Comprehending Muslim lives in contemporary India

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By Ruqayya Bahar

Islam being the second most practiced religion after Hinduism, the plight of the fellow Muslim citizens still remains a secondary commitment in India today. Just like the blacks in the American past were assigned menial jobs and a life of brutal savagery, where not just socially they were rendered intellectually inferior by the fellow whites. So is the station of Muslims in India today, they feel the same sense of insecurity and threat by the dominant culture across the country. With rising persecution on the basis of religion, food ban like beef, recent incidents of mob-lynching, Kathua rape case and Islamophobia, the minority constantly remains under the authoritarian threat of the majority.

The very fact that the Muslim minority in the country share some very striking parallel experiences with the relegated Africans in earlier American society, or the Jews in previous Nazi ruled Germany or their very own Dalit counterparts in the country is enough evidence to expose the current persecution of the Muslim minority community in the name of national interest.

Often exploited, neglected or oppressed, the term ‘Dalit’ usually refers to someone who is deprived of every human right in every sense. Their basic rights of education and ownership and equality are often denied since they fail to suit the upper classes. However, over the decades after a very long slumber, they have become cognizant of their identity and their way of life as an individual. So in a way, the real concern of this resistance is turning the very same weaknesses into strength either through a writing medium, social campaigns or whatsoever. The impact is such that Dalit literature, most of which is autobiographical in nature, inhibits an important and integral part of Indian literature today and the contributors have rightfully established themselves as writers of noble standard. Also, this very term ‘Dalit’ which was earlier rendered derogatory, is the new reality of these people. It’s like a badge of one distinct identity and they no longer feel shunned by the title. They feel rather more obliged for the liberation of Dalits from this imperishable servitude of subjection which calls for a similar frame of mind from the minorities in India today.

The growing prejudice and gradual desecularization against the religious minorities in India calls for an immediate collective effort and advancement in order to challenge the existing bigotry in the country. It is self-evident that the diverse religious minorities live under a continuous threat, instability, and fear, in view of the recent issues of Hindutva policy, beef ban, Gau-rakshaks, love Jihad, Islamophobia and so on.
The recently imposed beef ban has further aggravated the already existing sense of insecurity and fear, not only among the Muslims but other minorities as well. The recent incidents of mob lynching and killings are in a way further inciting this anxiety. Over the past few months, the punishment for cow slaughter has only become more severe, ranging from five years to lifetime imprisonment.

India accounts for one of the largest Muslims population in the world which is only second after Hindus in India. The community nevertheless feels constantly haunted under the new rules and laws. The various cases of failed justice, including those of mob lynching and other crimes committed against them have threatened to community to its core. On the other hand, the community itself stands way back when it comes to standing up for oneself and demanding your rights. Whether education or good employment, the community is far behind other communities. In fact, the Muslim enrolment ratio in the country stands far less and the situation of Muslim girls or women is worse where they are at a dual disadvantage. Their lives are moulded by a dual identity, first and an Indian and then a Muslim. The so-called reasonable tenets of Islam do not really come to much of her aid, she is therefore posited within the hierarchical Indian society at first and then at the male dominated nature of Muslim community. It is certainly not an unknown fact that the female education still has a secondary importance in our country.

Decades back, the viewpoint of Muslim education reformers, such as Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was spelt out. He was profoundly worried at the discouraging circumstances of the Muslims and raising them from their backwardness turned into his ultimate passion and aim. Back then he endeavoured to evacuate the resentment of the British rulers towards the minority community, he did face a certain level of flak from the orthodox Muslims however, with courage and determination he defeated these obstacles.

There is no denying the fact that we certainly need more such leaders and entrepreneurs today more than ever. He was indeed one of the few early pioneers who perceived the crucial role of education for empowering the masses, particularly the poor Muslim population of the country. It was Sir Syed who stirred the Muslims from their profound sleep back then and imbued a unique awareness among them. His vision has made considerable progress yet there is a great deal to be done even today. A collective effort, effective guidance and active leadership like that of Dr. Ambedkar and Sir Syed is the need of the hour. Though the minorities have made some advancements in the educational arena, there is still a long way to cover the ultimate milestone of religious uniformity.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Women are the real Dalit in India, no matter if they are Muslims, Hindus, or Sikhs.
    Remember that Ambedkar did not convert to Islam because of its unequal treatment for women.
    Both women and men spend the same time in their mother’s womb, so they should have the same rights.
    Before thinking in terms of religion, we should consider this key issue.
    Maybe India’s old school of though known as Charvaka (before Islam and before the Brahmin counter-revolution) could illuminate India.

    • How can you account for the undeniable physiological, psychological and biological differences between men and women!? These differences are very , very essential for deciding the roles of men and women in a stable society? The same span of time spent in womb doesn’t, in any way, overrule the essential differences that exists inherently between men and women.

      Again, you’re judging Islam by some criteria ( unspecified). I would like you to justify, corroborate and substantiate your criteria by some objective evidence or proof. Subjective opinions hold no water to make moral value judgement….

    • Islam takes into account the physiological, psychological and biological differences between men and women to dole out the rights and duties for them in a society. And I agree, they are not always equal. But, this apparent inequality is due to the innate and inherent differences between men and women.

      Islam , as we Muslims believe, is a NATURAL WAY OF LIFE from the One who has created us. So, The Creator knows best as to what is best for us. The Creator of men and women knows best as what roles they are capable of in a stable society. And that’s pretty much how Islam designates rights for men and women. One can, no doubt, delve into the rationale or wisdom behind these different roles for men and women in Islam. But one basic principle to keep in mind is: MORAL VALUE JUDGEMENT CAN ONLY BE MADE FROM AN OBJECTIVE STANDARD.

  2. “The so called tenets of Islam”!? What is it that she’s trying to say here.!? Does she consider that Islam doesn’t acknowledge women’s rights!? If that is the case, she’s most probably looking at Islam with a feminist lens!? But, to judge something the criteria of judgement needs to be substantiated and justified as true. So, all one needs to do is to justify that ideology of feminism is true!? Provide some objective proof to justify it.

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