Hindu liberals and Muslim communalists’ alliance is hindrance

The Hindu liberal-Muslim communalist patron-client dynamic also obstructs Muslim mainstreaming into the broader Indic societal fabric, perpetuating a narrative that links the minority community with specific political or communal interests rather than recognizing them as integral contributors to the nation’s progress.

| Updated: 05 February, 2024 5:43 pm IST
TNI Illustration by Aman Rawat

This article is an attempt to demonstrate how rational Muslims ought to disagree, and in a civilized way rebut without resorting to the usual blasphemy allegations, or beheading threats – something that has become characteristic of Indian Muslims in the wake of fatwas issued on integrated and assimilated Indian Muslims who celebrate the Ram Mandir or hijab diktats being issued to women bureaucrats by self-styled gatekeepers of morality in the 21st century. Our TV debates are becoming trashier and trashier, with Muslim panelists provoking the Hindus and demeaning their gods and getting scot-free while Hindu panelists must go into hiding and it all escalates into tailors getting beheaded for social media posts.

The Print carried an article by Ibn Khaldun Bharati, whom they describe as a student of Islam, and who looks at Islamic history from an Indian perspective. The article has an editor’s note at the end, clarifying that they know the writer well and only allow pseudonyms when they do so (cryptic, but I understand Editorial decisions). The article was titled “Muslims need a Raja Ram Mohan Roy or Ambedkar of their own. Ditch Hindu left and liberal leaders”.

A bold statement but hollow, hence my rebuttal here. Having researched Islamic history these past few years, and due to my continued interaction with reformers, and dissenters of Islam, offline as well as online, from countries around the world, plus my collected books of long-dead authors of the brilliant Age of Translation of the 9th to 12th centuries known mistakenly as the “Golden Age of Islam” I know how much reform or self-reflection or developing critical thinking is insurmountable in any Muslim community. So, my question was, why expect this from 20 crore Indian Muslims who, in Ibn Khaldun Bharati’s words, are impeded by “the patron-client relationship between Hindu liberals and Muslim communalists”?

Raja Ram Mohan Roy, a prominent social reformer and religious philosopher, founded the Brahmo Samaj movement to promote a monotheistic and rational form of Hinduism. His efforts to combat social issues such as Sati, child marriage, and caste discrimination were notably met with acceptance rather than resistance. In contrast, the experience of Muslim heritage rationalists, like Ibn Rushd, has been marked by challenges. Despite being a prominent figure in the brilliant Age of Translation, where various philosophical and scientific works were translated, Ibn Rushd’s contributions, particularly his rebuttal to al-Ghazali’s “Incoherence of Philosophers” in the form of “Incoherence of Incoherence,” remain relatively overlooked in many Muslim bastions of higher education. This stands in stark contrast to the acceptance that some Hindu reformers experienced.

They have not accepted our Hamid Dalwais and our al-Razis, how will they accept our Ram Mohans and Ambedkars? There has been a fatwa issued against Dr Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, the chief of the All-India Imam Organisation, for attending the Ram Mandir consecration ceremony, by an individual on social media, who is also circulating his mobile number among imams and mosque authorities. The fatwa calls for a boycott, demands a public apology, and urges resignation from his position. Dr. Illyas claims he has been receiving life threats from a section of people ever since he attended the Pran Pratishtha ceremony of Lord Ram in Ram Mandir and said that he will not apologize for it as he has not committed any crime.

In the 21st century, this month, self-styled gatekeeper of morality, Badruddin Ajmal, leader of AIUDF, emphasizes the necessity of hijab for Muslim women in professional roles such as bureaucrats and doctors. He asserts that wearing a hijab is crucial for recognition as Muslim professionals, suggesting it aids in differentiation. Ajmal made these remarks during a rally in Karimganj, Assam. Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, has initiated several reforms aimed at modernizing and diversifying the country’s economy and society. He is being “takfiri-ied” as not Muslim enough or labeled a closet apostate for declaring that most of the hadiths are made up and that they need a revision for Islam to grow and prosper once more.

We still have halala, mutah marriages, and child marriages in the Indian Muslim community. Abolishing triple talaq hasn’t truly empowered Muslim women; loopholes persist, enabling abandonment. Despite Costa Rica’s call, the Annual Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights at the 41st United Nations Human Rights Council session, India lacks laws to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Dawoodi Bohra community.

Hamid Dalwai, the angry young secularist from Maharashtra was as close to what we got to an Ambedkar, but we all know the history of his treatment at the hands of the Muslim elite and the common masses under the influence of the upper-class Muslim intelligentsia. Sitaram Goel has documented how Hamdi Dalwai was not allowed to speak in a seminar where he (Sitaram ji) had to sit and listen to Hindu bashing for over two hours. When it got to Hamid Dalwai’s turn to speak, he was booed away. Ibn Khaldun Bharati, Sir, with due respect, you must rely on a pseudonym to talk about rational things regarding Muslim issues. I have witnessed the vitriol, trolling, and toxicity you were subject to when writing under your name. So, do you still feel a Ram Manohar Roy or an Ambedkar among us would be welcome among the Indian Muslim masses?

As someone who faced immense pressure in the initial years of social media to become incognito, due to my support for the Kashmiri Pandits and defying the mandatory hijab and Islamisation of the Valley, I understand the compulsions for a pseudonym. The decision to publish, write, talk, and converse under my own identity had to be weighed against being the subject of reform and come across as credible with the kind of personal stories and observations of my life I put out there. I am delighted that I remained faithful to my principles then and was still alive to see 5th August 2019.

You are right about the patron-client relationship between Hindu liberals and Muslim communalists being the greatest impediment to the secularisation, mainstreaming, and progress of Muslims. This alliance hinders the Muslim community’s secularization, reinforcing identity-based politics over a secular agenda. The Hindu liberal-Muslim communalist patron-client dynamic also obstructs Muslim mainstreaming into the broader Indic societal fabric, perpetuating a narrative that links the minority community with specific political or communal interests rather than recognizing them as integral contributors to the nation’s progress.

Moreover, this dynamic impedes the overall progress of Muslims by diverting attention and resources from critical issues like education, economic development, and social welfare. It also sustains a focus on identity politics, detracting from addressing the broader socio-economic challenges faced by the 20 crore Indian Muslims. But this is something you and I understand; how do we disseminate these insights to the masses?

Arshia Malik is a Delhi-based columnist who focuses on Indian Muslim issues.

Also Read Story

Assam CM accuses Rahul Gandhi of tourist visa status

NIA conducts raids against terror outfits in Kashmir

Defence Minister visits world’s highest battlefield

Supreme Court demands Baba Ramdev’s apology size equivalent to ads