THE LONG MARCH OF ISLAM: INTRODUCTION AND CHAPTER 1
by R. K. Ohri
Terrorism has been playing havoc with the civilized world now for several years. It has already taken a heavy toll of life and property in dozens of countries and threatens to undermine and destroy all civilizational norms, democratic institutions and pluralistic societies. Islamist terror derives sustenance from the controversial doctrine of jihad enunciated by Prophet Muhammad in the medieval times. The Jihadi fervour, especially among the young educated Muslims, has now been on a roll for several decades across the globe. What is more disturbing is that the malaise of Islamist terror is growing phenomenally. Unfortunately most of us have become helpless spectators to the frequent bouts of suicide bombings and senseless raw violence committed day in and day out by the purveyors of terror. Perhaps the civil society was never so helpless as it has been during the last ten years.
There were many imperatives for undertaking this study, but the major provocations were two. First, the September 11, 2001, attack on the twin towers of New York which took a heavy toll of human life and shocked the civilized world. And second, the audacious attack on the Indian Parliament, barely three months later, on December 13, 2001, which had the potential of wiping out almost the entire political leadership of India. Those two events, frozen till date in my memory, awakened me to the rising sound of the footfalls of Islam’s long march. In writing this tract I have made use of certain empirical conclusions arrived at by the well known author, Samuel Huntington, whose research on the clash of civilizations in early 1990s gave a wake up call to the civil society about the growing menace of Islamist terror. An earlier alert sounded by Sir Vidia Naipaul in early 1980s through his celebrated tome, Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey, somehow did not register much with the world community.
This book, though formally rooted in the present, is essentially about tomorrow and the day after. The intention is to forewarn the civil society about the long march of Islam which is tourbo driven by the increasing percentage of Muslim population in many countries and regions and their growing numbers worldwide. As explained in the two chapters on demographic developments, the population of Muslims is increasing at a fast pace, almost exponentially, both in the Islamic and non-Islamic countries. Our past experience show that any far reaching changes in the religious composition of a country have the potential of triggering major faultline conflicts, especially where the Muslims happen to be the community gaining in population. Because of Islam’s divisive postulates of Dar-ul Islam (the land of peace where Islam rules) and the Dar-ul Harb (the land of conflict where Islamic rule needs to be established), all such demographic changes have the potential of destabilizing the concerned nation states due to the likely clamour by Muslims for secession from the parent country. Another important factor promoting the secessionist trait in the Muslim societies is the concept of ‘ummah’ which transcends the ideal of nation-state and coalesces the entire fraternity of Muslims worldwide into one single entity, “the Nation of Islam”, as opposed to “the Nation of Kufr” which comprises the rest of the world, i.e., the infidels.
It has been experienced that as soon as the percentage of Muslims in any country reaches the benchmark of 30-40 per cent of the total population, frequent faultline conflicts start erupting which often culminate in violent secessionist wars. Some classical examples of this phenomenon are the partition of India in 1947, the Greco-Turkish stand off over Cyprus, the civil war in Lebanon, the separatist terrorism in Chechenya, Jammu & Kashmir and the Philippines and the ugly bloodbath in Kosovo and Bosnia. Historically Islam has always been a clash and conquest oriented religion, though the word ‘Islam’ does mean ‘peace’. The concept of jihad which forms core of the Islamic faith lies at the root of the hostility of Muslim societies towards neighbouring civilizations.
The importance of jihad for Muslims has been succinctly summed up by the well known journalist and author, M.J. Akbar, who calls it as “the signature tune” of Islamic history. As claimed somewhat proudly by a Pakistani scholar Akbar S. Ahmed, in his book Islam under Siege, even today Muslims are at war with every civilization, every religion of the world. Possibly in the coming decades the Indian sub-continent and many other regions of the world could become major theatres of religion-based faultline conflicts.
The growing threat of Islamist terror has acquired a massive reach starting with the U.S.A. through the Europe (notably the Balkans), Chechenya (Russia), countries of the Maghreb and North Africa, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (especially the state of Jammu and Kashmir), Bangladesh and Indonesia, extending right upto the Philippines. During the Afghan campaign of 2001 the U.S. forces had captured more than 760 jihadi warriors belonging to 42 countries of whom 600 are still held for interrogation at the Guantonamo Bay Naval Base camp. Evidently the contagion of Islamist terror has already spread to at least forty two countries, if not more.
Radical Islam has been on a long march since the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Allama Iqbal, a celebrated Urdu poet and author of the popular song, “Saare jahan se accha Hindustan hamara“, was the idealogue of Pakistan. He also played a major role in propagating the pan-Islamic movement in a bid to restore the lost grandeur of Islam through his soul-stirring magnum opus “Shikwa” (the Lament) and another poetic composition “Tarana”, which is a jingoistic one, laying claim to China and India on behalf of Islam. Iqbal’s Tarana has been very popular with the hordes of jihadis being trained in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and terror-training camps of Pakistan. It is also a compulsory ‘must-read’ gospel prescribed for the students of government schools upto class V in Pakistan who are also expected to give talks on the importance of “jihad” and understand the differences between the Muslims and the Hindus. Thus the government of Pakistani has been indoctrinating the young minds during the very first five years of schooling in the idealogy of jihad against the infidels. This devious mode of poisoning the young minds of Pakistani children, though widely known to well informed Indians, was finally confirmed in June 2003 in an article by the well known columnist of Pakistan, Ardeshir Cowasjee. That clearly shows the highest level of official priority accorded by the Pakistani rulers to the jihadist campaign against the infidels, especially the Hindus.
Iqbal’s ‘Shikwa’ was translated into Arabic by Effendi and then into several other languages, including the Indonesian Bhasa, to spread the message of militant Islam. It has been winning converts to the Islamist cause now for almost fifty years. The state of Pakistan was born through enormous bloodletting in the sub-continent, virtually by a gory caesarean, resulting from the rabid call for ‘jihad’ given by the Muslim League in August 1946 through a printed proclamation, first circulated in Calcutta (now Kolkata, in West Bengal), a few days before the Direct Action Day.
The Pakistani army and the ISI have played a pivotal role in promoting radical Islam by training thousands of jihadis whom they started infiltrating into Kashmir as early as 1965. The general impression, created by the repetitive chants of political analysts, that Islamic terrorism is a post-Laden phenomenon, is altogether incorrect. The strategy to destabilise Kashmir for debilitating the Indian nation through terror tactics by training ten thousand jihadis had been discussed in a high level meeting of the Pakistani establishment in August 1953. A suggestion to this effect had been made by Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas, a former President of the so-called Azad Kashmir. After skilful fine-tuning, the strategy was deftly implemented in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in mid 1960s, i.e., several years before bin Laden appeared on the Islamic screen. When Russia occupied Afghanistan in 1979, the same strategy was successfully sold by Pakistan to the Saudis and the CIA for winning the Afghan war. Several billion dollars were extracted from the CIA and the Saudi government for waging jihad against the Russians. And the strategy succeeded superbly, thanks to the massive funding by the CIA and the Saudis.
Osama bin Laden was essentially an occasion-produced leader, though he certainly possesses tremendous courage, charisma and organising ability. Yet without the total support of the ISI and Pakistani army he could not have achieved much — certainly not the kind of success and the name which he now has. The terror tactics being used by the Islamist outfits bear the unmistakable stamp of the ISI and the Pakistani army who indoctrinated and trained jihadi hordes in hundreds of thousands. Charisma and the enormous zeal for waging holy war to spread the faith of Prophet Muhammad were bin Laden’s main contribution to the long march of jihadist Islam.
The consequences of Islamic militancy for the civil society, especially the future generations, could be very damaging. It is infinitely more dangerous and deeply rooted than the Nazi idealogy or communism neither of which had the support of a religion based one billion strong following across the globe, nor could they promote the cult of mass murders and suicide bombings. The Nazis, even in their heydays, just could not promote the fanatical zeal of the kind displayed by the jihadist storm troopers.
Interestingly the two nation theory about which endless columns have been written by the Indian litterati and which is incessantly talked about in the drawing rooms of India’s capital, New Delhi, was neither the invention of Mohammed Ali Jinnah nor Veer Savarkar. The concept of two separate nations has its roots in the rigid orthopraxy of Islam which bifurcates the world into two compartments: Dar-ul Islam (the land of peace) and Dar-ul Harb (the land of conflict) which are in perpetual conflict. Even Louis Farrakhan, that fiery leader of America’s Black Muslim movement, calls it the ‘Nation of Islam’ — an entity altogether different from the American nation. As pointed out by Pendrel Moon in his book, Divide and Quit, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University, was the first Indian to propound the thesis that the Hindus and the Muslims were two different nations due to which reason, after the departure of the British, India will have to be partitioned into two countries. Obviously for arriving at that conclusion Sir Syed Ahmed had taken inspiration from the divisive idealogy of Islamic scriptures wherein the concepts of Dar-ul Islam and Dar-ul Harb have been expounded with considerable clarity and finality. It has been the refrain of Muslim leadership worldwide now for over eighty years, right from Sir Syed Ahmed to Allama Iqbal to Rehmat Ali and onwards to Alija Izetbegovitch (the idealogue of the Muslim nation of Bosnia), that Muslims are a separate nation with a different cultural identity. Therefore they cannot live peaceably with other religious groups. This doctrinaire belief, widely prevalent among the Muslims of both Islamic and non-Islamic countries, is the single most important cause of the present civilizational conflict.
One of the most important events of the twentieth century was the stupendous increase in the population of Muslims worldwide, almost unprecedented in the history of mankind. And the increase is still continuing. Muslims are likely to constitute 30% or more of the total world population by the year 2025 A.D. A huge worldwide flow of youthful Muslims is likely to burst across the globe during the next 2 to 5 decades. In all probaility, this massive increase in Muslim numbers will continue into the next millenium. That could spell a defining increase in the population of Muslims worldwide. If this trend of sharp growth of Muslims continues into the next millenium, it will have the potential of changing the course of human history. The reasons for the exceptionally high fertility rates of Muslim societies are three: non-acceptance of the small family norm on religious grounds; non-emancipation of the Muslim women; and the scriptural sanction for multiple wives, though not more than four at one time. Intensive proselytizing activities of the Tablighi Jamaat are another important reason. Some examples of high Muslim fertility rates are: Yemen multiplying on a fertility rate of 7 children per woman, Saudi Arabia 6.15, Afghanistan 5.6, Nigeria 5.4, Pakistan 4.1 and so on. In sharp contrast, the fertility rates of European countries are very low, ranging between 1.20 and 1.50. Most of the European countries have a trend of declining populations. Russia is already trapped in a depopulation crisis — comically dubbed as the “do it yourself genocide”. The last thirty years have seen large scale influx of Muslims into a number of countries and regions, e.g., the U.S.A., the Europe and India (from Bangladesh) due to their sharply growing population. The situation has been compounded by the appalling indifference of many soft states, including India, to the growing avalanche of illegal Muslim immigrants.
Several regions of the world like the Middle East, the Europe, the Indian sub-continent and Russia are likely to face growing religion-based faultline conflicts because of the sharp upswing in Muslim populations and their influx into the neighbouring countries and regions in search of pastures greener. The population of almost every European country is in a declining mode resulting in rapidly declining numbers of indigenous Christian citizens. Even India has a declining fertility rate of 2.91, while Pakistan and Bangladesh have fertility rates of 4.1 and 3.2 respectively. The population growth rate of India is 1.47 percent as against 2.1 per cent of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Within the Indian Union the growth rate of Muslims is nearly one-and-a-half times higher than that of the Hindus, Sikhs and Budhists, counted together. There has been a silent invasion of Muslim migrants from the Islamic-majority countries and regions into non-Muslim countries during the last thirty years. With the increasing pressure of the sharp growth in the Muslim numbers, the population profiles of many countries, including India, are bound to undergo radical changes in the decades ahead. For that reason India and many other countries are likely to face more religion-based conflicts.
The Muslim societies and their radical leaders have become highly conscious of their higher population growth. The Islamists are jubilant on this score because they hope to overwhelm the world through sheer force of growing numbers in due course of time, may be within the next few decades. The massive growth in Muslim numbers in the Middle East and North African nations like Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Sudan and countries of the Maghreb is already impacting Europe. It is visibly reflected in the growing presence of large numbers of Muslims in the Balkans, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands and the U.K. Their dramatic growth can be seen all over the Europe. India, too, is being flooded by the growing influx of Bangla Muslims who have overwhelmed many districts of Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal and whose growing presence in large clusters is visible in scores of Indian cities.
Due to this unprecedented increase in the population of Muslims, both in the Muslim and non-Muslim countries, four regions of the world are under acute Islamist pressure: the West Asia where Israel has remained in constant embattlement with Palestinian terror groups, aided by neighbouring Muslim countries; the Balkans and the Western Europe where Christian population is in a tailspin and the heavy out-migration from North Africa and the Middle East towards Europe threatens to overwhelm the Christian Europe; the Indian sub-continent where the aggregate Muslim population of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India is likely to outgrow the total non-Muslim population of the Indian Republic by the year 2061, or even earlier; and the depopulating Russia which has a vulnerable soft underbelly dotted with a number of Muslim countries having higher population growth and where the militant Islam is in an ascendant mode.
In percentage terms the population of Hindus in India has been declining now continuously for the last 110 years. After partition of the country in 1947 this trend has gathered more speed. In percentage terms, during 1981-91 the Muslims grew at a rate nearly one-and-a half times compared to that of the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, counted together.
The growing population invariably needs extra space, additional economic opportunities for earning livelihood, greater say in the affairs of the concerned country and also in the world affairs. It generates religion-based tensions and creates new cultural schisms. The changed religious profile of a country’s population has often led to eruption of civil strifes of the kind experienced in Lebanon in the Middle East, Kosovo and Bosnia in the EuroÂpe and Chechenya in Russia. The Muslim majority province of Chechenya has been causing serious concern to the Russian people because of its high population growth, while the rest of Russia is trapped in a freefall of population.
Within the Indian Republic the rising percentage of the Muslim population and a corresponding percentage decline in the aggregate population of the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists has the potential of escalating the religion-based faultline conflicts. The dice of demography is heavily loaded against the Hindus, the Sikhs and the Buddhists. At this rate, the Indian civilization could ultimately head for a Lebanon-like situation where Muslims outpaced Christian numbers within six to seven decades and Lebanon became a Muslim majority nation by 1970-75, amidst a raging civil war. A repeat of that kind of tragic scenario in India could take a little longer, but the contours of a latent threat are already visible. In Lebanon the Christians who formed a whopping 77% of Lebanon’s population in the year 1900, were reduced to 35% by 1975. Similarly in the Balkans, Kosovo and Bosnia were converted into Muslim majority territories within a few decades. A fate similar to that of Bosnia might overtake Macedonia during the next three to four decades, or even earlier.
India, too, might face major religion-based faultline conflicts or civil war like conditions, triggered by demographic changes, say in another 30 to 40 years — just as Lebanon and Bosnia had. Ultimately after one hundred years or so, even certain parts of India could follow the trend set by Lebanon, Kosovo and Bosnia. What should cause greater concern is that a massive upheaval resulting from the drastic demographic changes, could plunge the Indian nation into a civil strife of the kind witnessed in the Balkans where roughly 15 percent of the total population was displaced and forced to move out to save their lives. Pushed to the wall by climactic demographic changes India could even break up into a number of States in accordance with the changed religious configuration of different areas. We have seen how the Muslim state of Bosnia was born in the Balkans after a massive bloodbath. In India the presence of three crore Bangla Muslims and their progeny could act as a trigger for the balkanization of the country, perhaps starting with certain districts of Assam and West Bengal.
Historically Muslim populations have a high propensity to secede from their parent countries. It springs from the concept of ummah which transcends the ideal of nation-state. As soon as the percentage of Muslims reaches the benchmark of 30 to 40 percent in any country, large scale faultline conflicts start erupting and the battle cry of jihad is raised which often results in violent secessionist wars. Some classic examples of this phenomenon are the partition of India in 1947, the Greco-Turkish dispute over Cyprus, the civil war in Lebanon, the separatist insurgency in Chechenya and the Philippines, and the bloody civil strife in Kosovo and Bosnia. More recently violent jihadist campaigns have erupted in Thailand and Nigeria, too.
Within the next few decades there could be a further increase in faultline conflicts between the Hindus and the Muslims in India. The intensity of such religion-based clashes could be very high because of the long history of persecution suffered by the Hindus during the long Muslim rule. As and when the Muslim percentage in certain regions or States of India approaches the benchmark of 30-40 percent, the problem could become more acute. Again, say around 2040 or 2050 A.D., when combined population of the Hindus and Muslims in the sub-continent could be more than 2.5 billions, the sheer size of the absolute numbers of the two communities getting involved in a civil strife could spell a human disaster of unimagineable magnitude. That grim possibility should be a cause for concern at least to the saner leadership of the two communities.
Islamists have already declared jihad against the U.S.A., Israel and India since 1998 and these three nations are on their hit list. Powered by the concept of ‘ummah’, today Islam is the biggest union of nearly 60 countries comprising almost 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide. Islam being a religion demanding transnational loyalty, even beyond allegiance to the motherland, the Islamists are able to enlist support for their cause across the globe. The Islamic ‘ummah’ is like a multinational corporation, flush with petro funds, 57 member countries and more than 1.2 billion members — call them shareholders, if you will. The Muslims are not bound by the concept of loyalty to their motherland. Their only loyalty is to their religion and ‘ummah’, i.e.,to their co-religionists anywhere in the world. That being the reality no single country can face the Islamist terror effectively. In medieval times only a coalition of Christian kings could prevent the jihadi warriors of Islam from overrunning the Europe. The Islamic armies were routed convincingly in 732 A.D. in the battle of Tours-Poitiers (France) and in 1683 at Vienna (Austria), the latter being the seat of the rich and powerful Hapsburg rulers. In sharp contrast, the Persian civilization was decimated and Hinduism badly battered and bruised because neither the Persians nor Hindus could understand the unique bonding of ummah and the resolve of jihadi warriors to destroy all neighbouring civilizations.
By undertaking this study I have tried to project the hidden threat which is likely to confront the Indian people tomorrow and the day after. It is time for the national leadership to wake up to the twin threats of the violent terrorism of radical Islam reflected in its long march and the likely adverse consequences of the dynamics of demography on the future of Indian nation. There is a prima facie need for evolving a pragmatic population policy which should be reviewed every five years by taking into account the manpower needs of the defence services, the national targets of economic growth and the need to meet any adverse geopolitical developments. The Indian people must avoid getting trapped in the Russian-style “do it yourself genocide” crisis.
Unlike dictatorships, democracies are governed by the numbers game called elections, based on universal franchise — the principle of one-person-one-vote. If the present demographic trends continue, there might be large scale religion-based faultline conflicts in India, and perhaps in the entire sub-continent within the next three to four decades. The hostility between the two major communities is already growing at a fast clip and communal clashes are increasing.
As spelt out by Bernard Lewis, once Islam becomes a majority religion in any country that nation is likely to be taken over by the radical Islamists. Votes may be cast and counted only once. Thereafter democracy might just disappear and an Islamic caliphate or dictatorship established, just like most other Islamic countries. There is no tradition of democracy in Muslim majority countries — perhaps there could never be unless Islam sheds its dogmas and intolerance. Thus the danger to the future of Indian democracy and our pluralistic secular order could be both immense and imminent.