By Ram Puniyani
09 September, 2014
Just a month ago (August 2014) a group of Muslim activists-scholars organized press meets in various cities. They issued a statement condemning the brutal violence being committed by ISIS. There statement carried a visual saying Islam Means Peace. The statement said “Indian Muslims Condemn the Brutal Atrocities by ISIS against Minorities in Iraq and Syria; denounce religious intolerance, persecution and violence in the name of Islam” I circulated the statement to many lists. One of the members on the list wrote back that “‘Islam means Peace' is the biggest joke of the century”. Simultaneously in India, the propaganda about love Jihad is being spread like wild fire by communal elements. Irrespective of the fact that in such a propaganda few cases of marriage-conversion, the girls changing their version the boundary line between love and imposition being regularly breached, have been picked up as an example of Muslim men on a path to Jihad for conversion to Islam, by marrying Hindu girls by deceit. A friend demanded whether I can cite even 100 cases where Muslim girls have married Hindu men. To my good fortune I could locate a list longer than that of 100 and also a Google search of Hindu Men Muslim wife gave good many beautiful stories (https://www.facebook.com/R3alityofPorkistan/posts/613266692020533 ) of such ‘love jihad' in reverse!
The ‘social common sense' is so heavily weighted against Islam and Muslims that to talk of reason in understanding religion and its abuse for political goals seems to be a very difficult exercise. To understand that religions are for morality and peace is accepted for other religions but not for Islam in popular perception. Many a processes of ‘Manufacturing Consent' are today fusing to create a picture of Muslims which is neither true nor of any good to the peace in the World. All Muslims are being presented in homogenous-uniform image and the selective examples of the criminal Muslims and intolerant version of Islam is being projected as ‘the Islam' feeding into the massive prejudices which have intensified during last several decades.
While the ISIS is an offshoot of AL Qaeda, which was trained by USA-ISI through Madrasa's set up in Pakistan. There are enough good resources to tell us about the scheme of US in the West Asia to control the oil wealth. The US dictum for this area has been ‘Oil is too precious a commodity to be left to control of natives'. While one has burnt midnight oil to unravel the trajectory of US policy through books with solid scholarship, the job of understanding this has become easy with a small video of Hillary Clinton. Very smartly and briskly she tells us that it was US which created Al Qaeda by indoctrinating the Muslim youth. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLhRKj6633w ). A peep into the history of the region tells us that this indoctrination was done by using the distorted version of Islam, Wahhabism to be more precise.
This force, Al Qaeda was created, richly funded and armed to the teeth by US, to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. With the brutality of Al Qaeda being manifest, US media presented its demonic image by coining the word ‘Islamic terrorism' after 9/11 2001. Before this 9/11 episode, the acts of terror were not linked to religion, though people coming from different religions have resorted to such acts. From killer of Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, to Buddhist monks resorting to terror acts in Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka to Anders Berling Breivik of Norway, people coming from different religious stocks have indulged n acts of terror for diverse political reasons. After 9/11 the acts of terror was associated exclusively with Islam.
Interestingly the version of Islam picked up by US to create Al Qaeda, to indoctrinate Mujahideen in to terror trails, was formulated by Abd al-Wahhab, who had started rigidifying Islam; imposing his exclusive version in the projection of Islam. He pontificates that "any doubt or hesitation" on the part of a believer in respect to his or her acknowledging this (Wahhab’s) particular interpretation of Islam should “deprive a man of immunity of his property and his life." This was the version of Islam which was one amongst many. Why did it become more dominant? Mostly because this version got the sanction form the political masters as this version got patronage of the rulers of Saudi Arabia. “One of the main tenets of Abd al-Wahhab's doctrine is Takfīr. As per this doctrine fellow Muslims are called infidels if they engage in activities that in any way could be said to encroach on the sovereignty of the absolute Authority (that is, the King). "Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessions confiscated, he wrote.” ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-wahhabism-saudi-arabia_b_5717157.html )
This version suited the Saudi rulers in keeping their control over oil resources and the same version suited the US designs, where the meaning of Kafir (One who hides the truth) is changed to the non Muslim, the ‘other'. This is the version where the word Jihad is made synonymous with killing the non believer. As such scholars of repute tell us that Jihad stands for striving to your utmost for good deeds. The same Islam, which says ‘to me my din (faith) to you yours' is changed over to killing those who disagree with you. This interpretation of Islam was the perfect recipe for those who wanted to fight Russian army through proxy! The indoctrination of this variety cannot be undone once the goals are achieved. The Al Qaeda elements after collaborating in defeating Russian army; retain the distorted version of Islam and the dangerous weapons supplied by US. What do they do now with Wahhabi Islam in head and armaments in hands? So ISIS comes up in due course, and the illusion that they can now rule the World, they will install Khalifa, and all the insanity follows!
As such US has been out to play ‘divide and rule' like the earlier colonial powers. In India colonial powers sowed the seeds of communal politics. In West Asia, during last few decades after the demise of Soviet Union; US imperialism is aiming to create smaller states along ethnic-sectarian divides and feeding into the divides and clashes along Shia-Sunni-Kurd lines. ‘Divide-et-empera' (divide and rule) is at its peak but is also at the same time demonizing the Muslims Worldwide through the Islam phobia which is constructed around the evil deeds of the likes of Al Qaeda or ISIS.
Currently in India “Hate other” campaign has travelled through a long journey of communalizing various issues, the last major one was Ram Temple. With Ram temple issues' impact on the decline a new one has been propped up, ‘Love Jihad'. It is being propagated that by feigning love Muslim youth are luring Hindu girls into marriages with the aim to conversion and increasing Muslim population. The evil genius who created the word Love Jihad has all the reasons to laugh all the way. Neither can love be manufactured nor is Jihad an imposition of one's religion on the other. Love Jihad is being presented as being the campaign of Global Muslims to spread Islam through luring the ‘innocent' non Muslim girls. Few selective examples of post marital issues of Muslim boy Hindu girl are selectively being used to sow the poison of divisiveness amongst religious communities, at the same time strengthening patriarchal control over girls. Communal politics is the overarching ideology which has patriarchy and caste inequalities built-in it. So through the propagation of myth of love Jihad two birds are being killed with one stone by the fundamentalists-communalists. On one hand to sow the seeds of sectarian violence and thereby strengthen communal politics and on the other to ensure that the control over the sexuality and lives of women is institutionalized, and this is core part of agenda of communal politics.
How does bring in reason in ‘social thinking' in the face of powerful vested interests who want to use, abuse, religion for their political goals, demonize a religious community is a question not easy to resolve. Challenging the prevalence of ideas of the dominant sections, dominant social powers; is a tall order, which has to be taken up in all seriousness if we want peace and progress in our society.
Ram Puniyani was a professor in biomedical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and took voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full time for communal harmony in India. He is involved with human rights activities from last two decades. He is associated with various secular and democratic initiatives like All India Secular Forum, Center for Study of Society and Secularism and ANHAD.