In the aftermath of the Mumbai massacre, a lot of attention has been focused on the militant Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba that has been blamed for the bloodbath. Simon Cameron-Moore, our bureau chief in Islambad, has written an interesting piece on what they’ve done in recent years. As a religion editor watching this story unfold, I was also curious to know how they think. What kind of religious views do they have? My Google search has turned up an interesting answer.
An article entitled “The Ideologies of South Asian Jihadi Groups” gives a very concise and complete run-down of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s thinking (hat tip:Times of India). In today’s context, the article’s author is just as interesting as its content. An academic at the time he wrote the article in 2005, Husain Haqqani is now Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington. He’s been in the media quite often arguing that Islamabad did not support Lashkar-e-Taiba even if it was operating in Pakistan. Indian media arent’t buying it.
Sorting that out is not my job. I just wanted to note a list of the goals Lashkar-e-Taiba has set for itself. In a publication entitled Why Are We Waging Jihad? that Haqqani cites, the goals are listed as:
1) to eliminate evil and facilitate conversion to and practice of Islam;
2) to ensure the ascendancy of Islam;
3) to force non-Muslims to pay jizya (poll tax, paid by non-Muslims for protection from a Muslim ruler);
4) to assist the weak and powerless;
5) to avenge the blood of Muslims killed by unbelievers;
6) to punish enemies for breaking promises and treaties;
7) to defend a Muslim state; and
8 ) to liberate Muslim territories under non-Muslim occupation
Can we call these Lashkar-e-Taiba’s “religious goals?” It’s hard to draw a dividing line, but these cover both religion and politics. In South Asia, where they have first-hand experience of this kind of thinking, they would describe these as “politico-religious” goals. That clumsy term is more precise, but could it catch on elsewhere?