Pop Quiz

In my last post, I argued that terrorists, by their actions, sever any legitimate relationship with a religion and any recognized sovereign, and as such terrorists should be identified as terrorists (e.g., terrorists have invoked an interpretation of Islam to justify their actions), even if the terrorists use religion or a disputed regional policy as a justification for their acts. Note that the focus of the proposition is identification of terrorists, and that its purpose was to suggest ways in which a backlash against all Muslims in India could be avoided.

This post generated a significant and spirited reaction. For example, some contended that my argument was typical of the left, of apologists, and of those who fail to understand the demonstrated link between Islam and terrorism. In response, and consistent with the fact that it’s exam time in classrooms and campuses across America, I ask the following:

Who made these statements:

“Ours is a war not against a religion, not against the Muslim faith. But ours is a war against individuals who absolutely hate what America stands for[.]”

“Americans understand we fight not a religion; ours is not a campaign against the Muslim faith. Ours is a campaign against evil.”

“The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists[.]”

“[T]he war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims, nor is it a war against Arabs. It’s a war against evil people who conduct crimes against innocent people.”

And the kicker:

This enemy tries to hide behind a peaceful faith. But those who celebrate the murder of innocent men, women and children have no religion, have no conscience and have no mercy.

Give up?

Bush.jpgThe answer, of course, is the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush.

It’s understandable if an anonymous blogger cannot by himself convince others that terrorism has no religion. But, understand also that this lone blogger’s conception of the relationship between terrorism and religion is shared not only by the Indian Prime Minister under whose command the recent Mumbai blasts took place, Dr. Manmohan Singh, but the American President under whose command the 9/11 attacks took place, President Bush.

Here is my sole question for the readers: if Dr. Singh and President Bush are right, that terrorists have no religion, then should world leaders, commentators, and the broader public describe terrorists as terrorists (e.g., terrorists are reacting to Indian policy that they consider to be harmful to Muslims.”), rather than as “Islamic terrorists” or “Muslim fundamentalists”? Put another way, as this site is to serve as a forum for Sikh-related issues, in light of the quotes above, shouldn’t we describe the Air India bombers as “terrrorists who sought a separate homeland for Sikhs” as opposed to “Sikh extremists”?

Civil and respectful comments only — this policy will be strictly enforced.

Sources: here and here.


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48 Responses to “Pop Quiz”

  1. Raja says:

    Interesting. First off, this is not meant as disrespectful, or anything of that manner, but since when did George Bush and his speeches become a moral compass?

    The fact is also, that the Bush campaign are the ones who popularized Islamic terrorism, and muslims terrorists in order to cohert a group of people into one specific cause. But that is neither here or there, thats just some food for thought.

    One thing that is an important distinction that needs to be made, that was not made in this post (dont know about your earlier one) is the difference between Islam and Muslims. Now, there are things embedded in Islam that CAN support terrorist like activites.

    Firstly, Islam obviously does not support the killing of innocents. However, there are thoughts in Islam that can led to prejudice thought. For example, this thought that judgement is acceptable. In Sikhi and other religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, conversion and judgement of others is a false practice. IN Islam, there is an underlying thought that supports Islam being "the right way", hence the importance on conversion etc. That is just one example, and in the interest of keeping this objective I wont go into other similar thoughts in Islam.

    This is in no way an insult towards islam. Their thoughts are as valid as mine and yours. However, these thoughts can breed prejudice bodies and prejudice practices. The basic underlying thought in whether it is the war against Israel, America, Europe or India, is that there is a sense of judgement, a sense of right way vs wrong way. When there is a widely accepted belief like that, it can breed thought processes and actions that may not be assoicated with Islam at all such as terrorism.

    I think that when it comes to terrorism by people who use religion as a compass, its not necessarily implying that their religion is what is making them do what they do. It can be a basic thought that can breed certain actions.

    To the author, I understand your sentiment and respect your opinion. Your completely right, sometimes assuming that all muslims, and islam is in support of the complex ideological wars that exist today that are intertwined with country politics, and social politics, is naiive to say the least. However, I believe there is an underlying thought(s) that exists in the islamic community that puts them at an ideological disadvantage when it comes to other religions and their following.

  2. Raja says:

    Interesting. First off, this is not meant as disrespectful, or anything of that manner, but since when did George Bush and his speeches become a moral compass?

    The fact is also, that the Bush campaign are the ones who popularized Islamic terrorism, and muslims terrorists in order to cohert a group of people into one specific cause. But that is neither here or there, thats just some food for thought.

    One thing that is an important distinction that needs to be made, that was not made in this post (dont know about your earlier one) is the difference between Islam and Muslims. Now, there are things embedded in Islam that CAN support terrorist like activites.

    Firstly, Islam obviously does not support the killing of innocents. However, there are thoughts in Islam that can led to prejudice thought. For example, this thought that judgement is acceptable. In Sikhi and other religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, conversion and judgement of others is a false practice. IN Islam, there is an underlying thought that supports Islam being “the right way”, hence the importance on conversion etc. That is just one example, and in the interest of keeping this objective I wont go into other similar thoughts in Islam.

    This is in no way an insult towards islam. Their thoughts are as valid as mine and yours. However, these thoughts can breed prejudice bodies and prejudice practices. The basic underlying thought in whether it is the war against Israel, America, Europe or India, is that there is a sense of judgement, a sense of right way vs wrong way. When there is a widely accepted belief like that, it can breed thought processes and actions that may not be assoicated with Islam at all such as terrorism.

    I think that when it comes to terrorism by people who use religion as a compass, its not necessarily implying that their religion is what is making them do what they do. It can be a basic thought that can breed certain actions.

    To the author, I understand your sentiment and respect your opinion. Your completely right, sometimes assuming that all muslims, and islam is in support of the complex ideological wars that exist today that are intertwined with country politics, and social politics, is naiive to say the least. However, I believe there is an underlying thought(s) that exists in the islamic community that puts them at an ideological disadvantage when it comes to other religions and their following.

  3. Camille says:

    Raja, thanks for your thoughtful post. How do you reconcile the concepts that you feel people "twist" in Islam to justify their actions with communal violence from people claiming religious affiliation with religions that do not espouse conversion?

  4. Camille says:

    Raja, thanks for your thoughtful post. How do you reconcile the concepts that you feel people “twist” in Islam to justify their actions with communal violence from people claiming religious affiliation with religions that do not espouse conversion?

  5. Kabir Altaf says:

    Camille,

    I completely agree with you. Terrorists should just be referred to as terrorists, not as "Islamic terrorists" or "Islamofascists" (I really hate this word). See my posts on the thread on Sepia Mutiny.

    Kabir

  6. Kabir Altaf says:

    Camille,

    I completely agree with you. Terrorists should just be referred to as terrorists, not as “Islamic terrorists” or “Islamofascists” (I really hate this word). See my posts on the thread on Sepia Mutiny.

    Kabir

  7. Mewa Singh says:

    Raja – However, your particular observation of Islam is equally attributable to Christianity and hardly the domain of one Abrahmanic faith. Since you are making a 'religious-structural/doctrinal' argument for the propensity of Islam towards certain types of violence, we should be able to make the same claims towards Christianity. (I personally think one could easily make this argument in terms of Iberian conquests of the Americas and various attempts in Asia. The Dutch, English and French tried to fashion a different sort of colonialism). However, in general such arguments are not put forth about Christians.

    Camille – I think "just war" theory could answer you argument. When can you invoke religious texts and past histories in claiming your actions are part of a "just war" (a dharam yudh for Sikhs/a jihad for Muslims). I think the thresholds are different.

    In many ways this is why Qutb is such a significant/controversial theoretician – he claimed in certain contexts that Muslims that do not act in accordance to shari'a are therefore rejecting Allah and are not Muslim. Therefore the fight against jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance) allows one to fight against those that are no longer Muslim (including those who would still consider themself Muslim).

    At least for the Sikhs at the height of the Khalistani movement, no such counterpart in terms of scholarship ever existed. Sikh kharkhoos (militants) may have killed other Sikh policemen, but more because they saw them as collaborators than as a rejection of them as Sikhs (and others used the cloud of night to kill because during the later stages of the movement many criminal gangs used the state of anarchy to kidnap and extort in rural areas). A doctrinal espousal, however, was never used to justify actual killings, only an interpretation of the idea that it is pious and right to take the sword when all other means have failed.

    One particular incident always sticks out in my mind. One Sikh militant had staked out KP Gill's house and was hiding in a nearby tree with a rifle. He had an opportunity to take a shot, but he didn't and he was later spotted and captured. Later other Singhs and Kaurs asked why he didn't take a shot – he said because Gill was doing Japji Sahib in the morning at the time and he didn't want to kill him while he was doing paath.

  8. Mewa Singh says:

    Raja – However, your particular observation of Islam is equally attributable to Christianity and hardly the domain of one Abrahmanic faith. Since you are making a ‘religious-structural/doctrinal’ argument for the propensity of Islam towards certain types of violence, we should be able to make the same claims towards Christianity. (I personally think one could easily make this argument in terms of Iberian conquests of the Americas and various attempts in Asia. The Dutch, English and French tried to fashion a different sort of colonialism). However, in general such arguments are not put forth about Christians.

    Camille – I think “just war” theory could answer you argument. When can you invoke religious texts and past histories in claiming your actions are part of a “just war” (a dharam yudh for Sikhs/a jihad for Muslims). I think the thresholds are different.

    In many ways this is why Qutb is such a significant/controversial theoretician – he claimed in certain contexts that Muslims that do not act in accordance to shari’a are therefore rejecting Allah and are not Muslim. Therefore the fight against jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance) allows one to fight against those that are no longer Muslim (including those who would still consider themself Muslim).

    At least for the Sikhs at the height of the Khalistani movement, no such counterpart in terms of scholarship ever existed. Sikh kharkhoos (militants) may have killed other Sikh policemen, but more because they saw them as collaborators than as a rejection of them as Sikhs (and others used the cloud of night to kill because during the later stages of the movement many criminal gangs used the state of anarchy to kidnap and extort in rural areas). A doctrinal espousal, however, was never used to justify actual killings, only an interpretation of the idea that it is pious and right to take the sword when all other means have failed.

    One particular incident always sticks out in my mind. One Sikh militant had staked out KP Gill’s house and was hiding in a nearby tree with a rifle. He had an opportunity to take a shot, but he didn’t and he was later spotted and captured. Later other Singhs and Kaurs asked why he didn’t take a shot – he said because Gill was doing Japji Sahib in the morning at the time and he didn’t want to kill him while he was doing paath.

  9. Raja says:

    Interesting thoughts.

    Firstly to Mewa Singh, I really respect your views. I appreciate your thoughts as well. Yes, you are completely right, these views of superior righteousness are specifically associated with Abrahamic thought. All testament religion do prove to justify a sense of superiority, and if you look back at comprehensive historical accnounts, you will see Christianity was actually the basis for more religious wars than Islam has ever been.

    Therefore, I think its false for one to say that, these types of thoughts are not associated with Christianity. In a recent book I read entitled The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to al Qaeda, this exact fact is argued. That, in a sense, perception in terrorism is only as relevant as its last major battle. For Centuries, the book argues, Christians, in the name of Christianity, fought wars on the basis of their religion, for their religion very similar to what we are experience today with Islam…

    This all changed with the wave of imperialism, which changed Christian ruling nations fighting against non Christian nations, to Christians fighting Christians. With the religion almost at war with itself, there was a movement from religious wars, to political and boundary conflicts. We, today, see democratic theory as a birth child of those basics.

    So I think that comprehensively one can argue than Abrahamic thought, and the sense of superiority and relating thoughts can be attributed to practices we see today, such as the "war against the infidels".

    Camille,

    I think thats a good question. Something also that I think we need to take into consideration is how one religion may support acts of terrorism. Obviously, we know, that no religion preaches the killing of innocents, however, are there thoughts like I pointed out earlier that may provide a basis for terrorism? Since we are focusing in on Islam, lets move forward with respectful observations I feel are necessary.

    One thing very evident in Islam is the sense of "self sacrifice", or in other words martyrdom. Now, many argue this is the biggest distinction many people say with Islam and other religions, which is the intimate religion between state interests and religion. This is what allows for things such as Sharia law, or Islamic nations… So there is a sense that every struggle is "god's struggle". The state is God's state, the wealth is God's wealth, the problems are God's problems, and of course, the enemy is God's enemy. The combination of state inclusion in religious thought, and the almost glorifying nature of martyrdom(be it in culture or religion), I think you have a destructive basis for so many acts we see today, that again may not have been the prupose of that islamic thought.

    When we look at terrorism in Sikhism or Dharmic religions, I think you have a distinct political fight. Like I said above, in Islam, the line is blurred and sometimes may not exist in Religion and Politics, whereas, in other conflicts that involve religion, there is a distinct and obvious political interest (ie-khalistan). Also, what we must recognize, there is a reason why the Khalistani movement was not adopted by our Sikh brothers and sisters all over the world, because there is a thought that it is inherently against sikhi religious thought…

    I'm trying to keep the posts as short as I can, lol, its hard though

  10. Raja says:

    Interesting thoughts.

    Firstly to Mewa Singh, I really respect your views. I appreciate your thoughts as well. Yes, you are completely right, these views of superior righteousness are specifically associated with Abrahamic thought. All testament religion do prove to justify a sense of superiority, and if you look back at comprehensive historical accnounts, you will see Christianity was actually the basis for more religious wars than Islam has ever been.

    Therefore, I think its false for one to say that, these types of thoughts are not associated with Christianity. In a recent book I read entitled The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to al Qaeda, this exact fact is argued. That, in a sense, perception in terrorism is only as relevant as its last major battle. For Centuries, the book argues, Christians, in the name of Christianity, fought wars on the basis of their religion, for their religion very similar to what we are experience today with Islam…

    This all changed with the wave of imperialism, which changed Christian ruling nations fighting against non Christian nations, to Christians fighting Christians. With the religion almost at war with itself, there was a movement from religious wars, to political and boundary conflicts. We, today, see democratic theory as a birth child of those basics.

    So I think that comprehensively one can argue than Abrahamic thought, and the sense of superiority and relating thoughts can be attributed to practices we see today, such as the “war against the infidels”.

    Camille,

    I think thats a good question. Something also that I think we need to take into consideration is how one religion may support acts of terrorism. Obviously, we know, that no religion preaches the killing of innocents, however, are there thoughts like I pointed out earlier that may provide a basis for terrorism? Since we are focusing in on Islam, lets move forward with respectful observations I feel are necessary.

    One thing very evident in Islam is the sense of “self sacrifice”, or in other words martyrdom. Now, many argue this is the biggest distinction many people say with Islam and other religions, which is the intimate religion between state interests and religion. This is what allows for things such as Sharia law, or Islamic nations… So there is a sense that every struggle is “god’s struggle”. The state is God’s state, the wealth is God’s wealth, the problems are God’s problems, and of course, the enemy is God’s enemy. The combination of state inclusion in religious thought, and the almost glorifying nature of martyrdom(be it in culture or religion), I think you have a destructive basis for so many acts we see today, that again may not have been the prupose of that islamic thought.

    When we look at terrorism in Sikhism or Dharmic religions, I think you have a distinct political fight. Like I said above, in Islam, the line is blurred and sometimes may not exist in Religion and Politics, whereas, in other conflicts that involve religion, there is a distinct and obvious political interest (ie-khalistan). Also, what we must recognize, there is a reason why the Khalistani movement was not adopted by our Sikh brothers and sisters all over the world, because there is a thought that it is inherently against sikhi religious thought…

    I’m trying to keep the posts as short as I can, lol, its hard though

  11. Publius says:

    Kabir, do you have a link to the Sepia Mutiny thread in question?

  12. Publius says:

    Kabir, do you have a link to the Sepia Mutiny thread in question?

  13. Publius says:

    Raja, excellent posts. I understand your point that Islam, with its sense of "self-sacrifice," may facilitate or be invoked in the commission of terrorism. I do not think it is self-sacrifice itself that is an issue; for example, sacrificing one's self in the defense of a mosque or in a formal battle where there is insurmountable odds (see Saragarhi) seems "legitimate" whereas self-sacrifice in the form of suicide bombings does not. The question is what *acts* occur as a result of religious self-sacrifice. To the extent that self-sacrifice leads to terrorism, it is the terrorism that should be denounced, not necessarily the notion of self-sacrifice.

    More generally, it seems to me that (as with laws and public statements), religious doctrine or practice can be "twisted" (in Camille's words) to justify practically any action. A Sikh may, in good faith, interpret the Sikh military tradition and the suggestion that we are to fight against injustice to justify his service in the Indian Army (legitimate) or terrorism to protest Indian action and support the idea of a separate Sikh nation (not legitimate). My point, with respect to Islam or any other religion, is that the moment religion is used as a means to justify terrorism, the terrorists themselves sever their relationship with that religion and as such should be identified as "terrorists", not "Islamic extremists" or "Muslim fundamentalists." While it may be true that these individuals have invoked a skewed interpretation of Islam as a religious crutch for their terrorist acts, 1) as a doctrinal matter, religion should not be viewed to, by any means, justify terrorism, and 2) as a matter of identification, the rest of the world should deny those terrorists the religious cover they seek and brand them as "terrorists" plain and simple, not with any qualifying language that they are "Islamic extremists."

    Mewa Singh, great post – the story about KPS Gill reminds me of the Shakespeare play in which one refused to kill another because the target was praying; the notion was that if you killed someone while they were praying, they would ascend to Heaven.

  14. Publius says:

    Raja, excellent posts. I understand your point that Islam, with its sense of “self-sacrifice,” may facilitate or be invoked in the commission of terrorism. I do not think it is self-sacrifice itself that is an issue; for example, sacrificing one’s self in the defense of a mosque or in a formal battle where there is insurmountable odds (see Saragarhi) seems “legitimate” whereas self-sacrifice in the form of suicide bombings does not. The question is what *acts* occur as a result of religious self-sacrifice. To the extent that self-sacrifice leads to terrorism, it is the terrorism that should be denounced, not necessarily the notion of self-sacrifice.

    More generally, it seems to me that (as with laws and public statements), religious doctrine or practice can be “twisted” (in Camille’s words) to justify practically any action. A Sikh may, in good faith, interpret the Sikh military tradition and the suggestion that we are to fight against injustice to justify his service in the Indian Army (legitimate) or terrorism to protest Indian action and support the idea of a separate Sikh nation (not legitimate). My point, with respect to Islam or any other religion, is that the moment religion is used as a means to justify terrorism, the terrorists themselves sever their relationship with that religion and as such should be identified as “terrorists”, not “Islamic extremists” or “Muslim fundamentalists.” While it may be true that these individuals have invoked a skewed interpretation of Islam as a religious crutch for their terrorist acts, 1) as a doctrinal matter, religion should not be viewed to, by any means, justify terrorism, and 2) as a matter of identification, the rest of the world should deny those terrorists the religious cover they seek and brand them as “terrorists” plain and simple, not with any qualifying language that they are “Islamic extremists.”

    Mewa Singh, great post – the story about KPS Gill reminds me of the Shakespeare play in which one refused to kill another because the target was praying; the notion was that if you killed someone while they were praying, they would ascend to Heaven.

  15. Kabir Altaf says:

    Publius,

    The thread on Sepia Mutiny is here http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/005545….

    Maybe you could add your thoughts, I've been arguing against the use of "Islamofascism" but its a pretty up-hill battle.

    And the Shakespeare play you referred to is "Hamlet" He doesn't kill his uncle, Claudius, while he is praying even though his father's ghost has told him that Claudius was reponsible for his death.

  16. Kabir Altaf says:

    Publius,

    The thread on Sepia Mutiny is here http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/005545.html
    Maybe you could add your thoughts, I’ve been arguing against the use of “Islamofascism” but its a pretty up-hill battle.

    And the Shakespeare play you referred to is “Hamlet” He doesn’t kill his uncle, Claudius, while he is praying even though his father’s ghost has told him that Claudius was reponsible for his death.

  17. smoky says:

    I respect the civil nature of the comments posted by others based on this article. I also believe that when discussing such matters that involve humanity and the lack thereof displayed by certain groups, parties, tribes, nations etc it might be best to refrain from scholarly grammar. In essence keep the discussion simple for us—the layman. That said, the idea of disassociating the named belief/faith system with the word terrorist is not possible. The world and human beings associate patterns, behaviours and such of creatures, beings, objects based on re-occurring frequency. Meaning if it happens so many times repeatedly (as science would state in a controlled environment) it would prove a theory or behaviour characteristic of such group or object. Sorry for the simplified example but a rock or pebble if not aided in anyway could in ideal conditions just remain as is in one place for thousands if not millions of years. Thats its observed characteristic or nature if you want to say so. Unfortunately there are groups that engage in mass mayhem and murder that we call terrorism. Currently, a large number stem from the muslim world. What is creating this breeding ground? Its not colonial ways. Thats a lame excuse. Its an insecurity within islam that the western way may propogate into the youth of islam. So the schooling starts at an early age to ward off this fear of the west and its ideology. The christians crusaders/inquisitors have more or less stopped their forced conversions centuries ago and we are a testament to that as we live in foreign western countries and are allowed to fully practice our faith freely. Blaming the past on current events can and should be considered a cop-out when discussing a group of individuals. I do understand the basic science of pyschiatry and pyschology in terms of early childhood neglect and abuse leads to generally unhealthy adulthood if that is an example to rebut my cop-out claim. For a group of people I'd like to stay away from the excuse of things done wrongly against them in their collective history as the reason for their current societal mayhem . Still a cop-out. There are obstacles for minorities in the western world but overall we as visible minorities are free. This is not the case in islamic countries and will never be based on the doctrine that is entrenched and spread. So in long-short it doesn't matter if you disassociate muslim from terrorist, the question is if its occurring often what can be said about the education and upbringing of those who are born into islam who engage in such activities that contradict what it means to be godly or pious or forgiving or peaceful. I am not trying to paint the majority with one brush but the majority of current global terrorism is stemming from the islamic world. They are not fearful to hide this fact or repress their support of such actions. I'm also not here to try and fix the problem, that is an issue that must be fixed within islam itself IF they WANT to fix this blood-thirsty ideology. Yet there is a problem and its very evident. Its more than the giant gorilla or pink elephant in the room that no one notices. Islamic-based terrorist activities are here and here to stay. You can drop the words muslim or islamic from terrorist or terrorism, yet the fact remains the majority are reading the Koran and then interpreting their neat version to cause mayhem. This mayhem is masked as self-defence to a foreign invading army. I've never really seen these individual ever resort to diplomacy and dialogue to resolve matters. If they tried and stopped the suicide bombings and killings you would classify the jihad as a revolution and not as terrorism and the rest of world would listen and even be sympathetic if they stopped the murder and barbaric actions.

    yikes

  18. smoky says:

    I respect the civil nature of the comments posted by others based on this article. I also believe that when discussing such matters that involve humanity and the lack thereof displayed by certain groups, parties, tribes, nations etc it might be best to refrain from scholarly grammar. In essence keep the discussion simple for us—the layman. That said, the idea of disassociating the named belief/faith system with the word terrorist is not possible. The world and human beings associate patterns, behaviours and such of creatures, beings, objects based on re-occurring frequency. Meaning if it happens so many times repeatedly (as science would state in a controlled environment) it would prove a theory or behaviour characteristic of such group or object. Sorry for the simplified example but a rock or pebble if not aided in anyway could in ideal conditions just remain as is in one place for thousands if not millions of years. Thats its observed characteristic or nature if you want to say so. Unfortunately there are groups that engage in mass mayhem and murder that we call terrorism. Currently, a large number stem from the muslim world. What is creating this breeding ground? Its not colonial ways. Thats a lame excuse. Its an insecurity within islam that the western way may propogate into the youth of islam. So the schooling starts at an early age to ward off this fear of the west and its ideology. The christians crusaders/inquisitors have more or less stopped their forced conversions centuries ago and we are a testament to that as we live in foreign western countries and are allowed to fully practice our faith freely. Blaming the past on current events can and should be considered a cop-out when discussing a group of individuals. I do understand the basic science of pyschiatry and pyschology in terms of early childhood neglect and abuse leads to generally unhealthy adulthood if that is an example to rebut my cop-out claim. For a group of people I’d like to stay away from the excuse of things done wrongly against them in their collective history as the reason for their current societal mayhem . Still a cop-out. There are obstacles for minorities in the western world but overall we as visible minorities are free. This is not the case in islamic countries and will never be based on the doctrine that is entrenched and spread. So in long-short it doesn’t matter if you disassociate muslim from terrorist, the question is if its occurring often what can be said about the education and upbringing of those who are born into islam who engage in such activities that contradict what it means to be godly or pious or forgiving or peaceful. I am not trying to paint the majority with one brush but the majority of current global terrorism is stemming from the islamic world. They are not fearful to hide this fact or repress their support of such actions. I’m also not here to try and fix the problem, that is an issue that must be fixed within islam itself IF they WANT to fix this blood-thirsty ideology. Yet there is a problem and its very evident. Its more than the giant gorilla or pink elephant in the room that no one notices. Islamic-based terrorist activities are here and here to stay. You can drop the words muslim or islamic from terrorist or terrorism, yet the fact remains the majority are reading the Koran and then interpreting their neat version to cause mayhem. This mayhem is masked as self-defence to a foreign invading army. I’ve never really seen these individual ever resort to diplomacy and dialogue to resolve matters. If they tried and stopped the suicide bombings and killings you would classify the jihad as a revolution and not as terrorism and the rest of world would listen and even be sympathetic if they stopped the murder and barbaric actions.

    yikes

  19. Mewa Singh says:

    Publius,

    While I think I understand your broader point, I cannot agree with your statement:

    A Sikh may, in good faith, interpret the Sikh military tradition and the suggestion that we are to fight against injustice to justify his service in the Indian Army (legitimate) or terrorism to protest Indian action and support the idea of a separate Sikh nation (not legitimate)

    In essence this is a very statist opinion to legitimate the status quo. Only violence in the service of the state (which in the case of the Indian state has often been used to 'terrorize' its own population) is deemed legitimate. By this criteria, the actions of the Gurus and others such as Banda Singh Bahadur for taking arms against the Mughal state would be deemed 'illegitimate' and 'terrorist' actions. I strongly disagree!

  20. Mewa Singh says:

    Publius,

    While I think I understand your broader point, I cannot agree with your statement:

    A Sikh may, in good faith, interpret the Sikh military tradition and the suggestion that we are to fight against injustice to justify his service in the Indian Army (legitimate) or terrorism to protest Indian action and support the idea of a separate Sikh nation (not legitimate)

    In essence this is a very statist opinion to legitimate the status quo. Only violence in the service of the state (which in the case of the Indian state has often been used to ‘terrorize’ its own population) is deemed legitimate. By this criteria, the actions of the Gurus and others such as Banda Singh Bahadur for taking arms against the Mughal state would be deemed ‘illegitimate’ and ‘terrorist’ actions. I strongly disagree!

  21. Publius says:

    Mewa Singh, thanks for your comment.

    You interpret my comment to mean that "Only violence in the service of the state (which in the case of the Indian state has often been used to ‘terrorize’ its own population) is deemed legitimate." I did not state that only actions in furtherance of the State is legitimate; I used military service as an example of what may be considered legitimate. Indeed, the two examples used (i.e., service in the Indian Army and actions to support a Sikh nation) are not the only times in which Sikh violence may occur, so I am surprised an attempt was made to extract criteria for all Sikh-based actions from these two limited examples. I'm also taken aback by the suggestion that I would brand as illegitimate the actions of our Gurus and their brethren.

    Note also that I expressly mention the Sikh notion that "we are to fight against injustice" — a broad statement that surely would encompass the very historical moments you highlight. That broad notion would be invoked to justify the single "legitimate" example that I cite — military service.

    To summarize and repeat, service in the Indian Army was used as an example, and it was not stated or implied that violence in the service of the State is the only legitimate use of violence.

    Thanks again!

  22. Publius says:

    Mewa Singh, thanks for your comment.

    You interpret my comment to mean that “Only violence in the service of the state (which in the case of the Indian state has often been used to terrorize its own population) is deemed legitimate.” I did not state that only actions in furtherance of the State is legitimate; I used military service as an example of what may be considered legitimate. Indeed, the two examples used (i.e., service in the Indian Army and actions to support a Sikh nation) are not the only times in which Sikh violence may occur, so I am surprised an attempt was made to extract criteria for all Sikh-based actions from these two limited examples. I’m also taken aback by the suggestion that I would brand as illegitimate the actions of our Gurus and their brethren.

    Note also that I expressly mention the Sikh notion that “we are to fight against injustice” — a broad statement that surely would encompass the very historical moments you highlight. That broad notion would be invoked to justify the single “legitimate” example that I cite — military service.

    To summarize and repeat, service in the Indian Army was used as an example, and it was not stated or implied that violence in the service of the State is the only legitimate use of violence.

    Thanks again!

  23. kaptaan says:

    Camille, who are you or George Bush or Manmohan Singh to speak for muslims?

    What do you know about the sunnah, hadith or the writings in the quran? I haven't seen a quote from you of any reading you yourself have done specifically looking at what muslim texts have to say on the subject? what makes you or anyone else think that Islam doesn't condone the killing of kafirs? why don't you explain to readers why the muslim students association at USC had to hide certain texts, mohamad's teachings written in what are called hadiths, from their website because they were deemed to promote hatred of Jews because they call for the killing of all Jews? why don't you explain why out of a city of 20 million the mumbai terrorists went to the only place in the city with Jews and tortured them before executing them?

    why don't you listen to what the muslims themselves say on this topic from Al-Azhar or the mullahs from Iran? or the Muslim leaders in Pakistan? or the Muslim brotherhood or Hezbollah or Hamas…

    you claim to know and apologize for Islam without it seems actually having researched any of it?

    I don't have anything against muslims themselves but your apologizing for islam makes no sense…

  24. kaptaan says:

    Camille, who are you or George Bush or Manmohan Singh to speak for muslims?

    What do you know about the sunnah, hadith or the writings in the quran? I haven’t seen a quote from you of any reading you yourself have done specifically looking at what muslim texts have to say on the subject? what makes you or anyone else think that Islam doesn’t condone the killing of kafirs? why don’t you explain to readers why the muslim students association at USC had to hide certain texts, mohamad’s teachings written in what are called hadiths, from their website because they were deemed to promote hatred of Jews because they call for the killing of all Jews? why don’t you explain why out of a city of 20 million the mumbai terrorists went to the only place in the city with Jews and tortured them before executing them?

    why don’t you listen to what the muslims themselves say on this topic from Al-Azhar or the mullahs from Iran? or the Muslim leaders in Pakistan? or the Muslim brotherhood or Hezbollah or Hamas…

    you claim to know and apologize for Islam without it seems actually having researched any of it?

    I don’t have anything against muslims themselves but your apologizing for islam makes no sense…

  25. Mewa Singh says:

    Appreciate the response Publius.

    Let's continue….

    Still at stake is legitimacy based on the state. The Indian state has been accused of all sorts of human-rights abuses, especially in Kashmir. So I hope to further your comment that often the state's own use of force is completely illegitimate.

    The reason I thought using this criteria the violence of the Gurus would be deemed illegitimate is because it was conducted by a non-state entity.

    Should Kashmiri militants attack a police headquarters, would that be construed as a 'legitimate' use of violence?

  26. Mewa Singh says:

    Appreciate the response Publius.

    Let’s continue….

    Still at stake is legitimacy based on the state. The Indian state has been accused of all sorts of human-rights abuses, especially in Kashmir. So I hope to further your comment that often the state’s own use of force is completely illegitimate.

    The reason I thought using this criteria the violence of the Gurus would be deemed illegitimate is because it was conducted by a non-state entity.

    Should Kashmiri militants attack a police headquarters, would that be construed as a ‘legitimate’ use of violence?

  27. Reema says:

    Dearest Kaptaan,

    Camille, who are you or George Bush or Manmohan Singh to speak for muslims?

    What do you know about the sunnah, hadith or the writings in the quran? I haven’t seen a quote from you of any reading you yourself have done specifically looking at what muslim texts have to say on the subject? what makes you or anyone else think that Islam doesn’t condone the killing of kafirs?

    She writes for this blog. Who are you?

    For the record, I'm SICK of your anti-Islam rhetoric. And this:

    why don’t you explain to readers why the muslim students association at USC had to hide certain texts, mohamad’s teachings written in what are called hadiths, from their website because they were deemed to promote hatred of Jews because they call for the killing of all Jews? why don’t you explain why out of a city of 20 million the mumbai terrorists went to the only place in the city with Jews and tortured them before executing them?

    why don’t you listen to what the muslims themselves say on this topic from Al-Azhar or the mullahs from Iran? or the Muslim leaders in Pakistan? or the Muslim brotherhood or Hezbollah or Hamas…

    completely negates this:

    I don’t have anything against muslims themselves but your apologizing for islam makes no sense…

    PLEASE, for the love of god, try to be constructive and not so hateful! And while you're at it- why don't you read this article about the difficulties of reading the Qur'an… and please DON'T feel so confident about your own interpretations afterwards. Here's a preview from the article for you:

    Arabic is a language whose words can have multiple, sometimes contradictory, meanings, so how one chooses to render a particular word from Arabic to English has a lot to do with one's biases or prejudice.

    Good day.

  28. Reema says:

    Dearest Kaptaan,

    Camille, who are you or George Bush or Manmohan Singh to speak for muslims?

    What do you know about the sunnah, hadith or the writings in the quran? I havent seen a quote from you of any reading you yourself have done specifically looking at what muslim texts have to say on the subject? what makes you or anyone else think that Islam doesnt condone the killing of kafirs?

    She writes for this blog. Who are you?

    For the record, I’m SICK of your anti-Islam rhetoric. And this:

    why dont you explain to readers why the muslim students association at USC had to hide certain texts, mohamads teachings written in what are called hadiths, from their website because they were deemed to promote hatred of Jews because they call for the killing of all Jews? why dont you explain why out of a city of 20 million the mumbai terrorists went to the only place in the city with Jews and tortured them before executing them?

    why dont you listen to what the muslims themselves say on this topic from Al-Azhar or the mullahs from Iran? or the Muslim leaders in Pakistan? or the Muslim brotherhood or Hezbollah or Hamas

    completely negates this:

    I dont have anything against muslims themselves but your apologizing for islam makes no sense

    PLEASE, for the love of god, try to be constructive and not so hateful! And while you’re at it- why don’t you read this article about the difficulties of reading the Qur’an… and please DON’T feel so confident about your own interpretations afterwards. Here’s a preview from the article for you:

    Arabic is a language whose words can have multiple, sometimes contradictory, meanings, so how one chooses to render a particular word from Arabic to English has a lot to do with one’s biases or prejudice.

    Good day.

  29. Publius says:

    smoky, thanks for your comment. It may be difficult for some to discuss this topic substantively while maintaining civility, but you have admirably presented your thoughts in a respectful manner.

    In my mind, there are two issues: the doctrinal one which concerns whether Muslim teachings or traditions justify or call for terrorism, and the identification one which concerns whether it is prudent or useful to identify terrorists as terrorists instead of "Muslim fundamentalists" or "Islamic extremists."

    It appears that you agree there is such a dichotomy. In particular, you note: "You can drop the words muslim or islamic from terrorist or terrorism, yet the fact remains the majority are reading the Koran and then interpreting their neat version to cause mayhem."

    As of yet, I have not read any responses to this post or the previous one which would convincingly argue against the identification issue. If you have any further thoughts on the identification question, please do share them with us!

  30. Publius says:

    smoky, thanks for your comment. It may be difficult for some to discuss this topic substantively while maintaining civility, but you have admirably presented your thoughts in a respectful manner.

    In my mind, there are two issues: the doctrinal one which concerns whether Muslim teachings or traditions justify or call for terrorism, and the identification one which concerns whether it is prudent or useful to identify terrorists as terrorists instead of “Muslim fundamentalists” or “Islamic extremists.”

    It appears that you agree there is such a dichotomy. In particular, you note: “You can drop the words muslim or islamic from terrorist or terrorism, yet the fact remains the majority are reading the Koran and then interpreting their neat version to cause mayhem.”

    As of yet, I have not read any responses to this post or the previous one which would convincingly argue against the identification issue. If you have any further thoughts on the identification question, please do share them with us!

  31. Publius says:

    Mewa Singh,

    Thanks, once again, for your comment. You write, "So I hope to further your comment that often the state’s own use of force is completely illegitimate." I did not state this either. It seems as though I need to make two separate issues to clarify my point regarding state violence.

    As a preliminary matter, it is helpful to recite the initial sentence that gave rise to our dialogue: "A Sikh may, in good faith, interpret the Sikh military tradition and the suggestion that we are to fight against injustice to justify his service in the Indian Army (legitimate) or terrorism to protest Indian action and support the idea of a separate Sikh nation (not legitimate)."

    First, there is the proposition, expressed above, that a Sikh may in good faith believe that Sikh history justifies serving in the Indian Army and that any violence from his service is legitimate. Second, there is your question, which is whether "the state’s own use of force is completely illegitimate."

    I don't think anyone would argue that state violence is always legitimate or always illegitimate; that is not what I was addressing. What I did state is that a Sikh may, in good faith, believe that his service in furtherance of the state is legitimate. I think the answer to that is yes.

    I hope this is helpful.

  32. Publius says:

    Mewa Singh,

    Thanks, once again, for your comment. You write, “So I hope to further your comment that often the states own use of force is completely illegitimate.” I did not state this either. It seems as though I need to make two separate issues to clarify my point regarding state violence.

    As a preliminary matter, it is helpful to recite the initial sentence that gave rise to our dialogue: “A Sikh may, in good faith, interpret the Sikh military tradition and the suggestion that we are to fight against injustice to justify his service in the Indian Army (legitimate) or terrorism to protest Indian action and support the idea of a separate Sikh nation (not legitimate).”

    First, there is the proposition, expressed above, that a Sikh may in good faith believe that Sikh history justifies serving in the Indian Army and that any violence from his service is legitimate. Second, there is your question, which is whether “the states own use of force is completely illegitimate.”

    I don’t think anyone would argue that state violence is always legitimate or always illegitimate; that is not what I was addressing. What I did state is that a Sikh may, in good faith, believe that his service in furtherance of the state is legitimate. I think the answer to that is yes.

    I hope this is helpful.

  33. Mewa Singh says:

    Publius,

    You write:

    that a Sikh may in good faith believe that Sikh history justifies serving in the Indian Army and that any violence from his service is legitimate.

    Then, is it also true that a Sikh may in good faith believe that Sikh history justifies OPPOSING the Indian state and that any violence from his/her service is legitiimate?

  34. Mewa Singh says:

    Publius,

    You write:

    that a Sikh may in good faith believe that Sikh history justifies serving in the Indian Army and that any violence from his service is legitimate.

    Then, is it also true that a Sikh may in good faith believe that Sikh history justifies OPPOSING the Indian state and that any violence from his/her service is legitiimate?

  35. Publius says:

    That clearly would be a much more difficult position for someone to hold.

  36. Publius says:

    That clearly would be a much more difficult position for someone to hold.

  37. Mewa Singh says:

    Then Publius we have to part ways on this issue. The definition of legitimacy and 'good faith' then is arbitrated by the state, not one's conscious.

    Religion can be little but at the service of the state.

    You seem to hold a very Weberian view that legitimate violence is the monopoly of the state. However, such a view then leaves few alternatives for the citizenry that may be victims of state-sponsored terrorism. In fact, I would argue that most of Sikh history that is celebrated (the history of the Khalsa) is of the opposite view. The Khalsa fought against the Mughals, the Afghan and Persian imperialists, the British, and many still celebrate and honor those in their belief of justice fought against the Indian State.

  38. Mewa Singh says:

    Then Publius we have to part ways on this issue. The definition of legitimacy and ‘good faith’ then is arbitrated by the state, not one’s conscious.

    Religion can be little but at the service of the state.

    You seem to hold a very Weberian view that legitimate violence is the monopoly of the state. However, such a view then leaves few alternatives for the citizenry that may be victims of state-sponsored terrorism. In fact, I would argue that most of Sikh history that is celebrated (the history of the Khalsa) is of the opposite view. The Khalsa fought against the Mughals, the Afghan and Persian imperialists, the British, and many still celebrate and honor those in their belief of justice fought against the Indian State.

  39. Publius says:

    Mewa Singh,

    I do not think our views are as divergent as you make them out to be.

    First, with respect to past actions taken by The Khalsa, I explicitly stated in this thread that, "I’m also taken aback by the suggestion that I would brand as illegitimate the actions of our Gurus and their brethren. Note also that I expressly mention the Sikh notion that 'we are to fight against injustice' — a broad statement that surely would encompass the very historical moments you highlight." In short, I do not think that non-State violence is per se illegitimate or that the actions of The Khalsa, in particular, are illegitimate.

    Second, with respect to whether "legitimate violence is the monopoly of the state," again, I expressly noted already, "I did not state that only actions in furtherance of the State is legitimate."

    Third, when you asked, "is it also true that a Sikh may in good faith believe that Sikh history justifies OPPOSING the Indian state and that any violence from his/her service is legitiimate? [sic]", I took your question to refer to whether violence from "his/her service" in furtherance of the state is legitimate. Accordingly, it would be difficult, in my view, to on one hand oppose state action while at the same time hold that any violence from his service to the state is legitimate. Now, if "his/her service" refers to non-state conduct, such as service to one's faith, then we are in a different ballgame. In that context, opposing the state and believing that violence in furtherance of one's faith is legitimate would not be subject to the same tension that exists with respect to opposition to the state and violence in furtherance of the state.

    In my responses to you, I have tried to clarify what I said and did not say; but it appears from your comments that I have done a poor job of doing so. Hopefully, this post adds some measure of clarity to my views. If not, I'd be happy to discuss them further with you.

    Thanks.

  40. Publius says:

    Mewa Singh,

    I do not think our views are as divergent as you make them out to be.

    First, with respect to past actions taken by The Khalsa, I explicitly stated in this thread that, “Im also taken aback by the suggestion that I would brand as illegitimate the actions of our Gurus and their brethren. Note also that I expressly mention the Sikh notion that ‘we are to fight against injustice’ a broad statement that surely would encompass the very historical moments you highlight.” In short, I do not think that non-State violence is per se illegitimate or that the actions of The Khalsa, in particular, are illegitimate.

    Second, with respect to whether “legitimate violence is the monopoly of the state,” again, I expressly noted already, “I did not state that only actions in furtherance of the State is legitimate.”

    Third, when you asked, “is it also true that a Sikh may in good faith believe that Sikh history justifies OPPOSING the Indian state and that any violence from his/her service is legitiimate? [sic]”, I took your question to refer to whether violence from “his/her service” in furtherance of the state is legitimate. Accordingly, it would be difficult, in my view, to on one hand oppose state action while at the same time hold that any violence from his service to the state is legitimate. Now, if “his/her service” refers to non-state conduct, such as service to one’s faith, then we are in a different ballgame. In that context, opposing the state and believing that violence in furtherance of one’s faith is legitimate would not be subject to the same tension that exists with respect to opposition to the state and violence in furtherance of the state.

    In my responses to you, I have tried to clarify what I said and did not say; but it appears from your comments that I have done a poor job of doing so. Hopefully, this post adds some measure of clarity to my views. If not, I’d be happy to discuss them further with you.

    Thanks.

  41. Mewa Singh says:

    Publius,

    Thanks for the response.

    Indeed I did mean "his/her service" in terms of non-state conduct, including various dissenting groups.

    So as I understand your argument, this type of 'dissent' that may even tactically use violence can be considered legitimate?

  42. Mewa Singh says:

    Publius,

    Thanks for the response.

    Indeed I did mean “his/her service” in terms of non-state conduct, including various dissenting groups.

    So as I understand your argument, this type of ‘dissent’ that may even tactically use violence can be considered legitimate?

  43. Publius says:

    I would agree with you – it “can be”

  44. Publius says:

    I would agree with you – it "can be"

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