Comparative analysis of the rise of religious extremism in Arab and Indian Politics
The cases being discussed by the authors here are more significant than the discussion of any other Muslim or Hindu nation because of the fact that these cases discuss the role of these religions in their respective birthplaces. We can realize the importance of this point by considering, for example that the Islamic countries worldwide look towards the Arabic ulemas for validation of their Islamic policies and also each fatwa issued by the Arab ulemas is almost always followed by a similar action by their counterparts in other countries. Similarly, though Hinduism doesn’t have a transnational appeal like Islam, Hindus all over the world still regard India as the ‘holy land’. Thus the followers of both these religions tend to look towards these nations in the hour of crisis of faith.
Interestingly, many of the causes for the rise of extremist Islam in Arabic politics and Hinduism in Indian politics appear to be similar. The states’ unwillingness to recognize the role of religion in the society, the growing influence of secularists which led to the displacement of the traditionalists form their positions of power, and the ability on the part of religious groups to create a successful network of social, educational, religious and charitable organizations across the nation are some of these causes. In fact, the last of these similarities is strikingly apparent in context of the rise of Society of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in India.
However, there are some significant differences, as well, due to the inherently different nature of the society and culture in different countries. One of the major reasons for the rapid growth of Islamism in the Arabic countries during the last few decades is the increasing gap between the elites and non-elites in their socio-economic stature in these countries due to the policies followed by their governments and the protection that it offers to the elites. In many of the countries the non-Islamic population is not sufficiently large to be perceived as a threat to Islam, and thus the jihad or the fight for reformation is mostly with members of the same community who are perceived as a threat to the establishment of an Islamic state.
This economic gap, as well as the growing westernization of the secularist elements, is used by the Islamists to gain a following among the traditional elements of the society. Thus, the present condition of the society is projected as a result of western hegemony which is creating conditions similar to the pre-Islamic...