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.