Anand Math Exposed – I

The cacophony over Vande Mataram has reached sickening levels & its time to dwell on intellectual dishonesty of politicians, ignorance of masses & shrewdness of BJP.

If anybody has an iota of nationalism and respect towards our martyrs, this novel needs to be condemned in the harshest words. When thousands of Hindus and Muslims, as one Race & One People, sacrificed their lives in 1857, this novel appeared–full of falsehoods, praising British & termng Hindus & Muslims as enemies.

Read this Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (Chattopadhyaya) novel in original or its translation. Even the two stanzas that ‘are not be objectionable’ demand the blood of Muslims. In the novel…when Satyanand is crying that all Muslims could not be put to sword, his Guru welcomes British rule. Bowing before Goddess Kali, Satyananda says, ‘Shatru ke khoon se seeNch kar maaN ko shasya-shyaamla karuNga’. No need to explain, it demands blood of Muslims & that’s what we are asked to sing. This treacherous novel makes mockery of the unity & beliefs of our freedom fighters from Mangal Pandey & Bakht Khan to Ashfaq, Bismil & Azad.


Why Riba (Usury) Is Haram In Islam

“Those who devour usury will not stand except as stand one whom the Evil one by his touch hath driven to madness. That is because they say: “Trade is like usury,” but God hath permitted trade and forbidden usury. Those who after receiving direction from their Lord, desist, shall be pardoned for the past; their case is for God (to judge); but those who repeat (the offence) are companions of the Fire: They will abide therein (for ever).”
– Quran Verse 2:275 (Chapter Al-Baqara)

For some such Quranic verse will come down as very unpleasant & stern judgment and they are infact very severe as Islamic Shari’a looks upon consumption of Usury (common definition: interest on money) as serious offence.

Quran prohibits its followers from Riba (Usury) and has couple of stern verses to dissuade the people from brining in the concept of Usury in their economic & social life.

At another place Al-Lah says:

“O ye who believe! Fear God, and give up what remains of your demand for usury, if ye are indeed believers.”
– Quran Verse 2:278 (Chapter Al-Baqara)

Verses like such (“…if ye are indeed believers.”) further highlights the gravity of offence by exhorting people to obey if they indeed think themselves as Muslims.

Quran not only put a stop on Usury but it also encourages leniency towards debt-ridden as way to social upliftment.

“If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time Till it is easy for him to repay. But if ye remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if ye only knew.”
– Quran Verse 2:280 (Chapter Al-Baqara)

But why has Islamic Shari’a prohibited the Usury from economic and Business transactions?

To understand the wisdom behind such prohibition we need to be first aware of 2 key Islamic principles on wealth-creation.

1. Islam permits increase in capital through trade and, at the same time, it blocks the way for anyone who tries to increase his capital through lending on interest (riba) – whether it is at a low or a high rate.

Allah Almighty says :

“O you who believe, do not consume your property among yourselves wrongfully, but let there be trade by mutual consent…â€?
– Quran verse 4:29 (Chapter An-Nisa)

I would also like to point to another prohibited means of earning (though not the subject of this post) – ‘gharar’ (transactions based on speculation/gambling).

Modern financial practices that are Haram under ‘gharar’ include use of derivatives such as futures and the purchase of insurance. However, investment in the stock market, except holding preferred stock with a fixed dividend, is permissible on the principle of shared risks and rewards.

The Hadith of Prophet says:

Do not buy fish in the sea, for it is gharar. (Ibn Hanbal)

Buying ‘fish in the sea,’ or alternatively, ‘what is in the womb’ highlights the speculative nature of the transaction.

2. ‘Gharar’ (speculation/gambling) violates the principle that all parties have both complete knowledge and access to the product before the transaction.

In summary, Quran forbids both risk-less gain, as in the case of Riba (Usury), and transactions based entirely on risk, as in ‘Gharar’ (Speculation/Gambling). Islamic Shari’a encourages Muslims to be “risk neutral” and earn profit through neither seeking speculative gain nor hoping to lock down all risk with fixed returns.

With these explanations on Islamic principles of Wealth-creation let me now put forward the wisdom behind prohibition of Usury (interest on money) in Islam.

The strict prohibition of Interest in Islam is a result of its deep concern for the economic, moral, and social welfare of mankind.

Economic: Dependence on interest discourages people from working/trading to earn money and the value of work/trade is reduced. Such people won’t bother to take the trouble of running a business or risking money in trade/industry. For most of the readers this statement may not make sense (or won’t be able to relate) as they themselves are from class of Workers or Traders (and not money-lenders). For such reader, I would recommend them to read this short macro-level explanation of today’s debt-ridden economies (The facts about Usury: Why Islam is Against Lending Money at Interest)

Moral: Acceptance of Usury discourages people from doing good to one another and lend out of good will. A society which encourages interest on lending will require needy people to pay back more than he borrowed, which quite often is a source of huge burden.

Social: If interest is allowed, the rich (who are most likely to be lender) will exploit the poor (borrower). As a result, the rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer. This generates envy and hatred among the poor toward the rich, resulting in social disorders, conflicts and at times breeds revolutions & movements.

To understand these economic, moral and social effects we Indians don’t have to look further than Vidarbha and the plight of farmers there which in recent time has received much publicity for unfortunate circumstances. And Vidarbha is a part of much larger problem area.

Between 2001 and 2006, over 14000 farmers have committed suicide in various regions including Vidarbha and Telangana. In almost each of these suicide cases the only recurring reason is debt-trap.

Jaideep Hardikar in his report Loan after Loan notes:

A farming family holding 27 acres in Vidarbha has become a marginal landholder in a span of few years, and a vicious cycle of usurious debt robbed their lands and hopes. There are hundreds of others in the lurch similarly.

These farmers who very often had to borrow from money-lenders at 60-120% interest, to sow seed, and toil every day from sunrise to sunset and if-and-only-if the harvest is good or saved from natural torments will they be able to pay out the interest and some principal. But seldom it happens as willed and for years after years they are still trying to come out of debt. And for many the only way out of these miseries was through death. Suicide is not an easy route as some would think. It is an end for those who see all hopes vanished. It is also thus no surprise that Vidarhba and Telangana are demanding separate States.

Thus, in a society which permits interest, the strong benefit from the suffering of the weak, resulting in conflicts, social-disorders, and revolutions.

Things People Do And Stuff Journos Make Up

Indian Express:

LUCKNOW, AUGUST 29: The Darul Uloom of Deoband, the supreme body of the majority Sunnis, has declared life insurance as illegal but prominent Shia leaders have opposed the decree.

One sentence, two fallacies. Darul Uloom Deoband is NOT the supreme body of Sunnis (What is the supreme body of Sunnis anyway, if there is such a thing?). Also, Sunnis are not just Sunnis as in Sunnis versus Shias. There are at least three major groups of Sunnis in India. Deobandis, Barelvis and Ahl-e-Hadith. There is so much acrimony between them that they had to create their own Personal Law Boards. Each of these groups believes the other group to be at least at some level of kufr (disbelief), though they don’t claim it openly. In some regions, the followers of one sect do not even shake hands with the followers of other sect. They have been told that their marriage would be absolved on doing so. So much for all Sunnis as Sunnis and I have not even started the Shia versus Sunni thing.

Why would such a respected publication like Indian Express would indulge in such blatant mis-representation of facts? Continuing:

The Darul Ifta of Deoband, the body authorised to issue fatwas, issued a fatwa saying that interest earned on bank deposits as well as insurance of life is illegal as per the Shariat, the supreme law for Muslims. And that Muslims should not go in for insurance or assurance of life which has been given to them by Allah.

Darul Ifta is not the only body authorized to issue fatwas. It teaches Darul Uloom students only to become Muftis as AIIMS teaches its own students to become doctors. The teachers in Darul Ifta are obviously Muftis as there are doctors in AIIMS. Now, AIIMS is authorized to issue degrees to AIIMS students only. Same is true with Darul Ifta of Deoband. So, there is not just one Darul Ifta in the whole country even when we talk specifically of Deobandis. Unfortunately, Muftis out of these Ifta’s start writing fatwas as soon as they pass out and much as (if not more) as AIIMS graduates write prescriptions.

Since the previous two paragraphs had inherent fallacies, the author now contradicts himself:

The fatwa, issued by Mohammad Zafeeruddin non August 7, in consultation with the two muftis of Darul Uloom, Deoband says: “Life insurance is not permissible because there is interest income in it as well as gambling, which are illegal under Shariat.�

Note the fatwa has been issued by one Mohammad Zafeeruddin. It is not sure if he is associated with the Darul Ifta. He might as well be some local Mufti in Lucknow. The basic purpose of fatwa (roughly translated into opinion) is that if you have a religious issue, you go to your local Mufti and ask him about it. Now, if an AIIMS doctor is not sure about a case, he would call back to his institute or seniors and check back with them. That is what this Mufti did, he consulted two other people he thought were more knowledgeable.

Once you realise you have a potentially news(able) issue at hand, you rush towards the members of AIMPLB. Since there are too many Personal Law Boards and too many members, you are always sure of being able to lay your hands upon a couple. Considering journos as Allah-given opportunity for some precious air-time, refusal is out of question. As for the nuances, who cares about them anyway?

So, you have a ‘fatwa from Deoband, supreme body of all Sunnis’ and ‘affirmation from AIMPLB, the supreme body of all Muslims’ and voila, you have it is on front page. Let me check my Inbox, already there would be some emails extorting me to have the guts to write about this issue. Ahh, my dear Mufti, where have you been. I missed you.

And What Is My Issue With Vande Mataram?

Vande Mataram issue is again hogging the limelight and political denominations of all hue are palnning to make a killing. I have nothing to say of them. Such people have been squarely criticized at this blog and elsewhere. For me the issue is that of an individual’s right to practise his religion and be a patriotic citizen at the same time. Suppose I don’t sing Vande Mataram because it clashes with my religious beliefs. Would that make me any less Indian? Would that weaken my resolve to fight and die for the country? More importantly, as a citizen of a democratic society, do I have a choice to to say no to things that are not mandatory, and by not doing them I am not causing any harm to others? We talk about freedom of religion and secularism all the time but still have a blinkered view of them. Why do I need to adhere by somebody else’s benchmark of patriotism. If we are still thinking in terms of society and not individuals and expect everyone to submerge into some greater-common-patriotism then how different are we from let’s say China or Saudi Arabia. Does an individual has the space to stand alone and be different in our society? Would we have that in 10-20 years?

As an Indian Muslim I have to prove my patriotism to others, many times and many times over. A bomb blast, no Sir, please believe us, we did not do it, we condemn it in strongest terms. Does anyone asks hard questions about the failure of our intelligence apparatus, about how many people have ran away to other countries after selling sensitive information, about how it has compromised the security of the common citizen? Vir Sangvi writes about our amazing ability to gloss over facts in lieu of our anti-terror paranoia. Oh and these guys are not singing Vande Mataram. Didn’t I tell you, they are unpatriotic. There loyalties lie elsewhere. Come on, let us make them sing Vande Mataram.

Pankaj Vohra, political editor of Hindustan Times has written a piece on the Vande Mataram issue. He seems to have presumed a lot. I would like to address some of the issues he raises in his article.

1.) Debate over the issue is settled:
No, it is not. Had it been so, Vande Mataram would have been our national anthem and not national song. Muslims have had genuine issues with the text of the song and the context in which it was originally written and consquently used in Anand Math. The committee under Nehru in 1937 which Pankaj cites in his article has this to say of the issue:

“Taking all things into consideration, therefore, the Committee recommend that, wherever Bande Mataram is sung at national gatherings, only the first two stanzas should be sung, with perfect freedom to the organisers to sing any other song of an unobjectionable character, in addition to, or in the place of, the Bande Mataram song.”

The Constituent Assembly reached a compromise decision to accord it the status of national song. Gandhi ji advised Muslims to appreciate its historic association but counselled against any imposition. “No doubt, every act… must be purely voluntary on the part of either partner,” he said at Alipore on August 23, 1947. Now, we have the President of the largest opposition party in India saying that it would be made mandatory in the BJP ruled states.

Bottomline: Vande Mataram can’t and shoudn’t be enforced, neither on an individual nor on a community.

2.) It is AIMPLB and mad mullahs again:
Now we are increasingly seeing educated Muslims that do not toe the line of either All India Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) or rent-a-fatwa-mullahs and are willing to stand up and speak out for themselves. I am totally against mullahs rendering fatwas on the issue. Forcing someone not to sing Vande Mataram is akin to forcing someone to sing the song. Individuals should be able to decide for themselves. I have had my differences with both these groups. This is not about them, this is about me.

Bottomline: I don’t really care what is their stand on the issue.

3.) Vande Mataram is secular:
It is not. Had it been so, there was no need to expunge the last three stanzas of the song. People are acting as if the first two stanzas were written by someone else for a totally different purpose than the last three stanzas. It was basically a song meant to arouse the sentiments of Bengali Hindus against the ruling Muslims by using religious imagery. Nirad C. Chaudhuri writes, “The historical romances of Bankim Chatterjee and Ramesh Chandra Dutt glorified Hindu rebellion against Muslim rule and showed the Muslims in a correspondingly poor light. Chatterjee was positively and fiercely anti-Muslim. We were eager readers of these romances and we readily absorbed their spirit.��? It is true that the song acquired a nationalistic tone during the freedom struggle. It still does not absolve it of its history. For the right-wing backers of the song, this is just a start. Already there are talks of why only two stanzas, why not the entire song? And Rajeev Srinivasan is arguing “mohammedans in india should follow indian norms. after all, they expect indians in saudi arabia to follow saudi norms.” Not many years ago, BJP government in Uttar Pradesh tried to make the recital of Saraswati Vandana compulsory in schools.

Bottomlime: All this makes me wonder what ‘being Indian’ translates to them and their ‘real’ intentions.

4.) Hey its just Sankritized Bengali, in Urdu it is just fine:
Pankaj Vohra quotes an Urdu translation by none other than Arif Muhammad Khan (messiah of Muslims, beacon of hope, harbinger of glad tidings and a surrendered member to BJP). Being a former Union minister and President of A.M.U. are cited as his qualifications. I have heard about sarkaari poets, we have had our fair share of them. But this is the first time I am hearing about a sarkaari translator. I am not a Sankrit pandit (I read it till class 12th) but I am sure what Vande Mataram would translate to in Urdu. Again, people are trying to take two stanzas, out of text and out of context, and making it appear like well-what’s-the-problem-with-it?

Bottomline: The last thing India needs to progress in the 21st century is sarkaari patriotism.

Amidst all this, I have hope for the future. Many of the popular Indian bloggers on the web have supported the individual freedom position. Many Indians who were not aware of the original text and context of the song and the reason why Muslims are uncomfortable with the song are taking a more nuanced position. The only way forward for our country is the Gandhian position of mutual respect and no imposition. Not singing Vande Mataram does not lessen my committment to my country and I would always fight for the right of my fellow Indians (of whatever religion) to recite the song. Others should respect mine.

P.S. Some quotes have been taken from A.G. Noorani’s article, How secular is Vande Mataram?. If you have not read it, please do so. It is worth it.

The Problem With Vande Mataram

BJP, it seems is becoming increasingly devoid of issues.

Chhattisgarh government has issued a circular to all educational institutions in the state including madarsas to ensure recital of Vande Mataram on September 7 to mark the centenary celebrations of the national song.

Vande Mataram issue is one of those issues that can always be banked upon for anti-Muslim propoganda in India. It is one of those tricks that politicians conjure up once in a while and it always works. It has dutifully served its proponents for the past 60 years and has been able to portray Indian Muslims (with varying degree of success) as being ‘not patriotic enough’.

What is the problem with Vande Mataram?

Muslims don’t bow their heads to anyone except the creator and it is difficult for them to imagine nation as a deity (to which they should bow). Then there is whole historical background of the song and the text and context in which it was used in.

Written in 1876, the song first appeared in 1882 in Bankim Chand Chatterjee’s novel Anand Math. The theme of the novel is an armed struggle against Muslim rulers of Bengal. The novel is more anti-Muslim than it is anti-British. The venerable Nirad C. Chaudhuri writes, “The historical romances of Bankim Chatterjee and Ramesh Chandra Dutt glorified Hindu rebellion against Muslim rule and showed the Muslims in a correspondingly poor light. Chatterjee was positively and fiercely anti-Muslim. We were eager readers of these romances and we readily absorbed their spirit.” Here is a sample from the novel:

Jivananda with sword in hand, at the gate of the temple, exhorts the children of Kali: “We have often thought to break up this bird’s nest of Muslim rule, to pull down the city of the renegades and throw it into the river – to turn this pig-sty to ashes and make Mother earth free from evil again. Friends, that day has come.”

Chatterjee uses Vande Mataram in his novel for a very specific context:

‘Our religion is gone, our caste is gone, our honour is gone. Can the Hindus preserve their Hinduism unless these drunken Nereys (a term of contempt for Muslims) are driven away?’… Mahendra, however, not convinced, expresses reluctance to join the rebellion. He is, therefore, taken to the temple of Ananda Math and shown a huge image of four-armed Vishnu, with two decapitated and bloody heads in front, “Do you know who she is?” asks the priest in charge, pointing to an image on the lap of Vishnu, “She is the Mother. We are her children Say ‘Bande Mataram'” He is taken to the image of Kali and then to that of Durga. On each occasion he is asked to recite ‘Bande Mataram’. In another scene in the novel some people shouted ‘kill, kill the Nereys’. Others shouted ‘Bande Mataram’ ‘Will the day come when we shall break mosques and build temples on their sites?

The original song was composed of five stanzas out of which only first two are approved to be sung as national song but the remaining three are not. A. G. Noorani puts is aptly when he says, “A poem which needs surgical operation cannot command universal acceptance“.

As an Indian Muslim it is difficult to imagine my nation as a deity to which I should bow my head. Does that makes me any less patriotic?

Suggested Reading: How secular is Vande Mataram? by A. G. Noorani.

Hum’bill’ Opinion

(Hindustan Times: This Ganesha idol at sculptor Uday Khatu’s Parel workshop was tagged with Bill No. 786, a holy number for Muslims. Coincidentally, the idol had been commissioned by the Tarun Mitra Mandal near Bombay Hospital whose president is a Muslim, Chand Sheikh. Sheikh said he was ‘delighted’ at the coincidence, the significance of how the Ganesh festival transcends faiths not lost on him.)

Alright, here is another front-page news that makes me think why it was intended right in the face. Its one of those pieces that makes the transition from the respite of slumber to the reality of the morning a relatively smoother one. So our good old reader-protagonist gets up yawning, stares at this picture, smiles, consoles himself that things are getting better in this country, and moves on with the daily dose of routines.

Now I don’t object to the presence of the news in the paper, but certainly to it making front page news?

Playing it fair to the newspaper, I’d say it’s reflecting a sense of harmony between communities, especially of significance, considering roused passions in the aftermath of a substantial degree of communal upheaval and debate.

But then there’s a certain underlying message which says that we need such fragile consolations, as a mere coincidence of the bill no. of the idol being be 786 offers. (Among lakhs of idols made every year some idol would have the number in any case).

Aren’t we then missing the bigger picture by a wide margin? The two communities concerned have a lot going for each other, not the least of which is a rich cultural heritage. Communities that are tied together by strong ropes of shared tradition really need the emotional assistance of few feeble threads of appeasement?

From the mayhem at Mahim to petty coincidences such as these we are probably a lot which is progressively losing ourselves in the minutiae of existence.

The Mahim “Miracle”: Sweet Sea And Holy Insanity

India is a place of many beliefs and at times it can produce very odd situations. I stay in Dubai and am localite of Mahim, Mumbai.

Last night my friend, after watching Aaj-tak, told me “Your Mahim is in the news, Subhan. Seems like some miracle had happened near Baba Makhdoom’s Dargah.” The news channels were running stories of the Mahim sea having miracously turned sweet. This change, first noted by a teen, spread quickly all over Mumbai and within hours there were ten thousand people thronging the beach to take a holy sip and dip.

Many immediately claimed it was a miracle of Baba Makhdoom, who was a holy saint. Though Mahim also has a large St. Michael’s Church and a very old Sitadevi temple, it is unclear why they where ruled out from this miracle. Maybe the Saint’s Dargah is closer to the sea than the other two. No offence to Shah Makhdom Ali Fakhi (ra), as he was no-doubt a pious man (he being a Konkani from Mahim, and my family sharing a similar ancestry, I have much reverence for him), but reverence or not, it doesn’t mean a person has to start drinking a creek water, pollutated with the industrial waste, human waste and all kind of imaginable rubbish.

Mahim sea-front can easily be said as the worst beach/seaside that Bombay has. A small sweet river flowing from the interiors of Maharashtra, reincarnates into a dull-dark gutter of flowing industrial/city wastage when meeting the Arabian Sea in Mahim. It is only the ignorance of man, that propells him to forget all these and consume what could potentially be hazardous.

The local authority has tried best to inform the people of the dangerous consequences drinking such water can have.

“Due to heavy rainfall in the area, the ground water gets fully charged and may exert excess pressure. This can cause fine cracks in the rocky bottom through which ground water tends to come out,” Dilip Boralkar, Member Secretary of the MPCB said here.

“Fresh water being lighter than sea water will float on the surface and may taste relatively sweeter. Normally, seawater is low in salinity during the monsoon because of the continuous rainfall in the area. This year we have had heavy rains in Mumbai ground water being fully charged may be the cause,” he added.

Still the madness continued all night and the next day.

Being A Muslim These Days…

Continuing on this

If you happen to have a Muslim sounding name then you better be careful. You might be strip searched anywhere. Your 22 years of service might be ignored and you might be shunned out. And if your appearance also resembles to that of a Muslim then you better hibernate for some time; let the recent furor, caused by your so called brother in Islam, settle down. It’s becoming increasingly tough to be a Muslim these days. I was hoping that the Islamophobia caused after the Mumbai train bombing is sent to oblivion soon but alas it seems to get worse each day. A newspaper article blatantly carried the headline “20 suspects, all Muslim”. What else were they expecting!

Recently an assistant foreman was transferred from BARC.

Mohammed Farooquddin has been transferred in “public interest” to the Tarapur atomic power station. The assistant foreman was given three days to move. The reason given in his July 25 transfer order was “exigencies of work”.

After his transfer, Farooquddin was picked up by Trombay police and taken on August 5 to his Phulwarisharif village, 8 km from Patna, to identify his brother, Mohammed Ziauddin, who the police said was an activist of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

The police returned to Mumbai on August 7 with the duo. While Farooquddin was released, Ziauddin has been under detention since, without any formal charges against him.

Information pieced together by HT from Farooquddin’s colleagues and BARC sources point to Ziauddin being a SIMI member and having worked as a temporary hand at the Mazgaon docks for about four months.

Scientists and Farooquddin’s colleagues confirmed that about 2 per cent of BARC’s employees are Muslims.

As a practice, these employees are under IB surveillance and their personal dossier is updated every two years, sources said.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi, however, denied there were any Muslim-specific internal checks.

The government denial has to substance. Here is another report which talks about a help line being setup for especially for minorities (read Muslims)

The Maharashtra government has decided to institute a 24-hours helpline at the State Minorities Commission for citizens, who may feel targeted or victimised in the wake of the recent terror attacks.

The panel will soon have district-level committees in all 33 districts of the state, as means of interacting with minorities and addressing their problems.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Thursday met the State Minorities Commission chairman Nassem Siddiqi and gave the go-ahead to the long-pending demands.

Siddiqi pointed out that the help-line would be under the charge of one IPS officer and additional staff could provide relief to complainants after checking their antecedents.

“In the wake of recent terror attacks there is fear among minorities that could fuel anti-establishment sentiments,” said Deshmukh, adding that the committees could be able to bridge the distance between communities and the state.

The district welfare committees would have 14 members headed by the collector and government officials including CEO of Zilla Parishad, education officer. “We have been keen on decentralizing the commission since 2004. There is no need for some one from Nanded to come to Mumbai for redressal,” pointed out Siddiqi.

The committees, headed by Collector, will have 14 members, including government officials and six prominent residents. The commission has sought to up its funding from Rs 2 crore to Rs 10 crore annually for the same.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLC from Marathwada, Fauziya Khan, welcomed the state move, and said it would prove to have a “soothing effect”.

More recently Tabligh Jamaat has been brought under the scanner. An organization which has its base in India.

AN ULTRA-ORTHODOX religious movement that originated in India — the Tablighi Jamaat — has been found to have links with the plot to blow up transatlantic flights. Some of the key figures, arrested last week, are part of a terrorism cell linked through the movement.

Friends and family of the suspects have said they were followers of Tablighi Jamaat that came under the scanner in India after the 11/7 Mumbai blasts.

Soon after the blasts, 11 Tablighis were detained in Tripura on suspicion. They were released after a week but their ordeal thrust the otherwise media-shy Jamaat into the spotlight.

Deobandi cleric and scholar Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalawi launched the Tablighi Jamaat in 1924 in Meerut. Former Indian president Zakir Hussain and freedom fighter Maulana Mahmood ul Hassan are among the more famous personalities associated with it.

The Jamaat’s main impetus was to counter inroads being made by Hindu missionaries. However, members in Mumbai maintain that they have simply “revived the efforts of prophets, saints and rishi-munis”.

Tabligh means ‘to give a message’.

The Tablighis insist that it’s not a ‘group’ or ‘organisation’ or ‘movement’. They call it an effort that makes practical human beings and ‘purifies’ those who have gone astray.

India is the seat of this effort — the headquarters for the Jamaat (known as a Markaz) is in Nizamuddin, New Delhi — which has now spread as far as Europe and the US.

These incidents have caused a sense of uneasiness and terror in minds of a Muslim like me. I feel as if my freedom has been curtailed. I should think twice before becoming a member of any Islamic organization or even writing here! Who knows I might be already under surveillance. These are minor incidents but they can have far reaching consequences if not given the proper attention they deserve.

Bitterness Unre-SOUL-ved welcomes Sadia Raval as a new contributor to the IM Blog. Sadia lives in Mumbai but thinks all over. Some of her thoughts can be found at her personal blog Ambiguity Defined and some of her captures can be seen at her Flick Gallery.

Recently an old friend of mine came home for dinner. We’ve been friends for long as our fathers were friends but have met only occasionally. She is a Gujarati Jain (it upsets me to state the faith of a friend for a friend is beyond such definitions-however in this case it is important to confine her in such fashion). This probably was a couple of days prior to 15th of August. After some usual chatter, the state of current politics was unanimously elected as the subject for conversation which nowadays appears to be the chief medium for release of supressed anger. In any case, as anticipated, the recent bombs in the U.K. flights and Mumbai blasts were discussed. Although I was probably unaware of the dynamics of the conversation when it occurred, in retrospection certain facts hit me.

My father appeared to me to be on a justifying spree. Justifying the innocence of the regular Muslim, condemning the blasts as non-Islamic, talking of the larger powers that were responsible for what is conveniently called “Islamic terrorism�. I guess he was trying his best to see that she went back with a belief that Muslims are sensible and essentially non-communal.

What hit me when thinking back was the extent to which the above state of affairs was “sad�. I am limited in my vocabulary perhaps in describing it any better.

Here is this friend who has been friends with your family for years. Who knows your family. And yet you need to justify your stand? You need to come clean?

To come clean after 59 years of living as an Indian? To have to emphatically reiterate that you are patriotic and against every force that works against the system? To have to prove that with resounding claims of loyalty? What is it but a sad plight?

And yet if you cease to do it, then feel guilty about not speaking up. Of fueling the “Secular-Muslims-don’t-speak-up� propaganda. Of watching quietly as you get labeled a terrorism supporting community?

I find myself in the centre of a dilemma, characterized by a lacuna devoid of simple solutions. A dilemma between shouting wearily from the rooftops of my conscience and hiding in the quiet burrow fed by my despair.