In current times the popular perceptions in major parts of the world including India, Islam and Muslims have become synonymous with terrorism. There is an act of blast, and the finger of suspicion points to some descript or non-descript Muslim named group. Many of these groups are so ‘helpful’ to the investigating authorities that they leave their diaries and identification mark for making the police investigation an easy job. Accordingly, the job of investigating authorities now is cool, as they know that it does not matter who has done it, so far as they can nab some youth with Muslim identity, half of whom under the torture anyway will feel that it is better to ‘confess’ the crime not committed than to suffer the third-fourth degree torture and unspeakable acts done under the cover of ‘dealing with terrorists’.
The matters have gone to the extent that even if Bajrang Dal (RSS affiliate) workers die while making bomb (Nanded, April 2006) or one of them says that that they had planned to blast the mosques, the link need not be pursued in that direction. To beat it all the forces in Khaki or greens can go to the extent of faking the recovery of RDX before the meeting of none other than Sonia Gandhi, cancelling her meeting without any real threat (Bhaderwah, Kashmir, February 25, 2008) and get away with it. Even the ‘sincere’ social workers/thinkers have come to believe that there is something in Islam which promotes violence.
Many scholars of Islam and social scientists have produced remarkable literature explaining the nature of Islam, showing the difference between religion as moral values, religion as an institution, religion as part culture, and abuse of religious identity for political goals by social layers or global super powers today. But of course these remain in the world of academia and libraries where not many people read them; some review articles on these books are carried out in an odd journal here and there, while the ‘popular’ perceptions against Islam and Muslims are deepening by the day.
This propaganda abuses the religious identity at one level and hides the political goals of social layers and the world super power at another. The global media of all types is dominated by this perception. The worst victims of this are Muslims all over. At one level it has intimidated them and fear psychology has gripped a large section of society. They are profiled at places and Muslim identity is pasted on their forehead. One friend of mine, a thorough atheist, progressive, realised that she is a Muslim only when her son, a lovely bright creative teen, was questioned at random in the context of a terrorist act, by the police just because his name happened to be a Muslim.
Another writer and researcher of repute ‘realised’ that he is a Muslim when while driving he was stopped by a cop, who, after seeing his name in the driving licence, passed abusive remarks. Another senior journalist, who happened to be a Muslim, experienced the same realisation when, for breaking the speed limit on the highway, he was stopped by the traffic police, who on seeing his licence remarked that he surely must be carrying a bomb, and that’s the reason for his driving at high speed.
As such, the worst victims of the current perception and acts of terrorism are Muslims themselves…. At times groups of Muslims also staged protests against acts of terror, but that also has not been cutting much ice as far as popular perceptions go. What can be done to fight this image of Muslims which has come into being due to various circumstances? There is also a criticism against Muslims as a whole that they are not doing much to counter terrorism.
It is in this backdrop that the fatwa issued after the Anti terrorism conference held at Darul Uloom comes forth as a serious effort to present the correct picture of Islam as religion and Muslims as a community. Recently (on February 25, 2008) this seminary organised a meeting of over 4000 delegates from madrasas and representatives of Islamic schools like Nadwatul Ulema and Sufi orders like Chistis of Ajmer Sharif and senior scholars of the seminary itself. After debating the issue of terrorism, actions of jihadi groups and role of such violence vis-à-vis teachings of Islam the conference issued this statement…. The overall consensus was that terrorism is un-Islamic and that mischief rioting and murder are sins as per this religion. They did point out the role of US-Zionism in projecting this nexus of Islam-Madrasas and terrorism while appealing to them to desist from falling to the temptation of associating with groups indulging in acts of terror in the name of Islam.
One recalls that Islam was linked to terrorism when US wanted to fight its battle with Russia by putting the gun on the shoulders of Muslims in the name of Islam. It promoted the madrasas in Pakistan, Lal Masjid being one of them where the distorted version of Islam was used for indoctrinating Muslim youth to lure them to join the war against Russian armies occupying Afghanistan….
The very word ‘Islamic terrorism’ is a creation of US media, faithfully followed by media all over the world. And taking cue from that the communal forces have been regularly shouting that madrasas are the breeding ground of terrorism. Despite many useful studies on madrasas, this picture is deepened while undertaking the social auditing of madrasas to dispel these notions should be an easy enough job for people.
The use of violence has been done in the history by people of all religions. Islam (and for that matter every other system or code of life) does talk of taking recourse to violence as the last resort to protect oneself against the aggressor. It also ordains that killing of even a single innocent person is tantamount to killing the whole humanity. That Islam, the religion of Peace, is projected as the religion which ‘preaches violence’, is the biggest ‘success’ of US propaganda machinery in the direction of manufacturing consent for its imperialist goals.
It is in this direction that US ideologue Prof Samuel Huntington talked of Clash of Civilizations. As per him, and as per the unsaid US policy doctrine, the advanced western civilization, to which US belongs, is facing the threat from backward Islamic civilization. This bogus thesis has been well answered by the UN committee which went and examined the Alliance of civilizations. This UN report, which went unnoticed by the ‘mainstream’ attention, points out that civilizations have been cooperating and allying with each other and that’s how global civilizations have been evolving and getting enriched from each other. Same phenomenon can be seen from two opposite angles, clash and alliance!
The opinion of Darul Uloom conference is very significant and crucial. It not only has hit the nail on the head by pointing out that terrorism is due to political forces, that theologically and morally Islam does not permit terrorism and that those dejected Muslims facing grave injustices at the hands of the system which regards Islam and terrorism as synonyms, should not get tempted to associate themselves with the terror outfits operating in the name of Islam. One has to complement this valuable initiative of this seminary and hope that society will register this message seriously, and look beyond this projections to understand the real cause of terrorism, which lies in the social, economic and political injustices.