Related post: مدیر ویو پوائنٹ اور فرحت تاج کے نام: کیا یہ صحافتی، علمی اخلاقیات کے مطابق ہے؟ – See more at: https://lubpak.com/archives/307361
Pashtun scholar Farhat Taj sahiba has posted a rebuttal to LUBP posts in which a critical assessment of Deobandi ideology and Bacha Khan was offered. Her rebuttal is reproduced below along with our response.
Farhat Taj writes:
These are my comments on the views expressed by Abdul Nishpuri [and other LUBP authors] on Terrorism, Dewbandi Islam, Pashtun history and Bacha Khan. Key points of his views:
1) Dewbandi Islam has essentailly intrinsic capacity to foster extremism and terrorism. Other versions of Islam, especially Barelvi and the multiple Shia versions of Islam essentially lack this capacity.
2) Dewbandi Islam is the key reason for terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan and especially responsible for Shia killing in the region.
3) Ahmad Shah Abdali was a Dewbandi fanatic whose invasions and conquests were mainly motivated by his Dewbandi fanaticism.
4) Pashtun nationalists cannot tolerate criticism of Bacha Khan.
5) Bacha Khan was a Dewbandi fanatic, hand in gloves with fanatic Dewbandi ulama and hence is God father of the of the Pashtun Taliban today.
1) This is a wrong assumption, even an early college level student of religious study would know. There is a enough inspiration for violence and extremism in all sources of Islam in which all versions of the religion are rooted. The only requirement is the material provisions and appropriate state-driven context to exploit the inspiration. To essentially attribute violence and extremism to some specific versions of Islam and absolve other of them is, at best, ridiculous and at worst sectarian bigatory and narrow-mindedness.
2) Any serious observer of the socio-political and geo-political landscape in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India would regard this view superficial at best and intellectual dishonesty at the worst. US-USSR war in Afghanistan, Pakistan prostituting itself to Saudi Arabia, Arab-Ijam war on our this, Strategic Depth, fear of Pashtun nationalism, Fear of India, identity crisis of Pakistani state are key factors responsible for the violence and terrorism in Pakistan, including the Shia killings.
3) This gives the view that Ahmad Shah raised army in the service of Dewbandi Islam. It looks as if he had no territorial, political or geopolitical ambitions. He was totally unlike the rulers and invaders of his time. He lived, attacked, massacred, conqured to eradicate Shia version of Islam from the faec of earth and in pursuit of his Dewbandi faith. Bravo!
4) The fact is that Pashtun nationalists are very, very used to reading and listening to criticism of Bacha Khan. First, it were the Brits who criticised him and then the Pakistani state did so. Not only criticism , he was actually demonised by these two states. So, it is factually wrong that Pashtun nationalists cannot tolerate or do not allow criticism of Bacha Khan.
5) This underscore complete lack of knowledge and the audacity to make malicious claims: the linking of the struggle of Bacha Khan (against the British and for his social reformation movement for education and for the modification or abolishment of harmful cultural norms, such as revenge) and his followers, including some Dewbandi Ulama in his movemnet with fanaticism and the Taliban of today. As a start up one would like to suggest good history book written by non-Pashtun writers to learn something about the movemnet. By the way, this claim also has an interesting angle: it may also imply that Ghandhi was also inspired by Dewbandi fanacticm since he was so close to Bacha Khan and other Dewbandi Ulama who struggled along with GHandhi for freedom of India against the British! So then Ghandhi is also God father of the Taliban?
Also the assumption of this Nishapuri, is that Bacha was anti-Shai and his movement was against Shias. Nothing could be far from the truth than this. The reality is that Pashtun Shias were in the forefront of Bacha Khan movement and they continue their attachment with the ANP today. How come Shias were and are in Bacha Khan’s movement, if the movement was or is anti-SHia or promoting Dewbandi ideology at the expens of the Shia sects. Before projecting such a view it would have been better that Mr. Nishapuri had a discussion with Pashtun Shias on this issue.
6) True that most militant groups have Dewbandi connections but the main reasons for this are political, geo-political and strategic rooted in the national (Pakistani) and international context. I understand that Pashtun nationalists have no problem that the Dewbandi identity of the militants is mentioned. Actually (I understand) they want that life histories of all miliamts and all their victims be documents. The documenation must include ethnic, class, gender, sectarian, regional identities and also family backgrounds of them. This will make the analysis of the terrorism-elated issues much more informative. Unfortunately, we do not have this information.
7) Informed debate on any issue under the sun is good. In the context of the terrorism in Pakistan an informed debate have to be objective and holistic, i.e. it must be rooted in the relevant history, politics, geo-politics, religion and socio-cultural context and it must not be driven by the agenda or desire to single out one ethnic group or their dominant faith as the source of evil
8) It simply does not look that Mr. Nishapuri is objective or rational. All his views has a racist undertone and reflects the desire to Pashtunize the terrorism, to regard Pashtun history, their heroes, culture and their dominant sectarian faith as the source of terrorism, especially anti-SHia terrorism all over Pakistan. There is no shortage of those who demonise Pashtun, Javed GHamdi is the latex example, but at least they have the courage to show their real identity. Nishapuri does not even have that.
Discussion with a faceless individual apparently driven by anti-Pashtun agenda is a waste of time and helping none of those who wish to see terrorism eliminated in Pakistan and at worst, it is damaging peaceful Pakistanis, including Shias, because his apolitical, ahistorical, purposely selected information or mis-information, out of context rants and rehtorics distract attention from the real causes of the terrorism in Pakistan.
So, I am not going to engage in any more discussions with Mr. Nishapuri, till the time he showed his real identity and learnt how to do rational, informative debate. Also, I am done with LUBP, the blog Mr. Nishapuri is linked with, as long as it is run by faceless persons with sectarian and racist designs.
1. Instead of ad hominem attacks on LUBP’s authors, Farhat Taj sahiba may wish to focus on the content of our posts. Personal attacks on authors and shooting the messenger tactics serve to compromise the objectivity and content of her own post. We hope she will consider this humble request.
2. We are surprised to see that instead of highlighting and confronting the radical (takfiri) Deobandi ideology responsible for massacres of not only Sunni Barelvis/Sufis, Shias, Christians and secular people, Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns included, and indiscriminate attacks on other members of the society including ordinary Deobandi folks, Farhat Taj is actually defending the Deobandi sect because it is “dominant sectarian faith of Pashtuns”. She alleges that LUBP’s critical post on Deobandi terrorism “has a racist undertone and reflects the desire to Pashtunize the terrorism, to regard Pashtun history, their heroes, culture and their dominant sectarian faith as the source of terrorism”.
Does Farhat Taj’s statement not have an undertone of sectarian and racist bias? Is Farhat Taj now also a champion of Deobandi sect becuase it is the dominant sectarian faith of Pashtuns? We assume that Shia Pashtuns and Sunni Barelvis, particularly those of Parachinar, Hangu and Kohat, who have buried thousands of their dear and near ones in recent years killed by Deobandi terrorists may not agree with Farhat Taj’s analysis.
In fact, by highlighting the Deobandi identity of terrorists, we are actually de-Pashtunising terrorism because Deobandi terrorists are found in all ethnic groups including Pashtuns, Punjabis, Muhajirs and Balochs etc.
3. Farhat Taj says that “True that most militant groups have Dewbandi connections but the main reasons for this are political, geo-political and strategic rooted in the national (Pakistani) and international context.”
Here she fails to acknowledge the idological and historical intolerance embedded in the Salafi/Wahabi sect and its Pakistani/Afghan/Indian surrogate, i.e., Deobandi sect and its tafkiri mutation. What else would explain the Salafi/Wahabi and Deobandi terrorism across the Muslim world (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq etc) if not the intolerant and deeply puritical ideology inherent in these sects? From Ahmed Shah Durrani to Syed Ahmed Shaheed to Shah Ismail, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq and Mullah Omar to Baitullah Mahsud to Mullah Fazlullah, Deobandi or semi-Salafi ideology has played a key role in sectarian, violent movements against Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and now Sunni Barelivs and Shias. Historical events are a witness to the violent nature of Deobandi and Salafi ideologies.
4. Farhat Taj resorts to false neutrality when she writes that “There is a enough inspiration for violence and extremism in all sources of Islam in which all versions of the religion are rooted. The only requirement is the material provisions and appropriate state-driven context to exploit the inspiration. To essentially attribute violence and extremism to some specific versions of Islam and absolve other of them is, at best, ridiculous and at worst sectarian bigatory and narrow-mindedness.”
This is a classical case of strawman and false neutrality. Nowhere did we absolve non-Deobandi religions and sects from extremist tendencies. However, we only pointed out the high-intensity of intolerant, pro-violence and puritancial undercurrents in the Salafi/Wahabi and Deobandi ideologies which cannot and must not be equated with the generally peaceful nature of other sects and faiths including Sunni Sufis/Barelvis, Shias, Ahmadis and Christians. Any student of international terrorism can witness that Salafis/Wahabis and Deobandis (semi-Salafis), despite their numerical minority in the world of Islam, have dominant, almost exclusive, share of terrorism and violence in Muslim and non-Muslim countries. In Pakistan, Deobandis of all ethnic backgrounds (Pashtun, Punjabi, Baloch etc) are involved in acts of terrorism in all areas and provinces. This statistical fact can neither be hidden nor ignored.
Ironically, when Pashtun friends bash the Punjabi roots of LeJ-ASWJ terrorists, they almost always remove the Deobandi identity of the LeJ-ASWJ. They ignore the fact that ethnicity (Pashtun or Punjabi) is not the issue, the Deobandi sect is!
5. By holding the external factors (material provisions, state-driven context etc) responsible for extremism, violence and intolerance commonly found in Deobandi and Salafi/Wahabi clerics and fanatics, Farhat Taj clearly absolves the Salafi/Wahabi and Deobandi sects from the inherent intolerant, violent and puritanical tendencies embedded in these very ideologies (books, curricula, fatwas, Salafist approach to Islam, actual Jihadist and violent history etc). In other words, Farhat Taj absolves not only (some extremist) Pashtuns but also all Deobandis from all wrongdoings because she considers them passive recipients of ‘material provisions’. Where is Deobandi ulema’s and people’s agency and preference? She ignores the willing role of Deobandi clerics as well as progressive Pashtun leaders such as Bacha Khan (inadvertently) in spreading the Deobandi ideology in Pashtun areas, which was a misjudgement and wrong choice on their part, as was proven in subsequent decades. Of course, Saudi Salafis/Wahabis would never invest in madrassas and mosques owned by Sunni Barelvi/Sufi, Shia or Ahmadi sects. Deobandis, by virture of their very ideology, are ideal partners and surrogates of Salafis/Wahabis, and have gained a lot in term osf power, money, resources due to generous Saudi-ISI-CIA patronage. This important aspect is completely ignored by Farhat Taj in her analysis.
6. Frahat Taj alleges that LUBP post said that “Bacha Khan was a Dewbandi fanatic, hand in gloves with fanatic Dewbandi ulama and hence is God father of the of the Pashtun Taliban today.”
This is yet another case of strawman and false attribution. We only wrote about Bacha Khan’s misjudgement when he decided to spread Deobandi, not Sunni Barelvi/Sufi, madrassas in Pashtun areas. Does that warrant the kind of interpretation that Taj sahiba is attributing to us?
Readers are invited to read our full post on Bacha Khan which includes many references inclding from books/literature available on the ANP’s Bacha Khan Markaz and Darul Uloom Deoband: https://lubpak.com/archives/306211
We reiterate that from the Banu Umayya tribe of the Arabian peninsula to the Pashtun tribes of Pakistan and Afghanistan, it is not the Arab or Pashtun ethnicity which is to be blamed. It is the violent, intolerant ideology (Sufyanism of Umayyads, Takfirism of Khawarij, Salafism of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and takfiri Deobandism of Pakistan/India) that is responsible for brutal beheadings, organ-eatings and graphic inhumanities against non-Deobandi, non-Salafi Muslims and non-Muslims. Those who are ignoring the inherent violent nature of the Salafi and Deobandi ideologies are missing the whole point. Of course, the US, Saudi and Pakistani intelligence agencies played a key role in prostituting the Deobandi and Salafi ideologies and clerics for their strategic agendas but the very selection of these prostitutes was not a coincidence.
On LUBP web site, if we can criticize Jinnah, Bhutto, Khamenei, Zardari, Imran Khan, Munawar Hasan, Shaheedi etc (as we have in the past), why can’t we critically evaluate Bacha Khan, Ahmad Shah Durrani and Shah Waliullah? And why do we have to be called racist or sectarian if some nationalist friends happen to disagree with our analysis? In our view, history is more sacred than our personal political, ethnic and/or religious affiliations or heroes. Academic and historical inquiries and debates should not be discouraged or feared from.
We suggest that while Pashtun nationalist friends legitimately bash Punjabi establishment and Saudi Salafi ideology, they may also wish to reflect on their silence, or worse, defence of Deobandi roots of terrorism.