Words Jihad and Jihadi have been in abundant use for the negative purposes from last two decades in particular. They have been closleyl linked to the word terrorism and violence, done by section of Muslims here and there. This global use of word is particularly a post 9/11 phenomenon. Just to recapitulate after the WTC was hit by two aeroplanes; the building sunk leading the death of nearly three thousand innocent people. The victims belonged to most countries and religions. In the aftermath; Osama bin Laden called it Jihad. American media coined the word Islamic terrorism since then. Most of the acts indulged in by Muslim terror groups have been labelled under this title. This; irrespective of the fact that many an Islamic Scholars, many a Muslim clerics like Maulanas of Deoband and Barelvi, stating that Islam does not approve of violence against innocent people. The words have stuck.

This has also beoame one more weapon in the hands of communal sectarian elements. Apart from the mainstream media social media has been delving this with gay abandon using these words in a derogatory way. The lap media also called Godi media, which is an important part of the opinion making against Muslims has been using it day in and day out.

Recently (March 11, 2020), Mr. Sudhir Chaudhary, the Editor-in-Chief of Zee channel in a show went on to the limits of this misrepresentation by showing a chart and classifying Jihad into various categories, Love, Jihad, Land Jihad and latest in series being Corona Jihad in the wake of Tablighi Jamaat event. Mr Chowdhary concluded that all these types of Jihad are being done to weaken India. Surely, these types of programs have been increasing and intensifying Hate against Muslims and Jihad.

Unlike most of the times, this time around a complaint was filed against the said editor, a FIR was filed and lo and behold the editor’s tune changed.  In the next program he talked respectfully about the word Jihad! The tone and tenor changed. Was it a late realization or the fear of facing criminal action which made him change the tune, he alone should know, but that’s another chapter to the story?

As such jihad is by and large used as synonym for violence, terrorism. This is very much contrary to the its use in Koran.. Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer argues that its use in Koran is multilayered. It stands for ‘utmost striving’ and has nothing to do with violence against innocents. As per him the concept of Jihad is far above violence. Those indulging in power games have used it as a cover for expanding power and called it as Holy War. This is very similar to the use of word Crusade by Christian Kings and Dharm Yudh by Hindu kings.

A deeper and more rational study of Koran and Hadith bring forth the real meaning of the term. Sufi’s who were away from the power struggle and focussed on spiritual aspects of religion like Bhakti Saints or liberation theologians, unfolded the deeper meaning of the term. Engineer points out that “it is for this reason that they describe war as jihad-e-Asghar and jihad to control one’s greed and selfish desires as jihad-e-Akbar (Great jihad)” (On Multi Layered Concept of Jihad, in A Modern Approach to Islam, Dharmaram , Page 26, 2003, Bangalore)

The reference to Jihad comes in Koran over 40 times, mostly referring to Jihad-e-Akbar, striving to overcome personal greed and selfishness. The real transformation of the word Jihad in popular perceptions and Chaudhary is the extreme example of that, takes place during the training of Mujahideen in the few specially set up Madarssas in Pakistan. This was initiated and coordinated by America in the decade of 1980s, when the Russian Army occupied Afghanistan. That was the time American forces were totally demoralised due to their humiliating defeat in Vietnam, at the hands of Vietnamese people.

To confront the Russian army, US planned to join the anti Russian forces. For this with the help of extremist Salafi version of Islam, they promoted the radical tendencies within a section of Muslims. The brain washing of the Asian Muslim youth as Mujahedeen to Taliban took place in few Pakistani Madrassas, totally funded by America. For this funding opium trade was also put into operation. The brainwashing module designed in Washington incorporated many components which also distorted the concept of Kafir, and created Hate against communists. Communists were labelled as Kafirs (Non believers) and so killing them was presented as Jihad. Getting killed while doing such an act was to be rewarded with entry pass to Jannat with 72 virgins waiting for those embracing this path.

America further went on to promote Taliban and Al Qaeda, which joined anti Russian forces, leading to defeat of Russian forces. Mahmood Mamdani in his book ‘Good Muslim Bad Muslim’ makes an inference based on CIA documents that America invested 8 thousand million dollars and also supplied seven tonnes of armaments, including the most sophisticate missiles to these forces. One also recalls the Al Qaeda leaders’ visit to US, White house. In the Press meet the then US President Ronald Regan, introduced them as being the equivalents of founding fathers of United States as they are fighting against the evil of communism.

Now of course the situation has taken its own turn and nearly three decades after their inception the same elements, later followed by ISIS and IS acted like Frankenstein’s monsters, killing Muslims in large numbers. It is estimated that over 70000 Pakistanis have been killed due to the action of these groups, who were propped up and nurtured by US to enhance its control over the oil wells of West Asia.

The likes Sudhir Choudhary can merrily propagate the Hate using the term Jihad. That such elements can also be partly controlled through the process of law is a part of great learning after the FIR filed against him. One hopes that such hate filled programs will come to a halt once we combat them ideologically and after resorting to the provisions of Indian Constitution. 

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

Lately when India is undergoing the massive crisis of the Corona epidemic and the offshoots of its mishandling, we have also seen the pandemic being used to demonise a particular community in India. These hate mongers, operating through powerful medium of TV, and widespread social media which also has resorted to Fake news has intensified the Hate against religious minority. In this vast phenomenon, it seemed that all is lost as far as amity between people of different religions is concerned. Despite this broad generalisation one feels happy when one comes to know of few incidents where religious communities come forward to help each other.

The most touching such incidence of amity came forward in the form of story of Amrit and Farooq. They were travelling in a truck from Surat to UP. On way Amrit, a worker, fell sick and most other travellers, asked him to leave the truck in the middle of the night. As he was offloaded, he was not alone. His friend Farooq, another worker, also came down with him. Farooq put the sick Amrit in his lap and cried for help which caught the attention of others and an ambulance landed up to take Amrit to hospital!

In another incidence one worker, who had an differently able child, took the bicycle of another person, leaving a touching letter of apology, saying that he was helpless as he has to travel with his children and there is no other means. Many a people reported it as a theft of the bicycle while the owner of the bicycle, Prabhu Dayal took it in a stride. The one who took away the bicycle was Mohammad Iqbal Khan. In Sewri Mumbai, Pandurang Ubale, a senior citizen died due to age related and other problems. Due to lock down his immediate relative’s could not organize the funeral. His Muslim neighbours came forward and did his last rites as per the Hindu customs.  Similar cases are reported from Bangalore and Rajasthan. In TIhar jail, the Hindu inmates joined the Muslim in keeping the Roza (fasting). While mosque in Pune, (Azam Campus) and a Church in Manipur has been offered as a place for quarantine. In another lovely incident a Muslim girl takes shelter in a Hindu home and the host gets up early in morning to prepare and give her food for Sehri, a pre morning meal before Rosa begins.

One can go on and on. Surely what is reported must be a tip of the iceberg as many such incidents must be going on unnoticed and un reported.  The feeling one was getting after the section of media jumped to communalise spread of Corona, coined words like Corona bomb, Corona jihad, one felt the efforts to break the mutual trust between Hindus and Muslims may succeed totally after all. The deeper inherent humanism of communities has ensured that despite the Hate being manufactured and propagated by communal forces for their political agenda, the centuries old amity and the fraternity promoted by freedom movement will sustain itself somewhere, though it is suffering deep wounds due to the religious nationalists.

India’s culture has been inherently syncretic, synthesising the diversity in various forms. The medieval period which is most demonized, and as many of the sectarian ideologues are presenting it as a period of suffering of Hindus, the fact is that it is during this period that Bhakti tradition flourished and literature in Indian languages progressed during this period. Even Persian, which was used in the court of kings interacted with Awadhi and produced the Urdu, which is an Indian language. It is in this period when the most popular story of Lord Ram was written by Goswami Tulsidas. Tulsidas himself in his autobiography Kavaitavali writes that he sleeps in a mosque. As far literature is concerned many an outstanding Muslim poets wrote wonderful poetry in praise of Hindu Gods, one can remember Rahim and Raskhan’s brilliant outpourings in praise of Lord Shri Krishna.

The food habits, the dress habits and social life emerged with components from these two major religions. The sprinkling of Christianity in different aspects of Indian life is as much visible. It was the symbol of deep interaction of Hindus and Muslims that Muslims followed the Bhakti saints like Kabir and many a Hindus visit the Sufi Saint Dargahs (Shrines). This interactive element is vibrantly visible in Hindi films. Here one can see the outstanding devotional songs in praise of Hindu gods composed by Muslims. One of my favourite’s remains, ‘Man Tarpat hari Darshan ko Aaj’ (My soul is longing to see Hari). This song was written by Shakil Badayuni, composed by Naushad Ali and sung by Mohammad Rafi. The latter must have sung innumerable devotional songs.

Our freedom movement, despite the divisive role of British, the Muslim communalists and Hindu communalists, brought together people of all religions, in the struggle against colonial powers. Many a literary people painted the beautiful interaction of diverse communities. During freedom movement, and in the aftermath as communal violence flared up, the likes of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, and towering above all Mahatma Gandhi tried to douse the fire of violence through exemplary efforts, efforts in which Muslims and Hindus both reciprocated despite the hate spread by the communal forces.

One recalls here the efforts of those friends, who laid down their lives to combat the fire of Hate. In Gujarat the names of Vasant Rao Hegiste and Rajab Ali will always be remembered as they laid down their lives, as a team, to restore sanity. This interaction is very deep and the present Government cannot tolerate the impact of Islamic-Muslim component in our culture. That’s precisely the reason that attempts are on to change the names of cities (Faizabad-Ayodhya, Mughal Sarai-Deen dayal Upadhyay etc)

The deeper interaction of communities is present in all facets of our society. The examples during Corona crisis have again brought to fore the fact that Indian culture is essentially a product of synthesis of different aspects of many religions prevalent here.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED