The Radicalizing Ideology – its root causes

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By Arif Humayun[1]

Circle of Peace (



(This paper will establish a correlation between the development of a radicalizing ideology in Pakistan and its effects on Muslim attitudes across the world.  While this flawed ideology was being developed and slowly propagated, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 70s catalyzed the process by drawing the US, NATO and their Muslim allies into legitimizing this political interpretation and accelerating its pace of development.  While the discussion here will focus on data from Pakistan in the early 1950s, their influence on the Muslims’ attitudes in 2013 will establish that connection… This paper will describe the basis of this radicalizing ideology from the evidence collected by the Munir Commission Report and highlight the current confusion about engineered ideologies throughout the Muslim world as captured by Pew Research. – Author)

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing – Edmund Burke

In the end, we will remember not the actions of our enemies but the silence of our friends —Dr. Martin Luther King

Having routinely ignored several atrocities justified in the name of Islam, the December 16, 2014 massacre of almost 145 people, including 132 children at the Army Public School in Peshawar, has finally established a new blood-soaked benchmark for Pakistan’s tolerance.  This latest carnage is perhaps the proverbial straw that finally broke the camel’s back in Pakistan.  Similarly, the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, the follow-up attack on the grocery store in Paris and the suicide blast in Rawalpindi (Pakistan) has plunged the world in shock and grief.  These repeated and multiple attacks show the power of such terrorist groups.

The human mind struggles to comprehend the horrifying, shocking and numbing event in which innocent and helpless school children were methodically and relentlessly killed by militants after specifically identifying children whose parents were in the military.  Likewise in Paris, people were targeted and killed in cold blood.  The apocalyptic tragedy of the Peshawar school attack and the carnages in Paris cannot be put in words.  The national grief, shock, and trauma of this mass slaughter cannot be envisioned by any civilized society.  Such heinous acts cannot be written off as “Lone Wolf” attacks and there is no reason to believe that such events can be held in isolation.  They must be considered part of the world-wide terrorist threat from those ideologically radicalized in the name of political Islam.  Major Nidal Hassan’s killing in Fort Hood Texas, Faisal Shahzad’s failed attempt to detonate a bomb in Time Square, and the terrorist attacks in Europe are part of the same string.  The deep, powerful, and growing ideological movement of Islamism must be thwarted from within the House of Islam and crushed forcefully by law enforcement across the world.

This paper will establish a correlation between the development of this radicalizing ideology in Pakistan and its effects on Muslim attitudes across the world.  While this flawed ideology was being developed and slowly propagated, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 70s catalyzed the process by drawing the US, NATO and their Muslim allies into legitimizing this political interpretation and accelerating its pace of development.  While the discussion here will focus on data from Pakistan in the early 1950s, their influence on the Muslims’ attitudes in 2013 will establish that connection.

Rather than addressing the root cause, Pakistani society still demonstrates extreme confusion.  The Army Chief took the initiative first by taking on the Taliban in Waziristan and, after the attack on the school in Peshawar, nudged the PM and the reluctant parliamentarians to adopt the 20-point National Action Plan[i] which, other than the routine statements, has two important departures – the revocation of a six-year moratorium on the death penalty and the establishment of special courts headed by Army officers for speedy trial and conviction of terrorists.  Unfortunately, no comprehensive plan to deal with radicalizing ideology, the root cause, has been identified.  Since then, the establishment of military courts has been challenged in the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional.  Since the revocation of the moratorium on death penalty, the reported hanging of seventeen people on death row (by January 14, 2015 when the article is being written) seems more like a knee jerk reaction to the tragic event.  While the increasing pace of executing the death penalty will eliminate some hard-core terrorists, the unintended consequence will be more sympathy and increased radicalization because the general Muslim population believes that these terrorists are serving the cause of Islam.  It is worth mentioning that the death penalty will not be a deterrent for suicide bombers who willingly blow themselves up in the name of religion.

While the harsh actions being contemplated in Pakistan may provide temporary relief, a permanent solution – reversal of the radicalizing ideology (the basic understanding of religious tenants) needs to be implemented.  Since Pakistan’s inception, the various governments and the military have connived with the politicized clergy to “engineer” Islamic tenants to suit their political or military purposes.

Without reversing the state-sponsored propagation of this ideology, the Pakistani state and society’s fight against terrorism will continue to be a smoke and mirrors battle.  Since the early days of independence, Pakistani society has either been silently acquiescent, silently disapproving, or totally indifferent to the development of this ideology that is now playing havoc in Pakistan and the Muslim world.  This confusion is widespread and prevalent throughout the Muslim world today as will be shown later.

In Europe, such harsh actions are not possible because their societies are built on freedom of expression and individual liberties.  Fortunately in Europe and the US, the number of radicalized individuals is small and, unlike the Muslim world, people are free to discuss issues publicly.  An educational process through public education to highlight its convoluted basis should be sufficient to defeat this ideology.

Ironically, the root cause was well documented in Pakistan by the Munir Commission Report[ii] published in 1954 after religiously motivated rioting in the Punjab.  The provincial government – a party that encouraged and funded the riots against the federal government – was obviously unable to control the situation and martial law had to be imposed in the affected areas to control the situation.  The Munir Commission, established to identify the root cause of rioting, did an excellent job at meeting their objectives.  This is probably the first and only investigative commission in Pakistan whose report has been officially published and without delay.  Regrettably, the findings of the report are not being discussed to develop strategies to defeat the radicalizing ideology.  Till this is done, there is no hope of permanently defeating terrorism and radicalism.

This paper will describe the basis of this radicalizing ideology from the evidence collected by the Munir Commission Report and highlight the current confusion about engineered ideologies throughout the Muslim world as captured by Pew Research.

 Overall Ideology

The formation of an Islamic State, ruled by a Caliph is the overall ideology.  This was initially developed jointly by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt and the Jama’at-i-Islami (JI) in undivided India in the 1930s as reaction to the colonization of Muslim lands.  Not to be left behind, other politically motivated Muslim groups joined in and, supported by geopolitical event, demographics, poor governance, corruption and the lack of socio-economic structure, sharpened the rhetoric.  Regional and world powers exploited this ideology for political purposes and trained and financed cadres of terrorists till this monster got out of hand.  Integral parts of the mythical Islamic State are sharia, jihad, apostasy and blasphemy (schematically shown in Figure 1).

Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and several similar groups have aspired to establish the mythical Islamic State and the Caliphate; ISIS (or ISIL), have renamed themselves Islamic State and actually declared the Caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq.  The two main issues in establishing a political system of governance under the Caliphate are:

  • whose interpretation of Islam will this Caliph follow, and
  • what would happen to Muslims when non-Muslim states reciprocate with establishing their own religious states and deal with Muslims and minorities with diminished rights of citizenship in their countries.

Before delving into the internal differences among Muslims, the overall concept of the Islamic State and its pillars must be examined.  Per the general definitions put forth by Muslims, sharia will be the legal system of governance, jihad will be the tool of war for subduing the enemy and expanding the boundaries of the state, and blasphemy and apostasy will be the tools for quelling dissent and criticism against the state and government.  This mythical state will be Dar-ul-Islam (the land of peace) where peace, equality, justice and the basic necessities for a good life will be provided to all citizens.  These interpretations of Islamic concepts are contrary to the Qur’an and are discussed elsewhere.[iii]

The immediate issue then becomes whose interpretation of Islam will be applicable to this mythical state?  Sunni or Shi’a?  And which sect or subsect of Sunni or Shi’a Islam will be adopted?  The differences between the six dozen or more Muslim sects are huge and irreconcilable.  Most have declared competing sects as heretic or apostate and liable to be killed as a religious obligation.  These differences emerged very clearly in the Munir Commission’s investigation where several so-called scholars could not even agree on the definition of a Muslim:[iv]

“Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulama [scholars], need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental. If we attempt our own definition as each learned divine has done and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold of Islam. And if we adopt the definition given by any one if the ulama, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim [scholar] but kafirs [idolaters] according to the definition of everyone else.”

This fundamental disagreement shows that even the so-called Islamic political parties exploit faith for selfish political motives.  These ideological differences reemerged recently after the Amir (head) of the Jama’at-i-Islami (JI) in Pakistan refused to consider the military men killed in action against the Taliban as martyrs because they were fighting to support the American war against the Taliban.  He even termed the former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud – who was killed in a US drone strike recently a ‘martyr.’[v]  Recently, Maulana Abdul Aziz, the head cleric of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad refused to consider the innocent children killed in the Peshawar school attack martyrs.[vi]  A group within his seminary even invited the Islamic State to avenge Pakistan’s military action of removing terrorists holed inside the mosque in 2007.[vii]  Society’s backlash against his position after the Peshawar school attack is a positive development which needs to be sustained.

The evolving drama about the constitutional amendment for the establishment of military courts, per the 20-point National Action Plan adopted recently, points to the coming crisis.  Details and analysis of the Muslim issues are published elsewhere.[viii]  This article will focus only on highlighting the basis of the radicalizing ideology and its unintended and destructive consequences in the 21st century.  This is accomplished through the direct testimony excerpted from the Munir Commission Report.

Integrity of the Qur’an:  Accepting the integrity and completeness of the Qur’an is an essential article of faith and Allah guarantees its preservation in the Qur’an.[ix]  Contrary to this, the Pakistani Muslim scholars conceded, under cross examination, that a verse of the Qur’an that prohibits violence under jihad had been abrogated.  The Commission observed: [x]

The generally accepted view [of the scholars] is that the fifth verse to Sura-i-Tauba (Sura IX) abrogated the earlier verses revealed in Mecca which permitted the killing of kuffar only in self-defence.  As against this the Ahmadis believe that no verse in the Qur’an was abrogated by another verse and that both sets of verses, namely, the Meccan verses and the relative verses in Sura-i-Tauba have different scopes and can stand together. This introduces the difficult controversy of nasikh [extant] and mansukh [expired], with all its implications.

Status of non-Muslims in an Islamic State:[xi]  None of the scholars examined by the Commission were ready to accord equal status to minorities despite the clear and unequivocal confirmation of equal status for all human beings contained in the Qur’an and the Holy Prophet’s traditions.  The evidence of some leading scholars is presented below as examples of this discrepancy:

Maulana Abul Hasanant on being questioned on the subject stated as follows:

“Q[uestion]        If we were to have an Islamic State in Pakistan, what will be the position of the kuffar (non-Muslims)? Will they have a voice in the making of laws, the right of administering the law and the right to hold public offices?

A[nswer]             Their position will be that of zimmies. They will have no voice in the making of laws, no right to administer the law and no right to hold public offices.

Q[uestion]          In an Islamic State can the head of the State delegate any part of his powers to kuffar?

A[nswer]             No.”

Maulana Ahmad Ali, when questioned, said:

“Q[uestion]        If we were to have an Islamic State in Pakistan, what will be the position of the kuffar? Will they have a hand in the making of the law, the right to administer the law and the right to hold public offices?

A[nswer]             Their position will be that of zimmies. They will have no say in the making of law and no right to administer the law.  Government may, however, permit them to hold any public office”.

 Mian Tufail Muhammad [Jam’at-i-Islami] stated as follows:

‘Q[uestion]         Read the article on minorities’ rights in the ‘Civil and Military Gazette’ of 13th October, 1953, and say whether it correctly represents your view of an Islamic State?  (It was stated in the articles that minorities would have the same rights as Muslims).

A[nswer]             I have read this article and do not acknowledge these rights for the Christians or other non-Muslims in Pakistan if the State is founded on the ideology of the Jama’at”.

The confusion on this point in the mind of Maulana Abdul Haamid Badayuni, President, Jami’at-ul-Ulama-i-Pakistan, is apparent from the following:

“Q[uestion]        Have you ever read the aforesaid speech (the speech of the Quaid-i-Azam to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11th August, 1947)?

A[nswer]             Yes, I have read that speech.

Q[uestion]          Do you still agree with the conception of Pakistan that the Quaid-i-Azam presented to the Constituent Assembly in this speech in which he said that thereafter there would be only one Pakistan nation, consisting of Muslims and non-Muslims, having equal civic rights, without any distinction of race, religion or creed and that religion would be merely a private affair of the individual?

A[nswer]             I accept the principle that all communities, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, should have, according to their population, proper representation in the administration of the State and legislation, except that non-Muslims cannot be taken in the army or the judiciary or be appointed as Ministers or to other posts involving the reposing of confidence.

Q[uestion]          Are you suggesting that the position of non-Muslims would be that of zimmies or any better?

A[nswer]             No.  By zimmies are meant non-Muslim people in lands which have been conquered by an Islamic State, and the word is not applicable to non-Muslim minorities already living in an Islamic State.  Such minorities are called mu’ahids, i.e. those people with whom some agreement has been made.

Q[uestion]          What will be their status if there is no agreement with them?

A[nswer]             In that case communities cannot have any rights of citizenship.

Q[uestion]          Will the non-Muslim communities inhabiting Pakistan be called by you as mu’ahids?

A[nswer]             No, not till the absence of an agreement with them.  To my knowledge there is no such agreement with such communities in Pakistan.”

So, according to the evidence of this learned divine, the non-Muslims of Pakistan will neither be citizens nor will they have the status of zimmies or of mu’ahids.”

This stance is contrary to the fundamental human rights.  The Commission highlighted the dilemma caused by this position of according unequal status to non-Muslims in a Muslim country and commented: [xii]

“… This being the position, the State will have to devise some machinery by which the distinction between a Muslim and a non-Muslim may be determined and its consequences enforced.  The question, therefore, whether a person is or is not a Muslim will be of fundamental importance, and it was for this reason that we asked most of the leading ulama to give their definition of a Muslim, the point being that if the ulama of the various sects believed the Ahmadis to be kafirs, they must have been quite clear in their minds not only about the grounds of such belief but also about the definition of a Muslim because the claim that a certain person or community is not within the pale of Islam implies on the part of the claimant an exact conception of what a Muslim is.  The result of this part of the inquiry, however, has been anything but satisfactory, and if considerable confusion exists in the minds of our ulama on such a simple matter, one can easily imagine what the differences on more complicated matters will be”.

The Commission then questioned the scholars on the expected reaction of non-Muslim governments where Muslim are in minority.  They specifically referred to India as it had a sizeable Muslim population even after partition in 1947.

REACTION ON MUSLIMS OF NON-MUSLIM STATES:[xiii]  The ideology on which an Islamic State is desired to be founded in Pakistan must have certain consequences for the Musalmans [Muslim] who are living in countries under non-Muslim sovereigns.  We asked Amir-i-Shari’at Sayyad Ataullah Shah Bukhari whether a Muslim could be a faithful subject of a non-Muslim State and reproduce his answer:

Q[uestion]          In your opinion is a Musalman bound to obey orders of a kafir Government?

A[nswer]             It is not possible that a Musalman should be faithful citizen of a non-Muslim Government.

Q[uestion]          Will it be possible for the four crore [forty million] of Indian Muslims to be faithful citizens of their State?

A[nswer]             No.

The answer is quite consistent with the ideology which has been pressed before us but then if Pakistan is entitled to base its Constitution on religion, the same right must be conceded to other countries where Musalmans are in substantial minorities or if they constitute a preponderating majority in a country where sovereignty rests with a non-Muslim community.  We, therefore, asked the various ulama whether, if non-Muslims in Pakistan were to be subjected to this discrimination in matters of citizenship, the ulama would have any objection to Muslims in other countries being subjected to a similar discrimination. Their reactions to this suggestion are reproduced below:

Maulana Abul Hasanat Sayyed Muhammad Ahmad Qadri, President, Jami’at-ul-Ulama-i-Pakistan:

Q[uestion]          You will admit for the Hindus, who are in a majority in India, the right to have a Hindu religious State?

A[nswer]             Yes.

Q[uestion]          Will you have any objection if the Muslims are treated under that form of Government as malishes or shudras under the law of Manu?

A[nswer]             No.

  Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi:

Q[uestion]          If we have this form of Islamic Government in Pakistan, will you permit Hindus to base their Constitution on the laws of their own religion?

A[nswer]             Certainly.  I should have no objection even if the Muslims of India are treated in that form of Government as shudras and malishes and Manu’s laws are applied to them, depriving them of all share in the Government and the rights of a citizen. In fact such a state of affairs already exists in India.”

Amir-i-Shari’at Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari:

“Q[uestion]        How many crores [1 crore = 10 million] of Muslims are there in India?

A[nswer]             Four crores [40 million].

Q[uestion]          Have you any objection to the law of Manu being applied to them according to which they will have no civil right and will be treated as malishes and shudras’

A[nswer]             I am in Pakistan and I cannot advise them.”

Mian Tufail Muhammad of Jama’at-i-Islami:

“Q[uestion]        What is the population of Muslims in the world?

A[nswer]             Fifty crores [500 million].

Q[uestion]          If the total population of Muslims of the world is 50 crores [500 million], as you say and the number of Muslims living in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Indonesia, Egypt, Persia, Syria, Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, Turkey and Iraq does not exceed 20 crores [200 million], will not the result of your ideology be to convert 30 crores [300 million] Muslims in the world into hewers of wood and drawers of water?

A[nswer]             My ideology should not affect their position.

Q[uestion]          Even if they are subjected to discrimination on religious grounds and denied ordinary rights of citizenship? :

A[nswer]             Yes.


This witness goes to the extent of asserting that even if a non-Muslim Government were to offer posts to Muslims in the public services of the country, it will be their duty to refuse such posts.”

Despite this assertion, Muslims have flocked to non-Muslim countries to escape persecution in their native countries and seeking better educational and economic opportunities.  This assertion flies in the face of this defective ideology.

Ghazi Siraj-ud-Din Munir:

“Q[uestion]        Do you want an Islamic State in Pakistan?

A[nswer]             Surely.

Q[uestion]          What will be your reaction if the neighbouring country was to found their political system on their own religion?

A[nswer]             They can do it if they like.

Q[uestion]          Do you admit for them the right to declare that all Muslims in India are shudras and malishes with no civil rights whatsoever?

A[nswer]             We will do our best to see that before they do it their political sovereignty is gone. We are too strong for India. We will be strong enough to prevent India from doing this.

Q[uestion]          Is it a part of the religious obligations of Muslims to preach their religion?

A[nswer]             Yes.

Q[uestion]          Is it a part of the duty of Muslims in India publicly to preach their religion?

A[nswer]             They should have that right.

Q[uestion]          What if the Indian State is founded on a religious basis and the right to preach religion is disallowed to its Muslim nationals?

A[nswer]             If India makes any such law, believer in the Expansionist movement as I am, I will march on India and conquer her.”

So, this is the reply to the reciprocity of discrimination on religious grounds.

Master Taj-ud-Din Ansari:

“Q[uestion]        Would you like to have the same ideology for the four crore [forty million] Muslims in India as you are impressing upon the Muslims of Pakistan?

A[nswer]             That ideology will not let them remain in India for one minute.

Q[uestion]          Does the ideology of a Muslim change from place to place and from time to time?

A[nswer]             No.

Q[uestion]          Then why should not the Muslims of India have the same ideology as you have?

A[nswer]             They should answer that question.”

The ideology advocated before us, if adopted by Indian Muslims, will completely disqualify them for public offices in the State, not only in India but in other countries also which are under a non-Muslim Government. Muslims will become perpetual suspects everywhere and will not be enrolled in the army because according to this ideology, in case of war between a Muslim country and a non-Muslim country, Muslim soldiers of the non-Muslim country must either side with the Muslim country or surrender their posts.

The following is the view expressed by two divines whom we questioned on this point:

Maulana Abul Hasanat Sayyed Muhammad Ahmad Qadri, President, Jami’at-ul-Ulama-i-Pakistan:

“Q[uestion]        What will be the duty of Muslims in India in case of war between India and Pakistan?

A[nswer]             Their duty is obvious, namely, to side with us and not to fight against us on behalf of India.”

Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi:

Q[uestion]          What will be the duty of the Muslims in India in case of war between India and Pakistan?

A[nswer]             Their duty is obvious, and that is not to fight against Pakistan or to do anything injurious to the safety of Pakistan.”

 The soldier or the policeman will have the right, on grounds of religion, to disobey a command by a superior authority. Maulana Abul Hasanat’s view on this is as follows:

‘I believe that if a policeman is required to do something which we consider to be contrary to our religion, it should be the duty of the policeman to disobey the authority. The same would be my answer if ‘army’ were substituted for ‘police’.

Q[uestion]          You stated yesterday that if a policeman or a soldier was required by a superior authority to do what you considered to be contrary to religion, it would be the duty of that policeman or the soldier to disobey such authority. Will you give the policeman or the soldier the right of himself determining whether the command he is given by his superior authority is contrary to religion?

A[nswer]             Most certainly.

Q[uestion]          Suppose there is war between Pakistan and another Muslim country and the soldier feels that Pakistan is in the wrong and that to shoot a soldier of the other country is contrary to religion. Do you think he would be justified in disobeying his commanding officer?

A[nswer]             In such a contingency the soldier should take a fatwa of the “ulama.”

We have dealt at some length on this subject of Islamic State not because we intended to write a thesis against or in favour of such a State but merely with a view to presenting a clear picture of the numerous possibilities that may in future arise if true causes of the ideological confusion which contributed to the spread and intensity of the disturbances are not precisely located. That such confusion did exist is obvious because otherwise Muslim Leaguers, whose own government was in office, would not have risen against it; sense of loyalty and public duty would not have departed from public officials who went about like maniacs howling against their own government and officers; respect for property and human life would not have disappeared in the common man who with no scruple or compunction began freely to indulge in loot, arson and murder; politicians would not have shirked facing the men who had installed them in their offices; and administrators would not have felt hesitant or diffident in performing what was their obvious duty. If there is one thing which has been conclusively demonstrated in this inquiry, it is that provided you can persuade the masses to believe that something they are asked to do is religiously right or enjoined by religion, you can set them to any course of action, regardless of all considerations of discipline, loyalty, decency, morality or civic sense.”

An Islamic State is dar-ul-Islam, namely, a country where ordinances of Islam are established and which is under the rule of a Muslim sovereign.  Its inhabitants are Muslims and also non-Muslims who have submitted to Muslim control and who under certain restrictions and without the possibility of full citizenship are guaranteed their lives and property by the Muslim State. They must, however, be people of Scriptures and may not be idolaters.  An Islamic state is in theory perpetually at war with the neighbouring non-Muslim country, which at any time may become dar-ul-harb, in which case it is the duty of the Muslims of that country to leave it and to come over to the country of their brethren in faith.

We put this aspect to Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi and reproduce his views

Q[uestion]          Is a country on the border of dar-ul-lslam always qua an Islamic State in the position of dar-ul-harb?

A[nswer]             No.  In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, the Islamic state will be potentially at war with the non-Muslim neighbouring country. The non-Muslim country acquires the status of dar-ul-harb only after the Islamic State declares a formal war against it’.

Q[uestion]          Do you call your migration to Pakistan as hijrat in the religious sense?

A[nswer]             Yes”[xiv]

The law relating to prisoners of war is another branch of Islamic law which is bound to come in conflict with International Law.  As for instance, in matters relating to the treatment of prisoners of war, we shall have to be governed by Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi’s view, assuming that view is based on the Qur’an and the sunna, which is as follows:[xv]

“Q[uestion]        Is there a law of war in Islam?

A[nswer]             Yes.

Q[uestion]          Does it differ fundamentally from the modern International Law of war?

A[nswer]             These two systems are based on a fundamental difference.

Q[uestion]          What rights have non-Muslims who are taken prisoners of war in a jihad?

A[nswer]             The Islamic law on the point is that if the country of which these prisoners are nationals pays ransom, they will be released. An exchange of prisoners is also permitted.  If neither of these alternatives is possible, the prisoners will be converted into slaves forever.  If any such person makes an offer to pay his ransom out of his own earnings, he will be permitted to collect the money necessary for the fidya (ransom).

Q[uestion]          Are you of the view that unless a Government assumes the form of an Islamic Government, any war declared by it is not a jihad?

A[nswer]             No.  A war may be declared to be a jihad if it is declared by a national Government of Muslims in the legitimate interests of the State.” [xvi]


Maulana Abul Hasanat Muhammad Ahmad Qadri’s view on this point is as follows:

Q[uestion]          ls there a law of war in Islam?

A[nswer]             Yes.

Q[uestion]          Does it differ in fundamentals from the present International Law?

A[nswer]             Yes.

Q[uestion]          What are the rights of a person taken prisoner in war?

A[nswer]             He can embrace Islam or ask for aman, in which case he will be treated as a musta’min.  If he does not ask for aman, he would be made a slave”.


Similar is the opinion expressed by Mian Tufail Muhammad of Jama’at-i-lslami who says:

Q[uestion]          Is there any law of war in Islamic laws?

A[nswer]             Yes.

Q[uestion]          If that comes into conflict with International Law, which will you follow?

A[nswer]             Islamic law.

Q[uestion]          Then please state what will be the status of prisoners of war captured by your forces?

A[nswer]             I cannot reply to this off hand. I will have to study the point.  Of course ghanima (plunder) and khums (one-fifth) if treated as a necessary incident of jihad will be treated by international society as a mere act of brigandage.

This above extended excerpt from the Munir Commission Report clearly shows the basis of this hate ideology which created and continues to sustain the terrorists.  That was the situation in 1954.  Today, the same horrendous practices e.g., taking slaves, killing and torturing innocents, etc. are reflected in the conduct of IS, Boko Haram, and other similar groups.  Ironically, many Muslims have chosen to migrate to the West where they live as minorities in non-Muslim countries and expect and demand equal rights from the non-Muslim majority.  More than that, they are now demanding the implementation of sharia as alternate law even in their adopted non-Muslim countries where they migrated to escape persecution in their native countries.  The insincerity and opportunistic attitude of defining their position on the unequal status of minorities in Muslim countries evaporates when they themselves become minorities.  The double standards and hypocrisy of this position is obvious.  I doubt any one of these scholars or their ideological supporters can stand behind these politically motivated and bigoted positions in the 21st century.

Concluding comments by Munir Commission:  “Pakistan is being taken by the common man, though it is not, as an Islamic State. This belief has been encouraged by the ceaseless clamour for Islam and Islamic State that is being heard from all quarters since the establishment of Pakistan. The phantom of an Islamic State has haunted the Musalman throughout the ages and is a result of the memory of the glorious past when Islam rising like a storm from the least expected quarter of the world— wilds of Arabia—instantly enveloped the world, pulling down from their high pedestals gods who had ruled over man since creation, uprooting centuries old institutions and superstitions and supplanting all civilisations that had been built on an enslaved humanity. What is 126 years in human history, nay in the history of a people, and yet during this brief period Islam spread from the Indus to the Atlantic and Spain, and from the borders of China to Egypt, and the sons of the desert installed themselves in all old centres of civilization—in Ctesiphon. Damascus, Alexandria, India and all places associated with the names of the Sumerian and the Assyrian civilizations. Historians lave often posed the question: what would have been the state of the world today if Muawiya’s siege of Constantinople had succeeded or if the proverbial Arab instinct for plunder had not suddenly seized the mujahids of Abdur Rahman in their fight against Charles Mattel on the plains of Tours in Southern France. May be Muslims would have discovered America long before Columbus did and the entire world would have been Moslemised; maybe Islam itself would have been Europeanised. It is this brilliant achievement of the Arabian nomads, the like of which the world had never seen before, that makes the Musalman of today live in the past and yearn for the return of the glory that was Islam. He finds himself standing on the crossroads, wrapped in the mantle of the past and with the dead weight of centuries on his back, frustrated and bewildered and hesitant to turn one corner or the other. The freshness and the simplicity of the faith, which gave determination to his mind and spring to his muscle, is now denied to him. He has neither the means nor ability to conquer and there are no countries to conquer. Little does he understand that the forces, which are pitted against him, are entirely different from those against which early Islam had to fight, and that on the clues given by his own ancestors human mind has achieved results which he cannot understand. He therefore, finds himself in a state of helplessness, waiting for someone to come and help him out of this morass of uncertainty and confusion. And he will go on waiting like this without anything happening. Nothing but a bold re-orientation of Islam to separate the vital from the lifeless can preserve it as a World Idea and convert the Musalman into a citizen of the present and the future world from the archaic incongruity that he is in today.

It is this lack of bold and clear thinking, the inability to understand and take decisions which has brought about in Pakistan a confusion which will persist and repeatedly create situations of the kind we have been inquiring into until our leaders have a clear conception of the goal and of the means to reach it. It requires no imagination to realize that irreconcilables remain irreconcilable even if you believe or wish to the contrary. Opposing principles, if left to themselves, can only produce confusion and disorder, and the application of a neutralizing agency to them can only produce a dead result. Unless, in case of conflict between two ideologies, our leaders have the desire and the ability to elect, uncertainty must continue. And as long as we rely on the hammer when a file is needed and press Islam into service to solve situations it was never intended to solve, frustration and disappointment must dog our steps. The sublime faith called Islam will live even if our leaders are not there to enforce it. It lives in the individual, in his soul and outlook, in all his relations with God and men, from the cradle to the grave, and our politicians should understand that if Divine commands cannot make or keep a man a Musalman, their statutes will not.”[xvii]

The above evidence, which forms the basis of the radicalizing ideology, is self-explanatory and needs no further commentary; its convoluted basis is obvious.  In the Muslim world, such discussions are prohibited and in the West, political correctness prevents people from discussing it.  Our inability to discuss such matters provides the space in which the radicals thrive and grow.

Fast forwarding to the 21st century, the destructive ideology documented by the Munir Commission Report is deeply ingrained in the minds of Muslims around the world.  This was established by a Pew Research Survey in 2013 which interviewed more than 38,000 people in 39 countries and 80 languages.[xviii]  Results show that a majority of Muslims believe that Islam is the only true faith leading to eternal life in heaven and that belief in God is necessary to be a moral person.  Many also think that their religious leaders should have some influence over political matters.  And many express a desire for legislative sharia – traditional “Islamic” law – to be recognized as the official law of their country.  The major misconception that the politicized clergy has successfully created is that the legislative sharia is part of faith.  It is not.  This system was developed by the Abbasid Caliphate between the 8th and 9th century and terminated in the 10th century.  Details of legislative sharia are discussed elsewhere.[xix]  The legislative sharia was developed when the basis of global economics was agrarian. This changed in the 18th century with the industrial revolution.  Thus the Abbasid-era developed legislative sharia did not evolve to deal with industrial-era issues and is thus inapplicable today.  Alternate forms of governance have since been developed to cope with issues of nation states and the industrial economy.  This point needs to be understood and the increasing chorus for implementing sharia, especially in the West, must be rejected.

Pew survey results on sharia are summarized in Figures 2-5 and show that the support for sharia as the official law varies geographically – it is low in countries influenced by the West e.g., eight (8%) in Azerbaijan to near unanimity (99%) in Afghanistan.  This demand has solid support in the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia where the majority of Muslims live.  This widespread support for legislative sharia is based on the misunderstanding that it is the revealed word of God (Figure 3).  A majority of Muslims believe that sharia is the “revealed” word of God and must have a single interpretation.  However, a minority believes that it is a human effort and can have multiple interpretations (Figure 4). Figures 5 show the confusion on whether sharia law should be applied to Muslims only or to non-Muslims as well.

This paper clearly establishes the connection between the radicalizing ideology captured by the investigation conducted in Pakistan in 1954 and today’s prevalent attitude across the Muslim world.  This strong correlation confirms that Pakistan serves as a microcosm for the growth of radical attitudes across the world.

The radicalizing ideology described in this paper is a modern innovation; it has been engineered by the politically motivated Muslim clergy as a reaction to colonization of the Muslim world after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and the termination of the Caliphate.  This ideology is not part of the Islamic faith; it is evident from the clerics’ testimony that verse(s) of the Qur’an, which reject their position, have been abrogated.

Since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, this ideology first derailed the Constituent Assembly’s writing of the constitution and their opposition to that process resulted in the compromise solution known as the Objectives Resolution which guarantees that all laws in Pakistan must adhere to Islamic teachings.  This ideology was then exploited in 1953 by the then provincial government in Punjab against the federal government which resulted in the imposition of martial law in affected areas and the formation of Munir Commission which successfully highlighted this destructive ideology.  This ideology has been systematically exploited by regional and global powers but since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, US and its allies funded the establishment of madrassas to produce an ideologically driven fighting force to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan.  Curriculum for these madrassas was developed by US intelligence agencies as documented by Kathy Gannon.[xx]  Provision of arms was managed by US and its allies while military training was imparted by Pakistan.  This joint strategy to exploit the weakness in the flawed ideology paid handsome dividends to all involved in this supply chain.  Several authors have documented this phenomenon, notable among them being Steve Coll[xxi] and a number of publications by Ahmed Rashid.[xxii]  The product was brainwashing madrassa students willing to wage jihad to evict the Soviets from Afghanistan.  The end result of this almost 10-year war was USSR’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.  This gave added impetus to the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda who later took on the US and NATO forces after they overthrew the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.  Now with US withdrawal, the Taliban are exuberant and in high morale claiming this “victory” as proof of their righteousness.

A total rejection of this ideology is the only permanent solution to resolving terrorism and radicalism among Muslims.  This sentiment was echoed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during his New Year message at Al-Azhar University in Cairo where he urged an assembly of imams to lead “a religious revolution” that renounces the jihadism which has made the creed a synonym for bloody outrage.[xxiii]  Pakistani author and journalist Zahid Hussain makes the same points in his article Terrorism in the Name of Religion.[xxiv]  It is heartening to know that the connection between radical ideology and terrorist acts is becoming obvious.

Military action will provide temporary relief.  A long-term educational program to understand the fundamentals of this ideology and how it departs from the religion of Islam is the critical first step for the long-term resolution of radicalism.  Coupled with proper education, employment opportunities, and good governance it will be the only viable long term solution.  The US and the Western world is the best place to initiate this discussion.  The Muslim population in North America is about 0.6 percent and the numbers of Muslims in the US is about 3.5 million.[xxv]  Initiating a public discussion in a smaller community is relatively easy and will hopefully trickle down to the Muslim majority countries.  In addition to education, this de-radicalization programme should also include emphasis on human rights, good governance, and socio-economic reforms which create employment opportunities and a vibrant economy.  Poor governance in these radical infested countries elevates a sense of deprivation among the youth and they are attracted to alternatives that promise heaven in the hereafter.

 Concluding Comments

While the recent terrorist attacks have shocked the world, dismantling the militant infrastructure will not be an easy task, considering how deeply entrenched militancy is within the Muslim society. Thinking that battling the militancy will be a surgical, bloodless operation is a fallacy. What the Muslims need is preparation and resolve to confront the challenge by rejecting the radicalizing ideology and discussing it publicly.

Any perceived connection between the engineered doctrines of Islamic State, legislative sharia, violent jihad, capital punishment for blasphemy and apostasy, etc., with the real teachings from the Qur’an must be disconnected through an educational programme led by Muslims themselves.  This differentiation between the religion of Islam and its political version is important for all people who inadvertently remain silent and enable the radicals to gain more credibility.  Such discussion is prohibited in the Muslim world but the process can be initiated in the US and Europe where Muslims are trying to distance themselves from the terrorist acts by blaming them on the hijacking of their faith by the terrorists.  Explaining the basis for hijacking and failure to establish a counter narrative over the past century is now required.


Figure 1.  Schematic depiction of Islamic State concept


Figure 2: An overwhelming majority in the Muslim world supports shar’ia law


Figure 3: Although legislative shar’ia was developed by humans, majority of Muslims feel it is the revealed word of God.


Figure 4: Although legislative shar’ia can have multiple interpretations, majority of Muslims feel it has a single interpretation.


Figure 5: Confusion about the applicability of shar’ia to the population.  Majority wants to have a duplicate legislative system for Muslims.


[1] The author is “president and co-founder of Circle of Peace, an international initiative to strengthen the bonds of humanity and compassion across faith communities.”




[ii] Report of the Court of Inquiry constituted under Punjab Act II OF 1954 to enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953 aka Munir Commission Report


[iv]  Report of the Court of Inquiry constituted under Punjab Act II OF 1954 to enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953, p 218 (see also p 215-218)




[viii] Connivance by Silence (

[ix] Verily, We Ourselves have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian, (Ch 15, v 10)

[x] Report of the Court of Inquiry constituted under Punjab Act II OF 1954 to enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953, p 223

[xi] ibid, p 213-215

[xii] Ibid, p 214-215

[xiii] Ibid, p 227-230

[xiv] Ibid, pgs 221-222

[xv] Ibid, p 225-227

[xvi] Ibid, pg 225

[xvii] Ibid, pgs 226-232



[xx] Kathy Gannon, I is for Infidel, J is for Jihad, K is for Kalashnikov – from holy war to holy terror in Afghanistan, Pub. Public Affairs, a division of Perseus Book Group

[xxi] Steve Coll, Ghost Wars – the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bib Laden from the Soviet invasion to September 10, 2011, Penguin Books, 2005.

[xxii] Ahmed Rashid, Taliban – Islam, oil and the new great game in Central Asia, Pub:  I. B. Tauris; Descent into Chaos – the S and the failure of nation building in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia, Pub: Viking Penguin, 2008