In this context it will be interesting to recall that Justice Munir, who enquired into Punjab (Pakistan) disturbances of 1953, had reported that the various Ulemas who appeared before him, gave a differing definition of what constituted a Muslim, and each of them felt that only those who fell within his definition, were real Muslims and all others were non-Muslims.
Talibans of Afghanistan developed into a unique trend, the like of which was perhaps never seen before in Islam. Starting as Ulemmas of Deobandi seminaries in Pakistan, they became murderously political, introducing a pattern of Islam which was more conservative than the most conservative fringe of Wahabism. They Arabized Afghan culture and shifted to the Arab lunar calendar from their own Persianised solar calendar. Women were placed in the category of chattels. All non-Sunni Muslims and all Shias were identified as enemies meriting death. Taliban’s Emir Mullah Omar took the delusional title of Momin-ul-Musalmeen (commander of the faithful), claiming tribute from the entire Muslim world like the Prophet Mohammad and later Caliphs. The Taliban and bin Laden combined to unleash a season of terror over the world. Although the Taliban rule has ended in Afghanistan, its virus with its mutations is flourishing in the neighborhood. Its tentacles have extended deep into Pakistan. It is a moot question whether NATO forces in Afghanistan can succeed in eliminating ‘Talibanism’ or its off spring ‘neo-Talibanism’ from Afghanistan or the neighboring Fata area of Pakistan.
The Taliban and bin Laden combined to unleash a season of terror over the world.
Muslims of all shades of opinion as described above are to be found in India also. But fortunately, the Indian Constitution which includes secularism as one of its immutable principles acts as a check on institutions which harbor reservations about it. No political party, which does not swear by secularism as an article of faith, can participate in the political processes in the country. Thus, imperceptibly, the Indian Constitution is a secularising force on the Muslim citizens of India, irrespective of what their religion says. And they are none the worse for it. According to Maulana Mehmood Madani, head of the Deoband Seminary in India, the Muslims of India have had the best deal among all the Muslims of the world and the Muslims who nurse deep grievances against the Indian system, are usually part of the 30 percent of the Muslim population that lives in Muslim majority enclaves.
It must be admited that there is a considerable confusion among the general masses of the country about Islam, its teachings and its bonds.
It is among these 30 percent that the battle on terror has to be fought. None among them should be allowed to hijack the agenda of terror to lay an infrastructure, which remains intact and grows even if the leadership is decapitated. In the absence of efforts to identify the springs of the ideology which inspires terrorism, there lurks the danger that the belief system will become self sustaining. Fatwas against terrorism serve only a miniscule purpose. A political counter strategy is the need of the hour and such identifications constitute the primary steps. The time to change perspectives has been arrived. The objective of such changes should be to make the Muslim society in India more modernized and more in tune with the contemporary values of the globalized world including India, of today.
It must be admited that there is a considerable confusion among the general masses of the country about Islam, its teachings and its bonds. There is a good case for setting up some departments of Islamic study in Indian universities so that an increasing number of people can develop an appropriate understanding about it. This may be an important step in political counter strategy to combat terrorism.