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Countering Terror

Ziaullah Khan

Ziaullah Khan

At least after 15 years terrorism, Muslim world cannot offer any counter to the extremist ideology of the terrorist groups which defames the holy religion Islam at global level. They could not collectively come up with any Islamic fatwa against the heinous activities of the terrorist groups like IS in Iraq and Haqqani network in Afghanistan. Whenever terror attack takes place, Muslim world verbally criticize it without taking any substantive action against them. Few factors are responsible for the failure on part of Muslims. Let’s analyze.

Sectarianism is the first factor which does not let the Muslims to counter the terrorist activities. It divides the whole Muslim world into two different sects like Shia and Sunni. The whole saga of the sectarianism is traced back to Saudi Arabia and Iran. Riyadh which is supporter of the Sunni Muslims countries (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan) while Iran is supporter of the Shia Muslims countries (Yemen, Lebanon, Syria). The two states not only support the peaceful Shia and Sunni Muslims in their own countries but also help nurture militant groups against one another exterritorialy. Three most prominent worldwide terrorist groups like Sunni IS and Al Qaeda and Shia Hezbollah are the production of these two Middle Eastern countries. The groups have been painting their hands with the blood of Muslims primarily and non-Muslims secondarily. Sectarian conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia is providing oxygen to the terrorist groups.

Lack of a singular center for issuance of religious decrees and other religious instructions related to day to day socio-political issues has also contributed to extremism. In other Muslim countries in general and in Pakistan in particular there is as much number of interpretations of Islam as there are number of mullahs. In the corner our every street there is a mullah sitting to indoctrinate our children with God knows what and what not. Our state has left our future on the mercy of the mullah. In this regard state has absolutely surrendered its control over not only future human resource but also a big chunk of its citizenry. If you are a mullah in Pakistan you can easily indoctrinate youth against any individual or institution through teaching in madrassas or Friday sermons. Our state needs to take serious actions about it. Madrassa must be recognized, their course reframed and regulated and Friday sermons must be issued by the state. All the required paraphernalia should be put in place. State must how its future is shaped.

Muslim world also fails in true universal interpretation of Islam. Islam is the religion of peace and brotherhood. It’s totally against the Qatal and fasad (war). Islam does not allow anyone to forcefully convert someone to Islam. According to Holy Quran:

“You shall invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and kind enlightenment and debate with them in the best possible manner. Your Lord knows best who has strayed from His path, and He knows best who the guided ones are.”[16:125].

Are the atrocities by the IS in Iraq and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in accord to the Quranic Ayah? I think their activities are totally against it. If terrorists can justify their activities through wrong interpretation of Islam then why Muslim majority cannot counter it through correct interpretation? So lack of right interpretation of Islamic injunctions is the failure on part of Muslim states. They do not offer anything so persuasive to convincingly counter the appeal of that of the terrorists.

Another flaw on the part of Muslim world is their dual policies against the war on terror. At one side they stand with US against the terrorists while on other they not only offer safe heavens to them but also patronize them. We have a good example of Saudi and Pakistan in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq Saudi is non NATO allay with America against IS while on other side it openly allows collection of chandas (endowment) by individuals and organizations for the terrorist group in Sunni Muslims majority states like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. More or less same is the case with Haqqani network in Pakistan. Such dual policy game on part of Muslim countries keeps them from rooting out the terrorism.

Madrassa education system is also much more needed to underscore it. The extreme mindset in Muslim countries is mostly production of the extremist ideas which are taught in madrassa. In almost every Islamic seminary, the students are generally taught that:

  • If anywhere in the world, someone has committed apostasy, its punishment is death and we have right to punish them.
  • Non-Muslims are born to be oppressed and no one has right to govern the worldly states machinery except Muslims. Every non-Muslim government is illegal.
  • The concept of modern state formation is totally against the teachings of Islam. All Muslims across the world would establish a single Islamic government which is to be called Caliphate.
  • All non-Muslims states are illicit and it is our responsibility to eliminate them whenever we have the power to do so.

Tell me, what you will do if such harsh ideas are injected into your mind? The wrong and politicized interpretation of Islam is the main reason for the existence of terrorist group like IS. I am not at all ignoring the hand of western countries in facilitation of terrorist organizations. But we Muslims are first in planting of the terrorist organizations which provides opportunity to western countries to use them for own interests by watering them.

At last but not least, these fundamentalist organizations propagate democracy as incompatible with or anti Islam. But we know that many prominent religious have taken part in elections and parliamentary democracy thereby approving it as not anti-Islamic but even then we the by-stander Muslim majority failed to create a compelling narrative around it. We need to come out of our couches and take hold of steering of our societies. We need to unseat the fundamentalists from the driver seat of our societies or someone else, relatively more powerful, will feel urge to do so.

It is about time that all Muslims over the world take collective action against the terrorist activities. Such activities can only be countered through a narrative based on correct interpretation of the injunctions of Islam as the terrorists justify their atrocities has been Islamic which is totally baseless. So counter narrative is the need of the hour in this regard.

By Ziaullah Khan 

The writer is law student at Islamia College University, Peshawar, he can be reached at



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