Koran, Madrassas and Terrorism

Wasim Rizvi’s motivated understanding of Islam

Wasim Rizvi

Wasim Rizvi, the ex-Chairman of Shia Waqf Board has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court. It states that 26 verses of Islam should be deleted as they promote terrorism. He also says that Madrassas are offering training for terrorism, and if not stopped, India will witness a huge rise in terror acts. He is also the one who has made derogatory films against Sunni belief and practices apart from saying that Muslims are reproducing like animals. As far as terrorism in India is concerned, Minister of Home, Krishna Reddy had stated that the sources of terror acts are not in this country.

Incidentally his dealings are being investigated for illegal sale of Waqf property under his chief ship. There is a huge uproar in sections of Muslim community against him, asking for him to be punished; death threats etc. In his support the likes of Kangana Ranaut and Gajendra Chauhan have appreciated him as a true nationalist, while officially BJP has distanced itself from Rizvi’s sayings. His understanding or lack of that about the Koran notwithstanding, the motive to curry favor with the ruling government through such actions is more than obvious. He is adding to the prevalent Islamophobia in a great measure. He is parroting what the propaganda is being spread by communal forces about Muslims’ being terrorists or producing more children. This propaganda has played a serious role in creating Hatred against Muslims and this hatred in turn has formed the base on which communal violence is orchestrated.

As far Muslims producing more children is concerned, serious works of scholarship tell us that poverty and illiteracy and imposed ghettotisation result in higher rates of population growth. There are statistics which tell us that despite the present situation the decadal rate of growth of Muslim population is under decline on continuous basis. (Decadal Growth rate 1991-32.9%, 2001-29.5%, 2011- 24.6%). The prediction is that Muslim population should stabilise around 18% by 2070.

As far as Koran and violence is concerned, Rizvi is rephrasing the global propaganda, post 9/11 2001. One does not know the credentials of Rizvi as an Islamic scholar but the notions popularised by American media in the aftermath of 9/11 are clearly the stuff from which he seems to be picking up to please those in power, to curry favor for his own selfish motives.

In India the scholars of Islam, particularly my late friend Asghar Ali Engineer and renowned scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan emphasise the meaning of most of the Koranic verses in their context. According to these scholars the emphasis on peace is prevalent all through in Koran. One example is verse 32 of Chapter 5 which tells us that killing even a single innocent person is like killing the whole humanity. The second being that there cannot be force in matters of religion, to you your faith to me mine. These raise a lot of doubt about the understanding of Rizwi. As per him, these 26 verses are later inserted and are the source of violence. One needs to examine the trajectory of use of words Kafir and Jihad in the late twentieth century. To indoctrinate Al Qaeda elements these words were presented with distorted meaning. This was done in few Madrassas of Pakistan.

In the indoctrination module coordinated and funded by United States (Mahmood Mamdani, Good Muslim Bad Msulim, Permanent Black) tells us from the documents of CIA that Us spent 8000 million dollars to prop up the Al Qaeda. It was part of the strategy of the US to combat Russian forces in Afghanistan, for which America was not able to send its own army. The reason behind that was the low morale of American army due to its defeat at the hands of Vietnamese people.

America in a shrewd operation picked up a sectarian version of Islam and the word kafir and Jihad were given a twist to brainwash the Muslim youth being trained in some madrassas of Pakistan. Word Kafir which means ‘one who hides truth’ was manipulated to mean the ‘non believers’ or even those who disagree with you. Killing them was presented as Jihad. Such jihad in turn would open the path of Jannat when Mujahideen lay down their lives in such acts. The real punch of indoctrination comes at this stage as what was propagated was that those who lay down their lives in Jihad will straight go to Jannat (Muslim equivalent of heaven or Hindu equivalent of Swarga), where 72 virgins are waiting for the Jihadi!)

In Koran, Jihad as such stands for utmost effort. There are many such strivings e.g. fighting against evils within oneself (Jihad-e- Akbar) and social evils (Jihad-e-Asghar). With this distortion and the American funding, Al Qaeda joined the anti Soviet forces, the real aim of America. A Frankenstein’s monster was created by this strategy. After 9/11 twin tower attack the word ‘Islamic terrorism’ was popularized and Muslims all over started being looked at as terrorists. It became a ‘thinkable thought’ that Muslim is a terrorist. It was manufactured by US media and the other media picked up from that.

Many started labeling Madrassas in general as the dens of terror. In India we saw particularly between 2006 to 2008 that after every act of terror, like Malegaon, Makkah Masjid, Ajmer Dargah and Samjhauta Express blast while most victims were Muslims, those who were accused for such acts were Muslims again. This went on till Malegaon blast in which the Maharashtra ATS Chief Hemant Karkare came across the motorcycle used in Malegaon blast belonging to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, ABVP leader, currently BJP MP from Bhopal.

Popular perceptions are constructed through multiple mechanisms and today what Rizvi is saying is music to the years of communal forces, who have been actively promoting such propaganda at ground level. This propaganda adds on to the other myths and biases against Muslim community and intensity of Hate in society goes up few notches up due to such a misconceptions.

Now Rizvi, under the scrutiny for illegal sale of Waqf property is mouthing it in various forms. Scholarship of Koran and Islam is not what is leading him to this fallacy. Hope we have more efforts to combat the narrative created by Imperialist forces and further promoted by communal forces. 

* The writer is a human rights defender and a former professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay). 


Other pieces by Dr. Puniyani:

Bid Curb Inter-faith marriages: Ruse to Restrict Women’s Freedom

Charlie Hebdo Cartoons and Blasphemy Laws in Contemporary Times

Was Mughal Rule the period of India’s Slavery?

Kashi- Mathura: Will temple politics be revived?



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