September 25, 2001


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Arvind Lavakare

Justice, jihad and all that

Having declared the first war of the 21st century soon after the apocalypse of September 11, the American president quickly leapt back into cowboy history and recalled for his people the western movie poster of 'Wanted: Dead or Alive' without putting there even a facial sketch of the comics strips 'coyote.'

Twenty-four hours later, he named his game plan against terrorism 'Operation Infinite Justice,' but pronto came the news that even as he was twirling his two six-shooters round the forefingers while spitting out the juice of the chewed-on cigarillo, he had second thoughts on that appellation. Muslim sentiment had been hurt because only Allah, he was told, could dispense infinite justice. After all, Muslim sentiment is what mighty America is nursing at this juncture as it itches to 'smoke out' terrorism.

Don't be surprised, therefore, if the Bible thumping Bush Jr, president of the pluralistic and 'secular' USA, has by now relabelled his feverishly publicised 'war' 'Operation Jihadi Justice' despite having chosen a cathedral earlier to mourn the nation's dead.

That new name would certainly please the Taleban and mush Musharraf as well as the Brit called Blair and Islamic scholars such as Dr Rafiq Zakaria and Qazi Mujahid-ul-Islam Qazmi, chairman of All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

These entities have been among those who have recently stood up for Islam and its most sacred Koran. Thus, soon after the modern day apocalypse, Tony Blair insisted that 'acts of terrorism and savagery were wholly contrary to the Islamic faith' and also sent letters to our and various other prime ministers telling them that the battle against terrorism should not be on the basis of religion.

In an interview published in The Times of India of September 21, Qazi said, 'The use of the word "terrorism" in conjunction with the word "Islam" has deeply pained us.' Dr Zakaria fretted and fumed on Star TV the other evening over the phrase 'Islamic terrorism,' proclaiming that the Koran was only a document of peace. And cowboy Bush had, of course, endorsed Blair's character certificate to Islam when, in order to atone for the assault on local Muslims by the enraged white Americans, he visited a mosque in Washington.

Why Bush didn't similarly visit a Sikh gurdwara is something we must forget, if not forgive. What is more germane is to look at Blair & Co's clean chit to Islam. Three known experts of Islam, namely, Yusufali, Pickthal and Shakir, have had their interpretation of the Koran posted on Their version of just two verses from that holy book should be amply instructive to Bush, Blair & Co.

Thus, verse 151 of Chapter 3 is interpreted as follows.

Yusufali: Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers!

Pickthal: We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve because they ascribe unto Allah partners, for which no warrant hath been revealed. Their habitation is the fire, and hapless the abode of the wrong-doers.

Shakir: We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they set up with Allah that for which He has sent down no authority, and their abode is the fire, and evil is the abode of the unjust.

Church-going Christians as they are, and 'soft' towards Israel, Bush and Blair ought to be truly enlightened by the interpretation below of verse 51 of Chapter 5 of the Koran.

Yusufali: O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.

Pickthal: O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.

Shakir: O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.

How is it then that Bush et al get carried away by the proposition of Muslim 'scholars'? Retired mechanical engineer Vinod Kumar, 65, of Portland, Oregon, has long been an avid analyst of the Koran, and he explains the riddle by giving the example of one verse. The apologists of Islam, he says, cite the words 'There shall be no compulsion in religion' (Chapter 2, verse 256) to indicate how tolerant Islam is. However, this is only a part of the verse, he avers; when continued, it says, 'True guidance is now distinct from error. He that renounces idol-worship and puts his faith in God shall grasp a firm handle that will never break. God hears all and knows all.' Clearly, Islam scholars sound convincing because most non-Muslims are unlikely to verify the truth by reading the Koran, and those who do so will not have their rejoinders accepted by the media at large.

In the above context, it behoves all NRIs -- who are presently distraught at America's cuddling up with Pakistan while shunning India's flying kiss -- to swamp Bush and his entire Congress with the truth about Islam's threat of striking terror into 'unbelievers' who include Christians and Jews.

The other Indian who are in India must also note how the great, freedom-loving American nation has, after the apocalypse, redefined the connotation of 'freedom' itself. New York's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, said soon after September 11: 'Freedom is about authority -- about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it.' Read that sentence again to see how 'freedom' and all else enshrined so long in the USA's First Amendment is being twisted by a Big Brother in the same American nation that has long paraded as a flag-bearer of so-called human rights all over the world -- from Jammu and Kashmir to Kosovo and Timor. Note, too, that all our own indigenous brand of human rights activists -- including the National Human Rights Commission functioning under a former chief justice of the country -- have remained totally muted on Giuliani's redefinition of 'freedom.'

Consider also America's revised version of 'justice' -- finite or infinite. According to the reputed British publication, Jane's Intelligence Review of September 20, the planning, operational and logistic brain behind the sinister September happening in the USA was Imad Mughniyeh, a Lebanese, whom the Israelis consider a clinical psychopath and a genius, in comparison with whom 'Bin Laden is a schoolboy.' Yet, almost from day one, Bush has, on circumstantial evidence at best, pressurised the Taleban to deliver bin Laden, dead or alive. What kind of justice is that?

That is not the kind of justice America has given when, despite piles of evidence given by India, the USA has refused to declare even the Lashkar-e-Tayiba a terrorist outfit, when, in fact, Pakistan itself should have been pronounced as a terrorist State long ago. Again, whenever India has, all these years, put forth its legal, moral and constitutional case on J&K before the USA, we have been repeatedly told only to hold 'talks' with Pakistan, to negotiate peace with it. Now, when America believes -- on circumstantial evidence at best -- that bin Laden is the villain of September 11, it talks of 'war,' not of 'talks' or 'negotiations' with the Taleban. What kind of justice is that?

All of this is directed towards those Indians who are beating their breast and wringing their fingers over our government's 'failure' to exploit the September apocalypse to do to Pak what cowboy Bush wants to do to bin Laden: 'smoke out.' Such Indians must realise that the USA will never ever wholeheartedly uphold India's cause, however righteous, as long as Pakistan exists in its critical geo-political position on the world map. Whether India uses adroit diplomacy or not, whether India bends backwards or not, it is futile for India to expect any goodies from Uncle Sam. There must surely be a lurking fear in his heart about India's superpower potential.

That potential will, unfortunately, remain bottled as long as Indians keep quarrelling among themselves -- any issue is good enough for that.

Look at our politicians. They will not unite on any issue except their legislative pay and perks. Their sole motto: criticise those in power for anything and everything, oppose them, raise demands of any kind, sit on the fence -- all to preserve their own vote banks.

Ditto for the intellectuals. Criticise the NDA government for assuring help to the USA too quickly or too slowly. Ditto for those in the media.

Educated Indians simply love to debate, disagree and damn without full details -- that's not their concern. The press is united only over their 'rights' and little else. They can't realise their own duplicity in dubbing those who raped America's pride and prestige as 'terrorists' while continuing to call the evil perpetrators in J&K as 'militants.' Why, they haven't even agreed whether it should be madarsa or madrasa, 'jehad' or 'jihad,' 'Lashkar-e-Tayiba' or 'Lashkar-e-Toiba.' Contrast this with the USA where the entire nation has long accepted that 'color' is not 'colour' and 'center' is not 'centre,' whatever Englishman Blair may write in his correspondence.

India will get justice from the world only when we first get going a fanatical jihad -- against our vote-bank politics, against outdated socialist policies, indiscipline, poverty, illiteracy and bureaucratic lethargy.

For starters, there's the earlier economic slowdown that is very likely to be aggravated by the situation in the USA. It seems a god-sent opportunity for India to straightaway begin a serious, time-bound debate of one month as to why the government should forget America and Pakistan and embark instead on a massive spending programme, in the Keynesian mould, to revive textile units, to build roads and drainage systems, water and power supply schemes, pucca mud houses, rural schools etc. by employing the country's poor in thousands against wages paid with food, clothing and shelter through the village panchayats, tehsildars and trusted, dedicated NGOs such as the Ramakrishna Mission Trust. If we do just that in the next two to three years, we will win international respect without even pining for it.

The Attack on America: The Complete Coverage

Arvind Lavakare

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