The attacks which spread through the Muslim world just before Eid were particularly horrific, because one of them struck uncomfortably close to home, in the shape of an attack on the Masjid-i-Nabvi, which is, along with the Haram in Makkah, one of the two most sacred sites in Islam. Though the grave of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) was never under threat, its being contained within the Masjid-i-Nabvi is the reason for the wave of horror within the Muslim world.

Another related issue was raised in one of the attacks, by Bangladeshi militants, who took hostage and then killed 20 people. There has been a claim that the attackers were prompted by lectures from Zakir Naik, the well-known preacher. It has also been noted with some consternation that the attackers did not fit the stereotype of madressah-educated fanatics, but were at some of the top educational institutions of the country. This was seen as parallel to Pakistan, where the Safoora Goth massacre, in which 46 people were killed, was an attack on Ismaili Shias, and was carried out by a group including IBA graduates. Naik was not named, but he is exactly the sort of person who could have influenced them.

The immediate problem is that education is not the panacea it is cracked up to be. One reason seems to be that Western education is not about developing a well-rounded personality, as getting a job. Underneath the veneer of education, the unreconstructed Muslim remains.

Another problem that is now being faced by Pakistani governments is that there is now a religious discourse they do not control. The governments are post-colonial, and a strange amalgam of the colonial ruler and the aspirations of the people. The individuals who make up the government include persons who want to include the traditional religious experience. The religious discourse grew very close to the governments even during the colonial rule, and when independence meant the transfer of the ruling apparatus to ‘natives’, it assumed the transfer of the control that had been developed of religious discourse. The colonial model had ruthlessly suppressed any attempt to use religious discourse to serve as a platform for anti-colonial rhetoric. This had involved incorporating religious leaders into the colonial system. After independence, religious leaders found that they remained at the fringes of national leadership, and could only survive by currying favour with the authorities.

However, one of the great inconveniences for governments is that religion is a matter of belief, and Islam has no clergy as such. While religious scholars are trained to serve as a clergy, there is nothing to stop any individual believer from sharing his knowledge, gained possibly by personal study. And there is nothing to stop individual believers from following anyone. There is no ordination in Islam, and not only can any adult Muslim perform any of the sacraments reserved for priests in Christianity, the religion of the former colonial masters, but he can also develop a following. This has meant that religious scholars are followed because of their knowledge, not because they have been somehow sanctified.

Another corollary has been that reform has tended towards returning to origins, and the desire of the West for Islam to become a sort of Christianity, has been left unfulfilled. That has also meant that, when reformers have entered the marketplace of ideas, they have tended to approach origins, going back to the original texts. That is logical for Muslims, whose religion lays such a great emphasis on the Quran and Sunnah anyway. Therefore, to attract followers, reformers find themselves constrained by the texts. Dr Zakir Naik is among them.

However, it is a safe bet that those who accessed Dr Naik in Bangladesh, might well have been seeking elsewhere. They might have found themselves making a natural progression, with a turn to political Islam.

The concept that Islam also tackles the political problem is both embedded in orthodoxy, and a threat to the West, whether in the colonialist era, or now, in the War on Terror. In the colonialist era, the colonial administrations attempted to arraign the ulema, in the War on Terror, the West tries to bring over the governments they left behind. Thus Dr Naik can only paper over some of the texts which enjoin Muslims to find Islamic solutions to political problems. If he did, then he would lay himself open to the charge of militancy.

The ordinary Muslim has enough difficulty making out what are the demands of the Almighty, without ensuring that his conclusions accord with the requirements of the West. The problem is that the West wishes it to follow the Christian principle of separation of church and state. Islam does not provide for a partial obedience of the texts. Therefore, the only alternative is to exclude texts as not reliable. However, this has not proved a fruitful approach, precisely because of the care exercised not just with the Quran, but also the Sunnah.

Thus the militants carry out their attacks, in this case before the end of Ramazan. Though the death sentence has been administered with vigour by the Pakistani state, it cannot be much of a deterrent for those who aspire to martyrdom. The 70-fold reward in Ramadan for good deeds dictates that militants seeking reward in the Hereafter will try and achieve not just martyrdom, but also the elimination of wrongdoers. This has been a pattern, and will probably be repeated until the problem is solved.

However, the West would probably be appalled by the only lasting solution, which would be the establishment of an Islamic state, a Khilafah; not the one set up in parts of Iraq and Syria, but one that would have the allegiance of the Muslim world, and command the obedience of all Muslims within its boundaries. At present, Muslims suffer from divided loyalty, or rather no loyalty at all. They are not loyal to state authorities which are not devoted to meeting their aspirations, but those of foreign powers. And they are not entirely obedient to nationalisms that are often artificial and irrelevant. That allows militancy, which is one solution reached by many Muslims, some of whom go to the extent of giving up their lives, but others merely stay silent. One effect of a Khilafah would be that of returning jihad to where it is supposed to be, the ambit of the state, not private individuals.

The present case illustrates the difference. If Dr Naik is suppressed, it will only cause his followers to refuse to accept the action of the state. However, a Khilafah would shut him down if it found he was indeed causing individuals to engage in private jihad. It would be a normal, secular government, but at the same time, as it would be able to pose its religious authority against Dr Naik’s, it would be able to get away with it.

However, the West would not like such a government to exist. Though Brexit has exposed divisions in the West, its consensus on the need to keep the Muslims divided and subjugated remains unbroken. And as long as Muslims still blame one another for violence, it will continue, allowing the West to point at the Muslims as causing their own downfall.

The immediate problem is that education is not the panacea it is cracked up to be. One reason seems to be that Western education is not about developing a well-rounded personality, as getting a job.