As terror attacks in Brussels are raising the spectre of radicalisation of Muslim youths the world over, Muslim intellectuals and clerics in India are working to counter the narrative. In order to check the influence of terror groups like Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which some Indian youths were reported to have joined, these Muslim groups in the country have opened fronts to check the spread of ISIS’ rabid ideology.
More than 1,000 clerics from all over India have issued a strong fatwa (scholarly opinion) against views propagated by ISIS and similar groups. They have termed ISIS and other such groups as “anti-Islamic” and inhuman.
“It is evident from ISIS perpetrating atrocities, and then taking cover behind Islam to justify their heinous acts, that they are an outfit propped up by some evil forces to demonise Islam and its followers. In our fatwa, Islamic scholars have made it clear that since Quran has never permitted the use of force against women, older men and kids even during war, those killing innocents and naming Islam as the cause are evil forces. We want the United Nations to consider this as the opinion of Indian Muslims on ISIS and similar groups,” said Dr Abdul Rahim Anjaria, a Mumbai-based activist, who coaxed Islamic experts to issue the fatwa.
All leading Muslim outfits of the country were part of the said fatwa and it was welcomed by both the United Nations and the United States State Department.
In India, the security agencies have identified around 70 youths who are said to be influenced by ISIS. This number seems insignificant when compared to thousands of Europeans who have joined ISIS in the last three years. The maximum number of recruits is from Belgium, which faced major terror attacks this week.
According to journalist Shahid Siddiqi, it’s because of the resistance offered by Indian Muslims towards this radical ideology that ISIS has found few takers in India. “Indian Muslims have resisted radical outfits that have been active in our neighbourhood (Pakistan and Afghanistan). When they were unaffected by a radical pull in such a close proximity, they will not succumb to a distant threat (from Iraq and Syria) either,” said Siddiqi, whose weekly newspaper Nai Duniya keeps reporting about threats posed to Muslim societies by terror outfits like ISIS, Al Qaeda etc.
Leading Muslim seminaries like Darul Uloom Deoband and Darul Uloom Nadwa too have organised lectures to make students aware of the threats posed by radical outfits. “Our institution is purely for Islamic Studies and research in this field. Our seminary has played a legendary role in the freedom movement and against Muslim separatism (Pakistan movement). We are firm in our stand. Institutions like ours are actually a bulwark against militant tendencies as we prepare students for studies and deep research. Studious people don’t get attracted towards violence,” said Arif Usmani, a Darul Uloom Deoband official.
The most rigorous resistance to radicalism from Indian Muslims is visible in the cyberworld. Websites like newageislam.com, democracyinislam.com carry well reasoned and scholarly write-ups to challenge orthodox and radical interpretation of Islam as espoused by Muslim intellectuals like Abdul Wahab Najdi, Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, Syed Qutub, etc.
“The only moulvi Muslims must follow is Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who showed light to Muslims to shun the ways of the mullahs and enter the world rationality and knowledge. Sir Syed’s path is panacea to fight any problem of radicalism among Muslims of the Indian subcontinent,” said Professor Ariful Islam, who runs democracyinislam.com.
Similarly, Akhlaq Usmani, a Delhi-based expert on terrorism, said that Muslims must also demand that the books of radical intellectuals like Abdul Wahab and Maududi must be banned in India. “Controversial books of these radicals that talk for jihad (violent fight) for the establishment of exclusive Muslim rule and subjugation of non-Muslims should be totally banned in India. And the demand for this should come from Muslims, before the government takes such a step,” said Usmani.