This book is a collection of articles published in newspapers and journals at different times and on various aspects of Indian Muslims. The author primarily deals with the post-Partition problems concerning the Muslims of India from time to time. Islam has acquired considerable importance as a subject of study with theories like the ?clash of civilisations? precipitating assertion of political Islam. Recent events like the American action in Afghanistan and Iraq have set in a process of ?homogenisation of Islam?, says the author.
Decolonisation of Muslim countries in the mid-20th century, the boom in oil prices and consequent flow of wealth, globalisation and info-technical revolution have brought the Muslim countries closer, making them conscious of their international corporate identity. Islamists claim that Islam is the most comprehensive religion because ulama quotes references and sayings from the Quran and from the practices of the Prophet preserved in the form of Hadith to guide the actions of the followers of the faith.
Following the Al Qaeda attack on World Trade Towers, America unleashed attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq and threatened Iran without taking into account the micro differences and micro realities present among the Muslims of different countries. The fact is that Al-Qaeda called Saddam Hussein of Iraq an infidel for his support to socialist ideology and also Arab nationalism has always been in conflict with ethnically different Iran led by Shia clergy. The author of this book says that differences in the Muslim countries need to be taken to account to make more correct generalisations of the Muslim world.
The book is a study of the Muslims of India since Partition and the Muslim community was born after the division of colonial India into two entities?India and Pakistan. In India, Islam came into contact with an amorphous Indian civilisation when it first entered the subcontinent. The civilisation comprised many indigenous traditions which influenced Islam and in turn were influenced by it. ?This two-way assimilation created local cultures within their distinct syncretic cultural identities,? says the author. How these traditions gave way to a large tradition under the impact of the British rule and process of modernisation are discussed in detail in the book.
Beginning with the Partition the book discusses Iqbal who advised Jinnah ?to ignore the Muslim-minority provinces? and concentrate on Muslims of the north and west India for accession to Pakistan. But soon after Partition, the entire Muslim League members along with the administrative, social, cultural and intellectual Muslim elite left for Pakistan, leaving behind the Indian Muslims leaderless and impoverished. In 1947, the Muslims in India lost much of the respect of the majority community for the role they played in the disintegration of the country. It was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, ?the lonely and tragic figure of Muslim politics?, who acted as the beacon light to local Muslims, exhorting them ?to take the pledge that this country is ours, that we belong to it and the fundamental decisions of its destiny will remain incomplete till we participate in them.?
Keeping in view a broad distinction between religion and identity of Indian Muslims, the issues discussed in the book deal mainly with Muslims and not Islam, though related to each other. It suggests that the Muslims must learn to assert themselves for a due share as Scheduled Castes and a larger percentage under other backward classes and that they have the potential of being a national asset and of playing a role in relieving the Muslim world from the crisis it today finds itself in.
This is a book which should provide succour to the Muslims of India on finding such a supporter in Balraj Puri in India.
(Gyan Publishing House, 5 Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110 002.)