The West calls them Deobandis, others Wahabis. But the Taliban’s brand of religion has nothing to do with Islamic ideology. Its cadres are tutored by the mullah mafia, patronised by the drug cartel and used by feudal lords. Global powers gave them legitimacy and politicians and military establishments exploited them to further their gains.
Ironically, the Western powers hailed them as Islamic warriors in the 1980s when they fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But they turned into villains after the 9/11 attack. Therefore, it is wrong to paint them as a virus (The virulent Wahabi virus, Faith, April 11). Whether Wahabi or Deoband, no school of Islamic thought advocates violence. This is evident from the fact that not a single madrasa student has been involved in terrorist activities — homegrown terrorism was unknown to India till 2006.
The threat to India is not from Wahabis but from foreign terrorists. Seminaries
in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas offered thousands of students to al-Qaeda and the Taliban for waging jihad against the West and India. Arms and ammunition left by the Soviet Union and supplied by the West went into the hands of Taliban.
In my mind, South Asia faces no threat or danger from Wahabism or Deobandi ideology. Instead, there are other causes like a fragile governing system, military adventurism and ethnic aspirations which are responsible for the growth of terror in these areas.
The terrorists use religion as a tool to fulfil their goals. Wahabism was nowhere in the picture in the 1990s. It has now become a fashion to brand the Taliban as followers of Wahabi sects.
It is high time that Muslim clerics come out and present the true face of Islam. Terror propagators or heretics can never be followers of Islam.
Sheikh Manzoor Ahmed is Editor, UNI-Urdu Service