Countering Pakistani terrorists’ anti-India propaganda
Posted Jan 25, 2009

Countering Pakistani terrorists’ anti-India propaganda

By Maulana Waris Mazhari

(Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)

For almost two decades now, self-styled jihadist outfits based in
Pakistan have been engaged in a war against India in Kashmir. This war
of theirs has no sanction in Islam, which does not allow for proxy
war, and that too one declared by non-state actors. It is an explicit
violation of all Islamic principles. These outfits, which have
considerable support inside Pakistan, see the conflict between India
and Pakistan over Kashmir as a religious struggle, and they wrongly
describe it as a jihad. They regard their role in Kashmir as but the
first step in a grand, though completely fanciful, plan to annex India
into Pakistan and convert it into what they style as dar- ul-islam,
the Abode of Islam. But what they finally dream of establishing, or so
they boast, is Muslim hegemony throughout the entire world.

I have used the term ‘hegemony’ here deliberately, for radical Muslim
groups in Pakistan and in the Arab world have been indelibly
influenced and shaped by the hegemonic designs of European colonialism
in the past and Western imperialism today, and, in some senses, are a
reaction to this hegemonic project. They seek to counter Western
political supremacy and replace it by what they conceive of as Islamic
political supremacy. In my view, this approach is in sharp
contradistinction to Islamic teachings. The term ghalba-e islam, the
establishment of the supremacy of Islam, used in the context of the
Quran and the sayings of the Prophet (Hadith), refers not to any
political project of Muslim domination, but, rather, to the
establishment of the superiority of Islam’s ideological and spiritual
message. This, in fact, was the basic crux of the mission of the
Prophet Muhammad. However, the term has been distorted at the hands of
the self-styled jihadists, who present it as a project to establish
Muslim or Islamic political domination over the entire world.

War against India

Today, as the case of the Pakistani self-styled jihadists so
tragically illustrates, many of those who claim to be struggling in
the cause of Islam themselves work against Islamic teachings by
deliberately or otherwise misinterpreting them. This is the case with
their misuse of the term jihad in the context of Kashmir in order to
win mass support for themselves. Needless to add, this is a major
cause for growing anti-Islamic sentiments among many non-Muslims.

The dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir has been lingering
for more than half a century. A major hurdle in the resolution of this
conflict is the self-styled jihadists based in Pakistan, who insist
that the conflict over Kashmir is an Islamic jihad and that,
therefore, war is the only solution. They claim that participation in
this so-called jihad has become a farz-e ayn, a duty binding on all
Muslims, and some of them, most prominently the dreaded Lashkar-e
Tayyeba, even go so far as to claim that the war in Kashmir is nothing
but the ghazwat ul-hind, the ‘war against India’ which is mentioned in
a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. By this they want to
suggest that waging war against India is an Islamic duty, something
prophesied by the Prophet Muhammad himself.

What is the actual meaning and implication of the statement attributed
to the Prophet regarding the ghazwat ul-hind, which the Pakistan-based
self-styled jihadists regularly refer to, and grossly misinterpret, in
order to whip up anti-Indian sentiments and seek what they wrongly
claim is Islamic sanction for their deadly terror attacks against
India, in Kashmir and beyond? Before I discuss that, I must point out
that the statement attributed to the Prophet regarding the ghazwat
ul-hind is found in only one of the sihah sitta, the six collections
of Hadith reports of the Sunni Muslims—in the collection by al-Nasai.
This statement was narrated by Abu Hurairah, a companion of the
Prophet. According to him, the Prophet prophesied a battle against
India. If he (Abu Hurairah) got the chance to participate in this
battle, Abu Hurairah said, he would do so, sacrificing his wealth and
life. If he died in this battle, he said, he would be counted among
the exalted martyrs. According to another narration, related by the
Prophet’s freed slave Thoban, the Prophet once declared that there
were two groups among the Muslims whom God had saved from the fires of
Hell. The first would be a group that invaded India. The other group
would be those Muslims who accompanied Jesus (after he returned to the
world). A similar narration is contained in the collections of Hadith
by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Baihaqi and Tabrani.


Because this hadith about the ghazwat ul-hind mentions India, and is
marshaled by self-styled Pakistan-based jihadists active in Kashmir,
it marks the Kashmir conflict out as clearly distinct from other
conflicts elsewhere in the world between Muslims and others. These
self-styled jihadists regularly invoke this hadith, trapping people in
their net by claiming that if they were to die fighting the Indians in
Kashmir they would be saved from hell and would earn a place in
heaven. This claim, false though it is, is regularly and constantly
repeated, as is evident from a host of Pakistani websites and

Let me quote a revealing instance in this regard. Recently, I came
across the August 2003 issue of ‘Muhaddith’, an Urdu magazine
published from Lahore, Pakistan. It contains a 20-page article on the
ghazwat ul-hind, written by a certain Dr. Asmatullah, Assistant
Professor at the Islamic Research Academy of the International Islamic
University, Islamabad. The article represents a pathetic effort to
project the ongoing conflict in Kashmir as precisely the same ghazwat
ul-hind that the Prophet is said to have predicted. And it is on the
basis of this reported hadith of the Prophet that ultra-radical
Islamists in Pakistan talk about unleashing a so-called jihad,
extending out of Kashmir and to consume the whole of India. This is no
longer limited to just fiery rhetoric alone, but, in fact, is also now
accompanied by deadly terror attacks in different parts of India,
which Pakistan-based radicals wrongly style as a jihad or even as the
ghawzat ul-hind reportedly prophesied by the Prophet. It is striking
to note in this connection that in the above-mentioned article, the
editors of ‘Muhadith’ disagree with the views of the author,
expressing their differences in the form of a footnote. Yet, this
counter-view, as expressed by the editors of the magazine, is hardly
ever discussed or even referred to in Pakistani so-called jihadist
literature, indicating, therefore, that the rhetoric of the
self-styled jihadists is based less on proper scholarly analysis of
the Islamic textual tradition than on strident, heated emotionalism
and a deep-rooted hatred and feeling of revenge. This applies not just
in the Pakistani case. Rather, is a phenomenon common to almost all
so-called jihadist movements throughout the rest of the world.

The Pakistani self-styled jihadists, it would appear, have made the
hadith about the ghazwat ul-hind into a plaything in their hands in
order to entrap innocent people. It is quite possible that the
Pakistani youth who were involved in the recent deadly terrorist
attack on Mumbai were fed on this sort of poisonous propaganda and led
into believing that they might go straight to heaven if they waged war
against India. In India, the banned Students Islamic Movement of India
appeared to have backed the same wholly erroneous and unwarranted
interpretation of the hadith about the ghazwat ul-hind, following in
the footsteps of Pakistani radical groups. Mercifully, as far as I
know, no other Indian Muslim group or scholar worthy of mention has
adopted the ‘Pakistani interpretation’ of this particular hadith

Tragically, the concept of jihad has been subjected to considerable
abuse and made to serve extremist ends by self-styled jihadists. This
started in the very first century of Islam itself, when intra-Muslim
wars were sought to be christened by competing groups as jihads. And
because of the distorted understanding of jihad championed by many
Muslims themselves, they labeled any and every controversy and
conflict with non-Muslims, even if it had nothing at all to do with
religion but everything to do with politics, as a jihad, as the case
of Kashmir well exemplifies. Another facet of the distorted
understanding of jihad by some Muslims are suicide-bombings, in which
innocent civilians are killed. Yet another is proxy war by non-state
actors, such as armed self-styled jihadist groups, which actually has
no legitimacy in Islam at all.


Coming back to the question of the hadith about the ghazwat ul-hind,
some aspects of the report deserve particular scrutiny. Firstly, as
mentioned earlier, this report is mentioned only in the collection of
al-Nasai from among the six collections of Hadith which most Sunnis
regard, to varying degrees, as canonical. However, considering the
merits or rewards of the ghazwat ul-hind that it talks about, it
ought, one might think, to have been narrated by many more companions
of the Prophet. But that, as it curiously happens, is not the case.

Secondly, and this follows from above, it is possible that this hadith
report is not genuine and that it might have been manufactured in the
period of the Ummayad Caliphs to suit and justify their own political
purposes and expansionist deigns. On the other hand, if this hadith
report is indeed genuine—which it might well be—in my view, the battle
against India that it predicted was fulfilled in the early Islamic
period itself, and is not something that will happen in the future.
This, in fact, is the opinion of the majority of the ulema, qualified
Islamic scholars. And this view accords with reason as well. It is
quite likely that the ghazwat ul-hind that this report predicted took
the form of the attack by an Arab Muslim force on Thana and Bharuch,
in coastal western India, in the 15th year of the Islamic calendar in
the reign of the Caliph Umar. Equally possibly, it could have been
fulfilled in the form of the missionary efforts of some of the
Prophet’s companions soon after, in the reign of the Caliphs Uthman
and Ali, in Sindh and Gujarat. Some other ulema consider this hadith
to have been fulfilled in the form of the attack and occupation of
Sindh by Arab Muslims led by Muhammad bin Qasim in the 93rd year of
the Islamic calendar, which then facilitated the spread of Islam in
the country. This might well be the case, for the hadith report about
the ghazwat ul-hind contained in the Masnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, a
well-known collection of Hadith narratives attributed to the Prophet,
mentions that the Muslim army that would attack India would be sent in
the direction of Sindh and Hind.

Thirdly, this hadith mentions only a single or particular battle
(ghazwa), and not a series of continuing battles, unlike what the
author of the article in the ‘Muhaddith’, referred to above, echoing
the arguments of Pakistani self-styled jihadists, claims.

Fourthly, one must raise the very pertinent question of how it is at
possible that, in the face of the numerous attacks on India by Arab
and other Muslims over the last one thousand years, the more than six
hundred rule of Muslim dynasties that controlled most of India and the
rapid spread of Islam in the country in the period when they ruled,
any scope could be left to consider India a target of jihad in the
future. Furthermore, today India and Pakistan have diplomatic
relations and are bound by treaty relations. Hence, the proxy war
engaged in by Kashmir by powerful forces in Pakistan in the guise of a
so-called jihad is nothing but deceit, which is a complete
contravention of, indeed a revolt against, accepted Islamic teachings.

Fifthly, it must be remembered that it would have been very easy for
Muslim conquerors of India in the past, men like Mahmud of Ghazni,
Shihabuddin Ghori, Timur, Nadir Shah and so on, to present the hadith
about the ghazwat ul-hind and wield it as a weapon to justify their
attacks on the country. The corrupt ulema associated with their courts
could well have suggested this to them had they wished. However, no
such mention is made about this in history books. In the eighteenth
century, the well-known Islamic scholar Shah Waliullah of Delhi
invited the Afghan warlord Ahmad Shah Abdali to invade India and
dispel the Marathas, which he accepted, but yet Shah Waliullah, too,
did not use this hadith as a pretext for this.

Indian ulema

It is also pertinent to examine how some well-known contemporary
Indian ulema look at this hadith report. Maulana Abdul Hamid Numani, a
leading figure of the Jamiat ul-Ulema-i Hind, opines that this hadith
was fulfilled at the time of the ‘Four Righteous Caliphs’ of the
Sunnis, soon after the demise of the Prophet Muhammad, when several
companions of the Prophet came to India, mainly in order to spread
Islam. Mufti Sajid Qasmi, who teaches at the Dar ul-Uloom in Deoband,
is also of the same opinion, although he believes that it might also
refer to the invasion of Sindh by the Arabs under Muhammad bin Qasim
in the eighth century. On the other hand, Maulana Mufti Mushtaq
Tijarvi of the Jamaat-i Islami Hind believes that it is possible that
this hadith report is not genuine at all and that it might have been
fabricated at the time of Muhammad bin Qasim’s invasion of Sindh in
order to justify it.

Whatever the case might be, the misuse by radical groups of this
hadith report to spearhead war in Kashmir in the name of so-called
jihad and to foment conflict between India and Pakistan is tragic, to
say the least. It is nothing sort of a crime against God and the
Prophet. In their worldviews and in their actions as well, the
self-styled jihadist outfits seem to have gone the way of the
Khawarij, a group that emerged in the early period of Islam and who
were rejected by other Muslims. The Khawarij believed that they alone
were Muslims and that all others, including those who called
themselves Muslims, were infidels and fit to be killed. With reference
to the Khawarij, the Prophet predicted that they would depart from
Islam in the same way as an arrow flies out of a bow. About the
Khawarij the Caliph Ali mentioned that they take the word of truth and
turn it into falsehood (kalimatu haqqin urida beha al-batil). This he
said in the context of the Khawarij misinterpreting the Quran and
claiming that Ali and his followers were infidels who deserved to be

It is imperative, and extremely urgent, for Muslim scholars,
particularly the ulema, to take strict notice of, and stridently
oppose the radical self-styled jihadists, who are distorting and
misunderstandings Islamic teachings, following in the footsteps of the
Khawarij of the past, and spreading death and destruction in the name
of Islam. Jihad, properly understood, is a struggle to put an end to
strife and conflict, not to create or foment it, as is being done
today. The general public, particularly Muslims themselves, should be
made aware of the dangerous deviation of the self-styled jihadists and
the horrendous implications of their acts and views. In this regard, a
major responsibility rests with the ulema of India and Pakistan. These
days, ulema groups in India are very actively involved in organizing
conferences and holding rallies seeking to defend themselves and Islam
from the charges terrorism leveled against them. This is a very
welcome thing. However, they must also stridently speak out against
and clearly and unambiguously expose and denounce the self-styled
soldiers of Islam who are promoting terrorism in the name of Islam. At
the same time, it is also urgent to promote re-thinking of some
medieval notions of jihad, such as that of offensive jihad, which does
not actually have any Islamic legitimacy. This is essential for
Muslims to live in today’s times and to come to terms with democracy
and pluralism. Simply verbally defending Muslims and Islam from the
charges of terrorism is, clearly, not enough. Nor is it adequate to
simply condemn terrorism in very general terms. The truth is, and this
cannot be disputed, that today there is also a pressing need to
unleash a ‘jihad’ against the self-styled jihadist outfits themselves.
And in this jihad, undoubtedly, the ulema and Muslim intellectuals
have a central role to play and a major responsibility to shoulder.


Maulana Waris Mazhari, a graduate of the Dar ul-Uloom at Deoband, is
the editor of the Delhi-based ‘Tarjuman Dar ul-Uloom’, the official
organ of the Deoband Graduates’ Association. He can be contacted on
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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