New Age Islam
Thu Sep 23 2021, 04:49 PM

The War Within Islam ( 14 Jun 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Radicalisation Everywhere

By Naeem Tahir

Have we lost the distinction between a true peaceful Muslim and a Talibanised individual? Have we all gotten terribly confused? Do we not realise how different the Quranic message and the Salafis’ extremist interpretation, followed by Osama bin Laden and his disciples, are?

You call the mobile number of an acquaintance and what you may hear is recitation from the Holy Quran or a naat (hymn). The first impression is that this person, having the recitation of the Holy Quran as his ‘call tune’, is very pious or religious because he/she is reminding us of the virtues of listening to the Quran. However, one wonders about the location of the phone when the bell rings. Could it be in a bathroom? Could the person be sitting on the toilet throne? Could the phone be lying at a place not suitable for the recitation of the Quran? Such caller tones — recitations from the Holy Quran — are an exploitation of public sentiments that hold Islam in reverence, and are commercially beneficial to the seller of the recording as a phone ‘tune’. The person who buys it perhaps feels that he is doing a service to the religion by reminding others. In fact, he promotes commercial exploitation. By propagating this misplaced religiosity, the person prepares the bed of a radical nursery. Buying and playing the tune, both have negative connotations. There is a strong chance of disrespect to the recitation. Even when the phone is answered, the recitation is abruptly cut off — not a mark of respect. The person who opted to adopt such a tune is falsely relieved of his duty to religion. His primary duty is clear personal understanding and actions according to the message of the Quran, and not just making others listen to a tune. The only purpose it can serve is the strengthening of a radicalised mindset.

The attributes of God Almighty written on pieces of tin and nailed to trees is a common sight. Soon these were dotted with bird droppings. In a windstorm, some of these may well fall onto the roadside. Why did anyone think it necessary to display the attributes of the Almighty on trees? Two possible reasons: a) he obtains some sort of business benefit in manufacturing and installation because the person who is given the proposal will find it hard to refuse for fear of being labelled un-Islamic, and b) to create a mindset by showing religious symbols and overwhelming passersby. Both these purposes serve the ruthless attempt of financial benefit and subtle radicalisation.

Several Urdu newspapers use Quranic verses in their texts somewhere or the other. Is it not exploitation to sanctify a commercial daily newspaper by sticking in Quranic verses? We all know the use these newspapers are put to later on. Mostly trampled, made into envelopes for eatables and then thrown into the wastepaper basket. Is it okay to let the name of the Almighty or a part of his message be treated in this way? The only thing achieved by the publisher is perhaps commercial advantage by appearing ‘acceptable’ to a public that holds religion dear to its heart. In a quiet way, such newspapers or magazines try to add ‘sanctity’ to their publications and influence the reader’s mindset.

I have also seen posters carrying the ‘Bismillah’ phrase and lying on roadsides being trampled.

It is a common sight for someone to stop beside your car at a road crossing and try to sell the Ayatul Kursee (Verse of the Throne) or other such material, and you buy it with a mixed feeling of charity and religious duty. In fact, it serves none of these purposes; the tablet only hangs on the rear view mirror, promotes a radicalised display and increases the profit margin of the manufacturer. These tablets are not thrown away because of ‘fear’. Fear has always been an instrument of oppression used by the extremists. Islam is love. Let us not mix Islam with fear and serve someone else’s purpose.

Some time ago, one of my friends claimed that now 97 percent of the people in our public have a Talibanised attitude. I laughed at his exaggeration. But, three days ago, I saw a photograph in an English daily of a person wearing a typical white cap and a beard, indulging in some wall chalking graffiti that read, “Talibanisation is the only way for the survival of this nation.” I had to pause and think about my friend’s estimate. Maybe he was right.

Have we lost the distinction between a true peaceful Muslim and a Talibanised individual? Have we all gotten terribly confused? Do we not realise how different the Quranic message and the Salafis’ extremist interpretation, followed by Osama bin Laden and his disciples, are?

I say ‘everywhere’ in the title of this piece because radicalisation is deeply infested. In the courts, terror suspects are allowed to get away more often than not — usually on the plea of lack of evidence! Would a trained terrorist leave a trail of evidence behind for the convenience of prosecutors?

Consider also the fact that the known killer of Salmaan Taseer is still around despite all the evidence. Why has there been no progress? Is the radicalised element influencing the courts? Are suo motu notices also political and based on a radicalised mindset?

As for the establishment, I need not say much. Radicalisation is dangerously entrenched and is evident. Educational institutions and syllabi — it exists ‘everywhere’.

Finally, notice this. An English newspaper of June 7, said on its front page, “In Punjab, a Christian cannot present the provincial budget. Some PML-N MPAs object to the faith of fellow party member, Kamran Micheal.”

The promoters of extremism have gradually and schematically radicalised society in the last 60 years. The following of this faith is increasingly accompanied by the show of it. The show is meant to influence. Therefore, crowd psychology works and oppression is created. By and by, radicalisation spreads. From this nursery, the extremist takes birth. This is what my friend meant — 97 percent of our society is a fertile nursery for radicals.

All of us who do not want to be part of a Taliban nursery need to ponder and take practical steps to stem the tide of radicalisation by not being a part of it ourselves.

The writer is a culture and media management specialist, a researcher, author, director and actor.

Source: The Daily Times, Pakistan