This Article is From Apr 02, 2013

Blog: Yes, it's jihad

It's a real shocker. Mumbai Police, in an internal circular, has asked cops to monitor activities of a Muslim organisation - Girls Islamic Organisation. Their reason: The organisation is "indoctrinating young women and training them for jihad."

First, let us see what this organization is that, according to Mumbai Police, is out to make jihadis out of college-going Muslim girls. Girls Islamic Organisation is a wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind. It was founded in Kerala in 1984. It's not a recent group that has come up with the dream of turning India into a caliphate. It's a well-established, 30-year-old organisation that conducts its activities in the open.

A cursory Google search on the organisation reveals the kind of activities it has indulged in over the years - quiz and drama competitions, poetry reading sessions, spreading Islamic awareness in the young girls etc. Really dangerous activities, if you were to believe the Mumbai Police. Hang on, there's more. The Girls Islamic Organisation recently organised protests and dharnas against rape and violence against women, protested against female foeticide and commodification of women in films and TV. It also, in its free time, works to promote education among poor Muslims. Its parent organisation runs hundreds of educational institutions and healthcare facilities for the poor. The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has a Vision 2016 to drastically improve the education status of Muslims in the country. It also doesn't mince words in condemning terrorism and suicide attacks. Jamaat was one of the first Muslim organisations to condemn the 9/11 attacks in the US within days of that tragedy.

Oh God! That's a bit much. Isn't it? How can the Mumbai Police allow all this right under its nose. This organisation is propagating jihad.

Yes, that's right. The organisation is indeed propagating jihad. It's waging a war against social and cultural evils in our society. That's real jihad. But the term has been so maligned, thanks in part to some misguided notions of it within a section of the Muslim community, and largely due to the misuse of the term in mainstream media. I don't know a Muslim commentator or scholar worth her/his name who has not clarified that real jihad is against the evil and with one's own vices. But who cares. It's a boring interpretation.

I have my own issues with the world view that Girls Islamic Organisation advocates and propagates. For instance, their insistence on hijab or purdah as the panacea for all the issues that confront women in our society today. But that doesn't mean that it can be labelled a suspicious body by the Mumbai Police. Isn't that the stated position of every religious group on women's issues? Women must dress a certain way; they must observe a code of conduct in the society; western culture has polluted our minds and souls - we have heard all of this from all quarters. But I don't know of any other religious or cultural organisation in this country being dubbed as promoting terror for holding these retrograde views.

The Mumbai Police's circular is a real tragedy. It reflects on the mindset of our men in khaki, their cultural ignorance and a dangerous tendency to arrive at conclusions about a community. For our cops, an assembly of a large number of women in burqas on road or an auditorium, with banners and slogans in Urdu, has to be something suspicious. So many hijabs under a roof must be a veiled conspiracy against the country. It's a sad state of affairs.

Now, Mumbai Police is at pains to explain the circular. They say that it was an internal note and shouldn't have been made public. This is all the more dangerous. Imagine the impact it would have had on the attitude of the cops? Good that it has come out in the open. Are there more similar circulars doing the rounds within the police department? The thought is scary.

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