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Rise of Salafisim
By Inam ul Rehman
It is generally believed that enlightenment in Christian world started with the commencement of Protestant movement. Of late a small portion of Muslims are also thinking that the tilt toward Wahhabism or Salafism to be more appropriate will lead them toward enlightenment.

Salafis are presented as a warrior race who withstand great odds and survive to fight for another day. The media in general has tried to present them as extremely violent and obdurate sect. The rise of Salafism can be termed a direct reaction of religiosity in USA as well (Prof Varun Sahni: "Hegemony, Globalisation and Future of World Politics," lecture delivered in Kashmir University, dated 28 May 2013). A fact mostly neglected. Whatever most of the elites and rest of the world thinks the fact on the ground is that they are gaining strong foothold precisely for their obstinate stance. These Salafis are against exploitation in the name of religion or economy and are ready to fight or die for their cause. What gives them ground and readily available recruits is the war that is waged against Muslims in the name of "War on Terror". The second is that Islam being categorised under Sufi, Moderate, Fundamentalism and other such labels have played into the hands of Salafi. These Salafis strictly believe in Quran, Prophet's Sunnah and the Sunnah of first four Khalfihas. They have present Islam in its simplest form.

As the war on Muslims escalates on one pretext or the other the radicalisation among the youth is growing. This radicalisation is being witnessed in almost all Muslim societies, whether "backward, deprived, and neglected places but also among people who are educated and political consciousness" (Ahmed Rashid: "Descent into Chaos"). Author of the book 'Afghanistan: Aid, Armies and Empires,' Peter Marsden has rightly put it that Islam provides a rallying cry for the fragmented societies of the Muslim world.

Muslims who are fighting against the system or for pro freedom movements are labelled as Islamists. This tag of Islamists means that most world powers will condemn them, resulting that these fighters or revolutionaries, who had no view are compelled to respond to these criticism. Taliban, for example, had no worldview. "They were not political revolutionaries and had in fact little interest in politics or government. Their revolution was focused instead on controlling morality and personal behaviour." (David Lyon: "In Afghanistan: Two Hundred years of British, Russian and American Occupation"). But what changed their view was the unyielding stance adopted by the West particularly USA which refused to recognise their government. It was again the hasty decision of USA to occupy Afghanistan which left Taliban no escape route but to fight. (Stephen Tanner: "Afghanistan: A Military history from Alexander the Great to the war against the Taliban"). USA along with its supporters believed that Afghanistan being a primitively Islamic state is the cause of its backwardness and the reason that it fosters enemies of West. It is same kind of howler that Winston Churchill wrote about Afghanistan when he became embedded journalist in 1897. (David Lyon: In Afghanistan).

Those who have been student of Islamic history will vouch that the rise of Islam has come from primitive societies. It is from these that "defenders" of Islam have emerged. As the world will see in coming times most Muslims will rally around these Islamists for their socio political fight. Wherever Muslims are specifically suppressed the ground there is becoming ripe for them to get indulged in activities that the Islamists want. The failure of US to reform Iraq and Afghanistan has dealt a deathblow to its hopes of rallying moderate Muslims to its cause of fighting Islamic extremism. (Ahmed Rashid: 'Descent into Chaos'). Writing in his book on Afghanistan, Lyon quotes Marques of Salisbury, "I don't underestimate the difficulty, which all over the world we are feeling with the Mahomedan (sic) population wherever we come across them." This was written by Marques in the fag end of 19 th Century. The situation has remained on same lines since.

Today western powers are increasingly becoming vulnerable and unable to defend their position vis-à-vis Muslims. That includes India. India has to change its discourse from terrorism to stabilisation of neighbouring countries without being seen as endorsing a particular breed of Islam. If India has to play a part in world affairs it has to play its Muslim card skilfully.

*Inam ul Rehman is a failed journalist
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News Updated at : Wednesday, November 13, 2013
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