By Rezaur Rahman
May 25, 2013
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims on streets of Dhaka city, seeking to adopt Qur’anic law. The people of Bangladesh were surprised to see such a huge gathering as this kind of uprising has not appeared last few decades. That they were surprised is also surprising if one was to look into world history. Decade to decade, Muslims have been involved in these kind of movements beginning with the emergence of Islam. I will use the term "Islamist" to mention Muslims who strictly follow the Quran, the words of Allah.
From history, we cannot point out one single example where Islamic motivational movements were "totally" absent since the emergence of the religion. In the Indian subcontinent, Islam entered in the 7th century and really took root around the 12th century. In the first few centuries, expansion of the Islamic region took place; later on the subcontinent was taken over by British colonists. That was when true Islamic movements in this subcontinent were noticed for the first time. In discussing these movements, the rebellion of Titumir comes first. Titumir is a national hero of our country, and his story of rebellion is even taught in our elementary schools. History says that his movement was based on Islamic enthusiasm, and the main goal was to free the Bengal from British colonialism, establishing an Islamic Caliphate. Though the movement gained popular support from other religious groups, the main objective was the establishment of an Islamic state according to Quranic law.
After Titumir, the "Faraizi" movement features significantly. Faraizi is a name coming from the word "Farz" – an Arabic word, which means the "duties that must be done." At the time the movement was initialised, the Zamindars (Landlords) and the British colonists were in a ruling position. Muslim society was full of non-Islamic cultures and customs, which created an unstable condition among Muslims who were subject to oppression from those in power.
Haji Shariat-Ullah, the leader of Faraizi movement trained a group of people as activists to accelerate the movement. His goal was similar to Titumir’s, and the movement sought to abolish all non-Islamic culture and innovations (in terms of rituals) from that society by achieving freedom from British colonialism and finally leading to the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate. Perhaps what is most "surprising" is that we know Shariat-Ullah as another national hero, and his movement is also taught in our schools as an initial step of our liberation.
I personally believe that their movement worked as a catalyst to our final liberation. But it seems impossible for me to shake the word "surprise," because their followers, the current activists with the same agenda – to eliminate non-Islamic culture from society, following the footsteps of these great heroes are now called terrorists. This double standard is really quite surprising to me.
Overall, there is no point in isolating today’s uprising from socio-Islamic movements based on an absolutely Islamic point of view that have happened in the past. The major driving force is the religion itself. When the Quran inspires or asks us to struggle to establish Islamic values societally, how we can deny it? Yes, many times with strict law enforcement, Islamic movements became weak in the past, but the struggle has never ended.
And the struggle will exist as long as civilization itself, because Qur’anic verses will endure. There is also no way to end these movements, because to activists, the worldly life is nothing more than a test, and when the matter of foremost importance is the afterlife, how can such motivation be stopped by weapons?
At this point, one thing should be clear, Islamic movements time to time, and country to country are connected spiritually, because the main motivation comes from the Quran in each case. And if we truly analyse, we will find that Islamic movements are unstoppable, throughout the Muslim world. Islamists are always in field but in different masks, sometimes they hibernate, but they always persist. So we can conclude that the traits of Islamists are unchangeable and they will remain, they will not be completely muted, so long as the Quran exists.