The Mumbai Terror Attacks
Posted Dec 3, 2008

The Mumbai Terror Attacks

by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

translated by Yoginder Sikand

Every Sunday morning, the renowned Delhi-based Islamic scholar and thinker Maulana Wahiduddin Khan addresses a group of his disciples, speaking on various issues. His lecture on 30 November, 2008 focussed on the recent terror attacks in Mumbai. I am reproducing below the translation of his lecture, with some slight modifications that were needed to clarify certain points.—-Yoginder Sikand


On November 26, 2008 Mumbai witnessed the worst kind of terror attack. Ten terrorists entered several buildings and indiscriminately fired at people, leaving behind several dead and wounded. 

According to a tradition, at the time of the Prophet there was a man whose only concern was to speak negatively of the Prophet and spread wrong ideas about him. The son of this man became very angry and asked the Prophet to allow him to kill his father. The Prophet told him not to do that, as then people would say that the Prophet allowed killing among his people. The lesson which can be inferred from this incident is that anything, which defames the name of Islam should not be done. These incidents are mentioned in books but people fail to infer or draw lessons from them as they do not engage in deep study.

In the Jewish Talmud there are many stories. In one incident, the Prophet Moses prayed to God: “O! God, take anything away from my followers but do not take away their wisdom.”  God replied: “O! Moses, if We decide to take away something from a community, it is their wisdom that We take away.”

Today, many Muslims have lost their wisdom, as is evident from the events which have taken place recently. Those Muslims who are said to be involved in terrorism in Bombay gained nothing. In Palestine, the Arabs have been fighting for the last 60 years and have not achieved anything. In many places Muslims have resorted to suicide bombings, although suicide is unlawful in Islam. This is a result of deterioration and lack of wisdom. Those who are behind these suicide attacks are not afraid of accountability and the fact they will have to stand in front of God after death.

What is the reason for this madness and how did it originate?

The reason for this madness is hatred. Hate can make a man do anything. Hate began from Satan. When God created Adam, He asked the angels and Satan to bow before Him. Satan however, did not bow and consequently, God said to him: “You and your followers will go to hell.” Satan had developed such hate for man that despite knowing that he will be cast into hell, he did not obey God’s command. Hate is so blinding that it can take one to hell.

I have studied in the Muslim seminaries, madrassas and have participated in numerous Muslim gatherings, and in many of these places hatred and pride is instilled in the minds of Muslims. They are taught: ‘We are the caliphs and vicegerent of God on earth.”

I once met an Arab whose first question to me was, “Who are we?”. He then said: “We are the Caliphs of God on earth.” I told him that this is not written anywhere in our books. The Sahih Al- Bukhari says that Muslims are witnesses of God. That is, they have to spread the message of God on earth. The same is alluded to in the Quran, that is, the task of Muslims is to spread God’s message and lead a life according to His instructions. However, Muslims have made themselves the self-appointed Caliphs, and have launched all sorts of movements that propagate the ideology of capturing political power. This thinking emerged when the Ottoman and Mughal empires declined, and Muslims started considering the rest of the world as usurpers and oppressors who snatched their rights and power from them.

Political power is like an examination paper. A test paper can never be the monopoly of one; it would change hands from people to people as God wants to test every community. Hence if political power has been taken away from you then you need to have patience. When political power was with you then it was your test paper and now, when it has been given to someone else, it is their test paper. No Muslim leader could tell this to the Muslims and pacify the political shock which they received after the breaking up of the Muslim empires in the face of Western colonialism. No one told them that their test paper of political power was over and now they should concentrate their effort on some other constructive activities like education, reform, dawah work etc. In Palestine, for example, it was God’s decision to give the political power to somebody else. Hence, Muslims should have accepted it, but they started fighting and now 60 years of fighting has given them nothing. Muslims should have realised that God had now wanted to test some other community. Therefore, he gave them political power. But Muslims rose up to fight, and it was equivalent to fighting God’s decision and hence they attained nothing. As a result, all the Muslims got conditioned in hateful thinking.

Before the Second World War, the thinking of the Japanese was same as that of the Muslims. Hirohito was the Emperor of Japan at that time. The Japanese had the concept of Imperial Divinity, that is their king – the so-called ‘god-king’—should rule the world. Consequently, they fought with many countries. It was the Japanese who started the concept of suicide bombing known as “hara-kiri”. But in 1945 America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan and the Japanese army was completely destroyed. Japan suffered a humiliating defeat. Then the Japanese developed second thoughts, that is, if the king was god then he would have saved them, but because they were severely crippled due to those bombs they realised that the king was not god. Hirohito then renounced the concept of Imperial Divinity and the Japanese have never looked back since then.

This makes me ponder as to why this hate does not get finished among Muslims? This is because Muslims’ hate is a reflection of a certain mind-set. The so-called ‘god-king’ of the Japanese was proved wrong and therefore the concept of ‘god-king’ died. However, a mind-set cannot be done away on its own. The mind-set which inspires hate for others in many Muslims cannot be killed like an individual. Nor can it cannot kill itself. This mind-set can be replaced by deconditioning alone.

Hirohito said “I’m not god,” and this led the Japanese to discard their unfounded notions and pave the path to progress. But the case of Muslims is very different. In their case, their mind-set has to be transformed to change their thinking. The thinking of Muslims has to be changed. There has to be long process of deconditioning.

There are two kinds of deconditioning: one is the Prophetic deconditioning; that is the deconditioning which the Prophet did of his companions. Then the companions did the deconditioning of some of their companions. But now there is no prophet and so self-deconditioning has to be done. This is a very difficult task. Ideological deconditioning has to be done among the Muslims to help them come out of hate.

It is essential to understand that distinction between the negative engineering of the mind and the positive engineering of the mind. Today, minds are being negatively engineered with hatred and pride. Many Muslims live in this fallacy that they are a special race, and when they are not treated specially then they are frustrated and hold others responsible for their not receiving the special treatment that they expect. The mission of positive engineering of the mind is very difficult. You have to do merciless introspection. It is our test to convert the thinking of people from negative to positive.

The terrorists who assaulted Bombay had done extensive planning. This made me think why these people were so capable of negative planning, and completely lacked any inclination towards positive planning. This sort of mentality, unfortunately, has become endemic among many Muslims. Nobody is doing planning for the positive task of spreading God’s message, and love and peace. This is because as years passed by, this work became dead in Muslims. But it alone can promote positive planning as it requires well-wishing for the whole of humankind.  We must therefore focus our energies on spreading God’s love and restrain from any negative and destructive activities.