In an article titled «The Threat of Political Islam,» prominent Indian columnist and writer Sadia Dehlvi(1) dissects the spread of political Islam and lays down the need for a reformist approach among the Muslim societies worldwide.
Following are some excerpts from her article, as it appeared in the original English on a website of Muslim bloggers in India.(2)
«This Ideology of Islamism is Threatening to Replace a Moderate and Spiritual Islam»
«The Mumbai and Lahore attacks [and] the public executions and the murder of over a thousand civilians in the Swat valley by Taliban… terrorists are horrifying examples of atrocities committed by militant groups thriving on political Islam. Global Muslim communities require urgent measures in condemning the agenda of political Islam that distorts religious scriptures to legitimize violence. This ideology of Islamism is threatening to replace a moderate and spiritual Islam, leading to the destruction of society, particularly oppressing women and minorities.»
«Our Credibility is Lost When We Demonstrate Selective Outrage – As In the Aftermath of the Danish Cartoons»
«Muslims have a moral responsibility to engage in the social, political and economic development of the societies they live in. Global Muslim societies would do well in following the exceptional efforts of the Indian clerics in denouncing terrorism and de-linking it with Islam.
«Sincere moral outrage needs to be expressed at Taliban atrocities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, political kidnappings and assassinations, militancy in Kashmir, Shi’ite-Sunni killings in Iraq and Pakistan, fatwas that condone suicide bombings in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and other such atrocities that [a]ffect innocent lives. Muslims require an international consensus in combating extremism but our credibility is lost when we demonstrate selective outrage – as in the aftermath of the Danish cartoons.»
«Political Islam Draws its Lifeblood from the Ideology of Fighting the Oppressor – But Has Clearly Become the Oppressor [Itself]»
«Political Islam draws its lifeblood from the ideology of fighting the oppressor, but has clearly become the oppressor [itself]. Even though some Islamist groups have renounced violence and accepted the principles of democracy, and have marginally improved their stand on women and minority rights – they remain socially conservative.
«In Jordan, the Islamist party does not support the rights of women to file for divorce. In Kuwait, the Islamists fought against the right of women to vote. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood will not allow a woman or a person from a minority community to become the head of state….»
«Islamism is Primarily a Muslim Problem, Threatening Both Muslim and Non-Muslim Societies»
«Muslims must stop blaming the problem of extremism on foreign policies, for two wrongs simply do not make a right. Islamism is primarily a Muslim problem, threatening both Muslim and non-Muslim societies. We need to acknowledge [that] there is a problem of theology when extremists talk of going straight to heaven after taking innocent lives.
«The roots of all modern militant Islamic movements can be traced to one man, called [Muhammad bin] Abdul Wahhab, from Najd in the Arabian Peninsula. He set out to ‘purify’ Islam, believing that Muslims had drifted away from true religion. Wahhab’s followers destroyed many sacred sites [that] he considered idols. Attacking the arts for being frivolous and dangerous, Abdul Wahhab sanctioned rape, murder and plunder of those who refused to follow his injunctions….»
«This new [Wahhabi] face of Islam has nothing to do with Sufis, music, poetry, miracles or the countless devotional customs of Muslim cultures across the world.»
«Abul A’la Al-Mawdudi… Founded the Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan, Making Jihad Central to Islamic Discourse; Addressing Non-Muslims as Infidels, He Grouped Muslims into ‘Partial’ and ‘True’ Muslims»
«Under the patronage of Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism went from strength to strength. Abul A’la Al-Mawdudi, a journalist who translated the Koran… founded the political party Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan and made jihad central to Islamic discourse. Addressing non-Muslims as infidels, he grouped Muslims into ‘partial’ and ‘true’ Muslims.
«Al-Mawdudi’s ideas of Islam as a revolutionary doctrine to take over governments and overturn the whole universal order [were] deeply influenced by Sayed Qutub of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt….»
«The Problem of Muslim Extremism Began in the Muslim World – And the Responsibility of Resolving It Lies with Us»
«[In Wahhabi ideology] there is no tolerance for the Shia, Sufi, or other Muslim traditions, let alone [for] non-Muslims. Unfortunately, there is no collective Muslim protest against the Saudi regime for bulldozing graveyards, destroying cultural and religious heritage in the holy cities [of Mecca and Medina], [the] imposing [of] a certain segregation of the sexes inside the Prophet’s mosque at Medina, radical sermons, or the distribution of radical literature outside Saudi mosques – many of [which] issu[e] calls for death to whoever they view as infidels or innovators of Islam.
«The problem of Muslim extremism began in the Muslim world and the responsibility of resolving it lies with us.
«The Inability to Present a Picture of Islam as a Peaceful Religion is a Collective Failure of Global Muslim Communities… Let Us Become Louder Than the Radical [Islamist] Voices That Claim to Represent Us»
«The inability to present a picture of Islam as a peaceful religion is a collective failure of global Muslim communities. We could begin with increasing the decibel [level] in condemning violence [and] sectarianism; standing up for the rights of women; [we could] stop demonizing the other as Kuffar (infidels) and show increased support for democratic movements in Muslim countries.
«It is time for the devout, silent, peace-loving Muslim majority to speak for Islam. Let us become louder than the radical [Islamist] voices that claim to represent us.»
(1) Sadia Dehlvi is a prominent journalist, socialite, commentator and author, with nearly three decades of experience in Urdu-language journalism in India. Her articles are published in Urdu, Hindi and English. Her latest book, Sufism: The Heart of Islam, is being published by HarperCollins India.
(2) www.indianmuslims.in, India, March 29, 2009. The article has been lightly edited for clarity.