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Radical Islamism and Jihad ( 15 Aug 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Suspect SIMI? Of course!

Indian Muslims must recognise the organisation for what it is: against secular democracy

 

By Javed Anand

Posted online: Saturday, August 16, 2008

 

The special tribunal under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2006, headed by Justice Geeta Mittal, recently lifted the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The joy with which several mainstream Muslim organisations and much of the Urdu press greeted SIMI’s return to lawful existence proved to be short-lived since the very next day the Supreme Court stayed the tribunal’s verdict. Nonetheless, the misguided show of solidarity with SIMI raises some very disturbing questions. Are Muslim leaders and the Urdu media wilfully blind to the malevolence sheltering in their own backyard? Or, is it that in the interests of “communal balance”, anything goes?

 

The nefarious nature of SIMI has been evident from the moment it emerged from the womb of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) in 1977. “Character building” to fight against the perceived twin evils of communism and capitalist consumerism with its “degenerate morality” was the declared objective. But in less than a decade this self-styled moral brigade metamorphosed into “the real inheritor” of the legacy of the founder of JeI, Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, who argued that all Muslims must strive for an Islamic state.

 

True to its ideological mooring, in the ’80s, SIMI produced eye-catching stickers proclaiming “Secularism, NO; Democracy, NO; Nationalism, NO; Polytheism, NO; Only Islam”. These stickers adorned many Muslim homes and shops throughout India. But no one seemed to be unduly perturbed by this dangerous drift of a section of Indian Muslim youth, spreading wings under the loving care of its patron, the JeI. (It was only in the late ’90s that the JeI officially snipped the umbilical cord that organically linked it to SIMI.)

 

There is a filial relationship that unites different fundamentalisms and there is a sibling relationship between fanaticism, extremism and terrorism. Put differently, there is a thin line that divides one from the other. By the early ’90s, it was talking the language of “jihad” and an “Islamic caliphate.” In SIMI’s case, jihad can mean nothing other than armed struggle?

 

Don’t trust information doled out by intelligence agencies? What about ex-SIMI members, its founding president and unit chiefs?

 

Take, for example, Saeed Ahmed Khan, its former Mumbai chief, who confessed last month that he visited Pakistan in 1991 after learning that “the ISI was training Indian youths to cultivate (sic) the culture of jihad”. Khan said that the then SIMI top-brass C.A. Baseer and Asraf Zafari were pushing it in a more militant direction. “It was at this juncture that the gun culture took root in SIMI — these radical preachers toed the line of jihad and brainwashed Indian youths who later turned into anti-Indian jihadis.”

 

Don’t believe him? What about Dr Ahmadullah Siddiqi, its founder president, who left India in 1981 and has been a professor of journalism and public relations at Western Illinois University, Macomb, USA the last 16 years? In a September 2003 interview, he agreed: “Perhaps the group has been hijacked by elements in other countries and other Muslim societies and not all of them may be, but some of them have become misguided and radical .”

 

What about yet another ex-SIMI-man, Kanpur’s Haji Mohammed Salees, horrified by what he saw and heard at SIMI’s “Ikhwan Conference” in his city in October 1999? Among the things that shocked Salees was reportedly the war cry of the seven-year-old Gulrez Siddiqui before an audience of over 20,000 people: “Islam ka ghazi, butshikan/ Mera sher, Osama bin Laden  (The warrior of Islam, the destroyer of idols/ My lion, Osama bin Laden)”. Those who addressed the gathering, long-distance telephonically, were Hamas founder, Sheikh Yaseen, head of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, and the imam of the al Aqsa mosque, Israel/Palestine. “It was all a shock for us. We realised they are developing international links. We distanced ourselves,” Salees has said

 

Two years later, at a gathering of 25,000 Muslim youths in Mumbai, SIMI reiterated that the time has come for Indian Muslims to launch an armed jihad in India with the establishment of an Islamic caliphate as the ultimate aim.

 

Don’t believe any of them? What about SIMI’s own posters plastered in the by-lanes of Muslim mohallas across the country following the demolition of the Babri mosque, with an invocation: “Ya Ilahi, bhej de Mahmood koi  (Oh Allah, send us a Mahmud)”. Who does not know that the reference was to Mahmud Ghaznavi whom fanatics revere as a “But Shikan (Destroyer of Idols)”

 

Which editor of an Urdu paper can disclaim knowledge of these inflammatory posters? Could it be that Urdu papers never received press releases from SIMI on their official letterhead with a logo depicting a Quran and an AK-47 perched on top of a globe? And who has not heard of SIMI’s open adulation of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, for both of whom India is Enemy No 3 after the United States and Israel?

 

Let’s now turn to the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. It provides for a ban on any organisation that is inimical to the sovereignty and integrity of India, or is involved in terror acts.

 

Are the blasts after blasts, in city after city of India in recent years, part of the “jihad” espoused by SIMI? The investigating agencies obviously believe this to be the case. Why else would SIMI activists be routinely detained, arrested, interrogated, charge-sheeted and put on trial? Admittedly, they have yet to establish the terrorism charge against SIMI activists before any court of law in any of the blast cases.

 

A continuation of the ban on SIMI would need it to be established as guilty of one or more of the charges — secessionist activity, terrorism, spreading communal discord, hostility to Indian constitution — since 2006, the last time the ban was re-imposed. Otherwise a ban cannot legally be re-imposed.

 

But is it merely a question of law? Should SIMI not also be judged from a socio-political perspective, in terms of its implications for India’s secular-democratic polity? Should any sensible citizen be embracing the Bajrang Dal merely because it has not been convicted under the law of the land? If that is not acceptable, by what logic can Muslim bodies rush to the rescue of SIMI? 

 

 Before the first ban was slapped on SIMI in 2001, the chief ministers of Maharashtra, MP and Rajasthan made a strong case before the NDA for a simultaneous ban on SIMI and the Bajrang Dal. And rightly so. But the Vajpayee-led government chose to act against one and not the other. The UPA has done no better.

 

Why are Hindu extremist organisations also not placed under the scanner of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act? To ask this question is to rightfully demand an end to discriminatory justice and even-handed application of the law of the land against all. Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad’s welcoming of the lifting of the ban on SIMI can be explained away in terms of vote-bank politics. But for Indian Muslims to be seen as standing by a self-declared enemy of secular-democratic India is nothing short of suicidal.

 

The writer is co-editor, “Communalism Combat”, and general secretary, Muslims for Secular Democracy

 

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/349496._.html

 

View Source article: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/349496._.html

 

 

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DEBATE

 

The rethinking of Islam

By Javed Anand

 

Posted online: Thursday, April 12, 2007

The long overdue attempt to reclaim the progressive tradition within lived Islam, is a slow process. But if you know where to look, the signs are evident

 

 To the much-needed chintan manthan on the role and responsibilities of intellectuals initiated by The Indian Express, Sudheendra Kulkarni has made an important contribution by asking, ‘Who’s responsible for the stereotypes of Islam?’ (The Sunday Express, April 1). That he himself is a sophisticated version of Hindutva’s double-speak must not blind us to the merit of his poser.

 

Kulkarni cites an interview of Zakir Naik, a popular Muslim televangelist from Mumbai who mesmerises many middle class Muslims in India and internationally. Naik defends the denial to all non-Muslims the right to practice their faith in Saudi Arabia saying: Because “only Islam is a true religion in the eyes of God”, “we Muslims” are fully justified in preventing non-Muslims from building shrines, practicing or preaching their religion in an Islamic state.

 

It is tempting to laugh at this, but Naik must be taken seriously because he is by no means the sole proponent of the ‘one set of laws for countries where Muslims rule (‘Islamic states’) and another where Muslims are in a minority’ doctrine that lies at the root of Muslim duplicity on a range of issues.

 

Naik is only part of the Muslim malaise, simplistically termed ‘Islamic fundamentalism’, that more or less circumscribes the worldview of an entire gamut of mainstream Muslim organisations: Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt), Jemaah Islamiyah (Indonesia), Jamaat-e-Islami (Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and separate Kashmiri), Taliban in Afghanistan, Hizb ut Tahrir in UK and in Central Asia, Wahhabism exported by Saudi Arabia on the back of petro-dollars, the Ahl-e-Hadith...

 

Do double-standards and intolerance lie at the very heart of Islam? Not true. Between 800 AD and 1600 AD, while Europe was in the Dark Age, it was renaissance time in the Islamic world. But for nearly a century now, a handful of Muslim intellectuals, academics and clerics have been pointing out that the root cause behind the subsequent sorry state of Muslim society can be summed up in three simple words: Reason in exile.

 

But the voice of reason remained a cry in the wilderness. Then came 9/11. But the agonising introspection that followed has led many to the shocking realisation that Islam was hijacked not on 9/11 but centuries earlier. And the hijackers are none other than the self-designated custodians of Islam: The ulema.

 

“It is now obvious that Islam itself has to be rethought, idea by idea”, argues the London-based Ziauddin Sardar, author of several books on Islam. Rethinking Islam, the long overdue attempt to reclaim the progressive tradition within lived Islam, is a slow process. But if you know where to look, the signs are evident.

 

Take Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, a respected theologian from Mauritania, “a scholar among Muslim scholars.” He is telling Muslims that the theological hangover from Islam’s imperial past, the black-and-white division of the world into the Abode of Islam (Dar al-Islam) or the Abode of War (Dar al-Harb) will no longer do. Muslims, he suggests must resurrect the almost forgotten intermediate notion, the Abode of Truce (Dar al-Sulh) or Abode of Treaty (Dar al Ahd), a concept which enables today’s Muslims to live as peace-loving, law-abiding citizens in non-Muslim societies where Muslims are free to practice and preach their faith.

 

The dream world of any Islamist today can be summed up in a sentence: ‘An Islamic state run along the principles of divine Shariah laws’. The fantasy, argues Ziauddin Sardar, rests on those very metaphysical catastrophes that are the root cause of Muslim paralysis: The elevation of the Shari’ah to the level of the Divine (not true, only the Quran can be divine for Muslims), the consequent removal of agency from the believers (ours is but to blindly follow what was decided a thousand years ago), and the equation of Islam with the state (an ‘Islamic state’ is nothing but a theological garb for authoritarianism).

 

Then there is the growing tribe of erudite Muslim women theologians. Riffat Hassan and Amina Wadud are two examples, who may be described as “feminist Muslims” are now challenging the patriarchal hijack of egalitarian Islam soon after the Prophet was no more.

 

Meanwhile, American Islamic scholar Abdullah Naim is polishing up an “Islamic argument” in favour of a non-theocratic, secular state in Muslim societies. And Anwar Ibrahim, former prime minister of Malaysia, is suggesting a fundamental redefinition of the notion of ummah. Ummah to him can only mean a global community of oppressed people everywhere, Muslims included.

 

Signs of Islam’s return to reason are now clearly visible. It’s an exciting time for Muslim intellectuals. But sadly, India, home to nearly one out of every six Muslims in the world, has yet to get a whiff of the new breeze that’s blowing through much of the Islamic world.

 

The writer is co-editor, ‘Communalism Combat’ and General Secretary, Muslims for Secular Democracy

 

View Source article: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/28071.html

 

 

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THINKING ALOUD: Who’s responsible for the stereotypes of Islam?

By Sudheendra Kulkarni

Posted online: Sunday, April 01, 2007

 

 Islam fascinates me. But the conduct of some of its adherents also frustrates me. The positive aspects of Islam are too numerous to escape the attention of any unprejudiced and truth-seeking non-Muslim. For example, Hindus have much to learn from Muslims about the virtue of solidarity and fellow-feeling within their community. During the month of Ramadan, I am captivated by the sight of Muslims who, after offering their evening namaz, end their day’s fast by grouping together and eating from the same plate, without any distinction of class or status.

 

Also, one can only marvel at the power of devotion and the degree of self-surrender of many Muslim mystics, whose lives have undoubtedly influenced pious, ordinary Muslims. Here is a story told by Vinoba Bhave, the great Gandhian who learnt Arabic at age 50 just to study the Holy Quran in the original. An old Muslim saint once had a thorn in his foot. It had gone deep and doctors were worried that the pain involved in removing it would be too much for the old soul to bear. One of his devotees then told them, “Don’t worry. You remove it while he is offering his prayers. He will be so engrossed in Allah that he won’t feel anything.”

 

Sadly, this ennobling aspect of Islam sits uneasily with the fanaticism that tarnishes its image. Last week I was shocked to watch an interview with Zakir Naik, a well-known Mumbai-born Muslim preacher, whose TV talks on Islam are highly popular in India and around the world. His books and audio/video cassettes are sold in huge numbers worldwide.

 

Watch the interview at YouTube, the free video site on the Internet, and draw your own conclusions.

 

Interviewer: Here is a question from a non-Muslim from India. Are non-Muslims allowed to preach their religion and to build their places of worship in an Islamic state? If so, why is building of temples and churches disallowed in Saudi Arabia, whereas Muslims are building their mosques in London and Paris?

 

Zakir Naik: I ask the non-Muslims, suppose you are the principal of a school and you intend to select a mathematics teacher. Three candidates come and you ask them, what’s the total of 2 plus 2? The first replies: 2 plus 2 equals 3. The second answers: 2 plus 2 equals 4. And the third one answers that 2 plus 2 equals 6. Now, I ask these non-Muslims, will you allow the candidate to teach in your school who says that 2 plus 2 equals 3 or that 2 plus 2 equals 6? They’ll say, no. I ask, why? They’ll say, because he does not have correct knowledge of mathematics. Similarly, as far as matters of religion are concerned we (Muslims) know for sure that only Islam is a true religion in the eyes of God. In the Holy Quran (3:85), it is mentioned that God will never accept any religion other than Islam. As far as the second question, regarding building of churches or temples is concerned, how can we allow this when their religion is wrong and when their worshipping is wrong? Therefore, we will not allow such wrong things in our Islamic country.

 

Interviewer: But is it not that they (non-Muslims) also think that their religion is true, whereas we (Muslims) think that our religion is true?

 

Zakir Naik: In religious matters only we know for sure that we Muslims are right. They (non-Muslims) are not sure. Thus, in our country we can’t allow preaching other religions because we know for sure that only Islam is the right religion. However, if a non-Muslim likes to practise his religion in an Islamic country, he can do so inside his home — but he can’t propagate his religion. It is exactly as if a teacher thinks in his mind that 2 plus 2 equals 3. He has the right to do so, but we can never allow such a person to teach this to our children. Non-Muslims are no doubt experts in science and technology. But they (non-Muslims) are not sure about religious truths. Therefore, we are trying to get them to the right path of Islam.”

 

Naik’s views provoke a troubling question in my mind: “Why do some Muslims demand secularism and more than equal treatment in countries where they are a minority, but aggressively turn anti-secular and deny even equal treatment to non-Muslims in many Muslim-majority countries?” Muslims cannot escape their responsibility to answer this question.

 

Naik’s defence of the denial of fundamental human rights of non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia is not unrelated to an unbelievable incident that happened recently in the land where Islam was born. On February 26, four French nationals — all non-Muslims working in Saudi Arabia — were killed by gunmen. Their crime? They were resting on the side of a desert road about 10 miles from the holy city of Medina, which, like Mecca, is restricted to Muslims only.

 

Whenever non-Muslims, including those who admire Islam’s positive features, express alarm at incidents like these, or at views such as Zakir Naik’s, they are accused of spreading “stereotypes” about Islam and Muslims. But shouldn’t Muslims themselves be debating what produces these stereotypes?

 

Source: Indian Express, New Delhi

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/radical-islamism-and-jihad/suspect-simi?-of-course!/d/568

 

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