Perhaps then the world will also realize that the most aggrieved victims of Islamist terror have been Muslims themselves
April 24, 2016, 1:44 am
Our discourse in the aftermath of every Islamist terror attack has a predictable pattern. After the initial shock and outrage, but before the final casualty figures are in, #TerrorismHasNoReligion starts trending across social media platforms. Islamic scriptures are quoted and tweeted by thousands of well meaning moderate Muslims and secular non-Muslims. Everyone who quotes 5:32, often forgets to read 5:33 with it.
Hashtag empathy — #PrayFor — changes from Peshawar to Paris, Brussels to Lahore; the hypocritical apologia of theology remains the same. If a devout Muslim gives a part of his earnings to the poor, we will correctly attribute his altruism to one of the five pillars of Islam. However, when another devout believer “smites the neck of an infidel”, it has “nothing to do with religion”.
Before you say that the Taliban and ISIS have nothing to do with Islam, but are a product of Western foreign policy and marginalisation, at least read the scriptures that these terror groups quote. There are calls for the murder of infidels, idol worshipers and apostates, where Muslims are discouraged from taking "Jews and Christians for friends". I quote Pickthall and Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s translations because the Ulemas recommend these. You may pick up any author you like. The consistent theme of pitting believers against non-believers recurring throughout is impossible to dismiss by the "varying interpretations" defense.
Yet, political pundits and apologists in the liberal media insist the blame lies squarely on western imperialism. By denying that the problem is rooted in religious ideology we ironically fail the very Muslims we wish to protect. For in the absence of a sound liberal perspective, the right-wing narrative replete with anti-Muslim bigotry hijacks the discourse on terrorism. By refusing to call out the spade i.e. religious ideology, western Leftists leave the door wide open for the likes of Trump to cash in on the insecurities of the masses.
This pathological denialism has infected Leftists in India as well. Those who admit that Hindu texts such as Manusmriti have inspired centuries of terror unleashed by caste Hindus on Dalits, will shy away from accepting the Quran and Hadiths’ influence on Islamists. When Hindu right-wing lynch mobs murder beef-eaters in defense of the ’holy cow’, Leftists correctly call it Hindutva fascism. However, an Islamist terror attack is said to have ’nothing to do with Islam’. This doublespeak has only helped Hindutva outfits gain political points among the conservative Hindu base, in the same way Trump has done with xenophobic republicans.
The solution lies in changing our myopic definition of ’Islamist terrorism’. In our current discourse, we typecast a terrorist as a Muslim of middle eastern descent who detonates an explosive laden vest in a European air terminal, or turns a Kalashnikov on hapless diners in a Parisian Cafe. Divinely inspired terror goes way beyond these sporadic acts of violence. Genitally mutilating over 125 million women, treating half the population of the Ummah as commodities, shackling their sexuality to a 7th century ethos of clan honour, forced modesty, allowing them only half their inheritance and half a testimony as compared to a man’s, should all be considered terror tactics. This form of terror predates the first imperialist troops on Arabian soil by centuries. The spontaneous lynching of Farkhunda by a religious mob outside an Afghan mosque is also an act of terror, one that would be difficult to rationalize as a reaction to George Bush’s misadventures. Rokhshana, Noor Maleki and thousands of other women murdered in defense of ’honour’ every year are also victims of terrorism; terror that is inspired by a religious ideology that is intensely neurotic about female sexuality. Though honour killings are not exclusively an Islamic problem (it plagues Hindus as well), it is most rampant in Muslim societies. Can Leftists attribute such depravity to colonialism as well?
This March, right-wing politicians and Mullahs in democratic Pakistan stood in unison to veto a bill outlawing child marriage, for calling child-marriage illegal would be ’blasphemous and “Un-Islamic”; thus condemning millions of minors to be raped by way of wedlock in a society that has one of the worst track records on forced marriages. When teenage kids were gunned down in a Peshawar school back in 2014, the Taliban claimed they were enemy combatants; citing a Hadith which decrees that teenagers having pubic hair must be considered as such. Can apologists like Tariq Ramadan and Mehdi Hassan attribute these acts to ‘marginalisation’?
Chopping off extremities for petty crimes, stoning rape victims as "adulteresses’’, persecuting homosexuals and apostates, death for blasphemy, murder of Shias, Ahmadis and other Muslim minorities at the hands of Sunni extremists for not being "Muslim enough", are all forms of everyday terrorism endured by millions throughout the Islamic world. However, regressive leftists seldom acknowledge these atrocities as ’acts of terror’, for they don’t fit well with their narrative of blaming western imperialism and US foreign policy.
Our definition of terrorism should extend to the continued and systemic oppression of millions living under the aegis of Islamism, since the last 1400 years, long before the free world got embroiled in the Middle East. It is then impossible to defend its violent edicts behind the disingenuous facade of leftist ’Chomskyspeak’. Perhaps then, the world will also realize that the most aggrieved victims of Islamic terror have been Muslims themselves.
Zubin Madon is an Indian engineer and oilfield trash. When not drilling high pressure gas wells in one of the most challenging offshore zones, you will find him halfway up a Himalayan cliff, grappling at a dojo in Tokyo or engaging in armchair social activism through his HuffPost Blog.