The Islamic Bomb
by Ibn Warraq
The following article is from the Secular
Humanist Bulletin, Volume 14, Number 3.
On May 28, 1998, Pakistan detonated between two and five (the exact number is disputed)
nuclear devices in its southwestern deserts, becoming the world's first Islamic nation to
test nuclear weapons. Pakistan's nuclear tests, which were immediately condemned by all
leading industrialized nations, were in direct response to the tests carried out by
neighboring India on May 11 and May 13. The world press referred to Pakistan's bomb as the
Pakistani government officials have angrily rejected the term. Tariq Altaf, a Pakistan
Foreign Ministry spokesman, told journalists, "Nothing gives me more offense than the
use of the phrase `Islamic bomb.' There is no such thing as an Islamic bomb. This is a
weapon for the self-defense of Pakistan - period. There is no question of transferring the
technology to anybody. This is deterrence for Pakistan alone." But is this true?
The day the nuclear devices were tested in Baluchistan, masses of Muslims rushed onto
the streets of the major cities of Pakistan shouting, "Allahu Akabr!"
("Allah is Great!"). They danced with joy around models of the Hatf - Pakistan's
nuclear missile - marked "Islamic bomb." One student from the Islamic University
of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, said, "This is Islam's bomb. It has boosted our
confidence, and will reinforce the solidarity of all Muslims faced with the West that
rejects and despises us. Muslims unite behind the atomic bomb!"
A professor from the same university, tells us, "There is already a Jewish bomb,
and a Christian bomb. Why not an Islamic bomb?" Friday sermons in mosques all over
Pakistan emphasized the importance to Islam of Pakistan's nuclear bomb.
In its pursuit of nuclear power status Pakistan had financial support from Saudi Arabia
and Libya. Pakistan has shared nuclear data and expertise with Iraq and Iran. The first
foreign envoy since the tests to arrive in Pakistan was Kamal Kharrazi, the Iranian
Foreign Minister. Iran was the first to express total support for Pakistan in the name of
Islamic solidarity. "Having lived for long under the shadow of Israel's nuclear
threat, Muslims all over the world feel confident because a fellow Islamic nation has
crossed the nuclear threshold," he said. HAMAS
leader Shaykh Ahmad Yassin hailed Pakistan's capability as an "asset to the Arab and
Now that Pakistan has joined the nuclear weapons club, it sees itself as the leader of
the entire Muslim world. As Yossef Bodansky, Director of the Task Force on Terrorism and
Unconventional Warfare for the U.S. Congress, put it, "Other Islamic leaders not only
supported the Pakistani test, but expected Pakistan to use its nuclear capabilities to
further all Islamic causes."
Whether Pakistan likes the characterization or not, its bomb is an Islamic bomb, and so
accepted throughout the Muslim world by both governments and people in the streets.
Ibn Warraq is author of Why I Am Not a Muslim (Prometheus Books, 1996) and executive director
of the International Society for Islamic Secularization.
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