Ambedkar Considers Flaws Of The Indian Muslim Society Like Casteism As The Flaws Of Islam. Nowhere Else In The World Muslims Practice Casteism. The Bane Of Global Muslim Society Is Sectarianism, Not Casteism. Untouchability Is Not Practised Even In Caste-Ridden Indian Muslim Society
1. Ambedkar was misled by the interpretations of some hardline Islamic scholars that evolved during the era of Arab expansionism. With Mahatma Gandhi promoting regressive Khilafat movement in opposition to Jinnah, Ambedkar too was influenced by Deobandi and Wahhabi Version of Islam that had started gaining ground due to its alliance with the Congress party that was spearheading Indian Independence movement.
2. Ambedkar accepts that Casteism among Indian Muslims has roots in Hinduism. Hindus who converted to Islam left their religion but could not go beyond caste distinctions despite Islam' unequivocal message of equality and fraternity.
3. Delhi Sultanate strengthened casteism in Indian Muslims.
By New Age Islam Staff Writer
16 April 2022
File image of BR Ambedkar. Wikimedia Commons
Ambedkar was the architect of Indian Constitution. He was one of the greatest leaders of India and the fighter for the cause of the downtrodden and the so-called 'untouchables' whom Gandhiji called Harijans but who now prefer to call themselves Dalits . He was so much against the caste system of Hinduism that he renounced the religion of his forefathers, that is, Hinduism and converted to Buddhism. However, as a scholar and as an anthropologist, he also studied Islam and observed its practical applications in the Muslim Society.
On his close observation of Islam, Ambedkar, though appreciates the fundamental philosophy of equality, brotherhood and justice envisaged by Islam, yet he formed a negative concept of Islam. His ideas on Islam were based on the exclusive and extremist interpretations of Islam presented by some hardline Islamic scholars of the middle ages and being then propagated by Wahhabis. Muslim religious class was then promoting the idea of composite culture and Darul Sulh and Darul Aman but Ambedkar must have read traditional books that only talk about Sarul Islam and Darul Harb.
These ideas are present in his book Pakistan or Partition of India. In his article on FirstPost, Aabhas Maldahiyar's reading is based on this book and Ambedkar's observations on Islam have been presented without any critical scrutiny. The purpose of the author seems to bring home the point that Muslims making Ambedkar their ideal to form Dalit-Muslim unity are not aware that Ambedkar never appreciated Muslims and never considered them patriots or loyal to either Hindus or even Dalit who were then called Harijans.
The Author quotes Ambedkar as saying that Muslims never accepted a country as their motherland if it is ruled by Hindus or non-Muslims and that they consider Hindus kafir and the country of Hindus as Dar-al- Harb. Muslims want to live only in Dar-al-Islam, a country ruled only by Muslims. And Muslims believe that they should continually wage jihad against a Dar-al-Harb until it is converted into a Dar-al-Islam. The fact is that the Quran does not use the terms Dar-al-Harb and Dar-al-Islam. These terms have been coined by some classical Islamic scholars. The author also says that Ambedkar was of the view that Islam promoted or supported casteism as the Muslim society was divided into Ashraf (upper caste) and Ajlaf (lower caste) and the upper caste consider members of lower castes as untouchables and never gave them respect and their social rights.
It sems that instead of reading and studying Islam from its original sources, the Quran and hadith and the practices of the holy prophet pbuh, Dr B.R. Ambedkar formed his ideas about Islam from the exclusivist and extremist exegeses of the Quran and commentaries of the Islamic scholars of the middle ages as well as of the modern age. Ambedkar says that Maulana Mohamed Ali being an Indian preferred to be buried in Jerusalem to prove that he was not a patriot. But Ambedkar ignores scores of other nationalist Muslim leaders, thinkers and philosophers who fought for the independence of India and were buried in Indian soil. A selective approach only misleads people.
Dr Ambedkar's view that Islam institutionalises casteism is also based on a wrong understanding of the Muslim society. The flaws and evils of the Muslim society do not mean the flaws and evils of Islam. The Quran and Hadith do not support casteism and the only criterion for superiority in Islam is piety. It is a fact that casteism among Muslims is only the result of the impact of casteism in the Hindu society. The casteist hierarchy in Indian society was so deeply entrenched in the Indian society that when a Hindu converted to Islam he would be ascribed a caste in Islam according to his caste in his previous religion. For example, if a Brahmin would convert to Islam, he would be ascribed the Shaikh caste. If a Rajput would convert to Islam, he would be ascribed the caste of Pathan and so on. The caste system among the Muslims of India was also strengthened by the Iranian rulers of India. According to historian Ziauddin Burney, during the Delhi sultanate, no lower caste Muslim was appointed in bureaucracy or as a minister. During the life of the prophet of Islam or during the caliphate of the four rightly guided caliphs, Muslims were appointed on government posts according to their administrative abilities. During the caliphate of Hazrat Ali, some Brahmin Hindus from India were given responsibilities in the government because of their skills and abilities.
Therefore, the article of Aabhas Maldahiyar makes it clear that Dr Ambedkar's view on Islam and Muslims was based on the interpretations of some classical and modern fundamentalist scholars and commentators and does not present a true picture of Islam. Modern Dalits would well to study original scriptures and progressive emerging Islamic theology suitable for the 21st century. In any case, with their loyalty to the Indian nation Muslims have proved Ambedkar's reservations ill-founded. They have refused to be provoked under repeated threats of genocide, rape and vilest abuses being chanted in front of their mosques. If Ambedkar were alive today, he would have revised his opinions about both Islam and Indian Muslims.
By Aabhas Maldahiyar
April 15, 2022
Islam can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin. That is probably the reason why Maulana Mahomed Ali, a great Indian but a true Muslim, preferred to be buried in Jerusalem rather than in India.
— ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’, by Dr BR Ambedkar
Imagine these words coming from any public figure of the current era. He would have certainly been branded an Islamophobe by the flag-bearers of Western liberalism. Ironically, these are the words of the man who has often been invoked by those who fail to acknowledge the existence of Islamist terror in India. Ambedkar’s portrait was even being championed by the soft rioters during the CAA agitation.
Recently, we saw a series of clashes when Ram Navami processions passed in front of mosques. Ambedkar categorically documented this being an age-old phenomenon. This can be found on page numbers 167, 168 and 269 (based on the edition available in this link). I have also collated these excerpts in this thread of tweets. Ironically, yet again, I observed people weeping for the “India of Ambedkar” on many news channels while trying to vilify the Madhya Pradesh government’s action against the rioters.
In Ambedkar’s own words, “Islam is said to bind people together, but this is only a half-truth. For Islam divides as inexorably as it binds. Islam is a close corporation and the distinction that it makes between Muslims and non-Muslims is a very real, very positive and very alienating distinction. The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is the brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is a fraternity, but its benefit is confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation, there is nothing but contempt and enmity. The second defeat of Islam is that it is a system of social self-government and is incompatible with local self-government because the allegiance of a Muslim does not rest on his domicile in the country which is his but on the faith to which he belongs. To the Muslim ibi bene ibi patria is unthinkable. Wherever there is the rule of Islam, there is his own country. In other words, Islam can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin. That is probably the reason why Maulana Mahomed Ali, a great Indian but a true Muslim, preferred to be buried in Jerusalem rather than in India.”
Ambedkar believed that a Muslim couldn’t accept a Hindu government for they regarded “Hindus” as “Kafirs”, and hence inferior. Read what he writes in the context: “How far will Muslims obey the authority of a government manned and controlled by the Hindus? The answer to this question need not call for much inquiry. To the Muslims a Hindu is a Kaffir. A Kaffir is not worthy of respect. He is low-born and without status. That is why a country which is ruled by a Kaffir is Dar-ul-Harb to a Musalman. Given this, no further evidence seems to be necessary to prove that the Muslims will not obey a Hindu government. The basic feelings of deference and sympathy, which predispose persons to obey the authority of government, do not simply exist. But if proof is wanted, there is no dearth of it. It is so abundant that the problem is what to tender and what to omit. In the midst of the Khilafat agitation when the Hindus were doing so much to help the Musalmans, the Muslims did not forget that as compared with them the Hindus were a low and an inferior race. A Musalman wrote in the Khilafat paper called Insaf: “What is the meaning of Swami and Mahatma? Can Muslims use these words in speech or write these words about non-Muslims?” He says that Swami means ‘Master’, and ‘Mahatma’ means ‘possessed of the highest spiritual powers’ and is equivalent to ‘Ruh-i-Aazam’, and the supreme spirit.
Ambedkar further writes, “He asked the Muslim divines to decide by an authoritative fatwa whether it was lawful for Muslims to call non-Muslims by such deferential and reverential titles.”
Ambedkar was very clear that Muslims prefer “Law of Islam” over “Law of Land” which evident from what he writes as below: “Among the tenets one that calls for notice is the tenet of Islam which says that in a country which is not under Muslim rule wherever there is a conflict between Muslim law and the law of the land, the former must prevail over the latter and a Muslim will be justified in obeying the Muslim law and defying the law of the land.”
Ambedkar talked about Dar-ul-Islam and claimed that Muslims fought the British only for it. He also said that Muslims would continue jihad to establish it and won’t be wary of seeking foreign aid. Read the below excerpt: “According to Muslim Canon Law the world is divided into two camps, Dar-ul-Islam (abode of Islam) and Dar-ul-Harb (abode of war). A country is Dar-ul-Islam when it is ruled by Muslims. A country is Dar-ul-Harb when Muslims only reside in it but are not rulers of it. That being the Canon Law of the Muslims, India cannot be the common motherland of the Hindus and the Musalmans. It can be the land of the Musalmans — but it cannot be the land of the ‘Hindus and the Musalmans living as equals.’ Further, it can be the land of the Musalmans only when it is governed by the Muslims. The moment the land becomes subject to the authority of a non-Muslim power, it ceases to be the land of the Muslims. Instead of being Dar-ul-Islam it becomes Dar-ul-Harb.”
Ambedkar wrote, “There is another injunction of Muslim Canon Law called jihad (crusade) by which it becomes incumbent on a Muslim ruler to extend the rule of Islam until the whole world shall have been brought under its sway. The world, being divided into two camps, Dar-ul-Islam (abode of Islam), Dar-ul-Harb (abode of war), all countries come under one category or the other. Technically, it is the duty of the Muslim ruler, who is capable of doing so, to transform Dar-ul-Harb into Dar-ul-Islam.”
And just as there are instances of the Muslims in India resorting to Hijrat, there are instances showing that they have not hesitated to proclaim jihad. The curious may examine the history of the 1857 mutiny and if he does, he will find that, in part, it was a jihad proclaimed by the Muslims against the British, and that the mutiny so far as the Muslims were concerned was a recrudescence of revolt which had been fostered by Sir Sayyed Ahmad who preached to the Musalmans for several decades that owing to the occupation of India by the British the country had become a Dar-ul-Harb. The mutiny was an attempt by the Muslims to reconvert India into Dar-ul-Islam.
A more recent instance was the invasion of India by Afghanistan in 1919. It was engineered by the Musalmans of India who, led by the Khilafatists’ antipathy to the British government, sought the assistance of Afghanistan to emancipate India. Whether the invasion would have resulted in the emancipation of India or whether it would have resulted in its subjugation, it is not possible to say because the invasion failed to take effect. Apart from this, the fact remains that India, if not exclusively under Muslim rule, is a Dar-ul-Harb and the Musalmans according to the tenets of Islam are justified in proclaiming a jihad.
People often try to quote Ambedkar for his criticism of Hindus, but they forget that while he never questioned Hindus for patriotism, he always questioned Muslims for the same. Yes, he criticises Hindus for social issues but always saw Islam to be carrying larger baggage of social evils. In the paragraphs below, his opinions about social issues among Muslims are mentioned.
Ambedkar writes, “The social evils which characterize the Hindu Society, have been well known. The publication of Mother India by Miss Mayo gave these evils the widest publicity. But while Mother India served the purpose of exposing the evils and calling their authors at the bar of the world to answer for their sins, it created the unfortunate impression throughout the world that while the Hindus were grovelling in the mud of these social evils and were conservative, the Muslims in India were free from them, and as compared to the Hindus, were a progressive people. That, such an impression should prevail, is surprising to those who know the Muslim Society in India at close quarters.”
Ambedkar firmly considered that Muslims have all the evils of “Hindus” and even something more as he wrote: “Take the caste system. Islam speaks of brotherhood. Everybody infers that Islam must be free from slavery and caste. Regarding slavery nothing needs to be said. It stands abolished now by law. But while it existed much of its support was derived from Islam and Islamic countries. While the prescriptions by the Prophet regarding the just and humane treatment of slaves contained in the Koran are praiseworthy, there is nothing whatever in Islam that lends support to the abolition of this curse.”
Ambedkar quoted Sir W Muir as following: …rather, while lightening, he reverted the fetter… There is no obligation on a Muslim to release his slaves…” Ambedkar wrote, “But if slavery has gone, caste among Musalmans has remained. As an illustration one may take the conditions prevalent among the Bengal Muslims.”
Then Ambedkar detailed about the caste system among Muslims citing the 1901 Census as he wrote: “Census for 1901 for the province of Bengal records the following interesting facts regarding the Muslims of Bengal: The conventional division of the Mohammadans into four tribes— Sheikh, Syed, Moghul and Pathan has very little application to this province (Bengal). The Mohammadans themselves recognise two main social divisions: Ashraf or Sharaf and Ajlaf. Ashraf means ‘noble’ and includes all undoubted descendants of foreigners and converts from high caste Hindus. All other Mohammadans including the occupational groups, and all converts of lower ranks, are known by the contemptuous terms, ‘Ajlaf’, ‘wretches’ or ‘mean people’: they are also called Kamina or Itar, ‘base’ or Rasil, a corruption of Rizal, ‘worthless. In some places a third class, called Arzal or ‘lowest of all’, is added. With them no other Mahomedan would associate, and they are forbidden to enter the mosque to use the public burial ground. Within these groups there are castes with social precedence of exactly the same nature as one finds among the Hindus.
I. Ashraf Or Better Class Mohammadans
Saiads. Sheikhs, Pathans, Moghul, Mallik, Mirza
Ii. Ajlaf Or Lower Class Mohammadans
Cultivating Sheikhs, and others who were originally Hindus but who do not belong to any functional group, and have not gained admittance to the Ashraf Community, e.g., Pirali and Thakrai.
Darzi, Jolaha, Fakir, and Rangrez.
Barhi, Bhathiara, Chik, Churihar, Dai, Dhawa, Dhunia, Gaddi, Kalal, Kasai, Kula Kunjara, Laheri, Mahifarosh, Mallah, Naliya, Nikari.
Abdal, Bako, Bediya, Bhat, Chamba, Dafali, Dhobi, Hajjam,Mucho, Nagarchi, Nat, Panwaria, Madaria, Tuntia.
Iii. Arzal Or Degraded Class
“Bhanar, Halalkhor, Hijra, Kasbi, Lalbegi, Maugta, Mehtar”
Ambedkar talked about the system of untouchability in Muslims. He mentioned that “Azrals” are the untouchables in Islam. After giving an account of “evil untouchability” in the panchayat system of Bengal, he asserted: “But the facts for Bengal are enough to show that the Mohammadans observe not only caste but also untouchability.”
Ambedkar quoted The Census Superintendent as below: “The authority of the panchayat extends to social as well as trade matters and… marriage with people of other communities is one of the offences of which the governing body takes cognizance. The result is that these groups are often as strictly endogamous as Hindu castes. The prohibition on intermarriage extends to higher as well as to lower castes, and a Dhuma, for example, may marry no one but a Dhuma. If this rule is transgressed, the offender is at once hauled up before the panchayat and ejected ignominiously from his community. A member of one such group cannot ordinarily gain admission to another, and he retains the designation of the community in which he was born even if he abandons its distinctive occupation and takes to other means of livelihood (…) thousands of Jolahas are butchers, yet they are still known as Jolahas.”
So, to sum it up, I must say that Ambedkar was a staunch critic of Islam and he considered Muslims as a threat in India. While Savarkar was open to accommodating Muslims in India, Ambedkar was completely against it. But, for the Western liberal standards of rule, the former shall always remain a bigot and the latter a hero.
This article is the result of the author’s reading of Ambedkar’s book, ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’.
Aabhas Maldahiyar is an architect and an author. Views expressed are personal.
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