44. B. K. Verma
I am highly grateful to you for sending to me the views of Dr. Godbole on the recent efforts of some Hindu organisations at bringing Muslims into Indian mainstream by preaching equal respect for every religion. But the exercise is futile and will only weaken the structure of the nation.
Instead, we must give serious thought to the ailments which are bedevilling the nation. Why even after so much accommodation of almost every demand, reasonable or unreasonable, Muslims make a show of disaffection and dissatisfaction? What is wrong with our approach? Why there is non-assimilation of Muslims in the Indian ethos? Particularly when the breed of Indian Muslims is of indigenous origin.
We cannot approach these questions without going into the particular mindset of Muslims and the absolute tenets of Islam. Muslim fundamentalism has acquired an added belligerence all over the world after the new-found power of petro-dollars. This is the reason why the civilized world has condoned open acts of barbarism, terrorism, murder and inhuman acts committed by Muslims. Confinement of 50 odd diplomatic personnel of the USA in Iran by Khomeini, burning to death of 300 people who had committed the crime of watching a cinema show in Iran during Ramzan, covert and overt support to terrorists by Libya, are a few of the many instances of flagrant violation of the norms of civilized behaviour.
Dr. Godbole is absolutely right in saying that Islam is exclusivist. There is nothing like a liberal Muslim. Islam does not allow for any relaxation in its fundamental doctrines and its adherents fanatically insist on the observance of every tenet supposed to have been handed over by Mohammad or the Ulema following him. The same cannot be said of Hindu religion. Unlike a rigid rock pillar, it has swayed with every gust of wind and every breeze like a shoot of grass whenever new ideas came its way. In the process, it gets updated and renewed. You can interpret this flexibility as its weakness or as its strength according to your own viewpoint.
Merciless butchering or mass-scale massacre of non-believers (in Islam), called Jihad in medieval times, might be dismissed today as the work of illiterate zealots, but recent instances are a sad reminder that the same Muslim psyche continues. Massacre of innocent Israeli sportsmen at Munich by the Black September organisation, pronouncement of death sentence on the actors, writer and director of a play staged at Sharjah, the relentless hounding of Salman Rushdie, the death sentence pronounced on Taslima Nasreen, death sentence to a Christian teenager in Pakistan, are but a very few of the instances where the victims had knowingly or unwittingly said something supposedly derogatory or derisively of the Prophet or Islamic belief. The extent to which Muslims can go is best illustrated by the howling protest made when Azharuddin was stopped from signing his name for a shoe company simply because his name included that of the Prophet.
Their rabid intolerance of any other belief is manifest in the flight of Zoroastrians from Iran, the persecution of Kurds, Ahamadiyas, Bahais, etc. Egyptian leaders are under a constant threat of elimination by fanatic Muslim fundamentalists simply because they are perceived as pursuers of a soft policy towards Israel.
Perhaps there is no better illustration of the strangle-hold of obscurantist elements over the Indian scene than the events after the Shah Bano verdict. How after encouraging Arif Mohammad Khan to speak in Parliament in favour of the judicial pronouncement, Rajiv Gandhi beat a hasty retreat when Ziaurrahman Ansari and others of his ilk launched an abusive diatribe on the judgment and even cast aspersions of the judges themselves. The legislation nullifying the decision in that case is a classic example of a ‘sovereign’ government buckling under the weight of fanatic dogma, and subversion of judicial process. One could go on and on as instances upon instances like this pile up. Today, even the talk of a common civil code raises the hackles of Muslims and sends shivers down the spine of those who have an eye on the Muslim electorate.
So what should be the approach? Should we try to reform them? Should we pursue a policy of pure Hindu Rashtra? Or should we appease them and thereby hope to get them converted into a community which thinks itself as a part of the nation?
We have seen that the Indian Government after independence, whether it be of the Congress or of other combinations, has tried all of these without any success and with disastrous results. With each surrender by the authorities, the Muslims get more audacious and cry for more concessions as a right.
A familiar ruse practised by them is to raise the bogey of persecution and get what they demand - even more than what they originally asked for. Even if they are illegal immigrants, none should question them and accord them full citizenship rights. I recall an instance when I participated in a function organised on the occasion of the birthday of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. V.P. Singh, the Congress Chief Minister of U.P. at that time, was presiding. On the dais with him was Maulana Ali Mian, the Rector of Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow. The speakers were speaking on the life and works of Azad. Suddenly, Ali Mian stood up and started a harangue about the persecution of Muslims in India. He said that the life and limbs of Muslims in India were not safe, the dignity of their womenfolk was in jeopardy, and that when a Muslim male went out his womenfolk kept praying for his safe return home. He also said that he had in his pocket invitations and air tickets from many countries (Muslim obviously) but was ashamed to go as he could not show his face to the people of those countries for being unable to save the lives of his brethren and protect the honour of Muslim women - as if he was the only spokesman for Indian Muslims or was the ruler here to be answerable to the world Muslim fraternity. Of particular note is the fact that it was early eighties and there was no trouble anywhere warranting such comments. And this was no occasion for such an outburst. But the most amazing thing was the reaction of V.P. Singh. As head of the State, he should have severely reprimanded Ali Mian for being the scare-monger that he was. At least, Singh should have asked him to be specific or shut up. Instead, he took hold of Ali Mian’s hand and placed it on his head. He said something to this effect, “You keep your hand on my head and I promise to deal with these problems immediately with your blessing.”
Appeasement, therefore, does not work anywhere. But, particularly with the, Muslim mindset, it does not work to its desired end. And it leaves the other communities bitter. As regards efforts at reforming Muslim society, we have enough evidence that their clergy and their deep-seated fanatical belief in the God-ordained Word excludes any will towards reform. It has by now been well established that Muslims react very strongly to any hint of reform. One instance of their intransigence is their stout refusal to deviate from the practice of triple talaq in one go. It does not matter that other Muslim countries view it with disfavour. Indian Muslims would not accept any reform in this practice.
Regarding the doctrine of Hindu Rashtra, in the context of today’s politics this does not seem to be practical. Muslims in India are not a microscopic Minority to be ignored because we are a democratic nation and not a theocracy.
The best course would be to fashion our system in such a manner that no one should have the feeling that his is a race or a community apart, free to do whatever it likes in its own way. In other words, the law should apply uniformly to everyone. In case any one wants to practise his own way, he has to suffer the consequences. Once the message is brought to them unequivocally, they would fall in line in due course.
This is not to say that this solution is easy to achieve and a simple solution for a complex problem. Fifty years of drift has complicated the problem of their integration with the Indian ethos, so much so that they think of themselves as Muslim first and then as Indian. So for now, we have to act firmly and unequivocally.
observations to add to Dr. Godbole’s comments, I agree with him in that
the efforts of Hindu organisations, particularly the R.S.S., in trying
to view Muslims and Islam in a soft light and benign hue are all wrong.
The clear message to go out to Muslims should be – “If you want to live
in India, you have to be Indians.”
writer who lives in Lucknow, is a retired government servant. As a Swayamsevak
of the RSS he saw from close quarters the all round rot growing at all
levels of the bureaucracy due to bogus ideas sponsored by political parties.