What can we do?

IndianMuslims.in welcomes another contributor to the IM Blog. Noemaun graduated last year from IIT Madras and is now a graduate student at RPI. He blogs at Most things in life are free.

Excerpts from the Sachar committee report have hit shocks waves in the media. The fact that muslims are very backward in India has now been recorded in terms of facts and figures. Whether any projects are taken towards the development of this backward community is in the hands of the government and the votes that support it. As for now we know where we lag. Do we now what we must do?

The muslim leaders, both religious and political, not getting their priorities right is the most undeniable reason for the lack of progress in the muslim community in the last few decades. We have bargained security for development but got none. We bargained religious education for scientific education but got none.

This is a forum of like minded educated muslims who are responsible for our community’s future. We have the motivation and dedication towards our goals but do we know the direction? Do we have a road map? The report is best opportunity for muslims. They have identified our wounds, do we have to wait for somebody else to find a cure?

I would recommend a group of dedicated volunteers to work with this report. We could divide the report into various portions and designate each of them to teams. We could request eminent muslim personalities to head each of these teams. We could work under a broad list of principles common to all of us which we believe go in accordance with islam and national integrity.

We could make an elementary report in a month or two. Then we could send it forward to every muslim university in India for recommendations and comments. We could make a database of those who support it. We need to address what exactly do we need from the government, what exactly we need each mosque and madrassa in India to do and what each individual has to do to help his community. Then we could try to raise a platform where we could demand them. At the same time, we could work with existing organizations to educate every mosque about it.

This may look too far-fetched. But we could give it a start and see how far it goes. After all Islam asks us to choose the right path, it is Allah who takes us there.

Why only muslims?

IndianMuslims.in welcomes another contributor to the IM Blog. Bushra is from Delhi and has graduated last year from Hansraj College. She blogs at هو Ù?ÙŠ كل كتب.

Being a Muslim, we all are somewhat assured about one thing, if anything goes wrong, a Muslim is caught and the rest of the 1.3 billion Muslims are cursed and blamed!

Like every community we have some black sheep’s (the so called representatives of Muslims!)

Just a few minutes back, before starting this article, I was talking to a non Muslim friend. He feared someone hacked his id and the like, because he received a forward that contained a durud shareef written in Arabic. When I told him it’s a duaa in Arabic he exclaimed, “koi terrorist toh nahi� (I hope its not a terrorist!). Off course he clarified that he is not among those who blame Islam for terrorism but then, it doesn’t matter! The initial reaction shows what goes through your sub conscious. He might not consciously think about it but some where in his sub conscious he had this.

The situation is far worse than what most of us take it to be!

Even if riots are sparked off against Muslims, they claim that Muslims alone are responsible for that! Riots remind me of another story. We had brutal riots against Sikhs in 1984; Sikhs were targeted not by Muslims but Indian majority. Till date, it’s remembered as “anti Sikh� riots. Going by minority’s commission, government of India, report, on an average we have around 600 riots per year against minorities! But sadly I don’t remember even a single instance remembered as “anti Muslim� riots. Though violence against Muslims is something that is happening everyday! It might not take the horrible shape of proper riots but still no one can deny that!

Even Gujarat riots are known as “post godhra� riots, which were sparked off because of Muslims only!
We all know about the growing hatred for Muslims all over the world, but what makes me worried is… are we actually a soft target or we are letting people use our name for their own good!

Even a child knows about the so-called “Islamic terrorism� though anyone in the world will agree to one thing, that no religion preaches hatred still why only Islam is branded as the “religion of terror� and the world remains silent??

Tony Blair condemned Kazakhstan’s government for demolishing a temple. The only thing I know about it that “land mafia� had eyes on that property and it had nothing to do with communalism. Still it’s being projected as a communal issue and is used to create zero tolerance for Muslims. What was Blair doing when 250 mosques and Muslim shrines in Gujarat were demolished in the “post godhra� riots?

US government agreed that they will respect Sikhs and their “kripan� (a knife that a Sikh carries for self defense) but westerners fear the veil!

Time and again, Muslims are accused of anything and everything. Hundreds of Muslims were arrested after Mumbai blasts, just because they were Muslims!
Muslim ghettos were raided and anyone “suspicious� was arrested. They showed this on national news channels but who cares?

It’s not that disturbing to see hindutva brigade people crying hoarse about terrorism and Muslims. What disappoints me the most is young educated people give names to those who were once their close friends. It wasn’t much of a shock for me when some of my Hindu friends deserted me after realizing that I m a Muslim!

Let’s look at what Allah commanded us to do in His book.

16:90. Verily, Allâh enjoins Al-Adl (i.e. justice and worshipping none but Allâh Alone – Islâmic Monotheism) and Al-Ihsân [i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allâh, totally for Allâh’s sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet SAW in a perfect manner], and giving (help) to kith and kin (i.e. all that Allâh has ordered you to give them e.g., wealth, visiting, looking after them, or any other kind of help, etc.): and forbids Al-Fahshâ’ (i.e all evil deeds, e.g. illegal sexual acts, disobedience of parents, polytheism, to tell lies, to give false witness, to kill a life without right, etc.), and Al-Munkar (i.e all that is prohibited by Islâmic law: polytheism of every kind, disbelief and every kind of evil deeds, etc.), and Al-Baghy (i.e. all kinds of oppression), He admonishes you, that you may take heed.

13: 25. And those who break the Covenant of Allâh, after its ratification, and sever that which Allâh has commanded to be joined (i.e. they sever the bond of kinship and are not good to their relatives), and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse (i.e. they will be far away from Allâh’s Mercy); And for them is the unhappy (evil) home (i.e. Hell).2:256.There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Tâghût and believes in Allâh, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allâh is All-Hearer, All-Knower.

5: 32. Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. And indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with clear proofs, evidences, and signs, even then after that many of them continued to exceed the limits (e.g. by doing oppression unjustly and exceeding beyond the limits set by Allâh by committing the major sins) in the land!.Allah’s commands are clear to anyone who reads the Quran with and open heart. Anyone who tries understanding His message can easily understand that Allah and His religion are all about peace.

This is a newspaper report published in milligazette.

“It is clear from these disclosures that not only Muslims but even Hindus are involved in the ongoing terrorist activities in J&K who were either persuaded to join them or given monetary incentives or because of some other compelling circumstances. An important question that arises here: where are the Sangh activists who always doubt the patriotism of Muslims and have been citing the example of Kashmir separatists as a proof of their allegations? Why don’t they loudly tell the world that in Kashmir Hindus also are involved in terrorist activities along with Muslims? I very well know that neither RSS leaders will react to this news nor Advani will utter a single word in this regard. They consider Hindus as most patriotic and all Muslims as stupid and traitors.
The world in any case has come to know that terrorism is not associated with any religion but it is directly related to human needs and grievances. If jobless Hindus can become tools in the hands of anti-national elements in consideration of money and indulge in terrorist activities, why won’t jobless and aggrieved Muslims fall in this trap?�


The threat of terrorism is not a new concept. It has been used since long, but never ever in world history it was attached with any religion!Why Islam is the only exception??

Even today, India faces an equal threat from organizations like ULFA, LTTE, Bodo… so on and so forth. They have been operating since long but fortunately no religion was attached to it. I m deliberately using “fortunately�, because religion should not used to label something as destructive as terrorism. If a few Muslims were caught doing something wrong does that mean that all Muslims are wrong??

When no one criticized Christianity for the acts of Hitler and Bush, which is the right thing to do. No single person represents any religion, then why only Islam?

In the end I can only say that… “Muslims are not perfect but Islam is!�


Madarsas cater to just over 4% of Muslim kids

Excerpts of the Sachar committee report say that very few Muslim children go to madarsas and it puts the figure at a mere 4.3%. It shows that despite all the brouhaha over madarsas, Muslims overwhelmingly prefer school education.

But that’s the problem. In Walled City areas where Muslims are generally concentrated in most urban areas, schools are few. New government schools are hardly set up and there is little motivation. Private schools are expensive.

In my childhood I don’t remember any child of my age who would exclusively go to a madarsa. Children belonging to poor/lower-middle class/middle-class and upper class all went to schools. For learning Arabic (in order to read Holy Quran), they either went for 30 min-1 hr class to the maktab/mosque or an elder lady/maulana’s house. Some had maulanas coming to their house for a shortwhile.

The excerpts say that Maharashtra has provided Urdu medium school education to nearly 50% Muslim students but Uttar Pradesh has no network of government Urdu schools at all.

Isn’t it sad considering that Uttar Pradesh has a Muslim population of nearly 35 million. And ever since independence successive Congress governments did their best to systematically kill Urdu and also ensure that the community remained backward.

Worldly education-II

I had written about the status of education among Muslims. Continuing on that, I would like to add different perspectives to it. I would like to analyze this issue based on male and female education. While some Muslims have taken steps to educate the male members of the community, the female members have been callously ignored and neglected to the background. Parents are ready to send their sons to far off places for education but they are wary with their daughters. Majority of Muslims are still in business, mostly small scale or the ubiquitous import-export business. Business class people are generally more interested in finding ways to expand their business and thus education is a mere formality, often a time pass activity. Their education itself is concentrated on non-science subjects. A friend, whose father has a highly profitable grocery shop, of mine once remarked that he cannot bow down to anyone in the workplace. So for him any job other than managing his grocery shop is like bowing to the wishes of someone else, a highly loathed prospective! And as I have argued why science is prerequisite and an absolute must for the progress of a civilization, the very nature of Muslim society in India has flaws.

There is no dearth of poets and linguists among Muslims today but when it comes to people of science, you need to look with a lamp in your hand and be extremely optimistic :).

Females are rarely let out of their home town for education. The reasons, well many and the most important one being that parents fear that their daughters will be engulfed in the tide of modernity that is sweeping the youngsters. And then there’s this universal issue of security. They fear breach of society set norms. No doubt Muslims have taken steps in educating females but up to what extent? For majority of parents education of females is to be such so as to attract a modern Muslim guy! And even that education is restricted to a college near by or perhaps somewhere in the vicinity but never outside home city. That’s not all; girls are forced to marry early, 22 is the demarcation between senility and youth exuberance. So that means graduation is the maximum a girl is allowed to pursue. Post graduation or job is something like an act of blasphemy. Basically her whole education was just to attract a modern guy and nothing else. Parents still don’t see their daughters as an earning hand. The insanity doesn’t ends here. Marriage is generally preferred among family members so that means little interaction with others.

Aqsa has this to add to the topic.

Parents have another fear, those girls who got educated, earned themselves respectable PhD’s, have to spend ages to find a compatible guy. I have seen parents making their girls drop in from high school or college, because one of the girls in the locality is still unmarried as she’s too educated for the rest of the male mob!

But I see a drastic change, compared to what happened five years back! At that time, it was preferred for a girl to complete high school and then get into some home-making diploma course and get married. Marriages were fixed as early as in 16-17 years of age. But now, the situation has changed a lot, that too for good! Now most of the girls make it to a bachelor’s degree which was a luxury till a couple of years back. And some even make it to masters. The people who in their youth, thought that only girls from financially unstable families were supposed to get into a job are now making their girls get into a job themselves!
Though, the job spectrum isn’t wide enough. They have a narrow range to choose from. Still teaching is considered to be the best option for a girl. And if the girl is exceptionally good in studies, she’s asked to choose medical line. Again a respectable job for a girl! One of my friends, who happen to be a girl, chose science as her area of study. She was the only girl to take science at 10+2 level in her entire clan. People prefer arts just for the sake of a degree and those who want to work with their dads, prefer commerce!
Science is not a very popular option. And when someone takes up science, medical is considered as the only option. She had to spend long sessions explaining the prospects of research. But still time and again, the virtues of being a teacher/doctor were explained to her. Another preferred course is B.U.M.S which is hardly a first choice for any student these days, still many Muslim girls end up doing B.U.M.S or B.H.M.S. She was asked to leave her bachelors degree from Delhi University and join B.U.M.S! She is still struggling with B.Ed and research!

It’s true that Muslims are lagging behind in terms of education but a few small changes can be felt now. Not only girls are allowed to study, even the guys are moving ahead of their family business and looking for better options. The change is slow but its there!

Blog revamp

The theme of this blog has been changed. As you would notice a lot has changed in terms of look. The changes are-

1. The post and comment feeds are http://feeds.feedburner.com/IndianMuslims and http://feeds.feedburner.com/CommentsForIndianMuslims respectively. Please update your feed URLs.

2. You can also subscribe the post feed via email.

3. You can now subscribe to individual post comments (select the option while leaving a comment).

Further comments and suggestions are welcome.

Another rape victim

Another controversy has arisen and as usual everyone is up in arms against it. Please read that article before continuing here.

I am not getting into the details of the case but I would like to question the Islam obsessed media; The father-in-law has all along denied the rape claim and the issue was dismissed within the family but some neighbors got wind of it and soon a small-time local journalist called Shakti of the Hindi paper Dainik Jagaran got wind of it. Shakti came to the family and demanded ten thousand rupees to keep silent. The poor family pleaded that it did not have this kind of money citing local witnesses. The journalist went ahead and published the story in his newspaper. Zee TV picked it from Dainik Jagaran and thereafter all the channels, newspapers, agencies, NGOs and government organizations descended on the small village of Charthawal whose inhabitants would tremble even at the sight of a single baton-wielding policeman.

As in many rural areas in the Subcontinent, a local elders council (panchayat) was called in the village June 15 to deliberate over the issue. A local maulavi (scholar) told the panchayat that after the incident the woman was haram (forbidden) for her husband as she is like his “mother” now and that she should marry the rapist. The panchayat was described by the media as a “Shariat Panchayat” as if a meeting of Islamic scholars had taken the decision, which is not true.

Imrana case, because of its uniqueness, stumped even the Deoband.

A Noida-based Urdu newspaper, Rashtriya Sahara, asked the mufti in India’s premier Muslim seminary, Darul Uloom Deoband, to give his opinion.

The mufti, Maulana Habibur Rahman, without ascertaining the facts of the case or going to the area or sending someone there to find out the truth, issued a fatwa on June 25, saying Imrana “is now haram (forbidden) for her husband and should leave him”.

“We have obtained a copy of this fatwa and asked Mufti Habibur Rahman certain questions. He was unable to counter our argument that the Qur’anic injunction (“And marry not women whom your fathers married…” 4:22) does not apply here,” says this correspondent.

“The mufti gave us some references to support his view but when we read them, they did not seem to support the mufti’s interpretation which is the opinion of some Hanafi fuqaha (scholars) who consider rape also as a cause for prohibiting such marriages.

“We confronted the mufti again. This time he referred us to another maulana who, he said, was present in the meeting when the decision was taken. We asked him, why should we go to someone else when he (Mufti Habibur Rahman) had signed the fatwa. Seemingly he was not pleased with our argument and asked us to write down whatever “problems” we had in mind. We did this promptly and are still waiting for his reply.”

Other schools of thought like Shafi`i, Maliki, Jaafari Shia and Ahl-e Hadees reject this interpretation, as they hold that only legitimate marriage is meant in the Qur’anic injunction and a crime does not change the rule.

Just one day after our interaction June 29, the mufti’s office announced Friday, July 1, that the previous fatwa was not about Imrana, which is factually incorrect. While the name “Imrana” is not mentioned in the question to which the fatwa was given, her village and district are mentioned. Moreover, the July 3 issue of Rashtriya Sahara Urdu newspaper carries an article by Mufti Habibur Rahman which explicitly mentions the name of Imrana and pronounces the same opinion he earlier expressed in his fatwa.

I have always argued against the inept scholars of Islam which the madarsas produce. In fact its really disappointing to see the condition of Imams and Muazzin in mosques. They usually come from a poor background and in most cases sent to Madarsa just because they are considered incapable for worldly activities. And its appalling that over the years that this group has become the religious guide of Muslims. This has lead to many conflicts in the past because the interpretation of Sharia laws were never safe in their hands. Its ironic that women foreigners are admitted inside Jama masjid, Delhi just for appreciating the architectural beauty of it and on the other hand mosques across the country are so hostile towards the entry of women for prayers. The point i am trying to make is that the educated class of India should get involved in Imaamat. People who should have been leaders are not being led by fanatics like Imam Bukhari. Don’t misunderstand me, i am not putting the entire blame on our ulemas; many of them have done a great job and the nooraniat that few families possess has no comparison. Just that the absence of educated class irks me. We need to encourage our children to take up this profession along with worldly education, as was the case with Ulemas during the peak of Islam in the Arab world.

So chances are high that the same Islam obsessed media might have concocted stories in the present rape case in Murshidabad. The issue is all about ignorance about Islam. Then there is a common misconception that a rape victim has to produce 3 witnesses to prove the rape!! I wonder on the inanity of this argument. Were those witnesses voyeuring while the rape was taking place?

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

If a person makes an allegation of adultery against another person (male or female) he or she must produce four witnesses to support such an allegation; otherwise, he or she is guilty of slandering, which is a grave offense in Islam, for we are not to tarnish the honor of anyone.
A woman who has been raped cannot be asked to produce witnesses; her claim shall be accepted unless there are tangible grounds to prove otherwise. To insist that she provide witnesses is akin to inflicting further pain on her. If anyone refutes her claim of innocence, the onus is on him to provide evidence, and she may simply deny the claim by making a solemn oath, thus clearing herself in public. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The onus to provide evidence falls on the one who makes a claim, and the one who denies (the same) can absolve himself or herself by making a solemn oath to the contrary.�

With excerpts from IOL

More on Rape laws in Islam 

What about Burqa huh?

The Hijab controversy doesn’t seem to die out. As Yusuf puts it

The recent controversy generated in India by the comments of actress turned politician Shabana Azmi as to whether veil is mandatory for Muslim women or not has lead to lot of misunderstandings rather than clarifications on the issue.

As seen in UK, so also in India, Media jumped in to malign Islam and its practices without even having an iota of knowledge about the concept of veil in Islam.

He has an excellent post on the concept of Hijab and Burqa

However wearing the outer garment and the head-gear is “Mandatoryâ€? for all Muslim women. It is upon them if they want to wear it or not – as there can be no force in matters of religion. But they should also know that not wearing an outer garment or a head-gear while going out is a disobedience to Allah Subhanota’la’s Commandments and an open violation of Prophet’s directives.

Having said that an outer-garment can be a scarf and an over-coat; a jilbab and a hijab, a chador or the dupatta encompassing the head and the bosoms over loose-fitting Shalwar-Kameez. It need not be a Burqa. And many Islamic Scholars agree to that.

On the same issue Bushra writes

I do Hijab because God has instructed Muslim women to do so, through His messenger and His book. I will not indulge in a pedantic discourse on proofs that this is indeed a divine injunction…because it is.
The rewards for following this are innumerable, not the least of which is the reward that awaits me in Paradise after my horse stops.
Oh I almost forgot to mention one pertinent detail…God in the Qur’an talks about Hijab for men before Hijab for women! Before your loose jowls drop to the floor, let me explain how.
It says in the Qur’an: Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. Al-Qur’an (24:30)
In the very next verse: And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons… Al-Qur’an (24:31)
When I do Hijab:
No one lech-es at me, a considerable advantage when I go about my business outside the relatively safe confines of my house. It is liberating, in the true sense of the word, when I know that I am not an object of lust.
I can wear house pajamas under my black cloak; and frequent both high end restaurants and the neighborhood kirana shops in.
No one but me gets to judge the ‘problem areas’ in my anatomy, and for someone so fond of her food, this is definitely an ace up my sleeve.
It gives me a psychological illusion of being protected.
It gives me yet another psychological illusion of being too precious and too beautiful for everyone to admire. My beauty thus gets reserved for those special few for whom it is ordained by God’s sanction.
The hoi polloi who have the good fortune of interacting with me see me as a person, rather than as … lets say … a FEMALE. Because really guys…we’re all PEOPLE first. Get that!
I have never experienced any discrimination because of my sex that my un-Hijabed sisters so often complain about.
I am liberated! Islam liberated women. Before it came,
Romans could legally murder their wives, prostitution was legal, and nudity was (unfortunately still is) an art.
Pandora (an imaginary woman in ancient Greek mythology) was the root cause of all human misfortunes. Subhuman, inferior to males…
The Egyptians…considered women as the sign of the devil.
Pre-Islamic Arabia – female child – buried alive.
My religion gave women dignity… gave me dignity.

And this is why we need this blog!

People have often argued with me about why do you need a special blog about Indian Muslims. People argue that we present muslims as being victims and build our whole argument on it. They think we should blend better with the majority and stop raising this issue of muslims, basically be like other minorities. Do sikhs or jain have a blog? No, right? So why IM? I have collected various pieces of information available that shows why we need this blog.

Muslims are worse off than Scheduled Castes when it comes to education, they significantly trail behind Other Backward Classes (OBCs) virtually across the board: education, employment, poverty levels and landholdings. I have tried to collect the striking features of the leaked Sachar committee report. I had argued about the lack of modern education among muslims in India

A run-down through the Civil List 2006 (as on January 1, 2006) shows that Muslims constitute barely 2.2 per cent of the Indian Administrative Services (IAS).

Of the population above 20, barely 3.6% of the Muslim community are college graduates — the minimum requirement for an opening in the civil service — according to 2004-5 data from the National Sample Survey Organisation.

Saying that he personally never experienced any bias, Habibullah, who has been director of the IAS academy in Mussoorie, says: “Low representation of Muslims in the government is a complex issue that goes beyond education levels in the minority community. I think it has got to do with the minority syndrome, where Muslims do not aspire for the all-India services presuming there will be bias against them.�

It’s the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) where the Muslims are the most under-represented at barely 1.6%.

Siddharth Varadarajan has few interesting points to make especially against the media’s prejudice against muslims (Perhaps rediff.com will lead this brigade)

Terrorist crimes such as the Mumbai blasts are prosecuted energetically and this is a good thing. But no one is able to explain what happened to the cases stemming from the killing of Muslims in Mumbai in 1992 and 1993 nor why the Srikrishna Commission recommendations against erring policemen remain unimplemented.

In the U.S., the old journalistic adage was `Jews is News’. In India, it seems, anything that shows Muslims as ignorant or fanatical helps propel TRP ratings, while rational comment is frowned upon as unhelpful. A Muslim MP was asked recently to take part in a TV debate on whether there should be reservation for Muslims. He agreed, but added that he would argue against it. The channel’s reporter then tried convincing him that “surely your community needs reservation.” When he didn’t agree, the channel lost interest in putting him on air. One studio guest recently advised Muslims to shed their `persecution complex’ and to not forget that theirs were the “hands that built the Taj Mahal.” Though no one would dare accuse Dalits of “doing nothing” to uplift themselves, Muslims are blamed for their poverty and poor education. They are gratuitously advised to study hard, as if the problem of lack of schools, delinquent teachers, inadequate books, and poverty can be remedied by will power alone.

With less opportunities, crime is a vocation

I sometimes wonder why a muslim is involved in every social crime, irrespective of quran teachings but when it comes to education and being open minded, he quotes distorted islamic verses to stay away from them!!

• In Maharashtra, the percentage of Muslim jail inmates in all categories (see chart) is way above their share in the population (Muslim share in population is 10.6%, share in the total prison inmates is 32.4%.

• When it comes to those in prison for less than a year, Muslims contribute 40.6% of all prisoners in Maharashtra.

• In Gujarat, the percentage of Muslims in the state is just 9.06% but they make up over a quarter of all jail inmates.

• Assam, the second highest Muslim populated state in the country, after J&K, has 30.9% Muslims, and here, the percentage of Muslim jail inmates is 28.1.

• Even Karnataka, which did relatively better than other states in providing jobs to Muslims, shows the same trend: 17.5% of its jail inmates are Muslim as compared with 12.23% of its population.

Others say poverty is one main factor behind this trend. According to the Sachar committee findings, the poverty level in Muslims in urban areas is as high as 44% compared to the national figure of 28%.

Says former bureaucrat and now Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah: “The higher numbers of Muslims in jails is also a reflection of the fact that Muslims are poorer generally and are more likely to get picked on by the police because they are easy prey due to fewer entitlements. Prejudice against them also exists but gets compounded because of their poverty.�

Be it Education, Health, Transport, or Home, in virtually all departments of state governments, the share of Muslims employed is way below their share in the population. That’s one of the key findings of the Prime Minister-appointed Justice Rajinder Sachar panel looking into the state of the Muslims in India, as first reported in The Indian Express today. But, arguably, in no other wing does this under-representation raise as many questions as in the state judiciary.

Ironically, in two states that have high Muslim population share, West Bengal (25.2%) and Assam (30.9%), the percentage of Muslim employees in key positions in the state judiciary is barely 5 and 9.4 respectively. This is in tune with West Bengal’s dismal overall Muslim employment data as well.

When it comes to Public Sector Units (PSUs), often discussed by parties as the “built-in economic safety net,� the figures are equally dismal. The highest percentage of Muslims in “higher positions� in state PSUs is in Kerala with 9.5 percent and the lowest is West Bengal which has reported 0 (zero) percent of Muslims in higher positions in state PSUs.


More Muslims in Jails: What’s surprising?

While Muslims constitute nearly 15% of India’s population they are over-represented in prisons where they are often 25-30% or even more.

In 8 states, they comprise 24% of prison population. Of course in Maharashtra the situation is alarming, 10.6% of population but in jails Muslims are over 32%. In Assam, Jharkhand and Karnataka, they are not much over represented. In rest of the states nearly double their percent. So what’s surprising?

Muslims are poor, low on social indicators, denied loans (commissions and reports acknowledge that), benefit less from government schemes and are 1-3% in various categories of government/private sector/public sector jobs– 1/5th to 1/15th of what should be their representation. Mathematically, this inverse ratio is still not reflected their involvement in crime–just 1.5-3 times is the number of Muslim undertrials & convicts compared to their population in these states (it could well have been 5-15 times given their proportion in jobs & lack of opportunities). As far as Maharashtra is concerned, the indiscriminate arrests of Muslims have acquired an altogether new dimension. Muslims are not more criminal (despite disadvantages) than any other social group though they are often portrayed like one.