Jul 5, 2003 Archives
By Jamal Hasan
Many Westerners are still living in fool’s paradise buying the apologist’s soft-sold idea that Wahhabism is a minority view of the Islamic world. The reality indicates just the other way around. The proliferation of Wahhabistic philosophy is so widespread all across the globe that it can hardly be considered an aberration. From Pakistan to Qatar, from Bangladesh to Afghanistan, the common belief system among Muslim masses is very much close to Wahhabite ideology. Ironically, this was not quite so in the yesteryears. Thirty-five years ago, before the oil boom made the Arabian Peninsula into economic giant, Arab countries did not have any political leverage on Muslims of the South Asia whose population constitutes the majority of the Islamic world. Islam was the Mughal emperors’ religion who ruled India for two hundred years. The Mughals were not keen on imposing Sha’ria law in the kingdom. If Islam in its pure form is intolerant and anti-pluralistic, the Islam being practiced under Mughal raj was far from this characteristic. The same was true in Indonesia, Malaysia and even in Afghanistan only a few decades ago. I can give an analogy in this regard. It is as if a poisonous snake went into hibernation during all these years. The Seventh Century’s Islam did not have the large tentacle to control and purify all the localized and "impure" versions of the religion prevalent among non-Arab Muslims spread all around the world. There was Sufism in Indian subcontinent, which was perceived as nothing but heresy by the Wahhabists. Then, there was "Europeanized" Islam in the Balkans and former Soviet Union, which evolved as highly liberalized or deviated from the puritanical form of Islam.
After the liquid gold was discovered in the Arab land and after the Westerners made the Arabs rich overnight, the imperialistic ambition of Arab Islamists evolved in no time. During this development, the Westerners kept a blind eye because to many strategists, export of Arab Islamic imperialism was seen as antidote to the spread of communism. Thus, the sleeping snake woke up and the world changed forever.
I like to emphatically say that the philosophical war is a crucial factor in the present day global political discourse. To win the war is not only a PR exigency, the need to convince the constituencies is no less important. A political change even if peacefully transformed could turn out to be hostile to freedom and democracy. Islamic apologists of our time would say, to be true to the spirit of democracy every one should adhere to the people’s wishes in the polls even if they had chosen the Islamists. Their argument would be if people give mandates to the victors with a theocratic agenda, we should all support that. That is the reason they are critical of USA’s role in Iraq where they are apprehensive of Uncle Sam’s motive concerning possible election victory for the theocrats.
Today, if anyone wants to analyze the political philosophy of Islamist parties in any Third World Muslim majority country, what will he or she encounter? Almost one hundred percent Islamist parties follow the dictums of Wahhabism. The present situation in Baluchistan and North West Frontier Province in Pakistan should be an eye opener. Through peaceful means in the polls, the Pakistani people expressed their wishes. They vowed to turn these regions into Wahhabite utopia. Step-by-step, these provinces are veering to the direction of Afghanistan under the Talibans. In Bangladesh, there is hardly any Islamic political group, which is not propagating anything other than Sha’ria-based society. On the other hand, their organizational bases are being strengthened as days go by. Although many Muslim countries are not fully theocratic, the family law being practiced in most of these nations is either Islamic law or Sha’ria-based law. In essence, Sha’ria already got a foothold in most of the Muslim societies of the world. Even in a country like Malaysia, a divorcing Muslim woman has to face all the hurdles of Islamic jurisprudence. It is only a matter of time when the process of Islamization (read Wahhabization) in all the Muslim countries would be completed.
Philosophy of Wahhabism is nothing but the Islam in its original form that continued until the rein of four caliphs. The present trend in the global Islamic scene is like reverting to the roots. Other than transforming Islamic politics through electoral process, Wahhabism has started to dominate most of the Muslim insurgencies. Once upon a time, secular nationalists led Kashmiri independence movement. Today, this is more or less a Wahhabite movement. We notice a parallel situation in Chechnya as well. It goes without saying that the anti-Soviet armed struggle in the Soviet occupied Afghanistan was conducted by different factions of Wahhabite groups under the guise of freedom fighter or Mujahedins. Adding to the list would be all the jihadist Palestinian militant organizations determined to wipe out Israel from the face of our earth following the dictum of Holy Scripture from which the Wahhabites draw inspiration.
Many American academicians dealing with the subject of Wahhabism do not have any clue what is going on in the Islamic world these days. They are probably living in fool’s paradise. In America, all the so-called mainstream Islamic organizations are soft on Wahhabism. In America, almost all the mosques are run by Wahhabite Imams, which receive constant infusion of petrodollar from abroad and along with it they receive instruction what to say during khutba on Sabbath day prayer. It goes without saying that in America the backers of Wahhabism enhanced many prestigious academic institutions’ funds. That helped to form a low-key Wahhabite lobby in U.S. academia.
It is crystal clear that the present-day Islam in most part of the world including USA reflects pure Wahhabism. In short, there is only one face of Islam, which is visible everywhere and that resembles the old-face of Islam or Wahhabism. The sooner we understand this plain truth the better is it for mankind.
Jamal Hasan writes from Washington DC.