ByShiraj Uddin Shopon
America along with other civilized nations all over the world are gearing up to remember the terrible incidents of 9-11 that happened a year ago. The destruction of Twin Towers in the city where I live is a vivid reminder that the pernicious force of Jihadi Islam had again reared its ugly head to create confusion and chaos in America and in the West.
Many wise writers in cyber forums such as NFB had written copiously about the ills of Muslim Umma concerning world peace, development, and amity. An enduring global peace is essential for humanity to progress and to move forward into a courageous but uncertain world. The Muslim world however lagged behind in this quest for conscious growth and development for years and years. Every which we looked, we saw no democracy to speak about in the Muslim World.
The leader of Muslim nation is Saudi Arabia, unquestionably. But alas, there is no trace of democracy in Saudia. The neighboring Persian Gulf States and Kuwait are also not democratic states. In their defense, the government of these nations say that democracy and Islam are incompatible. Prof. M. Omar Farooq, a regular cyber writer and a Muslim reformer living in the Mashreq (west), may disagree with the heads of the states in Arabian peninsula and in Persian Gulf region but the fact remains the same.
According to the dictum of Islam (read Koran and Hadis), there should not be any democratic state in any Islamic nation. Maulana Abu Ala Maududi, the eminent Islamic scholar of Pakistan wanted to accommodate theocracy in the guise of democracy. He called his brand of "democracy" – the Theo-democracy. His brainchild, the Jammat, wants to grab power in Bangladesh only to convert this docile nation into a hot bed of radicalized Islam. In essence, there is no room for democracy in Islam and Prof. Omar Farooq knows this for a fact.
In the post 9-11 days, Muslim clerics all over the world are saying that Muslims are one. However, when we look, all we see that Muslims are divided. They are divided for good reasons. There is no amity among the Muslim nations. In August 1990, Saddam Hussein’s army moved into neighboring Kuwait that gave many opportunities to America to apprehend Saddam’s elite Republican Army. And guess which nation came forward to help America? It was none other than House of Saud who cajoled America to go after Saddam. The reason was very clear. If not confronted head-on, Saddam may have annexed Saudi Arabia next. Therefore, self-interest had motivated the Saudis to lick the boot of Mr. Bush senior.
Of course, that made a dissident Saudi maverick by the name Osama bin Laden very upset. This bootlicking by the Saudis had irked Osama bin Laden so much so that years later he gave fatwa against America. Mr. bin Laden is known to be an Islamic man of vision. To fulfill his dream, he reared a group of trusted men. His brainchild, al-Qaeda, is now being dreaded as a pernicious force by America. Mr. George W. Bush, the senior Bush’s son, had promised to bring down al-Qaeda and its leaders to their knees. Thus, right now, America is fighting an unannounced war against Osama’s army of al-Qaeda while other Islamic nation such as Pakistan is helping America to weed out fundamentalist Muslims from the face of this world.
The petite nation of Bangladesh, a Muslim majority nation, is now seeking help from America to retrain the Imams whose voice carries a long distance in this poverty-mired nation. The other day, the lady Ambassador of America for Bangladesh, Ms. Mary Ann Peters, talked to Imams of Bangladesh after they finished one such training session, which is most likely paid by the American government.
This re-training of Mullahs is deemed necessary by America because the first training the clerics had received in village madrassahs is not compatible with the world we all live in. To soften the edge of Jihadi brand of Islam, America has targeted tens of thousands of Imams of Bangladesh to brainwash them so that their rhetoric on Jumma prayer would be kinder, gentler, and friendlier to western nations. This is an innovative way to combat the growth of Islamic fundamentalism. We shall have to wait to see the results.
The Talibans of Afghanistan were a formidable force before 9-11. Since they harbored anything like Osama bin Laden, America decided to teach them a harsh lesson of lifetime. The destructive force of Daisy Cutter Bomb proved to be no match for Talibans’ wild and pungent rhetoric.
Americans thus defeated one orthodox brand of Islam, Talibanism, in an unannounced war that barely lasted only two months. America’s superior firepower seems to be burdensome and punishing for the uneducated Talibans. They gave up their power too easily and moved to neighboring Islamic nation of Pakistan for a sanctuary. Pakistan’s Pashto speaking Pathans are not the same as Sindhis or Punjabis. Their alliance had always been with the Pashtu speaking Afghanis. Therefore, Mullah Omar and his roving gang of lieutenants received a warm welcome in the border area in the Northwest Frontier province.
I am bringing the above information to point out that Muslims all over the world are not united as far as 9-11 incidents are concerned. The educated and well-off Muslims who are modernists are sympathetic to the West. On the other hand, the poor Muslims are on the side of an amalgamation of Muslims composed of Osama bin Laden, Talibans, fundamentalists, and other oppressed Muslims such as Palestinians.
Even though Saddam Hussein is not an Islamist by any figment of imagination, but lately, he also had invoked Islam to strengthened his position amongst Iraqis. Allow me to remind my readers that Pakistan in 1971 also invoked Islam to protect a united Pakistan from fragmentation. Religion had been used as a tool in our part of the world. The Talibans have used it too to control the entire provinces of Afghanistan.
By reading American newspapers in the pre-anniversary days of 9-11, I see that many moderate Muslims in America are saying unabashedly that Jihadi brand of Islam is not the true face of Islam. Their remarks are geared to garner sympathy from Americans. In their heart, though, they know it too well that Jihad is an integral part of Islam.
The 9-11 incidents have pushed the expatriate Muslims into state of confusion in the West. Like a litmus test we are asked – as a Muslim, do you believe in Jihad and democracy? What should be our response? Yes and No. We will be in serious trouble then. So, to make a compromise we unabashedly say—Jihad - No, and Democracy - Yes. In our mind, we very well know that we are fibbing. For survival in the West, however, we should be allowed to fib. Allah being the merciful and beneficent will forgive us for our minor transgression. That is what I am hoping.
Shiraj Uddin Shopon writes from New York City.
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