(Political) Islam and Secularism


The emergence of a kind of violence branded as Islamist militancy is viewed as a serious security threat to established notions of secularism and democratic way of life. Therefore, Islamist militancy is prescribed to be rooted out through military operation; otherwise another form of military. This premise, primarily produced in the West, disregards the dynamics of contested ideology and philosophy between Islam and fundamentalism as well as religion and secularism. This study argues that Islamist militancy cannot be understood by applying the Western interpretation produced in the context of ‘war on terrorism’ following the 9/11 paradigm. It is an imposed conceptual framework to look at religious extremism and Islamist militancy that prescribes to destroy outlaw militants and root out their king-pings as quick solution whilst ignoring its spiritual and political forces as well as its local-global interface. Consequently, military solution by killing militants in return refuels Islamist extremism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh as recurrent history shows. Therefore, there is a need for dialogue between secularism and Islamist militancy because the appearance of Islamism and its militant form exerts a critical challenge to established ways of life associated with secularism and democracy. Although the concept of secularism is a broad one, the study focuses on Islam and particularly emphasises on how the question of secularism and Islamist militancy intertwines and stands face to face where post-cold war global political trajectory, America’s appearance in global domination, Western engagement in middle-east issues, geopolitical potentiality of USA-Israel-India ties, 9/11 paradigm in local-global nexus and implication of ‘war on terrorism’ are at the center. How such global phenomenon—the relations with the West vs. the rest and secularism vs. Islamist extremism—is significantly operational in everyday life of the people at local level of a third world country also needs to be considered for comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of Islamist militancy. Under this purview, this research examines ‘Islamist militancy’ ethnographically attempting to know why, how, and in what context, people are involved in Islamist militancy and what motivates them to become die-hard in killing other people presumably belonging to the secular category and the local presence of global opponent.

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