Much quizzical ink is spilled on moderate Muslim’s silence on those who carry out terroristic activities in the name of Allah. Don’t they care that these nut-jobs are hijacking their faith? Of course, the silence is not a silence at all. Muslims everywhere do speak out and protest and recognize the realities. Whether the critics ever hear/read those messages is another matter. In that vein, today’s Daily Jang, one of the most popular Urdu newspaper in Pakistan has an editorial column that speaks to this issue. I do not agree with everything in the column but in my own efforts to alleviate that silence, here is my translation:
The martyrdom of Pakistanis in Iraq and the suicide attack on Mr. Shaukat Aziz….there might not be any causal link between these two incidents but there is an intellectual link. This very link is the greatest calamity befallen the Islamic world in the last century. Even greater is the tragedy that our religious elite not only failed to recognize this catastrophe but they became its advocates. Since this calamity came under the title of Religion, its soulution must also be found here.
The clamity was that the social decline of Muslims was considered a religious decline and, hence, they looked for a religious solution. This solution is a secret military struggle un-attached to any state or Muslim collective. It’s policies is made by the very people who started this struggle. Everyone, from Al-Qaeda to the insurrectionists in Iraq use verses from the Qur’an. Those who butchered the Americans in Saudi Arabia, Pakistanis in Iraq, and other civilians of various nationalities claimed it all on Islam.
Those who propose such a military struggle (jihad) are not religious scholars. The calamity was that the ‘Ulama [religious scholars] were followers in this movement. What began as struggle against the state has now reached suicide attacks. The jihadists kept on marching and the ‘Ulama, like Allama Yusuf Alkarzawi, kept on issuing fatwas in consent. As far as I know, this is the first time in the history of Islam that this has happened – which is why I call it an aberration. Uptil this point, every religious movement among Muslims was founded and led by ‘Ulama. In the previous century, the political movement in Islam was founded by Sayid Abu’l ala Maududi. The Rashimi Roomal movement was started by Maulana Mahmood Hasan, Sheikh-ul Hind. The first to raise a pen for the sake of nationalist freedom in India was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Earlier still, when the question of Dar ul Harb and Dar ul Islam emerged due to which people decided to migrate, ‘Ulama were the basis of it. Going back even further, among the founders of Independence movement were other religious luminaries. Ahmad Shah Abdali, as a solution for Hindustan’s social and political problems, was put forth by Shah Waliullah. In other regions of the Islamic world, the same picture emerged. In Egypt and North Africa, the Muslim Brotherhood was nurtured and led by Sayid Qutb who was a thinker and an ‘Alim [sing. ‘Ulama]. The leader of Algiers freedom movement was the philosopher and thinker Malik bin Banni. The instigator of a new political realm in Saudi Arabia was an ‘Alim named Muhammad b. Abdul Wahhab. The leaders of the Islamic Revolution in Iran were ‘Ulama.
You can disagree with all of these people – with their thoughts and philosophies as well as their actions – but you cannot disagree with the reality that these were leaders in the faith of Islam. Now, instead of being leaders, they are followers and rubber-stampers. Since, the battleground for jihadist movements
is the political realm, the ‘Alims have looked at these movements in the light of political expediency. Whether or not they can get any political clout by opposing or sanctioning such movements. By and large, they have found that agreeing with jihadist movements gets them more political benefits. And their thinking has been largely justified. Because of their political gambit, one and half provinces are now under their governance and they are the majority opposition group. As far as religion is concerned, it has not been their primary concern for a long while now. In this whole matter, religion has been kept to the sideline as much as possible. Sometime, they proclaimed that an organization named al-Qaeda does not even exist! Even when Maulana Fazlur Rahman discussed the Iraq incident in the National Assembly, examine his tone: He proclaimed, one must look at the causes behind such incidents. As if the killers had a personal grudge against the victims.
So this has come to pass. The political gain has been taken. In my opinion, the religious elite will not be able to get anymore materialist benefits so they must rise above the politics and examine what this calamity has done to the nation.
Today’s Muslim is a victim of social and economic malaise and intellectual turmoil the likes of which have not been seen in the past. The economic problems of Muslim countries have increased manifold. Their social structure has collapsed. The colonized are even further victimized and enslaved. From Palestine to Kashmir, victims are everywhere. Afghanistan and Iraq are in constant peril. All this is not caused by America. Muslims are engaged in the murder of Muslims. Those killed at the police recruitment center in Fallujah were not killed by America. Those starving and dying in Sudan cannot blame America for it. Those eight innocent killed in Attock..who is their killer? If the Muslims are victims of America on the one hand, then on the other hand, they are inflicting wound upon wound on themselves. Unrest is growing in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Is all this not enough to raise the question: What have the jihadist movements given to the Muslims?
In my view, it is the responsibility of the intellectual and religious elite to eschew the reactionist mold and ponder specifically on the collective benefit of the Muslim nations. On the topic of American imperialism or international interference, the Muslims are very clear. What we have to look for is the solution which can stop the constant decline of the Muslims and grant them the breathing room in which they can address their social, economic and military problems. Today, our need is to avoid frivolous debates like the one where Phillipines is being made an example of. Yes, there are American bases there and no, nothing can be done about it. Pakistan does not need such debates.
The greatest responsibility lies on the ‘Ulama. They must answer this question in clear cut terms: What have the jihadist movements given to the Muslims? and are Suicide attacks permissible? If they do not shut this chapter, or fail to present a solution, they will have to consider what they are doing to the Muslims worldwide and how will they answer to God on Judgement Day? Since, Islam is the realm of these organizations, Islam must provide the solution.
Do you have an answer, O ‘Alim?