Long March of Islam : The Future Imperfect
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R.K. Ohri's book - Long March of Islam : The Future Imperfect

Samuel Huntington once famously remarked after his seminal essay, "The Clash of Civilizations" drew widespread acclaim that the most important part of the title was the question mark and added that the purpose of the essay was to stimulate serious thought and inspire an accommodative approach to international politics which appeared to be caught in a conflictual trajectory. With few exceptions in the intelligentsia, "The Clash" has unfortunately only served to ignite their prejudiced minds about an emotive subject that eludes easy understanding such as cultural politics. Islamic fundamentalism, like any other exclusivist doctrine is doubtlessly inimical to the principles of universalism and humanism. But, being a problem it deserves to be understood first.

In "The Long March of Islam", the author, who has a Police background, argues that Islam since the days of its founder has been an exclusivist force devoted to global dominion fraught with doctrinal rigidity (even intolerance) with little reluctance to use violence in furtherance of this objective. All true Muslims are doctrinally obligated to bring the Non-Muslims present in Dar-ul-Harb (the land of the Non-Believers) under Dar-Ul-Islam (the land of Islam) even through Jihad (holy war) towards this end and since this proselytizing tendency of Islam met with resistance, Jihad was to become "the signature tune" of Islamic history. The march of this bellicose religion could not be stopped except on two occasions, the Battle of Tours in 732 and at Vienna in 1683 and then too, it required the united efforts of the best Christian armies of Europe. This effective stoppage alone made it possible for Christianity to become the dominant and modern force it is. Those like the Jews in Palestine, sundry polytheists in Arabia, Egypt and the Maghrib, Zoroastrians in Persia and Hindus in India were incapable of unity and were therefore subjected to conquest and domination by Islam. In the modern world, with surging demographics in favour of Islam occurring at more or less the same time that the West has become a "soft power" filled with an ageing population, Muslims are again reverting to their old ideas of world domination and this is one of the principal reasons as to why they are such a destabilizing force in global affairs today. In the coming years, the problem would be aggravated across the globe because Muslims would involve themselves in an increasing number of "faultline conflicts" with non-Muslims on the pattern of what happened in Lebanon and Bosnia when the non-Muslims lost their majority to them. As for India, by 2025, he prophesies that Muslims would comprise 30% of the population and be in majority in certain areas like those bordering Bangladesh and some parts of Bihar, and would stop at nothing save, a second Partition as per statistical estimates from AP Joshi, MD Srinivas and JK Bajaj in their book, "Religious Demography of India".

He also narrates with details about this "geopolitical menace of the future": 135 different Islamist organizations involved in 20 "faultline conflicts" straddling across 42 countries in the globe are committed to furthering the jihadi cause "establishment of the global dominion of Islam" through acts of terrorism; the predictable passivity of the moderate Muslims to the expropriation of religious space by extremists; the fastest growing religious population in the world because of multiple marriages and births as permissible under Islamic laws, fresh converts through active proselytism and illegal immigration into plural societies; the implementation of the Shariah in all countries wherever Muslims are in majority, including democracies and that Muslims because of their scripturally sanctioned ideological intolerance of other faiths are obligated to war with other faiths when the moment is favourable to them "Lebanon, Bosnia, pre-partition India". The annexures on Jihadi organizations and theatres of terrorism at the end of the book is quite useful.

The book however, reveals no new refreshing insights into the problem or provide any accommodative approaches unique to the spirit of universalism which the author doubtlessly seeks to promote and defend. His book is a compendium of "hawkish" pronouncements about Islamic Fundamentalism in all its aspects "origins; menace potential, content and patterns; and approaches towards a solution like, "One simply marvels at those who keep on saying that there is no Al Qaeda presence in India. Is it necessary for a bomber or AK-47 wielding terrorist to wear a badge of allegiance to Al Qaeda to identify himself or to proclaim his evil intentions?", "it is the Islamic spirit of sacrifice" and suicidal martyrdom that has kept the Palestinian cauldron on the boil for the last fifty years","The Islamic Ummah is almost like a corporation" the biggest and the most formidable transnational corporation across the globe", "Every community has its long list of woes and grievances. But Muslims seem to be the only group which takes recourse to violent means for redressal of theirs", "what the Americans are doing [to fight terror]" that is what the Indians will have to do in order to survive?Never mind the costs"" Those interested with such sentiments may read this book.

No one will dispute with the author that Islamists have committed horrible crimes in the name of God only to make life hell for others here on Earth. However, larger and deeper cognitional issues relating to the complex and contentious relationship between religion and politics and religion and modernity in the contemporary world have not been analyzed with the rigour and seriousness they deserve. The heart of the problem is: why do certain Muslims want to give their lives up in the name of God today while causing so much destruction around them? Is it because of a crisis of secularity's "myth of progress" as evidenced in the failure of secular ideals and principles (such as the triumph of natural science, the success of economic, revolutionary, or other political struggles) to provide the required spiritual and psychological succour to actual or perceived injustice and private suffering of individuals who were used to deriving such succour previously only from a traditional ultimacy like religion? Whatever it may be, we have no option but to admit that we (of the pluralitst universal civilizational ethos) have failed to educate Islamists that life is worth living. The Islamists are here and will be around for as long as the question,"How can we emotionally and spiritually enrich both our lives and theirs?" remains unanswered. The War Against Terrorism still awaits its Kennan.