Anjem Choudary, the UK-based radical preacher and televangelist, political Islamist activist, co-founder of the banned organisation al-Muhajiroun and the spokesman for the extremist outfit Islam4UK, is again in the news. According to a recent report, Choudary, known for his radical views, has been found guilty of supporting the global terrorist faction, Islamic State, and hence has been sentenced to the imprisonment in Britain for 10 years.
That the radical preacher will face up to 10 years in jail for inviting support for the proscribed outfit in the UK – Islamic State – is a wake-up call for India. The report further details that Anjem Choudary will be sentenced on 6 September. Prosecutor Richard Whittam is reported to have stated that, "The terrorist organisations thrive and grow because people support them and that is what this case is about”.
“Do not confuse that with the right of people to follow the religion of their choice or to proclaim support for a caliphate," he said.
According to the sources, 22-year-old Nibras Islam, who was also one of the Dhaka attackers, used to follow the Pakistan-origin British preacher on Twitter. If we take cognizance of a similar situation in India, it can be observed that a considerable number of sympathisers of the terrorist organisations live freely in the country and abroad.
Radical televangelist and Saudi-backed radical Islamist preacher Zakir Naik, who categorically supported Osama Bin Laden for his war on America, has fully enjoyed the civil liberties and equal rights to the profession and propagation of the religion. Naik, who is not of the Pakistani descent like Anjem Choudary, however, misused the rights to further his nefarious extremist designs and radical thoughts.
Unlike Zakir Naik – who although being exposed by the Indian media has not faced any legal action yet – Anjem Choudary stayed ‘just within the law’ for years and was arrested in 2014 after his allegiance to the militant group was proved. He was picked up on his tacit and open support to the proscribed organisations which he helped to run for radicalising young Muslim men and women. Initially, the British media ignored the jihadist threat Choudary posed to the country. Not even the leading newspapers like New York Times and Washington Post could decipher this imminent danger. It was only when Choudary unraveled his pan-Islamist dream of the 'Islamic flag flying over the White House’, some British media outlets like ABC and Britain’s Sunday Times spoke out against him. Sunday Times called him “the leader of the now-outlawed extremist group Islam4UK”, as the UK-based Media Research Center’s vice-president Dan Gainor writes in his opinion piece in Fox News.
The latest British crackdown on Choudary should be a sigh of relief for the people of India, as he posed a serious jihadist threat to the democratic ethos of Muslims of our nation. In 2012, a Firstpost article noted that Anjem Choudary had launched his website shariah4hind.com, which has since been blocked in India, but can be accessed using a proxy server. Choudary had promised that the “shariah4hind project will continue unhindered until sovereignty and supremacy are returned to Allah and the authority is for the Muslims alone.”
Choudary further stated: “Do not obey any man-made law… and any attempt to silence calls for the Sharia, whether by banning court hearings, will never be successful.”
However, this call for the Sharia in India was not new. It echoed in a number of the country’s Islamic magazines which were largely circulated and published in Urdu and Arabic. One of the most fervent mouthpieces of the Sharia in India is the Urdu Islamic monthly, Allah Ki Pukar (the call from Allah) which was launched in New Delhi as a quarterly magazine and edited by Prof Mohammad Khalid Ali Hamidi, an alumni of Jamiatul Falah.
Jamiatul Falah is a madrassa in Bilariyaganj town of Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh district known for its adherence to the thoughts of Maulana Abu A’ala Maududi – the founder-ideologue of political Islamism in the Indian subcontinent. Khalid Hamidi himself has written a biography of Maulana Maududi, “Maulana Syed Abul Aa'la Maududi: Halaat, Dini Khidmat, Akhri Safar”. It is a compilation of many articles written by different writers on Maududi’s life and religious works with a foreword by Hamidi.
Inspired by Maududi, the Indian Islamic scholar, Professor Khalid Hamidi opines that ‘democracy transfers Allah’s sovereignty (hakimiyat-e-Ilah) to the common people, so it should be seen as adverse to the Islamic Sharia and ‘divine principles of governance’. In his writings, Maulana Maududi advocated an Islamic state where the so-called “Islamic Jihad” should be incumbent upon every Muslim until the authority of God is established on the entire earth. In his book “al-jihad fil Islam” (Jihad in Islam), he encouraged Muslims to fight democracy and secularism as an “evil” and go to the extent of laying down their life, possessions, powers, wealth and health in the fight against “evil forces of the world”.
He wrote: “But the most important - indeed the most basic - ideal of the revolutionary doctrines of that “Revolutionary Party” known as Muslims is to expand all the powers of the body and soul, life and possessions, in the fight against the evil forces of the world; not so that, having annihilated them, we should step into their shoes, but so that evil and contumacy may be eradicated and Allah’s Law enforced on earth. This is the significance of Jihad fi Sabilillah (Jihad for the cause of Allah).”
In his editorials in “Allah ki Pukar”, Professor Hamidi has often declared the Indian democracy akin to kufr (infidelity) and participation in the elections and voting as shirk (polytheism, the gravest sin in Islam). Since its inception in the mid 90s, the magazine carried editorials buttressing this takfirist viewpoint in so many words. A few specimens could be cited as the following:
1) “Allah Ke Nam Se” (in the name of Allah), published in Quarterly Magazine 'Allah ke Pukar, New Delhi, Vol. 1, issue 1, April-June, 1997.
2) “Allah ki Mohabbat Bhari Pukar” (a lovely call from Allah), published in Quarterly Magazine 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol.1, issue 1, April-June, 1997
3) “Islam: Allah ki Ghulami” (Islam: slavery of Allah), published in Quarterly Magazine, 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol. 1, issue 3, October-December 1997.
4) “Deen Mein Tabdeeli Aor Us Ki Saza” (change in the religion and its punishment) published in Quarterly Magazine, 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol. 1, issue 3, October-December 1997.
5) “Allah Ki Barai Wa Kibriyai Aor Azmaishi Lamhat” (glorification of Allah and the trying times), published in Quarterly Magazine, 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol. 2, issue 4, January-March 1998.
6) “Allah Ki Kitab Se Ghaflat Ka Anjam” (the consequence of the oblivion to Allah’s book), published in Quarterly Magazine, 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol. 2, issue 5, April-June, 1998.
7) “Allah Haqiqi Badshah Aor Hakim” (Allah is the real king and the ruler), published in Quarterly Magazine, 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol. 2, issue 5, April-June, 1998.
8) “Islami Dawat-e-Jihad Aur Uski Bunyaden” (Islamic call for jihad and its bases), published in Quarterly Magazine, 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol. 2, issue 7, October-December, 1998.
9) “Allah-o-Akbar Ko Apni Zindagi Mein Utaryen” (emulate Allah-o-Akbar in your life), published in Monthly Magazine, 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol. 3, issue 9, April 1999.
10) “Muslim Aur Uski Haqiqi Jaddo Jahad Aur Koshish” (the true struggle and effort of Muslims) published in Monthly Magazine, 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol. 3, issue 10, May 1999.
11) “Mulk Key Khatarnak Tareen Dushman” (the most dangerous enemies of the country), published in Monthly Magazine, 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol. 3, issue 12-13, July-August 1999.
12) Hijrat Aur Jihad (Islamic migration and jihad), published in Monthly Magazine, 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol. 3, issue 12-13, July-August 1999.
13) “Tasleem Karo Keh Allah Hi Hakim Hai” (accept that Allah is the only ruler) published in Monthly Magazine, 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol. 3, issue 16, November, 1999.
14) “Kiya Yeh Shirk Nahin Hai?” (Is it not shirk?), published in Monthly Magazine, 'Allah ki Pukar', New Delhi, Vol. 3, issue 14, September 1999.
Since its beginning until today, this Islamic magazine ('Allah ki Pukar') has the widest circulation in the valley of Kashmir. It often derides other communities and declares Muslims of other denominations as Mushrik (infidel). The cultural feasts, celebrations and even the spiritual Islamic occasions like Shab-e-Barat (the night of forgiveness) are abhorred in its editorials. For instance, one editorial in 'Allah ki Pukar' titled “Shab-e-Barat Aur Uski Haqiqat” (the night of forgiveness and its truth) simply rejects the faith and practice of the mainstream Indian Muslims as synonymous with the Hindu worship. It is in full accordance with the notion of Islamic State that Maulana Maududi propounded in India.
In this sub-continent, he espoused an Islamic state “where the rights of non-Muslims would be limited and they would not be permitted to practice the faith, rituals of worship or social customs which fatally affect the public interest from the viewpoint of Islam”. Maududi laid out in his writings that “Jihad” would not recognise their (non-Muslims’) right to administer state affairs, because, their access to governance is an evil, and every evil must be eradicated by the Islamists by force and arms.
Anjem Choudary had planned his project of the Sharia for India in 2011, much later than the idea of Maududi was imparted to a larger section of the Indian Muslims and in January 2012, the website shariah4hind.com went live. At first, Choudary designed some areas in London as “Shariah-Controlled Zones” but when his extremist ideology was proscribed in the UK, he sought to bring it into India with ‘sharia4hind’.
In his press statement on January 2, 2012, he urged Indian Muslims to influence people in favour of Sharia and unite them to re-establish the Islamic Khilafa in India. Lured into this ideological influence, the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which is banned in India, organised nationwide Khilafat conferences to promote the idea of a world-wide caliphate. A few excerpts from the press statement of the Sharia For Hind reveal the ill-intended expansionist designs of Anjem Choudary in India:
The whole of India is, in fact, a Muslim land, the authority belongs to them and they should take it from the current ruling party to implement the Sharia. Instead of begging for rights from the Hindus, the Muslims in India must govern by the law of the creator Allah.
"In fact, it is an act of shirk [polytheism] to be ruled by other than what Allah has revealed or to ask another to do so (i.e. by voting for them)"….."There is no Islamic justification for the Deobandis or Barelvis (the two largest Muslim sects in India) to participate in the kufr (non-Islamic) electoral system to elect someone who will violate the sanctity of Allah by ruling according to man-made law. This is an act of apostasy from any Muslim which must be condemned."
Anjem Choudary on Kashmir
In his videos and statements, Anjem Choudary claimed that once Sharia is imposed in India, the Kashmir issue will be resolved. “Some of the many problems that a united Indian sub-continent will resolve are the troubles in Kashmir, the problem of Babri mosque, the discrimination in Gujarat, exploitation, and widespread bribery, the presence of foreign forces, public idolatry, the inhuman caste system, and bust of the capitalist economic model….”, he stated.
In his popular YouTube video which is now banned, he provoked the global Muslims about the plight of Muslims in Kashmir and in the rest of India, and dwelled on an ‘Islamic vision of India under the Sharia rule’. “The Sharia flag proclaiming La Ilaha Ill Allah (There is no god but Allah) will flutter over the Indian Parliament”, he averred.
It was quite identical to what he spoke on the American Sean Hannity TV: “Islamic flag will be flying on the White House soon”. The British counter-terrorism agency has spent almost 20 years in its bid to bring the radical Islamist preacher to the book. Let’s wait and watch what the Indian anti-terrorism agencies learn from this arrest.
The author is a scholar of Comparative Religion, Classical Arabic and Islamic sciences, cultural analyst and researcher in Media and Communication Studies. Views are personal. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org