Islam Not Linked With Terrorism!

Each time a terrorist incident takes place in any part of the world, it does not take long for it to be labelled as an act of Islamic terrorism. Little importance is given to the fact that Islam stands for peace and not for terrorism. Barely any consideration is given to reasons that may have prompted terrorists to use the Islamic label. There is little doubt that religion remains a weak nerve of our masses. It can be used to earn popular appeal and also excite emotions along religious lines. After all, there remains an immense marketing appeal in the religious tag. It isn’t without reason that religious attire is used by people of most faiths for entering political arena. Likewise, several businessmen, also particular about their religious attire, use their religious identity to market their products. Be it politics, business and/or terrorism, religious-card/label is deliberately used for these purposes.

Thus, it is not surprising that in India there prevails the trend of saffron-clad politicians, appearing to be extremely religious, using their appearances to attract crowds at their functions. They tend to use same gatherings to espouse venom against minorities. They use their religious identity to attract crowds and also add “religious legitimacy” to spread negative propaganda regarding minorities. Their own religious identity is thus pitted against the religious identity of targeted communities. Sadly, there remains a tendency among several classes of people to easily swallow whatever is said by such elements. It is possible that the religious label added with material benefits prompts these sections to “justify” and even, from their angle “legitimize” their pursuits even if it amounts to violating law and order. What else is implied by frequent incidents in which Muslims have been deliberately targeted in the name of religion? Again, the violators have used their own religious identity as well as fake claims about the targeted party, in order to “legitimize” their actions.

Clearly, it is high time that strict note was taken of the degree to which religious claims can be asserted. Tragically, Islam and the Muslim community appear to be the key targeted party in India as well as several other parts of the world. True, there is a trend in certain individuals to indulge in aggressive and violent behaviour including terrorism and its justification by using religious labels. Sadly, Islam and the Muslim community seem to suffer most from these individuals’ religious campaigns. But why should a few individuals be viewed as representatives of Islam and the entire Muslim community?

In this context, a note may be taken of the saffron clad, extremist politicians with a communal bias against Muslims. They are not viewed as representatives of the entire Hindu community. Adequate attention is paid to secular Hindus, including those who try and take up the cause of Muslims targeted communally. This only suggests that it would be erroneous to project the entire community as communal and anti-Muslim simply because of certain saffron-clad individuals’ indulgence in such behaviour. These also include groups of people who have aggressively targeted Muslims, apparently in pursuit of their respective religious agenda. This includes the Dadri-case and other similar incidents when these individuals have displayed little respect for nation’s law and order. Rather, they have abused it. It may be noted that these individuals have been strongly condemned and criticized by the country’s secular media and also individuals, which includes adherents of the same faith. This adds credence to the point made earlier that a few individuals, including the saffron-clad, cannot be viewed as representative of the entire Hindu community.

Similar parameters need to be used when deliberating on religious identity and also the pursuit of terrorists. So what if they claim to be extremely Islamic and that their designs are in the interests of Islam. Their belief remains confined to their own individual identities and at the most to regional and/or political groups they may belong to. From no angle can their beliefs and identities be viewed as representative of Islam and the entire Muslim community. Terrorist groups spread in various parts of the world have in reality totally different claims and agendas. From no angle can the pursuits of those operating in Kashmir be viewed as similar to those functioning in West Asia or other parts of the world. Certainly, the use of Islamic label helps them in gaining instant publicity. But this doesn’t really justify their identities and agenda being accorded the status of Muslim community representatives and Islamic, respectively.

Sadly, each time their religious label is accepted, it also amounts to being propagated as desired by them. They get excessive publicity as protectors of a certain religion. And this amounts to negative publicity for that religion and the majority of its believers who have no linkage at all with terrorism, terrorists and their agendas. Why should Islam be linked with radicalism, extremism, terrorism and similar notions simply because of a few aggressive individuals and groups’ designs? Individuals indulging in terrorism must be viewed as terrorists and not as Islamic.    

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 July 2016 on page no. 11

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