THE seminal declaration by the Darul Uloom, one of the most revered Islamic seminaries in the world, denouncing terrorists and rejecting terrorism as being `un Islamic? will have far-reaching implications and profound consequences for the Indian polity. Over 4,000 Ulema from across the country representing over 6,000 madarasas attended the All India Anti-Terrorism conference at Deoband, near Saharanpur in west Uttar Pradesh.
The Darul Uloom started soon after the national revolt of 1857 as an Arabic school in the Jama Masjid of Deoband. This was converted into an institution of higher learning in 1866. Continuing the anti-British spirit of 1857, the Deobandis, as they are usually called, played an important role in collaboration with Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders in the Indian freedom struggle. Opposing the two-nation theory, they propagated Indian nationalism. Maulana Madani had said, ?We, the inhabitants of India have one thing in common, and that is our Indianness ?..in spite of our religious and cultural differences.?
At this conference, a fatwa was issued against terrorism. The chief rector of Darul Uloom announced, ?We don?t have any link or association with terrorism, terrorists, whatsoever.? The fatwa pointed out that terrorism completely negated ?the teaching of Islam?, which is the faith of love and peace.
This Deoband declaration should go a long way in removing confusion from the minds of those misguided people who interpret Islamic teachings to suit their fundamentalist positions and motives. The Ulema at Deoband have issued their rejection and renunciation of terrorism on the basis of the same Islam and the Holi Quran which some militants use to justify their unjustifiable and unpardonable acts. The Darul Uloom, which has been known to be a hard line puritanical brand of Islam, was alleged to have inspired the Taliban. Though those at Deoband had always denied any connection or links with the Taliban, the present declaration of jihad against terrorism has emphatically clarified their position.
This has, indeed, come at an important time in the context of the global war against terrorism launched US imperialism. This so-called war had, as its ideological underpinning, theories such as Samuel Huntington?s `Clash of Civilisations? or the latter `The Age of Horrorism? by Martin Amis. This Deoband declaration has reiterated the simple truth that terrorism has no religion. A small band of people genuinely misguided or tempted by mercenary gains often hijack religious sanction as authority.
In the Indian context, the communal forces have often sought political benefit by citing the so-called silence of the Muslim clergy over terrorist violence. This, in the first place, is not true. Muslim organisations and Islamic institutions have often been as alert as anyone else in condemning terrorist violence. In this context, the Darul Uloom, by unequivocally declaring all kinds of terrorism is anti-national and anti-Islamic has made it clear that Muslims reject violence and love peace as much as any other, belonging to other religious affiliations.
India has its own experience with its own varied groups of extremists claiming allegiance to various religions/castes/regions who have indulged and continue to indulge in violent terrorist activities. These have to be isolated and rejected from our body politic by a determined and united effort that goes beyond the boundaries of any one religion, caste or region. This, however, may not suit the objectives of the communal forces who thrive on generating communal animosity by misusing religious affiliations of the people. This became clear when Advani characterised the 2008-09 budget as being `communal? because it made some measly allocations for improving the welfare of the religious minorities. The RSS/BJP?s opposition to the Sachar Committee recommendations also stem from the same mindset that tends to categorise Indian Muslims as being anti-national. It is the spread of such communal hatred, for the sake of consolidating the majority vote bank to further their political destinies that continue to plague our country and society and divert our attention and energies away from addressing and resolving the more important pressing problems of our people.
This Deoband declaration should, in this context, be of immense value in strengthening the forces of secular democracy in the country and the unity of our multi-religious, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, plural society.