Dr. Hafeezur Rahman
With political waves stirring around the Israel-Palestine conflict, political leaders like both Owaisi brothers of AIMIM and T Raja of BJP MLA seem to be inciting their communities against each other. During elections, it has become a common habit to create fear, a sense of insecurity and hatred which is very harmful to the country. Unparliamentary language must be banned completely by both religious and political leaders no matter which higher echelons they have reached because the law of the land is above individuals or groups.
It never fails to surprise me how the Owaisi brothers’ modus operandi changed while speaking to Indian Muslims one day or so before the elections. Likewise, Maulana Arshad Madani, President of the Jamiat Ulam- e-Hind, an apex body of Sunni Deobandi Ulama of India, also enjoys his meetings with the RSS chief from time to time saying “all is well” after his meetings with the RSS, praises Hamas and calls them the Islamic Mujahideen and suffers no backlash from the government. Akbaruddin Owaisi leader of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has a coalition and good relation with the ruling party BRS in the state of Telangana, reaping the benefits of this. Why then are Muslims unsafe in India now? If this was a reality, why were these leaders silent until now, about any attacks on Muslims, and how do they share such a good relationship with the ruling government? It is interesting that just at the time of the elections, they started making hue and cry about how unsafe Muslims are.
Populist politicians work on capturing the emotions of ordinary people to build up the delusion that only they care for their troubles and no one else, While feeding them with this fuel, this further alienates them from the nation. The Muslim community has been played at by these politicians. Over the last three decades, I have been watching politics very closely in India, and particularly after the 1990s, it became apparent to me that during any elections, some religious leaders with political ambitions and big failures mask their deficits by springing up on podiums to make inciting hate speeches. This works adversely on many Muslims sparking fears that Islam is in danger and the community stands at high risk. The same goes for the Hindu community. This white lie breeds insecurity, fear, and hatred between communities, and in turn weakens the concept of nationhood.
A renowned Indian journalist Mr. Shekhar Gupta has recently pointed out that Muslims lost their nationhood concept under the concept of Ummah isolating the Muslim community. He raised questions on the Islamic world and whether any faith transcends national boundaries or nationalist sentiments.
After reading his long article, I responded to him on X, saying, “Islam itself stresses nationalism and commitment to the law of the land as indicated in Medina Agreement by the Prophet Mohammed ((peace be upon him) himself but it has been forgotten, unfortunately, due to wrong political interpretations of Islam in last two centuries by a few radical scholars.”
The nationhood concept was given by Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) to his followers and fellow citizens by promising equal rights to all the people living in Medina irrespective of faith and gender according to the Medina Agreement. This is the very first political constitution of the Prophet after establishing the Medina government.
I recall the Medina agreement stresses nationhood and the Prophet regards nationalism and patriotism as a strong pillar of faith which unfortunately Muslims have forgotten just 30 years after the Prophet’s death, ((peace be upon him). Muslim rulers adopted monarchy rather than the Islamic caliphate or secular democracy. Critics say that Indian Muslims have isolated themselves to the degree that the Ummah has lost reality, lost in a world fantasy. Hasan Suroor in an article from the Times of India wrote that “Indian Muslims need to realise that they can show solidarity with Palestinians without cheering for Hamas.
In Kerala, there was a pro-Palestine rally organised by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (Kerala)’s youth wing, Solidarity Youth Movement (SYM), with a virtual address by former Hamas chief Khaled Mashal and posters titled, “Uproot bulldozer Hindutva and apartheid Zionism.” He termed Hamas as Mujahideen and said that Muslims are insecure in the world and are feeling a sense of insecurity in India as well.
At the onset of the Gaza-Israel war, similarly, radicalization rose in our neighbouring country where Pakistan’s former Minister and leader of Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam Maulana Fazlur Rahman also led a delegation to meet Hamas leaders in Qatar. Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind leader Maulana Arshad Madni has followed the same line by praising Hamas as Mujahideen. While most are aware of the violent history of Hamas as a savage regime, known for their torture, enforced disappearances, suicide bombing, and killing of an equal number of Palestinians as Israel and is no safe arbitrator for the Palestinians, Indian Muslims supporting Hamas put them in a delicate position of being accused of being “supporters of terrorism” and this is used by political opponents.
The majority of the world was united in supporting the Palestinian cause. Yasser Arafat as a nationalist fought for the people of Palestine which is why the world community was supporting him. However, now Hamas is making it a religious war, narrowing down support for Palestine. As Hamas rule is in Palestine, ISIS in Syria, Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Jamaat-E-Islami in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir, Hizbullah in Lebanon and so on, these groups are doing more harm to Muslims in the world than even Israeli bombing.
No religion will ever be in danger if one follows its teachings. Every religion aims to establish a deep spiritual connection with God and divinity and to build good relations with humanity on the foundation of mutual respect.
Fear weakens relationships, crippling even one’s spiritual connection with the Divine and with others, building a sense of insecurity with the absence of love and faith. If one follows the Constitution and is in a harmonious relationship with God and humans, there is nothing to fear. One could say if they fear so much, they do not trust their own religion or its teachings.
On a positive note, we need to highlight the great achievements of proud Indian Muslim nationalists such as Amir Khusro, an Indo-Persian Sufi poet, musician and scholar, founder of Urdu literature,” the “Parrot of India,” who said, “India is the best place in the entire world.” Amir Khusro’s practice of Sufism imbibed love, kindness and tolerance.
One should follow the example set by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). During his time as a minority in Mecca before migrating to Medina, he refrained from engaging in any kind of heated arguments with opponents endured attacks and did not react to his abusers in the same manner except praying for their good self. He developed a mutual understanding with the people around him. He cultivated patience. In contrast, when in the majority in Medina, he ensured equal rights for all people, irrespective of gender and faith.
Pro Palestine protests at MG Road Bengaluru| Photo credit : DH
There are two models for Muslims to coexist peacefully with the world: following the Prophet’s life in Mecca and, in a majority context, guaranteeing equal rights for everyone regardless of gender and faith. The Prophet treated all believers and non-believers equally irrespective of faith and gender when he was in Medina. The concept of ideal justice is absent both in Muslim nations under Muslim rule and in democratic countries where Muslims are in the minority. From then until now, no Islamic government has manifested on Earth; the so-called Islamic and Muslim nations resemble monarchial states, straying far from the principles of Islamic social, humanitarian, and social justice values.
The burning of the Quran in Sweden stirred up international protests and condemnation, particularly among the Muslim world. On 20th July, this person desecrated the Quran again in Stockholm, resulting in more protests and attacks, including arson, against the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad. Pakistan’s radicals’ act of burning Bibles, Churches and Christians’ homes due to some statements does not reflect Islamic principles.
Muslims believe in all the Prophets, including those mentioned in the Bible and Torah, and share common beliefs in God, Prophets, Angels, and the day of judgment, thus mutual respect should be held in the highest integrity.
With the illusion thrust on Indian Muslims that all of them are living in fear, I reiterate that I am an Indian Muslim and I have never been afraid because when one is connected to God Almighty, follows the Constitution and nurtures good relations with the people around them, there is nothing to fear.
As Rumi, the great Sufi mystic and poet of Persian wrote, “When you have an inclination for something — an interest — that fear rises. If you give in to that fear, you will continue to crawl through life; if you don’t, you will spread your wings and fly like you were born to do.”
(The Author of this article Dr. Hafeezur Rahman is an Author and Islamic Scholar, Convener of the Khusro Foundation, New Delhi)
The views expressed in this article are authors own and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Legitimate.