‘Political Islam’ is the application of Islam as a tool at the community level to gain politico-social mileage or dominance. In Islam, religion and politics are interwoven; one cannot be separated from the other. Though the term ‘Political Islam’ was first coined in 1980 by Martin Kramer, a scholar of the Middle East, it was no invention. It was rather a discovery, as Islam has been in use to gain political power and social control since its inception. As per the standard Islamic narrative (developed in the 9th century AD), the Islamic Empire started its expansion from a tiny town of Arabia called Medina in 622 AD and became one of the biggest empires of history in the next 100 years. Islam has been an empire-building religion.
Following Spanish Reconquista in 1492 AD, the expansion of the Islamic empire halted in the West, but its expansion continued in the East. There was a substantial increase in the Muslim population in Asia during the next 450 years after 1492 AD. Political Islam came in handy for the Muslims of Asia to impose Islam in Asia’s many areas. Gradually Islamic empire broke down and many independent Islamic/Muslim countries came into existence in the twentieth century. Today there are about 1.9 billion Muslims and 50 plus Muslim/Islamic countries in the world. The Muslim population is substantial in many non-Muslim countries too.
Specifically speaking, Indonesia, Malaysia and undivided India saw a surge in the Muslim population after 1492 AD. Islamic Indonesia became independent in 1945. During the first half of twentieth-century British India went through ugly Hindu-Muslim tension that led to the creation of Islamic Pakistan (including today’s Muslim Bangladesh also) in 1947 for Muslims of the Indian sub-continent. Muslim Malaysia became independent in 1957.
As a part of Political Islam, the unprovoked aggression of Islamists toward non-Muslims is ingrained in Islamic scripture (Quran 9:123). Islam mandates pious Muslims to conquer all non-Muslims and convert them to Islam. This attribute comes so naturally to the Muslims that they don’t find anything bad or immoral in such aggressions. The fact can be better understood from a historical event not very old.
“At the height of the eighteenth century, Muslim pirates were the terror of the Mediterranean and a large area of the North Atlantic. They attacked every ship in sight and held the crews for exorbitant ransoms. Those taken hostage were subjected to barbaric treatment, and wrote heartbreaking letters home, begging their government and family members to pay whatever their Mohammedan captors demanded.
These extortionists of the high seas represented the Islamic nations of Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers and collectively referred to as the Barbary Coast and presented a dangerous and unprovoked threat to the ships of the new American Republic.
In 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams of the USA (both future Presidents at that time) met the Ambassador of Islamic Tripoli to Great Britain and asked by what right his nation attacked American ships and enslaved American citizens, and why Muslims held so much hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.
The Muslim Ambassador replied, “it was written in their Quran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoner, and that every Muslim who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.” [https://www.politifact.com/barbary/].
The pressure of Political Islam did not reduce in independent India even after the formation of Islamic Pakistan in 1947. About one-third of the total Muslims of the Indian sub-continent (British India) did not migrate to Pakistan and stayed back in India. They and their descendants, over the decades, have brought India back to its turbulent period of 1930 to 1947 by using Political Islam. As of 2021, secular democratic India has the third-highest Muslim population (200 million) after Islamic Indonesia (231 million) and Islamic Pakistan (212 million).
Several Islamists who moonlight as moderate Muslims, who are in politics, public life and social media behave like “Alternating Current”. They play the ‘victim card’ and ‘aggression card’ in the same breath. They cry (as a helpless minority)) and threaten (the majority Hindu community) at the same time. In public, they try to differentiate between Hinduism and Hindutva by calling Hinduism ‘good’ and Hindhutv ‘bad’.
Muslims in India constituted about 15 percent, while Hindus constituted about 80 percent of the total population in 2021. In their endeavour to Islamize India, Islamists were also helped by Congress and so-called Leftist, Secular and Liberal Hindu leaders and their regional political parties for vote-bank-politics. Presently India is passing through a Civilizational crisis created by Political Islam, coupled with neglect for Hinduism and Hindu heritage and the practice of Muslim-leaning-secularism 67 years after independence.