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Radical Islamism and Jihad ( 14 Jun 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Mainstream Islam Should Be More Pro-Active In Combating Radical, Political Islam

UN Human Rights Council, Fourteenth session

Agenda Item 8: General Debate on Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

Oral Statement by SULTAN SHAHIN, Founder-Editor, New Age Islam


On behalf of: International Club for Peace Research (ICPR)

15 June 2010


Mr President,

It hardly needs to be emphasised that the biggest threat to peace in today’s world comes from the Taliban and their fellow-Islamic radicals operating in the Af-Pak region. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan are devastated by terrorists who call themselves Islamists and are perpetrating the most horrifying massacres of innocent civilians, even during prayers inside mosques. They claim to be establishing what they call “pure Islam”, by eliminating mainstream interpretations of Islam and minority sects whom they do not recognise as Muslim. These medieval obscurantists also use the excuse of western domination of Muslim lands to further their nefarious ends. They never explain, however, what have Western domination attempts got to do with their medieval terrorist actions like burning schools for girls and oppressing women and killing religious minorities in particular, terrorising and violating the human rights of people in that area in the most blatant manner possible.

But even more worrisome is the fact that the world’s determination to confront these roguish elements appears to be flagging.  NATO countries seem to be losing interest in what looks like an endless war. Despite the daily news reports detailing stories of murder and mayhem in Af-Pak region and the very real possibility of this happening in their part of the world as well, exemplified by several recent terrorist attempts, many people think it is not worth their while spending hard-earned money to beat the enemies of civilisation in a remote part of the world.

Also, a group of Taliban sympathisers appears to have grown recently not only in the civil society but also in the strategic community which seems to feel that not all Taliban are bad and that it is possible to make a deal with the good ones who are the majority of Taliban, thus providing a route to a safe exit, leaving the volatile region to its fate, as has been done several times before. 

Mr. President, 

The frontline ally of the West in the war on terror, Pakistan and its Army in particular, clearly feel the same way with the difference that for them, the Taliban devastating Pakistani cities are the bad ones and should be fought while the Taliban fighting the West or their allies like Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, creating mayhem periodically in India are the good ones and should be left alone. There are sensible elements in Pakistan too who see the inhuman and suicidal nature of this policy. But the policy has by and large remained the same. Indeed, Pakistan Army has made several attempts to cut deals with the bad Pakistani Taliban too, only to face fresh subversion and terrorism from them once they used the breathing space to regroup.

Meanwhile, general populace in large parts of Pakistan itself, in the biggest and most influential province of Punjab, for instance, is being radicalised and acquiring sympathies for the Taliban and their terrorist allies, fed up as they are with massive corruption and mis-governance of the ruling elite. This trend is very clear now and poses a grave threat to world peace, not least because Pakistan is a nuclear state almost permanently on the brink of joining the ranks of failed states.

It is imperative in this scenario that we not only take a fresh pledge to continue confronting the medieval marauders but also to look at the reasons why humanity’s efforts have not met with the kind of success they should have. There are many factors involved including strategic and tactical errors on the part of Western forces combating the Taliban. But the most glaring failure has been on the part of us mainstream Muslims in not evolving a redefinition of Islamic postulates that would have left no room for the radicals to misuse Islam and our holy book, the Quran, for their nefarious ends. We did keep saying that Islam is a religion of peace, but that clearly has not been enough.

Mr President,

We probably took continued Western support for granted in putting down this inferno of hate and contempt for other religious groups caused by the ideology of Islam-supremacism. This ideology is far older than the Western quest for power and wealth in recent decades and centuries that Taliban sympathisers give us as the reason for radicalisation of Muslim groups. Not long after Prophet Mohammad’s death, Arab imperialists who were inveterate enemies of Islam’s ideology of human equality and respect for all religions practically hijacked Islam and created a hereditary monarchical system in the name of Khilafat that immediately embarked on a project of imperialist expansion. Then, in order to justify the misuse of Islam to run an un-Islamic system of imperialist expansion based on Islam-supremacism, they undermined the only scripture the Prophet had left behind, the Quran, and created a parallel scripture called Hadith (Sayings of the Prophet). 

Compiled two to three centuries after the death of the Prophet, these sayings were attributed to the prophet and were advertised as marvels of research in which meticulous care had been taken to find out the route through which the saying had travelled for two to three centuries before being written down. A mere glance at some of these sayings recorded in what are considered the most authentic compilations, the voluminous Bukhari and Muslim, shows that some of these sayings had been concocted to suit the imperialist tendencies and even the lecherous  nature of the monarch-khalifas.  But nevertheless, through massive and constant propaganda Hadith was made to occupy the same space in the minds of average Muslims as the Quran, if not more so. It is no accident that the most influential ideological group among the radical Jihadis calls itself Ahle-Hadees (People of Hadith), people who believe in the Hadith probably even as superior to the Quran.

These monarchs also created another very powerful institution to enslave Muslims and control them: the clergy. Mullahdom or any kind of priesthood was not part of Islam when the Prophet made his transition to the other world, saying he was satisfied that he had completed Islam. But the hijacked and subverted Islam that we have inherited through centuries made sure that Muslims largely do not consult the Quran for guidance on ideological issues. They have been told it is too difficult for them to understand. Instead they go to the Mullah who invariably misguides them, keeping in mind his own interests and that of the rulers he has traditionally served.

We the mainstream Muslims have no option but to take a more pro-active attitude in this existential struggle against radical, political Islam based on the ideology of Islam-supremacism. The West too would probably continue to help us in the war against the Taliban and other Jihadi terrorists, if they see that we are serious about this fight. We need to own this war as our war, as primarily it is a war within Islam; even the far larger number of dead bodies from the Muslim community testify to this.

The ideological dimension of this war has been completely lost. After all, suicide bombers do not perpetrate their heinous acts just because they have been offered a few hundred thousand rupees. They have been brainwashed into believing that they need to kill all “infidels”.  Moreover, they have been told that those Muslims who are not engaged in fighting “the infidel” are the first and foremost enemies of Islam and need to be eliminated first and that the person who does that will be rewarded instantly with a place in heaven.

This is no place to engage in theological debates, but I can assure the world through this august forum that there is no room for this kind of thinking in the Islam that Prophet Mohammad had left behind.


However, by leaving the war to be fought only with military means and by Western victims of Jihadi terrorism alone, we the mainstream Muslims have left the field open for prejudices to be formed against all of us and our religion. I find it difficult to blame the average citizens of non-Muslim world who are fast developing Islamophobic tendencies. While there indeed are forces in the non-Muslim countries who are exploiting the situation to further their own vested interests, I feel that it is the total passivity of mainstream Islam, the nonchalance of the moderate Muslims that is largely to blame for this state of affairs.  I hope the time has not passed for us to do something about it and join the struggle in earnest. The war against Jihadi terror has to be fought and won by us Muslims on the ideological front, hopefully with continued military backing of the West.



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