is “not perfect” and so it must have
committed mistakes in the past, remarked an American Muslim at a seminar in the
national capital on the state of Muslims residing in world’s oldest democracy.
He was asked to comment on the role played by the US in turning Islam,
otherwise a religion of love and compassion and cherishing ‘mohabbat’ more than
anything else, into today’s “Radical Islam” – something more identified as an instrument
of Jehad. United
The question was not unfounded or based on simple conjectures.
To start with the
United States carried
out regime change in
in 1953 which led to radicalization in the country. Iran
History is witness that the CIA admitted in later stage that American establishment had hired Iranians to pose as communists and stage bombings to turn the country around politically.
Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski told CNN earlier this year that the United States “organized and supported” Osama Bin Ladan and other originators of Al Qaeda in the 1970s.
CIA director and Secretary of Defence Robert Gates confirmed in his memoir that the
backed the Mujahaeedin in the
Thus, the truth of the matter is the “biggest enemy” of the
bin Laden had left Saudi Arabia
to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan
invasion in 1979. As a consequence of this, by 1984-85, he was running a front
organization Maktab al-Khidamar – the MAK – which funneled money, arms and fighters
from the “outside world” into the Afghan war. Moscow
This is about the past. In the present time, the
United States has had many faces before the
world about its relationship with Muslims both residing in and
outside. In 2009, that is exactly 8 years after 9/11 disaster, the US president
Barack Obama said in Cairo, Egypt, “Let there be no doubt, Islam is a part of
The seminar was addressed by the American Muslims or Muslims from other countries now settled in
As a section of skeptical audience put it, the effort was to “whitewash” the
American image – at least partly. America
One panelist and a woman was born closer home, Mumbai and had migrated with her parents at the age of 7.
She and other shared stories about American Muslims and other Americans’ behaviour in the neighbourhood especially after the 9/11 Frankenstein’s monster-type disaster.
“Instead of encountering hostility from the wider community, we found that half of the people at the mosque often are Americans of other faiths who come to express support and solidarity,” said another. These could be true. But for many Indians among the audience, the story was almost similar as after such communal holocaust a section of people do try to spread the message of sanity and compassion. Pluralism is also much cherished a norm in
India like the over religious
divide or prejudice. US
Now, coming back to Indian polity for a while, one does have the cases of 1984 anti-Sikh riot and 2002 anti-Muslim mayhem of Gujarat on the backdrop.
The political reality also is: in both the instances the political impact has been immense. In 1985, Rajiv Gandhi stormed to power inheriting the throne from his slain mother Indira Gandgi with record 400-plus members in Lok Sabha; and the ‘2014 hero in Indian politics’ is Narendra Modi, a chief protagonist as chief minister of polarized
Let us revert back to the issue at hand, “Muslims in
general refrain both from the panelists and the America US
establishment is: the Muslim Americans are the most ethnically diverse faith
community in .
For instance, we are told time and again in the media that American Muslims not
only help their country (that is the America US)
through professions but also donate time and money to help ’s
But how does one really diagnose emergence of a fundamentalist Islam in the western world, say unlike
where the Muslims did not have to confront traditional rivals like Hindus? India
Perhaps in European perspective, the pragmatic approach to religion was ‘traditionalist Islam’ and that offered Muslims a “stable and satisfying” life. Notably, this traditionalist approach to Islam still rules the roost in remote Muslim countries such as
Morocco and . Yemen
But with the advent of 18th century and an assertive –western world-European-civilization, perhaps the “traditionalist Islam” began to lose its hold. The European expansion in the fag end of 18th century caused a decline in the power and wealth of the Muslim world.
Muslims came face to face with their poverty and what was also dished out by western intellectuals especially as ‘cultural backwardness’.
too, such thinking had dawned for quite sometime and thus many Hindus in India and Muslims in the west responded by
looking to Europe for “new ideas and methods”.
The Hindu society benefited by few instances like it could do away with Sati system and also encourage girl-child education and also education in English in general. But the traditionalist virtues were eroded. This was also the case with the school of thought that championed the cause of traditionalist Islam. Thus, in the west and partly in the Arab world too, three faces of Islam came to the fore: the moderate or the one allowing secularism, the reformism and the fundamentalism or radical Islam championing Jehad and even terror.
Notwithstanding the American role in 1970s, it is also a fact that the ‘fundamentalist’ face of Islam actually existed in some parts since the seventh century. According to some historians, it gained political legitimacy in some parts in the 1920s. Thus, the 1970s and beyond led to the rise of ‘fundamentalism’. The experience worldwide and also in
was contrary to Muslim intellectuals appetite for ‘modernization and
secularism’, the Muslim masses have a greater tendency to absorb the ‘radical
Islam’. This also had resulted in the ironical twist in Indian history in the
context of Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s initial commitment for a Hindu-Muslim unity
and how he partitioned America . India
The general experience is the Muslim masses either in
or in Indian sub-continent
preferred to “preserve accustomed ways and radical face” as the instrument to
fend off European or Hindu influences and practices. In America , Akbar
Hashemi-Rafsanjani, speaker of the Iranian parliament, had stated famously what
is on every Muslim fundamentalist's mind: "Islam is important because it
is capable of defeating Western culture." Iran
The argument would sell even in
when Muslims are given a call
to fight “majority Hindus or kafirs”. Similarly, such a call has come from Al
Qaeda in recent times. India
But in the ultimate analysis, one is touched by the remarks of an American panelist, who told the seminar rather emphatically: “What I love about
is that as Muslims and non-Muslims we at least agree that we remain united in
facing the problems and challenges together”. This could save America America and we in too, need to emulate this
simple test of life. India