IS RELIGION FROM GOD OR MAN-MADE?
Books and Documents 03 Mar 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com
The War Within Islam: Niyaz Fatehpuri’s Struggle Against The Fundamentalists by JUHI SHAHIN
Excerpts from a newly published book in Pakistan: The War Within Islam: Niyaz Fatehpuri’s Struggle Against The Fundamentalists
Dear Aamir Mughal Sahab,
This fellow may very well have turned a Wahhabi, for the sake of his own survival in today’s Pakistan where non-Wahhabi mosques and worshippers are being bombed within the mosque premises during prayers. Or maybe the poor chap is just trying to survive in a Talibanised Pakistan. Not everyone can be as brave as Allama Niaz Fatehpuri, even if he happens to be a relative of sorts. This fellow may very well have turned a Wahhabi, for the sake of his own survival in today’s Pakistan where non-Wahhabi mosques and worshippers are being bombed within the mosque premises during prayers. Some Shias supported by Iran are making feeble attempts to kill a few Wahhabis too but achieving only a rare success once in a while. [Sultan Shahin]
Dear Sir, please get your facts corrected and one of the fact is this that majority of Pakistanis are Barelvi Hanafis. An example is as under:
Since the 'BLESSED' 12 Rabiul Awwal Celebration has almost arrived therefore it is very suitable that three videos must be posted of a Prominent Pakistani Islamic Scholar, Dr Tahirul Quadri who is also "Sheikh Al Islam.
Tahir Ul Qadri and Dancers
Dr. Tahir ul Quadri and Non Stop Dreams of seeing Prophet Mohammad [PBUH]
NOTE: Dr Tahirul Quadri was created by General Ziaul Haq [Afghan Jihad - 1977 - 1988]
Dear Sultan Sahab,
The real problem in is not Sunni, Shia, Wahabi, Deobandi, Barelvi Mullahs or even Sectarianism as you have implied above The fact is this that Pakistani Military Establishment [when need arises] even utilize the services of Prostitutes and Pimps so they never even think twice to utilize Deobandis and Wahabis for gain some quick strategic depths. Read Carnegie Endowment Policy Brief on this
Pakistan: The Myth of an Islamist Peril By Frederic Grare Publisher: Carnegie Endowment Policy Brief #45, February 2006
Click on link for the full text of this Carnegie Paper
The fear of an Islamic threat has been the driving force behind most Western countries’ foreign policies toward Pakistan in recent years. The possibility that violent Islamists will kill President Pervez Musharraf, throw Pakistan into turmoil, take over the country and its nuclear weapons, and escalate regional terrorism has dominated the psychological and political landscape. Such fears have usually led to support of the Pakistani military as the only institution able to contain the danger. But the Islamist threat is neither as great nor as autonomous as many assume. True, Pakistan has experienced more than its share of religious violence, both sectarian and jihadi. But serious law-and-order problems do not mean the fate of the state is at stake. No Islamic organization has ever been in a position to politically or militarily challenge the role of the one and only center of power in Pakistan: the army. On the contrary, the Pakistani Army has used Islamic organizations for its purposes, both at home and abroad. Islamist organizations balance the power of rival mainstream political parties, preserving the army’s role as national arbiter. The army has nurtured and sometimes deployed violent Islamists in Afghanistan (with U.S. support at first), Kashmir, and other hot spots on the subcontinent.
Although the army’s control is solid, the situation is not without risks: a few of the militants have turned against the army because of Pakistan’s “betrayal” of the Taliban and cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan and in the “war on terror.” Moreover, the infrastructure that supports regional sectarian ism and Kashmir-Afghan jihadi activities can be hijacked for international terrorism, as demonstrated by the July 2005 London bomb blasts. The risk of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, triggered by attacks similar to the ones carried out by the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba in Delhi after the October 2005 earthquake, cannot be dismissed either.
Yet evidence is scant that these organizations pose an uncontrollable threat. Also, a Pakistan headed by an Islamist party would not necessarily be unstable. In fact, in the existing power setup, politico-religious organizations have often been used to channel popular resentment in a socially and politically acceptable way, preventing unrest. What the West perceives as a threat to the regime in Pakistan are manifestations of the Pakistani Army’s tactics to maintain political control. The army uses its need for modernist order to justify its continued claim on power and, with The risk of an Islamist takeover in Pakistan is a myth invented by the Pakistani military to consolidate its hold on power.
In fact, religious political parties and militant organizations are manipulated by the Pakistani Army to achieve its own objectives, domestically and abroad.The army, not the Islamists, is the real source of insecurity on the subcontinent. Sustainable security and stability in the region will be achieved only through the restoration of democracy in Pakistan. The West should actively promote the demilitarization of Pakistan’s political life through a mix of political pressure and capacity building. Enlarging the pool of elites and creating alternative centers of power will be essential for developing a working democracy in Pakistan.
a substantial part of state resources. This de facto army monopoly on power is preventing the emergence of a truly democratic, economically sound Pakistan. The Pakistani military is the main source of insecurity on the subcontinent, making it necessary to challenge the common perception and policy in t he international community that stability and security depend on not pressuring military sovereigns such as Musharraf. Orderly army retrenchment is a necessary but insufficient condition for progress, hence the need for new approaches and alternative policies.
Myth of an Islamic Threat
A distinction should be made between religiously inspired political parties and organizations, and sectarian or jihadi groups. Political parties participate in electoral politics and seek power and influence through democratic means; jihadi groups resort to violence. Links exist between the two: jihadi groups are often (but not always) the fists of political organizations. Notwithstanding occasional mutual reinforcement, politico-religious parties play legitimate roles and will be important to Pakistan’s democratization, but sectarian or jihadi groups behave outside legitimate bounds of any civilized polity.
Politico-Religious Parties: Real but Limited Popular Support
Any analysis of the electoral weight of Pakistan’s religious parties needs to note that, unlike in many Arab states, they do not operate in a political vacuum. No matter how manipulative the Pakistani military has been in its dealings with mainstream political parties, it has been careful not to destroy them. The left-leaning Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is constrained in its ability to oppose the government, yet it still functions as the single most important political party in the country. The Pakistan Muslim League may have become a puppet organization whose unique raison d’être is to generate support for Musharraf’s policies, yet it occupies a defined political space and prevents the Islamic parties from filling that space. Other organizations play similar roles. When Islamic organizations develop rivalries and compete in elections, they perform according to their perceived capacity to answer voters’ demands. Religious parties have been integrated within the traditional political game, but the competition keeps their appeal and power balanced. Political competition arose naturally as well as at the behest of the army, which recognizes the value of being able to balance multiple forms of opposition. By keeping all parties weak and allowing a plurality of parties to compete, the army insinuates itself as the indispensable arbiter of politics. No objective observer believes that Pakistan’s Islamic parties have a chance to seize power through elections in the foreseeable future. Historically, when the Islamic parties have participated in elections, they have captured between 5 percent and 8 percent of the vote, with the notable exception of 1988 when they reached 12 percent. In the 2002 elections, the alliance of religious parties called the Mutahida Majlis Amal (MMA) collected 11.1 percent of the vote. As impressive and worrying as this total appears to some, the Islamist vote remains limited to slightly more than one-tenth of the electorate despite heavy manipulations in its favor by the state machinery.
Islamism, Stability, and Security
When Islamic parties gain local power usually by political manipulation as in parts of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baluchistan, stability and security are no better or worse than in areas controlled by their secular alternatives. When Islamic parties are in opposition, they are used by the regime as a vessel to receive and channel popular dissatisfaction. The religious parties’ low mass appeal makes them less threatening to the military establishment than the more popular PPP. Demonstrations organized by the MMA during the Iraq War, for example, bolstered a Pakistani government caught between popular opinion hostile to the war and the government’s need not to alienate the United States. Most observers in Pakistan believed in 2003 that the Iraq War would unleash a series of protests and terrorist attacks. Preparations were made and security was reinforced, yet, not a single incident occurred.
Musharraf, representing the dominant army, got the government’s message out, and the leaders of the large Islamist political parties and even key terrorist organizations followed it. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Musharraf told a group of businesspeople in Lahore that Pakistan would be the next target of U.S. military punishment if it continued to be perceived as a state supporting terrorism. Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons only raised the likelihood of a U.S. strike. It was time for radical groups in Pakistan to lie low and go along with the state’s cooperation with the United States. Qazi Hussein Ahmad, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, and more radical players such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba, followed along. The remarkable calm showed the sunny side of the patron-client relation ship between the Pakistan state establishment and key Islamist parties and forces.
at least to deny Indian sovereignty over Kashmir, is constant in both the modernist and Islamist discourses. When Islamic parties get close to power, they often adapt their discourse to political realities, and sometimes they just drop Islamic rhetoric. Pakistan’s rapprochement with the United States following September 11, 2001, for instance, was criticized by religious parties on geopolitical grounds, not ideological ones: Islamist parties argued that siding with the United States would alienate China and Iran, more impor tant friends to Pakistan.
Sectarian Violence and Stability
Religious violence, in particular sectarian violence—distinct from religious political parties—is sometimes seen as a more serious source of instability in Pakistan. Sectarian violence is indeed a serious problem with deep social, political, and geopolitical roots. It is a consequence of the 1947 partition of the subcontinent, which deeply affected the demographic balance of some areas in Pakistan. Migrants who went to what is now Pakistan’s Punjab province simply moved from the eastern portion of what had been the united Indian Punjab. The vast majority were Sunni, uneducated, and either serving in the armed forces or working as farm laborers. Many landless laborers started working on the farms of Shia landlords. Their poverty led to deep resentment, and this marginal group, deprived of both resources and political representation, soon became angry.
If conditions on the ground formed the kindling of sectarian violence, General Zia ul-Haq lit the match. Fearful of Shia activism following the 1978–1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Zia inflamed Sunni fears and mobilized Sunni militants. With the notable exception of that the Iraq War would unleash a series of protests and terrorist attacks. Preparations were made and security was reinforced, yet, not a single incident occurred. Musharraf, representing the dominant army, got the government’s message out, and the leaders of the large Islamist political parties and even key terrorist organizations followed it. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Musharraf told a group of businesspeople in Lahore that Pakistan would be the next target of U.S. military punishment if it continued to be perceived as a state supporting terrorism. Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons only raised the likelihood of a U.S. strike. It was time for radical groups in Pakistan to lie low and go along with the state’s cooperation with the United States. Qazi Hussein Ahmad, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, and more radical players such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba, followed along. The remarkable calm showed the sunny side of the patron-client relationship between the Pakistan state establishment and key Islamist parties and forces.
An Islamist Army?
The Pakistani Army, which largely controls the major Islamist organizations, could be infiltrated by Islamist actors who could then seize leadership through a coup d’état or regular promotion. Although the military remains opaque, there is so far no evidence that it has been widely infiltrated, much less controlled, by the Islamists. It seems that the army reflects the society: Although Islamists are undoubtedly present, there is no reason to believe that their numbers are significantly greater than in the rest of Pakistani society. Even if the top echelons of the army hierarchy were to be occupied by Islamists, it would be extremely unlikely to change the course of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Islamic parties often provide no more than an Islamic rationalization of existing foreign policies on which a convergence of interests already exists. For example, the Islamic parties provided an Islamic rationale for fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. The similar quest to control Muslim-majority parts of Kashmir, or By focusing on only Islamist militancy, Western governments confuse the consequence and the cause: The army is the problem.
Nawaz Sharif, all successive Pakistani governments have continued to manipulate sectarian tensions for political purposes. With the support of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Pakistani government also found in the sectarian organizations the unofficial manpower it required to sustain Pakistan’s interests in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Kashmir. As sectarian conflict has intensified in Pakistan, the army has been accused of hav ing created an Islamic Frankenstein it could no longer control. Yet, careful examination shows that the army, including the ISI directorate, has always been able to maintain violence at an “acceptable” level by dividing groups, generating infighting every time an organization became too important, and sometimes physically eliminating uncontrol lable elements. Azam Tariq, leader of the Lashkar-e-Janghvi, the most lethal sectarian Sunni terrorist organization, was assassinated on October 5, 2003, for example.
The army nevertheless cannot maintain total control. In December 2004, two suicide attackers nearly succeeded in assassinating Musharraf. Some extremely militant groups have become so estranged by the army leadership’s turn to the United States that they are beyond the government’s control. In November 2003, when Musharraf banned fif teen to seventeen violent sectarian organizations, other similar organizations that are useful in Afghanistan and Kashmir were merely kept on a watch list. Although sectarian violence is a serious law-and-order problem, it is not a threat to regime stability in Pakistan. Legitimizing the Army’s Political Role There is more than simply an “objective alliance” between the military regime and the religious organizations, be they political or militant. Both are integral parts of the military system of dominance. The perpetuation of a party system in what is otherwise an authoritarian regime is not the consequence of army benevolence or a sudden conversion to democracy following Zia ul-Haq’s death. The military knows that the appearance of formal democracy is essential as it deals with the West. Democratic facades also provide the military the opportunity to withdraw behind the scenes while still holding the reins of power and letting civilians deal with the difficulties of running a government. The presence of Islamic parties is a useful foil to reinforce the regime’s legitimacy abroad and to pressure secular parties domestically. In Pakistan’s October 2002 elections, after the fighting and removal of the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, the MMA won political countrywide representation far beyond its real political support. Having failed to secure the support of the PPP, the military systematically favored the MMA by redefining electoral districts and rigging the election whenever necessary. Military representatives later suggested that the result went beyond their initial expectations. The MMA’s rise to power in the North-West Frontier Province, in particular, enabled the Musharraf regime to point to the mullahs and tell the United States, in effect, “If you don’t listen to me and give me what I need, the mullahs will take over. And if you push me too hard to change, I will be thrown out; and then you will be sorry.” Yet, the MMA did not create a meaningful domestic political constraint for the government. On the contrary, the relatively strong presence of the MMA in Parliament allowed Musharraf to pass the constitutional amendments necessary to transform the parliamentary system into a presidential one and institutionalize the political role of the army through the creation of the National Security Council. Simultaneously, the violence generated by the sectarians gives credence to the existence of an Islamic threat and reinforces the army’s role.