By K.N. Pandita
In an article titled Ghazavatu’l-Hind: A Matter of Faith published elsewhere, I had cited various ahadith (Arabic plural of hadith meaning traditions come down by word of mouth) handed down by Arab theologians or historians that speak about Muslims enjoined by faith to wage holy war for the conquest of al Hind – India.
Ayman al Zawahari, the lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, has, in recent past, broadcast the scripturally ordained Indian mission of his organization al-Qaeda. He professed to move beyond India— into Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Kashmir in South Asian region. Traditional Muslim historians clubbed all these countries as part of the region known to Arabs as al-Hind, and those living there were called Hindi in Arabic lexicon.
Zawahari, hiding somewhere in Pakistan, issued a statement that al-Qaeda would hoist Islamic flag over Hind. This gives a lie to the Pakistani claim that she would not allow terrorists to use her soil against India. Incidentally, at one time, they had also denied presence of Osma in Pakistan.
Various campaigns of Muslim warlords from the region of Kherson and Turkistan in medieval times do not pass for ghazavatu’l-Hind because they were for loot, killing and rapine: at the best they aimed at building a monarchical empire and cared less for Islamizing the conquered territories, which is the precise objective of ghazatu’l-Hind. They carried home riches like the famous diamond Koh-I-Noor and diamond studded throne Takht-i-Tawoos of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Al Zawahari call has a different meaning.
The conflict between the radicals and liberals within the Islamic fold is at least millennia old, starting with the rise of Ismaili movement towards the beginning of the 10th century A.D. But with the rise of ISSI in 2014, the radical Islamists have split vertically into ultra radicals (Wahhabis and Salafis) and ultra-X radicals (Osamites and Baghdadis).
Nevertheless, they have many things in common: (a) destination > Islamic Caliphate, (b) methodology > al jihad, (c) orientation > martyrdom (shahadat). But there are areas of difference also like: (a) fighting tactics > Osamites for hit and run but Baghdadiites for open frontal attack, (b) recruitment > Osamites by ethno-linguistic paradigm and Baghdadiites by absolute religious fervour (c) targets > pro-American elements for Osamites but for Baghdadiites first Shia and then other religious denominations.
While in essence the two groups converge on the same ultimate destination, yet they are locked in grim battle for individual achievement and assertion of Islamic supremacy. Ayman al Zawahari has openly castigated the ISSI for its localized agenda.
Now that Zawahari is preparing his Indian ghazava (campaign), first reaction is expected from Indian Muslim leadership because India is the second largest home to the Muslim community in the world. It has to clarify its position vies-a-vies Zawahari plan of Islamic Caliphate. He pontificates that after the withdrawal of the British, India should be restored to the Muslims from who the Indian Empire was wrested.
If this is the logic, what about the Muslims who wrested power from indigenous Hindu rulers in India including Kashmir? What about Iran where Arab conquerors wrested power from the Sassanian monarchs of Zoroastrian faith in mid 7th century A.D?
The question which Indian Muslim will be asked to answer is this: Are you with Zawahari’s ghazavatu’l-Hind mission or not? It means that Indian Muslims will have to evaluate Indian political arrangement of secular democracy with Muslim homeland created under the ideology of two-nation theory.
As far as the rest of Indians are concerned they will fight the ghazavites tooth and nail as resistant Armageddon.
The question is why al-Qaeda would target India? What Zawahari has said in his televised interview is drawn from the brief he has from Pakistani intelligence agency ISI. In changed scenario, the US has reservations in providing crutches to the crumbling state of Pakistan as she has been doing in the past.
In Pakistan contradictions are deepening; Upswing in Islamic radicalism has the potential to of turning into Frankenstein; terrorist outfits sustained by petro-dollar booty from Gulf States, catastrophic sectarian clashes, army’s lust for authoritarian power and democratic urges receiving rough treatment — this is the scenario in Pakistan of today.
Zawahari’s tantrum is bringing more pressures on the government in Islamabad. ISI smells the US reviving her India-Pacific policy. Induction of Modi government in New Delhi is an indication of phenomenal change in the thinking of Indian nation about country’s security and defence concerns. Attempts of destabilizing India’s democratic and secular structure is actually meant to deal a hard blow to the visionaries of democracy in Pakistan
If massive public protest fails to oust the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan then accelerating anti-India tirade by inciting religious frenzy among Indian Muslims will contain Nawaz Sharif in his Indo-Pak bonhomie.
Zawahari’s threatening that he will create al-Qaeda network among Indian Muslims is nothing new. ISI has been at this work for years at end. Bhatkal brothers are basking under the patronage of Al-Qaeda-ISI combine at some unrevealed hideout in Pakistan.
We believe that, by and large, Indian Muslims are cognizant of the advantages that have accrued to them from liberal democratic and secular policy of the Indian government. We also know that occasional statements with communal tinge coming from sections of Muslim leadership in India are essentially meant to fortify their pre-eminent community relating to social status against rising ultra nationalist tendency among youth leadership in the community rather than provoking any serious anti-national propensity. To that extent this irritant has to be accommodated.
Indian Muslims need to come out of fear psychosis spread by externally sponsored radicalism. They have to understand that time has come when they must stand up to what has made them prisoners of retardation and backwardness. This has to be their independent thinking and they do not need the crutches of 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 in them deliberately by political structure of post-independence India.
There is no dearth of their pseudo-sympathizers within the country. There are still people in this country that would drink with secessionist and dine with separatists only to demonstrate that they are more loyal than the king.
Those who approached their top ecclesiastical epicentre to appeal to the people of the community to vote for a particular political party, but lost the contest at the end of the day, will not hold back their unsolicited largesse even if they are made to rub their noses in the dust.
The threat from al-Qaeda leadership is a challenge to the Indian Muslims to decide their role. Their rejoinder to Zawahari is expected to be clear and unambiguous. It has already come albeit feebly; it needs to be articulated robustly.