‘India facing challenges from the proponents of ‘imagine boundaries’, Hindu rashtra romance will destroy us together’
By Quamar Ashraf
India’s condemnation by the Muslim countries due to the BJP leaders’ offensive remarks against Prophet Muhammad (SAW) not only infuriated the right-wing people but also irked the ‘nationalists’ media. They consider the condemnation as ‘interference into India’s internal matter and question the Arab rulers’ silence over beheading of a Hindu man by two Muslim men for supporting Nupur Sharma, the BJP’s national spokesperson who is considered “single-handedly responsible” for what is happening in the country. However, the offensive remarks and the beheading incidents should be seen in perspectives.
While the Hindutva forces are visibly upset over PM Modi ‘buckling to the pressure of the Gulf countries’ after his party sacked two of its leader, chorus of condemnation by Arab nrulers has enlivened their misconstrued imagination of ‘Muslim Ummah’, an elusive concept rarely seen on ground throughout history. On the other hand, a section of aggrieved Muslim minority might be pleased to imagine itself as part of the Ummah. In reality, neither of the views has ever been seen on ground.
Precisely, the Islamic Ummah had neither been a reality in the past nor did it exist today. Muslims expulsion from Spain is one major example when millions of moors were driven out from the nation they ruled for centuries, but no mighty Muslim empires, including Mughals and Ottoman, intervened. Interestingly, the process of exodus ran for decades.
Why the Outrage
The outrage of the Muslim countries was natural, not for the sake Indian Muslims per se but for the sake of their faith. India, on the other hand, did not act on moral ground, but certainly to safeguard its business and trade. India’s lofty statement of according the ‘highest respect to all religions’ hold little merit given the delay it made in taking action against two of ruling party leaders who made the derogatory comments against the Prophet of Islam. It could have averted the diplomatic row, had the Narendra Modi government heard the voice of its citizens who were demanding action against BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and party’s Delhi unit chief Naveen Jindal.
The inordinate delay by the Modi government worsened the situation to the extent that Qatar, the country which PM said is his second home, went on to summon the Indian envoy, and demanded ‘formal apology’ from the Indian government, a rare move. With exception of Pakistan, the Muslim nations rarely spoke on India’s internal affairs. Kashmir is a separate issue and that not only Muslim but several other countries speak on it, arguing that it is in the United Nations.
Modi’s closeness with Gulf monarchs
In fact, most of the countries in the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have close links with India. Only a couple years ago (2019) when Pakistan threatened to boycott the OIC if the invitation was extended to the external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to be guest of honour at its inaugural session was not withdrawn, UAE pressed ahead with its invitation. The same year, when India revoked Kashmir’s special status PM Modi was honoured with the ‘Order of Zayed’, the UAE’s highest civilian award. Then, Bahrain honoured Modi with “The King Hamad Order of the Renaissance” award. Before this, Saudi Arabia had already given its highest civilian award — the King Abdulaziz Sash.
‘Break characteristic silence’
First of all, Modi must break his silence and call upon the communities to shun hatred towards one another. It must be followed with action against the culprits under provisions of law. The arrest of journalist Zubair Ahmed and others will only earn the country further criticism by the western nations. India cannot afford to remain silent over the hate and bigotry being committed and propagated round the clock.
On the other hand, Hindutva forces can take temporary solace by imagining a Hindu Rashtra, it is not going to happen in the 21st century world. The age of faith has gone; the age of reason has descended and the role of religion has diminished. If communities keep fighting with each other to achieve their political goal in the name of religion, it will only destroy the country, but also spoil the spirit of their belief. Better sense must prevail before it gets late.