It’s time Muslims seriously considered making a long overdue New Year’s resolution: bidding farewell to the state of denial, saying “no more” to conspiracy theories.
How does the mere condemnation of the cold-blooded massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar by a suicide squad of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) help? A host of maulanas and maulvis promptly expressed outrage, denounced the savagery, asserted that those guilty of such heinous crimes cannot be called Muslims. “This is not Islam,” they said. But the unrepentant TTP has no doubt it is more-Muslim-than-thou.
Within hours of the shooting spree, it released a photo (taken earlier) in which the soon-to-turn-mass-murderers could be seen staring straight at the camera, with a banner in the backdrop proclaiming Islam’s core article of faith: “La ’ilaha ’illa-llah, Muhammadun rasulu-llah (There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God)”. The very next day, it quoted out of context a hadith (saying) of the Prophet that a boy with pubic hair is no longer a child. Thus, according to the TTP, the butchery was entirely halal.
No doubt, the killers must have prayed prior to the carnage, beginning with the words, “Bismillahirrahmanirrahim (In the name of Allah, the most merciful, the most compassionate)”. They killed and died with the absolute conviction that their “virtuous mass murder” would guarantee them a permanent place in paradise.
No doubt, the TTP, other “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists” from Pakistan, the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), the Boko Haram in Nigeria, the al-Shahab in Kenya and Allah knows who else, are plotting their next barbaric deed. Sooner than later, will there be mere condemnation one more time, repeat “this is not Islam” declarations?
This surely is no cure for the malaise within today’s lived Islam. To cry out not-in-my-name is one thing. But to insist that the perpetrators of terror cannot be Muslims is to deny personal agency, evade moral responsibility for what some Muslims do in the name of a shared faith. Perhaps Muslims should heed the Friday sermon of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq at Srinagar’s Jama Masjid a day after the killings. He said: “The Peshawar attack was barbaric and gruesome. It has become incumbent on Islamic scholars and religious preachers to introspect and look for reasons that cause certain elements to commit such crimes and thus defame Islam.”
Where did the “certain elements” get their Islam from?
For believing Muslims, the primary sources of Islamic law are the Quran and the Ahadith (plural of hadith, words and deeds of Prophet Mohammed). Do the Quran and the Ahadith promote peace or violence? The Quran, the Bible or the Gita promote neither peace nor violence. It is the believers who choose to interpret passages of their holy texts one way or the other.
Who does the interpreting? Muslims will tell you there is no place for priesthood or a pope in Islam. That’s theory: things don’t work that way in real life. Like followers of other faiths, most Muslims have neither the theological wherewithal nor the time or inclination to unravel the Divine Commands on their own. Inevitably then, they rely on some Dharam Guru, high priest, “Shaikhul Islam” for guidance.
The dubious distinction of warping the Muslim mind in the modern era goes to four highly influential theologians: Mohammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (founder of Wahhabism in Arabia), Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb (Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt) and Maulana Abul A’la Maududi (Jamaat-e-Islami, Indian subcontinent). According to these founding fathers of “political Islam”, unlike other religions, Islam is not merely a moral or spiritual compass but a political ideology, a theology of power. And it was/ is the bounden duty of every Muslim to struggle through every means possible (jihad) to dismantle all man-made laws and institutions and to enforce sharia laws through the instrument of an Islamic state.
An Islamic state and sharia rule are precisely what the likes of the TTP, Isis, Boko Haram and al-Shahab seek to establish. No doubt, many followers of Wahhab, al-Banna, Qutb or Maududi distance themselves from the terrorist Muslim outfits. But who among them can deny that more often than not, it is these very leaders who provide the theological “base camp” of all the terrorist Muslim outfits?
The Students Islamic Movement in India (Simi) is an organisation that was spawned by the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) in the 1970s. Having subsequently graduated to the ideals of jihad, shahadat (martyrdom) and the establishment of an Islamic caliphate, the Simi denounces the JIH for having reneged on the teachings of Maududi. The Isis aspires to overthrow the original sponsors of Wahhabi Islam — the Saudi monarchy.
Muslims cannot even begin to deal with the malignancy in their midst until they disown the inherently capable-of-mutating legacy of Wahhab, al-Banna, Qutb and Maududi, purge themselves of the idea that while a secular state is a compulsion where Muslims are in a minority, an Islamic state is the ideal. Perhaps they should get better acquainted with Hassan al-Banna’s younger brother, Gamal, who died last year.
According to Gamal, Middle Age interpretations of the Quran “should be thrown into the sea”. In 2008, he wrote a book arguing that all sayings attributed to the Prophet that are misogynistic, against freedom of religion or promote violence, must be rejected since they are not consonant either with Quranic teachings or the life of Mohammed.
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