“Bharat Mata ki Jai, Jai Hind, Hindustan Zindabad, Vande Mataram…” (all meaning, “Long live India”) and many others with similar tone are the wordings that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad not only appreciated but even categorically stated in his speeches before and after India’s freedom. Poor Asaduddin Owaisi, who has lost faith, trust and goodwill of most from his own community, has now been indulging in cheap publicity stunts by stating that even if someone goes for his jugular, he would not say the innocuous words, Bharat Mata Ki Jai! As Owaisi has run out of issues, he has stooped to the level of a street bully!
What is very unfortunate is that speaking against Bharat Mata Ki Jai, Owaisi has given doffer to fringe elements on the side of Hindus. Such irresponsible and communally sensitive statements will send wrong messages across to an already liberal and softened RSS cadre that has taken a pledge to uplift the entire 125 crore citizens of Bharat. Muslim community must welcome this change of the BJP from Puritanism to plurality. So must their leaders. But, the irony of the situation is that Muslims in India are victims to an irresponsible leadership which is bent on keeping the community in subjugation by concentrating on emotional issues.
Afflicted by utter educational backwardness, administrative apathy and political expediency, the Muslim community in India is caught in the asphyxiating tweezer-grip owing to their opportunistic leaders both inside the Parliament and outside it crying hoarse and merely indulging in lip-service. These so-called Muslim representatives have ruined their followers emotionally, economically, socially and educationally.
Muslims must follow the example of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who though born in a predominantly Hindu environment, was bold enough to propagate nationalism to Muslims at variance with the prevalent political consciousness based on communalised politics while supporting the same with Islamic sanction. Maulana Azad saw in Vande Mataram the fusion of the endogenic creativity, the Vedantic vision of many parts of truth with the Islamic doctrines of Wahdat-e-Deen (unity of religion) and Sulah-e-Kul (universal peace). The so-called Muslim leaders like Owaisi, are bound to let Muslims go down in the eyes of their Hindu brethren after making fun of Bharat Mata ki Jai at a recent public meeting in Maharashtra.
Media is also responsible for creating such an impression by repeatedly giving publicity to speeches by these clerics who claim to represent Muslims but are no more than bigots. It is because of the irresponsible statements made by these people that Muslims have to suffer and whatever creaking doors of non-Muslims open, are unfortunately slammed. Introspection is needed on both sides.
Nobody will touch Owaisi or cut on his slice of facilities for he is a VIP. We, the common Muslims have to bear the brunt of the communal rabble rousers like the Owaisis and the Azam Khans.
Today’s Muslim leadership has lost both its voice and utility. Interestingly not much has changed and Muslims continue to be seen with a begging bowl. During every election, it has been proved that power-brokers indulge in pernicious vote-bank politics. They manipulate and acquire State patronage themselves and leave Muslims to the mercy of God.
Owing to their obscurantist approach, they are leading the community back to dark ages of ignorance like the ones in Arab countries before the advent of Islam. More often than not, they are interested in feathering their own nests and are indulging in petty mindedness characterised by an extremely narrow and irresponsible outlook completely out of tune with the existing reality.
What is of paramount importance today is that people must be beware of the ugly face of fundamentalism.
Firoz Bakht Ahmed
(The writer is a commentator on social, educational and religious issues and is the grandnephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad)