|By M.D. Nalapat|
Police officers watch over pro-Bin Laden protesters during a demonstration led by radical cleric Anjem Choudary, outside the US embassy in London on Friday. AP/PTI
lthough Syed Ali Shah Geelani may disagree, the fact is that Osama bin Laden forfeited his claim to being a Muslim by engaging in activities contrary to the tenets revealed to Prophet Muhammad. However, rather than confirming this fact, the US action in "giving a proper Muslim burial" to Bin Laden (albeit at sea) is among the many steps taken by that country to legitimise Bin Laden and other terrorists as members of the Islamic Ummah. If the Muslim world has seen a steady flow of recruits to terror organisations across the globe, including in India, one reason has been the consistent US narrative that Wahhabism represents the "pure" form of Islam, in contrast presumably to Sufism (which in the view of this columnist, adheres far more closely to the tolerance and compassion that suffuses the Quran).
A reading of history would show that the golden age of Islam occurred precisely when locations where the faith was dominant became oases of learning and multi-faith harmony. The Jewish populations of the globe were, for example, far safer in Muslim-majority than in Christian-majority countries. Indeed, Wahhabism spread across the globe since the 1980s, fuelled by the petrodollars made available by ruling elites in the Gulf Cooperation Council states who were apprehensive of a repeat of Iran in their own countries. During this time, and despite their immense God-given wealth, innovation and initiative have been largely absent in the petrodollar states. Within the region, Israel accounts for nine times more patents and twice as many book titles as all the GCC countries combined, a sorry result for a people that for a time were among the most advanced in the world.
After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the local Muslim community in Mumbai refused to allow the terrorists who had been killed during the operation to be buried in local graveyards, pointing out — correctly — that they no longer qualified as Muslims. Each time the religious factor is brought into a discussion on terrorism, such as in the case of the rituals carried out on the remains of Osama bin Laden, those who claim to be waging a "War on Terror" blur the distinction between practicing Muslims (or those who follow the precepts of the Quran) and apostates such as Bin Laden, who use Islam as a cloak for actions that are wholly contrary to its spirit. Unfortunately for the Muslim world, the "liberal" elites in the US and the EU seem unwilling to admit that Wahhabism and its cousin, Khomeinism are in no way related to Islam, but are in fact separate faiths. Fortunately for the world, after decades of pandering to Wahhabism by the Sudairy branch of the Al Saud ruling family of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah has worked hard since 2005 to bring the practice of Islam back to the moderate precepts that characterised the golden age of the faith.
Apart from the error of considering Bin Laden and others of his ilk to be Muslims, the Obama administration has distanced itself from the democratic ethos of transparency by concealing most important details of the 2 May operation that resulted in the death of the Yemeni. The public have a right to know the truth about that day, even if it is that the man was shot down in cold blood. By covering up the reality, the Obama administration has created a vacuum that in time may get filled by fanciful accounts of the last moments of Bin Laden, including stories that he escaped alive. The best way of stilling such speculation would have been to release at least a portion of the tapes witnessed by President Obama and others in the White House situation room. Or does the US administration believe that its own people — not to mention the rest of the world — do not deserve the privilege of knowing the facts, and need to be kept in a state of ignorance, the way the lower castes were in India in past eras?
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