The rift between us…

India in many aspects is a world in itself. India is not a singular, homogenous entity. It is a place where many worlds and centuries co-exist, often unknown to each other. The glam and glitz of South Bombay malls is a far cry from the unmapped adivasi (tribal) hamlets in Western Ghats barely 100 miles away. Though India’s government likes to believe in the notion of “Unity in diversity”, in many cases these different Indias coexist out of need rather than genuine feeling of unity. Of these many Indias, the fate of Islamic India seems to be most tragic.

The fates of Islam and India have been intertwined for over a millennium. It took the harbingers of this alien creed to bring about the long overdue downfall of the old socio-political order. Though Islamic India was forged by sword, India was also the place where sword of Islam was blunted, where Islam mellowed down. Islam came to India as a foreign faith out of the deserts of Arabia in the 9th century, but by the time British arrived on the scene in 18th century, Islam had thoroughly Indianised. Islam was directly responsible for redrawing of the ethno-religious boundaries of the Indian sub-continent.

Yet today, Islamic India is nation in terminal decline. Much of its history, culture and even its language Urdu has been appropriated by the other competing entity in the subcontinent, a country born from its own womb, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Islamic India remains unsure over its part in India’s history, its role in India’s present and its stake in India’s future. Of all Indias, Islamic India remains most insulated from the mainstream. Muslims remain the most economically and educationally disadvantaged communities in India.

Ironically it is the same motley-crowd of myopic self-serving politicians of secular bent rather than the ranting Hindutvadis who have led to marginalisation of Indian Muslims. Secular India in its present form has been a monumental failure. The socio-religious autonomy granted to it by the constitution has the bane of Islamic India. For too long the self-proclaimed ’secular’ parties have promoted mullahs and maulavis as genuine ‘community leaders’. The voice of moderation in the community has been muffled by the subsequent cacophony of redundant sound-bytes coming from the likes of AIMPLB and Imam Bukhari. These maulavis backed by the numerous Saudi-funded madarsas have ensured that representative voice of Islamic India remains a slave to the passions and dogmas of the Arab world. As a result Indian Muslims come across as being more concerned with happenings in the Arab world rather than national issues. An Indian Muslim is more likely to send his children to a madarsa rather than a modern secular school.

Muslim nationalism first came into national prominence in the 1980’s. It quickly developed a complementary mechanism with its Hindu counterpart, Hindutva. If Rajiv Gandhi’s caving into mullahs over Shah Bano case qnd Haj subsidy sent RSS attendance soaring, the Ranjanmabhoomi movement and subsequent riots drove impressionable young Muslims into waiting arms of jehadis. But while the Hindutva movement is on the wane, the seeds of social schism sown by some Saudi-funded madarsas and their mullah cohorts have just come into fruition.

Take for example the little Maharashtrian city of Kolhapur with an unblemished record of communal harmony. From the ancient streets and alleyways of this city generations of Maratha warriors have marched out in the defense of Indian interests. The military tradition of this city continues to this day. Many streets of this city bear the names of its numerous sons who died fighting Indian Union’s conflicts. This May yet another of city’s son returned home in a coffin from Kashmir. But this time Hafiz Irfan Attar(19), a madarsa student died fighting for Hizbul Mujahedeen against his own country. Indian Muslim youths from the most inconceivable of backwaters are increasingly turning their backs on their own country. Even the 7/11 Mumbai blasts appear to be handiwork of SIMI. But nobody in the government or mainstream media seems to be asking questions that need to be asked.

Indian government seems to be unwilling to accept reality. With its smug, self-satisfied attitude, it only ends up betraying its citizens, Muslim as well as non-Muslim. Islamic India needs a helping hand. Let a thousand voices of moderation bloom in Islamic India. Indian nation better deal with the reality or the reality will deal with it. It can’t be propped up on this fragmented society for too long.