By K.N. Pandita
Nearly a month ago, I sent to Daily Excelsior an article for publication. It was titled ‘Ghazavatu’l-Hind: A matter of Faith”. I had cited various ahadith (plural of hadith) meaning traditions, from the history of Islam that speak about Muslims waging holy war on Hind. Included in the list of great traditionalists (mohaddhis) was Imam Bukhari whose work al-Sahih is considered the most authentic on the subject and records more than 4000 traditions attributed to the Holy Prophet. The Daily Excelsior, a stickler to journalist ethos, declined to publish it; I chuckled. But International Affairs of London did publish it in full. Here is the web site: http://www.ia-forum.org/Content/ViewInternalDocument.cfm?ContentID=8091
Now Ayman al Zawahari, the lieutenant of late Osama, has openly announced the scripturally ordained Indian mission for his organization al-Qaeda. He has moved beyond India — into Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and also Kashmir. In the days of the Holy Prophet all these countries were part of the region known to Arabs as al-Hind. Those living in it were Hindi in Arab lexicon. “Hindi hain ham watanhain Hindostan hamara” sings the bard.
Earlier campaigns of various Khuasanians do no tpass for ghazvatu’l-hind because they were all looters or empire builders. That is not ghazava; ghazava means war for Islamization not for looting the riches and collecting precious diamonds like Kohi Nur. Naturally, Al Zawahari’s call has a different and classical meaning.
There has been at least a millennia old conflict within Islamic fold—between the radicals and the liberals starting with the Ismaili movement towards the end of the 10th century A.D. But with the rise of ISSI in 2014, the radical Islamists have split vertically into ultra-radicals and ultra-X radicals, the Osamites and Baghdadites.
They have many things in common. (a) Destination > Islamic Caliphate (b) Methodology > al jhad (c) shahadat > martyrdom. But there are areas of difference also such as (a) war tactics > Osamites for hit and run while Baghdadites for open frontal attack (b) recruitment > Osamites by ethno-linguistic identity and Baghdadiites by Islamic religious fervour (c) Targets > pro-American elements for Osamites whereas first Shia and then others for Baghdadiites, (d)
We see that while in essence the two groups converge on the same ultimate destination, they are locked in grim battle for individual achievement and assertion. Aiman al Zawahari has openly castigated the ISSI for its localized ambitions.
Now that Zawahiri is preparing his Indian ghazava, the foremost reaction should come from the Indian Muslim leadership. It has to decide its position vis-à-vis the new developing situation. Aiman has drawn the lines. He wants Islamic flag to flutter over India because the British had wrested the rule from the Mughals and with their withdrawal, India has to be restored to the Muslims.
If one goes by this logic, what about the Muslims having wrested power from indigenous Hindu rulers including Kashmir? Muslims have to answer this question: ‘Are you with the ghazavatu’l-hind of Zawahari and his gunmen or not?’ Obviously, Indian Muslims having accepted democratic and secular dispensation as fair and rationalist political arrangement in comparison to the fate befallen to the Muslim homeland created out of two nations theory.
As far as the rest of Indians are concerned, they will fight the ghazavites tooth and nail. There are no two opinions about it. In that case entire Indian nation will be transformed into resisting Armageddon.
The question is why al Qaeda has now turned its face towards India? Let us answer this interesting question. What Zawahari has said in his televised interview is what the ISI is constrained to convey to him. Pakistan is on the brink of disaster. The times when US and its allies provided her crutches are gone.
A civil war is in the offing in Pakistan. Contradictions are deepening. Upswingin Islamic radicalism and its Frankenstein, terrorist outfits sustained by petro dollar boty from theGulf, catastrophic sectarian clashes, Army struggling to maintain its grip on the affairs of the State and democratic ideologues proving red rag to the ambitious Generals —- this is the current scenario in that country.
The tantrum of Zawahari is aimed at bringing more pressure on the government in Islamabad. ISI smells US re-visiting its India-Pacific policy. Induction of Modi government is a clear indication of phenomenal change in the thinking of Indian nation about her security and defence concerns. An attempt at destabilizing India’s democratic and secular structure is actually meant to deal a hard blow to the visionaries of democracy in Pakistan. If public protest of massive scale fails to oust the elected Prime Minister, then accelerating anti-India tirade by inciting religious zealotry among Indian Muslims will contain Nawaz Sharif in his Indo-Pak bonhomie.
Al-Zawaharis plan of creating al-Qaeda network among Indian Muslims is nothing new. ISI has been at work for many years and the Bhatkal brothers are basking under the patronage of Al-Qaeda-ISI combine at some hideout in Pakistan. Parameters of the network are already known to Indian sleuths.
We believe that by and large Indian Muslims are cognizant of the advantages that have accrued to them from the liberal democratic and secular policy of the government of India. We also know that occasional statements with communal tinge coming from sections of Muslim leadership in India, is essentially meant to fortify their pre-eminent social status against rising ultra nationalist tendency among youth leadership in the community rather than provoke any serious anti-national propensity. To that extent this irritant can be and should be accommodated.
Indian Muslims need to come out of fear psychosis spread by externally sponsored radicalism. They have to understand that the time has come when they must stand up to what has made them prisoner of retardation and backwardness. This has to be their independent thinking and they do not need the crutches by any political party.
A word of caution has to be said though reluctantly. Indian Muslims have done great disservice to their community by succumbing to the fear psychosis created inthem by a party that ruled long in post independence period. There is no dearth of their pseudo-sympathizers within the country. There are still people in this country who would dine with secessionists and dance with separatists only to demonstrate that they are more loyal than the king. Those who approached their top leadership to make an appeal for voting a particular party, but at the end of the day lost the elections miserably, will not hold back their unsolicited largesse even if they are made to rub their nose in the dust.
The threat from al-Qaeda leadership is a challenge to the Indian Muslims to decide their role. One expects them to come out with befitting rejoinder to Al-Zawahari.