Friday, May 27, 2016

From Indian Mujahidin to ISIS: What Explains the Transformation

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
25 May 2016
Assuming that the latest ISIS video which shows Indian youth vowing to create violence and mayhem India is genuine, then the perception that Indian Muslims have been unaffected by the Islamic extremist propaganda seems vacuous. From the previous Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to even the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, all have sought to portray a picture of Indian Muslims as tolerant and steeped into the so-called Indian tradition of non-violence. It would not be out of place to suggest that in the wake of latest ISIS video, the Indian state perhaps has no clue of the situation that they are getting into.
Merely hoping that Indian Muslim youth would not get attracted to ISIS ideology is wishful thinking or another way of saying that the problem does not exist in India. But this is hardly the case: Muslim youth have posed with the ISIS flag not so long ago in the south and Indian Muslim Ulema did have many good things to say when al-Baghdadi established the caliphate. Short of exhorting the Muslims to emigrate to ‘Dar al Islam’ of ISIS, some Indian Ulama did their level best to convince Indian Muslims that the call of ISIS caliphate was truly Islamic and strengthening it was the ultimate goal of all Muslims.
In its earlier avatar, some of the youths who appear in this video were part of what was known as Indian Mujahidin. In one of the emails which they released in 2008, the Indian Mujahidin came down heavily upon the Indian state’s complicity in the killings of Muslims in various riots. The sense in that email was not such of a religious bigotry and hatred against the Hindus, but rather the seeming incapacity of various Indian governments to act as a neutral player in conflicts between different communities. The Indian Mujahidin pinned the blame for this non-neutrality of the Indian state on the slow erosion of secularism and the constitutional mandate to protect its minority population.
Some of these Indian youths have now joined the ranks of ISIS and the latest ISIS video is a reminder that the Indian state no longer is the object of their anger. Rather it is the larger Hindu community which is the target of their venomous hatred. Calling Hindus as Kafirs and harbis(1),these Indian youths in the ISIS video are full of contempt and denigration for Hindu religion and society. Waging war against these polytheistic Hindus who very much worship everything, from ‘cows, trees and even the genitalia’, is considered virtuous according to these Muslim youths in the video.
Waging jihad against the perceived persecution of Muslims is no longer the key tenet, rather, driving away shirk (2) and polytheism as a religious duty is what comes across in these videos. The grievance of these youths is transformed from a contextual perception of alleged violence against Muslims (as in the Indian Mujahidin email of 2008) to something which is de-contextualised and purely a scriptural command to wage war against the infidels till no Fitna(3)remains. This seems to be the contribution of Salafi ISIS ideology which they are now fully embedded into: ‘scriptures speak for themselves; they do not have a context and there is no need for a contextual reading of Islamic scripture.’
A large part of the diatribe in this video is also reserved for the Indian Ulema. Called as Ulema e Suu (false or evil scholars), they are attacked for not telling the Muslim masses the true teachings of Islam. This true teaching of Islam, according the ISIS video is that Islam is a religion of war rather than a religion of peace. An average Indian Alim is thus held guilty for teaching that Islam is a religion of peace. Marshalling Hadees (so-called sayings of the Prophet) and quoting from the Quran, the Indian youth in the ISIS video are fully convinced of their position that Islam enjoins upon its followers to wage a holy war against Kufr and polytheism wherever they can find it till the time religion and prayer is for Allah alone. Those Ulema who preach otherwise are evil, misleading the Muslims and are destined for hellfire.
The Indian Ulema were also castigated in the 2008 Indian Mujahidin email but then they were called names for being close to the establishment and doing their bidding. Scholars like Madani were perceived to be very close to Indian governments and yet they did not raise their voices criticizing the government for the killings of Muslims. In the email of 2008, that’s the reason they are called as ‘false’ Ulema. In the ISIS video, however, there are no expectations from these Ulema; rather they must be condemned because they have got their Islam all wrong. Islam was never a religion of peace, it was always a religion of war and those who say the contrary should be condemned as the evil ones who are leading the Muslims astray.
One can only hope that a response to this video will come from the Indian Muslim community, particularly the Ulema. So far their silence has only meant that perhaps they have nothing to say. Or is it that sections of the Ulema themselves are convinced of the veracity of what ISIS has to say about Islam?
Harbi is a resident of Dar-ul-Harb (Land of War, Disbelief, Idol worship), killing whom and raiding whose property is permitted in Islamic law both within and outside the borders of his land, according to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Doha-based Egyptian Islamic theologian and chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars as well as Egyptian Grand-Mufti Dr. Sheikh Ali Gomaa.
In Islam, shirk (Arabic: شرك‎širk) is the sin of practicing idolatry or polytheism, i.e. the deification or worship of anyone or anything other than the singular God i.e. Allah. Literally, it means ascribing or the establishment of "partners" placed beside God. (Wikipedia)
Fitna is generally translated as mischief, but for Salafis it means disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allaah.
A columnist for, Arshad Alam is a Delhi based writer.

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