Metamorphosis – The Answer

Letter to the Editor, The Tribune, Chandigarh, India, by K.N. Pandita, Jammu 01.08.05,

Sir – This refers to ‘The metamorphosis of Al-Qaeda’ by Rajeev Sharma (August 1, 2005). A comprehensive subject like terrorism and al-Qaeda demands an elaborate and specialised analysis. The fact is that the Islamic society (ummah) is beset with deep contradictions within. Some of these were highlighted by agalaxy of eminent and emancipated Muslim thinkers around 10-12th century who had been greatly influenced by the great Greek philosophers with their fomidable instrument of logic. But this emancipated segmentof Muslim society was only to be ruthlessly suppressed by the emerging orthodoxy of 12-13th century. The orthodoxy had found a strong backing from the vested Khurasanian feudal structure imposed by the victorious Arab conquerors of Iran. Al-Ghazali led the retaliatory campaign and established the supremacy of the dogma. Notwithstanding intermittent groundswells of less intensity, this ideological rupture in the ummah lay benign for several centuries perhaps because of mutual political and logistic interdependence with strong Islamic monarchies and satrapies in the Asian-Eurasian continent until the unprecedented supremacy of modern scientific and technological advancement made by the west.

The impact of this advancement on all walks of life, particularly political and social, is imagined by the orthodoxy as the gravest threat to its survival in its traditional form. Finding that many myths hitherto strongly sustaining orthodoxy were fast eroding, its fight for survival becomes unavoidable Since it must, peraforce, offer some rationale for legitimizing militant adventurism, the ‘unjust’ liquidation of Muslim monarchies and satrapies in the 19-20th centuries came to be attributed to western colonial entrepreneurship rather than to the dynamics of historical processes. But since there is no political centripetal force existing today as was in place during the early years of the rise of Islam in Arabia, the orthodoxy must perforce invoke imagined threats to the survival of the faith as its battle cry. In order to impress upon the believers the efficacy of its methodology, it must bring to their memory the laurels Arab legions had won on the battleground against the unbelievers and their thunderous victories over them in fabulous regions of Asia like Iran, Central Asia, India South East and Europe to the fringes of the Pyrenees. Islamic Diaspora, unable to integrate itself into the European and western civilizational pattern in which Islamic life style being categorised as primitive recedes to background, looks to the revivalist phenomenon as a redeeming feature. Hence even the second and third generation of the Diaspora finds itself bogged down with split personality and, therefore, sensitised by the seminorial instrument to the recrudescence of traditional Islamic dogma symbolised in our times by a movement like Al-Qaeda.

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