Tuesday, 11 August 2009

About Jihadi Argumentations (the Example of India)

”We [Muslims] were the legal rulers of India, and in 1857 the British took that away from us,’ ‘In 1947 they should have given that back to the Muslims’

On the Mumbai attacks (where 40 people had been taken hostage), the attacks were revenge for the persecution of Muslims in India, one of the terrorists said.

We love this as our country, but when our mothers and sisters were being killed, where was everybody?".

The roots of
Muslim rage run deep in India, nourished by a long-held sense of injustice over what many Indian Muslims believe is institutionalized discrimination against the country's largest minority group. The disparities between Muslims, who make up 13.4% of the population, and India's Hindus, who hover at around 80%, are striking. There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking, Muslim Indians have shorter life spans, worse health, lower literacy levels and lower-paying jobs. (…). But before intercommunal relations can improve, there are even bigger problems that must first be worked out: the schism in sub continental Islam and the religion's place and role in modern India and Pakistan. It is a crisis 150 years in the making.

The Beginning of the Problem:
On the afternoon of March 29, 1857, Mangal Pandey, a handsome, moustachioed soldier in the East India Company's native regiment, attacked his British lieutenant. His hanging a week later sparked a sub continental revolt known to Indians as the first war of independence and to the British as the Sepoy Mutiny. Retribution was swift, and though Pandey was a Hindu, it was the subcontinent's Muslims, whose Mughal King nominally held power in Delhi, who bore the brunt of British rage. The remnants of the Mughal Empire were dismantled, and 500 years of Muslim supremacy on the subcontinent came to a halt.

Muslim society in India collapsed. The British imposed English as the official language. The impact was cataclysmic. Muslims went from near 100% literacy to 20% within a half-century. The country's educated Muslim élite was effectively blocked from administrative jobs in the government. Between 1858 and 1878, only 57 out of 3,100 graduates of Calcutta University — then the centre of South Asian education — were Muslims. While discrimination by both Hindus and the British played a role, it was as if the whole of Muslim society had retreated to lick its collective wounds.

Out of this period of introspection, two rival movements emerged to foster an Islamic ascendancy. Revivalist groups blamed the collapse of their empire on a society that had strayed too far from the teachings of the Qur’an. They promoted a return to a purer form of Islam, modelled on the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Others embraced the modern ways of their new rulers, seeking Muslim advancement through the pursuit of Western sciences, culture and law. From these movements two great Islamic institutions were born: Darul Uloom Deoband in northern India, rivaled only by Al Azhar University in Cairo for its teaching of Islam, and Aligarh Muslim University, a secular institution that promoted Muslim culture, philosophy and languages but left religion to the mosque. These two schools embody the fundamental split that continues to divide Islam in the subcontinent today. "You could say that Deoband and Aligarh are husband and wife, born from the same historical events," says Adil Siddiqui, information coordinator for Deoband. "But they live at daggers drawn."

Today, more than 9,000 Deobandi madrasahs are scattered throughout India, Afghanistan and Pakistan, most infamously the Dara-ul-Uloom Haqaniya Akora Khattak, near Peshawar, Pakistan, where Mullah Mohammed Omar and several other leaders of Afghanistan's Taliban first tasted a life lived in accordance with Shari'a. (…). They have become synonymous with Islamic radicalism, and Siddiqui is careful to dissociate his institution from those who carry on its traditions, without actually condemning their actions. "Our books are being taught there," he says. "They have the same system and rules. But if someone is following the path of terrorism, it is because of local compulsions and local politics."  (…)

This fracture in religious doctrine — whether Islam should embrace the modern or revert to its fundamental origins — between two schools less than a day's donkey ride apart when they were founded, was barely remarked upon at the time. But over the course of the next 100 years, that tiny crack would split Islam into two warring ideologies with repercussions that reverberate around the world to this day. Before the split became a crisis, however, the founders of the Deoband and Aligarh universities shared the common goal of an independent India. Pedagogical leanings were overlooked as students and staff of both institutions joined with Hindus across the subcontinent to remove the yoke of colonial rule in the early decades of the 20th century.

Two Faiths, Two Nations:
But nationalistic trends were pulling at the fragile alliance, and India began to splinter along ethnic and religious lines. Following World War I, a populist Muslim poet-philosopher by the name of Muhammad Iqbal framed the Islamic zeitgeist when he questioned the position of minority Muslims in a future, independent India. The solution, Iqbal proposed, was an independent state for Muslim-majority provinces in northwestern India, a separate country where Muslims would rule themselves. The idea of Pakistan was born.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Savile Row–suited lawyer who midwifed Pakistan into existence on Aug. 14, 1947, was notoriously ambiguous about how he envisioned the country once it became an independent state. Both he and Iqbal, who were friends until the poet's death in 1938, had repeatedly stated their dream for a "modern, moderate and very enlightened Pakistan," says Sharifuddin Pirzada, Jinnah's personal secretary. Jinnah's own wish was that the Pakistani people, as members of a new, modern and democratic nation, would decide the country's direction.

But rarely in Pakistan's history have its people lived Jinnah's vision of a modern Muslim democracy. Only three times in its 62-year history has Pakistan seen a peaceful, democratic transition of power. With four disparate provinces, more than a dozen languages and dialects, and powerful neighbours, the country's leaders — be they Presidents, Prime Ministers or army chiefs — have been forced to knit the nation together with the only thing Pakistanis have in common: religion.

Following the 1971 civil war, when East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, broke away, the populist Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto embarked on a Muslim-identity program to prevent the country from fracturing further. General Mohammed Zia ul-Haq continued the Islamization campaign when he overthrew Bhutto in 1977, hoping to garner favour with the religious parties, the only constituency available to a military dictator. He instituted Shari'a courts, made blasphemy illegal and established laws that punished fornicators with lashes and held that rape victims could be convicted of adultery. When the Soviet Union invaded neighboring Afghanistan in December 1979, Pakistan was already poised for its own Islamic revolution. (…)

But jihad, as it is described in the Qur’an, does not end merely with political gain. It ends in a perfect Islamic state. The West's, and Pakistan's, cynical resurrection of something so profoundly powerful and complex unleashed a force that gave root to al-Qaeda's rage, the Taliban's dream of an Islamic utopia in Afghanistan, and in the dozens of radical Islamic groups rapidly replicating themselves in India and around the world today. "The promise of jihad was never fulfilled," says Gul. "Is it any wonder the fighting continues to this day?" Religion may have been used to unite Pakistan, but it is also tearing it apart.

India Today:
In India, Islam is, in contrast, the other — purged by the British, denigrated by the Hindu right, mistrusted by the majority, marginalized by society. There are nearly as many Muslims in India as in all of Pakistan, but in a nation of more than a billion, they are still a minority, with all the burdens that minorities anywhere carry. Government surveys show that Muslims live shorter, poorer and unhealthier lives than Hindus and are often excluded from the better jobs. To be sure, there are Muslim success stories in the booming economy. Azim Premji, the founder of the outsourcing giant Wipro, is one of the richest individuals in India. But for many Muslims, the inequality of the boom has reinforced their exclusion.

Kashmir, a Muslim-dominated state whose fate had been left undecided in the chaos that led up to partition, remains a suppurating wound in India's Muslim psyche. As the cause of three wars between India and Pakistan — one of which nearly went nuclear in 1999 — Kashmir has become a symbol of profound injustice to Indian Muslims, who believe that their government cares little for Kashmir's claim of independence — which is based upon a 1948 U.N. resolution promising a plebiscite to determine the Kashmiri people's future. That frustration has spilled into the rest of India in the form of
several devastating terrorist attacks that have made Indian Muslims both perpetrators and victims.

A mounting sense of persecution, fuelled by the government's seeming reluctance to address the brutal anti-Muslim riots that
killed more than 2,000 in the state of Gujarat in 2002, has aided the cause of home grown militant groups. They include the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which was accused of detonating nine bombs in Mumbai during the course of 2003, killing close to 80. The 2006 terrorist attacks on the Mumbai commuter-rail system that killed 183 people were also blamed on SIMI as well as the pro-Kashmir Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). Those incidents exposed the all-too-common Hindu belief that Muslims aren't really Indian. "LeT, SIMI — it doesn't matter who was behind these attacks. They are all children of [Pervez] Musharraf," sneered Manish Shah, a Mumbai resident who lost his best friend in the explosions, referring to the then President of Pakistan. In India, unlike Pakistan, Islam does not unify but divide.

Still, many South Asian Muslims insist Islam is the one and only force that can bring the subcontinent together and return it to pre-eminence as a single whole. "We [Muslims] were the legal rulers of India, and in 1857 the British took that away from us," says Tarik Jan, a gentle-mannered scholar at Islamabad's Institute of Policy Studies. "In 1947 they should have given that back to the Muslims." Jan is no militant, but he pines for the golden era of the Mughal period in the 1700s and has a fervent desire to see India, Pakistan and Bangladesh reunited under Islamic rule.

That sense of injustice
(sic) is at the root of Muslim identity today. It has permeated every aspect of society and forms the basis of rising Islamic radicalism on the subcontinent. "(…) Link

The Muslim quoted obviously shares a fundamental premise with many other Indian Muslims regarding their history, not only as Indian Muslims but as believers in a religion that claims to be the only universal religious truth. I call it the Islamic belief in the “Divine Right of Conquest,” granted them by Allah. But in what sense could Muslims claim that they “were the legal rulers of India up till 1857?” Did their conquest of India under the Mughals, give them a legal right to remain its masters for ever?

Islam has always been an imperialistic religion, which sets it apart from all the other major world religions. To illustrate this point, especially when contrasting Christianity and Islam, there was an interesting study by Ephraim Karsh, Professor and Head of the Mediterranean Studies Programme, King’s College, University of London, in a book entitled Islamic Imperialism: A Historypublished by Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2006. In the Introduction to the book Professor Karsh stated:

The worlds of Christianity and Islam, however, have developed differently in one fundamental respect. The Christian faith won over an existing empire in an extremely slow and painful process and its universalism was originally conceived in spiritual terms that made a clear distinction between God and Caesar. By the time it was embraced by the Byzantine emperors as a tool for buttressing their imperial claims, three centuries after its foundation, Christianity had in place a countervailing ecclesiastical institution with an abiding authority over the wills and actions of all believers. The birth of Islam, by contrast, was inextricably linked with the creation of a world empire and its universalism was inherently imperialist. It did not distinguish between temporal and religious powers, which were combined in the person of Muhammad, who derived his authority directly from Allah and acted at one and the same time as head of the state and head of the church. This allowed the prophet to cloak his political ambitions with a religious aura and to channel Islam’s energies into ‘its instruments of aggressive expansion, there [being] no internal organism of equal force to counterbalance it.’” (P. 5)

India was indeed a “crown jewel” in the British Empire throughout the 19th century. And the British presence and influence led eventually not only to Britain giving up her jewel to the Indians but that the Indians also were liberated from the Islamic domination that had lasted for centuries prior to the British colonization in its period of Empire. It is important to remember that even though many criticisms can be levelled at European colonialism, it was basically a different genre of colonization. All the colonies of the British, the French, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Portuguese, and the Germans, were “over-seas.” Not so with Islamic colonialism. It spread in a contiguous manner following conquest, and in most instances it was and remained final. On the other hand, countries that the European nations had colonized mainly for economic reasons but also to help the nationals in many instances, actually were granted independence in the aftermath of the Second World War. They were generally left in better economical and social condition than they were when the colonizers first found them.

One could ask: “
has a country and people conquered by Muslims ever been granted independence or freedom of religion or any other benefit of nationhood similar to what the European colonizers gave back to those they governed for a short while as colonizers?”

According to Ms. Baker, the strong penchant to turn back history and revive Islamic domination of the entire Indian subcontinent is manifest in the worldview of Islamic scholar Tarik Jan who she says
pines for the golden era of the Mughal period in the 1700s, and has a fervent desire to see India, Pakistan and Bangladesh reunited under Islamic rule.”

But what Ms. Baker fails to note is that unfortunately for him and for those who subscribe to Islam’s
“Divine Right of Conquest,” while the era of the Mughals was unparalleled in its glory and splendour, it was not so for the majority Hindus who suffered greatly under Islamic rule. Has Mr. Jan been smitten with amnesia!? The British left Pakistan, with its Eastern and Western regions, as one Islamic state; but it didn’t take long before East Pakistan declared its independence, and became Bangladesh. Islam was not a strong enough “glue” to keep Pakistan intact. Is it not wishful thinking on his part to suggest that by now adding India to the failed mix of quarrelling ethnicities under universal Islam things could improve?

For almost 1000 years, history witnessed a rising tide of Islamic dominance. Its empires, Arab, Turkish, Mughal, controlled large parts of the world.
But with the decline and fall of the Mughals, and the eventual dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, Islam was thrust into a deep crisis. The tide had turned. Islamic constraint on personal freedom for peoples it dominates was no match for the peoples of the rest of the world who were blessed to live as free people under various forms of democratic government.

Source: www.answering-islam.org/authors/thomas/islamic_imperialism.html


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