More articles by Khaled Ahmad
Friday, July 21, 2017
Tufail Ahmad on Abrahamic Hindutva // Khaled Ahmed - Pakistan: The monopoly of violence
NB: These are two significant and complementary articles on the insurgent political ideologies that hide behind religion. Despite many differences between developments in India and Pakistan, what is similar is the political campaign to abolish the distinction between legal and illegal violence. Instead of enforcing the supremacy of the state, the political leadership is encouraging vigilante groups to engage in violence. In Pakistan the situation is complicated by the fact that the state was founded on the ideal of Islam as civic religion. This made it easy for Islamo-fascists to push a violent, theocratic agenda. This process is also underway in Bangladesh. In India the RSS worked for decades to enforce an ideological dictatorship in the name of a Hindu communal interest. (Read more about sabotage of the law in India). Here Hindutva functions as did State Shinto in Japan - a project to impose a state religion. Many imagine it to be 'Hinduism', but at this article argues, it is an Abrahamic ideology dressed up as Hinduism. The criminalisation of the state is the crux of fascism, and readers may judge for themselves how far the process has ripened in various countries of South Asia. DS
Other than India, there is absolutely no country in the world that can claim copyright on the concepts of pluralism, coexistence and toleration. These, originally Indian ideas, informed the civilisational order that prevailed through the course of the known Indian history. However, in a recent article I have used the term "Abrahamic Hindutva" to argue that this civilisational order is under threat from the current generation of the people who long ago evolved these pluralistic concepts, authoured the Vedas and Smritis, and discovered Yoga and Ayurveda.
The argument is not what the Vedas taught when they were created, but what set of ideas prevail currently in the minds of the people who describe themselves wrongly as Hindus. To understand this phenomenon, I described Abrahamic Hindutva as "Hinduism influenced by Islam" and as a concept underpinned by "Hindu theology." I also noted that Abrahamic Hindutva denotes "a growing inability of Hindu youths to comprehend their Hindu identity as sufficient in itself – without a reference to Islam and Christianity." Some writers have used the word "semitisation" to denote the impact of Islam and Christianity on the way of life of India. Ram Madhav, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader, has called it "semitisation of Indian cultural behaviour." In the case of Islam, it was seen that politics to capture power transformed into theology, dividing Muslims into Shias and Sunnis. In the case of Hinduism, culture is transforming into Hindu theology.
Some people frown at the mention of "Hindu theology", but the ideas currently prevailing in the minds of the cow vigilantes are of theological nature – even if not deriving from Hindu scriptures – and are identical to Islam's blasphemy law. Muslims believe they must kill you if you insult Prophet Muhammad. Hindus similarly believe that they should kill you if you harm the cow. The theological views associated with Prophet Muhammad and the cow are identical and murderous. In Pakistan, you can be legally punished with death for blasphemy. In India, Hindu youths out to defend Hinduism are willing to kill you for transporting cows… read more:
Since Pakistan took an all-party consensual action against terrorism under the National Action Plan (NAP) in 2015-16, incidents of extreme violence have come down from their peak in 2014-15. The army controls Balochistan where a kind of insurgency was ongoing; it was also called out in Karachi which was punch-drunk with street crime coalescing with terrorism. In Punjab, things were quieter, its home-bred sectarian terrorists striking away from home in Quetta, Balochistan, after joining Islamic State; but in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) where the Taliban had killed 140 schoolboys in an army school, the writ was shared tacitly with elements that had formerly interfaced with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and al Qaeda, which meant coyly conceding a kind of diarchy of governance.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which rules KP, has had to tolerate and defer to a seminary near Peshawar where many leaders of TTP and Afghan Taliban had gone for their early religious instruction. Madrasa Haqqania of Nowshehra has been led by a powerful cleric Maulana Samiul Haq who had been eased into the federal Senate in the past when he was riding high during the war in Afghanistan, and his sexual misadventures in the capital had to be tolerated. This year, the government of KP allocated Rs 300 million in its budget for Haqqania, and the media noted how this “university of jihad” had top Afghan Taliban leaders among its alumni, including its late chief, Mullah Omar. The seminary actually had remained closed for many months to allow its students to participate in the Taliban’s war to capture the Afghan province of Mazar-e-Sharif in 1998.
The New York Times described the madrasa thus in 2000: “About two hours east of the Khyber Pass, in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, alongside the Grand Trunk Road, sits a school called the Haqqania madrasa. Haqqania is one of the bigger madrasas in Pakistan: Its mosques and classrooms and dormitories are spread over eight weed-covered acres, and the school currently enrolls more than 2,800 students. Tuition, room and board are free; the students are, in the main, drawn from the dire poor, and the madrasa raises its funds from wealthy Pakistanis, as well as from devout and politically minded Muslims in the countries of the Persian Gulf.”
In a TV interview, PTI chief Imran Khan said the funds and support “will help the seminary students assimilate in our society, bring them into the mainstream and keep them away from radicalisation (sic)”. He also referred to the past practice of giving money to the seminary but ignored the fact that the assassins of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto had stayed a night in the hostel of the madrasa before going down to Islamabad to make their hit. He was perhaps scared of the new mind decades of war had created among the people he was leading in KP. A university, not a madrasa, in Peshawar had organised the killing of a “secular” student named Mashaal Khan for “blasphemy”. His killers were known but his government was reluctant to punish them. Last time a blasphemy-killer was punished in Islamabad, several lakh seminarians from all over the country had gathered to declare him a martyr, burying his body in a magnificent mausoleum on the outskirts of Islamabad where now multitudes pay homage to him… read more:
More articles by Khaled Ahmad
More articles by Khaled Ahmad
The Broken Middle (on the 30th anniversary of 1984)