At the Nuclear Summit in Washington DC, Indian PM Modi put forward three important features of terrorism. They are: (1) Use of Extreme Violence as Theater, (2) Terrorist isn’t living in a cave, but in city with a computer or smartphone, and (3) State Actors working with nuclear traffickets and terrorists are the greatest threats.
We should focus on three contemporary features of terrorism. First, today's terrorism uses extreme violence as theatre: PM Modi
— ANI (@ANI) March 31, 2016
Third, State actors working with nuclear traffickers and terrorists present the greatest risk: PM Modi
— ANI (@ANI) March 31, 2016
In the wake of Brussels, we are seeing that Europe’s future has been compromised. The are some truths in the overall Islamic Terror landscape – that is jeopardizing the mankind – which PM Modi did not touch.3 Fundamental Truths of Islamic Terror @TrueIslam @Terror_Monitor Click To Tweet
Let us discuss those.
1 Liberal Intellectuals, Moderate but Devout and the Radical Islamic Terrorists are a logical continuum and partners: If there was a way to compare videos of malls and markets in US, India, UK and say, Pakistan from 1998 to 2015 – specifically of places with substantial Muslim population – one can surely find an interesting difference. Now, as compared to 2001, more and more Muslim men are supporting beards and more and more women are wearing Hijabs. The hijab-wearing women and bearded men are now more than ever before. As the Islamic terror has spread in the West and increased in the rest of the world, so has rigidity in Islamic ritualistic aspects. There is an underlying battle being fought by those who use terror as an instrument to prepare a population that can not just back, but safeguard their terror groups when needed.
Let us understand this for a bit. A young Muslim man who has received the best of modern education – probably a software engineer from the best of places – and whose parents have been normal citizens of a Western country, trying to make their lives better – suddenly is found to be a perpetrator of terror by either shooting or indulging in suicide bombing. This is a story all to common these days. How does this shift happen?
There is a time in every person’s life when s/he is comfortable with his or her direction and wants to explore one’s identity. When such a step is taken, one finds different means. Unfortunately, in the Muslim world, we see that when a young Muslim wants to explore his/her identity, s/he comes face-to-face with trends that take him/her to the doorstep of rigidity. And then the beard and the hijab happens. When the critics speak up, there are enough “self-confident and self-aware” modern Muslims who have come to identify themselves with these symbols – who push back such criticism in the name of “Freedom”. And, they are right. They are exercising what a Jew from New York wearing his head gear and traditional beards is doing. So why does one take issue with a Muslim’s beard and hijab?
Because, that population of Muslims looking to identify by ritualistic symbols and internalizing the historic Islamic narrative (Jews are Evil) in the name of freedom of expression – also is making some people ready to take the next step. Of carrying out what Quran and Hadiths say in a literal manner. There is thin line and a very short distance left between those who in a “Modern and Western Idiom” carry out activities of being proud of their identity and those who are either terrorists or their supporters. The supporters, however their vile narrative maybe, are part of the larger society and carry on as if they respect that society. In reality, however, they are just a “life event” or “bad judgment” away from a terror activity involving mass murder. Look, for example, at this lady. In any normal milieu, she will blend as a modern and outgoing, articulate and “free” woman. But her narrative and ideas are no different from that of a hard-core terrorist. If she had access to a bomb, and the wrong “life event” made her carefree enough, she is very capable of a mass murder. Until then she is a “normal outgoing well-educated” Muslim girl.
Infact, in most fora she may actually pass off as even a “Liberal Muslim”. But even those people who are known as “Liberal Muslims” in most societies find it hard to stop the slide of a young man in their own family to the point of being a “Devout Muslim”. Even though s/he maybe a Modern Devout Muslim. Like this lady from UCSD. The narratives and the semantics that moderates and the devout have access to and are confronted with are stacked to take them further on the continuum of fanaticism. If they do not have it in them to indulge in any negative activity themselves, they nevertheless have sympathies towards those are in the final stage of “Devout tending to Terror”.
The path from Moderate with Sympathies for the Devout and the Devout-not-Terrorist is never linear. But it is becoming shorter every day. For, behind the world of identity of what it means to be a Muslim, is a certain state powers which create the literature and media to facilitate it. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan and other countries have been at the forefront of that work.
The path is set. The path is not voluntary since it has strong influences of parties with agenda. The path, though not linear, is ultimately pushing one to a terrible destination. Either as a terrorist or a sympathizer of him.
Short of purging the powers that influence the path and eliminate the path itself, the redemption of the coming Muslim generations and a stop to terror may not be possible. But how does one do that when the solution aims to interfere and target the tenets of someone’s right to religion itself? Even when the redemption of its faithful lies in not believing strongly enough.
That is a problem that no one talks about. In short – the world has to find a way to ascertain who amongst the Liberal and Moderate but Devout will take to terror and who will not. There is no way. But I am suggesting that it really doesn’t matter. For, even if this lady from UCSD did not take to terror, she is the ideal foil for sheltering those who do. So, the writer is suggesting that Liberal, Devout and the Terrorist are part of one continuum. And it is tough to short-circuit the slide of someone down that road.
2 Antidote to Terror narrative is Missing in the West: The foundation for fanaticism is Belief. If you believe in something that you have no experience of, you will have only arbitrary way to understand your progress. If you had never tasted a mango – for many who have had the best of them, the tastiest fruit on earth! – but were told of it as the best fruit on earth and asked to believe in that “word”, how would you manifest that belief – if you had absolutely no access to a mango ever? The depth and the extent of your belief will be articulated in large sculptures of mangoes, enforcing everyone to swear by it and killing those who differed from that belief. But one who has tasted a mango and has access to it would have no need for all that. He will simply give it to you to taste and know it for yourself. Those who experience find belief to be nonsensical. Those who haven’t experienced and have no access to the experience, install belief as sine qua non and make it a tool and function of their power. If you are a teacher-believer, you will brainwash. If you are a warrior-believer, you will kill. If you are a trader-believer, you will make all those who believe rich and other paupers. But one who has experienced, will and can only share the experience for others to know.
Experience makes belief useless. And, belief is always wary and scared of experience. For one who believes, his belief is the means to show his strength.
In the fight of West with the Islamic continuum, we have a remarkable fight. Between one belief and another. That is why West will never inspire any spiritual change in the Islamic structure. However disingenuous, Sufism was still the only means for redemption in Islam, if it had flowered in a genuine way. Unfortunately, it didn’t. The power of belief triumphed over it. If it wasn’t for the Eastern Mystic and Dharmic traditions, even that window of opportunity would not have been available to the Islamic world.
In the case of West, however, where belief fights belief, we have the quintessential “Clash of Civilization” – or rather Clash of beliefs. The antidote for Terror – the epitome of the belief paradigm – is missing in the West and the world that fights the Islamic terror. The only antidote is Science. But Religion and Science do not mix even in the West. Try and discuss Evolution or Big Bang or even something as real as Climate Change with an Evangelical and you will see how Science is posited as anti-thesis to Religious belief right away.
The only anti-dote to religious belief is no belief at all. And yet a search for Divine. That is where Spirituality comes in. A pursuit that has been missing in the West. Even those who at some point take upon this path seriously end up with only academic scholarship. Write books, give lectures, start foundations and live “prosperously ever after”. Spirituality, unfortunately, for most Western seekers has been part-time pursuit and a career. For many, however, it has been a means to acquire tools to establish the primacy of their own belief by discarding the Eastern and Indian mystic foundations.
So, in this scenario, how can there be any solution that doesn’t end up in a violent clash that Huntington had predicted? That is a question that many in West and Middle East need to ponder upon.
3 Hack at the root, not the branches: One can keep engaging against the branches of any tree, unless one works on the root, the right fruit will never appear. Unfortunately, in an attempt to be politically correct and secular, the intellectual community has come up with branches of the root cause of Islamic terror, engaging with which serve no purpose. Attempts are made to distinguish between Islam, Islamism and Radical Islam. When one tries to find ways and means to differentiate, one finds few or none. Watch the video and listen to Maajid Nawaz a liberal activist against Jehad. He is well meaning and makes a telling point.
He makes some very good points, but what he and many others like him do not realize is that Islamism is a child of Islam itself. It is branch and Islam the root. You cannot get rid of it at all, if you make the distinction he wants to make. What needs to be differentiated are: Muslims (people) and Islam (ideology). While no violence should be advocated or tolerated against the people, the ideology should be taken on for what it is. An anti-humanity ideology. Nothing short of that will save humanity.
There is a difference between Life (a human, a flower, an animal) and Ideology (thought, belief, dogma). To understand it better, try and see the difference between Experience of Joy and Explanation of Joy. No amount of explanation or articulation or thoughts on Joy can ever give you that feeling that something as small as the bright color of a rose or a smile of a child can give you. Smile of a Child is an expression of joy. Explanation is a poor substitute to reduce the experience in words. It does nothing close to it.
We need to end the paradigm where primacy of belief defines our existence. “I think therefore I am” – is not only nonsensical in real terms (try spending some time with an Alzheimer’s patient to understand the utter nonsense of it!) but also damning in final import! Our thoughts which are nothing but a bad approximations of reality of existence have been exalter far above our very life itself! No wonder then that people find it easy to kill for belief. The way is paved. The stage is set. Justification is there. Just do it!
Islam as an ideology needs to be engaged and challenged for what it has created as a belief system. An unbridled, unchangeable and unrepentant machine of violence and power that knows no rectification nor redemption. With the added companion of “Day of Judgment” that is loaded in favor of the “believers”, the stage is set for the “Battle of Finality”. How do you stop a train that is programmed to not stop until it has destroyed everything else in its path?
Nothing short of challenge to the ideology will do. If Life is greater than Ideology. If your experience of Joy is more valuable to you than mere conjectures and theories about it. Remember, even the great Robin Williams, who thought jokes and laughs were joy committed suicide from depression after all.
Featured Image Source: Flickr
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