By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
19 June 2019
First things first. There is no denying the fact that what prime-minister Modi said about Muslims post his humungous victory must be lauded. It needs a special foresight and certain humbleness, even if projected, to utter such words in the backdrop of an election which saw systematic anti-Muslim rhetoric by the ruling party. The leader had two distinct choices: the first one was to continue the diatribe against Muslims; the second was to realise that now that elections are over, it is time to tone down the rhetoric. If the prime minister has exercised the second, he should be congratulated by one and all especially by Muslims who are reeling under a sense of fear and despair.
It was a therefore a good gesture on part of some Muslims individuals and organizations to write an open letter to the prime minister thanking him for his speech. However, they have been heavily criticised for doing so by some members of the Muslim community itself. These critics argue that the letter was silent on periodic and systematic lynching of Muslims which has been going on since the BJP came to power. While certainly this assertion is true but it must be understood that things could have been much worse especially after the elections. Whatever small gesture Modi has made to bring political temperatures down must be welcome.
They also point out that the letter fails to understand the true reason why Modi decided to say what he said. They argue that it was nothing but an attempt to salvage his image in the western press, especially after TIME called him the ‘Divider in Chief’. There was negative coverage within the pages of New York Times and Washington Post too. The problem with these critics is that they hardly understand how right wing Hindu politics operates. Modi’s supporter must be thanking AtishTaseer for his TIME magazine piece as it came just before the elections. The Hindu right went to town that a ‘Muslim’, that too a Pakistani was trying to malign the image of Modi. Much like the infantile left in JNU gave an all India nationalist image to BJP, similarly the TIME magazine played into the hands of right wing by publishing the piece at a very inopportune time.
But it is also important to understand who these Muslim critics are? One of them is so called civil society activist who has been eating out of the hands of the congress party for long. Her focus on Gujarat to demonise Narendra Modi had the obverse impact of making him into a national hero. People like her, who forget the various anti-Muslim pogroms which took place during the congress regime, are primarily responsible for bringing a bad name to civil society activists. The less that is said about her liaisons with the congress the better it will be. Then there are other characters who are equally close to the congress party and therefore equally partisan.
Another character is from the SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India), an Islamist political formation from South India which masquerades as a party believing in the Indian constitution, whereas all that they dream of is to bring Sharia in India. According to this convoluted logic which only Indian Islamists are capable of, it is praiseworthy if Muslims struggle for Sharia but it is reprehensible if Hindus want a Hindu Rashtra. The fundamental problem with these group of critics is that they are compromised in more than one way: some because they are doing congress’ bidding; others because they are hypocritical.
But it is not just them who need to be called out. What about the letter writers? Who are these characters? And what has been their contribution to the Muslim cause? Again, most of them are a bunch of self-seekers who have brought long term harm to the Muslim community. Mahmood Madani and many of his Deobandi followers are hardly religious leaders in the conventional sense of the term. He is more of a political entity hopping from one party to another in search of a Rajya Sabha ticket.
Another nincompoop in the list of signatories is Kamal Farouqui, former chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission. And of course the present chairman of DMC Zafarul Islam Khan. One must ask certain questions to these so called Muslim leaders. It is rather rich of them to demand and expect from the present government to do something with regard to the educational and economic development of Indian Muslims. What have they done to ameliorate the condition of Muslims or even to create a condition amenable to it? Absolutely nothing.
In fact, they have worked overtime to keep the Muslim community backward. This is the same group which blocked the madrasa modernization program during the UPA regime, arguing that any change in the existing madrasa curriculum will be undue interference in the internal affairs of the Muslim community.
In the name of safeguarding this internal affair, they have blocked any reform within the community. They are the same set of forces who campaigned against the Supreme Court judgment on Shah Bano which is directly responsible for the Hindu consolidation that we see today. They are the same people who brought shame to Islam through their ridiculous affidavit in the Supreme Court on the question of triple Talaq. They are the ones who campaigned for the Samajwadi Party despite the Muzaffarnagar anti-Muslim riots.
One is left wondering what right they have to pen a letter on behalf of the Muslim community. Certainly, for anyone interested in changing the Muslim condition, this group of people are the worst enemies of Muslims.
There is certainly a need to bridge the chasm which has been created between the Muslim community and the ruling dispensation. Owing to a number of factors, Muslims have thought that the BJP is their enemy number one. This perception needs to change for the very simple and pragmatic reason that no minority can prosper without cooperating closely with the state. But for this there has to be genuine rethinking amongst the Muslims on a number of issues. The problem is that those who are articulating this desire of closeness are the ones whose actions have brought Muslims to the slough of despondency. Muslims need to dialogue with the new ideological common-sense that is governing the country but this dialogue cannot start with a bunch of Muslim steeped in medievalism.
Arshad Alam is a columnist with NewAgeIslam.com
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