When Petro-Dollar Speaks
By Mohd Sageer
Enough has been
discussed about the teaching of Quran and its controversial contents.
Perhaps it is time now for us to move on to the hinterlands to have an
in-depth grasp of underlying causes of the spread of terrorism and Islamic
expansionism. Although I have no statistical evidence as to how many
people are actually leaving Islam, the conspicuous presence of
Islamism in recent times with its adherents demonstrating renewed
vigor than ever before, should be a matter of overwhelming
concern for the peace and freedom loving people .
Post 1960 has seen a boom in the
economic status of the Arab -Middle East countries with the discovery of
abundant oil deposits in the region. A populace that was content with
dates, fish and camels, Arabs mostly had to opt for a simple way of
living. Of course they have had fought many wars with the neighbouring
countries including present-day Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Iran, not to
mention the un-accounted tribal war fares between the various
factions among themselves for political, social, and economic
The avalanche of petrodollars into
the hands of a few prominent Arab rulers who are known as
Sheikhs, paved the way for far reaching cultural changes in
many Asian- third world countries. The war waged by these Sheikhdoms
against neighbouring indigenous cultures was extremely
unconventional in that no weapons were used to impose their domination.
Rather they started building mosques, charitable instaurations and
madrassas including other conversion tactics with the use of that
all-time powerful tool; the fluttering currency!
The leaders of the third world
countries have been so naive that none of them suspected the hidden agenda
behind the Arab generosity. The local dawa groups, mostly comprising
unemployed youth ran relentless campaigns inviting people, . to
religion or persuading liberal Muslims into strict compliance of the
Islamic rituals. They targeted mostly poor and middle-class Muslim
women who were not really mindful about observing Islamic dress code,
forcing them into all encompassing Arabian Burkha (A black cloak-
like shroud that covers from head to toe).
Kerala, a tiny southern state of India
is a typical example of the Arab's successful story.
During 1960s in the wake of the
oil discovery, thousands of job-seeking Keralite Muslim youths,
particularly from the northern Malabar Coast, flocked into
Gulf Arab states dreaming about making a fortune. It is no surprise
that their long stint in an extremely Islamic environment forced
them to be more rigid about their religion, its observance and rituals
taking dislike to other communities . Some of them took great
pride in imitating the Arab mannerisms, and the usage of
Arabian way of greetings, including Arab vocabularies in their day
to day conversations.
So far so good! There is
no harm in assimilating good aspect of other cultures into one's own.
Anyone living in a western country can reasonably be expected to be
absorbing many characteristics that are western.
But life in a Middle East
Gulf state has much more to it than just absorbing a culture. During
their visit to the homeland these Muslim expatriates made
it a point to pack a dozen or so burkhas or hijabs
along with other gift items for their wives and other women folks in
the family. Any resistance from these poor women to wear this
strange all encompassing and uncomfortable attire must have been
dealt with a divorce threat or punishment in the life
hereafter, invoking Quranic verses.
The state's secular and
majority population watched this cultural invasion in utter
confusion together with a sense of ambivalence. Today the
ostensible display of Islamic dress code practiced by
both men and women stands extremely incongruous with
the local geography and cultural ambience.
what this writer witnessed in this lush green state was
another organized venture, putting up banners and posters by the
local Imams and Muslim leaders, inviting people to congregate at the
rented open venues for Eid prayers. This congregational prayer,
which was hitherto confined to Mosques have thus been
moved out as a show of force all other communities to witness.
Apparently, one may not find anything inappropriate in
these exercises. But the increasing level of religious activities ( that
include those of Hindu fundamentalists' and Christian hard-liners')
in a country whose constitution is based on secular democracy, should be a
cause for great concern. Any ostensible , overdose
display of religious fervour is bound to invite communal disharmony,
especially in a state where followers of different faiths are living side
by side. Secularism gives the freedom to people to practice
their religion without state's interference, but such liberties should not
be construed as a means to proclaim publicly that a given group's faith is
most sublime than that of others and as such it can be propagated
with a hidden agenda.
It is a fact that
of the 22 percent of the Muslim population of
Kerala , the majority are not interested in the vested political motives
that the concept of Jihad demands
speaking , given a chance, what the Muslim fundamentalists poised to
seek as its first and foremost goal is the
implementation of Shaira Law. Given a chance, Muslim
fundamentalist in Kerala will not hesitate to impose their medieval
version of Arabian law. At first they should be satisfied with
the compliance of the entire Muslim population to the sharia law.