Deoband’s Dar-ul Islam

Date: 15 Jun 2008



Deoband’s Dar-ul Islam 


Sandhya Jain


            Deoband’s 31 May 2008 fatwa against terrorism marks official Islam’s most significant departure from the phase of unproductive violence adopted by this beleaguered faith since the advent of western colonialism, particularly in the last two centuries. Though slow in coming, the decision by Indian Islam’s leading seminary to repudiate terrorism as a “most inhuman crime” was not unexpected; it may mark modern Islam’s first decisive move towards demarcating the religious sphere from the polity, thereby facilitating believers to live without mental discomfort in non-Muslim societies.  


            Regular readers may recall that I have been expecting a dilution of Islamic fervour since Saudi Arabia itself experienced jihadi violence, viz., the 12 May 2003 car-bomb attacks and the 9 November 2003 suicide attack on Muhaya compound, both in Riyadh. The then US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage rightly concluded that the real target of the attacks was the Saudi monarchy, sponsor of the puritanical Wahabi Islam that is wrecking havoc in Muslim countries and the world. As radical Islam began creating a crisis of political legitimacy for Muslim regimes, they were forced to seek a religio-political response to counter the corrosive appeal of Osama bin Laden and his ilk.


The first hint that King Abdullah, keeper of Islam’s two holiest shrines, intended to steer the faith away from extreme violence came during his 2006 Republic Day visit to New Delhi: he ignored the Hurriyat. I wrote then that the King would work to protect Islam’s flanks in the emerging third crusade with political Christianity by giving predominantly Hindu India relief from the jihad sponsored by Pakistan and ISI-controlled Bangladesh. Such a wise strategy would inhibit India from joining the so-called clash of civilizations against Islam, as the conflict is essentially an intra-Abrahamic affair. 


The evidence was Indian Muslims refraining from violence when Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten published cartoons insulting the Prophet in September 2005 and thereafter; some European journals re-published these in March 2008 as a deliberate provocation. Realizing they could not stage a terrorist strike in Europe, angry jihadis attacked the Danish Embassy in Islamabad on 2 June 2008, unaware that Denmark had withdrawn its citizens from the mission. 


Deoband’s fatwa is certainly part of the Islamic world’s plan to move cautiously away from Western, especially American, dominance. This distancing is being calibrated with the emerging multi-polar economic order led by Russia, China, Central Asia and Latin America, which validates the concept of sovereign wealth (state control over natural resources), as opposed to private corporate monopolies. The Islamic world is wary because Iranian Prime Minister Mossadeq was assassinated for nationalizing oil; Saddam Hussein paid the price of attempting a non-dollar oil bourse; and Iran is demonized for opening a Euro-based oil bourse. 


            The decision that Deoband would host an Anti-Terrorism Conference in New Delhi is a tacit admission by the ummah that India alone has been victim of sustained jihad for over a century, not for sins of Hindus, but to serve a colonial agenda. Though India was not complicit in the humiliation of Islam in Palestine or other places, Hindus alone suffered the brunt of blind Muslim rage which did not cease even with Partition in 1947.

            India was chosen for jihadi terror because it was, and remains, the key politico-geographical territory that needs to be controlled in order to dominate the world. Viceroy Curzon said as much in his October 1908 speech to the Philosophical Institute of Edinburgh: “It was the remark of De Tocqueville that the conquest and Government of India were really the achievements that had given Britain her place in the world... Consider what would happen were we to lose India…for it is inconceivable that India could stand or be left alone. We would lose its unfailing markets... almost the only formidable element in our fighting strength; our influence in Asia would quickly disappear... Remember, too, that India is no longer a piece, even a king or queen on the Asiatic chessboard. It is a royal piece on the chessboard of international politics."


            To an India bleeding from the war of a thousand cuts, sponsored by America’s Pakistani protectorate, the fatwa that “Islam rejects all kinds of unjust violence... and does not allow it in any form…. The religion of Islam has come to wipe out all kinds of terrorism and to spread the message of global peace” synchronizes too closely with the bomb blasts that just took 60 lives in Jaipur. Though BJP president Rajnath Singh rightly appreciated Darul Uloom’s “seeking to dissociate Muslims from terrorism,” he must also insist that Indian Islam de-link itself from the ummah in the matter of Muslim grievances which do not originate on this soil, and to put its best foot forward on the issue of combating terrorism in this country. 


            Instead of nitpicking with the lame duck UPA government over an anti-terrorism law and the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, Mr. Rajnath Singh should call upon Muslim leaders and citizens to actively dissociate with Pakistani and Bangladeshi terrorists by denying them refuge or recruits, and help the security agencies to identify and arrest them. Those with knowledge about the laundering of funds for terrorist purposes, especially the use of the stock market for pumping funds into the economy, should assist enforcement agencies in exposing these frauds.


On the menace of illegal Bangladeshi immigration, the BJP should ask the Muslim community to help identify and deport the unwanted aliens. Whatever the economic compulsions, Bangladeshis entering India illegally are mostly Muslims practicing hijrat (flight) from a Muslim-majority country into a predominantly Hindu country! Unlike their persecuted Hindu and Buddhist brethren, Muslim Bangladeshis are indulging in an un-Islamic activity by quitting Dar-ul Islam (land of the pure). If they do not view India as Dar-ul Harb (land of war), they should return to Sanatana Dharma when they enter the original motherland. Dhaka must admit the failure of the logic of Partition and contemplate its own return.   


For the present, however, the BJP should cooperate with the Prime Minister in setting up a federal investigating agency to deal with terrorism; the federal law will inevitably follow. However, the party is right to insist that Congress-appointed Governors immediately assent to Acts against organized crime passed by its governments in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.