Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, born in 1925, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. The mission of his life has been the establishment of worldwide peace. He has received the Padma Bhushan, the Demiurgus Peace International Award and Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Peace award for promoting peace in Muslim societies. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognised as one of its most influential Muslims1 . His books have been translated into sixteen languages and are part of university curricula in six countries. He is the founder of the Centre for Peace and Spirituality based in New Delhi.


AMERICA staunchly opposed communist Russia, but rather than drop a nuclear bomb on it, it devised and supported a literary campaign against the communist regime. Innumerable books were published in various languages and widely disseminated, which were critical of the philosophy of Communism. A great deal of careful planning had gone into challenging Communism at the ideological level. This strategy was successful, and in 1991 the USSR collapsed, after sixty-nine years of existence.  

This is a good model for tackling the current so-called ‘Islamic’ terrorist movements. Terrorism in the name of Islam is based entirely on the misinterpretation of Islamic texts. One example of this misinterpretation derives from a verse of the Quran, which says: ‘All power belongs to God alone’ (12: 40). In this verse, power is used to denote the supernatural power of God. However, Muslim extremist thinkers have misinterpreted it to mean political power. Furthermore, these extremist thinkers claim that Muslims, as representatives of God, should establish God’s rule on earth. This assumption is wrong because it is based on a Quranic verse taken out of context.

Another verse in the Quran says: (5: 8) ‘Follow the principle of justice [in your life]’. Misinterpretation of this verse has given it the transitive sense, instead of the original intransitive sense used in the Quran. The verb used above does not have any direct object of action, but the wrong interpretation has taken the object of action as the outside world. Thus, the verse is being taken to mean that justice should be imposed on people by force. This misinterpretation has politicised the concept of justice, although such a notion cannot be inferred from the text.

Any interpretation of the above kind is false. And this falsehood must be made manifest so that people understand with certainty that the present militancy has no sanction in Islam, and so that the extremists abandon their violence on realising that their actions are completely un-Islamic. The terrorist phenomenon is based on misinterpretation of the scriptures. It can be eradicated only by universally publicising the right interpretation of the Islamic texts.

In a speech on July 19, 2015, the British Prime Minister David Cameron, expressing his anxiety about youngsters travelling to Iraq and Syria to join the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL), said, 

‘We must de-glamorise the extremist cause, especially ISIL. This isn’t a pioneering movement—it is vicious, brutal and fundamentally abhorrent.’ 

It is true that present Muslim extremism is the result of the glamorisation of the self-styled concept of global Khilafat or Caliphate. The solution lies in de-glamorising this false ideology developed by extremists through a misinterpretation of Islamic sources. De-glamorisation of the Khilafat can be achieved only by de-Islamising this concept of the Khilafat based on a political interpretation of Islam. And political Islam has no basis in Islamic scriptures.

The UN has rightly adopted this dictum: 

‘Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.’

To eradicate terrorism, we shall have to reengineer the minds of terrorists along peaceful lines. No other method will be of any avail.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
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