Political Islam : Salafisation of Jihadism And Jihadisation of Sufism

By : Aliyu Dahiru Aliyu

Instrumentalisation of religion and denominational allegiance in Islam by some Muslims with vested interests can be seen throughout Islamic history. Religion is used, now and then, by various actors as placebo for the poor masses who can’t differentiate between political or business Islam and spiritual Islam. Imperialism and colonialism by corrupt Muslim leaders back in the history is portrayed as a religious struggle to amplify the voice of Islam. Most of the Islamic fundamentalists, salafists in particular, think that the best way to propagate words of God is through the same method followed by “pious predecessors” of war and bloodshed in the name of Islamic conquests or “futuhats” and by drawing lines between “darul Islam” (abode of Islam) and “darul harb” (abode of war).

However, in this neo-jihadism, identity politics is more of interest to the perpetrators than religious belief. Religious sectarianism and extremism are offshoots of political and other vested interests. Terrorism is perverted identity politics mixed with religious sentiments. The trend is not only within Islam but through many religions. Buddhism, a religion considered peaceful, massacred many Muslims in the Myanmar city of Rakhine using the same method. It was one Hindu fanatic, who thought Mahatma Mohandis Gandhi was supporting Pakistan, killed the icon of peace and the second person of the century using religion to justify his malicious mischief. It is important to understand that religion which preaches peace, terrorism is not representing it.

By the way, western world tried to europeanise the world using imperialism at the same time when its philosophers were proposing what they called enlightenment. They thought religion, political view and culture were uncivilised if they didn’t follow the same line as that of John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Nietschez or Kierkegard. The west designed a government to serve its interests not the interests of the natives. At that time, Islam gave the oppressed people a sense of identity and protection. Europe used to be seen as source of evil which came to destroy everything Islamic with its Christian missionaries and imperial laws. Religious and traditional leaders defended their country using religious language and sermons to motivate their people. This happened with Muslims in Libya, Mali and other Islamic nations who suffered western colonialism. Religious sermons used to be mixed with anti-colonial sentiments.

Depressingly, religious extremists are now using the same anti-imperial sentiments by those predecessors to justify bloody neo-jihadism. Most of those anti-colonial masters were Sufis who authored many books that are now being used by fundamentalists to bomb and destroy cities they considered as abode of war. Most of salafists, who have, de facto, monopoly of neo-jihadism, takfire sufis! Isn’t it irony that they are using the same people they considered as heretics and unbelievers as a shield to protect themselves from an external attack within Islam? They are trying to jihadize sufism at the time when they salafized jihadism! One thing to remember is, Sufis retaliated the attacks of colonialists who came to change everything Islamic, while salafi-jihadists came to bring a new version of Islam using what they termed as holy war and Islamic conquests.