Why does India produce so few Islamic terrorists despite having a bigger Muslim population than most Muslim countries in the world, including our warmonger neighbour Pakistan? That’s a question often asked whenever terrorists claim innocent lives in the name of religion.
The answer lies in the undying inner spirit of the majority of Indian Muslims and in the larger ideals of religious pluralism and their unflinching faith in the country’s secular fabric — something which isn’t easy to destruct by the self-proclaimed saviours of the 7th century religion
Strong evidences for Indian Muslims’ displeasure against religious fundamentalists have manifested time and again. This time, it has come in the form of a fatwa issued by the influential Dargah Aala Hazrat seminary in UP against the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief and the alleged mastermind of Mumbai terror attacks, Hafiz Saeed.
The fatwa mirrors the unrelenting spirit and anger of Indian Muslims against those who pursue violence in the name of misinterpreted Islam and teachings of the Prophet. Issuing the fatwa, the seminary described Saeed as anti-Islamic and asked Muslims to avoid listening to his speeches. "Saeed preaches terrorism and uses terror in the name of Islam and brings bad name to Muslims across the world," the fatwa added.
More importantly, it is also a message to those hate preachers in the community who play with young minds, instilling the ideas of religious supremacy. Such ideas, which give birth to terrorists in young and innocent minds, have been the core reason of the ignominy the religion has nearly succumbed to in the modern era. A rise of liberal Muslims who weighs their patriotic feelings over that of religion is the biggest and probably the only feasible way to tackle the dreaded word of ‘terrorism’ in India, and elsewhere.
Let’s look at the details of the fatwa issue by the Dargah Aala Hazrat seminary.
According to reports, Mufti Mohammed Salim Noori, who is also the spokesperson of the seminary, justified the fatwa this way, "The ideology of Saeed is different from Islam. He, in a way, promotes people who have written few lines against the Prophet Mohammed. He is not a Muslim. It is forbidden to keep any form of ties with him, including greet, meet, have food with him and reading his namaz-e-janaza (prayer read during burial services) after his death," said Noori. There can’t be stronger words against Saeed who spill innocent blood in the name of religion.
Further, the fatwa says, “Saeed is a promoter of terrorism and brings bad name to Islam and Muslims across the world. It is a sin for the common public to listen to his speeches and the community should not trust him. People should not consider him a Muslim and they should keep others away from Saeed and his ideology." Saeed’s role in the Mumbai blasts and more recent attempts to destabilize the Indian authority in Kashmir Valley is well known.
The JuD chief reportedly asked the Pakistan military to send its troops into Kashmir to teach India a lesson. At a rally in Lahore on Tuesday, Saeed said, “This time the people in Kashmir are on the streets. This protest has become a mass movement. All groups in Kashmir have united. All the wings of the Hurriyat have become one. The Muttahida Jihad Council and all other groups have come on to the same platform. Those who have died in Kashmir, their deaths will not be in vain." Remember, these comments came not long after many lives ended as Kashmir Muslims and Indian forces attacked each other post the encounter of terrorist Burhan Wani.
But Hafiz Saeed is only the symptom of the larger problem: The problem represented by the narrow minded, fundamentally flawed school of thought of Islam that propagate and practice terror and have followers across geographies, including in India. By discarding Saeed in the way of Islam (the same excuse Saeed uses to pursue violence), the Indian Muslims have replied him in a befitting manner.
In the larger context, this fatwa is also a warning to the likes of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who have been allegedly inspiring young minds to take up arms allegedly justifying war and suicide bombing in the war against the ‘enemies of Islam’ and cause confusion between the ideas of one’s religious beliefs and the feelings of patriotism.
In fact, there have already been protests from the Indian Muslim community against Naik, some of which have already demanded a ban on him. Investigative agencies, including the National Investigative Agency (NIA) too have reportedly found evidence that Naik has allegedly inspired over 50 terror suspects. Naik may or may not have links with terrorists. But, observations of investigative agencies show that speakers like him indeed pose a threat to the country’s secular atmosphere.
The bottomline is this: One of the connotations of the word ‘jihad’ is ‘spiritual struggle within oneself against sin’. Indian Muslims’ undying spirit is the biggest weapon in their ‘jihad’ against terrorists and hate preachers. The fatwa against Hafiz Saeed is yet another proof of that fact.