Saturday, November 17, 2001
M A I L  B O X

Is this jehad?

THIS refers to V.N. Datta’s "Is this jehad?" (November 3). Let us not demean the concept of jehad. Mere brutal fighting is opposed to the whole spirit of jehad.

Jehad is made in the cause of Allah. Can a Kashmiri Muslim truly put his hand on his heart and say that his faith, Islam, is in danger of annihilation in this country? Even that his faith would be better protected in the lap of the mafia that rules Pakistan? Do they know there is not even a whisper of protest against Islamabad in the PoK despite total disillusionment?

This is because the Pakistani Kashmiris have never enjoyed any political rights. If a section of Kashmiri youth decided to take on the might of major military power like India, it was an expression of faith in Indian civilisation and democracy, a faith that India would treat them and the noncombatants fairly. Informed Kashmiris do realise that in a similar situation the so-called Islamic army of Pakistan would have been much more brutal, much more callous.



The writer has tried to give jehad a connotation that we would like the term to have.

"Every service with tongue and pen, performed with the cause of truth and justice is jehad", he has quoted Abul Kalam Azad as saying. But this is not the way Osama bin Laden or Musharraf or millions of Muslims interpret the term. For the overwhelming majority jehad is a divine institution of warfare to perpetuate Islam.

Jehad has, as a matter of fact, never been a very religious affair. Writing about the earliest jehads, Bertrand Russell states: "The motive of their conquests was plunder and wealth rather than religion." That was in the seventh century; things are not very different in the 21st as the events of September 11 proved.



Basically a religious endeavour to initiate non-believers to belief, jehad today has become a weapon in the hands of terrorists. This holy weapon for the defence of Islam today has the likes of Osama bin Laden misusing it and this is manifested in the killing of innocent civilians. In a nutshell it has become an easy tool in the hands of opportunistic politicians and clerics for the gratification of their vested interests.

This unlawful exploitation of the masses and suppression of socio-political opponents has grown in intensity, because on the one hand the Muslim population is by and large illiterate, backward and overawed by the clergy, and on the other, no collective and concerted effort has been made by the suffering states and societies to combat it. Something that should have been a divine institution to defend human values stands reduced to a brutal and inhuman practice.

Jehad in its true sense is a humanistic effort for ensuring equity, justice, truth and welfare of human society. But the fanaticism practiced by the likes of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad etc is neither a struggle for justice nor is it human in its manifestation.