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Thursday, Dec 02, 2021
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Response

'Cold-Blooded Murderers'

'I read the email, purportedly from 'Indian Mujahideen', with increasing dread and disgust. Dread for what it can cause, and disgust (and worse) for the minds that created it...

'Cold-Blooded Murderers'
| PTI
'Cold-Blooded Murderers'
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

We shared the email from "Indian Mujahideen", received by some media outlets minutes before the blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26, with Professor Naim and wondered if he might want to comment on it. Given the inflammatory potential, and the readers' right to be informed about the contents of this email, we also solicited his views on whether or not it should be published in full as it clearly seemed to be aimed at stoking communal passions so as to set off a conflagration. This is Professor Naim's response. We hope to share more responses from others in the days to come

***

I read the e-mail with increasing dread and disgust. Dread for what it can cause, and disgust (and worse) for the minds that created it. It also made me aware, more than ever before, of the constraints under which press must work.

It is a carefully prepared document, by someone who is fairly well educated and informed. The English has only a few errors. The arguments are made in a 'rational' manner, showing the 'cause' first and only then the 'effect.' The document is laid out and printed with care and expertise. The two signatories must be quite 'modern.' They may even take pride in being so good at controlling modern (Western) technology.

The writers wish to project a facade of calm, deliberate thinking, but they do lose it several times. Their anger and feelings of hatred take over. Of course, they are not themselves victims of the crimes they mention. They are self-appointed revenge-takers, with no thought for what their actions might bring to many more innocent people even on their side of the religious divide, not to mention the innocent non-Muslims whom they intend to make targets of their hatred.

Most of the 'villains' they list by name and charge with specific criminal deeds are indeed villains. But the self-proclaimed 'Mujahids' expose their imbalanced thinking when they generalise and accuse undifferentiated groups. To their own mind, of course, there is no imbalance. For them the entire world is divided into four groups: themselves, the Righteous; their enemies, the Kaffirs; the traitors among their own, the Munafiqs; and the rest of their own who must fit themselves into one of the preceding categories before they could count for anything. Otherwise the latter don't matter to the writers one bit. That's how all fascists think. Come to power, their first targets will be women and children.

How does one respond to what they write? (this is in response largely to the portions that we have excised, at least for now, from the 'Indian Mujahideen' email which appears as a link at the bottom of this page)

On 'facts' they are not wrong. The verses they quote are in the Qur'an, and the translations are well accepted. The liberals introduce History when they interpret, placing every verse in some 'historical' context; the fundamentalists take the verses literally and as universally applicable. For them Qur'an is above history. Their translations or interpretations also do not employ such expressions as 'metaphorically speaking,' 'symbolically speaking,' and 'psychological truth.' Anyone who charges them of putting 'God's Truth' into a context not intended at the time of its revelation is wasting his breath. But that's what Asghar Ali Engineer and C M Naim will do in a knee-jerk fashion. Beyond that, we may only hope that by doing so we succeed in convincing at least a few among the Mujahids' intended Muslim audience to think in terms of their own lived and felt religion, i.e. the Islam of their mothers and grandmothers along side the Islam of their fathers and grandfathers, the Islam of the indigent and weak, the Islam of the sufis, the Islam that puts faith in a God who is foremost 'Most Gracious, Most Merciful.'

One cannot hope to convince the writers of the pamphlet of anything. One can only hope to limit their influence. That's where Asghar Ali Engineer and C.M. Naim serve no purpose. The burden lies entirely on the Ulama of Deoband and Nadwa, and on the qazis and muftis in large and small towns. I deliberately leave out people like the Madani brothers and the heirs of Banatwala and Uwaisi–they are unscrupulous political beasts, as much interested in power as the writers of the pamphlet, though in different ways. Asking them to do something would only give them undue public attention. Common Muslim is to be protected from them as much as from the Mujahids. But the former should be asked to stand up and be counted. And they should also be asked to restrain themselves within secular laws when they start declaring Ahmadis and Taslima Nasreen and Salman Rushdie infidels and heretics and therefore to be hurt and harassed. 

Remember in Pakistan the downward slide in its polity began when the 'socialist' Z.A. Bhutto converted the Pakistani parliament into an inquisition and had Ahmadi Muslims declared non-Muslim–just to save his own hold on the state. It is a slippery slope to perdition, this business of mixing religion and politics.

Should you publish it?

Do you always publish everything that comes to you for publication? What would I do if I were in your position? At this moment I would not put the pamphlet on the web, though I'm sure a Google search tomorrow or day after would show that it is being read in abundance. I would send it to the Mufti of Deoband, with a formal request for a fatwa. 'The people who make these claims in the name of Allah and His Prophet and cause bloodshed and disharmony between people in the land where they live, are these people righteous Muslims?' 

To my mind, they are cold-blooded murderers. They are also pathetic in their anxiety to be seen as the sole perpetrators of these crimes. If they were any different, they would come forward and take the 'credit' and its consequences publicly, thus saving innocent people from being killed in a spiral of vengeful killings. They are both cowards and criminals. 

My asking for a fatwa against them is not a political act; it's an appeal to the Ulama to take some bold and sustained steps against the menace that will eventually destroy them too. They have access to mosques, pulpits and madrassas; only they can make them secure. Their fatwa will not make any difference to these 'modern' Mujahids, but it may give some comfort to the victims and will strengthen those among the pious who wish to condemn and oppose this monstrous subversion of their religion.


C.M. Naim is Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago

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