of 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari in Kharsawan, Jharkhand – he was forced to say Jai
Shri Ram and then lynched to death – is not an isolated incident. These are
some of the other anti-Muslim hate crimes that are said to have taken place in
the past one month:
Barkat was beaten up and forced to chant Bharat Mata ki Jai and Jai Shri Ram in
Begusarai, Bihar, Mohammad Qasim was shot at and told to go Pakistan.
hijab-wearing Muslim girl was harassed by men chanting Jai Shri Ram in North
youths were beaten up and forced to chant Bharat Mata ki Jai in Barpeta, Assam.
Momin was hit by a car in Rohini, Delhi allegedly because he refused to chant
Jai Shri Ram.
In such a
scenario, the central question that the Muslim community is grappling with is:
How to survive in Modi’s India?
broadly four lines of argument being made by individuals within the community:
towards the BJP
away from politics
Strengthen ‘secular’ parties like the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Aam Aadmi
towards a ‘Muslim’ party like Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehad ul
individuals giving the first two arguments also tend to blame Muslims for their
own woes. One such instance was Union Minister Arif Mohammad Khan’s interview
to Karan Thapar in HTN Tiranga TV.
interview, he denied that Muslims are feeling insecure in India, he even denied
that there’s anything like a “minority” in India.
argument was made by Firoz Bhakt Ahmad, chancellor of the Maulana Azad National
Urdu University, in an article in The Indian Express.
have voted for the Congress for six decades, they must in the next election,
vote en block for the BJP and see the change. The message of the recent mandate
for the Muslim community is to distance itself from the rabble-rousing leaders
like Asaduddin Owaisi and Azam Khan. This will pave the way for them to enter
the political mainstream,” he wrote.
piece that generated a lot of debate on social media, the writer Sania Ahmad
urged Muslims to take steps like “stop stealing electricity”, “stop your sons
from zipping around on bikes without wearing helmets” and “start throwing
garbage in bins”. She claimed that these steps can help make things “slightly
better if not perfect” for the community.
the systematic majoritarian oppression that the community is being subjected
MPs in the Lok Sabha heckle Owaisi and Trinamool Congress MPs shouting “Jai
Shri Ram” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, aren’t they encouraging Hindutva goons to
do the same to minorities on the ground?
gives a Lok Sabha ticket to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, who is accused of
masterminding a bomb blast that killed 10 Muslims, isn’t the party
incentivising violence against Muslims?
circumstances, how can anyone in his or her right senses suggest that Muslims
should en masse vote for the BJP?
attacks are the result of widespread propaganda being carried out among the
Hindu community that the mere existence of Muslims is a threat to them.
community’s existence itself is considered a threat, no amount of avoiding
politics or invisiblising oneself in the public sphere, is going to solve the
sense, the problem doesn’t lie with Muslims in the first place.
Should Muslims Do?
there is one weakness in the community that is contributing to the present
state of affairs. The weakness isn’t too much politics, but too little
politics. There appears to be a fear of politics among the Muslims of north
India. This could be due to three historical reasons.
British were discriminating against Muslims in the 19th century, Sir Syed Ahmed
Khan urged the community to stay away from politics and focus on education and
economic advancement. Even today, this remains a key blueprint for the
community in times of crisis and many influential Muslims cite this as a
solution to its current problems.
north India have, somewhat unfairly, being carrying the burden of Partition
with the belief that it was solely the result of assertion by Muhammad Ali
Jinnah and the Muslim League.
Deobandi Ulema led by Hussain Ahmad Madani threw their lot with the Congress
and opposed Jinnah in the run-up to Independence, it was based on an
understanding that Muslims would stay away from identity politics while the new
Indian State would give the community space in the realm of personal law.
sentiments have contributed to north Indian Muslims’ antipathy to active
community-oriented politics. They are important but not entirely relevant in
the present context.
Yes, as Sir
Syed said, Muslims must concentrate on education. But politics need not
necessarily be seen as being in opposition to educational advancement of
Muslims. In fact, the two go together.
personal law is an important aspect, no doubt. But even to protect personal
law, Muslims need political mobilisation. This was quite evident in the last
Lok Sabha when the only parties who were actively resisting the Modi government’s
allegedly draconian Triple Talaq Bill were the AIMIM and a few regional
Muslim Party the Only Solution?
two communities in India who have successfully proven that political
empowerment is the key to social and economic advancement: Dalits and Sikhs.
Muslims don’t have a party of the scale of Bahujan Samaj Party or Shiromani
Akali Dal. The two oldest Muslim parties – AIMIM and Indian Union Muslim League
– have their area of influence in Telangana and Maharashtra (AIMIM) and Kerala
(IUML). It is not surprising that these also happen to be regions where Muslims
have done better educationally as well as economically.
and Sikhs have shown that political empowerment isn’t just about having one’s
own parties but having a power equation of equality with all political parties.
that Muslims may need to assert themselves even vis-à-vis secular parties like
the Congress, SP, TMC, AAP etc. The community needs to organise itself and
exert pressure on these parties with a set of demands like taking a stand on
hate crimes or acting swiftly if such cases take place in the states ruled by
be a similar set of demands on the social and economic concerns of Muslims as
where one is headed, sometimes it helps to remember ones’ roots. Islam has a
very old and very special history in India. Islam reached India during the life
of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him). The first documented Muslim to reach
India was Malik Dinar, an Islamic preacher from Basra. According to the
Encyclopedia of Islam, the concept of “inner jihad” – the war to purify one’s
own soul – was originally articulated by Malik Dinar.
concept is cited even today to define “true jihad”. It is of huge significance
that the originator of this concept brought Islam to India and is said to have
built India’s first mosque in Kodungallur, Kerala, supposedly in 629 AD, just
seven years after the prophet’s migration to Madina.
It was built
on an abandoned monastery given to the Muslims by Chera emperor Cheraman
Perumal and was named after the emperor. Cheraman Perumal is said to have been
deeply sensitive towards the message of Islam. There are several legends
regarding the emperor and according to one he left for Arabia where he met the
prophet and eventually died there.
of Malik Dinar and Cheraman Perumal is important for India’s Muslims even
today. It shows that the story of Islam in India began out of mutual respect
between a Muslim scholar and Hindu ruler. There was an equal give and take of
ideas and neither side was indebted to the other. It was not like what is often
called Ganga-Jamuni-Tehzeeb, in which the metaphor itself means one river
merging into the other and losing its identity.
having pride in one’s identity as Muslims and as citizens of this country. It
is precisely the manner in which Muslim MPs in the Lok Sabha asserted their
patriotism as well as their Muslim-ness, without feeling apologetic about either.
solution lies in what Babasaheb Ambedkar said: “Educate, Organise, Agitate”.
Source: The Quint