That a majority of Muslims in India do not support jihadists may be true but that need not be stretched to justify the condemnation of terrorism by clerics and the Deobandis (“War for the soul of Islam in India,” June 11). Three factors have led to the ‘mullah-politician’ mobilisation of Indian Muslims now. One, their realisation that by appealing to the community to organise for a just cause they can secure and maintain a greater degree of political control over Muslims. Two, by condemning terrorism they are explicitly extolling the virtues of Islam but are also shifting the focus to religion, thus keeping a large section, particularly youth, away from secular discourse. And finally, they have realised that when pushed to the wall, they will have no option but to go on the defensive by convincing civil society “look, we are not what you think we are.” Why can’t they question the role of political parties that gain electorally by acts of terrorism before accepting the dictum that ‘… all terrorists are Muslims?’
The only way Islam can be saved is through an ‘intra-faith’ discourse in the light of ‘ijtihad’(re-interpretation of the Koranic injunctions), modern values and peace, and ‘inter-faith’ dialogue.
This refers to the claim that once the anti-Soviet Union jihad in Afghanistan began, madrasas did not remain ideological fortresses against communism or Shia radicalism but became factories for production of soldiers to fight the war. A few students might have been trained to fight the war or even forced to do so by some madrasas. But let me make it clear that not all madrasas trained soldiers. It is wrong to make a sweeping generalisation. Sayyid Qutb was not a radical. He was a true patron of Islam. It is wrong to say his works inspire jihadis worldwide.
The article talks of a whole new genre of madrasas in Pakistan concerned with jihad than with scholarship. This exposes the prejudice against madrasas. When we look at a report that appeared the same day — Rashid Hussain, Mohammed Sajid let off — we can understand how much harassment Indian Muslims face in the name of terrorism. Many Muslims are arrested in connection with terrorism, even though there are chances of the involvement of extremist outfits of other religions and foreign intelligence agencies. Most sections of the media or the intelligentsia do not want to think along those lines.
It should not matter whether a terrorist was a Deoband graduate or not. No religion or authentic educational centre endorses the killing of innocent people.
PK. Shameer Melmuri,
The article has failed to give the root cause of terrorism in India. Despite the fact that terrorism has nothing to do with the common Muslim and madrasas, it has a huge connection with the Kashmir issue, which has been politicised by the politicians of both India and Pakistan for six decades. It is unfortunate that the police fabricate terror theories in the name of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India and target young educated Muslims. For their part, Hindu outfits such as the RSS, the Bajrang Dal and the Shiv Sena terrorise the minorities, while enjoying the support of the government.
Deoband is not a madrasa. It is a school of thought followed by most Asian Muslims.
So any Kashmiri belonging to any terrorist outfit may be influenced by the Deoband in matters of religion. That does not mean he received instruction on terrorism from it or from any other Islamic organisation.
Mahmood Alam Siddiqui,