Friday, 9 March 2012

Jihad - A Taxonomy

After reading through a couple of books on the subject of Islamic Jihad and its roots, I side with Mahmood Mamdani, the author of 'Good Muslim, Bad Muslim' on the matter of Jihad's categorisation. I believe that Islamic Jihad is more political than theological as Mahmood proves (or tries to prove) in his acclaimed book about Islam, USA and the Cold War. People who kill in the name of jihad don't kill as dictated by any religious decree, but do so due to a political decree that governs a quest for power. Lets analyse that school of thought in a bit more detail.

Jihad : Personal Profile

Name : Jihad, The War within.

Father's Name : The United States of America

Mother's Name : CIA

Place of Birth : Afghanistan

Time of Birth : Cold War

Civilisation : Wahhabi Islamists

Current Residence : Afghanistan

Previous Residences : Afghanistan, Egypt, Post Apartheid South Africa, Iraq, Iran, Somalia and many more....

Motto (Then) : Defeat the Soviets (USSR)

Motto (Now) : Defeat the hegemonic (USA +) 

Friends (Then) : USA, CIA, Saudi Arabia, Israel

Friends (Now) :Iraq, Somalia, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan

Foes (Then) : USSR

Foes (Now) : USA and Allies

Achievements : Wiping Soviet Influence in Afghanistan and Eastern Europe (Cold War), 9/11 Bombing of Twin Towers, Attacks on US friendly nations viz. Britain, France, India (more recently)

Failures : Refer to Friends and Foes section above

So, from what you've read above, the only intriguing part is how Dad became Foe between then and now. The answer to that interesting conundrum makes us understand Jihad and its various manifestations over time in a clearer fashion. Lets go back to the birth of what is called 'Jihad' in today's context. The USA, which was one of the two super powers in the world after the Second World war wanted autonomy in world power and thereby resolved to eradicate Soviet's influence in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The much hyped 'Cold War' is just about this. If we remember right, the Second World War was fought in Europe and Asia and the countries involved in the war by and large were labelled 'Third World Countries' (where the Soviet wielded some influence). One of the aims of the Second World War was to dethrone dictators around the world including but not limited to Hitler. We all know how that war ended and how it gave birth to the next global war in line viz. The Cold War. The perpetrators of this war - America, decided to wage the entire war 'proxily' and hence the name : 'proxy war'.

The Afghan resistance to USSR was nothing but a US intervention and that intervention was well executed by way of 'privatization'. America decided to operate from behind the scenes and in the process exposed various religious groups and extremist groups on the battle field. So, instead of controlling aspects like training directly, the CIA allowed private organisations to spread information about violence, especially tactics and methods to drive out the Russians. Al Qaeda was one such organisation that was fed and brought up by the USA Government under Ronald Reagan with technical assistance from the CIA and ground zero assistance from the ISI. That is how far behind the US-Pakistan relationship goes. If one does not understand why US has been an ally of Pakistan over the last decade even after so many instances that proved Pakistan's association with the Taliban, the answer is the long lasting friendship between the CIA and the ISI right from the Cold War times. So the US tactics during the cold war was well thought out and at the ground level it had learnt from its earlier mistakes in Vietnam.

After the Cold War, which was very satisfactorily won by the US, a few global problems arose from the very operations during the war. One of them was a realisation viz..a realisation about the cost of blood to various Muslim nations in Africa and Middle East. Countries like Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran paid the price for America's victory. The price they paid was in denominations of livelihood and blood. Millions of people in Afghanistan and Somalia were devoid of food, security and shelter immediately after the Cold War. This point (just after the end of the Cold War) marks a paradigm shift in the identity of Jihad. People who were nurtured and fed by the US had no place to go after the completion of the war and they started revolting against their very own creators for their exploits hitherto. It is important to note that private organisations like Al Qaeda and Haji Group were armed up to their teeth with highly advanced US weaponry which were supplied to them in large numbers during the Soviet whitewash. Osama Bin Laden led from the front and called all his 'political' brothers to wage a war against the perpetrators. He and the other Jihadist leaders saw an opportunity to show their military and political might in a bid to become empowered. They believed that they could defeat their creators with their own methods and weapons. In retaliation, the US, which was apprehensive about the weaponry (biological and nuclear) in possession of those fundamentalists, declared the global war on terror. This clash culminated in the happenings of September 9th of 2001 at New York.

So, the story of Islamic Jihad is essentially one of a family Saga where the son decides to revolt against his very own cunning Father who exploited him to achieve his personal goals. This global war on terror and the holy war called Jihad, that are at loggerheads currently, cannot be ended until and unless governments worldwide acknowledge the fact that both of them are political battles and not religious ones. It can also be said that the political battles involve some monetary benefits besides the quest for power. The war on Iraq, as is known to many of us worldwide, had its roots in oil and natural resources. But America's strategy during and after the cold war - proxy fighting and sedition shall not work in today's world of complex foreign policies. America has to understand that Jihad is its own creation and it can only end it by accepting to live with a wider distribution of power on the world map. The ascent of countries like China, India, Brazil and South Africa on the global trade platform makes the relationship between friends and foes a complex one. For instance, India, which supports America's war on terror (either by design or accident) cannot afford to break its ties with Iran or Yemen to appease the United States. The simple reason is India's growing energy interests in the region.

To conclude, it may objectively correct to blame America for having a corrupting influence on Islam in their 'Global War Against Terror'. But the very elements of that corruption are those Jihadists who are busy waging the 'Holy War'.

So, the job of the innocent muslim who is caught in these crossfires is to look at Religious Islam and Political Islam from different angles.
A neutral spectator should see the American Think Tank and the Jihadist Ideology as two superficial smart players in the global pursuit of power and treat the two imposters just the same.

P.S:The views expressed in this article are totally personal and are based on opinion and understanding of various events from history as recorded in various books on the subject.


Sharath said...

brilliant one!! :D

Hari said...

Semma write up da.

I don't know how clearly you can separate out the theological motives from the political. Yes, the Americans were the ones who stirred the pot, to put it mildly and are now facing consequences that will definitely be talked about for centuries. But the Islamic puritans have always been critical of anything un-Islamic and have sought to bring the world under one religion, one stranglehold of theocratic rule. We know that from history - look at what the Ghaznis and the Ghoris did to us Indians a millennium ago. They had it as part of their ideology then - to create a huge muslim world. I cannot say this want has changed much. If anything, I think their agenda now has another excuse to fight against whom they deem 'infidels' - that of political gain. Sure, it is not without reason, but the way these jihadist groups recruit, I'd believe, is hardly based on an understanding of the political scenario. It is way easier to brainwash a teenager citing the west is against Islam, and therefore you need to become a shaheed. The real gains are enjoyed by the men at the top of the pyramid (read: political class in Islamic republics) while their those in the "workforce" fritter their lives away - people like Kasab, for instance - they're merely pawns in a much bigger and more scheming game of kolaveri chess.

Pradeep Sekhar said...

@Sharath: Thanks Da!

Pradeep Sekhar said...

@Hari : Thanks for the insight....It was whoa!!!!!!!!!!!...definitely a point to make note...I don't think one can clearly seperate the theological and political parts from that equation. But leave alone those who end up getting hypnotized. They will most probably form an illogical bunch of humans. Considering the big thinkers behind the whole thing, the political motives become very important.

WorldWebWeaver said...

Hi Pradeep,

First let me thank your effort to help remove the stereotypical thought of the entire world (including the ignorant muslims) that Jihad means to kill or perpetuate terror. Yes Jihad is as you tried to put is the never-ending fight against your own worldly desires which one way or the other might hurt or edperves fellow human. I would like to stress 'fellow humans' and NOT 'fellow muslims'.
However the unfortunate fact is that the capatilist world has made the rest of the world live up to the motto 'If you are not with us you are against us'. I am sure your writing should kindle thoughts of deviation from the usual train of belief and I really hope people read more of Islam and not go by what they hear in CNN and BBC or any news channel for that matter. People tend to access data whcih comes by easy. Who would not prefer to watch NDTV and have Pizza rather than spend time reading a book taking time off. Its like the fast-food and home-made, the latter is easy to get and assumed tasty but the effects it has in your body will only realised at a later portion of your life. Yes I am a foodie which makes me think in these lines but I am sure all Indians love food but I advocate they choose thier sources diligently.