Is Modi A Fascist? Au Contraire. True Fascism Comes From Left-Islamist Abrahamic Ideologies

Is Modi A Fascist? Au Contraire. True Fascism Comes From Left-Islamist Abrahamic Ideologies

by R Jagannathan - Tuesday, April 7, 2020 12:38 PM IST
Is Modi A Fascist? Au Contraire. True Fascism Comes From  Left-Islamist Abrahamic IdeologiesPrime Minister Narendra Modi. 
  • When Modi or his party are called fascist, it is not just a case of pot calling the kettle black; it is a case of Leftist pot and Islamist kettle closing ranks to deflect attention from their own weird blackness.

It has now become common for the Left-Liberal-Crypto-Islamist opposition to call Narendra Modi a “fascist” every time the people respond to his call. Modi and his alleged “Hindu majoritarian” policies are now being equated by his hate-filled critics with Nazism.

At some time or the other since 2002, and especially after 2014, we have seen individuals from the Left-Liberal-Crypto-Islamist groups rant about Modi’s fascism.

These people include Left 'intellectuals' like Prashant Bhushan and Kavita Krishnan, closet Jinnahs such as Asaduddin Owaisi or leaders of the Indian Union Muslim League, political opponents like Mamata Banerjee, former colleagues-turned-foes like Yashwant Sinha, and even Bollywood poets like Javed Akhtar or former Supreme Court judges.

The Western media, of course, encourages such characterisation of Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the epitome of Nazism and Hindu supremacism (read just two samples here and here).

For starters, words like majoritarianism and fundamentalism make no sense in the Indian Hindu context, for a majority has to be defined by some common characteristics, and fundamentalism has to be clearly underpinned by a common ideology. You can’t be a Christian unless you believe that Jesus is the one true god; you can’t be a Muslim without accepting Allah as the only god, and Muhammed as his last prophet.

Hinduism, with no single founder or set of widely accepted doctrines, and with no physically defining characteristic such as race or ethnicity, can neither be called majoritarian nor fundamentalist. At best, you can characterise some of the votaries of Hinduism as assertive of their identities.

Some are militant and indulge in violence. But plural Hinduism is incapable of becoming fundamentalist or extreme beyond a point. An ethos that believes in Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti (There is one truth, but the wise speak of it in different ways).

On the other hand, authoritarianism and dictatorship are in-built into the ideas of one god or one people evolved in the Western context, and now adopted by modern-day Islamists. Abrahamic binaries are super-efficient in 'othering' people as 'kafirs’, 'idolaters', 'infidels' or 'devil-worshippers' despite outward professions of universal 'love' or 'peace'. Abrahamic faiths are easy to hijack in the name of truth towards totalitarianism.

Consider how easy it was for Mohammad Ali Jinnah to launch a Direct Action Day and turn his people violent and ultimately partition India along religious lines. Consider also how easy it is for the Muslim masses even today to completely overlook the persecution of Hindus and other minorities in three neighbouring Islamic countries.

A small concession of early citizenship to the persecuted is now seen as anti-Muslim and Islamophobic even though all existing citizenship laws on naturalisation remain on the statute book.

The completely irresponsible behaviour of the Tablighi Jamaat in the context of the Covid-19 threat has now become a reason to threaten the media, care workers and law-enforcers in general.

It is not unusual for arsonists to cry “fire” in order to deflect suspicion from themselves, and the entire effort to paint Modi and the BJP as fascist by the Left-Islamist opposition is clearly led by the need to divert attention from the truly fascist threat of Left-Islamist alignments in India.

India’s 'liberals' have attached themselves to this Left-Islamist bandwagon as they have been fully discredited and marginalised by the rise of Modi.

One can call Modi a centraliser, someone who likes to keep his cards close to his chest, but to call him fascist when he has not even ordered his own chief ministers to toe his line is simply false.

Popular leaders, who tend to command a degree of adulation from the masses, are easy to categorise as “fascist”. By this definition, everyone from Mamata Banerjee to (the late) J Jayalalithaa and Bal Thackeray and M Karunanidhi, to Mayawati and Naveen Patnaik can be categorised as “fascist”.

On the other hand, the truth is fascism and totalitarianism are really Left-Islamist ideals, since they emerged from the same idea that social justice demands authoritarian rule.

Karl Marx believed that his classless society required the dictatorship of the proletariat, and modern Islamists, from Sayyid Qutb to Hassan Al Banna to Maulana Maududi, have also rubbished democracy as antithetical to the idea of Islam.

To understand the philosophical underpinnings of Nazism and Islamism, let’s start with the Nazi slogan: Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer (One people, one nation, one leader). If you bring god into the equation, we can add Ein Gott (One god, or La Ilaha Ill-Allah).

While the idea of ‘One God’ (especially one community’s version of god) is common to Judaism and Christianity too, the former escaped the possibility of reducing itself to Nazism since it does not seek world domination or conversion from other faiths; the latter, Christianity, moderated itself with the rise of science and enlightenment values over the last few centuries. Its way of keeping the essential authoritarianism embedded in the idea of One True God was to separate church and state.

Christian nations can be diverse temporally even if their god is unitarian. In Islam, this does not exist even in theory, since the prophet was political, religious and military leader all rolled into one.

Today, the Jewish state and most Christian nations are democracies, but that is not the case with Muslim-majority countries. In our sub-continent, Pew Research found that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh, who have strong links to Indian Muslims, want Sharia law. Put another way, many Muslims want the temporal and religious worlds to merge into one.

It is also worth recalling that Adolf Hitler himself had the virulently anti-Semitic Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Al-Husseini, as his ally during the Second World War. While Hitler, with his racial attitudes, thought of Muslims as inferior to his Aryan race, he often contrasted the effeminate attitude of the Christian church negatively with the aggressive attitudes of Islam.

According to David Motadel, a historian who wrote a book on Islam and Nazi Germany's War, “whenever denouncing the Catholic Church, Hitler routinely contrasted it with Islam. While he denounced Catholicism as a weak, effeminate religion, he praised Islam as a strong, aggressive, martial religion.” (Read Motadel’s interview here).

Modern Islamism – from whose influence Indian Islam is not exempt – has been impacted heavily by three thinkers, Egyptians Hassan Al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and the latter a member and ideologue, and Maulana Maududi, the Pakistani founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

All of them saw Allah as beyond reason and as pure will. All three saw Islam as not just a religion, but an ideology of power that united heaven and earth into one realm ruled by Islamic thought and ideals.

Robert Reilly, author of The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist, notes the close parallels between Western authoritarianism and Islamism. Islamism’s ideologues, says Reilly, “were naturally drawn to fascism and communism as more compatible with what they already believed because these models are based upon the primacy of the will and the denigration of reason”.

Reilly quotes Maulana Maududi: “Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam regardless of the country or the nation which rules it.”

Reilly adds: “modern radical Islamism and 20th century western totalitarian movements are not simply akin, moving in parallel to each other. There was a good deal of ideological cross-pollination and they had real working connections. This is not news in respect to Nazism and Hitler’s Mufti, Amin al-Husayni, but such relations also existed with the Soviet Union, as outlined in Laurent Murawiec’s book, The Mind of Jihad… Islamism is an ideology in the classic sense in that it offers, or rather insists upon, an alternative reality – one that collapses the separate realms of the divine and the human, and arrogates to itself the means to achieve perfect justice here in this world…”.

To reach its goal of total justice, Maududi is quoted as saying that “Islam wants the whole earth and does not content itself with only a part thereof. It wants and requires the entire inhabited world.” Hassan Al-Banna regarded the Soviet one-party state under Stalin as a model.

Concludes Reilly: “The fuel for the permanent war is the same for Islamism as it was for Marxism-Leninism and Nazism: it is hatred. Only the object of hatred changes – from race hatred in Nazism to class hatred in communism to hatred of the infidel in radical Islamism…”.

If today the forces of crypto-Islamism in India and the Left-Liberal intelligentsia are coming together in opposition to an elected Prime Minister and his mandate, whether to scuttle the Citizenship Amendment Act or to subvert the nation’s fight against a dreaded virus (Covid-19) on the plea that it is anti-Muslim, it is because they are the true torch-bearers of Nazism and fascism.

Qutb said: “whoever says that legislation is the right of the people is not a Muslim”.

This could be one reason why many Muslims reject the CAA legislation and why some segments of the Tablighi Jamaat leadership believe it is above man-made laws even during a pandemic.

Indian Islam is at the crossroads because it is still rooted in the anti-reason ideologies espoused by narrow-minded imams and mullahs, who fear a loss of power if Indian Muslims merge with the mainstream of Indian politics. Islam closed its doors to reason (Ijtihad) somewhere between the eighth and 10th centuries. Till the doors are reopened, and as long as fundamentalisms enunciated by the likes of the Tabligh remain attractive to many young Muslims, the charge of fascism and Nazism is more logically applied to Islamism than to Modi or the BJP.

Modi may be a charismatic leader who inspires more than just ordinary respect among his followers; but when he gave the #9baje9minute call to Indians last Sunday, those who wanted to make an issue of disagreeing with him were free to do so, and keep their lights on through those nine minutes. No fascist would have allowed for anything but 100 per cent compliance with his wishes.

So when Modi or his party are called fascist, it is not just a case of pot calling the kettle black; it is a case of Leftist pot and Islamist kettle closing ranks to deflect attention from their own weird blackness.

Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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