Ramazan is the month of countless holy blessings and seeking repentance for one’s past sins. The broader purpose is to help the needy and become close to God through prayer. However, the recent spate of attacks in a number of countries around the world shows that a certain type of extremist mentality is brewing up that is un-Islamic and ruthless to the core. The focus of such attacks is to spread fear and disunity within large segments of regional and global societies. Whether these acts are committed in the Islamic World or the West, they cannot be justified at all for their only purpose is to create anarchy in the world.
What is more astonishing to note is that when it comes to attacks on humanity, terrorist organisations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have no remorse or regret in causing mass causalities while claiming to be the so-called “representatives” of Islam. In the past one week alone, the organisation has killed approximately 250 innocent civilians in different countries including Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq. Moreover, in terms of selecting a place for its dastardly actions that would evoke collective outrage and grief among Muslim across the world, ISIS also chose to target Saudi Arabia with multiple suicide bomb attacks.
The Jeddah bombing that occurred earlier on the same day showed that ISIS has truly exported its deranged ideology to other states through online hate literature and videos.
One of the attacks occurred in the heart of the holy city of Medina, the resting place of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and some of his companions. No one would have thought that the so-called Muslim terrorists could also dare to attack one of Islam’s holiest sites. This reveals the fact that ISIS has become a hard-line cult that wishes to forcefully takeover not only the Middle East but its adjoining areas as well in the long run.
The bombings in Saudi Arabia bring to fore the uncomfortable reality of how Saudi Arabia has been instrumental in radicalisation of many societies through its state and private funding and teachings. Two of the examples of Saudi influence are Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the Soviet-Afghan War brought Wahhabism to the forefront resulting in the rise of Taliban and al-Qaeda. The war was meant to push back the Soviet Red Army but eventually, it gave rise to extremism of cultist nature in the name of “jihad”.
Their inspiration from the teachings of controversial Egyptian cleric Sayyid Qutb should have been an ominous sign during that time of war and uncertainty, but even the United States paid no heed to the matter, and let extremism flourish – overtly and covertly. Reportedly, even the Paris and Belgium attackers were largely inspired by teachings of their local seminaries, which in turn were inspired by extremist ideologies. The interesting thing to note was that most of those attackers were quite irreligious, and were ostensibly brainwashed with twisted thoughts by their handlers. A leaked report from the British MI5 dating back to 2008 that surfaced last year stated that modern extremists take part in terror attacks due to lack of religious knowledge. This is quite true as young men and women are actually lured to commit such acts under certain circumstances.
As for Pakistan, although it claims to be in combat with forces of extremism through a commendable operation such as the Zarb-e-Azb, and the National Action Plan, Pakistan still has a long way to go. There is no short-cut to elimination of extremism, which in turn engenders militancy and terrorism, without a long-term policy of changing the entire narrative. And that narrative is the indoctrination of negative traits like intolerance, bigotry, hatred of other faiths and nationalities, and violence for those who are labelled non-Muslims or “infidels.”*