INDIA AND ISRAEL - FACING COMMON CHALLENGE
By: Vijay Kapoor
By a strange coincident, both India and Israel emerged into nationhood 54 years ago. To establish their identities, people of both nations had to struggle against the British Empire. However, looking in retrospect, it seems that it was lesser of a struggle to get freed from the colonial rulers than to progress and prosper in freedom with peace faced with fanatical Islamic adversaries common to both nations.
Besides sharing its struggle for independence against British colonialism, both India and Israel are ardently democratic in spite of their citizenry unusual diversity. Both, Hindus and Jews, the major components of India and Israel respectively have historically suffered various pogroms while being ruled over by adherents of faiths, which did not respect secular and humane values.
To replicate history, Islamic forces are hell bent to deny peaceful existence for their else while dominions. Both, India and Israel are under attack by Islamic fundamentalists raising the deadening slogans of jihad. The fodder to feed jihad is being spawned in thousands of madrassas teaching the young recruits selective Koranic verses with hateful passages towards Hindus and Jews, the two oldest religions in the world. To quote Karen Armstrong, an author of great repute on religious issues - "Muslim jurists began to develop a theology of the jihad. They taught that because there was only one God there should be only one state in the world that must submit to the true religion. It was the duty of the Muslim state (the house of Islam) to conquer the rest of the non-Muslim world (the House of War) so that the world could reflect the divine unity. Every Muslim must Participate in this jihad and the House of Islam must never compromise with the House of War. At best a truce could be signed with a non-Muslim people, which must not exceed ten years. Until the final domination of the world was accomplished, therefore, Muslims were in a perpetual state of war." (1)
For India the problem of encountering Islamic madrassa incubated jihadis is even more vicious since according to Islam "Those who follow a religion which is not specified as lawful, that is to say, who do not have a recognized sacred scripture (Torah or Bible), are not to be allowed the tolerance of the Muslim state. Their choice is conversion or death, which may be commuted to enslavement. This did not present any great problem in the countries of the Middle East in the earliest areas of Islamic expansion - in the Fertile Crescent, North Africa, Sicily, Spain - because everybody was either Christian or Jewish. It presented some problems in Iran, where most of people were Zoroastrians, and even more when the Muslims got to India and confronted Hindus.." (2)
And further - "The law thus divides unbelievers theologically into those who have a book and profess what Islam recognizes as a divine religions (Jewish and Christianity) and those who do not; politically into dhimmis, those who have accepted the supremacy of the Muslim state and the primacy of the Muslims, and harbis, the denizens of the Dar al-harb, the House of War, who remain outside the Islamic frontier, and with whom therefore there is, in principle, a canonically obligatory perpetual state of war..." (3)
The scriptural mandate, even if it is from selective recitation of the Koranic verses embracing violence and seeking martyrdom must be universally rejected Oddly enough, what most inflames fundamentalist Muslims is the principles of secular sovereignty. To make the religion a matter of choice for individuals is an anathema to Muslim fundamentalists who believe that the Islamic law shariah is the word of Allah which must be obeyed by all of humanity. "For them, this truth is not a private revelation but a public imperative, and states, like people are either Muslims or infidel... This Islamic paradigm flies in the face of nations founded on the concepts of democracy. Ayatollah Khomeini, who is a guiding star to Muslim fundamentalists "declared that Islam appealed to all mankind, not only to Iranians, and not only to Muslims. And he argued that secular states drained Islam of its vitality." (4)
Both for India and Israel, faced with the Islamic fundamentalist mind-set to globalize Islamic jihadi theology, the path to peace is to seek a revised curriculum of Islamic teaching in their madrassas or alternatively to declare such institutes as terrorist organizations subject to destruction by democratic states. Waiting to put out the fires when jihadis indulge in their terrorist acts would not give the world an enduring peace. We shall have to be pro-active and root-out the training grounds where the terrorism is hatched with promises of rewards in paradise for the perpetrators.
India and Israel need to work together to bring back civility in international relationship. Israel is uniquely qualified to do the bull work towards this goal since Jews being the founder of Abrahamic faiths have a sharp understanding of Islamic paradigm. With the bed rock of understanding the philosophical bearings of fundamentalist Islam, Israel has developed a highly sophisticated intelligence apparatus to track down Islamic groups bent on violence and destroy them. The enemy is devious and highly motivated with enormous resources. It would take broad coordination of secular and democratic societies to encounter the danger. Muir, a great scholar of Islam concluded his book Life of Mahommet with the following message - "The sword of Mahommet and the Koran are the most stubborn enemies of Civilization, Liberty and Truth, which the world has yet to know." (5)
(1) Pages 40-41, Holy War by Karen Armstrong.
(2) Page 120, The Multiple Identities of the Middle East by Bernard Lewis
(3) Page 122, the Multiple Identities of the Middle East by Bernard Lewis.
(4) The New York Times, September 23, 2003 : "Faith and the Secular State" by Lamin Sanneh, a professor of history and religion at Yale University.
(5) Page 88, Why I Am Not A Muslim by Ibn Warraq