By S.M. Anwar Hussain, Muslim Mirror
Over the past few years, I have received numerous calls from my friends, old and new, who matter a lot for me, urging me to come forward and prepare a blue print for the political, economical, social and educational renaissance of Muslims of India. They think that being a former president of Aligarh Muslim University students’ union I have got a moral responsibility and a de jure right to lead the community. Such a good faith and confidence shown in you by somebody is often very alluring, tempting and self-appeasing, and with this kind of inspiration or motivation, or provocation or whatever one may call it, I often thought of jumping straight into the boiling cauldron of politics – a politics of struggle, sufferings and sacrifices. But owing to my own poor health and economic hardships I always applied a brake on my such ambitions, reminding myself of the verse of Ghalib شاعری کھیل بچون کا نہین ھے غالب (O’ Ghalib, creating poetry is not child’s play) I chose to keep lying low. But I know that adopting an ostrich’s approach will not save us from the vultures that have been targeting us for a long time. It is our solemn responsibility to ponder over the problems and search for their solutions. No doubt, the path is bumpy and thorny, but the destination is warm and cosy.
In the words of Robert Frost:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
The answer to many of our problems lies in our approach to tackle them. First, let us identify and discuss our main problems . Safety of life and property, job and business opportunities, right to practise and follow our own religion, culture and language, right of equal opportunities etc. These are our vital problems. But, the most vital of all is that we have been completely marginalised. Today we stand as a marginalised community- socially, economically, educationally and politically. This marginalisation has not occurred in one day.
Yes, RSS and BJP have an open agenda that either build a Muslim and Islam free India or at least keep them completely subjugated. Accepted, they are our avowed enemies; not ours alone, but the enemy of the very fabric of the democratic and secular India. The process of this marginalisation didn’t start yesterday. It started during the freedom movement itself. And Congress can’t deny its own indulgence in the process. Every attempt to introduce some safeguards for Muslims in the constitution of the free but undivided India was rejected. The idea of parity between communities was rejected in the very garb of equality and secular polity. As a result, came the unfortunate partition of the country. The responsibility for the partition was slapped on the Muslims of India. The propaganda was so strong that even liberals of that time started accusing Jinnah, and indirectly , Muslims, for all the bloodshed and mayhem that took place in the wake of the partition. Consequently, Muslim themselves became guilt conscious. Exodus of Muslims started. However, Gandhiji, Maulana Azad, Pandit Nehru and Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani and his Jamiat Ul Ulma e Hind played a key role in stopping the exodus. Gandhiji and Nehru promised them a safe, democratic and secular polity with full dignity and equality. But the ignominy of partition pushed them steadily to the back seat. Soon Muslims started losing both their wealth, property and their social and political position. A close and objective perusal of impartial history will tell us that Jinnah alone was not responsible for the division. At the core of his heart, he was a secularist and the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, but the belligerence of the congress under the influence of Hindu Maha Sabha pushed him to the wall. If we look at the data provided by late Syed Shahabuddin in his Muslim India, we see that a large number of Muslim personnel were present in defence, police, railways and in other services even after the partition. This number started dwindling fast and reached a negligible position today. How did it happen? Only congress can give the answer.
So today we stand marginalised. What to do? First, we will have to come out of the fear psychosis, and stop looking at others and elsewhere. We must resolve and believe that India is us and we are India. No power on earth can drive us out. Next, we need a repositioning of our social equations. Muslims ruled over India almost for eight hundred years and during this period they never interfered with Hindus’ religious, cultural and social affairs, except in the case of sati. Although they did not support any inhuman actions against Dalits, i.e., suppression, oppression and deliberate social humiliation of Dalits,they failed to make any laws guaranteeing them social dignity and equality with others. In fact, they strictly adhered to the policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of the Hindu community. Not only that, they also made the blunder of treating the lower rung of non-Muslim Indian community as Hindus, instead of considering them a distinct and separate subjugated community. These rulers gave very important positions to upper caste Hindus in the government. As a result, Muslim elites and commoners as well nurtured a close relationship with them and maintained a distance from those at the lower rung. What to say about Adivasis/ tribals? We completely excluded them from our society, thus allowed RSS to make inroads among them and today RSS IS well-entrenched among the tribals in many parts of our country. The result was well demonstrated in Gujarat and recently in Haldipokhar of Jamshedpur.
We need to change our attitude. Today we are facing the horrible scenario of total marginalisation, unchecked mob lynching; millions and millions facing the threat of disenfranchisement and deprivation of their Indian citizenship just because they are Muslims, despite justice Gogoi’s stricture against this policy of the Assam’s government, and the Home Ministry. There is a marked increase in the tendency of legislature, judiciary and some secularists (Mr Guha is sulking on the use of Burqa among Muslim ladies and skull cap among Muslim men) to disregard the personal laws of Muslims. These alarming situations force us to redefine our social relationship, look for the new allies and identify our foes both within and without. Time has come to extend a hand of warmth, love and affection towards Dalits, the tribals, the down trodden (suppressed and oppressed for ages) and compensate for our failure (a blunder which we have been repeatedly doing until now) i.e. to treat them with dignity. We need to integrate them in our social functions, incorporate them in our developmental programs, and give them space in our educational institutions. These motivational programs will surely bring a good result. For a long time, we remained ignorant of teachings of our prophet (be peace upon him) about our duties towards our neighbours. It is time to fulfil our obligations. LET US START GIVING BEFORE WE DEMAND.
I am not asking to break our relationship with our upper-caste Hindu brothers. In this dark hour of history, if we look around, we will see that it is they who are fighting tooth and nails against the present fascist regime. Every day they are exposing the misdeeds of the govt. They have put their lives at risk for our sake, defending our freedom of speech, democracy, and secular polity, our right to practice our religion and culture and to protect the Ganga Jamuni Tahzeeb (civilisation). They make a long list but I will name only few of them like Ravish Kumar of NDTV, prof Apoorvanand of Delhi University, Harsh Mander, the human right activist, Rajdeepsardesai, a journalist of international repute, Vinod Dua of the Wire, the former congress secularist of Tamil Nadu Dr Mani Shankar Aiyer, and the leader of the poor and destitute, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamta Banerji etc. How can we ignore them? In fact, they are our heroes. They are the true firefighters while Mr. Prime Minister is trying to torch everything that is Muslim or Islam, secular and democratic, humane and humanistic. We have, in fact, to be clear in our mind that the majority of Hindus (upper caste) are not communal and are secular by their nature. However, attempt to poison their mind by falsifying history has been going on for a long time without any check, sometimes even with the connivance of the Congress, when and where it was in power. Congress has never been free from those wearing RSS’ nicker under their dhotis/trousers and holding important organisational and governmental positions simultaneously. Can anybody imagine the demolition of Babri Masjid and Batla House encounter incident taking place without the active connivance of the two forces – one open, another hidden? It is an open secret that when Babri Masjid was being demolished, the Prime Minister was sleeping, and the Home Minister was in his Pooja room. Centre was in the hands of Congress and UP was ruled by BJP. Both had given assurance to the Supreme Court that no harm would be allowed to Babri Masjid. After the drama of encounter enacted in Batla House was over, the then Home Minister proudly announced on TV that he was himself present in the police operation room and was supervising the whole operation. . Are our so-called secular parties, like Congress, RJD, JDU, BSP and LJP, not guilty of wiping out the genuine Muslim leadership from their parties? The Muslim leaders who had their roots in the community and used to think and talk about the problems of the community were gradually suffocated, side-lined and made silent. (I have not named Samajwadi party because Azam Khan is still surviving there as a strong Muslim leader and number two in the party for a long time). Ms Mayawati, over the years, has established herself as a leader of a section of Dalits but she has very little in her kitty to prove her secular credentials.
Today in Bihar, no Muslim political activist can become an MLA or MLC or Rajya Sabha Member unless and until he holds one of these qualifications: First, he should not open his mouth on Muslim issues, as the party leader is self-assumed sole spokesperson of the community. How can he allow anybody to usurp his portfolio? Second, you should have experience and willingness to work as peon, orderly, gardener, butler, washer man, and grass cutter etc at your leader’s sprawling bungalows. Third, you should be able to contribute at least in crores to the party coffers. Fourth, only the ‘leader’ would sit on a ‘chair’ and you should be always content with sitting on the floor in front of your leader. (A true leader always teaches his / her followers to stand up and fight for their dignity and self-respect). JDU claims to be a secular party but since the time of its inception it has been sailing in the boat of BJP (except for a short stint). Mr Nitish Kumar, an astute politician, is neither a secularist nor a rabid communalist, but a cunning ‘chairist’. He has become a jumping frog of Bihar politics. He has mastered the art of jumping from one hot pot to another. Another great secularist of Bihar, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, who owes his political ascendency to Muslims and Dalits of Bihar, has no conscience. He is a weather cock of Indian polity. He knows no Dalits, no Muslims. He knows only one saying in Hindi चलो तुम उधर को हवा हो िजधर की (move with the wind).Since Mr Laloo Prasad yadav himself has become a victim of conspiracy hatched long ago by BJP and RSS,I don’t want to pass any comments at this stage but with one caution: Expecting unquestioned loyalty from Muslims and working for Yadav’s empowerment only will not continue for long.
In this hopeless situation if we are going to the hustings very shortly, who shall we vote for? No option, only a negative choice. We will be voting with all our zeal and might for the GATBANDHAN of these pseudo secular parties without extracting any assurance from them that they would undo the wrongs done in the past. This is what I call political marginalisation. To come out of this middle-of-nowhere situation we will have to identify the social forces who consider BJP / RSS as their enemy and seek long term political alignment with them. Also, we should try to open dialogue with those who are not hardcore communal but have jumped into the bandwagon of BJP/ RSS because of their false propaganda against Muslims, false promises of development and false financial allurements, and bring them back to secular social mainstream of India. Also, we should keep in mind that we are going to extend friendly hands towards the Dalits and other have-nots, not because they can protect us during the riots but because they have been suppressed and oppressed for ages and now we must protect them from any cruelty meted out to them to fulfil our Islamic obligation.
We need to have long term and short-term strategies to come out of our present predicament. The first goal should be to defeat the fascist and reactionary forces led by Modi and co. in the 2019 general election, and our next goal should be to extract our share of the cake from our political partners.
We must know and believe that the future of Islam and Muslims lies in India. Islamophobia is a canard to plague the minds of the innocent majority. But, in fact, it is helping Islam to reach the ears, minds, and heart of our non-Muslim bothers. Don’t fear Modi or his regime. Shelley, a great English poet wrote, “If winter comes, shall spring be far behind?” This is India. If a Ravana is born, soon Ram will appear to demolish his fiefdom. Ram of the great epic, the Ramayana, is our hero too. He is a symbol of Good against Evil. Get rid of your fear. Buckle up and get ready to welcome this Ram and fight along with him against all the demons of our time. We must exhibit hope and confidence in us and in the sea of humanity that India holds.
نہین ھےُ نا امید اقبال اپنی کشت ویران سے
ذرا نم ھو تو یہ مٹی بڑی زرخیز ھےُ ساقی
(Iqbal isn’t disappointed with the barrenness of his acreage. The soil is hugely fertile if it is a little moistened.
(The author is Ex- President AMU Students’ Union. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile no: 9973002208)