By Somali K Chakrabarti
What lures young people into terrorism? Can anything be done to prevent people from indulging in violence? Is it ever possible to establish peace in society?
I am sure, such questions must have risen an umpteen number of times in your mind whenever you would have heard or read about violent terrorist attacks. Such attacks are mostly orchestrated by people who are brainwashed by radical organizations to carry out the acts of terror. The indoctrination, and involvement of youth in terrorism is a highly alarming trend that seems to have caught up all over the world from Nigeria, to Kenya, to Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Paris, and lately Pathankot.
The rising threat of terrorism leaves a common thread of concern across the world.
So, in Nov 2015, when I received a book called ‘The Age of Peace’, from a co-blogger friend, I thought that the book appeared somewhat incongruous with the explosive happenings around the world. What roused my curiosity further was that on the back cover of the book it was mentioned that the purpose of the book is to re-engineer the minds of those who think in terms of violence.
‘Sounds like mission impossible in these turbulent times,’ I thought, flipping through the pages. I decided to give it a read just to find out what it had to offer. I’m glad I did so because by the time I finished reading the book, I was highly impressed by the profound sagacity of its author, who has conveyed the message of peace in an inspiring, simple and convincing manner.
The author, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, I came to know, is a noted Islamic scholar and peace activist, and the founder of founder of Centre of Peace and Spirituality in New Delhi. The nonagenarian, who shares Gandhian views, is known to work relentlessly for championing the cause of peace and non-violence. He is a recipient of numerous humanitarian awards in India and abroad, including the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honor in India, and the Demiurgus Peace International Award.
Later, a search on the net revealed that PM Narendra Modi, on a number of occasions, has urged people to read the views of this scholar, a preacher of non-violence and a crusader of peace, who has been working tirelessly for bringing about spiritual reforms in Islam.
Read views of Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan on Assam riots. You may also like to read. Sharing the article http://t.co/Qagk9EF8
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 13, 2012
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s knowledge & efforts towards peace make him one of the most respected scholars, admired all over.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 30, 2015
Through his book ‘The Age of Peace‘, Maulana Wahidudin Khan aims to:
- help those who are engaged in violence realize that the present age is an age of peace
- lay out the guiding principles based on which it is possible to establish peace in the society.
As a part of #SpreadTheVibe initiative organized by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with Indiblogger, I will share with you, some snippets from the book that have left an imprint on my mind.
Peace and Justice
Since the earliest of times, great minds, right from Aristotle, to St Augustine, from Bertrand Russell to Mahatma Gandhi, have advocated adherence to peace. Yet, we see that in reality peace has never really been established for long periods.
What is the reason for this failure to establish peace?
The general concept of peace, the scholar says, is based on social justice.
The Constitution of International Labour Organization, a United Nations body affirms
‘Universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice.‘
Challenging this generally accepted concept of peace, the author says that as long as we think of peace as a derivative of social justice, it will remain elusive. Justice should not be a criteria for maintaining peace, rather peace should be established at any cost for the sake of normalcy. The only workable formula is to accept peace as the status quo.
Peace is like ‘social soil’, by cultivating which we can receive the fruits of social justice.
Peace is not just the absence of war, it is a pre-condition for progress and social development. Peace brings with it enormous opportunities. It is the ‘summum bonum’ or the greatest good that is devoid of any negative effects.
The secret of success in life is not to make others suffer loses at your hands. The secret of success in life is to plan one’s time and energy wisely to avail of the opportunities within one’s reach.
This very thought reiterated in my mind the rationality of the saying that you can’t solve violence with violence. ‘Án eye for an eye makes the world blind.’
The Culture of Terrorism
Violence or terrorism is a negation of God’s creation plan. Neither reason nor conscience can ever sanction it. Terrorism always ends in repentance.
Touching upon sensitive issues such as the menace of terrorism, militancy, extremist ideologies, suicide bombings, and using ‘jihad’ to legitimise militancy, Maulana Wahidudin Khan says that the present militancy has no sanction in Islam. Any deviation from peace, he asserts, is a deviation from Islam.
Why are the Youth Joining Terrorist Groups?
It is a known fact that terrorists attempt to recruit those who are most vulnerable in the society and involve them in terrorist activities exploiting their vulnerability, need for identity, belonging or for vengeance. The ready availability of deadly weapons as commodities has fuelled the terror culture.
The author says that Terrorism begins with hate and ends in repentance. The youth swept by emotions end up in perpetrating terrorist acts. A survey reveals that those who engage in terrorist activities experience deep frustration towards the end of their lives.
Education, both formal and informal, he says, would serve as a deterrent factor. The educated people who join these groups fail to understand the spirit of Islam. The author has stressed upon the need for a Counter-Ideology to curb Terrorism. The struggle against terrorism, he says, has to take place in the mental and emotional domains of the youth. Countering the vulnerability of youths towards extremism and terrorism has to be done by re-engineering of the mind – by educating people’s minds along peaceful lines.
Futility of Wars
History tells us that war is like a rootless tree. A storm can completely uproot it. But a peaceful plan is like a tree which stands upright on its own strong roots and remains unaffected by storms.
Talking about the futility of wars, the author says that war is an archaic and outdated concept. In the ancient age people tried to bring about change through force, and this led to war.
The present age that provides people with alternatives to fulfill their ambitions without resorting to violence. Now, it is possible to bring about a change in the society through mass education.
Backed by numerous examples from different parts of the world, from the past centuries to the modern age, the author advocates the use of non – confrontational method, peaceful activism, and spreading the message of peace through education and awareness.
The book has changed my perception that the idea of a peaceful society is a utopian thought that is found perhaps only in a few mythological stories. It has reinforced my belief that no religion can preach violence. Extremism, terrorism and wars are a fallout of greed of all those, who distort and misinterpret religion and use it to their convenience.
Some books entertain, some educate, and some expand your horizon in a way that leaves a lasting impression on the mind. The Age of Peace, is one such book that falls in the latter category.
It is a book that I would urge all to read. You can read it online at www.cpsglobal.org
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