Date: 7/1/2006


Can Islam be democratic? ////// Balbir K Punj////// Islam supercedes nationality," says media mogul Rupert Murdoch. "You have to be careful about Muslims who have a very strong, in many ways a fine but very strong religion, which supercedes any sense of nationalism wherever they go," he told Channel Nine. Mr Murdoch was present at a function in Sydney that described him as the most influential Australian of all times. /////// It was indeed a bold remark from the media baron, considering the fact that mainstream media is sickeningly "secular". Is this an indicator of things to come? The Western media showed guts, even if misplaced, by republishing the cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in various newspapers across Europe, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. According to confidential sources, Prophet Mohammed's cartoons were republished across newspapers to preempt a reaction from the Islamic world. /////// The Western intelligentsia is increasingly becoming aware of the danger that West (along with rest of the world) faces from Islam. Niall Fergusson and Mark Steyn anticipate civil war (like French riots last October) taking place in European cities as Muslim demography burgeons and European population senesces. European demography will be ill-prepared to meet an Islamic challenge in, say, 2020./////// Mr Murdoch's comments found one instant critic. Australian Federation of Islamic Council's president Rahim Ghauri said that religion and nationality go hand in hand. "I am a Muslim, my religion is there, and nobody is there to stop me from praying five times a day and giving to charity," he said, adding, "At the same time I must be faithful and loyal to my country." He doubted Mr Murdoch's knowledge of Islam, except what he has got through his media's report. He has said that there should be no place for fundamentalism./////// Mr Murdoch is no doubt Right-winger although he identifies himself as a libertarian. Once a supporter of Australian Labour Party, he switched preference to right-centrist Liberal Party of Australia in 1975. He was a friend of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. His papers supported President George Bush both in the 2000 and 2004 US elections. He is certainly no holy cow himself, and known for his partisan views in politics./////// However, just as jihad is not merely an aberration but has its roots in Islamic theology, Mr Murdoch's suspicion that "Islam supercedes nationality" is not a new invention. People as diverse as Viceroy of India Lord Mayo, poet Rabindranath Tagore, freedom activist Lala Lajpat Rai, social reformer BR Ambedkar have often suspected the same. Pan-Islamist poet Allama Iqbal wrote, "Chino Arab Hamara, Hindostan hamara, Muslim hain hum, watan hain sara jahan hamara." These suspicions have a definite historical background, which had subsided from public view in the latter part of the 20th century when Islam had to scramble to fit itself in an altered world order. With that world order waning, Islam is threatening to stage its come back.////// "Are the Indian Musalmans bound by their religion to rebel against the Queen?" was a question that troubled Lord Mayo, the Viceroy of India. The British had discovered that ring leaders of the 1857 uprising were Muslims, and were still grappling with the Wahabi movement (1820s-1870s) that sought to re-impose an Islamic state in India. Its result was the book, The Indian Musalmans (1871) by William Hunter. In the subsequent year, Lord Mayo was stabbed to death by one Sher Mohammed while he was inspecting the Cellular Jail in the Andamans. Sher Ali, although his Wah abi affiliation could never be proved, had exclaimed that he had killed Lord Mayo for the sake of 'Muslims of India'. /////// Lala Lajpat Rai (1865-1928), the icon of nationalism who believed in Hindu-Muslim unity, was greatly agonised after 1924 Kohat riots (NWFP) where the small Hindu community was savaged. His sense of alarm grew after a reading of the Islamic religious texts, from which the Arya Samaj leader had steered cleared. In a letter to CR Das, Rai wrote, "There is one point more which has been troubling me very much of late and one which I want you to think carefully and that is the question of Hindu-Mohammedan unity. I have devoted most of my time during the last six months to study of Muslim history and Muslim law and I am inclined to think, it is neither possible nor practicable. Assuming and admitting the sincerity of the Mohammedan leaders in Non-cooperation movement, I think their religion provides an effective bar to anything of the kind... I do honestly and sincerely believe in the necessity of or desirability of Hindu-Muslim unity. I am also prepared to trust the Muslim leaders, but what about the injunctions of the Quran and Hadis? The leaders cannot override them." (Quoted in BR Ambedkar's Pakistan or Partition of India) ////// An assertive Islam is about to reorganise the world order as we know it. The Hamas, which one thought was Palestine-specific network, released a video recently as tribute to one of its leaders, Yasser Ghalban, who died in an internal battle between warring factions in Gaza. "We will rule the nations, by Allah's will, the US will be conquer ed, Israel will be conquered, Rome and Britain will be conquered..." pronounces a reclining Ghalban in the video, promising to "crush the Jews and expel them from our country Palestine". He further adds, "Just as the Jews ran from Gaza, the Americans will run from Iraq and Afghanistan... and the Indians will run from Kashmir." /////// Seen in this light, Mr Murdoch's assertion seems logical. Fundamentalist Muslims want to overrun all nations; turn them into Dar-ul-Islam. Veteran West Asia expert Bernard Lewis says of Islam: "It is a political identity and allegiance, transcending all others. Always in the ideal, and for a while even in reality, the world of Islam was one polity ruled by one sovereign, the caliph..." (Islam and the West). /////// The Muslim militia that took control of Mogadishu (Somalia) on June 6 last, have closed down the makeshift cinemas showing world cup soccer, forcibly cut young men's hair if they were more than an inch long, and banned the New Year celebration on penalty of death. Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, the radical cleric named to lead Muslim militia, w ants an Islamic state ruled by Shariah. /////// Islam, it was felt after the abolition of Caliphate in 1924, subsumed into nationalism and ideologies like Communism. However, most Muslim countries remained impervious to democracy. Are we heading towards 'Islam versus rest' scenario? //////// 000000000