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Terrorism and our Response

By: Kalyan Viswanathan
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(Author is The President, Sanatana Dharma Foundation, USA)

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Terrorists are products of a "Terrorism producing Infrastructure". A Terrorism Producing Infrastructure is itself a product of an Ideology that creates such an infrastructure. Merely focusing our energies and attention to the business of identifying, targeting and neutralizing individual terrorists, or terrorist cells, or terrorist groups is an insufficient response to terrorism. Because, no sooner that one terrorist has been caught, put behind bars or killed, several others take his place. No sooner that we neutralize one terrorist outfit, it resurfaces with a new name, and new recruits. We must look for the root causes for the phenomenon that continuously throw up terrorists, relentlessly.

Various explanations have been put forward to explain the incidence of terrorism, amongst Islamic societies - ranging from "They have been wronged or violated" to "Their economic aspirations have not been addressed properly" etc. But our propositions in this paper, do not focus there. We have already suggested that there is something fundamental here, in the very core of the Islamic doctrine itself, that is in play, in such a way, that creates the infrastructure, and continuously precipitates a new breed of Jihadis, willing to die in the cause of Jihad, willing to commit acts of terrorism, killing completely unrelated and innocent people.

We proceed here to elucidate the key "Intellectual Breakthroughs" that we can achieve by a systematic study of the Islamic trilogy - the Quran, the Hadith and the Sira.


Is Light a wave or a particle? Modern Physics had stumbled upon a remarkable breakthrough insight that under certain conditions Light behaves like a particle, while under other conditions, it behaves like a wave. So it is both a wave and a particle simultaneously. How it behaves at any moment is a function of the context under which one is relating to or observing the phenomenon of Light. In other words it has a "Dual nature".

Our fundamental proposition is that Islam too has such a dual nature. This then must be the first step to our response to the threat of Global terrorism - We must get to know the enemy.

1. First Duality - Islam is both a Religion and a Political ideology

The First intellectual breakthrough we must achieve is that Islam is not merely a religion. The world has largely been relating to Islam as a religion, on par with Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism etc. In doing so, we have completely missed the fact that Islam represents a complete, coherent political ideology as well. There is a significant absence of literature in the world analyzing Islam as a political ideology, and this then has been the first deceit (Taquiya) perpetrated by Islam. Taquiya refers to dissimulation, the process of disguising one"s true intentions by erecting a facade pleasing to his victims. Even today, many Sadhus and Gurus in India refer to Islam as yet another "Dharma", as in one of their popular phrases - "Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava".

First we address ourselves to Islam as a religion briefly, before we begin our inspection of Islam as a political ideology.

Islam as a religion

Religious Islam is quite simple and is focused on Five Pillars:

1. Repeating the creed, "There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his final prophet."
2. Praying five times a day facing in the direction of Mecca.
3. Contributing to charity to benefit other Muslims.
4. Fasting during the month of Ramadan.
5. Going on pilgrimage to Mecca.

The world views and encounters Islam primarily through the lens of these religious tenets, and therefore we relate to Islam as yet another equally valid religion. In doing so, we are expressing our best pluralistic, inclusive and civilized behavior. India"s Secular constitution has accorded Islam the full respect that any world religion deserves, and more - We have gone out of the way to ensure that Islam is not only respected, but given a space to grow and flourish. In doing so, the world, including India has continuously missed (been blind to) the fact that Islam is also a political ideology.

The first pillar of Religious Islam, is the constant repetition, of the Kalima "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his Rasool". This is the fundamental act of submission enjoined upon a Muslim. A person cannot be considered to be a Muslim if he/she does not believe in the words of this Kalima. To become a Muslim, a person must say this Kalima with total belief. By uttering this Kalima a person is purified from disbelief. An impure person becomes pure. Thus Submission to Allah and Muhammad, is an act of purification which is considered a spiritual transformation. The very word Islam means Submission to Allah and Muhammad.

Islam as a political ideology

Yet Islam does not just mean a religious or a spiritual Submission. The word "Submission" is also a political phenomenon - like slavery. It involves surrender, a complete loss of power, a giving up, or a giving in and accepting the superiority of another. According to Islam, all who do not submit to Islam are unbelievers (kafirs).

To understand Islam as a political ideology, we have to read Muhammad"s life as a political story, a story of war and conquest, and juxtapose the revelations of the Quran alongside the political developments in his life. Muhammad was not a prophet in the same mould as Jesus (who died on the cross for humanity), or any of our Hindu Saints and Rishis, like Vashishta or Vishwamithra, or Buddha, Ramakrishna or Ramana Maharishi (who meditated and performed various forms of Tapas and austerities). His life was very political - It was focused on winning political power. This is his biography in brief.

Mecca before Muhammad

Before the birth of Muhammad even in 570 CE, Mecca was a bustling "Merchant" town, that supported inter-national commerce. Merchants trading in many varieties of goods such as - incense, spices, ivory, cereals, pearls, wood, fabric and medicines congregated there for the annual "Fair". This Fair was held just before the month of "Hajj" which was an annual pilgrimage even before the advent of Islam. Therefore, in 570 CE, Mecca was a peaceful settlement, without the violence that characterized surrounding "Bedouin" ("Badawa" in Arabic) tribes. It was a wealthy, settled community, highly competitive and capitalistic. The Quraysh (The Tribe) that controlled Mecca, therefore established the "Haram" which was a 20 mile radius around Mecca, with the Kaaba at the center, where violence was forbidden, through the "treaties" and payment of "protection money". Therefore Mecca was a place where Merchants from many tribes could gather freely without any fear of attack.

But more importantly, the Quraysh had built up the Kaaba into a spiritual center and sanctuary for all the different tribes which flowed through Mecca. Each tribe had its own "Stone Effigy" which was the presiding deity of the tribe. Allah was one of the 360 deities installed at the Kaaba. This made Arabia before Muhammad a pluralistic society that supported many Gods.

Muhammad in Mecca

Muhammad was born in the year 570 CE, into a fairly poor family of the Banu Hashim clan. He lost his father even before he was born, and his mother when he was 6. Muhammad"s early years were spent as an orphan and a destitute and his prospects were poor. When he married Khadijah (at her proposal), in the year 595 CE, his situation improved, somewhat. Even then he had no real status in Mecca.

Around the year 610, when he was 40, he had a habit of retiring into a cave on Mount Hira, and perform some kind of spiritual practice. He is said to have begun receiving his first revelations from Allah.

Proclaim in the name of thy lord and cherisher, who created man out of a mere clot of congealed blood; Proclaim and thy lord is most bountiful;

Quran 96:1-3

These were supposedly the very first verses revealed to Muhammad by Allah.

Verily to thy lord is the return of all. See"st thou one who forbids, a slave when he prayeth; Has thou seen if he is on the guidance of Allah or enjoins righteousness; Has thou seen if he denieth Allah"s guidance; Knoweth he not, that Allah doth see; Let him beware! If he desist not, We will drag him by the forelock; A lying sinful forelock; Then let him call his comrades (for help); We will call on the angels of punishment to deal with him; Nay, heed him not; But bow down in adoration and bring thyself closer to Allah!

Quran 96 : 8-19

So right from the very beginning, from the very first verses of the Quran, revealed to Muhammad, there is a clear distinction being made between those who believeth in Allah, and those who don"t. His central message was that Allah was the only true God, and all other Gods are false. This teaching upset the Quraysh and this would slowly escalate into an irreconcilable fault line between the Quraysh who allowed many Gods to co-exist, and Allah and his Prophet. Mohammed preached for 13 years in Mecca from the years 610 to 622 CE, and only acquired about 150 followers. Following the death of his protector and uncle, the wealthy class of Mecca tried to isolate him, and finally kill him, since he was such a nuisance. He escaped with his followers, numbering some 75 Muslims in the year 622 CE (called the Hijra) and went to Medina, a town located less than a hundred miles from Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Muhammad in Medina

In Mecca, Muhammad had been a merchant, and a budding Prophet. But in Medina, he did not have a way of making a living. In order to support himself and his followers, he sent men out on regular raids (Ghazi) to rob caravans from Mecca. A Ghazi raid involved the capture of camels, merchandize and prisoners who could be held to ransom. In the first 2 years in Medina, Muhammad is said to have led or dispatched 8 Ghazi expeditions against the Meccan caravans. In September 623 CE, Muhammad led a Ghazi raid against a large Meccan caravan. He took a band of 200 Muslims on this raid.

In modern parlance, this activity would be considered "Dacoity" and "Kidnapping". He simply justified it by bringing forth new verses from Allah.

To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged; - and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid;

Quran 22:39

But this verse only says that he may fight a just war i.e. a defensive war, (A dharmic War) one which is enjoined upon him owing to the attack by the other.

(They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,- (for no cause) except that they say, "our Lord is Allah".

Quran 22:40

This is the beginning of a decidedly political turn in Muhammad"s life. In the above verse, Allah is supposedly saying to Muhammad, that he has been expelled from his home (i.e. Mecca), for no cause except that he praised Allah. But this is the central lie on which the whole of Islam is based. In Mecca, Muhammad did not merely praise Allah, he did not merely say "Our Lord is Allah" as the Quran says, but he said "There is no God but Allah". It is not his worshipping Allah that upset the Quraysh, but rather his denial of all the other Gods of Mecca. But now since the Quraysh, had turned him out of Mecca, it was as though they had declared war on him; therefore raiding them, and fighting them was legitimate.

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.

Quran 2:190

Again the Verse looks pretty benign, and appears to suggest a defensive war.

And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.

Quran 2:191

This is a very interesting verse, that literally gives Muhammad an imperative to return to Mecca (the Mosque), the place from where he was turned out, and slay those who turned him out. Their crime - was that they had suppressed faith in Allah.

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

Quran 9:5

We can also begin to see a slow escalation of violence in the verses of the Quran. The Ghazi Raids that Muhammad conducted on the Meccan caravans brought back not only wealth and prestige but also captives - While the men in the caravans were usually killed, the majority of the captives were women. The women were sometimes ransomed, for money. But frequently the women were turned into slaves, who were available to the Muslims. If however they accepted Islam and Allah, they were legitimately married off to a Muslim. Muhammad even brought forth verses from Allah, to establish the legitimacy of looting and plundering.

And know that out of all the booty that ye may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to Allah,- and to the Messenger, and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer,- if ye do believe in Allah and in the revelation We sent down to Our servant on the Day of Testing,- the Day of the meeting of the two forces. For Allah hath power over all things.

Quran 8:41

In Medina, Mohammed moved into a profoundly political mode. Where as in Mecca he had belonged to a minority of Muslims, and was weak politically, in Medina he rises in power and stature dramatically. Mohammed was not motivated by money as much as by power. He considered money a tool that could be used to fund jihad and to support his followers. He shared the loot from the Ghazi raids generously with the Muslim people. These are all political actions.

Suddenly this new "Islam" legitimized by the word of Allah started becoming popular in Medina. The "poor" Muslims who had been "turned out" of Mecca could not only enjoy an abundance of wealth, sex and power in this life but they were also assured of a "heavenly paradise" after their death. Islam began to grow steadily on the strength of the loot and killing of the Meccan caravans.

The Meccans however fought back, and the Muslims of Medina and the Meccans fought primarily three major battles i.e. the Battle of Badr (624 CE), the Battle of Uhud (625 CE) and the Battle of the Trench (627 CE). Each battle escalated in scope and size, and ended with the Muslims and the Meccans trading victories. Finally in the year, 630 CE, Muhammad marched into Mecca with over 10,000 Muslims and simply took over Mecca for Islam. The Meccans conceded defeat and converted to Islam en masse.

2. Second Duality - The Two Qurans

The Second Intellectual Breakthrough we must achieve is that while the world thinks that Islam has a single holy book called the Quran, there are in fact two Qurans - The word of Allah, as received and reported by Mohammed, in the Quran, is fundamentally divided into two records. The Quran of Mecca was based on religious precepts, and is generally benign, even though it is insistent that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet. The Quran of Medina, however, became clearly political in scope and direction, and begins to legitimize violence. However, in the modern rendering of the Quran, these chapters are interspersed and re-arranged, so as to reflect a different sequence - another act of deception (Taquiya). This is a fundamental difficulty that must be surmounted in our study of the Quran. In Mecca, Mohammed was politically weak and Islam was just beginning - The Quran of Mecca is generally religious and more benign.

And have patience with what they say, and leave them with noble (dignity). And leave Me (alone to deal with) those in possession of the good things of life, who (yet) deny the Truth; and bear with them for a little while. With Us are Fetters (to bind them), and a Fire (to burn them), And a Food that chokes, and a Penalty Grievous.

Quran of Mecca 73:10 to 13

Here the Quran is asking Muhammad to leave the unbelievers (i.e. those who refuse to accept Allah as their God) in a dignified way, even though Allah has some really nasty surprises in store for them.

As Mohammed is the perfect Muslim at first he was nice, then he became more demanding (In Mecca) and finally he became violent (In Medina). The demanding part is - if you don"t do what Islam dictates, first comes threats and intimidation then comes the violence. So the "good" Muslim or a moderate Muslim is a Meccan Muslim - one who quotes the verses from Mecca in his defense.

In Medina Mohammed transformed the religion of Islam into a political ideology and system. Killing, theft, and rape became sacralized and gained theological sanction. He became powerful and the Quranic message changed. A terrorist simply follows the Quran from Medina, a Medinan Muslim.

Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and deal sternly with them. Hell shall be their home, evil their fate.

Quran of Medina 66:9

These two Quranic verses contradict each other. How do you tell which one to follow? Simple. According to the Quran, the later verses represent improvements over the earlier verses. And wherever there is contradiction, the later Quran of Medina abrogates (annuls or cancels) the earlier Quran of Mecca. This rule of abrogation is also given in the Koran.

None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?
Quran 2:106

So chronology of the revelations is the key to understanding which verse supersedes. But knowing which verses to follow is even more complicated than that. The "nice" Quran of Mecca may still to be used if Islam is weak in political power. When Islam has the strength - force and violence becomes a possibility; then the Quran of Medina may be used. All verses can be used as needed, in the cause of Allah.

Here is another example of the same phenomenon.

Lo! Those who believe in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad, and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans - whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right - surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.

Quran 2:62

This verse accepts the revelations and the religions of earlier Abrahamic prophets such as Moses and Jesus. But the verse below, contradicts this.

If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good).

Quran 3:85

In this verse, the legitimacy of the other religions is completely denied. The Quran is thus dualistic. It establishes a different form of logic. Since the Quran is both true and contradictory it violates the normal rules of logic. In unitary logic if something is contradictory it is false. But the Quran is contradictory and true. This is dualistic logic. So Islam operates under a different form of reasoning than the rest of the world.

It is entirely possible to prove that Islam is a peaceful religion, by simply quoting selectively a variety of verses from the Meccan portion of the Quran, all of which are benign - Many Scholars, Swamis and Gurus of India, and Muslim apologists who are funded by Islam, do exactly this. But it is equally possible to prove that Islam is violent, by quoting a set of verses from the Medinan Quran. This is an important insight. No wonder the world of the Kafirs is completely confused about Islam. Islam itself is not confused about this at all - In fact, to the Muslims who understand Islam, the confusion of the Kafirs must appear somewhat comical - for it has remained for 1400 years.

Kalyan Viswanathan

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