Islam End Product Of A Culture Of Violence (Opinion)


1947-2014 (Archived)

End product of a culture of violence

Balbir K Punj

The brutal beheading of two Sikh civilian captives by the Pakistani Taliban, who still hold three more captives from the same community, poses a challenge to the civilised world as a whole. Islamabad seeks to escape responsibility by relegating it to action by a group outside the state apparatus. The secular apologists and peaceniks in India as well as the Muslim leadership here are either silent or find excuses for such brutality.

The news reports are saying that the beheading follows the refusal of the victim Sikhs to accept the religion of their captivators. If that is so, it is more the reason that the leaders of Islam clarify what their religionactually means when it claims to be the only true religion. What are the injunctions for non-Muslims in their sacred texts?

The constitution and practices in Pakistan and several other Muslim-dominated countries underline the fact that non-Muslims there are only second-rate citizens. The top political civil and army positions are reserved only for the people belonging to the majority religion. Pakistan military dictatorships have built into the state system a close relationship between religion and the state policy-making. The bulk of the growing teenagers are exposed to a system of education both, in the madrasas and state run institutions where the brainwashing takes place to treat all other religions other than the majority one as false and that the state and people are
justified in using violence to squeeze the minority out of their belief systems.

It was during military dictatorship of President Zia-ul-Haq that the education and legal systems were totally converted to be run on the Islamic track. Even a full decade of civilian rule afterwards did not dare change to the slightest degree its harsh provisions. Can the apologists in our country deny that the Taliban who behead people belonging to other faiths than Islam are simply the end products of a regime that legally prescribes death for the lightest slip of the tongue against any doctrine or word in the majority religion?

Can they also deny that the very existence of such a state across the
especially when they uphold a pan-Islamic state which rules by the law set in their sacred texts? Are we wrong in wondering whether those young Muslims on this side of the border are sucked into joining the Pakistani Taliban and their ilk and go for training in armed war against the Indian state and people are motivated by the very same Islamic state concept that is dinned into them from childhood and nurtured through madarasa education?

The political parties and leaders who talk of offering Islamic banking, Islamic personal laws even where they go against gender equality enshrined in our Constitution, should rethink on whether their vote-bank politics is fuelling these separatist, Talibanistic attitudes to grow among the Muslim minority.

Repeated exaggeration of occasional communal riots here promote the minority to believe that the Indian state is against them when the fact is that the Muslim population in India has grown to over 15 crore from what it was at the time of Partition while the religious minorities in Pakistan have shrunk to a mere marginal existence.

It would be suicidal for us to refuse to see the armed orthodoxy in Pakistan as different from the state. The establishment in Islamabad often cites the fact that that country also is a victim of serial bombings to demarcate itself apart from this brutality that appears mindless to other people everywhere. Yet, it fails to come to grips with the multiple growth of armed orthodoxy or its hydra-headed consequences; nor is Islamabad eager to take up curbing cross-border terrorism from its soil in discussions with India as is now evident when India holds talks with Pakistan.

Not with India alone; in talks with the American army chief Islamabad's army chief has refused to re-start operations against the Pakistani Taliban much less curb the sanctuary the Afghan Taliban are getting on the Pakistani side of its border with Kabul. More dangerous for us is the other fact that with the army continuing to be the real power in Pakistan, its use of religious orthodoxy and its militant wings trained and funded by the army to hurt others would never agree to give up the strategic and tactical advantage the use of these extremist organisations provide it.

Pakistan's real master also derives strength from the fact that throughout the Islamic nations it has support for this idea of using state power to sabotage the secular growth in countries that are not yet Islamic or sufficiently Islamic. Beheading is still part of the state power that many of these nations use to punish the people considered deviant even by a centimetre from the law laid down in the sacred book of Islam. We get reports from Saudi Arabia, Iran and others of incidents of public beheading and stoning to death as well as amputation of limbs that any civilised country has abolished as barbaric.

The treatment meted out to the Pandits in Kashmir Valley and the total silence on it among the Muslim leadership has not enabled the Muslim community to convince their Hindu neighbours that true secularism is inherent in the Islamic political doctrine. It is not the condemnation alone of the beheading of the Sikhs in Pakistan that international public opinion is looking forward to as an isolated event. It is the total disavowal of the culture of sanctifying use of barbaric violence for supporting and propagating religion that the civilised world would like to see emerging in the Muslim world.