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Published On:29 March 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Building Bridges with Resurgent Islam

S M Krishna's recent meet with Muslim Brotherhood chief speaks volumes


By Dr.Sheikh Showkat Hussain


During his trip to Egypt, Indian Foreign minister, S M Krishna made it a point to meet the chief of Muslim brotherhood in Egypt. This is a symbolic gesture in pursuit of coming to terms with emerging realities of the Muslim world. But facts which confront the globe in general and India in particular demand that these endeavors should go beyond symbolism. Ever since Muslim world was overtaken by the West in the era of colonization it triggered divergent trends among Muslims. Those who perceived Western imperialism to be a new manifestation of old Alexandrian dream of the globe under Western superiority opted an approach of absolute rejection towards everything Western. There were others who understood ascendance of the West as a logical consequence of the renaissance and wanted a similar process within Muslim community. They wanted the Muslim world to imbibe positives of the West in order to match it. The former approach was symbolized by Jamal din Afghani internationally and Deoband locally. Present day Taliban remain a vestige of this thought. The latter approach remained the guiding principle of Aligarh movement led by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Both these approaches suffered from a deficit of deeper understanding of the West and can be described as knee jerk reactions to an unanticipated domination of the colonial powers. Turkey the seat of Ottoman Khilafat under Kamal Ataturk became laboratory for experimentation of the second approach.


Both the rejectionist and the positive approaches however metamorphosed into a new response which had better understanding of the West as well as Islam in the thought process of Sir Muhammad Iqbal. He evaluated the Western thought process and identified the areas that could be opted and the areas which didn't suit the basic tenants of Islamic Civilization. Iqbal represented a matured synthesis of previous two approaches. Essence of his thought was for renaissance of ummah within the framework of original sources of Islam and reinterpreting the same in context of space and time of modern era. Thoughts of Iqbal however remained poetic abstractions. Rashid Ridah advocated similar ideas through his Almanar in the Arab World. Essence of this thought process was developed in the form of systematic doctrine by Abul Ala Maudoodi in the sub continent and Hassan al Bana in Egypt.


They laid down the foundation of two simultaneous Islamic movements based on revival of the spirit of ijtihad (reinterpretation) and jihad (efforts for implementation). The thought of Ikhwan and Jamaa’t catalyzed similar movements in other parts of the Muslim world. Ideology of these remained same. The thrust of these movements however, to a great extent was oriented by the local situations which they confronted. For quite some time they were not taken seriously by the global powers. At times however, they were perceived as tools of fighting the rival ideology during cold war era. Soviets and Chinese were positive towards Iranian revolutionaries perceiving them to be their own instruments in letting down a pro -Western regime of Raza Shah Phalvi. The West too was supportive of Islamists while they were fighting the regimes owing allegiance to socialist Ideology. During cold war most of the dictators in Middle East were in proximity of Soviets. It was logical for the West to be positive towards any opposition against them. This proximity reached to its climax during Afghan war.


Arab Spring has made it clear that Islam as an ideology and the way of life has become a dominant discourse and a force within the Muslim world. Turkey is abandoning Kamalism and is in process of rediscovering its Ottoman & Islamic roots.


India can' t remain indifferent to this emerging reality. Meeting of Krishna with Muslim Brotherhood chief must be seen in this backdrop. The question however remains whether this symbolic effort will suffice to understand and deal with this phenomenon. Whatever be estimation of the Indian foreign office skepticism is likely to dominate the relations between India and Islamic Middle East despite these gestures. There are historic, domestic & strategic reasons for it. Indian proximity with Israel & Indo-Pak friction always remains factor in Indo-Arab relations. With ascendance of resurgent Islam this arena is likely to assume extra importance. Kashmir & Communal riots in Inia have remained focus of Islamic Movements across the globe. One can't overlook shadow of these over relations between India & Arab world ruled by Islamists. Relation between the state and Islamic Movements within India too is a potential factor in this domain. No one should expect India to be perceived as friend by Islamists overseas while it remains vindictive to groups professing the same ideology domestically. Recession of minority development index (MDI) & honeymoon of India with Jamal Abdul Nasser while he was executing Muslim Brotherhood leadership remain two other potential impediments in the way of a trust worthy relationship between resurgent Islam & India.


After demise of communism as a political power and end of the cold war, world has plunged in to new confrontation between resurgent Islam & the West. Krishna is trying to sail through these troubled waters. Why can’t India adopt positive approach towards resurgent Islam and sail through this war fare as well? Prior to taking any policy initiative Indian state needs to address the potential irritants enumerated above.


(Courtesy: Greater Kashmir)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on March 29, 2012. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on March 29, 2012. Filed under , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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