Rage Against Jihad (One)

The Genesis and Growth of Global Jihad
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What is clear, however, is that a photographer and witness to some of the Rebellion had no trouble labeling it, classifying it as a mosque-cum-safe haven for the dangerous, seditious Muslim rebels. This image and its assumed truths tells us all we need to know about religiosity and revolt: they are linked, they are linked to Islam, and they are linked to the events of — This supposed objectivity is crucial for how we continue to evaluate belonging, identity, and authenticity.

Connecting a house of worship to rebellion is at once specific—it refers to this pictured mosque—and generic—this mosque is unnamed, unpeopled, a categorical stand-in for all the other mosques like it. What might it mean to assert that rebels may have prayed in this building? What does it tell its viewers about the bloodshed of the Rebellion, the responsible parties, their assumed identities?

How does this one image help us, contemporary viewers, understand the legacies of the Rebellion and its simultaneous minoritization and racialization of Muslims? The three violent days in May with which we began were the beginning of a long year that marks one of the most important events in South Asian and British history alike. While there are many lesser-known examples of Indic resistance to colonial rule, the centrality of remains in both Euro-American and South Asian historiographies e.

The events of the Great Rebellion—the initial sepoy involvement, its spread to civilians, its multiple massacres on both sides, the years of famine and deaths that followed, and the brutal ways in which the British regime sought to put down any hint of rebellion in its wake—are enormously significant in their size, scope, and lasting imprint on British and South Asia popular history and imagination. There can be no doubt that scars the history and historiography of South Asia.

There is also little doubt that the massive imperial reconfiguration and response to Rebellion fundamentally alters definitions of religion, an issue of vital import here: how the Rebellion contours notions of religion has serious implications for the study of humanities. I will return to these implications below. But as Peter Gottschalk has masterfully established, South Asia was the physical and imagined location for categorizations of religion, and it fundamentally altered how religion is thought about, well beyond British rule historically and Indian borders geographically.

The Great Rebellion seismically reconfigures the ways in which both religion and particular religions are defined, characterized, and classified. The year marks not only South Asian and British histories, but the history of the study of religion as well. Religion as a starting point for rebellion was an omnipresent fascination for Britons in and while discussing South Asia. Religion existed as a thing —sui generis, intact, and whole—to be feared for its power, specifically its power over uncouth Indian masses.

One commentator remarked: "Religion is not a thing to be trifled with, and the dullest and most phlegmatic will be roused to the boiling point of rage and enthusiasm when it once is affected" Lewin, But British observers and officials were not equally concerned by all religions—not all religions appeared to contain the possibility of boiling rage. British observers and officials saw Muslims and Islam as uniquely susceptible to violence due to religious offence, obligation, and sentiment.

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According to a Quinnipiac poll, 36 percent of respondents had an unfavorable view of Rep. Jihad and Genocide by Richard L. Thus a time will come when a new means of travel will come into being, removing the need for camels. Contemporary comparisons of Israel with Nazi Germany particularly concern Rubenstein. Their guilty conscience tells them that the bad deeds that they continually practise against the righteous are sinful, but still the fierce fire of their blazing jealousy keeps dragging them deeper into the pits of their enmity.

The Rebellion marks a dramatic moment in which Muslims come to be both minoritized and racialized. Just as one cannot understand the history of the study of religion without navigating portrayals of India, neither can one comprehend a contemporary, racialized relationship between Muslims and jihad without first locating its historical correlation to the Rebellion. The Rebellion is a discernable moment in the processes of the minoritization and racialization of Indian Muslims.

Minoritization should not be confused with a demographic minority. It is, instead, the systematic process by which elites deny access to a group through an implementation of power, broadly defined. They achieved this through both de jure [2] and de facto shifts that included the discontinuation of Islamicate and Indic languages in official settings and real or perceived mistreatment of Muslims. Minoritization is one of the key processes I explored in Indian Muslim Minorities and the Rebellion. Racialization is the other. I argue that together, racialization and minoritization create a narrative that forms modern understandings of Muslims.

Where minoritization collapses a group into a singularity with both identifiable and marginal traits, racialization marks individuals as having immutable traits because of their membership in a particular group.

The concept and construct of race includes essentialization of groups based upon traits imagined to be inherent, hereditary, and prognostic—that is to say, rooted in pseudo- biology and therefore scientifically "real" such as Robb, 1. Religions are not races—Islam is not a race—but Islam and its practitioners are racialized.

After the Rebellion, Britons portray Muslims in India as inherently seditious, bound by both law and intrinsic disposition to violence, and necessarily ill-tempered, incorrigible, and unable to be ruled by non-Muslims. Depictions of Muslims show them possessing inherent, unchanging, and transmittable characteristics. These are decidedly racialized classifications: Muslims cannot escape these traits; they are imagined to be part of the fundamental composition of what and who is Muslim.

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To be otherwise, in effect, would indicate that one is not Muslim. Indeed, they often demand and require the participation of those who have been racialized and minoritized.

These are pernicious systems of power, definition, and classification. For Indian Muslims, racialization and minoritization requires stories of the Great Rebellion. The Rebellion triggered questions about Muslims, specifically how and if Muslims belonged to—or in—British India. In the book from which this essay in drawn, I critically and primarily engaged with two authors invested in this question. His defensive writing about the Rebellion demonstrates a minoritized and racialized Muslim community, distinctively and uniquely held accountable for the violence of — This exchange serves to demonstrate discursive minoritization and racialization, and the ways that those processes become hegemons against which Muslims, too, must struggle to be defined.

In other words, while Britons asked and demanded answers to the so-called Muslim question, Muslims engaging in this discourse similarly perpetuated the idea that Muslims stand as a unique, cogent group. They thus participate—albeit asymmetrically—in the processes of definition, racialization, and minoritization. But for clarity and brevity, I will focus on one other salient example: the debate about whether or not jihad was permitted against the British, and specifically what came to be known as the Calcutta fatwa. This was a ruling that declared jihad was not permissible: it bluntly dismissed the religious obligation and permissibility of a religiously defined or sanctioned revolt against British rulers in South Asia.

However, the Calcutta fatwa was routinely dismissed by British observers—or, worse, used as evidence against Muslims by a logic rooted in racialized notions of Islam: such a argument suggested that even if a few Muslims could prove their trustworthiness, the masses could not due to their inborn violent natures.

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I argue, due to the logics of racialization and minoritization, that the Calcutta fatwa therefore came to represent the precise opposite of what it literally stated: Muslims were indeed bound and altogether likely to rebel against the Queen. Few concepts have been subjected to more consistent distortion than the Arabic word jihad—whose literal meaning is "striving for a worthy and ennobling cause" but which is commonly thought today to mean "holy war" against non-Muslims.

Jalal, 3. We live in a political era in which the word "jihad" is ubiquitous and heavily debated.

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The period shortly following the Rebellion was, in this respect, rather similar. Its presence suggests a preoccupation with a complex Islamic legal term that, as Jalal points out, does not literally mean "holy war," even if it can and has been used in that context. In the context of the Great Rebellion and in its repercussions, jihad was both a conceptual metric by which to measure the loyalty of Muslims, and, perhaps more importantly, how Muslims came to be known and understood post For both nineteenth-century British imperial agents and South Asian Muslims, jihad was a religious legal concept as well as a potential outcome.

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Jihad, like any legal concept in Islam, is addressed by trained scholars and relevant pronouncements i. Islamic legal scholars have debated jihad in terms of its uses, definitions, and deployments, and these jurisprudential conversations have been neither simple nor simplistic across epoch and region.

The legal concepts of dar-ul-islam a land of peace or Islam or dar-ul-aman a land of protection or peace and dar-ul-harb a land of war reigned supreme in debates about the application of jihad beginning in the mid-eighteenth century and gained prominence in the early nineteenth century. Dar-ul-harb , contrastingly, referred to regions in which Islam had not yet spread or taken a position of primacy; in this way, dar-ul-harb marked territories that might merit just or holy wars.

In reality, though, most Muslim empires and, indeed, many jurists—especially Hanafi jurists [8] —troubled simplistic definition and actions based upon such simplistic interpretations Ahmad, 6. Muslims reinterpreted and recast the notions of dar-ul-islam and dar-ul-harb, issues that gained urgency in the context of land-grabs and European expansion. Jihad, as a possible outcome of these designations, emerged as a concern across colonial contexts, certainly within the British Empire and also for French, Russian, Dutch, and other European imperial powers.

Thus, there are two related issues hidden in the notion of jihad: first, the threat of anti-imperial movements, specifically those rooted in Islamic discourse; and second, a racialized conceptualization of Islam and a corresponding idea of a universal Muslim identity. There are two related issues hidden in the notion of jihad: first, the threat of anti-imperial movements, specifically those rooted in Islamic discourse; and second, a racialized conceptualization of Islam and a corresponding idea of a universal Muslim identity.

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All of these issues are the context in which the Calcutta fatwa came into being. In November , in response to inflammatory newspaper articles, ongoing accusations of sedition, and a general climate of suspicion, the Muhammadan Literary Society of Calcutta asked Maulvi Karamat Ali, a Hanafi jurist, to offer a ruling on whether Muslims were required by religious law to rebel against the Queen—to rule, in other words, about jihad. Go on then!

Go on, burn yourself [expletive]! Within the frame of the story, the interrogator is a seemingly unprepared negotiator in a dangerous real-time situation. Outside the frame, he acts as the locus of common wisdom, making the rhetorical points contemporary listeners expect to hear in the dramatization of what is, by now, a well-worn argument. But our bomber is already familiar with this kind of judgment and rejection.

In the next verse, he describes how his poverty leaves him unprotected from economic and political violence. Why, what for? His lack of connections and capital defeats him at every turn. The character hints that he was kidnapped and tortured by police, and this is the last straw. Static noises erupt under the last two lines, shifting us back into the sonic and personal space of the man on the transceiver.

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