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Radical Islamism and Jihad ( 4 Dec 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Examining ISIS Threat to India through Its Magazine ‘Voice of Hind’ and How the State and Muslim Scholars Could Reduce Radicalization Risks across the Country

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

4 December 2021

IS Recruiters Skilfully Use Growing Episodes Of Communal Violence Against Muslims In India By Arguing That Sticking To ‘Jihad’ Is The Only Approach To Resolve The “Perceived Injustice”

Main Points:

1.         Action Plans for State and Religious Leaders to Reduce Radicalisation Risks in India

2.    The excerpts drawn from Voice of Hind infer that IS has an aptitude for exploiting sectarian violence in India in order to legitimize retaliatory action.

3.    IS seeks to trigger an existential crisis in the minds of Muslims who wish to keep both their national and religious identities.

4.    Indian State must curb any possible violence against Muslims in the country

5.    Muslim scholars and Ulama must make it their obligation to refute the narratives which justify violence and disassociate Islam from the clutches of terrorism.

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Despite the fact that IS has lost territorial control in Iraq and Syria, its operations targeting numerous countries, including India, continue. Through its flagship publication of Voice of Hind, IS wishes to brainwash Indian Muslims by referencing religious and sectarian tensions between Hindus and Muslims, the political environment, and the notion of purported “invincible divides.” The Muslim-Hindu conflict, political policies against Muslims, and lynching are all used as arguments to incite Indian Muslims in Voice of Hind. Based on these reasons, IS makes the following direct appeal to Indian Muslims:

“O Muslims of Hind come rushing out of your houses and rebel against the unjust rule of the disbelievers”, reads a statement from the Voice of Hind, a magazine of IS focusing on India. (Voice of Hind, Shawwal 1441, “Lockdown Special”, p.5)

The magazine was once widely accessible online, but it appears to have been blocked or withdrawn, which is a good thing. However, as several studies have shown, terror groups such as ISIS continue to print magazines in several languages under various aliases. As a result, it is essential to devise some effective counter-ISIS strategies, as ISIS is currently aiming to recruit Indian Muslims. So, what should our strategies be? The simple solution to this menace is that we Indians must consolidate our relationship of peaceful coexistence and work together to remove any possible menace. However, in order to effectively combat a danger, it is vital to first understand the risk.

In their collaborative research-based analysis titled Can Communal Violence Fuel an ISIS Threat in India? An Analysis of ‘Voice of Hind’, An Analysis of ‘Voice of Hind’, the joint authors Prithvi Iyer and Maya Mirchandani discuss the radicalization risk in India, offering deep insights on how the IS strategy differs from or corresponds to previous propaganda strategies. This analysis does not suggest that exploiting communal unrest to further the murderous goals of a transnational terrorist organization is a novel technique. The authors simply examine the ISIS threat to India through the prism of Voice of Hind, advising the state to put an end to Hindu-Muslim confrontations as soon as possible in order to reduce the risks of radicalization. In this piece, we will summarise a few key points from their research, adding that Muslim scholars should also seek to refute the narratives which justify violence and disassociate Islam from the clutches of terrorism on a regular basis.



Key Points from the Research-Based Analysis

Following the February riots in Delhi, IS published an online poster calling for “retaliatory action” in the “Indian Province” of its self-proclaimed caliphate”. The poster that had previously been seen in Indian Media featured an image of a Muslim man on his knees being thrashed by a crowd. 72 hours after the poster was released, a pro-ISIS group produced the Voice of Hind, an India-focused journal, ostensibly as a means “to radicalize and recruit young Indian Muslims into its fold”.

To be true, Al-Qaeda has made commitments in the name of God in the past to entice recruits into terrorist violence. In an interview, a recruit is told, “Whoever offers his life in the way of Allah lives eternally and gains a place in heaven for seventy members of his family, to be selected by the martyr.” Transnational jihadist groups usually emphasize the inextricable link between violence and sacrifice, as well as accountability to Allah, as a persuasion strategy. In India’s case, according to the authors’ analysis, a stronger sense of marginalization and/or religious prejudice among Indian Muslims could drive such persuasive tactics and the Jihadist recruiters can skilfully use growing episodes of communal violence against Muslims in India by arguing that sticking to the radical Wahhabi interpretation of Islam and ‘Jihad’ is the only approach to cope with perceived injustice. The authors, for example, provide a quote from Voice of Hind:

“O Muslims of Hind! Has the time not come for you to wake up from the deep slumber, which has overtaken all of you to the point of an intoxicated stupor? Haven’t you yet realized that the idolatrous Hindus would never ever be pleased with you until you renounce the Deen of Islam in its entirety?”

Commenting on the quotation, the joint authors state that the IS magazine here questions a Muslim's devotion to Islam and defines "moderation" as inappropriate, implying that the Hindu majority will not accept anything less than a renunciation of the Muslim faith in order to integrate Muslims into the democratic system. IS anticipates that labelling Hindus as "idolatrous" will exacerbate the "Us vs. them" split. As a result, Mahmud Ghaznawi, the "idol destroyer," has a special place in IS propaganda. According to IS, Ghaznawi dedicated his life to “waging jihad against the Mushrik [polytheists] of India, destroying their idols, and spreading Islam throughout their lands”. The magazine, according to the authors, tries to emphasize what it sees as an unbridgeable separation between Islam and Hinduism by warning readers that Hindus will not rest until Muslims abandon “the Deen of Islam in its totality.”

By using communal violence such as the Delhi riots, IS seeks to trigger an existential crisis in the minds of Muslims who wish to keep both their national and religious identities so that any naive Muslim can fall into their web of horror.

The excerpts drawn from Voice of Hind infer that IS has an aptitude for exploiting sectarian violence in India. Before the emergence of IS, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) wanted to exploit the Gujarat riots in 2002, as well as videos of Muslims being beaten by right-wing groups in the name of cow-vigilantism, in order to demonize and legitimize retaliatory action against “Hindutva groups”. Similar to AQIS's alleged aims, ISIS is attempting to exploit religious divisions in India.

Image © Garudeya /Shutterstock.com

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Because India is home to the third-largest Muslim population in the world, there was considerable concern that Indian Muslims would become more radicalized and join global, transnational extremist groups such as ISIS. This turned to be incorrect, as India continues to be an outlier in terms of the percentage of Indians engaging in ISIS-related activities. The fact that Islam in India has traditionally been practiced in a multicultural manner and is largely viewed as an inclusive religion with a pluralistic nature makes it difficult for ISIS to persuade a significant number of  Indian Muslims to join their cause.

Ideologies of terrorist groups, such as ISIS, are known to be based on a strain of Wahhabi-Salafism. However, most Indian Salafi groups, according to the authors, are “nationalist and multicultural, with a long history of peaceful cohabitation with democracy - principles that are incompatible with ISIS worldview”.

The authors quote Mustafa Tanveer, an Indian Salafist thinker, as saying that “rejecting democracy is both anti-national and anti-Islamic, given India's constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion”. They go on to explain that Salafism like this, along with a cosmopolitan, multilingual subcontinental culture, has “insulated large sections of the Indian Muslim community from the lure of transnational Jihadi groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda.” 

The authors hold that “majoritarian violence against Indian Muslims is not only a form of ideological extremist violence in itself, but also alienates a community from the rest of the population and has the potential to radicalize youth toward terrorism or extremism, thereby exacerbating the threat of Jihadi violence in the country.” Terrorist organizations utilize such acts of violence as a potent motivator and weapon to recruit new members and gain support for their cause. As a result, “even realistic security calculations must now advocate for the state to urgently address such violence within India” in order to decrease the risks of radicalization, according to the authors.

Following a careful analysis of the author’s report, it is worth noting that the authors have presented their findings with great sincerity and a deep sense of patriotism. Now, I believe it is vital to call on both Muslim and Hindu religious leaders to play a greater role in resolving the escalating Muslim-Hindu conflict in India. We should never allow anything possible to create tensions between the two communities. I strongly urge Muslim scholars to provide the accurate interpretations of war-related Quranic verses and hadiths that terror groups like ISIS regularly employ, as well as to inform the common masses through their sermons that the context of these verses and Ahadith is different and thus can’t be applied in the present era.

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A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator.

URL:   https://www.newageislam.com/radical-islamism-jihad/voice-hind-muslim-scholars-radicalization/d/125892


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