The hullabaloo about tableeghi jama’at (TJ)
In the backdrop of COVID19 surge worldwide, two congregations of the TJ, one (1, 50,000) in Pakistan and another (3,000) in India rippled shock-waves. The both, allegedly, violated official instructions. Hundreds of foreign attendees came to Nizam mosque as `tourists ‘instead of as ‘missionaries’ from 21 countries, including Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan.
After attending the gathering, they `spread out to other parts of India such as Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh, creating a web of close contacts that now threatens to create an explosion of cases in the country’.
As such, India sealed the mosque, and booked them, including chief priest Maulana Saad, under criminal laws and unleashed a witch hunt to catch those who escaped the dragnet. Seven persons reportedly died of the disease, and as many as 24 detainees tested coronavirus.
One attendee from disputed Jammu and Kashmir died in the mosque. His death was termed martyrdom.
India’s view: `Islamic proselytizers appear to have worked around the scrutiny by hiding the real purpose of their travel to India, blindsiding Indian missions abroad’. And, `they operate in grey areas and their preaching can be used to radicalise youth in the name of Islam’. They cause
`Environmental damage by filing the Yamuna and Ganga with “religious waste” or turning the densely populated and congested Nizamuddin Basti into a “Covid-19 hot spot” for the sake of an Islamic gathering’. A newspaper asked, `But if this isn’t plain stupidity in the name of Allah, then what is? Contamination, from Assam to Telangana to the Andamans.
Media allegations: The New York Times reported that the participants in the 16,000-strong gathering [Malaysia] of the world’s biggest Islamic missionary movement had spread the coronavirus to half a dozen nations, creating the “largest known viral vector in Southeast Asia”. “More than 620 people connected to the four-day conclave have tested positive in Malaysia, prompting the country to seal its borders until the end of the month. Most of the 73 coronavirus cases in Brunei are tied to the gathering, as are 10 cases in Thailand”.
On 18 March, Al Jazeera, quoting Malaysian Health Minister Dr Adham Baba, reported that only half of the Malaysian participants who attended have come forward for tests, raising fears that the outbreak from the mosque could be more far-reaching.
Even in Pakistan, 27 members of Tablighi Jama’at, out of the 35 screened at their headquarters in Raiwind, tested positive for coronavirus.
The organisation has been described as “a free-floating religious movement with minimal dependence on hierarchy, leadership positions, and decision-making procedures. Controversies: However, due to its orthodox nature, the sect has been criticised for being retrogressive.
Women are always burqua-clad and the organisation has been accused of keeping women ‘strictly subservient and second string.’
Associated with terror? In France, according to an article, as many as 80% per cent of the Islamist extremists have come from Tablighi ranks, prompting French intelligence officers to call Tablighi Jamaat the ‘antechamber of fundamentalism.’ They have also been accused of molding terrorists who have moved to larger terror groups.
Famous members of the organisation include Pakistan’s three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif father and India’s president Dr Zakir Hussain.
Seven deaths have been linked to the religious gathering at “Markaz Nizamuddin”, the Delhi headquarters of the Tablighi Jama’at, and 24 cases have been confirmed.
On the face of it, TJ’s six principles suggest Islamic piety in its extreme. But that is merely its cosmetic exterior, inviting the innocent and idealistic young Muslims into an ideological line that ultimately turns them as terrorists. The less known and dangerous side of the century-old TJ began unfolding the world over since 2001, but not in India.
Dr. Farhan Zahid, in his analysis titled “Tablighi Jamaat and its links with terrorism” [Foreign Analysis March 2015 Centre Francais de Reserche Sur le Renseignement] descries TJ as `nursery and gateway to terror’. He alleges, perhaps without sufficient corroborative evidence,
“TJ is another system driver and integral element of Islamist Violent Non-State Actors’ internal dynamics; in many cases it has acted as nursery for indoctrinating Islamist terrorists,” writes Dr Farhan Zahid, a Pakistani counter-terrorism and security expert, in his analysis titled “Tablighi Jamaat and its links with terrorism” [Foreign Analysis March 2015 Centre Francais de Reserche Sur le Renseignement]. Dr Farhan says, TJ “in a way plays the role of recruiter and sympathiser [for terrorism]. TJ’s congregation allows radical elements worldwide to meet and discuss violent activities and provide them with the best opportunity to coordinate”. Adding “many of its followers have dual and overlapping membership with jihadist groups”, Dr Farhan cites references and says “TJ has now been considered as a ‘gateway to terrorism’.
Dr Farhan erects his views on TJ’s `terror record in Europe, US’. He says since 2001, traces of links have been found between TJ and Islamists involved in acts of terror. Shoe bomber Richard Reid who attempted a trans-Atlantic airline bombing , Jose Padilla who tried dirty bomb manufacturing  in New York city, Barcelona terror plot  and the arrest of American Taliban John Walker in Afghanistan  were all linked to TJ. Its French Muslim recruits were found involved in planning attacks by the Portland Seven and the Lackawanna Six in the US.
”During the 1980s and 1990s, TJ became the recruiter of Islamist radicals for the Afghan war. Dr Farhan points out that Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami [HuJI] was formed by former TJ members Qari Saifullah Akhtar and Fazal ur Rahman Kalil along with others.
From the HuJI platform emerged other jihadist outfits – Harkat-ul-Mujhahideen [HuM] Jaish-e-Mohammed [JeM], Sipah-e-Sahaba [SSP] and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi [LeJ]. All of them stand declared as terror outfits.
In his analysis titled “Tablighi Jamaat: Jihad’s stealthy Legions” in Middle East Quarterly [Jan 8, 2016] Alex Alexiev writes that as 80 per cent of Islamist extremists have come from Tablighi ranks and the French intelligence calls TJ the ‘antechamber of fundamentalism’.
In his investigative story titled “French Islamic group offers rich soil for militancy’ in The New York Times [April 29, 2005] Craig Smith lists Zacarias Moussaoui [charged in the US 9/11 terror]; Herve Djamel Loiseau, who died fleeing the 2001 American bombardment of Tora Bora in Afghanistan; Djamel Beghal, an admitted Al-Qaeda member, who was convicted in 2005 for plotting to blow up the US Embassy in Paris, as TJ terror activists of French origin. Freth Burton and Scott Stewart, writing in an analysis titled “Tablighi Jamaat: An Indirect Line to Terrorism” in the Stratfor Global Intelligence Security Weekly, say that 12 out of the 14 men arrested in a pre-emptive raid on a mosque in Barcelona for plotting to attack targets belonged to TJ, adding that TJ’s name figured in the 2005 London underground bombings in which 52 people died and also in the attempted bombings in London, Glasgow and Scotland. Assistant FBI Director [US] Michael Heimbach says that TJ has significant presence in the US, and Al-Qaeda was found to have recruited TJ adherents [New York Post Dec 27, 2015].
Mohammed Ahmedullah’s book The Pakistan: After The Coup [Harper Collins Publishers India 2000] is full of venom against the TJ. Khaled Ahmed, former diplomat and editor of Friday Times in Pakistan writes in On The Abyss: “Because of the rise of Deobandi militias…. the [Punjab] province is rapidly losing its Barelvi temperament.” What the authors had prophesied came true in the very next year when Pakistan was found involved in 9/11 attack on the US. Over the years, Pakistan has come to be known as the global terror hub. Says Dr Farhan, “Several mainstream Islamist violent non-state actorshave taken their roots from TJ’s indoctrination and on the platform provided by TJ missionaries. It is the Deobandi ideology of TJ which provides potential jihadists a crucial link.
An India Abroad News Service report on April 1, 2020 titled “Tablighi Jamaat shares links with terror outfits”, said: “As per WikiLeaks, some of the 9/11 al-Qaeda suspects detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay had stayed in the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters in Nizamuddin West, New Delhi, years ago. Tablighi Jamaat was also suspected to be involved in the burning of 59 Hindu kar sevaks in 2002 in Godhra, Gujarat, which led to mass communal rioting in the state. According to India’s retired Research and Analysis officer, late B Raman, TJ in Pakistan and Bangladesh gained adverse attention for association with Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and members of the International Islamic Front formed by Osama bin Laden in 1998. Quoting Pakistani newspaper reports from the 1990s, Raman pointed out that the trained cadre of jihadi terrorist organisations like HuM obtained visas by posing as preachers of Tablighi Jamaat and went abroad to recruit young Muslims for terror training in Pakistan. Since millions of TJ proselytisers travel around the world, TJ also developed a large following in Chechnya and Dagestan areas of Russia, Somalia and other African countries. Raman wrote that intelligence agencies of these countries suspected that terror organisations based in Pakistan were using the cover of TJ preaching for creating sleeper cells in different countries. As a result, TJ was black-listed and its preachers denied visas.”
B Raman, one of the most brilliant R&AW officers, passed away in 2013.In a piece titled “The road to Sri Lanka Carnage” on Rediff.com, the well-known security analyst Praveen Swami linked Mohammad Muhsin Nilam, a Sri Lankan, to Zahran Hashim who was responsible for the Colombo bombings. Also known as Abu Shuraya, Nilam was killed in
Raqqa, the ISIS capital. Nilam’s story is key to understanding the networks thought to be responsible for the carnage in Colombo. Swami says that Tablighi Jamaat had begun to grow roots among Sri Lankan Muslims from the early 21st century. Swami says, “Educated in Sharia law at Islamabad’s International Islamic University, an institution where Osama bin Laden’s mentor Abdullah Azzam once taught, Nilam had encountered with the Tablighi Jamaat. In 2011, when Nilam returned to his home in Kandy in Sri Lanka, he first worked as part-time Urdu instructor at Colombo University. When he was principal of a school in Galewala, he played a key role in Zahran’s group. Then, in 2014, feigning to go on a pilgrimage with his six children, pregnant wife, and ageing parents, he took them to Turkey and disappeared across the border into Syria. He posted in his Facebook post: “We will kill every man, woman, child, Shia, Sunni, Zoroastrians, Kurds, Christians.”Nilam had recruited for ISIS 36 Sri Lankans, maybe 100, including his friend, Thauqeer Ahmed Thajudeen. Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamaat and Tablighi Jamaat have identical goals and their interests converge. Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamaat is the mentor of Sri Lanka’s NationalThowheed Jamaat, which delivered the bombs in Sri Lanka. There is no Thowheed Jamaat outside India and Sri Lanka.
In a 173-page paper titled “Tablighi Jamaat: Wolf in sheep’s skin [Sept 9, 2018; released to media again after the Nizamuddin episode] Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a Zionist and multi-award-winning anti-jihadist journalist and a counterterrorism specialist, unravels the massive following of JT and its terror connections the world over. Thousands of TJ teachers from within and outside assemble in India and that is what they did in Nizamuddin. Is it just to memorise the six noble principles or as Dr Farhan says “to
discuss and coordinate terror activities”, will never be known in India, as no government has the guts to enter any mosque, thanks to the way secularism is understood in our politics.Unless this limit is breached and the menace is outlawed, innocent Muslims attracted by its cosmetic exterior of Koran cannot be saved from becoming carriers of Kalashnikovs and makers and throwers of lethal bombs. Let the courts decide whether TJ’s right to mentor terror in India also constitutes minority right, as is so far being understood.
Analysis: It appears that anti-Pakistan elements, including those in prestigious’ think tanks, and `intellectuals’ make pernicious allegations about TJ. Most writers appear to be sponsored by RAW, India’s premier intelligence agency. Indians in `think tank’ are in the forefront of disinformation. The aim is to tarnish Pakistan’s image. As for the USA, it is afraid of organisational abilty and discipline of the TJ.
Take RAND’s monograph `The Muslim World after 9/11 (RAND Project Air Force). The bloomers in the monograph caricature Rand Corporation claim on the report-jacket. ‘The RAND Corporation is a non-profit research organisation providing objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world…The RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity’. ‘Objective analysis’?
The report, influenced by Indian `peer reviewer’ Rollie Lal, is just a compilation of the others’ say-so, unverified presumptions, rumours or legends, dished out as ‘truths’. The monograph alleges `Al Qaeda recruits may have connection with Pakistan’s Tableeghi Jamat’. ‘However, the [Tableeghi] gathering is often a means to get into Pakistan, and once the individuals are in, they are fairly free to associate with whomever they desire…Raiwand is heavily monitored by a variety of intelligence organisations such as Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI), and the special branch [statement contradicting preceding allegation], p.259, ibid.).
.Here is a bouquet of RAND’s jaundiced blahs: (a) Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, are known to have connections to Al Qaeda, but are based in Pakistan rather than India (p. 308, ibid.). With the largest population of Muslims in the world, India remains an example of the compatibility of Islam and democracy (p.318, ibid.). (b) A figure titled “Muslim tendencies on a Spectrum of Democracy to Non-Democracy” classifies “Jam’at al Ulema-e-Pakistan” and “Jama’t-e-Islami (Pakistan)” as “Radical Fundamentalist” (p.10, ibid.). (c) Effects of Palestinian and Kashmir conflicts….Successive Pakistani governments have pursued a proxy war in Kashmir. To which they have subordinated the other purposes of Pakistani state to a large extent. This dynamic has dramatically changed the fabric of Pakistan’s domestic politics by empowering extremist movements and their sponsors in the Pakistan security services’ (pp. 49-50, ibid.). (d) As long as the Kashmir dispute remains unresolved to the satisfaction of India, Pakistan and the various Kashmiri constituencies, and as long as militant production and training infrastructure persists in Pakistan, security on the subcontinent will be a distant dream (p.295, ibid.). (e) In Pakistan, maulvis generally depend on the landlord (Chowdhury)…In some cases, the maulvis are even criminals (p.293, ibid.). (f) ‘Many in Pakistan have argued that the current army, though the most secular, is also the most anti-American (p.293, ibid.) [No mention of Pak army casualties and capture of over 700 al-qaeda stalwarts]. (g) Madrassa reform is the key to breaking the cycle of radicalised madrassas [madaaris] producing cannon fodder for radical and terrorist groups (p.62, ibid.). … It has been impossible to repeal or amend the much-loathed Hudud ordinance, the blasphemy law, or the ban on alcohol (pp.290-291, ibid.). (h) Figure 0.1 in the monograph titled ‘Muslim tendencies on a Spectrum of Democracy to Non-Democracy’ classifies ‘Jamaat al Ulema-i-Pakistan’ and ‘Jamaat-i-Islami (Pakistan)’ as ‘Radical Fundamentalist” (p.10).
Inference: The eclectic media reports toe RAND’s. probably US-dictated line. RAND’s “mosque-and-madrassa reforms” reflect that the authors have never visited any madrassa. TJ has no militant agenda, so far. Through stretch of wild imagination it is being linked to militancy. India is fearful of TJ’s visits to Kashmir under her yoke.
Debates about Islamic reform loom larger as Ramadan approaches
Reform of Islamic jurisprudence was the elephant in the room when two prominent Saudi clerics recently clashed publicly on whether apostasy was punishable with death under Islamic law.
The debate’s timing on a Saudi state-controlled, artsy entertainment channel, Rotana Khalijiya, suggested as much.
The debate aired days before the kingdom’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs severely restricted celebrating Ramadan. Islam’s holy month of fasting begins on March 22.
What lends debates like the discussion about apostasy greater significance is that they feed into a competition between Saudi Arabia and various other players for religious soft power in the Muslim world.
The rivalry pits Indonesian reformists against state-aligned Saudi and Emirati propagators of a socially liberal but autocratic interpretation of Islam.
Saudi and Emirati-backed Islamic scholars reject jurisprudential reform and reserve the right of legal interpretation for the ruler and his clerical surrogates.
Last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman went as far as nominating himself as the primary interpreter of Islamic law.
Mr. Bin Salman asserted in an interview with The Atlantic that “in Islamic law, the head of the Islamic establishment is wali al-amr, the ruler.”
Mr. Bin Salman meant that literally. The crown prince, in contrast to many Muslim rulers, seldom, if at all, solicits the opinion of Muslim scholars to legitimise his policies.
“Bin Salman puts religion at the service of his politics while protesting against the use of religion by his opponents,” said scholar and author of a book on the Muslim World League Louis Blin. The League is Mr. Bin Salman’s principal vehicle for propagating his autocratic version of a moderate form of Islam.
To be sure, Mr. Bin Salman and United Arab Emirates President Mohammed bin Zayed have enacted far-reaching social reforms that have enhanced women’s social rights and professional opportunities. Also, the two men have eased restrictions on gender interaction and embraced Western-style entertainment.
However, they anchored these changes in civil law and ignored the need to synchronise religious jurisprudence.
What drives the reformist zeal of Messrs. Bin Salman and Bin Zayed is not change because it is the right thing to do.
The two men’s primary concern is securing the survival of their autocratic regimes. To do so, they need to cater to youth aspirations, diversify their oil export-dependent economies, ease social restrictions to compete for foreign talent, and project an image of tolerance.
Their reforms serve that purpose but go no further.
Exhibit A is Saudi Arabia’s first-ever personal status law.
A recent Amnesty International analysis of the law suggests that it remains rooted in orthodox Islamic jurisprudence.
The law codifies problematic practices inherent in the kingdom’s male guardianship system.
It entrenches a system of gender-based discrimination in most aspects of family life, including marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance, even though it also sets a minimum age for marriage.
Under the law, women are required to obtain the consent of their male legal guardian to get married.
The law further obliges a wife to “obey” her husband. It conditions her right to financial support, such as food and accommodation, on her “submit(ting) herself” to her husband.
Moreover, men can initiate divorce without conditions, while women face legal, financial, and practical barriers. In divorce, a mother does not have equal rights to her children; the father is granted guardianship as a matter of principle.
Finally, the law institutionalises discrimination between men and women in inheritance, giving men a much larger share of assets than their female counterparts.
Similarly, recently announced restrictions on the public celebration of Ramadan were designed to shift the core of Saudi identity from religion to nationalism. They also intended to strengthen government surveillance and control.
With the restrictions, Mr. Bin Salman apparently wanted to be seen as walking in the footsteps of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the 20th-century visionary who carved secular Turkey out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and abolished the caliphate.
The new rules curtail the time allotted to evening prayers, forbid worshipers to bring their children to the mosque, ban the filming and broadcasting of prayers, curb donations for organising the breaking of the fast by worshippers, and oblige mosque officials to supervise the fast-breaking in courtyards rather than inside the mosque.
The measures resemble restrictions the government tried to impose last year. However, online uproar forced the government to retract a ban on broadcasting uninterrupted live Ramadan footage from the two mosques viewed by Muslims worldwide.
Looking for a silver lining in the restrictions, Indian Muslim thinker and Secretary-General of the Islamic Forum for the Promotion of Moderate Thought A. Faizur Rahman, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Bin Salman likely sees the reported measures as a way to counter the ritualisation of Islam.
That also is the message in the crown prince’s plan to build a futuristic downtown Riyadh with the Mukaab, a 400-metre-high square virtual reality cube, at its centre.
Critics have denounced the plan because the envisioned cube resembles the Kaaba, a black cuboid-shaped stone structure at the center of Mecca’s grand mosque.
Mr. Rahman described the Ramadan restrictions as “a bad imitation of Ataturk. It’s an expression of power. It’s saying I am the ruler.”
Some analysts believe that Mr. Bin Salman, like Mr. Ataturk in the past, wants to remove religion from the public square and relegate it to the private sphere.
In contrast to the waning years of empire and Turkey’s early republican period, Mr. Bin Salman has opted for achieving his goal by decree with no semblance of public debate.
To be sure, Mr. Ataturk’s reforms, including introducing French-style militant secularism, were unpopular and enacted by a one-party state.
Nevertheless, they followed a fierce battle of ideas in rival publications in the last 15 years of the empire about the role and the nature of Islam that was fresh in people’s minds.
Clerics, nationalists, and intellectuals voiced opinions ranging from the advocacy of European positivism and materialism, secular nationalism, calls for religious reform, and even rebukes of Islam and the Qur’an to fierce opposition to any reformation of religious discourse and rejection of the notion of a nation as opposed to a pan-Islamic state.
Citing Sura 16 Verse 125 of the Qur’an, Mr. Rahman, the Indian Muslim intellectual, argued that Mr. Bin Salman’s approach, that brooks no dissent and in which debate is often choreographed, was “not the way to reform society. Reform has to be voluntary through the art of persuasion. It’s neither Islamic nor good to impose your will.”
Where Mr. Bin Salman opts for a top down-dictate that focuses on form rather than content, his foremost ideological rival focuses on a bottom-up approach that embraces jurisprudential reform in pursuit of a moderate Islam that is pluralistic, inclusive, and unambiguously endorses the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Last month, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest and most moderate civil society movement, called in a document composed in the tradition of Islamic jurisprudence to abolish the caliphate and replace it with the notion of the nation-state.
The document was issued after consultations in the second half of 2022 in some 230 religious seminaries across the Indonesian archipelago in which the proposition of jurisprudential reform was debated.
In 2019, 20,000 Nahdlatul Ulama religious scholars issued a fatwa or religious opinion that erased the concept of the kafir or infidel in Islamic jurisprudence and replaced it with the notion of a citizen.
While apostasy, like blasphemy, is on the bucket list of Nahdlatul Ulama’s jurisprudential reforms, it was unusual for Saudi clerics to clash on television over interpretations of Islamic law.
The debate pitted Saudi Islamic scholar Abd Al-Rahman Abd Al-Karim, a proponent of the classical Islamic legal proposition of the death penalty for apostasy, against Ahmad al Ghamdi, the former head of the Mecca chapter of the Authority for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
In 2016, Mr. Bin Salman clipped the wings of the Authority, a once-feared religious police force, by banning it from “pursuing, questioning, asking for identification, arresting and detaining anyone suspected of a crime.”
Since leaving the Authority, Mr. Al-Ghamdi has emerged as a religious liberal advocating the very things on which his police unit once cracked down. These include mixing genders, listening to music, and the forced closure of shops and businesses during prayer time.
In the debate with Mr. Al-Karim, Mr. Al-Ghamdi appeared to adopt Mr. Rahman and Nahdlatul Ulama’s approach of bottom-up reform based on persuasion.
Countering Mr. Al-Karim, Mr.Al-Ghamdi asserted, “People who do not adhere to the Islamic faith are free to do so. They must not be coerced. The same is true for people who converted to Islam and then became apostates. There are unambiguous verses in the Quran regarding their freedom to do so. Allah said (in the Quran), ‘there is no coercion in religion.’”
Who are genuine Muslim moderates? Separating the wheat from the chafe
If you think Islamic scholars discussing the religious legitimacy of the United Nations and the nation-state will put you to sleep, think again.
A call by Nahdlatul Ulama or the Revival of Islamic Scholars, arguably the world’s most moderate Muslim civil society movement, to anchor the nation-state as opposed to a caliphate and the United Nations in Islamic law is at the forefront of the ideological fight against extremism and jihadism as advocated by groups such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
The call, launched on Tuesday at a mass rally in the Indonesian city of Surabaya commemorating the Indonesian group’s centennial and a gathering a day earlier of Islamic scholars from across the globe, lays down a gauntlet for the Muslim world’s autocratic and authoritarian leaders.
Anchoring the United Nations and its charter in religious law would legally oblige non-democratic regimes to respect human rights.
The charter compels states to honour “fundamental human rights…the dignity and worth of the human person, (and)…the equal rights of men and women” and makes it legally binding for its Muslim signatories, according to religious law.”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo seemingly endorsed the call by speaking at the rally immediately after senior Nahdlatul Ulama leaders read it in Arabic and Bahasa Indonesia at the gathering.
The call constitutes the latest move in a sustained Nahdlatul Ulama effort to spark reform of Islamic jurisprudence and inspire other faiths to take a critical look at their potentially problematic tenants as a way of countering extremism and religiously motivated violence.
“Nahdlatul Ulama believes it is essential to the well-being of Muslims to develop a new vision capable of replacing the long-established aspiration, rooted in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), of uniting Muslims throughout the world into a single universal state, or caliphate,” the group said in the declaration read out at the rally.
“It is neither feasible nor desirable to re-establish a universal caliphate that would unite Muslims throughout the world in opposition to non-Muslims. As recently demonstrated by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, attempts to do so will inevitably be disastrous and contrary to the purposes of Sharia (Islamic law): i.e., the protection of religion, human life, sound reasoning, family, and property,” the declaration went on to say.
Yahya Cholil Staquf, the chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama’s executive council, framed the group’s proposition in questions about the need for jurisprudential reform that he posed at the scholars’ conference.
Mr. Staquf’s questions were based on an unpublished discussion paper that asserted that the view that Muslims “should have a default attitude of enmity towards non-Muslims, and that infidels…should be subject to discrimination is well established within turats al-fiqh (the tradition of Islamic jurisprudence.”
The attitude towards non-Muslims described in the paper is at the core of the response of the Muslim world to religious extremism and jihadism.
An open letter to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the late leader of the Islamic State, written after he declared in 2014 a caliphate with himself as caliph, signed by 126 prominent Islamic scholars, including participants in this weeks, insists that “there is agreement (ittifaq) among scholars that a caliphate is an obligation upon the Ummah (Muslim community).”
The letter was typical of Muslim leaders, parroted by their Western counterparts, who, for more than two decades since 9/11, have insisted that Islam and Islamic jurisprudence need no reform. Instead, they assert that jihadis misrepresent and misconstrue the faith.
In doing so, autocrats drown out criticism of their brutal, repressive rule that brooks no dissent and potentially provokes violence.
Moreover, casting jihadists as deviants rather than products of problematic tenants of jurisprudence that justify violence stymies criticism of the justification of autocracy as a necessary means to combat violence and promote moderate Islam.
As a result, the Nahdlatul Ulama challenge goes to the core of a battle for the soul of Islam that involves a competition for religious soft power and leadership in the Muslim world as well as who will define what constitutes moderate Islam.
The ideological rivalry pits Nahdlatul Ulama’s concept of Humanitarian Islam, which calls for religious reform and unambiguously endorses pluralism, the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights against an autocratic definition of moderate Islam that rejects religious and political reform but supports a formalistic, ceremonial form of inter-faith dialogue and the loosening of social restrictions long advocated by orthodox Islam.
Among the letter’s signatories were proponents of autocratic forms of moderate Islam.
They included Egyptian Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam; Egypt’s former grand mufti, Ali Goma, who religiously endorsed the killing on a Cairo square in 2013 of some 800 Muslim Brotherhood protesters by security forces; several members of Egypt’s state-controlled Fatwa Council; and scholars At Al Azhar, Cairo’s citadel of Islamic learning.
Also among the signatories were Abdullah Bin Bayyah, the head of the fatwa council of the United Arab Emirates, and one of its other members, popular American Muslim preacher Hamza Yusuf, men who do the Gulf state’s religious bidding.
The strength of the Nahdlatul Ulama challenge was evident in the fact that some of the world’s foremost opponents of the Indonesian group’s reformism felt the need to be represented at this week’s conference in one way or another, even if some backed out of the conference after initially suggesting that they would attend.
Messrs. Bin Bayyah and Goma chose not to attend. Mr. Allam used his video remarks to express opposition to Nahdlatul Ulama’s call for replacing the caliphate with the notion of the nation-state and endorsing the United Nations.
Muhammad Al-Issa, the head of the Muslim World League, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vehicle for propagating his autocratic version of moderate Islam, chose to ignore Nahdlatul Ulama’s proposition. Mr. Al-Issa made his remarks on video after cancelling his attendance.
Nahdlatul Ulama threw down its gauntlet by asserting that Muslims need to choose between maintaining the obligation to create a caliphate or reforming Islamic jurisprudence so that it would “embrace a new vision and develop a new discourse regarding Islamic jurisprudence, which will prevent the political weaponization of identity; curtail the spread of communal hatred; promote solidarity and respect among the diverse peoples, cultures, and nations of the world; and foster the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order,” according to the declaration.
In its unpublished paper, Nahdlatul Ulama asserted that “Muslims should acknowledge that a socio-political construct (or imperium) capable of operationalizing these normative views across the Muslim world no longer exists” and that “as a consequence of choosing to retain the established fiqh view and norms associated therewith…would automatically be a religious duty incumbent upon Muslims to revive the imperium. This, in turn, would necessarily entail dissolving any and all existing nation-states, under whose governance Muslims currently live.”
With one-third of Indonesia’s 270 million inhabitants identifying themselves as Nahdlatul Ulama and a religious authority of its own, the group is likely to formally announce its reform of relevant Islamic jurisprudence, potentially supported by various non-Indonesian scholars, mosques, and other Muslim associations, irrespective of opposition to its moves.
While the group’s legal move would not be binding in a Muslim world where legal authority is decentralised, it lays down a marker that other Muslim legal authorities will ultimately be unable to ignore in their bid to be recognised as proponents of a genuinely moderate Islam.
How divine books guide and socialize an individual into society
When an individual born it interact with social group in which it is present. The term socialization refers to the process of interaction through which the growing individual learns the habits, attitudes, values and beliefs of the social group into which one has been born. … Socialization prepares people to participate in a social group by teaching them its norms and expectations. But why there is need of socialization ? The answer is we are born there is something in our DNA that make us feel there should be some one who we need to follow, that there is someone who make us, who is very superior to us.
Very interesting question. what a religion actually is. As per the Oxford dictionary, “religion” is: “The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.”
That is what religion is very simply put .strictly speaking, all “religions” in the world revolve around this same concept: a belief in a superhuman controlling power. They all build on this central concept, assigning various different attributes and holy books to this superhuman controlling power.
In Hinduism, this “power” is called Brahman and has many forms, manifesting itself in every sentient being, In Islam it is called “Allah” and so on so forth. But the bottom line of all these religions is: There is a god.
There is God who have sent us and give us the way to live the life. Through the learning process one give priority to the religion it follow. The religion guide us through holy book. Divine books are four in numbers revealed to different Prophets i.e.
Tawrat to Prophet Musa
Zabur to Prophet Dawud
Injil to Prophet Isa
Quran revealed to Prophet Muhammad SAW
but Muslim believes that they all carry a same message or guidance for humanity. Divine books provide set of rules to live a life. They can also act as a source of history and motivation for the followers. Quran is last Divine book but it contains some references of all other Divine Books.
Divine books act as source of religion provider. Beliefs, values and practices related to spiritual concerns are described by religion. It is also known as crucial roadway of socialization for many people. In many religious institutions like temples, churches and mosques individual of many religious communities assemble to glorify and to grasp knowledge. Many ceremonies related to structure of family like marriage and birth are also related to religious celebrations. Shared set of socialized value which passes through society are foster by organized religion. Each social theorist define religion according to their own perspective
The purpose of sending divine books to the followers of certain religion was to give them the principles of religion. The teachings of Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity are very similar to each other. The conflict occurs in their ideology and oneness of God. Reforms in individual life and society’s life like harmony and unity are brought by these books. They act as a balance between life of both the individual and society by safeguarding rights, assigning individual responsibilities which are guided by Divine books. Divine books deals with the demand of society and behave as building block of thinking and behavioural processes and lay stress on Faith , through this human hearts and minds are completely transformed and remodelling of our thinking and behavioural pattern occur which as a result changes the whole society.
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