Volume - 7 : Issue - 4

Published : Oct. - Dec. 2008

Group : Issues


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By Ranjit Butani

6/11 - Terrorist attacks shook not only Mumbai but the entire world community. Much has been written, said and aired - on the security lapses, on the political and bureaucratic lethargy, remedial action to be taken etc etc.

But what clearly stands out is that the terrorists have not succeeded in terrorizing! Instead of any communal backlash there has been a genuine display of solidarity and unity between the 2 communities. All the countries on the globe have stood up as one, in unqualified support and solidarity with India. The terrorist plan has backfired – but innocent lives have been sacrificed.

Introspection and heeding the voice of sanity is the need of the hour and Sindhishaan presents extracts from Ram Jethmalani's 'Consensus of a Maverick' which are truly apt and relevant to times, post the 26/11 incident.


National Integration And Communal Harmony

(Article composed in May 1988)

The problem of national integration transcends political interest and political parties. Redirecting familiar political attitudes or party attitudes makes no contribution to the solution of this great problem. It is true that one of the elementary duties of the State is to conquer violence. It is true that one of the duties of the State is not to compromise with violence. Gandhiji never compromised with violence all his life but he did not seek to conquer violence by violence. He sought to conquer it by love and affection. It is perfectly true that the state must occasionally use its force, but when you conquer a foe by force, you conquer only half the foe; you conquer his body but you intensify the hatred within.

The time has come when there is need for plain-speaking, when there is need for clarity of thought. But there cannot be clarity of thought if you have an eye on the vote bank or if you have designs to build your leadership on ignorance, fanaticism and crimes born out of both. The problem is not religious fundamentalism. Everybody in this country goes around saying that the problem today is the growth of religious fundamentalism.

The problem is not religious fanaticism or fundamentalism. The problem is non-religious, or worse still, religious superficiality. If people understood the fundamentals of religion, there would be not problem of national integration in this country. I am proud to call myself a Hindu and I would not mind if anybody calls me a Hindu fundamentalist. I am proud to be one because I understand the fundaments of Hinduism.

According to me, it is the Hindu in me that tells me that every genuine search for God or even the denial of God is welcome, whatever its name. It is the Gita, which has taught me that all paths ultimately lead to God. I believe that religious faith must always be punctuated by doubts and must be inspired by love and guided by knowledge. I am a student of Kantian philosophy, which is a part of the Hindu philosophy. Nothing in this world is unconditionally good except goodwill and love.

It is the fundamentalist Hindu in me, which compels me to study the fundaments of Islam and fundamentals of other religions. I am one with the Prophet of Islam. If his pictures were available, I would hand them on every wall in my house because it is the Prophet of Islam who said that the ink of a scholar is more valuable than the blood of a martyr. The decline of Islam started when somebody started burning libraries in Alexandria and elsewhere, but when Islam was at the pinnacle of its glory, there were 36 libraries in the city of Baghdad alone.

I believe, that the teachings of the great German philosopher Hegel are a part of the Hindu religion. Thesis, antithesis and synthesis are the three dialect stages that characterize the progress of history. I am a student of Biology, which is again a part of the Hindu faith. All living organisms that have failed to adapt to changed environments have perished in history and only those who have succeeded in adjusting to the new environment have survived. Throughout the course of history, Hinduism has changed. There are a million forms of Hinduism appropriate to everybody's stage of intelligence and spiritual evolution. Hinduism in 1956 adopted Muslim concepts and we wrote Muslim concepts into Hindu laws. Hinduism will survive because it is at least open to change and it is amenable to the winds of change. I do not understand the thesis that the Muslim identity is in danger. Muslims who have lived with the Hindus must influence Hindus and, in turn, Hindus must influence Muslims; both must interact. Both will change in the process. Islam is the most beautiful of all religions (the beauty of that religion I understand because I am a Hindu fundamentalist), one of the most democratic religions that the world has ever created and yet there is not one Muslim state that is democratic. No Muslim State has human rights written into its Constitution, and not a single State practices genuine secularism. Something has therefore gone wrong with the teaching of the Prophet. The Prophet would be ashamed to see the things that are done in the name of the Prophet today. I want to know whether Muslim history or the Holy Quran deals with the situation in which Muslims are neither rulers nor slaves but are partners. The Partnership of Muslims with non-Muslims is a phenomenon not known to Muslim history. That is only the process of synthesis, which inevitably goes on in the world of nature, in the world of human beings, and in the entire cosmos. I suggest that there is nothing in Muslim teachings, which provides and alternative – third alternative to the alternatives of Darul Islam and Darul Harab. This third one is this exciting country of democracy and secularism. It is only surrendering to the cosmic process of change, which is inevitable in our human affairs. We must continuously change, otherwise we shall perish.

How To Conquer Terror

(Article composed in February 2001)

The end of the 17th century produced, in a remote village of East Central Arabia, an evil person who has turned out to be the scourge of the 21st century. He was Mohamed Ibn Abdul Wahhab, the founder of a sect called Wahhabis. He misunderstood the gentle religion of Prophet Mohammed, a religion, which by its very name stands for Peace. He equally misunderstood the causes of Muslim decline and the political and military ascendancy of the Christian West. He concluded that the degeneration of Muslims was attributable to their departure from the true word of the Prophet.

He made it his life's mission to revive and reinstate the original faith, as he understood it. It is tragic for Islam as well as the rest of the world that he grievously misconstrued what the Prophet had preached. He picked on a stray line in the Holy Book and convinced himself that it had decreed death and annihilation to all Mushrikhun, i.e. polytheists. His definition of polytheists, however, was different from that of the rest of the Islamic world and has proved a big curse to humanity. By his definition, Christians, Jews, Shiites, Hindus and many others are polytheists, who have forfeited their right to live. He was the first to legitimize Jihad, even against fellow Muslims. His doctrine was worse than burning the Holy Koran, which advised – fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but do not commit aggression (Koran 2:190-92) – and proclaimed that the ink of the scholar is more valuable than the blood of a martyr. In the spring of 1802, 12,000 of his followers invaded the southern part of Ottoman Iraq. They entered Kerbala, massacred some 4,000 Shiites and ransacked holy Shiite shrines, including the tomb of Hussein, the martyred grandson of the Prophet himself. They looted the city and carried off its wealth on the backs of 4,000 camels.

One of his descendants, Latif, a Saudi Judge, promoted a similar religious movement called Ikhiwan. The Saudi Royal family saw great merit in both, Wahhabi Islam, which would be useful for uniting the warring tribes of their emerging state and Ikhiwan, which would be useful as their instrument for moulding the new Wahhabi society. They enlisted both in a worldwide conspiracy. There may have been ups and downs in this satanic relationship, but it has managed to continue in full force till today. King Ibin Saud was the chief architect of this alliance. His descendant, King Faisal, went a step further and gave the Wahhabi religious leaders control over Saudi religious education. In 1928, the Egyptian school teacher Hasan-Al-Bana founded a similar movement called 'The Muslim Brotherhood.' Both Wahhabisim and the Muslim Brotherhood had tremendous ideological affinity. Pakistani Islamic leader, Maulana Mawdudi, had strong links with these movements, the common theme of all being that the regeneration of Muslim society calls for Jihad, the abandonment of which has been the Muslim's greatest misfortune. They denounced secularism in education and condemned it as an aggression against Islamic legitimacy. The Iranian Ayatullahs, who came to power after the overthrow of the Shah, being essentially Shias, characterized the Saudis as those “vile and ungodly Wahhabis, who had acted like traitors, piercing the heart of Muslims from the back.” It is these movements, which spawned the Muslim World League, which soon set up office in Peshawar, Pakistan. This office became a feeder and recruiting ground for Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. No wonder that during the Iraq-Iran war, the Saudis stood firmly behind Saddam Hussein and it is estimated that their financial assistance to the Iraqi dictator was in the neighbourhood of $40 million.

Bin Laden in his later attacks on the Saudi regime accused it of not being sufficiently committed to Wahhabism. Riyadh had reluctantly to revoke his Saudi citizenship in 1994.

The Hindus of India had not escaped the special attention of this motley crowd of fanatics. In the middle of 2002, Saudi Arabia's national television TVI, broadcast a sermon from the Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, spewing poison against Hindus, Christians, Jews and secularists of all kinds saying, “The idol-worshipping Hindus indulge in their open hatred against our brothers in Muslim Kashmir threatening an imminent danger and a fierce war in the whole of Indian subcontinent”. All this substantiates the point, which leaves no manner of doubt that the war on terror to which India has become a party, cannot be won until the ideological motivation for terrorism is addressed and extinguished.

Not all the legislation against terrorism that has been adopted in India, the USA and England can counter terrorism. What is called for is strong diplomatic action and stronger action by the United Nations Security Council. War against terrorism is no less dangerous and lethal than other wars, which is the main function of the Security Council to prevent. The war launched against the United States and the free world on September 11, 2001 is more dangerous than the one started by the Japanese at Pearl Harbour, sixty years ago. It calls for a stronger and qualitatively different response. Why nineteen young men decided to ram planes carrying hundreds of innocent passengers, men, women, and children, into buildings which were occupied by thousands of other innocent humans and cause the murder and mayhem of enormous numbers? Could it be explained away as wanting to secure some political objectives in Palestine or some other small areas of the world? Common sense suggests a much more sinister motivation – a vicious hatred against civilization itself and a twisted insane view of the outcome of simultaneous destruction of themselves. How otherwise does one account for the use of religion (and perhaps Hashish) to conjure up a vision of immediate entry into paradise and its enchanting Houris? Fifteen of the attackers were Saudis; their leader was born in Saudi Arabia where the Wahhabis credo was born from where it spread its tentacles to all the trouble spots of the world. The ideology writ large on the vile action itself is enough circumstantial evidence to establish beyond doubt the involvement of Wahhabis and their settled notorious modus operandi.

The most troublesome question that faces the civilized world today is, “Can we confront and conquer terrorism?” Yes we can! The road to success is doubtless long and tortuous but the first step is to analyse and expose the problem with moral clarity and uncompromising honesty. Our commitment to truth must be absolute, unwavering and fully transparent. Let us be clear that our war is not against Islam. It is against a group of evil, non-human beings who are deliberately misguiding us that Islam is pitted against the rest of the world. In truth it is this evil group that is pitted against Islam and all that Prophet Mohammed taught and practiced. The terrorism we face is not a fight for the legitimate rights for the Palestinians or the Kashmiris or the Chechens, but is in fact a conspiracy to impose on the whole world the hegemony of a counterfeit faith.

Return To Sanity – Advice To Militants

(Article composed in April 2002)

This is an appeal to your reason and conscience. After having wasted the best years of your life in getting indoctrinated by persons who do not understand Islam or its beauty, you have for years slaughtered thousands of innocent men, women and children. Ask yourself, “What have we achieved?”

11 September 2001 did show that terrorists have acquired tremendous sophistication and capacity to destroy life and property. It also did show that many of you are possessed of breathtaking bravery. This may bring you a feeling of pride and even applause from some quarters but have you not generated a strong wave of revulsion and contempt against the like of you? Have you not united all civilized and powerful nations in an irrevocable resolve to stamp yourselves out and have you not disgraced Islam, the glorious religion of the Prophet, by invoking its benediction for your evil deeds? You have created a situation in which the world is inexorably moving to a War of Wars between Islam and Christianity. You have endangered every Muslim government including Iraq and Pakistan.

Your conscience should tell you that you are engaged in furthering the political purposes of successive Pakistani governments. They pretend that Kashmir is in their blood. This is only a way of saying that their record of governance is so bad that people will doubtless throw them out; only Kashmir provides diversion for the peoples' wrath. Once Kashmir is out of the way, people will rise in revolt against them. Poverty stalks the land; the nation is immersed in debt; economic growth is all but stalled; unemployment is at its peak; there is wasteful expenditure on armaments; and armed forces are hastening international bankruptcy; fratricidal warfare within the county takes daily toll of civilian lives and vast sections of the people are ready to secede. Pakistan is on the brink of a breakup more lethal than the one of 1971. Democracy is dead and the people are being trampled under the heavy boot of the armed forces. The castle Qaid e Azam Jinnah built has vanished and even its ruins are barely visible.

If you don't believe my voice of sanity and advice, hearken to what General Musharaff had to say to his people after the holocaust of 11 September 2001. Here are some excerpts from his address to the nation on 12 January 2002.

This terrorist act led to momentous changes all over the world. We decided to join the international coalition against terrorism and in this regard I have already spoken to you on a number of occasions. We took this decision on principles and in our national interest . . . . . . . What really pains me is that some religious extremist parties and groups opposed this decision. What hurts more was that their opposition was not based on principles. At a critical juncture in our history, they preferred their personal and party interest over national interests. Some extremists, who were engaged in protests, are people who try to monopolise and attempt to propagate their own brand of religion . . . . . These are the people who considered the Taliban to be a symbol of Islam and that the Taliban were bringing Islamic renaissance or were practicing the purest form of Islam . . . These extremists were those people who do not talk of Haqooq-ul-Ibad (obligations towards fellow human beings). They do not talk of these obligations because practicing them demands self-sacrifice. How will they justify their Pajeros and expensive vehicles? I want to ask these extremists as to who was responsible for misleading thousands of Pakistanis to their massacre in Afghanistan? Sectarian terrorism has been going on for years. Every one of us is fed up of it. It is becoming unbearable. Our peace-loving people are keen to get rid of the Kalashinikov and weapon culture. Every one is sick of it. Because of this we banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Muhammad. . . . . . The verdict of the masses is in favour of a progressive Islamic state. This decision , based on the teachings of the Holy Prophet and in line with the teachings of Quaid-e-Azam, Jinnah, and Allama Iqbal will put Pakistan on the path of progress and prosperity . . . . . I think, these people have declared more Muslims as kafirs (infidels) than motivating the non-Muslims to embrace Islam. Look at the damage they have caused? They have murdered a number of our highly qualified doctors, engineers, civil servants and teachers who were pillars of our society. Who has suffered? The families of the dead, no doubt. But a greater loss has been inflicted on Pakistan because, as I said, we lost the pillars of our society. Islam teaches us to seek knowledge, even if it involves travel to China. I am sure you are aware that the Prophet had told prisoners of war in the Battle of Badar that they would be set free if each of them imparted education to ten Muslims. Quite obviously, this education could not have been religious education as the prisoners were non-Muslims. So, the Prophet was actually referring to worldly education . . . . . . Real change can be brought about through personal example, exemplary character and superior intellect. It can be brought about by haqooq-ul-ibad (obligation towards fellow beings) . . Have we ever thought of waging jehad against illiteracy, poverty, backwardness and hunger? This is the larger jehad. Pakistan, in my opinion, needs to wage jehad against these evils. After the battle of Khyber, the Prophet stated that jehad-e-as (smaller jehad) is over but jehad-e-Akbar (greater jehad) has begun. This meant that armed jehad, i.e. the smaller jehad was now over and the greater jehad against backwardness and illiteracy had started. Pakistan needs jehad-e-Akbar at this juncture.

General Musharaff has wisely called for cessation of violence and terrorism for elimination of religious tension and return to the rule of law and peaceful progress. He has eloquently explained that the way of the extremists is not the way of the Prophet of Islam. It is true that the General has not withdrawn moral and political support from the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. But moral and political support means the support of reason and dialogue, not the gun and the grenade.

General Musharaff has restored the dream of Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah. Speaking of the Constituent Assembly, Jinnah Saheb put across his dream to the people in the following words :

You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.

I wonder if you know the teaching given to the 19 terrorists who hijacked the American planes on 11 September 2001, by their leader Md. Atta. Some extracts from his letter offer a chilling glimpse of indoctrination and training in murder. This is what he preached to them :

Read al-Tawba and Anfal (traditional war chapters from the Quran) and reflect on their meanings and remember all of the things that God has promised for the martyrs. Shouldn't we take advantage of these last hours to offer good deed and obedience?

The test from Almighty God is to raise your level (of heaven) and erase your sins. . . . . . Only a few easy seconds separate you from the beginning of a happy life, peaceful life, and the everlasting tranquility with Prophets and the faithful and martyrs. God said, 'God will weaken the schemes of the non-believers'.

Be happy, optimistic, calm, because you are heading for a deed that God loves and will accept (as a good deed) . . . . . . Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty, and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, 'Come hither, friend of God.' They have dressed in their most beautiful clothing.

This is gross misinterpretation of the message of the Prophet and is an insult to the Almighty. Be sure God does not approve of murder of innocent women and children nor does He give rewards in the shape of well-dressed women. HE HAS BETTER THINGS TO DO.