What after Osama?
It all depends on how the ordeal of Muslims is explained
WORDS WITHIN BY FIRDOUS SYED
What next, is the most frequently asked question after the death of the al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. Does the death of al-Qaeda chief--- who through his extreme reactions personified anger and hatred for the West, precisely for America within a fringe group on the Muslim Street--- signal the end of a perceived psychological conflict between West and Islam? Is this the beginning of end? Or else end of the beginning--- the disputes will linger-on and divide between ‘them’ and ‘us’ will eventually prove to be unbridgeable, therefore perpetuating the conflict, endlessly. Hold on; is this a “Civilizational Clash’ we are talking about? Did Osama bin Laden represented real Islam and America embodies the Christian West? What is going on in Afghanistan and before that in Iraq, a power struggle or a clash of ideologies? There are no easy answers; the battles lines have been badly blurred.
When US president Barack Obama states that Osama is not an Islamic leaders and Muslims suffered more rather immensely due to his extreme reactions, probably he is right. Barrack Obama further emphasizes that “We must also reaffirm that the U.S. is not – and never will be – at war with Islam”, apparently there is no need to doubt this assumption. It is quite a relief that America does not consider its past and present military interventions in Muslim world, a “war with Islam”. If true this should be enough to take the wind out of the al-Qaeda ideology. Yet it is half truth, part of a story. If half truth turns out to be the popular narrative, which incidentally today is that amounts to obscuring the facts. In spite of the hyperbole, few questions remain to be unanswered. Irrespective of the al-Qaeda rants which smacks irrational behaviour and violence driven extremism. A deepening perception prevails on the Muslim street from Kandahar to Kashmir and Karachi to Cairo; all- long since the occupation of Palestine and till date, America has always acted against the Muslim interests if not against Islam directly.
A fifty three year old Osama bin Laden may turn out to be a cult figure after his death? He could escape costliest and focused manhunt in the history for almost a decade after 9/11 is significant. Al-Qaeda may consider it an achievement. Getting killed by America about which he had avowed: “I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America”, was his ultimate desire. Osama scion of a filthy rich Saudi business family of Yemeni descent turning to the path of ‘sacrifice and sufferings’ had already provided him a aura of a person supremely committed to his self-avowed cause, before a fringe element. Osama’s dream was to live beyond his death and he seems to have achieved his goal. The first reaction of al-Qaeda confirms this notion, “If he has become a martyr, it is a great victory for us because martyrdom is the aim of all of us”. The hasty burial of Osama in the Arabian Sea is a vain effort to deny his followers a rallying point. Even after his death he will continue to attract highly motivated surely misguided small section of Muslim youth towards al-Qaeda’s violent ideology.
Al-Qaeda ideology is not a mainstream sentiment of the Muslim street. Al-Qaeda’s divisive and extremely violent ideology is based upon a narrowest possible literal interpretation of the scripture, having scant regard for text and tradition. Certainly Islam teaches a philosophy of ‘Right and Wrong’----Good and Evil. But the understanding of ‘they’ and ‘us’ dividing the people on the basis of faith is detrimental to the basic message of all-encompassing Islam. The message of truth should reach each and every soul is incumbent upon every man and woman of Islamic faith. If the so called proponents of Islam starts imaging different people and races as ‘they’ implying evil on the basis of their religious beliefs, the divisions are bound to become permanent, where remain the space and scope for the truth to reach the other. Evil has to be destroyed and humanity to be rescued from the clutches of evil, war has to be declared against inhuman only and not against the humans. Prophets were ordained to destroy the evil and not the human beings. They were assigned the task to preach and practice the truth.
Time has come to draw a clear distinction between a just war and menace of terrorism. Muslims are reeling under injustices and powerlessness. Devoid of any clout and sense of direction entire Muslim civilization has been reduced to a meaningless existence. 9/11 was clearly a terrorist act wherein innocents perished in a horrible terrorist attack, which by no means can be justified. Islam emphatically forbids harming innocents in a war. The misconceived theological position of an extremist fringe element that innocents can be the legitimate target is contrary to the basic tenets of Islam---that if anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land it would be as if he slew the whole people, Quran 5:32. The theory that any American or European or for that matter a Hindu even unarmed supporting the unjust polices of his/her government is a legitimate target, is disservice to the great religion of peace. Its pure terrorism and not Islam. Fight only those who fight against you and not the bystanders even opposed to your goals or ideology is the dictum; people of different faith can never be put to harm simply on the basis of their faith.
The way America responded to the terrorist act of 9/11 is sheer injustice. Hundreds of thousands of innocents have been consumed in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places in relentless American war of vengeance and millions continue to suffer immense sufferings. It seems blood thirst of American revenge is yet to be quenched. Double standards and principle of might is right can never be accepted as delivery of justice. In the present day world it is not enough for powers to prevail militarily alone, narrative constructed by the wining powers should also prevail. It may be worthwhile to quote Harvard professor and acclaimed author, Joseph S Nye: “not merely by whose army wins but also by whose story wins”. The story of Muslim struggle against varied injustices, occupation and power domination has been turned into a macabre story of terrorism. Terrorism has killed the legitimate resistance against injustices that’s the reason for evil to prevail. Dominating powers in order to perpetuate their dominance indeed wanted to destroy the resistance. But the proponents of extremist ideologies and ghastly senseless terrorist violence too are complicit in destroying the resistance. Turning legitimate resistance into terrorism has been the sole contribution of al-Qaeda ideology. Al-Qaeda has so far proved to be more disastrous for the legitimate causes. Through its rash actions it has allowed itself to be played by occupying powers.
What next, depends upon how the continued ordeal of Muslims is explained? Is it due to conflicting ideologies or driven by power dynamics? This question can be asked the other way around also. Is al-Qaeda a response though highly unjustifiable extreme reaction to the repression? Or else al-Qaeda’s actions are ideology driven? It’s both, can be argued. Still repression is the bedrock of al-Qaeda which provides it space to gain some toehold in the Muslim societies. Osama met his end at a critical juncture of history. Arab Street aspiring for a culture of true democracy is on the boil. The spectacle of Tahrir square convinced many an Arab intellectuals to declare that democracy march has turned al-Qaeda redundant. If Muslim world is allowed to follow though chaotic and less violent transition of Tunisia and Egypt towards democracy, al-Qaeda turning irrelevant is a real possibility. And in case civil war of Libya and strife of Bahrain and Syria becomes the fate of Muslim Street, angry youth will be pushed to embrace extremist violent ideologies rather tightly. Al-Qaeda becoming a history also depends upon, whether there is still any space left for Palestine besides Israel, becoming a free state. Osama’s end also coincides with the scheduled withdrawal of America from Afghanistan. 9/11 was the ostensible reason for America to invade Afghanistan. Disappearance of Osama from the scene may prompt America to declare victory and hasten its departure from the Afghanistan. However still it will depend upon, whether Afghanistan settles as a comparatively peaceful region or continue to remain a hot conflict zone. Only a conflict free Afghanistan can cease to be the magnet for the extremist ideologies.
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Lastupdate on : Fri, 6 May 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 6 May 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 May 2011 00:00:00 IST
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