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October - November 2004
For decades Indians have known and applauded the 1904 patriotic song Saray Jahan Say Achcha Hai Hindustan Hamara by Alama Iqbal – famous for his Urdu poetry - and have respected him for being a true Hindustani. But within four years of having written this famous couplet, Iqbal was a changed man when he became a radical Islamist.
In 1908, after an extensive study of Islam and the Hadees, Alama Iqbal revoked his earlier Taraana-e-Hind and brazenly replaced it with Taraana-e-Milli, and established himself as the ‘Bard of Islam.’
His Taraana-e-Milli (written in 1913) commenced with Cheen-O-Arab Hamara, Hindustan Hamara; Muslim Hain Hum, Yey Sara Jahan Hai Hamara! From a truly moderate Muslim, Mohammed Iqbal turned into a hardline fundamentalist, severing all loyalty towards the Indian nation.
Iqbal went further into Pan-Islamic ideology – which the sectarian Muslim League later took up to break up India by demanding a separate Muslim State of Pakistan - by declaring that the ‘Quranic path was vital for the awakening of Indian Muslims.’
In fact, Iqbal came to deride the very notion of Indian nationalism, and described the ‘Nationalist spirit of loyalty to one’s country’ as the death-knell of Islam! [manifest today in some UK Muslims who have publicly declared, "We are Muslim, not British"].
Hard to believe that the lovable poet who had so passionately penned Saray Jahan Say Achcha went on to vigorously promote the breakup of India. Little could the ‘Alama’ have imagined, however, that in times to come there would be more Muslims living happily in democratic India than in Islamic Pakistan, and that the oppressed Muslims in the Eastern sector would ultimately cut off from Islamabad.
held on terror charge
Among the towns and counties raided were London, Blackburn, Bushey, Hertfordshire, Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry, Rotherham, Staffordshire and Luton (Bury Park inhabited largely by Pakistanis).
Two of the eight young men held in detention – seven identified as being of Pakistani descent – are 32-year-old Abu Musa al-Hindi, also known as Bilal, an Al-Qaeda ‘Sleeper’ lying low in Willesden (London) for five years and identified as Osama bin Laden’s ‘UK General’, and Babar Ahmed (30), a British citizen living in Tooting and working as a website operator at Imperial College in London.
These dangerous men were apprehended following the arrest in Pakistan and interrogation of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, described as Al-Qaeda’s communications chief, who also disclosed that all those in the Al-Qaeda British cell spoke Urdu.
The arrested men face serious criminal charges of planning a wave of terror attacks in the UK, and fundraising for Islamic terrorists in America, Chechnya, India and Afghanistan. They are also known to have had close contacts with the notorious cleric Abu Hamza, presently also under detention in a London prison.
That the Al-Qaeda threat is a very serious one to national security in Britain was highlighted in a terse statement issued on 5 August by Admiral Sir Alan West, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, that ‘Al-Qaeda has drawn up plans to attack (British) merchant ships and liners’ aimed at disrupting world trade.
a top Al-Qaeda activist
His real name is Dhiren Barot, a 32-year-old Hindu Gujarati born in England and whose parents came to Britain from Kenya in 1973, and who converted to radical Islam in his early twenties. Dhiren – or Abu Musa - attended an Islamic terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, then travelled to Kashmir to join Islamic fighters at war with Indian security forces.
Dhiren, who had also taken the name Bilal, is known to have come into contact with other Al-Qaeda ‘Sleepers’ in London and frequently attended Namaaz at the controversial Finsbury Park mosque in north London.
Dhiren alias Abu Musa alias Bilal has called for Al-Qaeda operatives in Britain to use chemical and biological weapons, and urges young British Muslims to bring Jehad holy war to the streets of UK and to ‘bring the West to its knees.’
Bilal, who spent some time in the U.S., is also wanted by America for planning attacks on five large financial institutions in New York and Washington DC.
After all said and done, what did Dhiren get out of militant Islam? If convicted, several years in a British jail, and if extradited to USA, the hangman’s noose!
Hafiz the Humanitarian
When I greeted this affable gentleman in Urdu – ‘Hafiz Sahib, Salaam’ – his face lit up with delight as he warmly greeted me like a long-lost friend.. We sat together as he told me his story I was keen to hear.
He first came to England with his wife and children in the 1960s so his family could have a ‘better life in a democratic and affluent society,’ and his offspring a better future. And here in England Hafiz worked mostly in factories and warehouses.
His wife had died eight years ago and his children had grown up and got married and left the nest. He was all alone in his tiny flat in Brentford. So he decided to spend most of his time doing social welfare work in the local communities on a voluntary basis. "I’m a man of minimal needs, so don’t hanker for any financial gain," he said.
Hafiz also said he was deeply saddened and very perturbed by the misery and mayhem caused by religious bigotry, hatred, and terrorism worldwide. "Why can’t we of all races, religions, creeds and cultures happily live together in peace and harmony as we did during the glorious British Raj in India?" asked Hafiz in exasperation.
When I asked Hafizji, point blank, how he happened to be serving white people in a Christian church, he said, with a glint in his eyes, "We Asians – Muslim, Hindu, Sikh - tend to help our own people, but I decided to widen my sphere and be helpful to non-Muslim people."
What a noble concept, I couldn’t help telling myself, as I got up to leave, with Hafizji making a beeline to the kitchen to help in the cleaning up - all for the love of humanity.