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Taliban and Indian Muslims

Taliban and Indian Muslims

Author: Ramesh Patange
Publication: Organiser
Date: December 9, 2001

Introduction: The Muslim thinkers should rise to this critical occasion and enlighten their common co-religionists on this spiritual teaching of the Quran, and create a stir among them so that a modern, liberal and democratic leadership may arise.

The discussion is raging on several levels all round on the likely consequences of the Afghan war on India. How it will affect the Kashmir issue? Will it end terrorism that is proving a scourge in Kashmir? How will it affect the Indo-Pak relations? Will it help India and the USA to come closer? Are some of the questions raised by the aftermath of the terrorising Tuesday in September. In the present discussion here we dwell on the influence of the Afghan war on the mindset of the Indian Muslims.

Next to Indonesia India has die largest Muslim population. But India is not an Islamic state. India is known as a country in which all religious communities have freedom to prosecute their different faiths. But that does not necessarily lead one to believe that the majority community of Hindus and the largest minority community of Muslims entertain respect for each other's faith, nor again does it mean they live in mutual trust and goodwill. An average Hindu cannot be said to have affinity for or faith in the Muslims and conversely an average Muslim too reciprocates the same feelings. Muslims in India largely deem his Arab, Afghan, Palestinian or Pakistani coreligionist much closer than his compatriot Hindu. Indian Muslim often argues that on the likely occasion of a conflict between his loyalty to his country and his loyalty to his faith, he would opt for his faith.

A Hindu would on such an occasion follow his national obligation. But Muslims anywhere in the world take cudgels for Muslims perceived to be persecuted anywhere in the world. The AI-Aqsa mosque incident 'provoked' Muslims in India to rioting in the year of Gandhiji's birth centenary. American air strikes in Afghanistan for which many Muslim states also, including Pakistan, have declared support, though with reservation, seem to have provoked many Indian Muslims including the Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid to violent demonstrations and rioting in Malegaon. Muslims' wrath at events in other countries is visited on Hindus in India.

The Caliphate (also called Khilafat) the Islamic counterpart of the Catholic Vatican was abolished by Kemal Pasha in Turkey. But the Muslims in India rose in revolt against the British protesting the demise of the Caliphate or Khilafat. Gandhiji in his penchant for the things Islamic launched the Khilafat movement and dragged the Congress into it. But the movement was doomed to fall. And the Muslims in Kerala took it out on the Hindus and killed and tortured many. The Muslim Mindset Unchanged.

 Even today a major section of the Muslims holds Osama bin Laden as a hero. The American air strikes in Afghanistan are seen as a crusade against Islam. The Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid praise Osama bin Laden his Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Malegaon is held at ransom for several days following events in Afghanistan. They cannot fight the Americans, so the Malegaon Muslims unleashed their revenge on the Hindus. Thus the Muslim mindset of the Khilafat times is unchanged even today against the back-drop of Afghan war.

This stunning of Muslim mindset ought to be a subject that calls for serious contemplation and more Serious concern. But the deplorable position of the politicians today is they have little concern for this. Their care or concern is solely for the Muslims' votes which traditionally are cast en masse. The politicians are not interested in touching such a serious and controversial subject.

The latter half of the 20th century has not seen a leader who can build a nation. And those few who had the capacity to raise a nation failed to rise to the highest position. The intellectuals and the thinkers in the country had to he seized of this issue. But most intellectuals either are afraid to analyse the Muslim mind or are lost in the fog of their own confused thinking and then give birth to perversions. They look at the Muslim fanaticism in the light of their own muddled perception of what they call Hindu fanaticism. They invent the preposterous theory that Savarkar's so-called sectarianism-popularly called 'communalism' was a Hindu avatar 11 of Jinnah's 'Communalism'. They propound that Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad are the Hindu counterparts of Taliban. In short all their efforts are aimed at presenting themselves as 'progressive, secular and humanist'.

'Progressive' Communalism

During the last fifty years the country's intellectual leadership has adopted this unrealistic posture. These people in fact have given birth to 'progressive, secular humanist' sectarianism and casteism. Among the several causes of stunting of the mental growth of Indian Muslims, the so-called intellectual's unrealistic posturing is a major one. These self-proclaimed intellectuals have failed to grasp a simple historical truth. And that is the age-old Hindu tradition of liberalism. No power on earth can change this tradition. If there is the practice in India of equal respect for all religions, it is owing to this tradition and it is because Hindus form a great majority here. It is absurd even to remotely imagine that liberalism in India is prevalent because of the Muslims. Such a Quixotic statement can originate only from a mindless 'progressive'. But one whose intellect is in the right place, and whose shoulders hold his own head, cannot descend to such folly.

The question, how a liberal mentality can be created in the Muslim community in India has been agitating the minds of the thoughtful sections of our society for the last century. But due to the paranoid perception of large sections of the community the world over, and their silent approvers, the war against terrorism provoked by the satanic strikes against the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon is imagined to be anti-Muslim. Therefore the vexation arising out of pack of clear and objective perception in the world Islamic community has been heightened and cries for an immediate action. First we should shed the traditional belief that there is no way we can instill liberal thinking in the Muslim community. Muslims implicitly believe in their holy Quran. If we have to eradicate the intolerance, bigotry and extra-territorial loyalties generally associated with the Muslims, we should persuade the opinion-makers whom the community trusts to come forward and interpret the holy book in the light of the circumstances available in the 21st century. Many noted Muslim writers and thinkers say that what Osama bin Laden, Al-qaeda,Taliban & others present as Islam is a parody of the great religion. They say, Laden has discredited Islam in the eyes of both the Muslims as well as non-Muslims. Now that, when so many advocates of Islam say Laden's version is a negation of what real Islam stands for, all of them should come forward and enlighten the general public on what exactly constitutes Islam. Terrorism, massacre of innocents, slavery of the women are some of the negative impressions gathered from the methods of conquests adopted by great Islamic figures like Chengiz, Timur, Nadir Shah, Babur and a host of Turks and Mughals. If this wrong impression is to be dispelled the right side, the true features of Islam would have to be brought out and propagated. The thinkers and the intellectuals, the erudite and the wise among the Muslims should shed their apprehension of the fanatic Mullahs and the Ulemas and reveal the true nature of Islam to the Islamic masses, who increasingly being brainwashed by the fundamentalists supported by mullahs and Imams. What exactly is the significance of jehad? In modern times should we interpret it as a fight between communities? Or should we interpret it in a more inward sense which indeed was meant by the Prophet. As in the Gita it is not the physical Kurukshetra but the inner, psychological or spiritual war between the good and the evil ever being waged in every thinking person's mind. The Quran also enjoins on its faithfuls to follow their good inclinations and fight their evil inclinations however strong hold they may appear to have on his mind. Well then, is this Quranic injunction anything even remotely related to the 'Islam' as Osama bin Laden or the Taliban interpret or the one taught in the madrasas in Pakistan which spawned the Taliban in the first place? The Muslim thinkers should rise to this critical occasion and enlighten their common co-religionists on this spiritual teaching of the Quran, and create a stir among them so that a modem, liberal and democratic leadership may arise.

In India the Muslims should be reminded of their origins, their roots, their moorings. Almost all the Indian Muslims were originally Hindus and were converted to Islam. Even today ethnically they are Hindus; culturally and socially they are not much apart from the Hindus. Muslim community also is divided on the caste basis. Their marriages are confined to their castes. The Hindu society is berated for its caste system. But the cohesive power of caste system prevails even among Muslims and Christians because they have the same Hindu legacy. Indeed one can say a Muslim butcher would have more affinity with a Hindu butcher than be would have with his high caste co-religionist. A high-born Muslim would have closer relation with a high-born Hindu than he would with a Dalit Muslim. Both belonging to the same caste differ only in the way they pray or worship their God.

The caste system which has divided Hindu society can be helpful in bringing together Hindus and Muslims belonging to the same caste. Going along the caste line, the similarities like the dynastic customs traditions and lifestyles can be emphasized to bring Hindus and Muslims closer. These innate sentiments can be revived and strengthened. Some efforts in this direction are worth undertaking in the days to come.

There is a talk of granting reservation benefits to the backward sections of the Muslim community. There is also snowballing demand for reservation benefits to the former Dalits who have embraced Islam. These demands are resisted by many political voices. When the Muslim protagonists declare from the housetops that Islam abhors caste system, how can they demand reservations based on caste distinctions? That is their argument. But this too is a fact that former Hindus oven after their conversion to Islam continue to observe all caste-based practices. They never forgot their original castes. If the commonalities between the people divided by religion on the Hindus and the Muslims, are to be strengthened in order to bring these societies together, then sooner or later, rather sooner than later, the factors like the backward castes and their accelerated development to bring them in step. with the advanced sections of the people will have to be addressed.

There is no shorter cut to the process of establishing the liberal values in the Muslim community than following different ways which bring closer the several social sections of the Muslim community with their counterparts in the Hindu community.

Difficult choice Indian Muslim is angry with the US the UK and the rest of the Western world. The Hindus have no occasion to be emotionally drawn towards these Western powers. The USA is ahead of other nations in technology and the science of weaponry. The US has unlimited money power. The American rulers employ all these to rain American conditions down the throats of the weaker nations.

Indian open society is threatened by the fanatic version of Islam led by Laden and some
fear the, US economic colonisation. The Indians have no warrant to be enamoured of the US, simply because it is going through the notions of waging a bitter war against its own creation the Taliban and Laden.

Indian Muslims' anger against America is taking a concrete form of boycott of American goods. It for whatever reasons they are propagating swadeshi, so be it! Indeed all right-minded people should exert themselves to turn this negative action into a positive swadeshi movement. The word swadeshi, has 'swa' as its part as also deshi (relates to patriotism) as its part. This deshi should drive these boycott-agitators towards the root of swadeshi-nationalism, patriotism. The 'swa' indicates one's motherland India. While 'deshi' indicates the indigenous roots. Therefore let the swadeshi evoke among Indian Muslims their duty by their motherland as also their roots in this holy soil, their Indian or ancient Hindu moorings.

Let Muslim mind blossom into liberalism.

This agitation to inculcate liberal values among the Muslims has been going on from 1986. Indian Muslims indeed should come forward to erect a Ram Mandir at the birthplace of Shri Ram. That community should join hands with the rest of the Indians to grab this opportunity to cleanse the blemish of the Afghan Babur's invasion of India. But the misfortune of the Hindus as also that of the Muslims is that instead of preparing the minds of both for such a cleansing of Babur's sin, the movement for liberation of the Ramjanmabhoomi was tarred with the blackest brush as a sectarian agitation, by the self-proclaimed secular 'savants'. To inflame passions of a comparatively less advanced and religious-minded society is very easy. Mulayam Singh and his rabble-rousers on the one flank and the Leftist ideologues on the other flank to gilt edge the inflammatory arguments into intellectual 'value judgments' have been marching against the movement. Ramjanmabhoomi can and should prove to be a meeting-ground for the Hindu and Muslim minds, for the co-operation and trust between the needless by rival societies.

Today at this crossroads of history, an extremely powerful and yet generously understanding leadership should emerge. In the 20th century the Muslim society rejected their liberal leadership and with the goading of the Congress created a Jinnah, which creation caused the ever-bleeding wound like Ashwatthama's. In the present 21st century whether to throw up a Dara Shikoh or Khan Abdul Ghafrar Khan or to throw up a Jinnah or a Laden, that today is the choice before the Muslim community. But the main obstacle in the efforts of the Muslim society to raise a liberal leadership that is suitable to modem times, is the so-called progressive secularists and the neo-sectarianism and neo-casteism in the guise of Humanism.

This problem of obscurantism in the community cannot he solved unless these obstacle-raisers are crushed in their own fields with their own weapons. Hindu intellectuals, active workers and leaders can ignore this political front not only to their own peril, but to the further balkanization of this Bharatbhoomi.

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