captive media who have sold the very spirit of free press and journalism down the drain.
As for us Indian Muslims, we are and have always been Indian first and last. Our religious identity is our personal matter and being Muslim doesn't make us any less Indian than being Hindu makes our Hindu brethren any less Indian. It is a shame that we are always challenged to declare our loyalty. We see this as the demand of vested interests, not the demand of our motherland. India knows us and we know our Watan. This is our country. We love it like all others who live in it. We pray for its safety and prosperity. And we will fight for its integrity. Our history is replete with honour of our contribution to our nation and we are proud of it.
Mirza Yawar Baig is Imam and Khateeb: Mahmood Habib Masjid & Islamic Centre, Hyderabad