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Pakistan: ‘Jihadi danger is from the elite, not the poor’

Muslims and modernity: ‘Jihadi danger is from the elite, not the poor’

By Aroosa Shaukat

LAHORE: Most global jihadis are not illiterates raised in poor slums, but from well-off families and with advanced education degrees. “Most of the danger comes from us,” said Majid Nawaz, founder of Khudi, at a seminar titled ‘Muslims and the Modern World The State of the Muslim Ummah’. Young people being educated at “elite” schools and colleges were joining the extremists, he said.

“Terrorists are not just from slums – statistically, a disproportionate number of global jihadis come from a higher education background,” said Nawaz, who was formerly a member of the Hizbut Tahrir (HT). He quit the group to found Khudi, which works to counter extremism.

Nawaz said there was a difference between the political and the religious definitions of the word ‘ummah’. He said there was no contradiction between being a Pakistani and being a Muslim. Pakistanis could carry multiple identities, he said, owing to religious or social affiliations. “People themselves organically determine who they are, as a group or a nation,” he said.

He said it was “politically naive” to demand the implementation of the Sharia, the main aim of the HT. He said that when imposing Sharia, a society chooses a particular interpretation of Islam and closes the door on ijtehad. “Islam must be kept free of political interference,” he said.

He called for a comprehensive national strategy to counter extremism. All political and religious factions should agree on “basic social principles”, he said.

He said that the National Counter Terrorism Authority needed to be activated. He said that the government had not even started the “de-radicalisation of society”.

Science and religion

Science requires free thinking, a mind that questions,” said Pervez Hoodbhoy in his talk on ‘The intellectual decline of the Muslims’. He said that Muslims had moved away from progressive scientific approaches over the last 700-800 years.

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