Indian Muslims’ reaction on Osama’s killing

What does the demise of Osama bin Laden mean to Indian Muslims? How do Islamic scholars and community leaders see the world’s so-called biggest terrorist’s killing by US forces in a sanctuary at Abbotabad some fifty miles from Islamabad Pakistan. Indeed there is a range of reactions and different statements on the matter. For example AIMMM, an umbrella body of Indian Muslim organizations issued the following statement

‘’Osama bin Laden, the founder and ideologue of the Al-Qaida, the well organized terrorist movement, was killed on Sunday, 1 May 2011 by the US forces in his well-protected sanctuary in Abbotabad, Pakistan, thus closing a historic chapter with US avenging the killing of thousands of persons in 9/11”. The AIMMM said that with his death, there is no justification for the US and allied forces to operate in Afghanistan and add to the misery and the destitution of the Afghan people”.

The AIMMM deliberately refrained from passing a judgment on the life and work of Osama Bin Laden, called upon the US to re-write its foreign policy and to stop its blind support to Israel. Yet one emotion seemed to override all these reactions: Islam can never condone the perversities of Osama, and certainly not Indian Muslims who have carried the terrorist tag because of this one man.

Jamia Millia Islamia Vice-Chancellor Najeeb Jung said there was no reaction to Osama’s death on his campus or in the nearby Muslim neighbourhood of Jamia Nagar. “This is a reflection of the Indian Muslim’s disinterest in Osama.” Mr. Jung also rejected the notion that Muslims elsewhere could feel sympathy for Osama, except perhaps in pockets of Pakistan. The VC said Osama was killed at a time when even the al-Qaeda had begun to speak in disparate voices. “Sections of the al-Qaeda would be happy to have a new leadership.”

Maulana Syed Athar Dehlavi, Chairman of Anjuman Minhaje Rasool, said Osama had defied and defiled Islam with his statements even before the horrific 9/11 attacks and this was why the Minhaje Rasool issued a fatwa against him as early as 1998. “We were not only the first Muslim organisation to issue a fatwa, we also appealed to Ulema the world over to issue fatwas against him.” The Maulana, however, added that Muslims will always hold the United States as guilty as Osama for creating him.

Manzoor Alam, chairman of the Institute of Objective Studies, pointed out that far from being a thinker, Osama did not even have a degree in Islamic theology. He was never treated as knowledgeable on the Qur’an and Sunna, and across the Muslim world religious leaders held him in scorn. Fatwas were issued against him by such authorities as Ibn Baaz, the late great Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the popular Egyptian theologian.

Dr. Alam was emphatic that Indian Muslims would remain unaffected by any post-Osama radicalism: “Our youth have stayed clear of al-Qaeda and have shown time and again that they believe in the Indian Constitution.”

Scholar Mushirul Hasan said Osama had no relevance in today’s world: “In the light of the democracy movement in the Islamic world, it is very clear that the only option for Muslims lies in the democratic process and not in terrorism.” He argued that historically whenever Muslims had been allowed to exercise their option, they had chosen democracy. However, once the options were foreclosed by colonialism and western power, it appeared as if Muslims had become susceptible to the terrorist rhetoric: “Now that the global landscape has changed, these ideas deserve to be consigned to the dustbin of history.”

Columnist Aijaz Ilmi said Osama wanted to give divine sanction to his message of terror which was nowhere in the book of God. As for Indian Muslims, more than anyone else they were bound to be thankful for Osama’s death: “Muslims have been demonised because of Osama and 9/11.”

Some young writers are upset that Muslim reaction was sought whenever the subject of Pakistan or terrorism came up: “Whether it is an India-Pakistan cricket match or a terror attack or now Osama, Muslims are tested. Why should our reaction be any different from that of Hindus? This only reinforces the perception that Indian Muslims are not part of the mainstream.”

Hussain Abdullah, says in his survey report that contrary to Al-Qaida’s big claim that it operates for the sake of Islam and to protect Muslims from the evil forces, most of its terror victims have been the Muslims, the world over. Shahi Imam, Ahmad Bhkhari, in the wake of American claim to have killed Osama, refused to budge to America’s dubbing any body a terrorist,’’ for that one needs to prove it in a court of law, which America so far hasn’t done. In the past the Taliban and Osama bin Laden were friends of US, why are they being dubbed as terrorist today,” he asked. He also questioned the US credibility that, when it was aware of Osama’s presence at Abbotabad why did it not capture him alive and bring him to book in a court of law. A section of the Muslim clergy in Islamic countries criticized the reported burial of Osama bin Laden at sea, this was criticized by some non-Muslims also. “However big a criminal one might be, his religious traditions should be respected while burying him, said. Digvijai Singh, a Congress leader.  

However, some Indian ulama harshly criticized Pakistan for its allegedly providing a haven to terrorists, among them are Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, Maulana Kalbe Jawad and Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahli and Maulana Tauqir Raza, a Barelvi scholar, they also asked the Indian government to mount, pressure on Pakistan now to hand over terrorists like Daud Ibrahim and others to India.

As far as the ordinary Muslims are concerned their reaction was a mixed one. While some feel relief others don’t believe in the story at all.

MG News Desk

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2011 on page no. 6

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