09-DEC-2015: Delivering the Extra-Mural lecture on "Political Islam and Global Jihad: Prospect for Reform in West Asia", Mr. Talmiz Ahmad, former Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia, Oman and UAE said, "Islam's core beliefs are uniform across the Muslim realm, but diversities have emerged due to sundry interpretations of the basic texts, changes in belief and practice due to new cultural encounters, deep and pervasive sense of crisis, influence of secular intellectuals and Islamic response in the form of Muslim salvation in Islam through a diametrical return to Sharia".
Mr. Ahmad pointed out that Islam is a comprehensive religious, moral, social, cultural, economic and political order to equip Muslims to respond to their total defeat. He said that Most of the Islamic reformers who emerged all around the Arab world were basically progressive and played an important role in the Arab renaissance which paved the way for liberation and future shape of Muslim polities.
He said that people like Jamaluddin Al-Afghani, an anti-imperialist, Mohammed Abduh, a modern rationalist, Rashid Rida, who sought application of the Sharia but distinguished between ibadah and muamalah and Hasan al-Banna, all vouched for a liberal view of Islam and prepared political ground for return to the fundamentals of faith.
Affirming the tradition of revivalism in Muslim world, Mr. Ahmad said that there has been a long history of modernization, which finds its beginning from the Ottoman period which under the increasing western influence embraced several reforms and gave way to reformist activism.
Mr. Ahmad pointed out that a debate has taken root between the "radical intellectualism and liberal modernism", proliferating a tussle which manifested in the political narratives of Sayyid Qutb and Hisham Djait (b. 1935) versus Sadiq Jalal Al-Azm (b. 1934) and Sadiq Al Mahdi (b. 1936).
Mr. Ahmad said that the political Islam has been vehemently opposed by the powers who forwarded the notion of Wahabism and Islamic Brotherhood. He said that the present day crisis has got rooted in the Arab world owing to various causes that include lack of leadership, absence of political legitimacy, social and cultural Malaise, economic failure and sustained domination of the West.
Referring to the concept of global Jihad as a political narrative, Mr. Ahmad traced the roots of this idea in the historical incidents including events of Islamic Revolution in Iran and Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979, Iraq-Iran War (1980-88) and the Iraqi claim in Kuwait (1990). He said that Al Qaeda is not only still in existence, but has a long term strategy and a solid ideological base. At the same time, it is capable of transforming and adapting to changes in circumstances, history and strategy.
Mr. Ahmad asserted that three foundations of Al-Qaeda's global ideology included "setting up of an Islamic state governed solely by Sharia law, liberation of the Human Being and liberation of Muslim land from aggressors".
Mr. Ahmad said that the Arab Spring was caused by factors like unemployment, poverty, mismanagement, corruption, lack of transparency and accountability and popular participation in the political process. He said that what was happening in Egypt was a historical transformation which had not been witnessed by the Arab world in its modern history. He said, "We, nowadays, are witnessing a radical transformation in the history and geography of the Arab world hence the Arab world, after these days, will not be as it was previously".
The ISIS, Mr. Ahmad said, finds its genesis in the rise of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, spread of the virus of sectarianism, rise and failure of "Sahwa", success of Jabhat Nusra and the proclamation of the "Caliphate".
He said that democracy is firmly embedded in the Arab psyche and the discourse of political reform is diverse and creative. He said that it was time to raise questions for the future.
In this presidential remarks, AMU Vice Chancellor, Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah (Retd.) said that the national wealth of West Asian countries were exploited by certain families and the Muslim society is in the crises and we have lost our dignity.
He urged the Muslim community to educate their women and help them achieve self-reliance. He said that the term Jihad must be understood in its right perspective. "We should initiate Jihad for promoting education amongst the Muslim masses", he added.
General Shah said that Indian Muslims' first step forward is against anti ISIS establishment. He said that Jews were in full control of US military and they have, in fact, made it powerful because of their educational might.
Earlier, Professor Mohammad Gulrez, Chairman, Department of West Asian and North African Studies welcomed the guest speaker. He said that Mr. Talmiz Ahmad was an expert on West Asia.
Prof. Nazim Ali, Dean, Faculty of International Studies proposed a vote of thanks.
AMU Pro-Vice Chancellor, Brigadier S. Ahmad Ali also graced the extra mural lecture. A large number of teachers, Research Scholars and students were present on the occasion.