A Vicious Misnomer

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While there has been some opposition and resistance to the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) proposal to introduce a course on “Islamic terrorism”, questions abound about the very nature of the course and its nomenclature. First, a few general points. No such thing as “Islamic terrorism” exists. The term is a loaded one employed by the detractors and enemies of Islam in order to paint the great religion of Islam in a negative and unflattering ways. The term then is an oxymoron; it means nothing but has been employed as a discursive technique and method to discredit Muslims and attempt to malign Islam. Moreover, even the term “terrorism” is an elastic, loaded and malleable term that means and connotes different things to different people, all depending on the perch, vantage points that people have and their respective agendas. The term “Islamic terrorism” then is a vicious misnomer. However, many might question the foregoing assertions and point out to the violence that many Muslim states and societies are victim of. Admittedly, while many Muslim societies are and have been preyed upon, the fact is that much of this is legacy based and accrues from colonial practices and institutions thereof; some of the violence is modern, accruing from and based upon the vicious and dangerously violent foreign policies of powerful states. (The second Gulf war constitutes an eloquent example here). All this is not to state that we Muslims do not have problems and issues that have and are bedeviling us. We do. But, these issues do not emanate from Islam; our problems are worldly , so to speak. In lieu of this, we, Muslims must take recourse to introspection, review and course correct. But, at the risk of repetition, it must be restated that Muslim’s problems have nothing to do with Islam; these have got to do with our relationship with the duniya (world) and are amenable to resolution if the right approach is taken. In the final analysis, Islam is a religion of peace and a blessing for not only its followers but also for the mankind. Given this, it is incumbent upon Muslims to present Islam in its real form and image and push back attempts to malign this great faith. A holistic push back strategy is the need of the hour. This might call for Muslim unity and pooling resources, wherever and whenever, vicious attempts to malign Islam are made, JNU included.