...and how it has to be combated.
Islam is claimed to mean “Peace”. However, in its 14-century-long history, it has rarely been a cause for peace. Instead, violence in all forms has been its hallmark. Violence that its founder Prophet Muhammad used to establish and spread his new religion convinced his later followers that violence was the panacea of all worldly ills. The Prophet, on his own accord, banished himself from his birthplace Mecca to take refuge in Medina. Subsequent he took absolute control of both Medina and Mecca through an armed and violent campaign. Thereafter, it was the sword of Islam which spread the new faith to many continents. The faithful followers indeed reaped what they sowed.
Prophet Muhammad died in 632 AD. The war of succession followed. The great divide within Islam took place followed by violence and war of great magnitude. The Shiite and the Sunni sects parted ways forever. The Sunnis almost imposed their will on Shiites regarding succession through violence and slaughter. The Shiites have been mourning their losses ever since. Violence as a creed to give effect to political plans took firm and lasting roots in Islam, exactly as Muhammad had planted. Islamic terrorists of today undoubtedly have inherited this philosophy of life and a conviction that ends can be achieved by terrorising opponents. A terrorist snatches away from the terrorised individuals the most precious right, namely, the right to life. Obviously a civilised society cannot afford to find excuses to condone an act of terror, be it in the name of religion, or whatever.
Islam, as it is interpreted and practised in Madarsas, the archaic schools of Islamic teachings, breeds hatred for nonbelievers, who are contemptuously called Kafirs. Most maulvis and imams in their post-Friday prayer sermons preach violence and contempt for those, who do not believe in Islam. Those, who did not believe in Islam, were to be terrorised to embrace it. As a result, terror is promoted as a part of belief in Islam in Madarsas and mosques. Moderate elements in Islam turn Nelson’s eye to the spread of what Tony Blair termed a “perverted form of Islam”. Terror is the tactics to subjugate those men and women, who do not toe the line of promoters’ belief that the world revolved around Muslims and others had no right to live in it.
The archaic form of religious laws applied by Muslim countries are far removed from modern jurisprudence. The teachings by archaic schools of Islamic thought adopt the psychological method of brainwashing and convert young recruits ready to die for all the wrong reasons. The term “fidayeen” is an offshoot of archaic and misplaced belief that if an Islamic terrorist, while trying kills Kafirs for advancing his faith, gets killed -- he/she becomes a Shaheed (martyr) and goes straight to Heaven. Terror takes roots in minds of men, who discover this shortcut to Heaven. It will be relevant to add that the concept of Heaven in Islam is a place where a ghazi (kafir-killer) or a martyr receives in abundance all that is forbidden in this mortal world. Wine and women find a prominent place amongst goodies offered to a martyr in Islamic heaven.
Where do we go from here? All sane persons should encourage moderate elements in Islam to oppose archaic thoughts by both words and actions. Ideas have to be combated with ideas. The obscurantist preachers in mosques should be singled out and put through reformatory process. Only modern jurisprudence and progressive laws of the land, both civil and criminal, should be compulsorily applied to Muslims as well. China has done it with success. In China, Muslim males are not permitted to take four living wives simultaneously. The principle followed in China is “Nan nyu ping deng” – that is, equality between men and women. In Islam, women are not allowed to have four husbands simultaneously; likewise men should not be permitted to have four wives at the same time. It should be strictly enforced all over the world. It will make Muslims realise that they cannot be beneficiaries of an archaic system prevalent in medieval times in the Middle East society. This will, in turn, promote modern social thinking and wean away the misguided youth from maulvies. The youth will, indeed, like to merge with the mainstream of social life.
The Islamic terrorism of today is a global problem. It has to be tackled globally by men and women of all creeds and castes, region and religion. No one, an individual or a nation, should look for excuses to condone terrorism. As ideas have to be fought with ideas; likewise, terror of a sect or a religious group has to be fought with all means at the command of a country or a group of countries to ensure safely to innocent lives. The perpetrators and the promoters of terrorism have to be dealt with firm determination. We may take lessons from policy used by India in Punjab against Sikh terrorists and separatists, or from the British experience of dealing with terrorists in Malaysia. New laws may have to be enacted banning preaching of religious terrorism in mosques and eulogising slain terrorists or honoring them as martyrs. Active support of moderate Muslims should be forthcoming in rooting out Islamic terrorism.
Muslim women, if and when liberated from the clutches of obscurantist males, will have a major role to play. They are oppressed souls now. Many Muslim priests are opposed to allowing women inside mosques to say prayers. Women have no role in decision making. The system of Triple Talaq gives Muslim males right to divorce their wives at will by just pronouncing “talaq talaq talaq”. These triple pronouncements spell doom for the marital life of a Muslim female. When they are liberated, they will have a sobering influence on society, and discourage irresponsible thoughts and actions of their loved ones. A fine example of liberated Muslim women playing a responsible role in society is that of Turkey. With the result, the government, especially the armed forces, ensure that turkey does not revert to archaic form of Islam. The modernisation of Islamic society by Kemal Ataturk showed them the path to prosperity and peace. It is, however, worrying that Ataturk’s secularization is now being reversed by Islamic-minded ruling party. Instead of reversing, all Muslims nations must adopt Ataturk’s process of secularization and liberalization to combat Islamic terror and obscurantist concepts. A country, which does not wish to liberalise its archaic dogmas, will only be promoting ideas conducive to terrorism. Besides Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and even the much maligned Iraq gave varying degrees of freedom to their women. Maybe, Muslim women come forward and raise the flag of liberation, liberation from bigotry and fanaticism so that their children and subsequent generations can live in peace and prosperity with followers of other faiths all over the world. All will walk on the path of righteousness in order to eliminate the very concept of terror.
Women form half of humanity. The Chinese say “PAN TIAN”, that is, they are half of the universe. If our women join the war on terrorism, no Osama will dare promote it in any part of the world. The 9/11 in New York, the 7/7 in London and that dastardly terrorist attack on the Hindu temple of Ayodhya will indeed become history. We will, indeed, wait for that tranquil sunrise.
Let all sections of society move together for improving the quality of life in the civil society, irrespective of personal beliefs of a section. As the Vedas, the most ancient book in Man’s library, says “Sangacchdhwam Samvadadhwam Samvo Manasi Jantam”, that is, “Let us walk together, let us talk together, and let us shape our thoughts together for the good of one and all”. Let all sections of civil society know that we must swim or sink together. This change of mind and heart will sound the death-knell of terrorism.