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Critical Podium Dewanand


INDIAN MUSLIMS -Under Siege? by R. Upadhyay

Sacrificer           R. Upadhyay
Sacrifice code       wfor0405
Sacrifice date       16th Nov 2004


by R. Upadhyay
16th Nov 2004

  • http://www.saag.org/papers12/paper1160.html
  • http://www.saag.org
  • The history of Indian Muslims is so complex that their isolation from the
    national mainstream and consequent socio-psychological confusion have
    remained a puzzle for social scientists. A study based on the factual
    developments related to this distinct and a unique religio-social group may
    help the reader to draw right conclusions.

    With the collapse of Moghul Empire, the Muslim bourgeoisie, who prefer to
    call themselves Muslim Indians and not Indian Muslims have been struggling
    to keep the Indian Muslims under a mental blockade by using Islam as weapon.
    They treat their community members as a communal constituency to bargain
    with the contemporary ruling class to share political power. Assertive
    insistence of Islamic clerics on a separate Muslim identity in a diverse but
    united society worked as a catalyst to accelerate the movement for Muslim
    separatism launched in this country for centuries.

    Since the advent of Muslim rule in India, Indian Muslims have been suffering
    from the malady of hate and divisive politics of the ruling class.
    Initially, they became the victims of Muslim Indians who had converted them
    for their self-seeking interest and subsequently of the political class in
    their politics of vote arithmetic. Ironically, they have never realised
    that they have been under siege under Muslim Indians, who continue to carry
    forward the legacy of Sarhindi to Iqbal.

    Muslim invaders had massacred unaccountable number of native population and
    destroyed large number of temples in the name of Islam. They converted large
    number of Indians into Islam and kept them segregated from the Hindus. Since
    then, the Indian Muslims remained under perpetual siege of their medieval
    masters and subsequently under their descendants. The upper class Indians
    who changed their faith for sharing power under the alien Muslim rulers
    diluted their Indian identity with the cultural identity of the former and
    were proud to consider themselves a part of Muslim Indians. The converted
    Indians belonging to lower strata of society however, never got equal social

    Actually, the backwardness and miseries of Indian Muslims lie in their
    mental siege under the preachers of Islamic conservatism that has isolated
    them from their cultural past. The disturbed socio-political Hindu-Muslim
    relation in India as we see today is nothing but the historical legacy of
    the enslaved mindset of Indian Muslims being carried forward from generation
    to generation. The answer to their problem of so-called religious identity
    as often highlighted by the leadership in the community therefore, solely
    lies in their freedom from the grip of Islamic radicals. Ironically, even
    the contemporary Muslim 'liberals' have not made any concerted and unified
    efforts to free them from the perpetual mental siege.

    Historically, the movement to keep the Indian Muslims under siege dates back
    to the last decade of sixteenth century when the great Mogul Emperor Akbar's
    religious 'liberalism' started decaying. Starting from Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi
    and followed by Muslim thinkers like Shah Wali Ullah, Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan,
    Mohammad Allama Iqbal and others the movement for a separate Muslim identity
    which is basically synonymous to separate political identity with hegemony
    of Islamic power in this country remained a permanent feature of Muslim
    society in India. Their concerted efforts to keep the Indian Muslims under
    siege influenced even the contemporary Muslim thinkers who are the
    repositories of their heritage.

    Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi (1564- 1624):

    Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi, who was popularly known as Mujaddid (Renovator of
    Islam) had traced his descent from Caliph Umar. Rejecting the 'heterodoxies'
    of the great Mogul Emperor Akbar , this eminent Islamic mystic of his time
    and a hardcore Sunni Muslim strongly refuted the Shia point of view in his
    writing entitled "Risala Tahliliyya" and made a major contribution towards
    rehabilitation of orthodox Islam in India. He tried to influence the
    courtiers of Akbar and continued his tirade against the Hindus as well as
    Shia Muslims aggressively when Jahangir ascended the throne of Delhi. He is
    widely known among the Muslims for his letters written in Persian not only
    to his disciples but also to the influential Muslims in the court of
    Jahangir. His letters exercised great influence in turning the heterodoxies
    of Akbar to orthodoxies, which were pursued by all the subsequent Muslim
    rulers from Jahangir to Aurangzeb. He was so rigid in his approach towards
    Islam that he did not bend before the emperor as per the prevalent custom
    when he was summoned to the court of Jahangir. His plea that bending down
    before anyone except Allah was un-Islamic, annoyed Jahangir, who ordered for
    his imprisonment in Gwalior jail due to his discourteous behaviour. After a
    year however, Jahangir under the influence of his Islamic writings released
    him from jail and offered huge gifts to him. His tomb at Sarhind in Patiala
    is still an object of veneration (Islamic Encyclopaedia, Vol. I, Page297).

    Shah Wali Ullah (1704-1762):

    Shah Wali Ullah another Islamic mystic of the Sufi tradition of Sunnism who
    claimed his lineage from Quraysh tribe of Prophet Mohammad and of Umar, the
    second caliph was found more concerned with the political disorder after the
    death of Aurangzeb and the fading glory of Muslim power. With his
    religio-political thought that was based on the 'Persio -Islamic theory of
    kingship' (Shah Wali Allah and his Time by Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, page
    397) he wanted the Muslim society to return to the Prophet era for the
    political unity of the then Muslim rulers. He translated the writings of
    Sarhindi from Persian to Arabic to inspire the Muslim Indians and also
    invited Ahmad Shah Abdali, the king of Afghanistan to fight against the
    Marathas to save the subjugation of Muslims by the Hindus. His letter to
    Abdali was a part of his hate campaign against the Hindus. He did not
    believe in Indian nationhood or any national boundary for Muslims and
    therefore, invited Shah Abdali, Amir of Afghan to attack India (Third battle
    of Panipat 1761), in which Marathas were defeated. In his letter to the
    Afghan king he said, ".All control of power is with the Hindus because they
    are the only people who are industrious and adaptable. Riches and
    prosperity are theirs, while Muslims have nothing but poverty and misery.
    At this juncture you are the only person, who has the initiative, the
    foresight, the power and capability to defeat the enemy and free the Muslims
    from the clutches of the infidels. God forbid if their domination
    continues, Muslims will even forget Islam and become undistinguishable from
    the non-Muslims" (Dr. Sayed Riaz Ahmad in his book 'Maulana Maududi and
    Islamic state' - Lahore People's Publishing House, page 15 - 1976).

    The political rise of non-Muslims like Maratha, Jat and Sikh powers and
    consequent danger to Islam of its political heritage was unbearable to Shah
    Wali Ullah. The slogan of 'Islam is in danger' - is profoundly embedded to
    his hate-non-Muslim ideology. The successive Muslim thinkers drew
    inspiration from his religio-political thought and carried forward his
    mission, which ultimately gave birth to the Islamic politics in India.

    A great Muslim thinker and promoter of one of the most emotional chapters of
    Islamic revivalist movements in Indian subcontinent his political thought
    had brought the Indian Muslims under perpetual siege of Islamic orthodoxy.
    The on going Hindu-Muslim communal controversy in contemporary India is
    deeply rooted to his political Islamic theory. The most significant
    contribution of Wali Ullah(Allah) for his community is that his teachings
    kept alive the religious life of Indian Muslims linked with their inner
    spirit for re-establishment of Islamic political authority in India. It was
    the political theory of Wali ullah that kept the Indian Muslims emotional
    social disorder and deprived them of a from forward-looking vision.

    Being proud of his Arab origin Wali Ullah was strongly opposed to integratio
    n of Islamic culture in the cultural cauldron of the sub-continent and
    wanted the Muslims to ensure their distance from it. "Waliullah did not want
    the Muslims to become part of the general milieu of the sub-continent. He
    wanted them to keep alive their relation with rest of the Muslim world so
    that the spring of their inspiration and ideals might ever remain located in
    Islam and tradition of world community developed by it". (The Muslim
    Community of Indo-Pakistan subcontinent by Istiaq Hussain Qureshi, 1985,
    Ibid. page 216). "In his opinion, the health of Muslim society demanded that
    doctrines and values inculcated by Islam should be maintained in their
    pristine purity unsullied by extraneous influences" (Ibid. page 215). The
    religio-political ideology of Wali Ullah made a permanent crack in
    Hindu--Muslim relation in this sub-continent, which undermined the
    self-pride and dignity of integrated Indian society.

    Ahmad Barelavi (1786-1831):

    Waliullh's son Abd al Aziz (1746-1823) carried forward the legacy of his
    father and as a result India faced violent communal disorder for decades.
    Aziz's disciple Saiyid Ahmad of Rai Bareli under the deep influence of the
    jehadi spirit of the faith propounded by Waliullah and Sunni extremism of
    Maulana Wahab of Saudi Arabia launched jehad against the non-Islamic power
    of the Sikh kingdom of Ranjit Singh with a view to restore Dar-ul-Islam (A
    land, where Islam is having political power). Though, he was killed in
    battle of Balkot in May 1831, Indian Muslims continue to regard him as
    martyr for the cause of Islam. Tired with their failures in re-establishing
    Muslim rule the followers of the jehadi spirit of faith kept their movement
    in suspended animation for decades due to the firm grip the British
    established on this country.

    Post- Sepoy Mutiny (1857) Movement for Islamic revivalism through Islamic institutions:

    The movement for Islamic fundamentalism got a severe jolt with the failure
    of the Sepoy mutiny in 1857, when the Muslim radicals lost all hopes to
    restore Islamic power in India. The Islamic clerics however, kept the
    movement alive through institutionalised Islamic movement and founded
    Islamic institutions like Darul-Ulum at Deoband , Nadawa al Ulama at
    Lucknow, and Darul-Ulum Manzar Islam in Bareilly. With thousands of madrasas
    theses institutions have been carrying forward the legacy of the
    religio-political concept of Wahab and Waliullah. Farangi Mahall was already
    founded at Lucknow during the period of Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb. These
    institutions, which continue to draw students " mainly from the starving
    Muslim peasantry and working lower middle classes" (Deoband School and
    Demand for Pakistan by Faruqi, page 40) are the representative bodies of
    Muslim proletariat. Leave aside the restoration of Islamic polity, these
    theological seminaries are today producing thousands of unemployed or under
    employed Islamic clerics without caring for their material prosperity. In
    the absence of any scope for re-interpretation of religion for democratic,
    secular, scientific, industrial and modern condition of the society, common
    Muslims do not see beyond mosques and madrasas. These institutions have
    therefore, succeeded in producing only turned them to self-proclaimed holy
    warriors of their jehadi faith. In the name of preserving the cultural
    identity of the Muslims these holy warriors are in fact serving the cause of
    self-seeking Muslim elite.

    Aligarh Movement of Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan (1817-98):
    Contrary to the Islamic revival movement only through theological education,
    Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan, a Mogul scion and loyalist to British power launched a
    parallel Aligarh movement with the objective to provide modern education to
    Indian Muslims. He was the first scion of Mogul family in modern history of
    India, who launched a unique Muslim separatist movement with a political and
    educational ideology and an objective to restore the lost pride of his
    community after the fall of Mogul Empire. Deeply aggrieved with the plight
    of Muslim Indians particularly after the failure of Sepoy Mutiny in 1857and
    "acutely sensitive to the ending of Mogul dominance", he is widely known as
    founder of Islamic modernism in India. Though, a staunch believer in Sunni
    order of Islam, his outlook took a decisive change after the Sepoy Mutiny in
    which he had personally witnessed the sufferings of his community members at
    the hands of the British. But as a part of his tactical move to bring back
    the Muslims into the confidence of the British, he continued his loyalty to
    the British throne till his death.

    Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan while taking inspiration from Shah Waliullah's concept
    of tactical moderation of Islam formulated the two-nation theory which not
    only formed the basis for the demand for a separate Muslim land of Pakistan
    but also coincided with the 'hate-Hindu campaign' of Shaikh Sarhind, Shah
    Wai-Ullah and Ahmad Barelavi. Through scientific and modern education to
    Muslims his movement produced a sizeable section of Muslim middle class with
    doctors, engineers, scientists and scholars of modern subjects. This new
    class of Muslim however, also came under the influence of the fundamentalist
    forces, worked as the fighting force for Muslim elite and gradually
    succeeded in besieging the mindset of common Muslim masses. Strongly
    opposing the formation of Indian National Congress in 1885 on the plea that
    it was a Hindu dominated organisation Ahmad Khan prevented the Muslim elite
    from joining it. Restoring confidence among the despairing Muslims of his
    age he is largely regarded "as a forerunner of Pakistan".

    Instead of making any sincere effort towards the Hindu-Muslim unity Sir
    Sayed Ahmad rather convinced the British rulers that the two major religious
    communities of India were not capable for unity. (Hali's Hayat-e-Javed,
    translated by K.H.Kadari and David Matthews, 1979, page 199,
    Idarh-e-adabiyat-e-Delhi Qasimjan Street, Delhi - Quoted from Pioneer dated
    20.10 2004 in a letter to editor column by Roopa Kaushal).

    A noted Muslim scholar M.R.A.Baig also observed:
    " Being a descendant of high Mogul officials, he emotionally could not
    accept that Muslims should be ruled by their former subjects. He also
    feared that Hindu rule will result in the imposition of Aryo-Dravidian
    culture on the Muslim Perso-Arabic civilisation"( The Muslim Dilemma in
    India by M.R.A. Baig - page 51-52).

    Religious obsession of Muslims remained a potential factor during freedom
    struggle and formation of All India Muslim League (AIML) in 1906.
    Internationally known historian R.C.Majumdar in his book 'Struggle for
    Freedom' (Page 127, 1969) maintained:"Aligarh movement gradually alienated
    the Muslims from the Hindus in the political field...The anti-Hindu feeling
    was conspicuously shown in the Muslims' attitude towards Indian National
    Congress since its very inception". He further said:

    "It occurred to the Muslims that in order to counteract the political
    organisation of the Hindus, particularly the Congress, they must have a
    central organisation of their own" (Page 150, 1969). He added, "the spirit
    of Syed Ahmad dominated the Muslims who with rare exceptions, regarded
    themselves as Muslim first and Indian afterwards" (Ibid. Page 152). He
    quoted Sir Percival Griffiths, ICS, who "stressed the Muslim belief that
    their interest must be regarded as completely separate from those of the
    Hindus, and that no fusion of the two communities was possible"(Ibid.
    Page153). "Middle class Muslim nationalism sabotaged the natural process of
    electoral democratisation"(Ameena A.Saeed in an interview in Times of India
    dated November 29, 2003).

    The educational ideology of Sir Sayed Khan provoked a violent reaction from
    Islamic orthodoxy but his followers gradually overcame this problem. Aligarh
    Muslim University, a citadel of Muslim Middle class played a major role in
    Pakistan movement under the guidance of Muslim elite. The then Muslim
    leadership used this new class to strengthen the siege of Islamic orthodoxy
    over the common Muslims with the ultimate objective to achieve its political
    hegemony. Even today Indian Muslims are proud of Aligarh Muslim

    Urdu Movement:

    The alien Muslim rulers created Urdu as lingua franca (Mixture of different
    languages for convenience) by mixing over fifty percent vocabularies from
    Turkish, Persian and Arabic in native dialects. While Persian was used as
    principal standard written language for administrative purposes, the Muslim
    rulers with the intention to establish their permanent political, economic,
    cultural and linguistic hegemony in India pushed Urdu as a substitute for
    the native languages, which had Sanskrit origin and Nagari script. Urdu was
    gradually saturated with Perso-Arabic script, metaphors, similes, the forms
    of verse, prosody with about sixty percent of vocabulary, content of
    mannerism and poetic thought of Islamic and Persian traditions. The birth of
    Urdu therefore, created the first social division in Indian society.

    Since the advent of British establishment in India, Muslims have been
    struggling for revival of the medieval pride of Urdu. Initially, the use of
    Urdu was confined to urbanised Muslim elite and of those Hindus, whose
    economic interest was linked with it. But due to its alien character it
    never became acceptable to native dwellers. Gradually it formed part of
    communal, parochial and Muslim politics in the country and was also linked
    with the cultural identity of Muslims. The pride of place given to Urdu in
    the literary courts of Muslim rulers made this new language a status symbol
    of the elite section of Muslims. Its Persianisation and Arabisation and
    imposed supremacy over regional languages always remained a source of
    irritant for the common Hindus as it disturbed the homogeneity of Indian
    society. Obsession of Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan to the linguistic supremacy of
    Urdu as a symbol of Muslim domination over the cultural and linguistic
    identity of this country gave credence to a first movement for recognition
    of Hindi as the second official language of North Western Provinces.
    Urdu-Hindi controversy therefore, originated from the Muslim renaissance
    movement launched after the failure of Sepoy Mutiny in 1857.

    Organisations like Arya Samaj, Punjab Brahma Sabha, Sat Sabha and Sikh
    National Association joined the Hindi movement and voiced their opposition
    to Urdu before the respective units of Education Commission set up by the
    British to frame the education policy for India. Realising the gravity of
    situation the British Government introduced Hindi with Devanagari script in
    Bihar in the year 1880 despite the protest of Muslims. The aggressiveness of
    Hindi movement "affirmed that for Hindus Urdu was a pure and simple survival
    of Muslim tyranny" ((Muslim Politics and Leadership in the South Asian
    Sub-continent by Yusuf Abbasi, 1981, page 90). Introduction of Hindi in
    Bihar "quickened the pace of Hindi movement in North West Provinces and
    later in United Province"(Ibid. page190). "Urdu never indeed took root in
    the soil of rural India. One reason for this was its snobbish aversion to
    the dialects of the regions, where Urdu was supposed to have deep roots"
    (Anwar Azim in his essay entitled 'Urdu a victim of cultural genocide'
    published in a book entitled Muslims in India edited by Zafar Imam, 1975,
    page 259).

    The followers of Aligarh movement strongly opposed the replacement of
    Persian script with Nagri in the court of United Province in April 1900. The
    Muslims took it as challenge to the supremacy of their cultural identity and
    launched an agitation to oppose Nagari resolution. They converted the
    Muhammadan Anglo Oriental Defence Association (an outfit of Aligarh
    Movement) into Urdu Defence Association, which was a starting point to
    corrode the unity of the national Freedom Movement. Ironically, Deoband
    Movement, which was opposed to Aligarh movement joined the Urdu Movement by identifying it as threat to Islam. Had Muslim thinkers been honest to
    develop Urdu in the literary tradition of this land with local script,
    Indian masses would have perhaps lapped it. Urdu Ghazals printed in
    Devanagari script are much more on sale than its print in Perso-Arabic
    script. In ancient India Sanskrit was initially written in Brahmi script
    but due to its complexity Devanagari script was developed, which was easier
    to learn. But obsession of Muslim thinkers to carry forward Perso-Arabic
    legacy of Urdu identified this language with the identity of Muslims as a
    separate social entity and created major hindrance for it to become a
    language of common Indians. Such tendency of Muslim thinkers encouraged
    linguistic separatism and hence Indian masses rejected it.

    Formation of Muslim League:

    Aligarh movement was the force behind the ideology of political exclusivism
    in the name of religion, which prompted All India Mohammedan Educational
    Conference held in Dacca (December 27-30, 1906) to form the All India
    Muslim League. Since then AIML maintained a visible social and political
    distance from the Hindus and the Indian National Congress respectively.
    Mohammad Ali Jinnah, a prominent leader of the Congress did not join the
    AIML till 1913 though, he supported the League movement for separate
    electorate for Muslims. Within the Congress he however always tried to
    bargain for one-third reservation for his community. Formation of AIML was a
    major landmark in the history of modern India. The first formal entry of a
    centrally organised political party exclusively for Muslims had the
    following main objectives:

    "To promote among the Musssalmans of India, feelings of loyalty to the
    British Government, and remove any misconception that may arise as to the
    instruction of Government with regard to any of its measures.
    To protect and advance the political rights and interests of Mussalmans of
    India, and to respectfully represent their needs and aspirations to the

    After the formation of Muslim League, the Muslim Indians, in stead of
    battling against the British remained consistently fighting a war against
    Indian National Congress a party that they described as of Hindus. Since
    they had no love for any democratic polity and did not foresee the
    possibility of restoration of Perso-Arabic hegemony over the Hindu majority
    with resurgence of Islamic rule in the country, demand for creation of
    Pakistan became their sole political agenda. They therefore tightened their
    grip over Indian Muslims who remained constantly under their siege since the
    establishment of Muslim rule in the country. Formation of Muslim League
    opened a floodgate for Indian Muslims, who never looked back to their
    cultural past. Since then various Muslim organisations like
    Jamaat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, Tbliq Jamaat, and Jamaat-e-Islami accelerated the
    Muslim separatist movement to keep their community members under siege.

    Emergence of Iqbal as Ideological Father of Pakistan.

    Allama Iqbal (1873/76-1938) widely known as a romantic and Indian
    nationalist poet experienced a "mental crisis" after his return from Europe
    in the first decade of nineteenth century. Being sensitive to the problems
    of Muslims, he took keen interest in Islamic mystical philosophy but used
    his intellectual brilliance only to strengthen the grip of All India Muslim
    League over Muslim masses. His spiritual and political guidance to his
    community for a separate Muslim state served as bedrock for demand for
    Pakistan. He is therefore, called 'spiritual father of Pakistan'. "Iqbal
    combines many contradictory trends in himself; his verses could serve both
    conservatives and progressives as weapons"( Encyclopaedia of Islam, Brill,
    Volume III, page 1059).

    A product of the movement of Islamic revivalism, which was based on the
    medieval concept of Muslim solidarity, Iqbal is also known as a poet of
    Muslim awakening in India. "He stood for going ahead with the Quran and
    revival of Islamic polity without realising how the simple polity of earlier
    Islam was incompatible with the complexities of modern civilisation". "He
    attempted to provide a systematic Islamic base to the socio-political ideas
    of Indian Muslims" (Politics of Minorities by Moin Shakir, 1980, Ajanta
    Publication, Jawahar Nagar, Delhi, page142). His romantic ideas meant for
    reviving the interest of elite Muslim Indians to hypnotise the common Indian
    Muslims and subordinate them to the former. "Everything was made subordinate
    to the interest of ruling elite; science, philosophy, democracy,
    constitution and fundamental rights of equality and liberty were subservient
    to the exploiting class" (Ibid.).

    Like Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan, Iqbal also failed to assimilate his liberal
    thought with the global concept of democracy and could not free himself from
    the medieval moorings of Islam. He propagated the political solidarity of
    Muslims on the basis of religion, which fulfilled the political ambition of
    a section of Muslim elite who got independent power in Pakistan after
    partition of the country. Indian Muslims who supported the thesis of Iqbal
    but stayed back in India got nothing but only demoralisation for the
    betrayal of their leaders. Ironically, Indian Muslims are still proud of
    Iqbal. He is widely known for politicising the two-nation theory initially
    propounded by Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan. Muslim League with Iqbal as president
    adopted a resolution in its Allahabad Conference in 1930, which formed the
    basis for demand of Pakistan in 1940. Initially Mohammed Ali Jinnah was also
    an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity but to fulfill his political ambition he
    took an about turn and led the movement for Muslim separatism, which was
    launched to negate the tactical move of Mogul Emperor Akbar to rule this
    country through Islamic 'liberalism'.

    After the exit of colonial power, British India was politically divided
    between 'Hindu India' and Muslim India with Pakistan as a new name to the
    latter. This division was however, converted into political division only in
    August 1947, which had the endorsement of over ninety- percent of the
    Muslims of undivided India. But ironically, of the total thirty percent of
    Muslim population of British India, about ten percent stayed back in 'Hindu

    Common Indian Muslims never understood the complexity of Pakistan movement,
    which they had blindly supported in the name of religion. Once they
    understood the reality of partition they were hapless and helpless. They
    however, did not learn a lesson from the betrayel of their leaders who again
    misguided them before leaving for Pakistan with a slogan - "Hans Kar Liya
    Pakistan Lad Kar Lenge Hindustan"(We got Pakistan with smile, we will take
    Hindustan with fight). A larger majority of the Muslim leaders, who were
    first Muslims than Indian went to Pakistan but handed over the besieged
    Indian Muslims who had actively participated in their fight for partition
    under perpetual siege of Islamic fundamentalists.

    Some of the Muslim Indians understood the rising tide of Indian nationalism
    during freedom movement and took refuge under Nehruvian concept of
    secularism after Independence. They however, kept patronising the radical
    Islamists who carried forward the conceptual legacy of Islamic glory in the
    sub-continent. Emergence of Indian Union Muslim League, a new incarnation of
    All India Muslim League and multiplication of madrasas in post-colonial
    India reveal that Muslim Indians did not like to free the common Muslim
    masses from the siege of the Islamic clerics.

    While Pakistan was declared an Islamic State, India accepted democracy and
    secularism with not only equal right to all its citizens but also certain
    special rights to Muslims as a minority community. India did not give any
    constitutional recognition to Hinduism even though its formation was based
    on religion. The Hindus of Pakistan did not vote for a religion based state
    but they were forced to migrate to 'Hindu India'. In south Asian countries
    India is an exception for not giving constitutional recognition to the
    religion on the basis of which it was reorganised after the end of British
    rule. The Hindus of this new India however, never raised any assertive voice
    for constitutional recognition to their religion as the ancient scriptures
    of this land suggest 'Sarva Dharm Sambhav' (Equal respect to all the

    The post-Independence behaviour of Indian Muslims hardly had any change.
    Their various grievances in the name of Muslim identity are being exploited
    by all the political parties that treat them as a vote bank only without
    taking any step to free them from their siege. These demoralised
    religio-social group that stayed back in India after partition, did not
    learn any lesson from the betrayal of their leaders. Gradually, the Indian
    people learnt to ignore the bitter past of partition and accepted the ground
    reality as such.

    In post-colonial Indian polity the Muslims leadership kept their community
    polarised in favour of Congress for over two decades since Independence.
    Meanwhile, organisations like All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat were
    formed to bring the Indian Muslims under common platform but it too failed
    to resolve their socio-psychological confusion. Organisations like Student
    Islamic Movement of India emerged to re-infuse the concept of Islamic
    extremism among the Indian Muslims. Division of Pakistan with the creation
    of Bangladesh in 1971 for which India under Congress rule fought a decisive
    war was not palatable either for Muslim Indians

    The 'secular' intellectuals belonging to the Muslim community consider
    themselves as repositories of the heritage of Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi to
    Allama Iqbal. Instead of identifying the fault lines in the attempts of
    Muslim clerics on excluvist identity. The Muslim 'liberals' are not ready to
    free their co-religionists from their perpetual mental siege. So long as
    these 'secular' Muslims do not recognise the civilisational underpinnings of
    pre-medieval India and link the Indian Muslims to their roots for which no
    compromise to the spiritual Islam is required - possibility of the freedom
    of common Muslims from the siege of Islamic fundamentalism is ruled out.

    "As long as Muslims felt that they were an important and even decisive
    element of the ruling group they did not feel that they were a minority a
    term that implicitly condemns a community to the margins" (M.J.Akbar in his
    foreword of 'Indian Muslims : Where have they gone wrong' by Rafiq Zakaria,
    Bhartiya Vudya Bhavan, Mumbai, 2004).There are a number of Muslim
    intellectuals who write about this bitter truth but it is an irony that they
    hardly speak this truth assertively when they face Muslim congregations.
    They often quote the address of Maulam Azad to the demoralised Indian
    Muslims in front of Jama Masjid after partition but they hardly assert to
    ensure that the Indian Muslims are freed from their medieval mindset and
    grip of Muslim Indians. The most unfortunate part of their intellectually
    cowardice attitude is that they do not intend to write or speak the truth
    for common Muslims.

    If the Muslim scholars are genuine secularists with conviction, they should
    launch an assertive movement and intellectual jehad to generate collective
    concern among the Muslim leaders to free the masses from the siege of the
    Ulema. As a first step they are to free common Muslims from the medieval
    psyche of Ibrahim Khan's 'Red Pamphlet' - "Ye Mussalman arise awake! Do not
    read in the same school with Hindus". This is possible only if all the
    theological seminaries are converted into educational institutions to impart
    modern and scientific education with a proper preferably optional on
    theological subject. Kalama, Namaz, Roja, Jakat and Haj, are perhaps the
    only ingredients of spiritual Islam to maintain Muslim identity. Islam may
    be a complete way of life during Prophet era but can't it be moderated
    according to global civilisational changes as has been done in many Islamic
    countries? Muslim elite and middle class in the community are unfortunately
    neither ready to unload their medieval mental burden nor feel the need to
    free the ignorant Muslim masses from the siege of Islamic fundamentalists.
    Though, this communal conflict is being carried forward by the radical
    Islamists as a legacy of their religious intolerance, the Muslim scholars
    often project it as an outcome of divide and rule policy of the British.

    In post Independent India, Muslim 'secularists' have been putting blame on
    Hindu nationalists for the Hindu-Muslim divide. But they never raise any
    voice against Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan, who sowed the seed of two-nation theory
    and Allama Iqbal who propagated it. Both of them are highly revered among
    the Indian Muslims. They never condemn Fida Hussain some of whose paintings
    were the burning example of blasphemy. They are also fond of putting blame
    on Indian National Congress for sabotaging the efforts of Mahatma Gandi for
    Hindu Muslim unity. They often refer to Motilal Nehru's report for ignoring
    the constitutional demand of the Muslims, which compelled a secular leader
    like Jinnah turning communal. Putting blame on others for own follies is
    intellectual dishonesty. Zakaria admits that "Indian Muslims became pawns in
    the hands of political parties" but he has ignored the historical facts that
    his community members always remained under the siege of the Muslim elite of
    this country. Is it not a historical fact that the Indians converted to
    Islam were forced to forget their civilisational roots from the day they
    changed their faith? Were they not forced to give up their cultural identity
    before conversion?

    Hindus have no inhibition to pay reverence to Dargah of Muslim saints as
    they believe God in any form but Muslim leaders hardly reciprocate such
    gesture by joining the religious congregation of Hindus. They talk of
    reconciliation but are not ready to cross the barricade of Islamic
    injunctions. They quote Akbar Allahabadi who mocked the Mullah - " why
    should they travel by train when camel is available" but they never came out
    aggressively against the Mullah who openly expressed high regards to Osama
    bin Laden or loudly said that family planning is against Islam. If they do
    not want the Muslims to defy the Prophet's tradition how can they ask their
    community members to "discard the outmoded traditions and out of date
    conventions"?(Rafiq Zakaria in Indian Muslims - Where have they gone wrong,
    Page XXXIX, Bharati Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai, 2004).

    Through the ages from Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi to Shah Waliullah and from Sir
    Sayed Ahmad Khan to Sir Allama Iqbal the Indian Muslims have devolved
    themselves to maintain a separate identity. The contemporary Muslim thinkers
    of 'secular' and democratic India have ignored this perpetual devolution of
    Indian Muslims. M.J.Akbar, a reputed journalist rather found "Indian Muslims
    evolving through ages " and linked their evolution through the poetry of
    Khushru, Ghalib, Iqbal and Akbar Allahabadi. Zakaria in his book to
    complemented M.J.Akbar and said that he had " convincingly refuted Sir Vidia
    Naipaul for his propagation that Indian Muslims have developed no roots in
    India ". Every Indian would have gladly accepted this compliment of Zakaria
    had the Indian Muslims been also sensitive to the cultural and religious
    sentiments of the majority community of this country.

    If Muslim 'secularists, do not want to spell out their mind on historical
    facts and want the Indian Muslims to join the national mainstream without
    unloading their mental burden of medieval India, they are perhaps also
    falling in the same line of Muslim Indians who do not want to free their own
    community members from their siege. How does Mr Zakaria expect the Indian
    Muslims to respond to his saner advice "to take a realistic stand and
    sincerely work for collaboration with Hindus" until and unless he
    intellectually confronts with Muslim Indians for freedom of common Muslims
    from their medieval psyche? There is no dearth of Muslim intellectuals who
    in their informal talk criticise the Mullahs but they do not have the
    courage to confront them. If the Hindu intellectuals raise their voice
    against the siege of Indian Muslims, they are branded communal.

    Without any deep understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of the
    cultural tradition of Indian society, obsession towards any exclusive
    identity on the basis of religion is always detrimental to social harmony.
    The crux of the social tradition of Indian society was a value- oriented
    concept of dignified co-existence, which was however disturbed after the
    establishment of Muslim rule in the country. "The notions of pluralism,
    equality and identity cannot be translated into practice if pursued
    independently" (Pluralism, Equality and Identity: Comparative Studies by
    T.K.Oommen, Oxford University Press, 2002, Page 1).

    Islam or Christianity never had any identity problem in India before the
    establishment of Muslim and colonial rule in this country. Identity conflict
    started only when the Hindus were discriminated on the basis of their
    religion and they had to suffer due to atrocious behaviour of the alien
    rulers. Conversion through force or allurement was the main reason behind
    conflict in religious identity.

    Nationality is basically a geo-cultural identity, which the Muslims in India
    have always disputed. M. Mujeeb, a noted Muslim scholar and expert of the
    history of Indian Muslims observed that the Muslims claim adherence to
    Sharia in principle but disregard it in practice. In support of his view he
    gives example of Muslim landlords, who often create private trust to prevent
    their daughters from getting share in the landed property of the family.
    They however, claim themselves to be the upholders of Sharia. (Islamic Law
    in Modern India edited by Tahir Mahmood, 1972, Page 9). Similarly, Muslim
    elite hardly makes any sincere effort to encourage the poor and economically
    backward Muslims towards modern education, which may qualify and induce them
    to think freely and independently. Madrasa education is producing merchants
    for selling reserved accommodation in heaven after death but at the cost of
    poverty in present life. Well off Muslims send their children for study in

    The monumental wonders erected by Muslim rulers in different parts of India
    are symbols of Islam. These monuments gradually got the status of national
    heritage. No 'secular' writer is ready to pen this truth about the misuse of
    the public exchequer that could have been spent over the economic
    development of the people. Such lavish expenditure at the whims and fancies
    of the Muslim rulers reflect their luxurious style of living which may be
    contrary to the spiritual concept of Islam.

    The End of British rule provided opportunities to Indian Muslims to unload
    their burden of medieval psyche and legacy of Islamic concept of democracy
    by integrating themselves in Indian society. The Muslim clergies in support
    of the elite section in their community however, did not free them to do so
    but rather tightened their grip over them in the name of religion. The
    political leadership of the country on the other hand allowed the communal
    divide for vote bank politics that has kept the Indian Muslims under
    perpetual siege. Had the Indian Muslims been kept out of political Islam and
    encouraged for adherence only to the fundamentals of spiritual Islam that is
    Kalama, Namaz, Roza, Jakat and Haz the gap of communal divide might have
    decreased. In stead of treating them as a political group had they been
    accepted only as a religious social group the question of their religious
    identity would not have arisen. In the name of religious identity the Muslim
    Indians are fighting only for their political identity with a constituency
    of Muslim voters.

    Post-Independence history of India reveals that there was hardly any
    communal riot on the issue of spiritual Islam. But Muslim Indians in their
    lust for sharing political power used their community members in the name of
    religion only for their vested political interest. Gradually, the use of
    religion became a national strategy of power politics in the country.

    The post-Independence behaviour of Indian Muslims hardly had any change.
    Their grievances in the name of Muslim identity are being exploited by all
    the political parties that treat them as a vote bank only without taking any
    step to free them from their siege. With the rising tide of 'Hindutva' the
    demoralised Muslim community maintained a low profile but formulated the
    strategy of tactical voting against the BJP in election and succeeded in
    removing it from power at centre in 2004. Tactical voting of Muslims against
    the BJP was one of the major reasons for the defeat of the party in Bihar,
    Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra. How long this strategy will help
    the Muslim Indians only time will say but this dangerous trend may be
    counter productive if the Hindus are also polarised as it happened in the
    last Gujarat Assembly election. This strategy of Muslim Indians could
    aggravate the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, which is not in the interest
    of the country.


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