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Linking Intellectual Inputs

Mahtab Alam

By T.S. Girishkumar
Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, New Delhi, 2013, pp. viii 355, Rs. 795.00


Post-9/11, two words, namely Jihad and Terrorism, have acquired much of our attention. These terms unintentionally as well as intentionally are used interchangeably, often, to indicate that Islam and terrorism share an organic relationship. The book under review, on the face of it, seems to defy this generic discussion and claims to ‘attempt to construct the epistemology of Terrorism through a historical analysis of ninety years of India’. The first paragraph of the blurb of the book declares, ‘The term jihad has nothing to do with “terror” in Islam. Jihad in Islam is simply an honest, pious, and sincere effort. Here the expression “Jihadi Terrorism” is a borrowed one, from what is popularly meant to address a contemporary problem.’ However, as soon as you start reading the book, you are encountered with altogether contradictory arguments, which essentially try to ‘historically’ validate and reinforce phrases like ‘all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslim’. The book is as good as propaganda literature that is published by some Hindutva outfit, as, while reading the book at times, you are unable to comprehend whether you are reading the work of an academician or articles in the journals like the Jan Sangh Samachar, Panchjanya/The Organiser.   According to the author, the menace of terrorism in South Asia, as witnessed and practised today is the direct result of ‘intellectual backing’ of Muslim intellectuals and community leaders. The author examines the writings and speeches of ‘intellectuals (1857-1940) with separatist ideas, mostly Muslim’ (emphasis mine). And who are these Muslim intellectuals with separatist ideas? To name a few, (Sir) Sayyid Ahmed Khan, Mohammed Ali (Jauhar), Aga Khan, Hasrat Mohani, Akbar Allahabadi and Mohammed Iqbal, among others. Almost all the notable Muslim intellectuals of the time (1857-1940) are there in the list or at least find a mention. And they are termed ‘The Forerunning Separatist Intellectuals’, which is also the title of the second chapter.   Laying the foundation of his arguments in the first chapter the author states, ‘There is no denying the fact that terrorism has an epistemology of its own; without which it can cannot take roots and functions; fits into minds of many and, and then finally making practices of explosions as well as mass destructions.’ And then he goes on to say, ‘Perhaps one could trace an epistemology of terrorism right into the very concept of Islam itself, thereby making (Mohammad bin) ...

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