Intro: It is well known that during the times of Holy Prophet, there was only one Muslim religion. Today, the Muslim society is divided in so many sects and subsects that there is utter confusion and discord about internal relations.
Rabble rousing Asaduddin Owaisi is at it again. Both the Owaisi brothers are good at remaining in lime light by making provocative statements time to time. Some months back younger brother made a statement that if the police intervention is held back for a few minutes, twenty crore Muslims will take on hundred crore Hindus to show them their place, as if the Hindus in this country are a lot of lambs to be butchered at will.
He overlooked the fact that the Islamic Pakistan as a country with American equipped armoury was not once but thrice defeated by India. It’s dementia on the part of both the brothers that not only the tribal goons invading Kashmir in 1948 were repelled by the Indian Army, but soon after that the Razakars were totally subdued by Police action on the Hyderabad state in a span of just three days, the chief Razakar Kasim Rizvi ran away to Pakistan.
That both these brothers inherit the Razakar legacy is well known. It was then the turn of the elder to vomit venom on the pious occasion of birth day of the Holy Prophet. In spite of talking of peace and harmony on that occasion to his folks, (are they Muslims?) he made a statement that that deliberate attempts were being made to link terrorism with Islam. At the same time he said that every new born child is Muslim and that his parents convert him to their faith (The Times of India, January 6, 2015).
This drew ire not only from Hindus but also from many Muslim organisations as they perceived the said as irresponsible statements (The Indian Express, January 7, 2015). His statements were based on the back ground of recent events of some Muslims and Christians embracing Hinduism under the programme ‘ghar vapasi’.
It is important to mention here that ghar vapasi is not a new thing either for the Hindus or for the Muslims too. The incidents of ghar vapasi have been taking place since the historic times. The creators of mighty Vijaynagar Empire Hariharr and Bukka were taken back into Hindu fold by then Shankara-charya. Mohammad Kuli-khan who ran away from the clutches of Aurangzeb was accepted back as Netaji Palkar by Shivaji the Great. Swami Dayananda and Swami Shraddhananda accepted back thousands of Muslim in Arya Samaj even under the British Raj without any temptations. On the occasion of India winning independence, thousands of Muslims returned into Hindu fold willingly. But their return was thwarted by followers of Sarvoday and then by secularist goons from the Congress party. In the State of Goa Masurkar Maharaj and later on his disciple Brahmchari Vishvanathji accepted back thousands of Christians in the Hindu faith. Just two decades ago many backward Muslims disgusted with higher class Muslims threatened to defy ‘fatwas’ and renounce Islam. (The Times of India, July 20, 1995). So it is not a new thing to occur.
Who is Muslim?
Look at our neighbour Pakistan, which professes to be a Muslim country. Till recent times there prevails confusion and diffused feeling about being Muslim in the Pakistani masses. Naveeda Khan of Pakistani origin, now in USA, anthropologist by profession, conducted extensive survey of the Pakistani population to explore the Muslim identity in connection with the ownership of the religious establishments, masjids, in Pakistani cities. Not being proficient in local Urdu tongue, she was often accompanied by an old person Farooq during interviews with ulamas. Theme of the interview would be defining a Muslim.
Every ulama without fail professed Muslim-hood to be universal faith. “After goading each imam to confess that his positions on various topics were closely tied to his maslak affiliation–that is, although the latter claimed to speak about Islam to all Muslims, he only spoke of Islam through a particular lens and only to specific Muslims–Farooq would back down. He would bring the interview to close by generously praising his opponent, but clearly triumphant in his sense of victory that he had destabilised their attempts to speak for all.” (Naveeda Khan, Muslim Becoming, 2012, Pg 157)
Let Owaisi also clarify for which Muslims he is speaking. The Muslim society is divided in so many sects and subsects, Asharfs and Ajlafs, Sayyads and Shaikhs, so much that at the societal level there is utter confusion and discord about internal relations.
Munir and other Commission Reports
When Owaisi talks of being a Muslim, the first question arises, who is a Muslim? Soon after the formation of Pakistan, when the national assembly in Pakistan deliberated on defining Muslimhood, the assembly could not conclude about the Muslim identity. The problems were raised over the identity of Ahamadia sect, as to whether they can be called as Muslims. Finally a one man commission was set up under the chairmanship of justice Munir. It was then called Munir commission. The prime assignment to the commission was to fix the identity of “Muslim” in Pakistan. The commission report was made public within a decade of independence i.e. in 1954. Munir commission interviewed hundreds of ulamas and experts on Islam to understand “Muslimhood”. The search was inconclusive: “Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulama, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines agreed on this fundamental.
Later one of the dictator of Pakistan, Mohammad Ayyub Khan, who fought war of 1965 with India and lost, appointed another commission on problem of identity of a Muslim. It was made public in 1961.
There too the identity question remained unanswered. Bhutto Government appointed one more commission. Then too the entanglement could not be resolved, but then convened national assembly unanimously passed a resolution to brand Ahamadis as kafirs. On the background of a Muslim country like Pakistan that has no unanimity over “Who is a Muslim?” to whom the Indian Owaisi is addressing as a Muslim? Leave apart the umma, which was never unanimous over Muslim identity; are Owaisi and his goons acceptable to others as Muslims?
Branding kafir the sole basis of Islam
Hindus at this stage should search for Muslims amongst the hundreds of crores of those who profess allegiance to Allah, his last Prophet and the Holy book, the Quran. In India itself, we will find Bohras, Luhanas, Shias, Sunnis and the count can go to hundred, who do not call others as Muslims but are unanimous in calling all others as kafirs. In a recent interview published, the well-known literary scholar from Pakistan, Intizar Hussain lamenting on the hate filled atmosphere in his country, ruefully concludes, “First Ahamadis and now Shias are being termed non-Muslims. Bahut jaldi kafir ban jaataa haia adami wahaan (people become infidels very quickly there.)”
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah Messenger (Pubh) said “Every child is born on Al-Fitrah (i.e. to worship none but Allah Alone) but his parents convert him to Judaism, Christianity or Magianism. It is well known that during the times of Holy Prophet, there was only one Muslim religion. What is the situation today? No Muslim is sure of other being a Muslim. In that case can Owaisi vouch for the new born being a Muslim of what sect, subsect and belonging to which social group. The question still remains of “who is a Muslim?” By that measure Mr. Owaisi, are you sure that are you a Muslim?
Dr Pramod Pathak (The writer is a political commentator
and scholar of Islam)