08 July 2007

A Pakistani's view of Jihad ... and the West

It is easy to see Pakistan as a dysfunctional society overrun with the craziest of Islamist extremist who are on the verge of taking over ... and getting their thumbs on the nuclear button. This is too simplistic. Reading the English language Pakistani paper Dawn gives some idea of how secular, democratic, and international important segments of the society are.

A good example of this is a recent column by Irfan Husain, a regular contributor to the paper. He give a caustic overview of religious fanaticism and jihad, as well as an interesting view of the West's reactions. Here is a sample:

The theological underpinning of this [jihadist] logic requires a significant departure from orthodox Islamic teachings. For instance, standard commentaries prepared after decades of study by all the major schools of jurisprudence argue that only Islamic states can declare jihad. This is not something individuals can go around doing according to their whim.

However, radical Islamists following the teachings of Syed Qutb and Maudoodi argue that in the absence of a genuine Islamic state and a caliphate, true believers have a duty to bring Islamic rule to the whole world, by the sword if necessary. This line has appealed to two generations of Muslims, and there has been a steady hardening of these beliefs over the last 50 years.

After discussing the negative side of the jihadist movement, he concludes in what is clearly meant as a warning to Muslims in general and Pakistani's in particular:

But as incidents like the ones in London and Glasgow increase the uncertainty and fear in the host community, people are increasingly questioning why Muslims who hate their ways are allowed to enter and work in Britain. Several of those allegedly involved in these latest attempted attacks are doctors. This has horrified westerners who are more used to seeing doctors as peaceful professionals than as suicide bombers.

The question being asked privately in the UK is: “If these people hate us and our way of life so much, why don’t they just go back to where they came from?”

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