One of the most welcome reports emanating from Indian religious scholars in the wake of Easter Sunday attack in Sri Lanka is the note of condemnation from Grand Mufti and newly appointed Chief Qazi of India Muhammad Asjad Raza Khan ‘Barelvi.’ He has called for ideological battle against terrorists’ ideological narratives.
In a letter addressed to President Maithripala Sirisena, the Grand Mufti of the Bareilly Sharif Dargah in the state of Uttar Pradesh expressed his sadness and condemned the merciless act of terrorism. “I am deeply saddened by the news about the inhumane and heartless acts of terrorism that have recently occurred in Sri Lanka. It further adds to my sadness that investigation has revealed that the perpetrators were nominal Muslims”, he said.
As usual mainstream Muslims around the world condemn terrorist attacks in the same way. The most striking feature of the letter, however, is that it talked about the Muslims’ ability to win the war against terrorism by refuting extremist ideologies.
“The intellectual battle can only be won by promoting the true Muslim scholars known as ‘Sufi’ all over the world and recognized as ‘Barelvi’ in the Sub-continent, who can counter their extremist ideologies and their distortions of the classical Islamic texts which include the Quran and Traditions of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad peace and blessings upon him”, the Grand Mufti said.
This is indeed a welcome letter. Four years ago (April 20, 2015), his father and spiritual mentor Hazrat Akhtar Raza Khan known as “Tajush Sharia” issued a fatwa against ISIS and its affiliated terrorist groups. This anti-terror fatwa inspired influential Sunni-Sufi Barelvi Muftis around India. During annual Urs-e-Razvi, according to Times of India report dated Dec 09 2015, “70,000 clerics issued fatwa against terrorism, 15 Lakh Muslims supported it”. Following in the footsteps of his father, the Grand Mufti Asjad Raza Khan seeks to take the same initiatives in countering terrorism, but this time he needs to do it in a more solid way for the reasons mentioned below.
The slain militant in Kashmir Eisa Fazili who was reportedly working for ISIS, reprimanded all anti-terror Fatwas issued by Indian Ulema. In a video that went viral on social media, Fazili asked why the Ulema refused to issue a fatwa for jihad against “non-Muslim oppressors”. While castigating several anti-terror Fatwas issued by Ulema of all nearly sects and schools of Islam in India, Eisa Fazili warned Indian Ulema, “One day these Ulema have to show their faces to Allah who will punish them for failing in their duties to give a call for Jihad fi Sabilillah (armed struggle in the path of Allah)”.Fazili’s warning cannot change the mind of Ulema but this might encourage some gullible youngsters to blow themselves up anywhere, anytime.
Jamaat-e-Islami inspired outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) which repeatedly propagates terror narratives to brainwash the Muslim youth through its websites, magazines and e-papers reportedly planned Pulwama terror attack. In its terrorist Urdu mouthpiece Haftroza Al-Qalam JeM says,
Translation; O the people who declare Jihad the state’s responsibility and take rest! Read again the Quranic verses related to Jihad, so that you may save your faith” (alqalamonline.com/index.php/news/11420-680-kashmir-azadi-ka-zariya)
This aforementioned terror narrative is directed to Indian Ulema who declare that Jihad is the responsibility of the state. This came in response to the Indian Ulema who had issued anti-terror Fatwas including the fatwa issued by a Barelwi cleric Mufti Salim Noori who even went to the extent of declaring the terrorists like Hafiz Saeed beyond the pale of Islam. The point commonly enshrined in the anti-terror Fatwas was that Jihad is the responsibility of state and not that of any individuals or groups and that anyone who takes the law in hand should be prosecuted.
The terror narrative asks Indian Ulema to save their faith by studying again the Quranic verses related to Jihad. This narrative implies that if Indian Ulema do not stop issuing anti-terror Fatwas, they will be losing their faith. Such terror narratives, indeed, have nothing to do with Islam, however there is still possibility of brainwashing the youth. The terror outfits repeatedly issue their narratives, but we mainstream Muslims issue words of condemnation only when some big events of terrorism take place. With due respect, I would like to request the Grand Mufti and his team to repeatedly defend their anti-terror Fatwas in a more candid way.
Dr. Tahirul Qadri also issued a 600-page fatwa against terrorism, but his fatwa has not touched upon the usual narratives that the terror outfits are actually using in order to brainwash the gullible and naive Muslims, for example, the contextual war-related Quranic verses and Ahadith that are being misinterpreted.
Tellingly, even the ‘Salafi’ Ulema and muftis in India issued anti-terror Fatwas; which came as an utter surprise. This is a good sign towards reformation, however these Fatwas fail to challenge the theological narratives of global Islamists and Jihadists associated with Salafi-Wahhabism. The Indian ‘Salafi’ Ulema must disassociate themselves from the founders of Wahhabism which inspired global jihadist groups, such as ‘Al-Qaeda’ and ‘ISIS’.
Other Serious Questions Which Need Be Dealt With Are;
We are living in the age of Darul Ahd where people of different religions and cultures want to coexist peacefully. Then how come the terror outfits apply the narratives of ‘Darul Harb’ vs. ‘Darul Islam’? Is Patriotism (Hubbul Watani) forbidden, as Syed Qutb in his book of tafsir “Fi Zilal al-Quran” averred? Syed Qutb used the term Jahiliyya 1740 times in this book and did Takfir of the common Muslims who wilfully live in democratic countries which he termed ‘Jahiliyya state’. (Sayyid Qutb’s Concept of Jahiliyyah That Produced Islamist Extremists to Attack Mainstream Muslims)
Following in the footsteps of Syed Maududi, Syed Qutb established the concept of Hakimiyyah, as a result of wrong understanding of the Divine statement “Whoever does not judge with what Allah has revealed; those are the infidels” (Surah Maidah:44)”, From this verse, Sayyid Qutb deduced the meaning that the person who does not implement the Islamic Laws is a Kafir, even though he believes in the creed of righteousness of Islamic laws based on the Divine revelation and even though he is unable to implement them for any reason whatsoever. (The Concept of God’s Sovereignty (Hakimiyyah): Extremist Islamists Vs Mainstream Muslims)
More significantly, after losing the territorial losses in the Middle East, ISIS terror group, through its Amaq News Agency, has claimed to have established a new “province” (Wilayah of Hindi) in India. ISIS sees India as a “lost Islamic space” and has written in its magazines ‘Dabiq’ and ‘Rumiyah’ on how to regain the “lost glory of Islam” in India. In this tumultuous time, the Grand Mufti and other Islamic scholars must protect Muslim youths from being radicalized by caliphate narratives of ISIS and do a sharp rebuttal to these narratives.
Similarly the terror outfits are using the narratives like ‘Darul Kufr’, ‘Darul Islam’, ‘Al-Wala wal Bara’, ‘Jihad’, ‘apostasy’, ‘Isthishhad’, ‘Hijrat’, ‘Ghazwa-e-Hind’, ‘victimhood’ etc. to justify their nefarious acts of terrorism. Yes indeed, the terror outfits are misrepresenting classical Islamic texts which are contextual and confined to an era different from ours. The problem with us is that we simply deny our association with them and become influential only for our followers, while leaving a minority section of the gullible Muslims who do not belong to our Sunni-Sufi-Barevli groups and who do not have good understanding of such classical texts and terms and thereby they are likely to be brainwashed by the terrorist outfits. Other than being confined to our followers, we should be more influential so that not a single man in our community can be brainwashed.
The Grand Mufti stated that “the perpetrators of Easter Sunday carnage are not Muslims no matter how much they think or claim they are and that there is no place in Islam for such inhumane and evil acts they have committed.”
Indeed the perpetrators of terrorist attacks are not Musalman because their acts are not Musalmani. Muslims have been defined in a very beautiful Hadith as ones “from whose tongue and hands, others are safe”.
“With the authority given to me in trust as the Chief Justice of the Muslims in India and the leader of millions of Muslims all over the world, there is no place in Islam for cowards who take the lives of innocent animals let alone a human being. It is a known fact that the extremist and radical ideology of these terrorists stems from a minority sect of the many sects of the Wahhabi movement. These are extremists who believe that anyone who does not agree with them is an enemy and should be killed. This includes all Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I call all governments of the world and proscribe any movement that promotes this extremist and radical ideology of the Wahhabi movement in their country. I am certain that I speak on behalf of more than ninety nine percent of the Muslim world, we do not have any sympathy with these extremists and we do not regard them as Muslims but rather the helpers of Satan” the Grand Mufti Asjad Raza Khan said.
There is no denying the fact that all terrorist outfits belong to Wahhabism and whoever is a non-Wahhabi Muslim is liable to be killed, in accordance with them. It is the non-Wahhabi Muslims and non-Muslims who have to bear the brunt of terrorist attacks. Therefore, all should be equally united to fight against terrorism. The governments of the world should do all their possible efforts to eliminate any movement that promotes terrorism. Above all, it is the responsibility of religious guides to participate in the effective process of de-radicalization, as all the Islamist terror activities are being committed in the name of Islam.
The Grand Mufti further said, “These extremists, for many years, have preyed on vulnerable and grieving young people and radicalized them to such an extent that they are ready to blow themselves up and take innocent lives with them. This is not only a physical battle but an intellectual and psychological battle with their extremist ideology”
We Muslims hope that the Grand Mufti and his team of expert Muftis come forward to practically refute ‘Islamist’ terror narratives point by point with solid and authentic evidence supported by the Quran and Sunnah. More significantly they should refute the terrorist mouthpieces, such as ‘Dabiq’, ‘Rumiyah’, ‘alQalamonline.com’, etc. We thereby request them to get all their counter-terror narratives published online to make it reach among greater number of audience, especially the gullible Muslim youths and even the educated Muslims with lack of religious literacy who are likely to fall prey to spate of radicalization.
By- Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar), with a Sufi-Sunni background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. He has also done B.A (Hons.) in Arabic, M.A. in Arabic and M.A in English from JMI, New Delhi. He is Interested in Islamic Sciences; Theology, Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Hadith and Islamic mysticism (Tasawwuf).