By Dr Imtiaz Siddiquee, New Age Islam
June 5, 2013
Recently, a Jewish rabbi criticised the idea of Zionism by calling it rebellion against God and against the ideals of the Torah. Zionism as the political movement for the establishment of a Jewish state resulted in the establishment of Israel in 1947. But according to orthodox Jews, such a state was against the ideals of Torah and that too by persecuting the Palestinians and dislodging them from their lands. That’s why many Jews had left Israel after its establishment and settled in the European and Islamic countries. The Zionists gained such a powerful influence on the political level that the voices of the Jews became suppressed and the Zionists did what they wanted. Still anti-Zionism Jews have continued with their opposition of the creation and the expansion of Israel at the cost of Palestinians. Perhaps the Quran uses the word ‘good Jews’ for these Jews who oppose all the wrong policies of the Zionists.
The same goes with the theory of Islamism. It is a political movement aimed at implementing Islamic Sharia by hook or by crook in Muslim dominated countries and even those countries where Muslims are in minority. Though the origin of Taliban and Al Qaida is not very old, the theory or idea of Islamism is more or less one century old. Egyptian, Saudi and Asian religious scholars and poets propounded the theory which got intense and violent over time and led to the birth of Al Qaida in Arab, Boko Haram in Africa and Taliban in Asia. Islamism also followed the same violent and irreligious approach of Zionism by violating the values and principles of their respective religions. As Zionists silenced and killed all those orthodox Jews who opposed the idea of Israel, a homeland of the Jews by any means, peaceful or violent, Islamists have also followed the same path. They have violated Islamic teachings of moderateness, harmony, mutual consultation and tolerance to implement their interpretation of religion. Like Zionism, Islamism has also got so powerful that the voice of the moderates and the tolerant section has become suppressed and the Islamists have hijacked the Muslim community. The Muslims all over the world feel helpless in the face of these forces. In the name of Islam, they have been committing all the un-Islamic acts like suicide bombings in mosques, shrines, destruction of holy places of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, raping of Muslim women and killing children of Shias and Ahmadis. Unfortunately, all this is not being perpetrated by some ignorant and illiterate group of young Muslims but they are being supported and given ideological base by their religious scholars, preachers and even self-proclaimed exegetes of the Quran and experts of Hadith.
Recently, Yousuf Al Qaradhawi, a renowned Islamic scholar of the entire Islamic world issued an appeal to the entire Sunni world to take part in jihad against the Shias in Syria. This is not the first time that an Islamic cleric or preacher has issued such an appeal of fatwa against their own Muslim community but it has become a regular affair driving a wedge between Muslims. All this is driven by Islamism whose father is said to be greatest Egyptian scholar and ideologue Syed Qutb. After Gamal Abdul Nasser overthrew the monarchic rule of Egypt, Syed Qutb and Muslim Brotherhood welcomed the coup in the hope that he would establish an Islamic government but when he showed his inclination towards secularism, Syed Qutb and Muslim Brotherhood turned hostile and even planned a coup against Nasser. But the coup failed and Nasser put him behind bars and later he was executed in 1966.
Al Qaida leaders, Bin Laden, Aiman al Zawahiri, Azzam and Awlaqui are said to be inspired by the writings of Syed Qutb and his brother Md Qutb. Aiman al Zawahiri was a student of Md Qutb who was a professor and author on books on Islam. Bin Laden used to attend weekly public lectures of Md Qutub at King Abdul Aziz University.
Syed Qutb and Md Qutub are not the only religious scholars of Islam who inspired the political idea of Islamism which over time got distorted and took the violent form of Islamic terrorism which is against everything from secularism to democracy and religious tolerance. According to authors Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, "it was Sayyid Qutb who fused together the core elements of modern Islamism: the Kharijites' takfir, ibn Taymiyya's Fatwas and policy prescriptions, Rashid Rida's Salafism, Maududi's concept of the contemporary Jahiliya and Hassan al-Banna's political activism. Thus all these Islamic thinkers epitomised the intolerant, violent and narrow-minded idea of Islamism.
One of the other thinkers who have also become a source of inspiration for these violent Islamists is Urdu poet Iqbal. He was the first in the Indian subcontinent to vociferously demand a separate state or confederation of states of Muslims within India where Islamic Shariah would be applied. Apart from this, he also criticised western democracy and disapproved of Sufism. And today, the Islamists like the Taliban regularly quote Iqbal’s statements and couplets against democracy and Sufism.
Iqbal criticised Sufism in the couplets
Nikal kar khanquahon se ada kar rasm-e-Shabbiri
Ke fuqr-e-Khanquahi hai faqat indoh-o-dilgiri
Tere deen-o-adab se aa rahi hai boo-e-rohbani
Yahi hai marne wali ummaton ka alam-e-peeri
(Come out of your monasteries and play the role of Shabbir (holy warrior) as the ascetism of monasteries is only akin to crying and being regretful
Your religion and culture smells of the Christian practice of monasticism
It signals the old age of the dying communities) (loosely translated from Urdu)
Iqbal has also expressed his ideas against democracy in his prose writings and his poems. One famous couplet of Iqbal is often quoted by Taliban and other Islamists opposed to the idea of democracy:
Is raaz ko ek mard-e- firangi ne kiya fash
Har chand ke dana ise khola nahi karte
Jamhooriyat ek tarz-e-hukumat hai ke jisme
Bandon ko gina karte hain tola nahin karte
(This secret was exposed by the wise man of Britain
Though wise men do not expose such secrets
That democracy is a system of governance in which men are counted, not weighed.)
These Islamists are also against the idea of nationalism and believe in pan-Islamism where Muslims transcend all boundaries and borders and unite under the umbrella of one global Islamic caliphate. Iqbal’s couplet on Wataniyat (nationalism) inspired the Islamists who also quote his couplet:
In taza khudaon mein bara sabse watan hai
Jo iska pairhan hai woh mazhab ka kafan hai
Aqwam me makhlooq-e-khuda bat ti hai issey
Qaumiyat-e-Islam ki jad katti hai isse
(The greatest among the latest gods is the god of nationalism. Its decorated robe is the funeral cloth of religion. The creatures of God are divided by it into nations and it strikes at the root of Islamic nation)
Thus it can be said that the idea of political Islam is not the creation of some ignoramuses and violent groups among Muslims but has its roots in the rigid and separatist interpretations and thoughts of Islamic thinkers, poets and scholars which over the time and under different political circumstances intensified and the politically violent groups like Al Qaida and Taliban used these thoughts and ideas to provided legitimacy to their own ideology of communal hatred, sectarianism and terrorism in order to establish an Islamic caliphate and annihilate all those groups and sects that do not fit into their definition of Islam. It will also be apt to note here that Iqbal was the first to say that Qadianis were traitors not only to Pakistan but also to Islam. And later the Islamists took this point of view further and declared the Qadianis heretics and Taliban have made it their mission to eliminate them.
This wave of violent Islamism has swept across the entire Muslim world and the tolerant, moderate and mainstream Muslims and Ulema find themselves helpless in face of this group. About two years ago, Pakistani scholar Tahirul Qadri had published a voluminous fatwa declaring the doctrine of terrorism anti-Islam and other clerics, scholars and preachers had unanimously condemned the terrorist acts committed by terrorist organisations like Al Qaida, Taliban and Boko Haram. But now as the political scenario is changing fast in the entire Muslim world, we observe that this difference between terrorism and hardcore Islamism is being blurred gradually and our Ulema are seen standing shoulder to shoulder to the terrorists. Yousuf Qaradawi’s appeal for jihad against Bashar al Assad in Syria is one such flagrant example. The forces fighting against Syria are Al Qaida and its affiliate Jabhat al Nusra and all those fighting against the Shias and Bashar al Assad are actually fighting together with Al Qaida and Nusra.
Recently, the imams of mosques in Tunisia protested against the militant Islamists who have captured the mosques and have turned them into ammunition stores and barracks where they hide criminals and from where they carry out anti-Islamic activities. These Salafist organisations in Tunisia have become so powerful that the imams of mosques are helpless against them. According to the imams’ complaints, at least 100 of the country's 6,000 mosques have become de facto Salafi lairs that are off-limits to police, where they hide wanted criminals and stockpile weapons such as swords, machetes, and Molotovs. The Salafis there have been making violent attacks including sometimes fatal arson and firebombing attacks on mosques, hotels and bars that sell liquor, art galleries and union offices.
Thus the wave of Islamism is no different from Zionism which has legitimised all persecution, killing and bloodshed against humanity only to create a world where only their interpretation of religion will be implemented.