by Ali Abbas Taj
The issue of Taliban and Talibanization is complex and well protected, due to the inert fortification of “certain” Islamic purist interpretation and sincerity to Islamic puritanical rule. Muslims of Pakistan have been engineered and conditioned for past three decades to sincerely believe in this as the only safe haven for saving the future of Islam. Problem is the pervasive sincerity of this faith and its widespread acceptance by the Pakistani Muslims limits the promising extermination of this radical ideology.
Muslims of Pakistan are at a dilemma where they can at the most rebuke certain obvious anti-humanitarian (anti-Pakistani) acts of Taliban but cannot chastise the (Islamic) motive and intentions behind the crime.
It’s like condemning an act where someone is raped but the notion of rape is not condemned.
Likewise, when children are killed by Taliban the Muslims will condemn that, but killing in the name of Islam by these extremist is sacred and a holy cause (due to the engineered mind-set).
No crime can be successfully trialed let alone punished (blamelessly) if the offender’s motives are vague or not established; this is a basic statute of law and social sensibility.
Unless Pakistanis are psychologically brought to a state of mind where they can rebuke the “motive” not just the act of this militancy, the virus of Taliban cannot be justly and judicially tackled. Question is why the Pakistanis and unable to do that naturally? Answer is simple, they harbor sincere love for their religion and open chastising of motives of Taliban has somehow established a binary of chastising Islam and Islamic faith. This dilemma has been the most powerful and potent defensive firewall allowing the propagation of Talibanization in the country and increasingly threatening the future of both Islam and Pakistan.
Before a solution to this predicament is explored, understanding the cause that leads to this state of affairs, where Taliban crusade (unarguably exceptionally Anti-Islamic) enjoys vigorous protection of Islam in Pakistan, and is religiously and fundamentally protected by the Muslims of Pakistan.
Several factors have contributed in this dilemma, but perhaps the most critical is the “exploitation” of easy to die and easy to kill genetics, cultural and socio-economic environment of men living in the tribes of Durand line. The genetic profile of the these tribes men and their cultural continuum over past centuries have indeed shaped a very ferocious fighting group of physically strong and intellectually naïve cohort of individuals who have been successfully exploited in few decades by many benefactors (patrons). Their untiring zeal of bloody undertaking and minimalistic requirements to fulfil their duties, have made them quality assets for the exploiters. As long as they can be coned or attracted to an ideology, they were discovered to be untiring blind believers and unquestioning executors of the most difficult task.
In the modern history four major benefactors have used their services to the full and in some form of partnership to their advantage. Historically these tribe’s men are not Islamic extremist, nor indulged Pakistani and were neither Western hater.
Western interest started from Afghan-Soviet war, the tribe’s men performance was a discovery for many including Pakistani establishment that became the principal benefactor and handlers. The civil war in Afghanistan after the Soviet war, was not principally based on sectarian on Islamic ideology. The Soviet war on Afghans was a nation problem but exploited on religious agenda. Pakistani Establishment partnered with local rising, willing to assist and partially dominant Deobandi Islamic Ideology (DII) in the neighborhood, a convenient school of Jurisprudence was infused in the tribes men to create Taliban for this purpose. The tribes men and DII were a perfect match and very valuable to their Benefactor’s. Tribe’s men via DII became the soldiers of God.
The DII came to Pakistan as an offshoot of Darul Uloom Deoband (India) after partition, a hardline Sunni movement from India that started in 1860’s. The DII had not much to do with Durand tribes men and had their own (Islamic/political) agenda and conditioning history of 100 years. DII was started as an Islamic-Political movement (a purist form of Hanafi Jurisprudence) principally against Western British Raj and Traditional Sufi Sunni of Indian Subcontinent. DII was not limited to the neighborhood of Durand line, rather maintained a desolated position in the Northern Province of Pakistan before Afghan-Soviet war. DII ideology flourished in the major cities of Pakistan through the Political Islamic party – Jamat-e-Islami and non-political Tablighi Jamaat.
Everyone found a sweet spot and either a Holy or Political cause in the Afghan-Soviet war, the Westerners, Pakistani establishment and the DII. But it’s when the Saudis got in the game things got really complicated.
The Saudis had their own agenda, to counter react to the Iranian revolution in the late 70’s, its influence in Arab and Non-Arab countries like Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan and their Pan-Islamic aspirations. Taliban was started as a student militant organization for establishing in power (in Afghanistan) by Pakistani establishment a benefactor using TM services, was favorably joined by Saudis. Unfortunately Saudis did not stop at the Taliban but their overzealous zeal and perhaps fear of Islamic Revolution of Iran, enticed Saudis to influx billions of dollars in Pakistan religious circle and mass conversion of Sunni non-denominational (Hanfi) mosques and institutions into DII machines.
DII that gladly accepted the Saudi stimulus, started in India 100 years ago was rooted with influence from Saudi religious movement of Abdul Wahab (Wahabi/ AKA Salafi) adherent to Hanbali school of Jurisprudence, which was (and is) the most purist and fundamental school of Islamic Jurisprudence. But the common agenda of Anti-Shia (thus Anti-Iran) was enough for Saudis to support the DII ideology.
It is the Saudis vanguard and influence that brought an ideological change (and non-judicial, uncensored and extremely violent) and created a “Hybrid form of Deobandiism” in Pakistan which was different from the initial Islamic political movement of Darul Uloom Deoband of India. In the first decade of this millennium the TM of Durand line became deep followers of DII for their religious zeal, activist of Pakistani establishment for their strategic depth and Saudis found an army of anti-Iranian (anti-shia) firewall. Not to undermine Western powers and India enjoyed their part influence also.
But the Saudis had gone far beyond the tribe’s men, they had changed the religious mood of the County of Pakistan in favor of DII. Financing some major DII Institutions, strategic placement of DII professionals in the Universities of Pakistan (Islamic Departments) and converting the 10-15% pure DII mosques (before the 80’s in Pakistan) to more than 80% sunni mosques were under the influence and politics of DII. This immense impact had changed the believes of majority Sunni Pakistanis from Hanfi non-denominational and Sufi (barelvi) sunnis to more hard line DII.
This is the root cause of the Dilemma Pakistan is facing today. In the 80’s tribe’s men were heroes of Islam fighting against Soviets, in the 90’s they were heroes for establishing a Pakistani backed Afghan control and 2000’s they were assets of strategic depths. The Saudi influence brought an even more hardliner and extremist violent disposition and hybrid-DII (HDII) group of fundamentalism in the tribes men but “different” from the original DII of India.
In February 2008, an “Anti-terrorism Conference”, organized by the seminary Darul Uloom in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, denounced all forms of terrorism, declaring that “Islam prohibits the killing of innocent people” and “Islam sternly condemns all kinds of oppression, violence and terrorism”. The conference also denounced widespread attempts to blame religious Muslims for terrorist incidents
It was easier for Darul Uloom Deoband in India to disown the extremist facet of Taliban, but they continued to enjoyed partnership and alliance in most of the other facets of the HDII, such as anti-sufi, anti-shia, jurisprudence similarities and others; similarly Saudis while close but not identical to HDII jurisprudence found political influence and power in the State of Pakistan and Anti-Iranian hatred firewall as common reasons to enjoy partnership.
The HDII (principally by virtue of violent extremism) is not a novel ideology in subgroups of Sunni Islamic history but certainly exemplary in the modern times, especially the ferocity and wide acceptance is unprecedented.
The tribe’s men by virtue of conditioning from many benefactors and their exploitation over past 3 decades, wide ideological support in Pakistan, have become stronger and ideologically mature to run their own show for their misguided version of Islamic zeal. Some splinter groups like TTP that have decided to take matters in their own hands without the need of a handler whip. Thus start of the phenomena of Good Taliban and Bad Taliban.
Pakistani establishment started to increasingly get burned and loose vanguard of these Splinter HDII tribe’s men or bad Taliban, but there is a national predicament. Military Establishment may find reasons to contain and fight the rogue DII Taliban’s, the TM are not an easy enemy to fight especially in a Nation (thanks to the Saudi funded 3 decades of mass conversion) where the Islamic mood of the countrymen is pervasively DII.
The Pakistanis can condemn the act of Taliban but are unable to freely condemn the terrorists (DII) motive, which to them is the only Islam they endorse due to years of conditioning. Taliban’s and other like-minded Islamic Fundamental Islamic military organizations are symbol of Islamic purist movement and soldiers of God. They have been glorified as Islamic heroes for three decades. The benefactors of these movements have created not just a militant Islamic movement but a whole country that strives to support, protect and create these Islamic revolutionary soldiers. No one had planned they will one day shoot 130 innocent children on their face.
It is not possible to kill all these militants and free Pakistan from this rogue Militancy because it’s a double edge sword. The military establishment faces a good percentage of Nation and its citizens that have been conditioned to support the DII because they themselves are loyal followers of DII. For the nation DII is the Islam and only righteous Islam.
Darul Uloom deoband nor the Saudis are going to come to help nor they can. The predicament is the Taliban and their Islamic militancy that has now turned their ferocity towards the Pakistan establishment is not limited to a cohort of TM only. Its an ideology a fascist faith, a purist Islamic ideology that cannot be defeated by military power only. This risks a major civil war and fracture of a country.
An ideology is needed to save the day and their faith for the mass citizens who can find a way out of this predicament that can allow the military to take full action without creating resentment in the mind and hearts of religious Pakistanis. Just killing Taliban will not be enough, but rather create thousand more due to resentment. The pervasive Islamic fundamental faith is superior to National Fundamentalism. The DII has engraved in the faith of its adherent that Islamic cause is superior to national cause.
This situation requires a powerful Islamic ideological counter narrative to justify destruction of DII Taliban and gain public support for the extermination of this militant fundamentalism which now is inevitable for continued solidarity and union of federation of Pakistan.
Even those Pakistanis who are absolutely and completely against the Taliban are at loss of choice of expressing the condemnation of the ideology of Islam behind the Taliban. Its not due to their Taliban apologist position but rather their position of being an Islamic apologist. There is no way to honestly and whole headedly criticize Taliban by the conservative Pakistan without somehow involving their beloved Islam in this. The DII, Taliban and TM have come to define the Pakistani Islam.
How can the sincere Muslims in this quandary find a way to earnestly, sincerely and truthfully condemn and break their faith association from these heroes (arbitrary) of Islamic Taliban without sacrificing their faith and rebuking Islam?
That requires a superior Islamic philosophical narrative that does take years to publicize, acceptable on obvious logical reasons, justifiable on Islamic doctrine, save the faith of millions, is not a novel narrative (has been used in the past and universally agreed on) and can provide Shariah reasons to Sunni Muslims of DII faith in Pakistan to allow the military action against these terrorist but furthermore, entice detached or distance them in their infatuation with this militant heroes and fascist ideology?
Fortunately answer has been provided to us by Islam and Islamic history.
Kharijism is a well-documented chastised extra Islamic ultraviolent movements seen periodically in the history of Islam, endorsed by all school of Islamic jurisprudence.
The Hybrid-DII and DII has a difference, the Fatwa of Darul Uloom Deoband of India (quoted above) can provide the safe harbor to differentiate between the DII and HDII. The HDII is by all means a true Khawarij movement and will satisfy all the requirements. There is a documented history of hard hand dealing with Khawarjis in Islamic history. By labeling Taliban and their like-minded Islamic organizations Khawarij, the Pakistani Establishment can find very convincing Islamic reason to go after these terrorists and a nation which will find Islamic reasoning to accept this.
A National Debate and discussion of Khawariji definition and historical precedence is needed.
1.Declaring the HDII as Khawarij by the Courts and Islamic Institutions.
2.True exemplary not biased action against the Leaders of these Talibans who enjoy a prestigious position in the society.
3. The Taliban sister organizations and politicians need to be sacked.
Seizure and closure of all DII seminaries.
4. Group of DII moderate Ulams and their Institutions need to be supported with declaration of returning to their Salaf of original Hanfi order (at the same time they will not need to endorse Shia or Barelvi school).
5. Identification and public rebuke of Saudi influence and its negative impacts on Pakistan and Islam, minimize Saudi influence in the country and harsh punishment for association.
6. Declaration of Pakistan as Islamic non-denomination country.
7. Identification that Deobandism is not a faith or jurisprudence but rather a political movement and the followers to identify themselves Hanfi only or Hanfi Sufi.
Creating a Islamic narrative that will be acceptable to the people is not just essential but may save millions of lives and keep the country intact.
Although the majority of the Islamic population (Sunni) in Afghanistan and Pakistan, belong to the Hanafi sect, the theologians who have pushed Pakistan towards Islamic Radicalism for decades, as well as the ones who were the founders of the Taliban, espoused Wahabi rhetoric and ideals. This sect took its inspiration from Saudi Hanbali theologians who immigrated there in the 18th century, to help their Indian Muslim brothers with Hanbali theological inspiration against the British colonialists. Propelled by oil-generated wealth, the Wahhabi worldview increasingly co-opted the Deobandi movement in South Asia.
Just as Sikhs originated from Hinduism, but are not Hindus, and Protestants came from Roman Catholicism, but are not Catholics, similarly, the Deobandi sect originated in the Sunni community, but are not strictly Sunnis. The tack of Darul Uloom Deoband is in accordance with the Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah, Hanafiate practical method (Mazhab) and the disposition (Mashrab) of its holy founders, Hazrat Maulana Mohammad Qasim Nanautavi (Allah’s mercy be on him!) and Hazrat Maulana Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi (may his secret be sanctified).
The looming war against the Soviet Union only led to a rise in enrollment in Deobandi seminaries in the Pashtun areas of Pakistan. During the late 1970s, for example, Deobandi seminaries in the Pashtun belt received state patronage. According to a World Bank report, enrollment in Deobandi seminaries increased after 1979, coinciding with the start of the Afghan jihad against the Soviets. Pashtuns played a major role in the Afghan jihad, and a large number of these fighters were drawn from Deobandi seminaries.
In addition to American and Saudi money helping to support the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia infused Deobandi seminaries with Wahhabi ideology. The Saudis targeted Deobandi Islam because it was the most popular Islamic school in the Pashtun belt. Ahl-e-Hadith, for example, had a weak presence in the Pashtun belt, and Wahhabis considered certain Barelvi practices—such as visiting mausoleums—as anti-Islamic and heretical. Some Pakistan-based scholars, such as Akbar Zaidi, have argued that Deobandi Islam in Pakistan and Afghanistan has moved away from its roots in India due to a number of factors, one of which is the influence of Saudi Wahhabism.