Unrelenting Jihad in the cause of Allah
Army of Madinah in Kashmir was written for two audiences: radicalized young men and potential donors. Young men and money are the two key resources needed to maintain any jihad, and the most effective means of finding recruits and financial support is to prove that any theater of jihad is a defensive jihad. Defensive jihad obligates Muslims to provide individual support, what is called fard ‘ayn, or individual duty *. Al-Hindi achieves this by narrating “facts” about Kashmir, and then highlighting the piety of the Muslim population of Kashmir and the young men involved. We can see the same rhetoric is used today in the media produced by all global Islamist movements.
Al-Hindi begins the body of Army with a caveat, cautioning the reader that the book is something more than a collection of facts. “This is not a historical essay,” he writes, “Rather it is a truthful, first hand witnessed exposure about the more recent affairs which have been transpiring…” But he has to set the stage for his central narrative, highlighting as he does mujahideen activity within Kashmir. He does this with a table (reproduced here) – “Kashmir: A Profile at a Glance” -- and few pages of “history.” The solution to the dispute over Kashmir, he writes, is “An unrelenting Jihad in the Cause of Allah.” These “facts” provide “proof” that mujahideen activity in Kashmir is a defensive jihad.
However, facts wouldn’t matter if the act isn’t sanctioned by God. It becomes clear immediately that religion occupies a central place in Al-Hindi’s jihad narrative.
For instance, he uses a quote from the Quran to justify the Kashmiri jihad as a proper defensive jihad:
From this and numerous other passages throughout Army, the reader quickly realizes that the paramilitary activity Al-Hindi describes is for him a sacramental act, sanctioned by Allah. “Who knows how many Angels their Lord has deployed,” he writes of the mujahideen, “reinforcing their ranks granting the believers success in their raids and ambushes which otherwise would amount to no avail.”
Religion means something very different here. It is not just a lifestyle choice in the Western sense. Rather, Al-Hindi and his audience see it as a complete system of behavior, dictated by Allah. Everything a man does needs to conform to Allah’s will as it is revealed in Islam’s holy books. This vision of life is what informs Al-Hindi’s odd, but illuminating footnote to the term “freedom fighter” on Page 17. He doesn’t like the term, he writes, because it
…is not a correct indication of what the Mujahid fights for. As per the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allah when he was asked: “A man fights for nationalism, a man fights for war booty, and a man fights to show off – which of these is in the way of Allah?” and the Messenger replied ‘Whoever fights to make the word of Allah supreme then it is in the way of Allah’”
Al-Hindi is constantly providing proof that Kashmir is a “defensive Jihad using “evidence” wrought with hyperbole that builds an image of innocent Muslim suffering reflected in the Quranic verse quoted at the beginning who are the targets of “the occupying forces [who] have been free to commit every kind of mass atrocity it seems yet to be matched by mankind.” Later in the book, Al-Hindi will describe some of these alleged “atrocities,” and so I will skip the details for now.
Once he builds the “local” frame to justify Kashmir as a defensive jihad, Al-Hindi moves on to discuss in general terms “freedom fighters,” and their enemy, the Indian army. India is desperate, he says, “to keep an iron grip on the state has shamefully deployed a full two-fifths of their entire military machine into Kashmir.” The mujahideen are only “a rag tag force,” that relies on what he calls “a Guerilla Jihad retaliation strategy which surprising as it may seem has been quite successful thus far. It is continuing, escalating and maturing as time elapses.”
A reader will recognize the narrative from numerous Al Qaeda media, and perhaps see the pattern of paramilitary training and activity that resurfaced in Iraq after the invasion. Perhaps if the US had studied the Bosnian and Kashmiri jihads a bit more closely we would have been able to anticipate some of the tactics and strategies. Throughout Army there are moments of reverse déjà vu, where the reader recognizes some terrorist activity used against the Indian army – such as roadside bombs – that would be effectively deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
* Bin Laden’s 1996 declaration of war is a perfect example of Al Qaeda leadership using the same arguments. After highlighting then-current American activity in the Middle East, including UN sanctions against Iraq, he writes:
All these crimes and sins committed by the American are a clear declaration of war on Allah, His Messenger, and the Muslims. Ulema throughout Islamic history are unanimously agreed that the jihad is an individual duty whenever the enemy tears into the land of the Muslims.
Bin Laden goes on to list a few supporting ulema and then quotes Ibn Tamiyya who he calls the
‘Sheikh of Islam’ [who] in his chronicles, where he states:
‘As for defensive warfare, this is the greatest way to defend sanctity and religion. This is an obligation consensually agreed to [by the ulema]. After faith, there is nothing more sacred than repulsing the enemy who attacks religion and life.’”
[Source: The Al Qaeda Reader, pp. 12-13]