On the Indian subcontinent, Islam first appeared in the southwestern tip of the peninsula, Malabar, in today’s Kerala state. Arabs traded with Malabar even before the birth of Muhammad. Legends say that a group of Sahaba, under Malik Ibn Deenar, arrived on the Malabar Coast and preached Islam.
According to that legend, the first mosque of India was built in Kodungallur, by Second Chera King Cheraman Perumal, who accepted Islam and received the name Tajudheen. Historical records suggest that the Cheraman Perumal Mosque was built in around 629, though the conversion of the Perumal never happened. Tajudheen seems to be a member from the Zamorin family.
Jihad too, happened for the first time in Kerala, prompted by the Jihadi texts from the Makhdoom family in Ponnani, which ran an Arabic college. Tuhfat al-Mujahidin by Zainuddin Makhdoom II describes the jihad by the Mappila Muslims of Malabar and South Canara against the Portuguese colonial forces in the 16th century. It speaks of the resistance put up by the navy of Kunjali Marakkar alongside the Zamorin of Calicut from 1498 to 1583 against Portuguese attempts to colonize the Malabar coast. The fact is that there are four Kunjalis and Kunjali IV, instead of defending his Hindu king, waged a jihad against the Hindu king, Zamorin. The presence of jihad in the Indian soil in the 16th century itself, has been ignored by the pseudo secular historians.
The root of the 1921 Hindu genocide infact, lies in the jihadi texts of Ponnani.
Islamic rule first came to the Indian subcontinent in the 8th century, when Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh, though this was a short-lived consolidation of Indian territory. Islamic conquests expanded under Mahmud of Ghazni in the 12th century CE, resulting in the establishment of the Ghaznavid Empire in the Indus River basin and the subsequent prominence of Lahore as an eastern bastion of Ghaznavid rule. It was eclipsed by the Ghurid Empire of Muhammad of Ghor and Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad, whose domain under the conquests of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji extended until the Bengal, where Indian Islamic missionaries achieved their greatest success in terms of dawah and number of converts to Islam. Qutb-ud-din Aybak conquered Delhi in 1206 and a successive series of dynasties paved the way for Islamic growth in India and deterred Mongol incursion into the prosperous Indo-Gangetic plain and enthroned one of the few female Muslim rulers, Razia Sultana.
Many prominent sultanates and emirates administered various regions of the Indian subcontinent from the 13th to the 16th centuries, such as the Qutb Shahi, Gujarat, Kashmir, Bengal, Bijapur and Bahmani Sultanates, but none rivalled the power and extensive reach of the Mughal Empire at its zenith. The Bengal Sultanate was a major global trading nation in the world, while the Shah Mir dynasty ensured the gradual conversion of Kashmiris to Islam.
In the 15th and 16th centuries three major Muslim empires formed: the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, the Balkans and Northern Africa; the Safavid Empire in Greater Iran and the Mughal Empire in South Asia. These imperial powers were made possible by the discovery and exploitation of gunpowder.
The Mughal Empire comprised almost all of South Asia, founded in 1526. It was established and ruled by the Timurid dynasty, with Turco-Mongol Chagatai roots from Central Asia, claiming direct descent from both Genghis Khan (through his son Chagatai Khan) and Timur. The beginning of the empire is conventionally dated to the victory by its founder Babur over Ibrahim Lodi, the last ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, in the First Battle of Panipat (1526).The reign of Shah Jahan (1628–1658) represented the building of the famous monuments such as the Taj Mahal, Moti Masjid, Red Fort, Jama Masjid and Lahore Fort.The sharia reign of Muhammad Auranzgeb witnessed the establishment of the Fatawa-e-Alamgiri. The Muslim India became the world’s largest economy, valued at 25% of world GDP.
All the Mughal emperors were despots, and had a fetish for Hindu genocide. After the death of Aurangzeb, which marks the end of Medieval India and beginning of the European colonialism, internal strife arose, leading to its break-up and declarations of independence of its former provinces by the Nawab of Bengal, the Nawab of Awadh, the Nizam of Hyderabad, and the major economic and military power known as the Kingdom of Mysore ruled by Tipu Sultan. In 1739, the Mughals were defeated in the Battle of Karnal by the forces of Nader Shah, the founder of the Afsharid dynasty in Persia; Delhi was sacked and looted, drastically accelerating their decline.
In 1757, the East India Company overtook Bengal Subah at the Battle of Plassey. By the mid-18th century, the Marathas had routed Mughal armies and won over several Mughal provinces from the Punjab to Bengal. Tipu Sultan’s Kingdom of Mysore based in South India, witnessed partial establishment of sharia based economic and military policies.The Anglo- Mysore Wars were fought between Hyder Ali, his son Tipu and their French allies, including Napoleon Bonaparte, and the East India Company. Rocket artillery and the world's first iron-cased rockets, the Mysorean rockets, were used during the war and the Jihad based Fathul Mujahidin was compiled. The last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah II, had authority over only the city of Shahjahanabad. Bahadur Shah issued a firman supporting the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Consequent to the rebellion’s defeat, he was tried by the East India Company authorities for treason, imprisoned, and exiled to Rangoon.
By the end of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire had declined. The decision to back Germany in World War I meant they shared the Central Powers defeat in that war. The defeat led to the overthrow of the Ottomans by Turkish nationalists led by the victorious general of the Battle of Gallipoli. The Allies divided the empire. The overthrow of the Sultan resulted in the Khilafat movement (1920- 1922) in India. Gandhi became a hostage of the Ali brothers, and Hindus were massacred in Malabar.
The colonial era, failed post-colonial attempts at state formation, and the creation of Israel engendered a series of Marxist and anti-Western transformations and movements throughout the Arab and Islamic world.
The growth of these movements, along with their view that terrorism could be effective in reaching political goals, generated the first phase of modern international terrorism.
The Arab–Israeli conflict spans about a century of political tensions and open hostilities. It involves the establishment of the modern State of Israel as a Jewish nation state, the consequent displacement of the Palestinian people and Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, as well as the adverse relationship between the Arab states and the State of Israel.
In the late 1960s Palestinian movements such as Al Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) began to target civilians outside the immediate arena of conflict. Following Israel’s 1967 defeat of Arab forces, Palestinian leaders realized that the Arab world was unable to militarily confront Israel. Lessons drawn from revolutionary movements in Latin America, North Africa, Southeast Asia as well as during the Jewish struggle against Britain in Palestine, saw the Palestinians move away from classic guerrilla warfare toward urban terrorism. Radical Palestinians took advantage of modern communication and transportation systems to internationalize their struggle. They launched a series of hijackings, kidnappings, bombings, and shootings, culminating in the kidnapping and subsequent deaths of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympic games.
These Palestinian groups became a model for numerous Islamic militants, and offered lessons for subsequent ethnic and religious movements. Palestinians created an extensive transnational extremist network — tied into which were various state sponsors such as the Soviet Union, certain Arab states, as well as criminal organizations. By the end of the 1970s, the Palestinian network was a major channel for the spread of terrorist techniques worldwide.
During the 1970s, religious movements also grew. The failure of Arab nationalism in the 1967 war resulted in the strengthening of both progressive and extremist Islamic movements. In the Middle East, Islamic movements increasingly came into opposition with secular nationalism, providing an alternative source of social welfare and education in the vacuum left by the lack of government-led development — a key example is The Muslim Brotherhood. Islamic groups were supported by anti-nationalist conservative regimes, such as Saudi Arabia, to counter the expansion of nationalist ideology.
In 1979 the Iranian Revolution transformed Iran from a constitutional monarchy to a populist theocratic Islamic republic under the rule of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a Shia Muslim cleric and marja.The development of the two opposite fringes, the Safavid conversion of Iran to Shia Islam the Twelver Shia version and its reinforcement by the Iranian Revolution and the Salafi in Saudi Arabia, coupled with the Iran–Saudi Arabia relations resulted in these governments using sectarian conflict to enhance their political interests.Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (despite being hostile to Iraq) encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, which resulted in the Iran–Iraq War, as they feared that an Islamic revolution would take place within their own borders.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent anti-Soviet mujahideen war (1979- 1989), stimulated the rise and expansion of terrorist groups. The growth of a post-jihad pool of well-trained, battle-hardened militants is a key trend in contemporary international terrorism and insurgency-related violence. Volunteers from various parts of the Islamic world fought in Afghanistan, supported by conservative countries such as Saudi Arabia. In Yemen, for instance, the Riyadh-backed Islamic Front was established to provide financial, logistical, and training support for Yemeni volunteers. So called ‘Arab-Afghans’ have — and are — using their experience to support local insurgencies in North Africa, Kashmir, Chechnya, China, Bosnia, and the Philippines.
In the West, attention was focused on state sponsorship, epecifically the Iranian-backed and Syrian-supported Hezbollah; state sponsors’ use of secular Palestinian groups was also of concern. Hezbollah pioneered the use of suicide bombers in the Middle East, and was linked to the 1983 bombing and subsequent deaths of 241 U S marines in Beirut, Lebanon, as well as multiple kidnappings of U S and Western civilians and government officials. Hezbollah remains a key trainer of secular, Shia, and Sunni movements. As revealed during the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, Libyan intelligence officers were allegedly involved with the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command (PFLP-GC). Iraq and Syria were heavily involved in supporting various terrorist groups, with Baghdad using the Abu Nidal Organization on several occasions. State sponsors used terrorist groups to attack Israeli as well as Western interests, in addition to domestic and regional opponents.
The disintegration of post-Cold War states, and the Cold War legacy of a world awash in advanced conventional weapons and know-how, has assisted the proliferation of terrorism worldwide. Vacuums of stability created by conflict and absence of governance in areas such as the Balkans, Afghanistan, Colombia, and certain African countries offer ready made areas for terrorist training and recruitment activity, while smuggling and drug trafficking routes are often exploited by terrorists to support operations worldwide. With the increasing ease of transnational transportation and communication, the continued willingness of states such as Iran and Iraq to provide support, and dehumanizing ideologies that enable mass casualty attacks, the lethal potential of terrorist violence has reached new heights.
The region of Afghanistan, has, particularly since the 1989 Soviet withdrawal, emerged as a terrorist training ground. Pakistan, struggling to balance its needs for political-economic reform with a domestic religious agenda, provides assistance to terrorist groups both in Afghanistan and Kashmir while acting as a further transit area between the Middle East and South Asia.
Since their emergence in 1994, the Pakistani-supported Taliban militia in Afghanistan has assumed several characteristics traditionally associated with state-sponsors of terrorism, providing logistical support, travel documentation, and training facilities. Although radical groups such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, and Kashmiri militants were in Afghanistan prior to the Taliban, the spread of Taliban control has seen Afghan-based terrorism evolve into a relatively coordinated, widespread activity focused on sustaining and developing terrorist capabilities. Since the mid-1990s, Pakistani-backed terrorist groups fighting in Kashmir have increasingly used training camps inside Taliban-controlled areas. At the same time, members of these groups, as well as thousands of youths from Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), have fought with the Taliban against opposition forces. This activity has seen the rise of extremism in parts of Pakistan neighbouring Afghanistan, further complicating the ability of Islamabad to exert control over militants.
Since 1989, the increasing willingness of religious extremists to strike targets outside immediate country or regional areas, like the terrorist attack in Mumbai, underscores the global nature of contemporary terrorism. The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, are representative of this trend.
In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U S, the threat of militant Islamic terrorism — rooted in the Middle East and South Asia — took center stage.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS; officially known as the Islamic State (IS) and also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh is a militant group and former unrecognized proto-state that follows a Salafi jihadist doctrine.
ISIL was founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and gained global prominence in 2014 when it drove Iraqi security forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by its capture of Mosul and the Sinjar massacre.
ISIL is known for its videos of beheadings and other types of executions of both soldiers and civilians, including journalists and aid workers, and its destruction of cultural heritage sites. The United Nations holds ISIL responsible for committing human rights abuses, genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The Islamic State committed genocide and ethnic cleansing on a historic scale in northern Iraq.
ISIL originated in 1999, pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda and participated in the Iraqi insurgency following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by Western forces. In June 2014, the group proclaimed itself a worldwide caliphate and began referring to itself as the Islamic State ( ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah; IS). As a caliphate, it claimed religious, political, and military authority over all Muslims worldwide.
In Syria, the group conducted ground attacks on both government forces and opposition factions, and by December 2015, it held an area extending from western Iraq to eastern Syria, containing an estimated eight to twelve million people, where it enforced its interpretation of sharia law. ISIL is believed to be operational in 18 countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2015, ISIL was estimated to have an annual budget of more than US$1 billion and more than 30,000 fighters.
In mid-2014, an international coalition led by the United States intervened against ISIL in Syria and Iraq with an airstrike campaign, in addition to supplying advisors, weapons, training, and supplies to ISIL’s enemies in the Iraqi Security Forces and Syrian Democratic Forces. This campaign reinvigorated the latter two forces and damaged ISIL, killing tens of thousands of its troops and reducing its financial and military infrastructure. This was followed by a smaller-scale Russian intervention exclusively in Syria, in which ISIL lost thousands more fighters to airstrikes, cruise missile attacks, and other Russian military activities and had its financial base further degraded. In July 2017, the group lost control of its largest city, Mosul, to the Iraqi army, followed by the loss of its de facto political capital of Raqqa to the Syrian Democratic Forces. By December 2017, the Islamic State controlled just 2% of its maximum territory. In December 2017, Iraqi forces had driven the last remnants of the Islamic State underground, three years after the group captured about a third of Iraq’s territory. By March 2019, ISIL lost one of their last significant territories in the Middle East in the Deir ez-Zor campaign, surrendering their “tent city” and pockets in Al-Baghuz Fawqani to the Syrian Democratic Forces after the Battle of Baghuz Fawqani.
In October 2019, ISIL media announced that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi was the new leader of the Islamic State, after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself by detonating a suicide vest during the US Barisha raid in the Syrian rebel–held Idlib province of Syria four days previously.
In August 2021, the Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate, ISIL-KP killed 13 American military personnel and at least 169 Afghani civilians during the U.S. evacuation of Kabul. The U.S. deaths were the highest number of U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan since 2011.
The withdrawl of the U S troops from Afghanistan, is sure to aggravate the threat to India, from Islam.
(The writer’s book, Militant Islam: Mecca to Delhi, is the story of the militancy in Islam, in its first 600 years, till it reached India. )