Politicization of Islam
Politicization of Islam occurs when politics dominates in the society and certain groups use violence to establish shariah in order to achieve their political goals. Thus, to achieve these ends, fundamentalists regard politicisation of Islam as the final recourse. “Political Islam” is the umbrella term for Islamic fundamentalism .This is the notion which must be condemned.
There are two types of jihadists. The ones who participate in the democratic process but also use violence, such as Hezbollah and Hamas. And the other are radical Islamists who reject democracy entirely, such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Islam does not condone both ideologies.
Admittedly, the ongoing condition in the Muslim countries resembles 17th -century Europe where politicization of Christianity started tug-of-war between Protestants and Catholics. Likewise, Islam in the contemporary world, is politically motivated. Internationally, the divided clergy propagates their own respective brands of Islam such as Sunni, Shia, Barelvi, Deobandi, Wahabi, etc. which largely breeds factionalism in Muslim Ummah.
While veiled in religious garb, support for Islam is motivated by the self-interest of political parties of each Islamic country. President Zia demonstrated pseudo Islamic leanings to achieve his own vested interests. Undoubtedly, his slogan of islamization was nothing more than a political farce. He labelled political parties as un-Islamic, promoting 1985 elections on non-party basis. His Hudood and Shariah Ordinances were tyrannical in essence. The process reached its peak during the 1980s, when thousands of Islamists were trained with the financial aid of the West to promote pan-Islamism. Thousands of mujahideens were sent to Afghanistan to try to overthrow the Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) government, which took power after the 1978 revolution there.
Likewise, the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, under successive Israeli governments, discreetly supported the Muslim Brotherhood in the Occupied Territories in the 1960s and 1970s, while the Brotherhood was exclusively attacking Yassar Arafat’s left nationalist Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). However, this support ended during the first intifada, begun in 1987, when the Brotherhood gave birth to Hamas, which melded the jihad with the struggle for the liberation of Palestine from Israel. And still today the Muslim Brotherhood stipulates spreading its politicized version of Islam.
In Iran, however, following the overthrow of the shah, Islamism organized itself as a State. This was the turning point which propelled the growth of political Islam. Most importantly, without the 1979 revolution in Iran, political Islam might have remained relatively moderate in scope.
Islamist parties in the aftermath of 9/11 tragedy and the Arab spring have started formulating their own Islamic teachings. Radical jihadists regard the Western world as the new jahiliyyah and fighting it is a necessity for all Islamists .They claim that they are fighting not over power or territory but on behalf of God. Saddam Hussain raised slogan: “Fight as God order you to do.” In the similar fashion, Osama bin Laden portrayed his activities as a religious duty. In Nigeria, Boko Haram, as the name indicates, is noted especially for its rejection of Western education, but it also rejects much more that comes from the West. All these groups can be labelled “radical Islamists.” who use Islam for their fishy interests. Islam has been used as political tool to justify their own means. As Shahid Butt, who fought in support of Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s, said: “Islam is a very, very powerful tool. It is like a nuclear bomb. If you put a nuclear bomb into the hands of a little kid with no checks and balances, you are going to have a disaster.”
The contemporary Islam has been made amalgamation of diverse edicts. Today’s Islam seems no less than Akbar’s Deen-e-Illahi, where the radicals have devised their own self-styled teachings. Islam is not actually the cause of ongoing conflicts –invariably, its politicisation is to blame. There is a dire need of justice and economic development of all communities as the solution for peaceful coexistence. Islam is a religion of peace and should remain aloof from barbaric and dirty politics.
Courtesy: Masood Sheikh
Masood Sheikh is a Pakistan Based(Sindh) Engineer, a CSS Aspirant and a Freelancer. He is part of the team PACE and writes on Regional Issues, Islamic Studies and Current Affairs.