ISLAM AND JIHAD (2002) BY A.G.NOORANI, Left Word books, Naya Rasta Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 27-29 B.V.S. Marg, New Delhi. PP.115, price Rs. 75/- (Paper Back) Reviewed by: Dr. Nafees Ahmad, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their cela va sans dire have riveted the world’s attention on Islamic fundamentalism. We are being flagrantly indoctrinated that what we are at today is a clash of civilizations between a secular, modern West and a fundamentalist background looking Islam. Noted scholar, legal expert and prolific writer A.G.Noorani delves into the currents, connections, controversies and complex history of Islam and presents the case for a reformist, iconoclast and modern interpretation of faith, its scripture and its political vision in the book under review. Why are a whole range of political, cultural, social and even economic events of law reduced in so pavlovian a way to Islam? What is about Islam that provokes so quick and unrestrained a response? What is the meaning of Jihad, and is it synonymous with warfare? What is a Fatwa, and who has the right to issue one? What is the truth behind the RSS charge that the Muslims have selectively used the Quran to take to the path of intolerance and conflict? What is Islamic fundamentalism and who have shaped its essential contours? Is there a concept of religious tolerance and a pluralist society in Islam? Is a liberation theology compatible with the tenets of Islam? How can Islam respond to the challenge of modernity? Soliloquises the author in an erudite manner hitherto unattended in a world wedded to perennial pursuit of power, parochial politics of pelf and lopsided liberation theology.
The tern ‘Jihad’ in Islam invokes a large semantic field which connotes inter alia “holy war” but is more broadly understood by the notion of striving in the path of God. The Quran contains this and related phrases concerning the path or way of God in about 180 verses, clearly a major theme. Striving in the path of God in turn, is a particular instance of a basic principle implicit in the Quranic cosmology. Therefore, understanding jihad must begin with a brief assessment of the cosmography of the holy Quran i.e. the textual expressions of the structure of the cosmos, the main actors within it and their dynamic interaction and communication, which are presented in the holy Quran- the canonical scripture of the We the Muslims of the world.
Fundamentalism is a malaise of the twentieth century. It has affected almost every major religious traditions, no matter how ancient Hindu, Jewish, Christians and Muslims. Fundamentalism banishes reasons from religion and compassion from faith. Its main traits are revivalism, hostility towards minorities, anti-intellectualism, intolerance, arrogant insularity, intellectual bankruptcy and moral blindness. They are reflected in rejection of rational discourse, pluralism, free speech, democratic governance, secularism and in recourse to violence. Not one of the fundamentalist movements has a programme of social uplift and equality or economic progress, argues a lawyer in A.G. Noorani in a most convincing and cogent vocabulary. Fundamentalism is a response to the challenges of modernity which were perceived by the zealous as threats to the integrity and survival of their faith. Some of the believers met the challenges by reform and compromise; others, by rejection and retreat to revivalism. A section of the revivalists, disdained retreat, adopted the aggressive stance of fundamentalism in thought and violence in action, pragmatically and plausibly asserts a legal luminary as an author of the supra.
The book under review has been authored by an interventionist which is significant in debates of today in a way that is serious, informative, analytically sound and politically plausible into six captions of catchy manners whereunder role of media and imperatives of history, Jihad and Fatwa via-a-vis Islamic fundamentalism, human rights and liberation theology in our age of modernity have very lucidly and vividly visited. It is a worth reading book of immense intellectual value and fills up many gaps which were hitherto an hiatus of hatred, cleavages of controversy and dichotomy of dissonance, which must at the earliest be obliterated for ones and all.