New Age Islam Staff Writer
15 May 2020
Despite its defeat and loss of territory in Iraq and Syria, ISIS still poses a grave concern worldwide, producing a wide array of propagandistic materials in multiple languages and spreading them through online platforms in order to radicalize the potential recruits. During its violent spread across the Middle East, ISIS gained both a local and international following due to its Jihadi propaganda through mouthpiece magazines like ‘Dabiq’ and its successor ‘Rumiyah’. Both the magazines served as propagandistic recruitment tools for ISIS’s sympathizers worldwide. Now the ISIS has started its India-specific propaganda calling for Ghazwa-e-Hind through the issue of new online magazine called ‘Voice of Hind’.
ISIS seeks to win the support of Indian Muslims through the online propaganda magazine ‘Voice of Hind’, of which there are recently three issues published by Al-Qitaal Media Centre of Junudul Khilafah al-Hind. So far, the ISIS has not been successful in gaining support of Indian Muslims except for a few self-radicalized individuals. A study of the current three issues shows that it has seriously made big plans to brainwash Indian Muslims; which will be futile, Insha Allah.
The magazine attempts to incite a sense of injustice and plants victimhood narratives among Indian Muslims in the recent issues. It seeks to provoke them to pick up weapons. In the first edition of ‘Voice of Hind’ released on February 24, the ISIS has mentioned the “atrocities against Muslims by vigilante groups in India” and highlighted the case of public unrest over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), portraying the policies of Indian government as anti-Muslim and thereby instigating Indian Muslims to use weapons against the law of the country.
The first edition of ‘Voice of Hind’ contains three articles titled ‘A Call to Muslims of Hind’, ‘Disease of Nationalism’, and ‘Matters of Aqeedah’. In its ‘Foreword’, the magazine urges Muslims to ‘Stand and Die’ fighting against ‘falsehood’. In the article “A call to Muslims of Hind”, ISIS strictly stops Muslims from being in agreement with the “wicked scholars of Hind -- Mahmoud Madani, Arshad Madani” and other Muslim clerics and scholars who call them towards peace and pluralism. Showing the images of Asaduddin Owaisi and Kanhayya Kumar, the ISIS urges that they “are at the forefront in misguiding the Muslim youth”. Dedicating an entire page to highlight the “disease of nationalism”, it says, “the call to nationalism is a call to transgression, pride and arrogance” and finally commands Muslims to “join the caravan of the Islamic State knights in the gateway of Hind”.
The second edition of ‘Voice of Hind’ was issued a month later on March 24. This mainly focused on ISIS propaganda based on theology, with some pages condemning the Taliban’s deal with the US as a “path from Jihad to apostasy”, in addition to considering the coronavirus pandemic to be Allah’s punishment against those who did injustice to Muslims.
The third edition of the magazine, released on April 22, contains four articles headlined “Call towards Tawheed and Jihad”, “Preparation of Ghazwa-e-Hind”, “We are victorious by Allah’s permission” and “So, Annihilate the disbelievers”. In the article ‘Call Towards Tawheed and Jihad” the pro-ISIS group argues that the recent changes in the Indian Constitution are meant to deny Muslims their rights. The article enumerates events of arresting, lynching and new laws of evicting Muslims as an argument to provoke Muslims. The magazine also uses the Ghazwa-e-Hind narrative and states that “they (Hindus) will not leave any one amongst you except the one who apostatizes from his religion and follows theirs. The only cure to it is Jihad as Shaykh Abu Musab Az Zarqawi said, “Verily after Tawheed the best antidote to the problems of this Ummah is Jihad for the sake of Allah”.
The magazine goes on to say, “They (Hindus) wanted to show you the police are for them, the courts are for their benefit and they are only there to torture and persecute the Muslim community. Did the methods of voting and protests (anti-CAA) work for you? Have the courts and legislators (from) whom (you) seek help besides Allah done you any good”. Later on, the article titled “Annihilate the disbelievers” encourages attacks by means of knives, hammers, axe, petrol bombs, heavy objects, choking through belts or rope or using vehicles as weapons for wreaking havoc and maximum casualties.
The mainstream Muslims of India have trust in the Indian Constitution to resolve their issues, from the cases of lynching to NRC and CAA, stating that they are internal issues of the country and that the anti-national groups are not allowed to interfere into their internal matters. The ISIS supporters must rethink that they can’t exploit the current situation of Muslims to harm national interests. One wonders at the usage of victimhood narratives by ISIS while ISIS itself has committed awful oppression of Muslims in Iraq, Syria and around the world. They must look within themselves before interfering into the internal issues of Muslims and non-Muslims who, despite differences, come to support one another in times of distress, as their response to Corona pandemic has shown. Indian pluralism has deep roots.
As for the clerics and Muslim scholars of India, they must come forward to decry and refute the ISIS propaganda. When the so-called Islamic State came on the scene, at least one of them, wrote letters expressing loyalty to the self-styled Khalifa Baghdadi, addressing him as Ameerul Momineen. The rest kept quiet. Even Nadwatul Ulema, one of whose senior authorities, had written that letter, did not upbraid him. Indian Ulema, in general, have not gone beyond rhetoric, quoting a peaceful Makkan verse of Quran, which books in their madrasas teach, have been abrogated by later Madinan verses of war. This will not go. They should go deep in the theology propagated by ISIS and refute it, even if it accords with their own long held beliefs.
The Ulema must rethink their worldview, realize they are no longer living in the 7th and 8th centuries, when Islamic theology and jurisprudence had largely evolved. This is 21st century, need we tell them. The world has changed. You can no longer do ghazwas. The world is now governed by the United Nations Charter which practically every country in the world has signed. We are now governed by national and international laws. The laws of the jungle do not prevail any more. Might is no longer right.
Our ulema should introspect deeply, and better decide to come out of their seventh century mindset, which is still celebrating Jang-e-Badr and other battles. We need a new theology, a theology of peace and pluralism, a theology of gender justice, free from patriarchal bias. ISIS is presenting a powerful Jihadi narrative based on the theology of the consensus of all sects in Islam. We need a coherent counternarrative, which is internally consistent and makes sense to the modern Muslim, living in the 21st century. Our ulema have a grave responsibility. Let’s hope they fulfil that.