Indian Muslimís priorities

Indian Muslimís priorities - By Altaf Hussain Qadri

In the context of a predominantly Hindu sub-continent,
the Indian Muslims, second in number to Indonesian
Muslim population, have considerably lagged in
benefiting from their being the largest minority group
in India. On the contrary, being the second largest
minority they carry on suffering. The Indian Muslims
could not transform their status to a better form of
living since 1947. There can be divergent perspectives
related to this issue. But among one of the main
problems is the lack of a sincere, keen and perceptive

The Muslim leadership being traditionally allied with
the Congress party failed to turn around the
disconcerted state of common Muslims. On the reverse,
Congress constantly induced an impression that without
their support the Muslims will be decimated. In so
doing, it inculcated an insecure feeling in the
Muslims and as an effect reduced them to the position
of second-rate citizens of India. This approach
cultivated a bunker mentality and drew on a strategic
deficit for the progress of Muslims in India. The
deteriorating state of confidence of Muslim minority
is a real question mark on the secular and democratic
credentials of India which the contemporary Indians
need to take care of. 

Although, regarding the Indian secularism Maulana
Hifzur Rahman (1901-1962), a leader of Jamiat
Ulama-e-Hind, once said that he would consider India a
secular country only when it became possible for a
Muslim to slap a Hindu in the street without it
triggering a communal riot in the city. But it is an
undeniable fact that every time a conflict between
persons related to two different faiths will assume
the proportion of bloody riots. Normally the incidents
of this nature should have been sorted out at the
personnel levels without having any reflection of
religious backgrounds. But proceeding to that ideal
direction, there appears no realisation as yet in the
leadership of India. Instead, they are engrossed in
fanning further hatred and reinforcing the policies of
pitching one community against the other. 

To walk away from falling prey to communal
exploitation Muslim leadership must pull their socks
up to thwart the designs of vested interest. It is
imperative to develop first a consensus on the
leadership role and then construct reasonable
political demands in the background of problems that
Muslims undergo throughout India. Following the real
appraisal of the magnitude of the problems they should
come up with plans for the forthcoming elections. 

Preferably from my perspective, the concern that cuts
in the centre of the Muslim populace is the perpetual
disparity it faces in the government sector, private
sector, economic, social and cultural sector, and
education. In particular education must be emphasised
with unrelenting dynamism. Even well ahead to the
partition Muslim mindset has been the victim of
conceptual negativism. One notable example among the
many is that when in 1935 Lord William Bentinck
constructed the first medical college in Calcutta
Muslim response to it was strange and pessimistic. For
their hatred of the English, Muslims led a procession
through the streets of Calcutta to close it down.
There then followed a different movement of
non-Muslims to seek admissions while Muslims
persistently clamoured for its closure. By adopting
this attitude they lagged behind in the field of
medical science almost 100 years to other communities.

This instance is symbolic of the causes of the Muslim
dilemma in the present contemporary world.
Regrettably, there is no sign of abatement of this
general negativism in Muslims all over the world.
However, optimistically they should realise that the
prejudice and discrimination which they loudly and
factually attribute to communal conduct shall
disappear if they apply themselves with utmost
dedication in the area of political, academic and
economic progress in the real sense of the word.
According to a recent BBC report, there are over five
thousand Madrasas functioning, imparting only
religious teachings in India. These schools instead of
improving the lives of the students spoil their future
prospects. The Muslim scholars of India must recount
the recourse of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who fought for
bringing about a positive development in the outlook
of Muslims in India. He created new modern conditions
of thought in the Muslims which as a final fling
produced the best acclaimed brains of India, Pakistan
and the world. Against this backdrop, they should
approach the government of India with plans of
restructuring in the core curriculum of these schools
without affecting the religious teachings. On this
issue they would be able to engage and seek the
support of well-meaning, non-Muslim Indians. Muslim
history is full of instances testifying to the fact
that Islam is not an obstacle to scientific

The Muslims of India must underline a policy to
exercise utmost self-discipline to eschew the position
of confrontation. A pertinent analysis of the problem
of Indian Muslims has been made by an American
orientalist, Dr Theodore Paul Wright Jr, that the
Indian Muslims must "be as inconspicuous as possible
so as not to draw Hindu backlash". Although he
concedes that this is a very hard advice to follow for
a proud people living in the heart of their monuments
of glory. But they should realise the need for a
strategic retreat as prophet (PBUH) did by signing the
treaty of Hudaybiyah. 

In the impending parliamentary elections, the communal
issues will spring out most prominently. The election
drive will rally around the debate of communal and
non-communal issues. The signs of which could
obviously be delineated from the VHP raising the
demand of construction of Ram temple on the site of
Babri Masjid. Relatively, it amounts that both
Congress and BJP are setting up ground for the mass
slaughter of Muslim community of India. The Congressís
political secularism and BJPís political Hindutva is
exclusively reliant on the causality of innocent
Muslims. On the dead bodies of Muslims Congress does
politics of tears and BJP extols its crimes against
them. It is noteworthy that the Congress is
fundamentally seeking a soft line of Hindutva. 

All these caveat signs must reveal to the Muslim
leaders that they are faced with a daunting challenge.
They must get into an act of engaging the civil
society of India, the film actors, media persons,
academicians, civil liberty and human rights
activists, artists, poets, writers and members of
other non-Muslim communities and apprise them of the
fears and apprehensions about the developing trends
engendered by the support of political parties. They
can break a new ground by evoking sympathies from
other regions of Indian domain like south of India. It
will be a first step towards sensitising their plight
and garner support by involving the public opinion.
They should communicate to Hindu majority that to be
the majority is no sin but it is dangerous to behave
without checks. They must keep in mind that the real
essence of law is actually devised to protect the weak
and this spirit of law ought to be respected. 

On the issue of Babri Masjid, the Muslims should come
forward with suitable alternative route and stop the
situation from becoming a tool of exploitation in the
hands of political parties. Muslims will have to make
compromises and may suggest constructing a hospital on
the site in the name of ĎRam and Raheemí instead of
making it a place of mutual hatred and violence.
Hopefully, there will be many examples in the Hindu
teachings of serving humanity on preferential basis as
I am sure about Islam that it is a religion
objectively aimed to bring an end to the human
sufferings. Both religions can meet at this
proposition with wide acceptability. The Hindus of
India must keep in mind what Shakespeare said, "O, it
is excellent to have a giantís strength; but it is
tyrannous to use it like a giant".


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