‘Spanish Model’ and India’s game plan for Muslims


 By Syed Ali Mujtaba

India is undergoing a rhetorical shift. This trend is glaringly visible since the nation is engaged in the Covid-19 war and the communal virus bubbling across the length and breadth of the country. It appears that while government is fighting the Covid-19 war, the Hindus and Muslims have their own scores to settle.

Ever since Markaz – Corona linkage has surfaced, the Hindu- Muslim hatred is blatantly at display. All and sundry are rebuking at Muslims as if the entire community is responsible for the Markaz lapses. If one goes by the media reports, one gets the impression that Muslims have become the biggest headache for the Hindu community.

The Mrakaz- Corona debate has made it evident how the charade of secularism was overlaid on the Indian society for so long time.  Now that cloak is shed and beneath it the societal truth of bitter social relationship is out in open. As one can see the social tension in India is bursting at its seams.  And to such developments the blind eye of the ruling elite is quite puzzling. Their conspiracy of silence has made many think where is this Muslim game heading in India?

There is a long history to it that goes back to 1947, but ever since the current government has come to power in 2014, Indian Muslims are drifting at a much faster pace.

It all started with the condoning the crime of mob lynching of Muslims for the cow protection. The triple talaq’ issue torpedoes the Muslim personal law. The Babar Masjid judgment was an appeasement to the majority community. The abrogation of article 370 and 35 A, and then the announcement of the promulgation of the citizenship laws were all part of the same chain events that points to a rhetorical shift India is making with a clear agenda to marginalize the Indian Muslims.

Some equate these developments in India with those in Spain some 500 years ago when Muslims were exterminated from that country in 1612.  How that was done is being studied by some radical Hindus who want to replicate the ‘Spanish model’ on the Indian Muslims and exterminate them from India.

What is Spanish model and how it is being implemented in India?

Muslims ruled over Spain for 780 years from 712 AD to 1492 AD. Subsequently, political power slipped out of their hands and in next 120 years they had to Spain where they lived for almost 800 years.

In order to understand this we have to have a clear knowledge about the Spanish society. Muslims in Spain were divided into three categories: (i) the descendants of the Arabs, (ii) descendants of Muslim fathers and Spanish mothers (iii) and locals who adopted Islamic faith.

In India some similar categorization of Muslims exists. 1) descendants of those who came from foreign lands ii) offspring of Muslims and locals iii) and locals who adopted Islamic faith.

In Spain after the “Granada War” ended the Nasrid dynasty the last relic of Islamic rule. After that some among the top category of Muslims left Spain, and some chose to live in Spain. They were subsequently targeted as ‘foreigners” as it is happening in India and are called ‘Babur ke aulad.’

In the second category, the offspring of Muslim-Christian parentage were ridiculed. Their lives and property was under constant attack. They were subjected to ‘Muslim whistling’ and fear was instilling in them to revert to Christianity, if they wished to save their skin. As in India the Spanish Muslims were told this was a temporary phenomenon as they got constitutional rights but the ground reality was quite different as it is now in India.

In the third category Spanish Muslims who converted from Christianity to Islam were persuaded to reconvert to Christianity. They were told that since their ancestors were forced to become Muslims they should revert to their old faith as there was no coercion or fear left.  It is the same kind of thing happening in India and its echo are found in ‘Ghar Wapsi’ campaign.

In Spain, the government made deliberate policies for the marginalization of Muslims. Arabic was removed from the administration; schools attached to mosques were only asked to give religious teachings. Lessons in history were rewritten. Muslim rule was dubbed as barbaric. Contribution of Muslims to the development of Spain was blacked out.  Muslim houses were constantly searched for anti-national activity. Islamic law was declared illegal. Marriages performed in the Islamic way were directed to be registered.

In Spain there was no political leadership of the Muslim, no organization to protect them, the Muslim intelligentsia left the country due to hostile environment.  Only religious leaders were left but due to adverse situation they had to leave Spain in 1612.

In compare the method adopted by Spain’s rulers it can be said that many developments taking place in India looks like a complete replica of the Spanish model. The periodic communal riots are one such example. In the earlier years of communal riots, Muslims resisted and fought pitched battles on the streets with police coming late to the scene. Then gradually the riots became one-sided affair, Muslims being the losers as police playing partisan role.

Muslims history is disappearing from the Indian syllabus. A great martyr like Tippu Sultan who fought against the colonial rule is now made a controversial figure. Whereas the name of Tantia Tope, who fought not for India but for his own pension, and Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi, who fought for her adopted son’s heir-ship to the throne, are being glorified.

Urdu, which holds the same place in India as Arabic was in Spain, has been eased out. In north India where Urdu is the mother tongue of the Muslims, are making the children learn Hindi so they can be assimilated with the larger society. Some Muslims who are voluntarily going to madrasas to study Urdu and Arabic are taking refuge in religious activities and have distanced themselves from the common Muslims.

There is no middle class among the Muslims in India. Muslim elite are away from the Muslim masses. They are more comfortable with the Hindus, living in non-Muslim localities and cutting themselves away from the Muslims masses. As such the gulf between the educated rich Muslims and poor Muslim masses is widening every day in India.

On the political front, Muslim electoral constituencies are divided horizontally and vertically in India so that Muslims don’t have an effective voting power anywhere in the country. Any move to organize Muslims is branded as communal and any one flirting with such idea is called ‘anti-national’. Such mockery of democracy goes on in India.

Muslim masses are left rudderless. Among them leadership is not allowed to flourish. Their ultra-secular Muslim leaders are holding on to the tails of the Hindu leadership to survive in the so called secular political parties.

What is left in India is the theological leadership that is trying to maintain the cultural identity of the Muslims. But they are also under constant attack. The cries of Personal Law amendment and its replacement with common civil code pose a big challenge to the theological leadership and they are facing pressure from both within and outside the community. Remember what happened to ‘Desh Bacho, Deen Bacho tehrik.’  

What comes out clearly from this discussion is Indian Muslims are constantly being subjected to the replication of the Spanish model. They are living in fear but in hopes that everything will be fixed one day or other in their favor. But these are wishful thinking that is not going to take the community anywhere.

It is high time the Muslim intelligentsia rises to the occasion and come up with some counter measures to check the Spanish model being replicated in India. It has to be understood that religion does not protect its followers; it is the followers that protect the religion. In the given situation it is the Indian Muslims who alone can save themselves from the incursion of the Spanish model being thrust upon them. How they will do it is another tale for another day to tell.

Note: This is a summary of a long editorial in ‘Dalit Voice,’ May 16-31, of 1999 with substantial changes to make it contextual.


Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com

7 thoughts on “‘Spanish Model’ and India’s game plan for Muslims

  1. It is very informative article from Mr.Syed Ali Mujtaba. I would have appreciated him if he would have return some tips to save our India being another Spain in the coming days.
    We Muslims of India who rejected two nation theory and accepted this country as motherland need solution to the crisis. It is community leaders guidance is the need of the hour.

    Jai Hind

  2. We have to start an Education Movement (WITH TARABIAH esp. HUMAN VALUES)
    on a mass level especially targeting the poorest of our community who cannot afford even madarsa education without Zakat money. As we know , a small portion of these poorest children are convinced by Our Maulvis and go to Madarsas. So, our job gets a bit easier. We have to meet these Maulanas in our neighborhood and convince them with the importance of Math+Science+English Education along with hifz e Quran. If they agree, we can start with appointing ONE TEACHER. We should manage the SALARY of this teacher OURSELVES without giving any burden on the madarsa administration. Further , we should act as a Guardian for the students and inspect their learning and motivate them throw some Small gifts for their small small achievements which will further motivate them to work harder. We should help them dream BIG like civil exams, judge exams, lawyers, good researchers, excellent teachers and professors etc. Our aim should be to help them quality education within the premises of Madarsas so that their constant tarabiyat can be done with safeguard of Quran teachings without forgetting the Holy Quran that they memorized. We shall help them clear Class 10 and Class 12 exams through OPEN BOARD ( DISTANCE LEARNING) and take admission into college and further guide them for various competitive exams as per their interests and capabilities.

  3. I disagree with the above formulation for the following prime reasons:
    a) This assumes that there is a concocted policy that is being actively pursued that intends to wipe out Muslims from India. However the ruling parties in India, at the Centre and at state level, are many and have different ideological orientations, with the BJP and Sanghis as the belligerent advocates against Muslims, to other shades of orientation that are more or less secular and do not advocate such a policy.
    b) Indian society has many layers of stratification wherein the Dalits, Tribals, Minorities and other lower castes constitute a significant force and they are apprehensive of the upper caste rule in India and would not be in favor of genocide and will oppose it in varying strength.
    c) The political construct around the world is a strong votary against genocide and ethnic cleansing. It is not that the latter do not exist but they happen more as an anomaly and not as a rule. Genocide is widely condemned globally and is not accepted as a state policy of coercion.
    d) India is a developing capitalist country that is run on capitalist lines. Policies that impact negatively and hinder capitalism will not be pursued. Communal killings on a large scale tend to foster instability and will make International capital flee as the working force will be caught in its web and will pose serious danger to normal living and continuation of production and business.
    e) India is a part and parcel of a global interrelated capitalist economy that must foster good relations with strategic partners, for it to progress. An important aspect of global economy is the existence of the powerful OIC (Organization of Islamic countries). This has certain levers of influence and will act to counteract the forces of genocide against the Muslims.
    Towards forestalling the Spanish model of evisceration and annihilation that the article sees as a possibility, one needs to a) strengthen Unity within the various Muslim factions b) build a foundational growth of the Muslim community through inculcating Education and Economic and political empowerment c) resist forces and policies that work to marginalize them like the CAA and NRC, and in the process build political strength and alliances d) build unity with other marginalized forces that oppose upper caste and class rule, especially that of the BJP ilk e) develop strong support in the public domain and identify and isolate Right wing reactionary forces so they are nixed before they gain strength.
    Javeed Mirza (javeed.mirza@gmail.com)

  4. Assalamualaykum
    Brothers not only in Spain this is the history of muslims throughout the world. We can see the rise and fall was happened in islamic histories i want to express my feelings to ummath. Mohammed swslm peace upon be on him said 1.when you fear for yours death and2. when you love for this duniya.if these two things comes in your life then you think a wind blows to a garbage similarly any body comes and through my ummath or destroy you from your places. So brothers we have to follow sunnah otherwise we cannot survive.

    1. Dear Friend …while you seems to be an awesome and very straight forward thinker who seems to have looked at Global perspective and current Interdependent economic models which runs purely by driving to produce more for benefit of few.

      We need to remind ourselves of becoming a strong practicing Muslim who is able to bring the value of Islamic principles for good of entire society and I echo the fact it can be done by ensuring the education is spread out to masses not just an academic knowledge but a vital blend of Islamic values to uplift Ummah…No doubt that we fall and rise but we need to constantly remind ourselves that Qadr is from Allah and Allah will help Ummah only when it wants to embrace the change .

      We have dwelled ourselves so much with these worldly corrupted practices that we tend to believe that it a Global norm…

      We have Chinas example who was at its best as Global leader who seems to have cracked engaging it’s resources for optimising production but undermined the value part of religion thus the more profit game attracted other economic gaints to wanting take their share returns and A No said to power houses triggered a chain of tough economic atmosphere and a very known growing uneasiness between and then Covid 19 happens …which opens global pandora box of a group (China in this case) doing things intentionally or being not being careful are most gratifying explainations for social boycott of entire country China and easy target for Global market .

      My point is social , political and educational improvement are part of being pivotal society which can only outshine if it is able build the link between religion and world , religion is way of life to Live a most fulfilling life which enables others to respect you by seeing a best human being in you who knows both best of both worlds.

  5. With whole heart I wish this article was really true. It would be great to see India becoming a Hindu Rashtra. What is the point in having and living in many Islamic nations like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the list goes on.

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