With engineers, software personnel and highly educated Muslim youths getting radicalised, leaving respective countries to join ISIS, the root cause of alienation is to be searched with open mind sensing the ground reality
Dr Pramod Pathak
While speaking on the occasion of release of a book on the Partition in 1947 at the Mumbai University on December 28, 2016, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, apart from speaking on the problems between India and Pakistan added that “Alienation of any segment of the country’s population did not augur well for the nation. The practical approach would be to make haste slowly, to be accommodative rather than exclusionary so that negative perceptions are allowed to fade away”. He said the challenge for the people was to understand what happened in 1947, examine the role and limitations of principal actors and to explore realistically the options for the future. Referring to the remark by Maulana Azad, ‘the verdict of (history) would be that India was not divided by the Muslim League but by the Congress’ (The Indian Express December 30, 2016). Obviously the Vice-President was right in saying that any community getting alienated from the main stream does not augur well for the overall health of the republic. He was hinting at the Muslim community that it feels alienated and that it was for the majority Hindus to take steps to be accommodative. But he was ambivalent on the background of alienation. It goes without saying the Hindus and the Congress Party which is now on the way to oblivion, were at the receiving end for advice from the Vice-President.
So much has been written over the Partition of India in 1947. The blame for the partition depends on the outlook of the writers and speakers. The parties to shareblame are the cunning British Rulers implementing ‘divide and rule’ policy, Muslim League indulging in recurrent Hindu Muslim riots and heinous crimes of the direct action in Kolkata and the Indian National Congress (INC) in despair, not being able to grasp the social strife and turmoil. Socialist thinker Ram Manohar Lohia squarely blamed it on individuals, namely Jawahar Lal Nehru and Sardar Patel for having lost patience and in hurry to come to power. The views differ.
The main point that becomes relevant today is the show of increasing alienation by the Muslim society which has grown from 8-10 per cent at the time of Partition to about 20 per cent overall and in certain areas exceeding 50 per cent of the local population. The open display of defiance and alienation is to the great advantage of the Muslim communities of all hues and colours. On the occasion of review of the 10 years of Sachar Committee report, Razak Ustaad, Academic Council member of Gulbarga University, Kalaburgi said, “Nothing has changed much to empower the (Muslim) community”. This claim of nothing much has been done is negated in the same news item with subtitle ‘Awareness about minority welfare schemes has increased’. Around 11 lakh students were benefitted from scholarship this year while in 2012 only 4.5 lakh students applied for scholarship. (The Hindu December 27, 2016). These figures are only for the Karnataka State. What about all India figures? In Kashmir which remained boiling for many months, Mehbooba Mufti awarded 450 Scooters in Kashmir and 300 scooters in Jammu to the girl students, with annual family income below 4 lakh rupees. These girls endorsed that they felt empowered by getting their own vehicles (The Hindu December 31, 2016). Even after these facilities and schemes, the Muslim speakers cry hoarse of marginalisation. In fact almost all the political parties have to woo them during electioneering; to make amends in their election manifestos to attract the Muslim votes. Certain political leaders openly woo and appease the Muslim community by seeking blessings from the local religious heads and visiting idagahs and mosques. Others offer increasing reservations in the Government jobs raising quota in competition with full knowledge that reservations on the religious lines are against the spirit of the Constitution and were rejected by High Courts. Recently Shahi Imam of Jama masjid, Delhi Seyd Ahmad Bukhari said that the Muslims should not vote Samajwadi Party (PS) stating that “They cheated Muslims and supported BJP in forming a government at the centre. SP leaders have failed in addressing the issues related to the Muslim community which they promised in 2012 manifesto”. He reiterated the demand for 18 per cent reservations for the community. SP supremo had shared dias with Imam during 2012 elections. Now Imam wants the Muslim community to teach SP a lesson. (The Times of India January 2, 2017). During elections, minority voter population plays a significant role. Keeping this in mind with the percentage of Muslim population at the local level, there is display of incremental alienation by the Muslim community from within.
Alienation through Arabisation
It will be interesting to look into the alienation developed among the Kashmiri youth at school level as narrated by Shah Faisal who is Kashmiri civil servant and a writer. He describes how the students are systematically alienated, “Rather than being there, India was somewhere out there. Even in schools, when lessons on identity were given, they went well when they were about my village, district, state; the moment it came to my country, the teacher either got tongue tied or else the school bell would chime, class was over and we’d be left guessing (The Indian Express December 28, 2016). This was in spite of the fact that for decades Kashmir received much more financial allocation and the meat consumption in Kashmir is among the highest in the world. There are no Kashmiris staying in slums.
Incidentally there was a news about, “Festival helps Muslim kids to explore, enjoy their heritage” being held in Verna, Goa (The Times of India, Goa December 29, 2016). It also mentioned that such festivals be held in other States too. Out of curiosity and to know the heritage of Muslims from Goa I visited the festival with my friend. I expected to know the heritage of the local Muslim community which has been there in Goa centuries before the advent of Portuguese. Except picture of a dilapidated mosque and Palace of Adilshah in the city of Panaji, rest all displays and exhibits were from holy Koran, Hadith and the Arab ethos. The festival was organised for the school children. The stalls were managed by them and as it usually happens, they were tutored about their display items to narrate in parrot like fashion. Among the posters and wall panels were the pictures of many Islamic warriors, thinkers since the formation of Islam. These included Muhammad bin Qasim, the invader of Sindh. He killed Dahir and took away the Royal Princes and locals as slaves. There were big posters eulogising Hasan al Banna, an Arab from Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood organisation he founded is banned in many Islamic countries. It is known that Hasan al Banna’and Sayyid Qutb’s teachings were the root cause of the growth of terrorism in the Islamic countries. There was life sketch of Maulana Abul Ala Maududi who was from Maharashtra and migrated to Pakistan in the wake of Partition. Maulana Maudidi was founder of Jamat-i-Islami of Pakistan and was mainly responsible for shattering Jinah’s dream of secular and tolerant Pakistan. To my surprise there were no exhibits or sketches of Muslim saints like Rasakhan from UP, or Shaikh Mohammad and Baba Yakut from Maharashtra who were revered by Shivaji the Great. These days Muslims in Goa and Maharashtra vouch that there were numerous Muslim warriors and rank holders in the army of Shivaji the Great. But the Muslims from Goa had ignored them totally. Forget Mughal Emperor Akbar, there was no placard of Aurangzeb, much admired by Sunni Muslims, nor of Tipu Sultan who is epitome of secularism for both Muslims and secularists didn’t figure our ex-President A P J Abdul Kalam and his contributions constitute the Muslim heritage? Apart from prayer offerings and five pillars of Islam, the Arab costumes, Arabian tradition information were the major exhibits. I told
organisers that they were alienating the next generation from their true heritage and the social ethos where they have to live accommodating their Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian (kafir?) neighbours. The exhibits were organised as if to convey messageof alienation from within the community.
Aloof and alienating outlook of the Muslim community is endorsed by a Muslim speaker from Karnataka. Rafeeq Ahmad, convener of Community Relation Committee of Kalaburgi division (Karnataka) was forthright: “Admitting that Muslims are not open with other communities in society, he appealed to the community people to come forward to utilise the opportunities extended and develop good relationship with other communities to show solidarity with nation”(The Hindu December 31, 2016). Overlooking their own heritage, imbibing alien culture, the organisers are triggering alienation further.
It is Arabisation of the mindset of the Muslim youth that has led to growth of Wahhabism among the Muslim societies all over the world. Through such exhibitions, discourses in Mosques and madrasas, kafirophobia is systematically inculcated in the minds of young people. The growth of home grown jihadis in almost all the countries where Muslim families are residing for generations is the outcome of systematic Arabisation over decades. Our Vice-President could surely have done well for the educated Muslim population to think it over, if he had mentioned about the systematic inculcation of kafiraphobia resulting in alienation. The days are gone when these stirrings in the Muslim society were falsely attributed to poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and backwardness. With engineers, software personnel and highly educated Muslim youths getting radicalised, leaving respective countries to join ISIS, the root cause of alienation is to be searched with open mind sensing the ground reality. Will our Honourable Vice-President say that the Muslim community has to overcome the inculcated kafirophobia; they will have pursue the spirit of ijtehad – sort of soul searching within the Muslim community and that Islam has to change say over the period of next three decades, by 2047?
(The writer is a scholar of comparative religion and freelance writer)