The following guest-essay was sent in by Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant, a retired general in the Indian army.
Archaic Islam Promotes Terrorism
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant, VSM
“Islam means Peace”. However, in its 14-century long history it has rarely promoted peace. Violence in all its forms has been its hallmark The turbulent times that its founder, the Prophet Mohammed, peace be on him, saw and experienced convinced promoters of new religion that violence was the panacea for all worldly ills. The Prophet was himself banished from his place of birth and work, Mecca, to find refuge in Medina. It was only through an armed struggle that he regained Mecca. Thereafter it was the sword of Islam which spread the new faith to many continents. The faithful followers indeed reaped what they sowed.
The Prophet Mohammed breathed his last in 631 AD. The war of succession followed. The great divide then took place, followed by violence and war of great magnitude. The Shi’ite and the Sunni sects parted ways forever. The Sunnis almost imposed their will on Shi’ites regarding succession through violence and slaughter. The Shi’ites have been mourning their losses ever since.
Violence as a creed to give effect to political plans grew firm roots in Islam. Perhaps the terrorists of today have inherited this philosophy of life, along with a conviction that ends can be achieved by terrorising opponents. A terrorist snatches away from the terrorised individuals the most precious right, namely, the right to life. Obviously a civilised society cannot afford to find excuses to condone an act of terror, be it in the name of religion, faith or anything else.
Islam, as it is interpreted and practised in Madrassas, the archaic schools of religious teachings, breeds hatred for non-believers who are contemptuously called Kaffir. The maulvis and imams, in their post-prayer Friday prayer sermons, preach violence and contempt for those who do not believe in Islam. There may be exceptions, but these are few and far between. Those who do not believe in Islam are terrorised to embrace it. As a result, terror is promoted as a part of belief in Islam in Madrassas and mosques. Moderate elements in Islam turn Nelson’s eye to the spread of what Tony Blair termed a “perverted form of Islam”. Terror is the tactic to subjugate those men and women who do not toe the line of the promoters of the belief that the world revolves around Muslims, and that others have no right to live in it.
The archaic laws applied by Muslim countries are far removed from modern jurisprudence. The teachings by archaic schools of Islamic thought adopt the psychological methods of brainwashing, and convert young recruits ready to die for all the wrong reasons. The term fidayeen is an offshoot of an archaic and misplaced belief that an Islamic terrorist who kills others and is in turn killed goes to Heaven. Terror takes root in minds of men who discover this shortcut to Heaven.
It is relevant to add that the concept of Heaven in Islam is a place where a ghazi or a martyr receives in abundance all that is forbidden in this mortal world. Wine and women find a place of prominence among comforts offered to a martyr in an Islamic heaven.
Where do we go from here?
All sane persons should encourage moderate elements in Islam not only to oppose archaic thoughts by word of mouth, but by action. Ideas have to be combated with ideas. The obscurantist preachers in mosques should be singled out and put through reformatory schools. Modern jurisprudence and progressive laws of the land, both civil and criminal, should be compulsorily applied to Muslims, too.
China has done so with success. In China Muslim males are not permitted to take four living wives at a time. The principle followed in China is Nan nyu ping deng, that is, equality between men and women. In Islam women are not allowed to have four living husbands at any given time, likewise men should not be permitted to have four living wives at a given time. It is worth emulating. It should be strictly enforced all over the world. It will make Muslims realise that they cannot be beneficiaries of an archaic system prevalent in medieval times in a Middle Eastern society. This will in turn promote modern social thinking and wean away the misguided youth from maulvis. The youth will indeed learn to merge with the mainstream of social life.
The Islamic terrorism of today is a global problem. It has to be tackled globally by men and women of all creeds and castes, region and religion. No one, neither individual or nation, should look for excuses to condone terrorism. Ideas have to be fought with ideas, and the likewise terror committed by a sect or a religious group has to be fought with all might at the command of a country or a group of countries. The rule of law is fine, but it should be borne in mind that Islamic terrorism has to be eliminated at all costs. One should not hesitate in putting into practice the primitive law “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” This was put to practical use by the Police in the Punjab, India against Sikh terrorists and separatists and by the British army in Malaysia to put down terrorism ruthlessly. Of course, new laws may have to be enacted banning preaching of religious terrorism in mosques and the eulogising of slain terrorists or honoring them as martyrs. Active support of moderate Muslims should be forthcoming in rooting out Islamic terrorism.
Muslim women, if and when liberated from the clutches of obscurantist males, will have a major role to play. They are oppressed souls now. Many Muslim priests are opposed to allowing women inside mosques to say prayers. Women have no role in decision-making. The system of Triple Talaq gives Muslim males right to divorce their wives at will by just pronouncing “talaq talaq talaq” These triple pronouncements spell doom for the marital life of a Muslim female.
When Muslim women are liberated, they will have a sobering influence on society and discourage irresponsible thought and action by their loved ones. A fine example of liberated Muslim women playing a responsible role in a society is that of Turkey. With the result that the government, especially the armed forces, ensures that Turkey does not revert to an archaic form of Islam. The modernisation of Islamic society by Kemal Ataturk showed them the path to prosperity and peace of mind. It is for others to follow suit and help curb terror through liberalisation of Islamic concepts. A country which does not wish to liberalise its archaic dogmas will only be promoting concepts conducive to terrorism.
Besides Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, and even the much-maligned Iraq gave varying degrees of freedom to their women. Maybe Muslim women will come forward and raise the flag of liberation, liberation from bigotry and fanaticism, so that their children and children’s children live in peace and prosperity along with their brothers and sisters of other faiths all over the world. All will walk on the path of righteousness and eliminate the very concept of terror.
Women form half of the human society. The Chinese say “Pan tian” , that is, they are half of the universe. If our women join the war on terrorism, no Osama will dare promote it in any part of the world. The 9/11 in New York, the 7/7 in London and that dastardly terrorist attack on the Hindu temple of Ayodhya will indeed become history. We will await that glorious sunrise.
Let all sections of society move together for improving the quality of life in the civil society, irrespective of personal beliefs of a section. As the Vedas, the most ancient book in Man’s library, say: “Sangacchdhwam samvadadhwam samvo manasi jantam”, that is, “Let us walk together, let us talk together.” Let us shape our thoughts together for the good of one and all. Let all sections of a civil society know that we must swim or sink together. This change of mind and heart will sound the death knell of terrorism.