Muslim voices of sanity need to be loudly heard
By Firoz Bakht Ahmed: Lack of political will, weak intelligence, inadequate laws, poor enforcements and political mud slinging, result again and again in tragedies of the kind at now Hyderabad and at umpteen places elsewhere.
A blast is there. Umpteen lives lost, the home minister visits the area to make some stereotypes statements, some amount for compensation is declared, the police claims to have caught the mastermind and everything peacefully settles down - till the next bombing and loss of human lives, yet again and again..
When a terrorist is to be hanged, umpteen human amnesty appeals and our own tedious judicious system comes into the way of doing away with the murderers of humanity. At the same time, as Arun Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi grandson, says that it's no use hanging terrorists: when we hang one, hundred will be born.
Today, Islam is under the scanner owing to so many voices saying that the religion advocates violence. Not all of them can be wrong as people judge by what they see and today these terrorists speak and act violently in the name of Islam. At the same time, the government mustn't jump to the conclusion that it must be a "group of Muslims", only like Indian Mujahideen, that must have blasted that bomb. That hurts law-abiding Muslims, and they comprise the majority in a population of 165 million in India.
The community remains under the clouds of suspicion, for no fault of a great majority of its members. As a human being and an Indian Muslim, I literally wept over the needless deaths of those who died or were maimed while shopping or eating.
Muslims must come out openly against terrorist outfits like Hu-JI (Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islam), Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al-Qaeda, Harkat-ul-Ansar, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Indian Mujahideen and others, all committed to desecrate peaceful coexistence and harmony. The jehadis have been slaughtering innocent lives at railway stations, bus stops, trains, airplanes, temples and markets.
For a Muslim, actions are measured against the Quran and the Sunnah (practical examples) of the Prophet Muhammad's life. The Quran states that every human life is a sanctified life; to save a life of a person is equivalent to saving the life of mankind.
Even in a state of war, there are fundamental principles laid down by the Prophet, e.g. innocent lives (men, women and children) even in the enemy camp must be protected; the right to freedom of religion of people of other faiths must be ensured; plants must not be destroyed; no acts of aggression are allowed, and, most important of all, every attempt must be made to enter into a truce.
We are off course living in a situation where an act of aggression by a few misguided Muslims is labelled as an act sanctioned by Islam. This is a hostile portrayal of Islam.
Similarly, Muslims condemning all Americans or Europeans are equally guilty of stirring up hostility. There is no doubt there are agendas to smear the image of Islam, as is gains support in the world as an alternative to all other systems of government. A few misguided Muslims, indulging in extremism and acts of terror, are only helping the smear campaigns.
The ideologically networked jehadis kill without mercy, specialize in suicide attacks and when cornered fight to the finish. They derive their strength from Al- Qaeda. These radical jehadis are part of an intricate web of nationalist insurgent groups that act autonomously and are difficult to track down.
Many of the terrorists acting in the name of Islam cite Kashmir, Palestine, Chechnya, Iraq and Afghanistan to justify the killing of innocent lives. They have lost their moral compass. For them, anyone who does not agree with their point of view is an infidel and should be eliminated.
They are able to misinterpret verses from the Quran to justify their heinous designs. Muslims must separate themselves from 'Muslim terrorism'.
The word jehad comes from its Arabic root jahada meaning 'to struggle'. The word jehad has been so badly misused both by some wayward Muslim terrorists and Islam-baiters that it has completely lost its meaning. Jehad is essentially a struggle against evil, both within and beyond us. Jehad-e-Akbar (The Greater Jehad) is a complete surrender to the will of Allah. It calls for a total subjugation of ego and anger.
The SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), Shahi Imam Bukhari, fanatics in Coimbatore and Maharashtra, the calls for jehad and the distribution of inflammatory posters have enraged middle class Hindus. Minor issues like a few Muslim leaders opposing the singing of the Vande Mataram, the national song, add fuel to the fire, increasing animosity between the two communities over the years.
Those who kill innocents have nothing to do with Islam. Sura Al-Baqr (Verse: 114) in the Quran states that Allah dislikes those who indulge in arson, loot and killings. Sura Al-Kafirun (Chapter: 30) mentions: Lakum dinokum waley yadeen (You follow your religion; let them follow theirs).
Islam rejects violence in all its forms, but the jehadis take the terror path without bothering about the impact it can have on a common Muslim by making him the usual suspect. They don't read those verses that declare that taking the life of even one innocent individual means killing the whole humanity. They twist and bend them to act self-deceivingly as human bombs. Islam has no room for suicide.
There are many verses in the Quran that are contextual, in the sense that they are the verses used during a war and are not of a general nature. Take for example the verse, 'Slay the pagans wherever you find them, seize them, beleaguer them, lie in wait for them with every stratagem' (Chapter: 9, Verse: 5).
No doubt these verses call upon the believers to fight with determination against perpetrators and all odds, and these are not necessarily against non-Muslims. If taken out of context, they might appear to advocate violence; misguided Muslims are doing exactly that.
According to the Khwaja Iftekhar Ahmed, an Islamic scholar and president Inter Faith harmony Foundation of India, what is so abominable is that the extremists select these (some 20) verses only to express "righteousness" to act "righteously".
To a common Muslim, it is abhorrent to attach such acts to the teachings of Prophet Mohammed, who is known to be merciful not only to Muslims but the whole humanity. The so-called jehadis have no right to misinterpret the verses to suit their dastardly machinations.
At the same time I also appeal to all my Vedic brethren that they too should not suspect any and every Muslim as the terrorist might be bearing any religion's name; in fact, he has no religion. Today, the entire Muslim community is bearing the brunt of a fringed few.
I am also warning my co-religionists that it is time they take to streets to ondemn those who, in Islam's name, are making life a hell for them. Otherwise this calm and cool Hindu community can take to that unfortunate backlash that happened in Delhi in 1984 and Gujarat in 2002.
Muslims are at a crucial point. The need of the hour in cities like Jaipur, Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai is that the moment the community observes any suspicious people living in their neighbourhood, they must, without delay, inform the police.
These jehadis prefer the Muslim ghettos as nobody is bothered as to what activities are going on. Besides, in Muslim mohallas, these jehadis offer a handsome rent and the landlord falls for the bate realizing the truth only when anti-terrorist squads surround his house.
A liberal Muslim must check a communalist Muslim and a communal Hindu be checked by a liberal Hindu. Muslim voices of sanity aren't loudly heard. We have to agree in principle that killing of innocents cannot be justified, irrespective of race, religion, place or ethnicity. There is no room for 'ifs' and 'buts' for terror acts.
(24.02.2013 - Firoz Bakht Ahmed is a teacher and commentator on social, educational and religious issues and a grandnephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at email@example.com)