Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, November 16th, 2019

Growing fundamentalism is a reaction to the Western views

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Growing fundamentalism is  a reaction to the Western views

As a result of the renaissance in Europe, with the age of reason, the invention of gun powder, the geographical explorations, the industrial revolution and the colonial expansion of the European powers, Islamic glory became a thing of the past. The mainstream of the intellectual and creative section of the society fell into the grip of traditionalists who valued piety more than progress. Islamic decline became more apparent from the eighteenth century, when the French Revolution gave new concepts of democracy and nationalism to Europe and the Muslims were left far behind in every sector of human life. With them declined a civilisation which had consistently flourished in the major areas of three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa. Even their political authority was seriously challenged by the British in India, the Dutch in Indonesia, the French in Western Africa and the Russian in Central Asia.  The question before Islam was not how to find few channels for its expansion, not even to retain the superiority they had enjoyed, but to survive and escape total annihilation and humiliation.
Search for self-identity
In the circumstances fundamentalist revival sought to strip modern, innovative and foreign influence from the Islamic faith. Earlier when Muslims were unable to meet the challenge posed by Western countries, the situation created fundamental doubts among the educated Muslims in Islamic values and ideas, and they were inclined more and more towards an appreciation of Western culture and outlook. The matter became much worse when not only the Westerners but also the Western educated Muslims began to think the same way. Hence, Islam came under fire both from within and without. But this does not mean that the Muslims did not resist the European onslaught. They fought every battle in India, including the one in 1857. Apart from this several movements were started to revise the tenets of Islam, each in their own way.
The quest for such an identity can be identified with the efforts of Syed Ahmed Khan and Amir Ali, for calling upon Muslims to strengthen the bonds of community. These efforts were akin to that of Shah Waliullah who urged the glorification of Islam in the wake of the disintegration of the empire under Aurangzeb. Shah Waliullah (1703-62) who was celebrated in history as a Muslim reformer or a hardliner was of the view that the essence of the scriptures i.e. Quran, Sunnah and Hadith could not be diluted and the purpose of Islam must remain synchronous with the Prophet’s vision. Two generations later, Waliullah’s followers founded the Deoband seminary of theology. The seminary was not just a Madrassah for religious teachings. Its instructions were inspired by one larger purpose of avenging the 1857 defeat by the British of the Muslim Empire. The Indian Muslims under the impact of the Wahabi movement preached the slogan ‘Back to the Koran and sought to restore Jihad (holy war) for an Islamic ideal state. There had been the movements of the Mujahideen, dedicated to the establishment of an ideal Muslim state in the North-West Frontier. Thus, Islam became politically useful after the revolt of 1857 as aptly remarked by Abbas Rashid that the elite managed to foster a degree of general Muslim identification with issues like lack of education, discrimination in employment, inadequate political representation etc. He maintained that while their use of Islam may have been subjectively opportunistic, it was nevertheless effective given the context.  Later on, of course, the British policy of divide and rule widened the cleavages of Hindu-Muslim differences, encouraged the Muslim Leaguers and used them to counter the Congress to strengthen their rule.
Development of Orthodox leadership
Meanwhile, the Muslim community, in contrast to the Westernised elite, the orthodox religious leaders or traditionalists who struggled to attain a position of leadership, regarded the credentials of the former to lead the Muslim Ulama with contempt. They considered the Muslim League a bunch of loyalist toadies and accused them of cooperating with the Satans of Europe against the Islamist Caliphate and Pan-Islamism. However, the foremost of the causes that ultimately led the Muslims to take to the gun was the betrayal by the imperialist powers of the West of the Arabs after the first World War (1914-18). As a result of this French domination was established over Syria and Lebanon while Palestine was excluded from all obligations to the Arabs. In contrast to Palestine, the Jewish immigrants from the Eastern European countries and Russia were out of harmony with the local environment but went on turning it into their homeland on European pattern and at the cost of Arabs. Further the creation of Israel and its recognition by the United Nations Organisation (UNO) shook the confidence of the Islamic world in this international organisation.
Current status
In post-World War II phase radical Islam’s opposition to the West in general and the USA in particular continued unabated. No doubt the West has given the world science and technology and also introduced the concept of democracy and human rights. But it has also rubbished India, China and the Muslim world. They have imposed on these civilisations. Missionaries have been sent with foreign funds to subvert the religion and culture of those people. Muslims resent it more because they have recent memories of their power. Many Muslim countries were occupied. Even after independence their government were either toppled or turned into puppets. Their oil wealth still goes to enrich the West. Their oil revenues are diverted to arms purchases. Neighbouring countries are encouraged and armed to fight each other. The recent militant image of Islam has come basically from the use of religion to generate political consciousness in the Middle East where external involvement, on account of oil and Israel, has not permitted democracy to take root. The fear of confrontationist Islam became a burning issue in the West with the rise to power of militant Islam in Iran and the resilience it has displayed in several countries including Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Pakistan, Libya, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

Dr.Rajkumar Singh Professor and Head P.G.Department of Political Science BNMU. Email-rajkumarsinghpg@gmail.com

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