By M.S.N. Menon
Do Hindus know anything about fatwas? They do not. But it is a parallel Islam in the making, that can threaten the peace of this country one day.
Maulana Maududi, author of Jamaat-e-Islami, proclaims with pride that Islam affects every aspect of a man'slife. In other words, Islam leaves (or intends to leave) no area of freedom for the Muslim to act on his own.
Do you know, good reader, what is the basis of the freedom of the British, the most free people on earth? They say they have their freedom where their law is silent. And when some government wants to restrict their freedom for very necessary reasons, it has to fight for it tooth and nail in the parliament.
But in Islam, the law is never silent on any aspect of a Muslim'slife. It wants to control the life of a Muslim in its entirety. But to know it all, one must study the working of the fatwas.
It is said that fatwa is Shariah in action. If so, a study of fatwa will reveal how the Shariah is being distorted by the ulema. Surely, there must be studies on how this is done? Alas!, there was almost none either in English or in Urdu before 1990 in India, says Arun Shourie, the first person in this country to undertake such a detailed study (see his book The world of fatwa or The shariah in action)?indeed, a great pioneering work.
How is one to explain this neglect? There are many explanations for it: for instance, the opposition of Muslim clerics, and the indifference of Hindus to such studies. There are other reasons: for example, the refusal to support such studies by the Indian universities and the University Grants Commission, the citadels of ?secularism.?
?During the months that I worked on the subject? (his book was published in 1995), says Shourie, ?I came across just two solitary essays on it.? And they were not very helpful to him. Think of it, no study on fatwa! We blame Gandhi for not knowing the mind of the Muslims as if we knew any better. All these explain the gross miscalculations that Gandhi and others made.
Today our concerns have shifted to terrorism (jehad). But do we know what jehad is? We do not. We used to ask Maulana Azad. Now we ask Wahiduddin Khan, and he says that jehad is the inner struggle between good and evil within man. Our secularists swallow the lie.
But our ignorance is more profound. Prof Nandy bemoans the fact that not a single book has been written on why India fell to the miniscule forces of Islam, and what India'ssubjection for eight hundred years has done to the Hindu psyche. Our historians have failed us.
About 85 per cent of the Muslims in India are Sunnis and 75 per cent of them are Berelvis. The fatwas of the Berelvis, Fatwa-i-Rizvia, are, therefore, the most important of all fatwas. What do they reveal? They reval the mind of the Muslims, of the ulemas. For instance? That the Berelvis issued a fatwa forbidding cooperation of Muslims with Gandhi. Why? Because Gandhi was a kafir! ?You have made Muslims the slaves of a kafir? riles Rizvi, author of the fatwa at those who made Gandhi the President of the Khilafat movement. Should I give you more instances of their role during the freedom movement?
The Muslim fundamentalists have a standard response to all criticism. If the critic is a Muslim, they say: ?But he is a murtad (an apostate), and if he is an non-Muslim, then, they say, ?But he is a kafir, why should we listen to him??
In short, all doors for improvement are closed. There is no autonomy of thought. And the power of the ulema remains intact.
Thus, on the one hand, there is suppression of knowledge, on the other, knowledge is confined to the inanities of life. Millions of questions are raised by the Muslim masses before the ulema. They are so trivial and obscene that one is dismayed at the seriousness with which they are dealt with by the ulema.
Millions of trivia and obscenities are brought up daily before the ulema and they are dealt with great piety. Fatwas are invariably issued.
All these, in a way, explain why Islam has suppressed philosophic studies centuries ago. They lead to embarrassment. So Muslim life tends to be exhausted in inanities. The system kills the spirit of earnest enquiry. It discourages thinking. It encourages the habit of referring everything to the religious men, to the ulema, for a religious answer, for religious sanction. It is in this way that the Muslims have ceased to think for themselves. They refer everything to the ulema. And here is the danger.
So, how do we go about restoring freedom to think to the Muslims? By abolishing the fatwas, the parallel Islam.