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Islam and Politics (11 Nov 2015 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Secularism is a Threat to Indian Muslims

By Tufail Ahmad, New Age Islam

11 November 2015

Secularism as practised in India is a threat to Indian Muslims for the reasons given in the paragraphs below. As per purely academic definitions, there are primarily two meanings of secularism. First, it is a movement of ideas that slowly removes the excessive influence of religion from social life. In this meaning, secularism undermines religious orthodoxies, frees individuals from the clutches of religion and empowers people to live their daily life in rational and meaningful ways. Second, there is a constitutional meaning of secularism which requires the Indian state to maintain distance from religion in policymaking and to treat all citizens equally.

However, there is a third, behavioural meaning of Indian secularism. In its behavioural meaning, secularism influences us as individuals in how we understand day-to-day developments in our societies and impacts on the minds of policymakers, government leaders, journalists, politicians and others. To fully grasp the phenomenon of secularism, one has to understand the habits of secularism in India, and comprehend its influences on our communities and leaders at the practical level. In its practical meaning as secularism is practiced in India, secularism is a threat to Indian Muslims, preventing their socio-economic and educational progress for the following reasons.

Secularism views Indian Muslims as Pakistanis, not as Indians. To convey this latent message to Indian Muslims, secular Hindus rush to release books and attend conferences in Pakistan, or to dine with Pakistani leaders such as General Pervez Musharraf. By any definition, Musharraf was the architect of the largest jihad against India in modern times. He not only launched the jihadist invasion of Kargil in 1999, it was on his watch that the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai were planned. To look good, secular Hindu journalists routinely invite Musharraf and other Pakistani leaders to our television studios for celebratory interviews, i.e. interviews which are unwarranted by current affairs developments. This is because secular Hindus unconsciously, subconsciously and sometimes consciously view Indian Muslims as part of the Pakistani identity.

Indian secularism is a form of latent racism, notably against Bangladeshis. For example, secular Indians do not speak in favour of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen when she is attacked in Hyderabad, India. Secular Hindus who love to visit Pakistan do not visit Bangladesh. India has played a critical military role in the creation of Bangladesh, but secular Hindus do not appreciate this Indian role. Bangladesh has truly liberal editors, unlike their Pakistani counterparts, but secular Hindus do not invite Bangladeshi journalists and writers to India for book events or conferences. A number of secular Indian editors are from West Bengal but they identify themselves with Pakistanis, not with next-door Bangladeshi journalists. Even Nitish Kumar loves to visit Pakistan, certifying the message to his voters that Indian Muslims are with Pakistan.

Secularism is another word for communalism. Indian secularism sows seeds of communal poison that causes riots and creates siege mentality among Muslims. Secularism resides in the siege mentality of Muslims. For example, at a village called Kangla Pahari in West Bengal secular Hindu officials have banned Durga Puja because it is disliked by Muslims. Such secular Hindu decisions give birth to Hindu extremism. Secularism engenders Hindu communalism and fosters Muslim insecurity. There were no 'Hindutva' forces in India before the secular Rajiv Gandhi made the following three decisions in the 1980s: the law that annulled the Supreme Court decision to give alimony to the destitute Muslim woman Shah Bano, the opening of Ayodhya locks that led to the demolition of Babri Mosque and the ban on The Satanic Verses.

Secularism does not seek to serve the interests of Muslims. It tells Indian Muslims: I will give you secularism and 5% quota in educational institutions and government jobs. Secular Hindus know that there are not more than 40 lakh central government jobs and even if 100% government jobs were given to Indian Muslims, it will not ensure their progress. The progress of communities is empowered by new ideas. But secularism doesn't tell Indian Muslims: I will give your daughters mathematics, economics and science from Grade 1. As per the Right to Education Act, all citizens of 6-14 years age must receive the same educational outcomes. But secular Hindus do not promise the same education to Muslims that they give their own kids. This is because secularism's purpose is not to serve the interests of Indian Muslims. Secularism is anti-Muslim.

Secularism loves to forge Muslim communalism, more so at elections times. For example, in the just-concluded Bihar elections, secularism drove about 84% Muslims to vote communally for a single party. Secularism creates herd mentality and pushes Muslims into minority syndrome. Over the past six decades, riots were caused by the Congress, but the Congress was routinely presented as secular. Secularism thrives in the minority syndrome created by secularism itself. It prevents Indian Muslims from seeing that their actual progress could result from studying economics, mathematics and material sciences. But secular Hindus ally with orthodox Islamic clerics such as Imam Bukhari. Both serve each other. Secularism wants to give a few computers to madrasas but doesn’t advocate educational transformation or police reforms to end the minority syndrome.

Indian secularism is anti-women. Secularism is essentially against the interests of Muslim women. For example, secular Hindu intellectuals and journalists are totally silent on the issue of ending the Shah Bano legislation that denied alimony to Muslim women. This legislation was created by the secular Rajiv Gandhi to serve the cause of secularism in India. Secular Hindus know that if Muslim women progress, their secularism will die. Secular writers and intellectuals do not advocate the cause of the Uniform Civil Code, one of the objectives of the Constitution. Even feminist Hindus do not oppose the mushrooming of Burqas and Islamism among Muslim communities. The silence of feminists serves secularism. At this point in time, the only section of Indian society advocating equality for Muslim women is the Hindu right-winger, the hope of liberty.

The secular Hindu is a coward who walks away from responsibility by arguing this: change must come from within Muslims. Throughout the course of history, social change has essentially come through external sources: from interaction with foreign ideas occurring through wars, technologies and globalisation. It is not surprising that there are no liberal Muslim writers and reformers in India. This is because if a true liberal Muslim writer arose, secularism will shun him. Secularism's purpose is served not by liberal Muslim writers but by Islamists. The cause of Muslim reform in India is currently limited to interpreting Islamic texts, whether it be the case of late Marxist writer Asghar Ali Engineer, or social activist Shaista Amber. The secular Hindu will not welcome any Muslim who dared to question basic ideas of Islam.

India spends of billions of rupees on departments of Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Islamic studies in universities across the country. However, graduates from these departments do not even attempt to think. They do not ponder over the human condition or the power of new ideas to drive change; they fear new ideas, innovation and progress. Subjugated by the secular Hindus and Islamic clerics, the Muslim youth is not a carrier of new ideas. In between there is a species called 'Moderate Muslim' who is mostly sleeping-walking. But if a liberal Muslim challenged religious orthodoxies and clerics rose against him, the moderate Muslim rises up and attacks both. The moderate Muslim serves the purpose of secularism just in time. Indian secularism is a plot against Indian Muslims.

Tufail Ahmad is a Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/tufail-ahmad,-new-age-islam/secularism-is-a-threat-to-indian-muslims/d/105241


  • very nice and mind deciphering article .the hindu secularist are nothing but hypocrates .much more worsr than extremist
    By DR PRAGYA SUMAN - 2/27/2017 10:27:15 PM

  • perfect analysis.

    By Sumit - 6/25/2016 2:24:32 AM

  • India should learn the modern concept of secularism. Secularism is defined was separation of state & religion; equal rights & opportunities for all irrespective of race, gender, faith. 
    By Hasan Abbas - 11/26/2015 9:38:52 AM

  • I think some part of article is exaggerated but no one denied the fact that in India for being secularist, you should be pro- Pakistan, that will be main theme if Article.
    By Anurag Shukla - 11/25/2015 7:46:55 AM

  • I think some part of article is exaggerated but no one denied the fact that in India for being secularist, you should be pro- Pakistan, that will be main theme if Article.
    By Anurag Shukla - 11/25/2015 7:46:53 AM

  • Mr. Ahmads argument that secular Hindus favor Pakistanis over Bangladeshis and consider Indian Muslims to be Pakistanis is silly and groundless. The fact is that Bangladesh itself is more inward-looking and self-contained and does not aggressively seek interactions with the outside world, whereas Pakistani and Indian intelligentia have a natural affinity for each other because of their love of Urdu, Bollywood movies and biryani. Musharraf is originally from UP. Even non-secular Indians like Advani and some top RSS officials have visited Pakistan.

    Taslima Nashrin is controversial not because she is Bangladesi but because she has written stuff that is deeply offensive to Muslims. I do not however share the anger of many Muslims against her. A writer's freedom to express herself must be respected.

    The more I read Mr. Ahmad' article, the more pointless and inane it appears, unless his intention was to join the BJP/RSS cabal in pooh-poohing secularism.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 11/17/2015 2:04:55 AM

  • The author has raised one striking point as to why Indian Secularist don't invite Bangladeshi seculars who are better poised towards socialistic thinking. Why Indian secularists are pro-Pakistanis.
    By Laxmi Chand Aslia - 11/16/2015 6:35:21 AM

  • Hope, we understand the purpose of above article, writer is very much prejudiced towards secular and secularism, he has issue with Islam also. article is written in view to gain positive response from top classes of right wing thinkers(who do not have vision) and gaining more popularity in west, writer should realise that Indian Muslims r Muslims of modernized Islam, maximum of Islamic activity r either home grown or influenced by Sufism, Hinduism and Persian tradition, the current situation of Muslims is to be self blamed, one sher of iqbal of jawabe shikwa is enough to describe Muslims conditions" wo moazaz the zamane me mussalman hokar, aour tum khar hue tarike Quran hokar" may Allah guide Muslims to be a momin of act including writer of this article. As more than 90% Indian Muslims won't be able to explain meaning of sure-Fateha and poor writer talks about freeing Muslims from Islam, they are free 90% Muslim are Islam followers because they born in Muslims family..historically Indian Muslims r poor because of maximum conversion came from poor class of Indian society which is as good as dalits...
    By Asif eqbal - 11/15/2015 1:33:26 AM

  • Indian secularism is  flawed. The solution is to correct it, not to denounce secularism. RSS/BJP have tried for decades to badmouth secularism, inventing new words like "pseudo-secularism", instead of offering constructive criticism and upholding the principle of separation of state from religion. They have created the atmosphere that is responsible for the fact that communalists by and large have made favorable comments on  Mr. Ahmad's highly motivated article.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 11/14/2015 2:16:07 PM

  • Picture perfect.
    Indian secularism is out right Goebbelism for vote bank power

    By Sanjay - 11/14/2015 6:32:36 AM

  • The statement that the secularist does not believe in God is false. A secularist may be deeply religious or he may be an atheist. All he wants is to keep religion and state apart from each other. Gandhiji was secular and religious. Savarkar was atheistic and non-secular.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 11/14/2015 2:46:10 AM

  • Tufail Ahmad's article hits the nail in the head and the reaction to his article by some muslim friends proves the point he is making partly. If I could express my own thoughts on Secularism it would be almost the same except for certain presumptions about the motives of all the Secularists in India. I would add that in this battle between Hindus and Muslims, the Secularist has no locus standi to arbitrate because the secularist does not believe in God. He has no right to tell the Hindus to be more tolerant towards Muslims if he does not understand the psyche and the faith of a Muslim. Also if he can not ask Muslims to be more liberal and tolerant to other faiths. Now this absolutely correct that the extreme right wing Hindutva is an outcome of the so called Secular assertions and sympathy with Muslims. 
    The worst thing is that most activists in India ostensibly working for the benefit of Muslims have no idea of full implications of the word Secular. True that to a large extent they are responsible for the backlash in the form of Hindutva, a phenomenon which portends the elimination of the true Hindu ethos. That would be a very serious calamity for this Nation and specially for Hindus themselves. 
    I hope mr. Tufail Ahmad's article will initiate a long meaningful discussion and dialogue on this very important issue.

    By naveen tewari - 11/14/2015 1:13:38 AM

  • Trying to attribute all ills of society to secularism is foolish. The deficiencies in Islamic education, Islamic reforms and Islamic laws must be criticized for their own sakes and should not be made excuses to attack secularism. We should also oppose "appeasement" to Muslims or to minorities. Appeasement is an improper application of secularism for political gains. Instead, our efforts should be directed to defining secularism more precisely as simply separation of state from religion.

    If Mr. Ahmad is dissatisfied with secularism, what does he intend to put in its place? Hindu Rashtra? Islamic Republic? Does he want South Asian societies to be run by Yogi Adityanath or Sadhvi Prachi or by the Taliban?

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 11/13/2015 1:51:43 PM

  • I have read Tufail Sahib's article.It is joking article.

    But I think Indian Muslims, minorities , even Hindus require democracy and human rights, not secularism which in origin is atheistic.

    By Shah Abdul Hannan - 11/13/2015 7:27:49 AM

  • This article is having true relevance in the current day context. By establishing arabic center, islamic center,   etc in universities  ,encouraging madrasa education , which are not having not relevance in current education system, nor create any job market opportunities  and sponsoring Haj visitm attending iftar parties  our leaders are describing themselves as secular. But ultimate secularism is different. Bringing them to the  mainstream is more secular as compared to the so called secular actions as described by our politicians and media. If our leaders really want to be true secularists better they do some acts like increasing the education levels, reducing the fertility levels which is the main reason behind the increased poverty levels, encouraging of education and job exposure level among Muslim women,,abolition of polygamy, bringing down the image of Male dominated society to equal gender society etc.  To a certain extent Maharashtra CM as  more secular as compared to other politicians. His initiation of synchronizing with Madrasas main education system is one of the progressive steps towards bringing them to main stream. If Muslims really want to come to the main stream better they should demand for scrapping of  departments of Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Islamic studies in universities across the country which are not having any relevance to the current Job/education market and stopping of funding Haj pilgrimage. Better they demand initiation they helps their society at large. 
    By VVPNarasimham - 11/13/2015 5:07:20 AM

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