By Toufik Imrose Khaledy
Muslims are the second-largest population in the Indian subcontinent. The advent of Muslims dates back to the 7th century, when Muhammad bin Qasim first annexed Sindh. Afterwards, Indian Muslims became a ubiquitous and sparsely populated community within Mughal rule, straddling from northern India to the southern side. The historiography of Indian independence wouldn’t be possible without mentioning Muslims. The ivory towers of Muslim societies like Abul Kalam Azad, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Shariatullah, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, and so on are some pioneering figures of lofty invocations to exterminate British rule and emancipate the Indian citizens from the execrable and dystopian administration of white men. In fact, Muslims have an inextricable connection to the country. However, the contemporary situation of Muslims in India is utterly pathetic and detrimental. They are the common victims of most of the invidious pitfalls and incursions of the right-wing political parties. This incessant debilitation of the community is not a new concept that has fermented recently; in fact, this religious intimidation and incrimination of Muslims has rather started since independence in 1947. W. W. Hunter stated about Muslims in 1871, “A hundred and seventy years ago it was almost impossible for a well-born Musalman in Bengal to become poor; at present it is almost impossible for him to continue rich”. This is the actual condition of Muslims in India nowadays.
The Challenges and Impediments:
In today’s context it looks as if Indian Muslims are under a combined siege from both external and internal dynamics and pressures. The right-wing community debilitates them psychologically by letting them endure the adversities and sufferings rather than letting them focus on their future and alleviate it through the inculcation of education among the youth and the inculcation of optimistic and pertinent denominations postulated by Islam and the Shari’ah and staying united. Thus, they tend to be insouciant about the amelioration of their condition in the oblivion caused by the incursions and intimidation of the supreme powers.
Muslims are always targeted as the common prey of all malaises and cynically despotic acts. However, the frequency of religious hatred has spiralled in recent times. Muslims are beleaguered by the wanton sabotage of property and homes, as in the Nuh district of Maharastra, where the gamut of more than 700 houses was obliterated. Ironically, the most famous democracy in the world has transformed into a ‘bulldozer democracy’ these days. Christophe Jaffrelot, a French political scientist specialist in South Asian studies, remarks in his book, ‘At best we can say that India is going in that direction and has become a ‘De Facto’ ethnic democracy and not ‘De Jure’. The repeal of the triple Talaq bill, the launch of NRC and CAA, and in substance, the segregation of Muslims from the amendment and substantiation to prove citizenship, which is a prime prerogative of them, the ban on hijab in Karnataka schools, the dreadful murder of 22-year-old Maulana Muhammad Sa’ad in Nuh district, the release of uncensored Bollywood films like ‘The Kerala Story’, Mission Majnu’, ‘72 Hoorain’, the ferocious incursion of Chetan Sigh upon three Muslim Maulanas in the Jaipur-Mumbai train incident , and the issue of Gyanvapi mosque, are the apparent instances of conspicuous and open religious stereotyping and communal incursions, where the acuity of the incidents often understated instead of being stigmatized thoroughly.
Resolutions for Recovery:
Even though there is plethora of violence, challenges, and adversities, there are some peculiar panaceas and remedies too, to ameliorate the contemporaneous status of Muslims. The most pivotal factor that plays a crucial role in the dystopian situation of Muslims and the plight they are facing today is their deprivation of quality and modern education and proper guidance for a successful career. Muslims are prone to oblivion about their deficits in matters of education, economy, infrastructure, employment, etc.; they also face much injustice in matters of reservation, for which a movement is required to realize the government and educate the community. In a chronicle of Report of the Indian Education Commission, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan argued, “If the Muslims do not take to the education system introduced by the British, they will not only remain a backward community but will sink lower and lower until there will be no hope of recovery left to them”. However, in the last 20 years or even less, the educational consciousness among Muslim societies has boomed. Although they have to focus more on their resources and manoeuvres at the ground level to educate their own people, who are at the lowest rung of the social and economic ladder.
Fostering Education: The Panacea of All Conundrums:
Moreover, Muslims have to initiate and calcify their own schools and educational institutions in pastoral regions to ensure the delivery of quality education to all sections of the community; even more so, it’s also necessary to forge the ‘zero dropout’ perception among the youngsters. Erudite and sophisticated faculties, teachers, and trainers should be appointed to coordinate quality education. In addition to that, the institutions must be equipped with pertinent and modern standards and facilities to evolve with time. Initially, educated individuals from elite sections must come forward for the massive revolution. Books, booklets, writings in newspapers, pamphlets, and short documentaries can be launched to spread awareness about the importance and vitality of education. Petitions and memoranda to the government, local administration, and ministers, assemblies, workshops, etc. are rudimentary and statutory elements for this purpose. Reminding the politicians on the eve of the election is an even better option, as Muslims get their due on this occasion. Forcing the government to initiate contemplative discussions on the progress of the community in assemblies would be even more advantageous. States with a high presence of Muslims, like J&K, Assam, WB, Kerala, UP, Bihar, Karnataka, and Delhi, could think of constituting committees to bring reports on the socio-economic and educational conditions of Muslims. One should note that most of the empowerment issues are in state hands.
The Necessity of Incorporating Unity:
A flawless movement should be commenced within the community to annihilate the sectarianism and the fissiparous tendencies, which are often sequenced due to the hatred preached by the leaders of each section of the community. Unity is possible only in social, economic, and educational matters. The eminent Muslim scholar, Omar Khalidi, once said, ‘In India, anything that can unite Muslims is a sense of security related to matters pertaining to their lives and property’. Unity is possible only when various sects of Muslims settle their differences and join hands to face the challenges together. I would perceive this step to be the most intricate one, as there are numerous Muslim clerics who are utterly defunct, rapacious, and redundant in nature. Those clerics might find it arduous as it would necessitate a surplus of efforts and tolerance with the rival clerics. The visit of Maulana Taoqeer Raza, a follower of the Bareily sect, to Darul Uloom Deoband on May 8, 2016 to express his sympathy for the family of a youth who had been picked up by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on charges of terrorism, was crucial. Ethnic or sectional disparities can be extensively eliminated when venerable Maulanas take bold steps. Veraciously underpinning, the foremost task that the Muslims should carry out is to prioritize the issues and depict a reciprocal and unified image of the community instead of revealing the dispersed secessionism and fissiparous inclinations among them, which rather turns into the crucible of the legal actions that are to be charged against them and turns into a jewel in the crown for the authority to impede their growth with the British-oriented political strategy, ‘divide and rule’. Former Minority Minister K. Rahman Khan once said, ‘The Muslim community will have to set priorities to resolve its problems and move towards the targets; otherwise, problems will continue piling up and the community will just witness it helpless’.
Muslim Political Representation:
Later on, the community should adopt a positive and pragmatic approach instead of an implausible and impulsive one. At the political level, Muslims have never been adequately represented in the Parliament, state assemblies, or local bodies. This situation will remain unchanged until the government provides political reservation to minorities or implements proportional representation in our electoral system. Till then, the community has to adopt some strategy to improve representation. The community should elect only those representatives who have the insight of intersectional cohesion, group feeling, and a pro-communal contemplation in their very nature. The representatives who might be sincere, committed, and result-oriented and reinforce his community at any cost are a part of the decision-making authority and delivery mechanism process on behalf of 22 crore Muslims throughout the country. We can ask secular parties that have been getting Muslim votes for decades to give tickets to Muslim candidates in proportion to their share of the population. Muslim-based parties should align with those of other marginalized groups. Muslim leaders should not give speeches on religious and emotional matters; rather, they should raise the issues of human rights, lack of justice, lack of fair opportunities, police brutalities, and the development deficits of other deprived communities.
Eschew Emotional and Sentimental Reactions:
In addition to that, it would be veracious and pertinent if the Muslim community, instead of countering the problems and tragedies with pessimistic reactions, vandalizing public properties and governmental assets, contravening authority with impulsive demonstrations, and showcasing subversive encroachments, focused on self-introspection and tackled the factors that are responsible for the existing situation of Muslims and the predicaments encountered by them. Dr. Syeda Hameed says, ‘The more we show our anger, the more the TV anchors bait us, the more we fall into the stereotype created about us, and so we are condemned to remain on the fringes of society’. Moreover, the maneuver to tackle the issues should be multi-faceted, as the dilemmas faced by them are of miscellaneous nature: social, political, economic, and religious, to ensure tangible outcomes. The remedy for the problems faced by the community lies in self-introspection and fostering abstinence among individuals.
Youth Empowerment; Endorsing Assets of the Community:
Youth are the paramount asset and biggest resource for the community. They must be mentored, trained, and properly motivated to take on tomorrow’s responsibility. They should be asked to go in pursuit of excellence. Feelings of inferiority and despondency are not the solution but to be ardent and adamant to accede their own prerogatives is the best way to defend the ultimatums. They might be asked to refrain from spending their valuable time in bad relationships and utilize their energy to gain excellence, get higher administrative jobs, do business, etc., and take part in strengthening democracy and nation-building.
South Indian model of development:
Syed Iqbal Hasnain, former Vice-Chancellor of Calicut University, writes in a book titled, Muslims in North India: Frozen in the Past, ‘There is a spectacular “digital divide” between South and North Indian Muslims in terms of education and thereby in political empowerment. South Indian Muslims and their leaders are of an expedient and astute nature and have made tremendous progress in terms of education. They are equal partners in the state’s development by becoming part of the mainstream and the authority at large. They have established good institutions of higher learning and are coming forward in good numbers at UPSC and AIMS. Muslim literacy in Kerala is close to 100 percent’. Thus, we can adopt this model of development not only in terms of education but also in terms of political representation, reservation, mainstreaming, etc.
Indian Muslims are prone to the existent disparities and the nuisances is due to their own insouciance and oblivion in terms of education, social awareness, morbidity in the mainstream politics and the insidious presence of fissiparous propensities among diverse sects of the community. It is evident that after hardship there might be an ease. Statutory reciprocal efforts of each individual of the community can transform into crucible of a tremendous revolution. It is imperative for Muslims in India to not live under the sympathy of any authority or with the help of paltry subsidies offered by any government. Rather, it should generate its own people for each and every aspects of holistic growth of the community. It should be noted that it’s never too late to alleviate their situation and mitigate the regression expedient in it. There are much more opportunities for Muslims also to overhaul the backwardness and move on further along with the developed communities abreast without any reluctance.
Keywords: Indian Muslims, Bulldozer Democracy, De Facto, De Jure, Religious Segregation, Intimidation, Zero Dropout, Digital Divide, W.W. Hunter, Sir Syed Ahmed.
About the author:
Toufik Imrose Khaledy is a Research Scholar at Darul Huda Islamic University, Chemmad-Kerala.
W.W. Hunter;The Indian Musalmans, 15 Banglabazar, Dhaka-1100, Bangladesh, First Bangladeshi Edition: June, 1975, page 141
Bleeding blue in Nanded | Where celebrating Ambedkar’s birthday is a crime, Abhinay Deshpande/The Hindu, June-17, 2023
Indian Muslims in 73rd year of Independence, Christophe Jaffrelot.
Shops burnt, imam killed, mosque torched — how Nuh clashes spawned targeted violence in Gurugram, Bismee Taskin/The Print, August-1, 2023
Indian guard kills colleague and three passengers on train, then hails Modi, Aljazeera, July-31, 2023
Report of Indian Education Commission (Calcutta, 1883) p. 298.
Interview with Omar Khalidi, Inquilab, Mumbai.