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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)

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Radical Islam: Terror is its tool A.K. Verma

Time has come for the unspoken to be spoken. Radical Islam is at war with India.

The objectives of the war are to destroy India as a nation, as a people, as a culture and as a multifaced society and replace it with a phenomenon which, starting as an enclave in Saudi Arabia in the 7th century has already enveloped a good part of the globe.

Its spread so far is a proof of its inherent strength. In its historical march to its present expanse, it has destroyed empires, countries, religions, culture and people. It is continuing to make inroads into territories where it was unknown till a little while ago. Those who fail to comprehend its dynamics do so at their own peril.

Radical Islam is what Prophet Mohammed is believed to have given to the citizens of Medina after his flight from Mecca. He outlined an ideology, couched in religious terms, from which an escape was next to impossible. The ideology offered no accommodation except on its terms, ruled out all compromises, and demanded an allegiance any violation of which was declared blasphemous, inviting instantaneous annihilation.

As radical Islam spread far and wide beyond Mecca and Medina, often in the shadow of the sword, it did encounter powerful ideas which sometimes mellowed it and sometimes led to the emergence of new sprouts. Sufi Islam was one such product which toned down the hard features of the original and introduced new concepts. Sufi Islam conditioned the Islamic mindset to acceptance of co-existence with other cultures and religions. Although principally it was radical Islam which made its first forays into India in the middle and early mid centuries, the one that settled down was not so radical. Its core got impacted by Hindu philosophy, bhakti movements and new strains within it such as Deen-e-Ilahi of Akbar. The result was a broad based coexistence of Islam with all religions of India.

The purists were not amused by what they saw as contamination of Islam. Their brigade was led by the contemporary Ulemas. The one who struck an abiding blow for radical Islam was Shah Waliullah (1703-62), celebrated in history as a Muslim reformer or a hardliner. Waliullah held that the essence of the scriptures i.e. Koran, Sunnah and Hadith could not be diluted and the purpose of Islam must remain synchronous with the Prophet’s vision. Two generations later, Waliullah’s followers founded the Deoband seminary of theology. The seminary was not just a Madrassah for religious teachings. Its instructions were inspired by a larger purpose of avenging the1857 defeat by the British of the Muslim empire. The seminary was the first Mujahid enterprise in the country. Its themes remained the same throughout later history, camouflaged cleverly through theological dissertations, disseminated through a network of Madrassahs which quickly sprang into existence, primarily in Muslim heartlands of India. Unrestrained and uninterrupted supply of Wahabi funds from foreign sources has provided oxygen to their activities and to their take on Islam.

Over time this school and its indoctrinations have had a legendary influence over the Muslim world. The Taliban of Afghanistan is the product of Deoband thinking as it evolved in Pakistan after partition. The Wahabis and the Salaifis of Saudi Arabia can be counted as clones of the Talibanised mindset.

Osama bin Laden gave radical Islam another push by crafting the International Islamic Front in 1998. SIMI and IM are the present day practitioners of Waliullah’s mantra.

Al Qaeda and five extremist organizations from Pakistan like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahiddeen and Hizbul-e-Jihad-e-Islami, among others from other Islamic countries, became the founding members of the Front, with Christian and Jews as its targets. Its ideology spawned a Pan Islamic thrust. It emphasized that a Muslim’s first loyalty was to his creed, not his nation; any means of violence could be employed including weapons of mass destruction to achieve political and other aims; and belonging to one Ummah a Muslim could participate in any struggle worldwide where Islam or its believers were being victimized. With this ideology, drawn from scriptures, a Muslim was freed from the need of having any further organizational guidance from the Front. The result was that many Muslim groups in many parts of the world, started thinking and acting on identical lines. There was an upsurge in fundamentalism world wide and of terror. Later the list of enemies was expanded to include Hindus i.e. India.

The Pakistani members of the Front, guided by ISI of Pakistan, had narrower aims, India, though they were also used by ISI to support Pan Islamist ambitions of Pakistan. Their imprints were found in all major sectors of Islamic upheaval such as Bosnia, Chechnya, Xingjian, Philippines etc.

Today, the heightened profile of radical Islam the world over is giving sleepless nights to many Governments including some in the Islamic world. Many of these Govts believe that the Islamists will sooner or later be able to lay their hands on a nuclear device, causing mass destruction or disorder somewhere.

Rise of radical Islam has placed a Muslim in a western country in a deep predicament. While he cannot give up his Islamic identity, he does not quite understand how to manage his other multiple identities created by his citizenship, education and existence in multi culturist societies. Secularism and alternate systems of governance are theologically unacceptable in the Muslim scriptures. A reformist Muslim thus, becomes an anathema to Islam. Without reforms, the hard dogmas will continue to rule the Muslim mind and feed the hatred and animosity on which radical Islam thrives. This amounts to a no win situation: there will always remain a class of people, having no respect for the laws and others.

This has caused some to leave the pale of Islam and come out publicly against the contradictions of Islam and its outright rejection of values which are now universal in vast parts of the world. Two such individuals Dr. Wafa Sultana of LA, USA, and Ms.. Irshad Manjhi of Canada have almost become either hate figures or examples of revolutionary bold articulation. They are deeply reviled in Muslim circles. Prof. Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss Muslim who teaches religion at Oxford, constitutes a different category, one while retaining the Muslim identity is struggling for a balance between this identity and of the integrated society in which he and many like him live. Such people are looking for peace within but are continually tormented by the world they have been eager to leave. Their efforts to fashion new avenues of discourses appear quite unwelcome to the people whom they want to address.

This is a problem with which India is not unfamiliar. Scriptures lay down that Islam and the Prophet are not open to discussion. Prophet also remains the most admired individual for a large number of his followers. For such people no debate can ever open up whether Islam should become more inclusive. Essentially, this leads to an uneasy co-existence though at the surface a certain smoothness may prevail, based on a superficial give and take.

As radical Islam races ahead aided by incentives from across the border and fueled by like minded activities elsewhere, the Indian state seems to be at a loss to decide how to deal with it. Contrary voices are rising from within the Government. Division of powers between the Centre and the States are adding to the difficulties, preventing firm policy and action. But time and tide wait for no one. There is a perception in some quarters that the nation is sliding towards anarchy. On good authority it can be said that one responsible Muslim voice within the portals of governance, holds the view that India is on its way to a civil war which will be fought on every street and in every village and town.

We are living in complex times. Rising awareness, expectations and education are making the complexities even more confounded. Solutions cannot be found by shoving the problems under the carpet. These problems need to be identified upfront and dealt with squarely but with prudence, compassion and understanding.

Further polarizations must be prevented as levels touch the danger mark. It is unusual to see a Vice Chancellor jump to promise legal aid to two of his students, charged with not a campus or institution related crime but with terror causing deaths. How many times has the VC come forwards in the past when his students have got to the wrong side of law? And he is not alone in disbelieving the facts of the terror incident of September 13th at New Delhi. Large segments of population living in the area and some leaders of the community have expressed distrust of the police motivation and investigation. A more stringent anti-terror law or creation of federal investigation agency is not an adequate antidote to the growing deeper depths of mistrust and despair. Terrorism must be combated at the ideological level. The battle has to be against hatred and the sustaining belief system. The real enemy exists not in the physical but in the metaphysical realm of dogmas that in turn are subject to mis-interpretations.

Radical Islam and terror will continue to feed each other unless the leaders of the society get down to the business of unraveling what conditions a rational and educated mind to become irrational. There is no moment to be lost to abort the advent of the suicide bomber or the truck bomb.

The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.

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