Vox Political: 70,000 Indian Mullahs Sign Petition against Terrorism and ISIS

Amid the slew of bad news, this is very optimistic news indeed. Mike put up an article yesterday over at Vox Politcal about a report in the Independent that 1.5 million Muslims, including 70,000 members of the ulema – the Islamic clergy, had signed a petition organised by the Dargah Aalah Hazrat condemning ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The people signing the petition were pilgrims attending the Urs festival at the shrine of a local Sufi saint near the city of Ajmer in Rajasthan.

Mike writes

But the truth is, these people could deal the terrorists a far more bitter blow than any air strike. They are taking away the terrorists’ assumed legitimacy.

Daesh wants people around the world to believe that it is an Islamic organisation, and that true Muslims not only should, but will support it.

But here are one and a half million of them – admittedly in India – who won’t accept anything of the sort.

This could cripple Daesh’s recruitment of cannon fodder – or perhaps I mean radicalised fighters. No, cannon fodder is more appropriate.

Read the full article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/14/70000-indian-muslim-clerics-issue-fatwa-against-terror-groups/

I hope Mike’s right. The ulema are Islam’s religious leaders, and they can play a powerful role in forming Muslim popular opinion, and in providing or denying legitimacy to national governments. The obvious example of this is the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. Even before then, back in the early part of the century, the Islamic clergy were able to mobilise a mass campaign against what they viewed as British imperialist domination. I’ve forgotten the precise details, but part of the grievance was about British economic domination through the tobacco industry. One of the Muslim scholars then denounced baccy as un-Islamic, with the result that nearly everybody in the country stopped smoking overnight. Tobacco profits fell, and the British government had to climb down on that particular point.

I’ve put up several pieces already on how most ISIS fighters actually have only a very superficial understanding of Islam. My guess is that this also extends to a segment of the leadership. Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban, for example, has been reported as having no theological training. Despite the name, he’s not a ‘mullah’, the Iran term for a member of the clergy. At least, he isn’t formally.

As for cannon fodder, my guess is that’s exactly how the upper echelons of ISIS, the Taliban and al-Qaeda regard their followers. The mass use of suicide bombing by Muslims in recent conflicts began with the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. He bought a load of cheap keys, and in a ceremony gave them out to the suicide troops on the front, telling them that they were the keys to the kingdom of heaven. I’m not sure, but I think at least some of the soldiers were young boys. During the war the Iranians were reduced to using kids as young as 14. I know Muslims, who are very unimpressed and disillusioned by this shabby deception on the part of the government.

As for the Taliban, for many liberal and moderate Iranians, they’re a model of exactly the kind of hard-line regime they don’t want in their country. During the elections a few years ago in Iran, Ahmedinijad was attacked by his opponents as wanting to turn Iran into a ‘Taliban state’. John Simpson in his book on Iran makes the point that although the country is extremely authoritarian by Western standards, it’s people still felt they were freer than those of Soviet Russia.

How effective this will be for destroying any spurious legitimacy the Islamists possess remains to be seen. Part of the problem is that there is no overall religious leader in Islam. And Islam, like Christianity and many other religions, is also split into various sects, which can vary greatly on doctrinal issues. Much of the various Islamist movements seem to be a product of, or at least strongly influenced by, Wahhabism, the fundamentalist Islam of Saudi Arabia. This has been lamented by Muslims from nations, whose traditional form of Islam was much more liberal. And there is also the additional problem in that Islamism is a reaction against the official Islam promoted by the state in countries like Egypt. It may well be that the impressionable kids, who most need to take on board the Indian ulema’s message, won’t, because it doesn’t go with the stuff they read coming out of the jihadis’ sites.

This, however, is a major move by popular Islam against the Islamists. It also bears out what one poll reported about the majority of Muslims around the world despising ISIS. Hopefully, it’ll deter some from giving the mass murderers their support and aid.

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