Indian Muslims: Time For Serious Thinking

Muslims in India are the largest minority. They number about 250 Million. Their population is more than the Muslim countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran or Turkey. Indian Muslims have always been a vibrant minority. They have contributed immensely to the cultural diversity of India. They have always kept their contact with the Muslim world. At times it is the Indian Muslims that have been most vocal for the Muslims all over the world.

Muslims have ruled India for nearly 1000 years. Their rule, excepting a few instances, was very tolerant. They never interfered in the religious affairs of the Hindu Majority. They gave lands and other endowments to them to build temples and maintain them. This tolerant attitude gave Muslims and the Hindus opportunities for a peaceful co-existent. They lived happily and had mutual respect for each other. The Muslims adopted the Indian way of life and customs of the land.

This happy state of Indians, both Hindus and Muslims came to an end when the British subjugated India in early 19th century. The British had entered India as merchants. The Mughal rulers were very tolerant and they allowed the British East India Company to keep an army to protect themselves. It was a blunder, which changed the course of history. It resulted in the downfall of the Mughal Empire and beginning of the British Empire in India.

The British realised that the best options for occupying this vast country was to “Divide and Rule.” They created rifts between the Hindus and the Muslims and used these differences to consolidate their position in India. When the British firmly established themselves, they changed their policy. They had ousted the Muslim rulers and were afraid of the Muslims. They started to favour the Hindus in every walk of life. Muslims became backwards, economically and educationally. They became disillusioned and lethargic. Reformers like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Altaf Hussain Hali and other Muslim luminaries tried to revive the Muslims. Aligarh Muslim University became a beacon of hope for the Indian Muslims. They awoke to their plight and began their struggle for their survival. The Indian Muslim League and its dynamic leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah advocated for a separate country for the Indian Muslims. Muslim leaders of Indian National Congress opposed their movement on the grounds that Indian Muslims could regroup themselves in a united India when the British left. The two sections of the Indian Muslims struggled to achieve their goal. India was divided into India and Pakistan and many Indian Muslims migrated to Pakistan. Majority of the Muslims remained in India.

Partition was a shock for the Indian Muslims who had advocated for a united India. The huge scale of migration, killings and widespread arsons traumatised them. They became a neglected and often- despised second-class citizens of India. They never wanted Pakistan but they became scapegoat after its creation.

Their decline began again. India chose to be a secular state. It was a faéade for the world to conceal their true designs. The government was run as a Hindu state with all the rituals of Hindu religion practised by the state machinery. Some Muslims were given mostly ceremonial posts. This faéade went on during the long tenure of Congress Party. This charade ended when the BJP, a Hindu fundamentalist Party came to power. The BJP’s agenda includes annihilation of the Indian Muslims and creating a pure Hindu state (Akhand Bharat). BJP has asked the Muslims to assimilate in the Hindu society by giving up their Islamic identity. Islamic personal law is to be abolished and all the Muslim cases like, divorce, alimony and inheritance are to be decided by the Indian courts. The Muslims are to change their names and adopt their lives according to the Hindu religious belief and practice.

This is a very alarming situation. They do not have sincere leaders to guide them towards a safe future in India. Selfish and self-centred leaders who are useless for them surround the Muslims. Hindus are buoyed by the general apathy of the Muslim world. They know that the Muslim countries are in disarray and are either not aware or do not care about the plight of the Indian Muslims.

Pakistan is occupied with her own problems and cannot do any thing except rendering some lip service. Problems of the Indian Muslims are to be solved by them. They have to come out from their long hibernation. They need to be good Muslims. They need unity. They are spread in vastness of India. They have to pool their resources to achieve success in the field of education and economy. Muslims in the southern states of India are better off, both educationally and economically. They should come forward and devise a plan that a national integration of the Muslims takes place. There should be better communication and cooperation among them. The on going apathy and sense of doom has to be removed for the survival. Better education, strong economy and unity will make them strong. They are citizens of India. They have all the rights and privileges as an Indian citizen. Nobody can deny them these rights. They have to make themselves ready to take those rights.