By Ram Jethmalani, in New Indian Express,02nd July 2016
(Note: It is always a treat both to listen to or read Ram Jethmalani, the erudite lawyer and veteran politician. So I never miss reading him. Here I am tempted to agree with him that it is all bundled into one, that is: terrorism, religious wars and clash of civilizations that we witness today. The most shameful conclusion that drives me to draw is that we have erred terribly, miserably in defining man as a rational animal (animal always, rational sometimes). Otherwise, that is, if humans had only used their reason always and in everything that affects the good of society and oneself, how is it that they never learned from repeated blunders of resorting to war and violence even in the name of religion and for the sake of upholding the glory of a merciful fatherly God, if he exists? Can there be a greater irrational absurdity to imagine that a God, call him by any name, promotes and blesses war, violence and mass murder? A God rightly understood, could not have been the creator of these myriad sections of warring humanity. Good tree produces good fruits, not thorns and thistles. So irrational, beastly humans can’t be the creation of a dream God who is embodiment of all goodness or Summum Bonum, as philosophers and theologians define Him. This drives me to find solace in the wisdom of the poet thinker Viyalar Ramavarma: “Man created religions, religions created Gods, and religions and Gods conspired to divide our mother earth among themselves and also the minds of humans to perpetuate this divisive mentality in the world today.”
Then are not God and religion alibis dragged in by selfish humans to gain power, position or wealth to justify the unjust yearnings of a certain section or to deflect attention from the daylight robbery they are doing? Light of reason given to every human, even to the so called illiterates, tells us, nay shouts at us saying war, violence, homicide and mass murder are all laws of the jungle, irrational and self-destructive. To blunt the sharp edges of these wise counsels of sound sense and reason God and religion are brought in as an anesthesia to prevent feelings of pain and pin prick of conscience and divert attention to a dream God who promises paradise lost and a heaven eternal with no trace of pain but pleasure and ecstasy untold. This is what the limited light of my reason forces me to arrive at. May be the light I have is comparable only to that of the fire-fly. But my reason tells me if it is a God who creates all of us he will surely provide enough light to find one’s way forward step by step.
To come back to the great writer what pleases most is his definition of secularism as “Subordination of ignorance to education and of religion to science”, If only we did just that, what a paradise India would have become. I can only plead with the two dominant religions, Christianity and Islam, to listen with an open heart to what the writer has to say. Since the writer proclaims himself to be a great admirer of Islam, those who have to take more lessons from him are the Wahabi Islam group and followers of Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab who gave a destructive definition to Jihad, according to the writer, because the world cannot afford more Bin Ladens. May that happen, we pray. james kottoor, editor)
I wonder how future historians would describe the advent of the 21st century — The Age of Terrorism? The revival of religious wars? Or to use Huntington’s famous heading, ‘The Clash of Civilizations?’ Or all three?
Today, the two dominant revealed religions of the world are at cross roads, the older Christianity in great fatigue, silencing itself in its historic, cultural homelands, and the later Islam in complete disarray, in a self-destruct mode. Politically, it has been captured by a self-proclaimed Caliphate, which is in a barbaric battle with the rest of the world. The Middle East, once one of the most prosperous parts of the world, is in the throes of destruction. Its people are fleeing by the millions to safer lands, the closest being the European countries. This exodus, the largest in modern history, is something that appears to defy a solution.
Saudi Arabia continues to be the patron of Wahabi Islam and is known to export money and finance terrorist activity in various parts of the world. The greatest challenge before the civilised nations today is how to protect themselves from the fanatical barbarians of the new terrorist face of Islam, now scattered and organised all over the world, who want to impose a complete negation of all the democratic values, constitutionalism, and secularism, for which the West fought for centuries through the blood of countless unknown lives. Internet and social media are presumed to be the main vehicle for indoctrination, radicalisation and organisation of terrorism, another bite-back of scientific advancement. Cyberspace unites terrorism across the world.
The western world is showing a great deal of patience in the face of horrific terror attacks. Europe is under siege, by the continuous threat of terror attacks from within, and by the refugee invasion from outside. However, to the great credit of the people of Europe, in keeping with their secular ideology, they continue to wisely differentiate between true Islam and Islamic terrorism. But how long will this patience last? The day their patience runs out, the world will witness the most brutal Armageddon, fought on religion, a return to the dark ages.
No part of the world will remain untouched. All civilised nations must immediately come together and work out a common strategy to counter this very dangerous monster. As far as the UN is concerned, I believe it has still not been able to get a consensus regarding an internationally-agreed definition of the word ‘terrorism’. I have written before and I wish to repeat that every scripture has two parts — the first, temporary, situated and relevant in the place and context of its origin, and the other eternal, immortal and universally applicable to humanity. A religion evolves in time when its topical, contextual content is interpreted as such, and relegated into the background. A religion evolves when its eternal, immortal and universal truths are reiterated and propagated in coexistence with contemporary times and with the rest of humanity.
I have written before and I wish to repeat that I am a great admirer of the Prophet of Islam, because he is the one Prophet who clearly told his followers, “When you walk in search of knowledge, you walk in the path of God; the ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of a martyr.” As long as his followers adhered to this teaching, they were masters of the civilised world. When they forsook his teachings, burnt all books and read only the Quran, and that too not in its entirety, they became slaves of those whom they had educated. The great picture of Islam of Prophet Mohammed has been more or less distorted, if not completely obliterated. The suicidal ISIS is a faithful reproduction not of Islam but the Wahabi cult which is only an insult to the Islam of Prophet Mohammad whom I revere even though I am a non-Muslim. I think most Indian Muslims realise this distortion. I am proud to call myself a secular Indian Hindu.
Secularism, I have often explained, is the subordination of ignorance to education and of religion to science. No prophet of any religion had even imagined of man landing on the moon, or the nuclear bomb, and modern medicine and surgery. The cause of Islam’s tragedy was Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, born in 1703 in Saudi Arabia, the founder of a sect called ‘Wahhabis’. He pretended to revive the Islam of Prophet but did exactly the contrary. He picked on a stray line in the Holy Book and convinced himself that it has 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 legitimise Jihad, even against fellow Muslims. His doctrine was worse than the act of 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). In the spring of 1802, 12,000 of his followers invaded the southern part of Ottoman Iraq. They entered Karbala, 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 wealth on 4,000 camels.
In the early 20th century, a similar militia movement was initiated in Saudi Arabia, called ‘Ikhwan’. The Saudi Royal family saw great guardians in these toxic movements and the notorious Bin Laden was the evil product of these two. The movement called Muslim Brotherhood also joined in this unholy war on the decencies of the Holy Prophet of Islam. India has not escaped the evil attention of this motley crowd of fanatics.
Can the civilised world conquer terrorism is a worrisome question. Muslims must recall the Islam of pristine grandeur because Wahhabi version is only leading to the destruction of Islam, through the self-proclaimed IS Caliphate, and its savagery against everyone. Leading religious Muslim leaders, intellectuals and thinkers across the world must create a movement for Islam’s Renaissance before it is destroyed by the ISIS Caliphate.
(Ram Jethmalani is a senior advocate and Member of Parliament Follow him on Twitter @RamJethmalani5)