ONLY the other day (October 6 ) I read in The Hindu that Indian Muslims are getting increasingly disenchanted. Why, and with whom, may one ask? The comment was attributed to one Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood, a former Member of the Sachar Committee and President of the Zafar Foundation of India, who is critical of Narendra Modi. Mahmood wants more government efforts to see that all Muslims displaced during the post-Godhra riots are enabled to return to their homes. Surely Mahmood is aware of the 3.5 lakh Kashmir Pandits who were forced out of the Vale by threats, violence and killings, their women raped and their homes and shops looted? Has their fate-thousands of them are reportedly still living in cheap refugee camps – ever bothered Mahmood?
The trouble with Muslim seems to be that they just do not think beyond their immediate needs and carry with them a defeatist mentality. Unlike Kashmiri Hindus, Muslims in India number over 200 million. Even considering that they are not united among themselves because of caste, language and inter-contact lack, they are in substantial number and can by no means call themselves a ‘minority’. This ‘victim mentality’ endorsed by secularists has done untold damage not only on the Muslims themselves but on the essential unity of the country. If anybody is to be blamed, the Muslims who stayed behind after Partition, must blame their traitorous co-religionist elite who ran away to Pakistan, leaving them to fend for themselves.
After six decades, Muslims in India must change their mind set in three different ways. Firstly, they must stop thinking of themselves as a minority. Secondly they must give up their false belief that they are under constant threat from the majority. Thirdly, they must learn to amalgamate with the Hindus and learnt to live with them in peace, participating in their feasts and festivals and inviting them to participate in their own. This they fail to do, insisting on their women wearing burqas and men wearing skull caps. Muslims in other countries don’t observe such ghastle self-separatism.
Minorities like Christians don’t do that either. When will the Muslim community ever learn to open out to non-Muslims? One hates to generalise. There must be a substantial number of liberal Muslims who are just dying to make peace with Hindus but find it difficult for a variety of reasons, some traceable to the historic past. Today’s generation of young Muslim must do some introspection. Instead of blaming both the Government and the Hindus for their backward stature, they must ask themselves whether part of the blame rests on their own shoulders. The worst enemies of Muslims are not the Hindus but they themselves and their secular supporters who want to see that they stay in their ghettoes, so blame can constantly be laid on Government and Hindus. Besides, what, pray, have they been doing in handling Indian Mujahideens and the likes of Bhatkal? The Sachar Committee report needs to be read carefully. There are areas, as in Rajasthan and in Gujarat where Muslims are doing quite well, thank you. There has not been a single communal riot in Gujarat since 2002. One hears of Muslims working closely with Hindus even in religious celebrations. In Mathura, DNA (August 28) reported that “thousands of Muslim artisans have been working round the clock to make countless bejewelled costumes to accessories for the idols of Krishna and other Hindu deities for the Janmashtami” and “the VHP’s controversial yatra from Ayodhya has not had any impact, as the Muslim join Hindus in preparation for the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birth”. In my own home town of Udupi, famous for its ancient Krishna Temple there has been an Ameer Hamza, fondly referred to as Belli Saheb, who, for nearly 60 years has been making deities not just for the Udupi Krishna Temple but for various other temples in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
Christians (both Roman Catholic and Protestant) are equally respected. The diocese gives emphasis on inter-religious dialogue for the harmony and peace in the region, its priests, on their own admission, visit places of worship of different religions and continue to hold dialogue with pontiffs and other community leaders. The Christians don’t dress differently from Hindus, their older ladies wear saris like Hindu women, and, of course they also share their mother tongue Konkani with Brahmins and there have been occasions of Hindu boys marrying Christian girls. That is what secularism is all about.
Christians don’t complain of being neglected. On the other hand they provide comparatively more service to all people than the government. Give, and not take, must be the new Muslim philosophy. The tragedy is that Muslims only have leaders like Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood and not ones like Maulana Wahiduddin Khan who wrote as far back as 18 years ago that “Muslim leadership has failed” Muslims. A pity. A great pity.