American Muslim Politics Is Going Nowhere

By Kaleem Kawaja,

It is almost nine years since the fateful Septemeber 11, 2001, a date with destiny when the terrible al qaeda terrorists attacked in New York and Washington DC.  Tht infamous date turned the prospets of the American Muslim community upside down.  Before that day in several cities major American Muslim organizations were moving forward in the US mainstream  Gradually the well educated Muslims of diverse ethnicities were finding an equation with the American nation and a niche in it.

However since that fateful day all American Muslim organizations have withdrawn into their shells.  Now major organizations like ISNA or MPAC have become nothing more than social clubs. ICNA has become just a religious group.Their events may be well attended but they are mostly big bazaars and dinners and social events where otherwise well educated Muslims indulge in trivial, non-cereberal activities.  Most lectures by weighty speakers talk only about the religious aspects of the lives of Muslims and of the long gone past of the Qaum.  But American-Muslims can not live out their lives by piety and nostalgia alone.  They  need involvement in America’s affairs and its policies – both domestic and foreign.

Someone said American elections are run on the basis of domestic policies, not foreign policies,  But we know well that for ithe American Jewish community wose size is only a little bigger than the Muslim community, US foreign policy is their main playing field.  They dominate US domestic policies to such an extent that they do not have to even bother anout worrying about it.

Some Muslim groups enthusiastically adopted interfaith relations as their main policy plank after September 11, 2001.  But after nine years the only product of these groups are perfunctory discussions about the commonality between Muslims and Jews and Christians and their being People of the Book.

Well,  we know that very well.  Other than continuing to sing the same interfaith song, what is the benefit of this policy to the beleagured American Muslim community?  After “feelgood” do we not need resolution of today’s problems of the Muslims or a visible place in the nation?

Ofcourse major Muslim groups are afraid to open their mouth on any US foreign policy initiative.  With Obama in White House for 18 months, and his having appointed a couple of Muslim outreach officials in the US Govt, we see no movement in this outreach program. For sure no Muslim academic or intellectual or entreprenuer is getting any opportunity to serve in a high profile role as advisor to the White House or the State Department or Defense epartment.  Neither are any of them in a prominent role in the mainstream media with the exception of Fareed Zakaria.

Prof Akbar Ahmad who made a bold beginning is now confining himself to rediscovering the Muslim-Christian history of the middle age.  The Al Walid Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Grorgetown Unversity is limiting itself to holding a dozn lectures in the whole year on philosophical aspects of Islamic and Christian history.  International Institute of Islamic Thought, Virginia has almost gone into hibernation, concerned that any public profile on their part may result in their demise.

Meanwhile the Gunatanamo Bay prison is continuing to flourish; Muslims’ attempt to build an Islamivc think tank in Manhattan is being fiercly opposed and none of the liberal American politicians are invoking the call of freedom of religion and speech and tolerance.  Muslim advocay groups are not only afraid to talk about the continuing wars in Muslim countries, they are also afraid of talking about the recognition of their community on a daily basis in the cities and towns in America itself.  It is good that American Muslim activists are identifying themselves with American values and characterestics, but why hide their Muslim identity so much?

At the same time many Muslim political groups have developed schisms and internal conflicts.  Part of the reason is the tendency of many leaders to convert most public occassions into photo opportunity sessions with the elected political officials.  Not a single one of them have made any effort to gain some recognition for the Muslims in the government run public schools or other public forums.

As the 2010 midterm election season is heating up there is very little enthusiasm in the Muslim communities in New York, Washington, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco to put up Muslim candidates at least in the primary elections of the two parties.  For how long we will support liberal candidates who in turn work for maximum US support for Israel, regardless of how brutal Israel may be In contrast the non-Muslim Indian-American community is bursting at the seams with candidates.  Thus
for the 5 million strong Muslim community in America, the 2010 election will be another where they will be seen mostly as bystanders.

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Photo by William F. Adams

Book Review: A Guide To Uplift Minorities

By Mahtab Alam,

Name of the book: A Guide to Uplift Minorities

Compiled by: Abdur Rasheed Agwan and Edited by M. Gauhar Iqbal

Published by: Social Service Wing, Jamaat-e Islami, Hind
D-317, Dawat Nagar, Abul Fazl Enc, Jamia Nagar, New
Delhi-25

Pages: 319, revised edition- June 2010

Price: 150/- rupees

The empowerment of Muslim community in India has become a major issue of debate ever since the famous Sachar Committee submitted its report, within both the circles: Government as well as Community. The main reasons of backwardness of Muslim community in India are also two fold: first and foremost is government’s apathy towards the empowerment of the community and second, the lack of proper community initiatives itself.

Much can be said about the government’s apathy towards the upliftment of the Muslim community. However, it would not be unfair to say that even the community has failed to tap the resources available for its development. The reason can be attributed to lack of information about the schemes, organisational setup and trained human resource, etc.

In its fully revised edition, the book, A Guide to Uplift Minorities is a modest effort to fulfil that gap. As the very name suggests, it is a guide, aimed at providing information to the change-makers and other development professionals to enhance their skills and to work in a more focused, structured and systematic manner. The book is essentially divided into three major sections on establishing an NGO, its management and its funding. It starts with a gist of socio-economic and educational status of Muslims in India as the introduction.

Following the introduction are chapters detailed with information about how to make or register an NGO, how to run it and how monetary aids can be obtained for it. Besides, it contains information about NGO’s formation, minorities’ schemes, general schemes and the schemes which are offered by international agencies. One of the chapters of this book has the details about a range of schemes of the government granted for minorities and some other general schemes which minorities can avail benefits of. A list of national and international funding agencies and the priorities they have while sanctioning funds is also included, which makes it a complete guide in itself.

As the chapters of this book comprehensively cover various aspects required for the upliftment of Minorities from Formation of an NGO, Management of an NGO, Capacity building of its staff members, General Norms of Government Schemes to Exclusive Schemes for Minorities, it is able to fulfil one of its prime ideas of making the populace aware of the targeted beneficiaries of the various schemes and grants issued by the government. Information about Muslim funding agencies likes of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and Muslim Aid, etc along with the procedure of obtaining grant or aid have also been explained in detail.

This book can be used not only as a guide but also a reference material and is a must for libraries, social activists and community leaders as well as heads of Muslim institutions. Grass-root activists can hardly afford to miss it, especially those who are working for the empowerment of minorities in general and the Muslims in particular. In a nutshell, it is an essential guide for empowerment of the Community.

(Reviewer is a Civil Rights Activist and freelance Journalist. He can be reached at mdmahtabalam@gmail.com)

Abolishing Our Existing Thought Patterns

By Wasim Ahmad,

How we look at things is extremely important. In a discussion about our established institutions like the age-old habits there is bound to be sharp difference of opinions. There will always be two ways to react – emotionally and reasonably. Among the established institutions, madrasaas are a case in point. There cannot be a debate about the fundamentals of Islam. But an institution established for the various needs of a society will and should always be under the purview of debate and also drastic changes – if the need be. We are not ready for it. We mix a lot of issues when we debate a topic and overlook many others.

We will criticize the Western education – and deservedly so – vehemently and will stop there. We will agree that it makes one selfish and creates workers or clerks for a certain system. But will not take it further. Further with a view to take the best from it and supplement it with what is missing in it. We have a threat perception about almost everything. All our things are under constant danger – all the time. We will really be in a very bad shape without these looming dangers. As otherwise there will be nothing to complain about. We find avenues to pity ourselves and search for emotive issues. We search for the headlines that we love to read.

Duality of knowledge

The separation between deen and duniya is so deep that those who seemingly don’t believe in it and apparently understand the all-permeating spirit of Islam they, too, keep dividing the two. When I hear of deeni rahnumaa’ee, I wonder what we mean by it. We are motivated to lead the world without understanding it first. We are motivated to guide the humanity without speaking its language. And we don’t see the anomaly. We want to groom leaders for the world. And we disregard the laws of nature. We are waiting for our important tasks to be performed somehow miraculously. We want to heal the patient without the slightest pain. We defy the laws of nature and despise the West that utilizes the laws of nature for its benefit. We have a right to curse the entire world but who will guide the world with the right kind of qualifications?

A madrasa student in Bihar

It is not enough to see a madrasah graduate as a university teacher or as a professional worker in an industry etc. We need to get more than that. We need to get the wealth of ideas. We need to get the topmost people from among Muslims in all walks of life. We are not going anywhere despite those few who are earning a decent living. Here the focus is on civilizational goals. At some point of time we will have to do away with the duality of knowledge. As there seems to be a growing realization among the community members. If we incorporate all the subjects and disciplines what we will call those institutions? It is not about the name as it is about the attitude and the way we look at things. The combining of the two streams is a must, however. Which of the two is more in line with our civilizational goals will, however, help in this regard.

There is a question “How two completely different Ideologies can exist side by side?” These are NOT two different ideologies. The Islamic concept of knowledge is extremely vast. Everything in this universe, in the man himself and the history is a source of knowledge, according to Qur’an. You name a discipline and it will certainly fall under the purview of Qur’anic sources of knowledge (Fussilat, 41: 53 and Ibraaheem, 14: 5). This one point we have to understand very well. Only then we will be able to do away with the duality of knowledge and our modern educated will come out of the self-doubt. Only then we will realize that we do need to merge and integrate. “Madrasaas are preserving religion” denotes a mistaken notion. It indicates that Islam is weak and it requires to be safeguarded. Is it really the case? I would reiterate here that Islam is not weak. The Muslims could be. And they actually are. Because they have forsaken the Faith. They have not understood it in its entirety. The very madrasaas which they are seeking to protect and perpetuate have taught an incomplete Islam.

The graduates of madrasaas who have joined the mainstream life (mostly after additional years of studies and with added qualifications) haven’t done the real job i.e. abolishing the dichotomy of knowledge and dispelling the myth of ‘secular’ and religious’ knowledge if they studied Islam very well. Those who have studied Qur’an and Islam for long years they should be in the forefront of the life – as a whole. They should take us further towards the achievement of our civilizational goals. Again, we are missing out on the holistic understanding of Islam and the fact that studying the same Book the Muslims contributed hugely to the world. We normally notice what is happening and do not try to see what should have happened and it hasn’t. Please enlighten us as to which way we can take to the path of progress and discharge our responsibilities as the “best Ummah” (Aal ‘Imran, 3: 110).

Because of the 3-4% Muslims who go to madrasaas, the 96% have a self-doubt. They have delegated all those tasks to that minority which was their duty, too. In Islam it is the individual business. Qur’an clearly says that no “bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another” (al-An‘aam, 6: 164). The ultimate responsibility is that of the individual who is actually the focus. Again we have missed out on this aspect which is against the teachings of Qur’an because it holds the individuals responsible (5: 105, 19:80, 19:95 and 6: 94). My observation is that we are very good at passing the buck. We are masters in this art and are savouring it to the maximum.

My question is why we find only a “little deen”? Why not all the aspects of our life are permeated with the brilliance of this deen. Why despite the presence of thousands of ‘Ulama we have only “little deen”? Shouldn’t we, precisely for the same reason, analyze it a bit more? What is the problem in having more of that deen in all the walks of our life – for our benefit and for the benefit of others?

Priorities

Qur’an does not ask in a single verse to memorize the Qur’an. (Yes, it is important, undoubtedly.) But it obligates thinking and reflection upon it in hundreds of verses. What has happened to our sense of priorities? Where are we heading to? What are we focusing upon? Oblivious of the fact that:
hur halaak-e ummat-e pesheeN ke bood ■ zaaN ke bur sundal gumaaN kardund ‘uood
(Each past nation that ever perished, it perished; Because it ‘misjudged the priorities’.)
(Maulana Rûm)

We are not here to “fortify ourselves”. We are brought up for the entire humanity (Aal ‘Imraan, 3: 110) and guide it towards the Straight Path. We want to “fortify ourselves” and forget the rest! That, too, with a sense of insecurity and threat perception? Why are we threatened (al-A‘raaf, 7: 175-176) we do not analyze the reasons of that and do not plan to rectify the situation.

I would have believed that Qur’an is taught in our madrasaas if we had seen the results. The Book being taught over and over again for so many years should have changed the entire scenario and the Muslims would have truly become the leaders. If they haven’t, then there is something seriously wrong with the way it is taught. We need to consider the fact that the letters (Arabic alphabet) were already there. The words were also there. Qur’an has not used any new alphabet and any new words which were not known to the Arabic knowing people. What is divine about the Book, then? It is the way He has put all of it together – in verses, Soorahs and in the entire Qur’an. There is a problem in our exposition of the teachings and the focus of the Book. The collective spirit of the Book is not taught in our madrasaas. The problem is in our atomistic thinking – as opposed to holistic approach.

There is a problem in the way we approach this Book. We break it into bits and pieces. Its cumulative focus escapes us. Hence, while we do watch the individual slabs of marble we still miss the Taj Mahal. Looking at the entire Book is a difficult task. Our rising from downfall is not easy either. Regaining the lost glory is more difficult than gaining it the first time. This partial outlook is what we need to abolish. What we have done to the Book of Allah is reflected in all aspects of our life. No aspect of our collective life is worth emulating by anyone. We don’t serve as a role model for any people on earth. Muslims are not being appreciated for anything in the world. It is despite the fact that we are teaching Qur’an!

Many have suggested that we need to integrate the teaching of Qur’an and Islam in the curriculum. I am with them. Its modalities need to be worked out. Our real “collective failure” is in not being able to remove the poverty of ideas. We are not short of material resources. We have a shortage of ideas (iflaas-e-takhayyul). With a head on our shoulders we should never complain about the paucity of resources.

We should shift the focus from Urdu to Arabic. This is in addition to the local and national languages. I am not sure what will it mean for Urdu in future but Arabic will take us closer to our vision. I assume so. We need a combination of Arabic and English. At the moment both the languages are mostly treated as mutually exclusive.

Education

We divorce ta‘leem from tarbiyah because of the wrong notion of ta‘leem, which we take only as a means for collecting degrees. Iftarbiyah is important (and of course it is) why should we deprive the huge majority of our students from it? In fact, both – ta‘leem andtarbiyah – are inseparable part of each other. Education is not for degrees and not for jobs. It is for life. Degrees and jobs should come as a by-product.

I fully agree that “You and I are just as obligated to learn Qur’an, Hadith and Fiqh as the students in madrasah. Our great scientists …………… excelled in science, medicine, maths, geography, engineering and other fields”. Hence, we need to “integrate it with other compulsory subjects. That’s what we should think of doing, if we see the importance.” Also, as argued earlier we should not have educational institutions exclusively for Muslim children if we aim at their (our) integration in the larger society.

The Prophet (pbuh) did not divide deen from duniya and deeni from dunyaawi. We need to go back to his message and mission and look at the life in its entirety. The responsibilities which we entrusted to madrasaas we ALL should carry them out. Madrasaas have become an excuse for delegating many tasks which all of us were obligated to carry out.

I often come across the observation that we do not pay much to the instructors of Qur’an or a Qaaree or ‘Aalim. I would like to ask here why don’t we pay less to an IT professional and an MBA? Or the graduates and professionals of any other discipline, as an example? Let us spare some time and think about it as it requires serious consideration. I would submit that it is about indispensability. Apparently nobody is indispensable. But at the same time we are forced to pay more to those who have better skill-sets and who are somehow ‘indispensable’. We normally do not relate. Let us not forget the fact that the example from Sahaabah (companions of the Prophet) and the earlier generations have one very significant point which we often miss out. They were in no way less qualified with their peers in the society in any respect. Their tools and skills were not lower in terms of its currency than those of the rest of the people. Moreover, Islam had given them an advantage over the rest. Did they fight with inferior weapons whenever they had to fight, for instance? The answer to this question will clarify many things. Our “fighters” come to the “battlefield” with the “weapons” of some past centuries. And then we complain that they are out of the race today. And we want them to be rated at par with the rest. We cannot change the laws of nature. Though this is precisely we are trying to.

Memorizing Quran in a madrasa in Bihar

“Why don’t you teach in a madrasah” is a question that has been asked. I can teach in a madrasah. Why not? But I don’t want to do that as the only option for me. I should not be teaching in a madrasah because I am not of much use to the society. Because I have least chances of employability (usefulness) elsewhere. However, in the given situation if I go to teach in a madrasah I will run into problems every now and then. I am not listened to objectively and dispassionately in the community of highly educated and supposedly more exposed and tolerant people. How will any different opinions be tolerated in a relatively closer environment?

The above submission is besides all other considerations. The considerations which our modern-educated want to enjoy to the full and think that the ‘traditionally educated’ should make all the sacrifices. The ‘modern educated’ would like to have the best of both the worlds but the ‘traditionally educated’ deserve the best only in the Next. And in order to perpetuate the same system they will use the best arguments and evidences. I am not sure if it is a double-standard. If it is not, I don’t know what else it is.

“You have benefited from madrasah” means I have lost all my rights to say what I consider to be right. It means the Book I should leave behind. It means that I should only know about the Prophet (pbuh) but should not learn anything from his methodology. “Establish a madrasah” means do not speak. We will not listen to you unless you “do” something. It means “Leave me alone and let me take rest till the time you “do” something. Such suggestions indicate a very serious problem. They indicate that we are still separating idea from action. Removing this notion is one of the challenges that we have.

Please do not assume that the madrasaas are existing on the grounds. Madrasaas exist in the minds first. And only after that we see them on the ground. We see buildings all around us. These buildings are only the replicas of the original buildings which existed in the minds of their designers and makers first. In the same manner we have to build the integrated education system in the minds first. Only then we will see the replicas on the ground.

Every child is an “irreparable giant”. Everybody is unique. The purpose of education is to give full expression to that uniqueness in everyone which nobody else has. The purpose of education is to help a child realize one of his potentialities to the maximum. Only then we will get excellence. How much we are focusing on this significant aspect of education is worth considering.

When we will not get even Imams we will still be getting something from our madrasaas and we know that ‘something is better than nothing’. This is fine. But the question is what we want. Is this what we want? Do we want an Imam in the sense that we are used to or we want those who could lead the world in every single walk of life? If we want our graduates to lead the world – keeping our civilizational goals in view – then we will have to analyze the things more dispassionately. If we don’t want that then our educational institutions are carrying out a “wonderful job”. The choice is ours.

Yes, I am for a wide range of subjects as well as including the children of other faiths. What we call that seat of learning is not a big issue. It is not in the names as it is in the contents. However, please do not let the two streams run side by side. The very existence and perpetuation of the two separate streams will denote and reinforce the duality. It will continue to strengthen the divide in the minds about the knowledge. Our future generations will grow up taking it quite natural and justified. Just as we do. Just as we did.

There is something lacking in both the streams. Why don’t we think of making the two one – and benefiting from both at the same time? The institutions established for imparting knowledge are human arrangements. What is obligatory is seeking and creating knowledge. The four walls and the names given to these institutions are not that important. The ultimate objectives are.

If Aakhirah is important then by the same logic duniya is very important, too. It is so important that the entire career in the Hereafter depends on this ordinary and mundane world. On this Temporary, rests the fate of the Permanent. This is exactly why the life on earth is extremely significant and it should be lived to its fullest contributing to the maximum and making this world a better place to live in every sense. We should do our best to turn it into a “veritable Paradise” otherwise it will be difficult to prove that we are interested in Paradise. If the Almighty will ask that I gave you a world as the place of action and you did not do much to turn into “Paradise” what hope will we have for a Paradise in the Hereafter? Remember why do we forgive the people? We forgive the people because we want to be forgiven by Allah. If we never forgive anyone it means we are not interested in the business of forgiveness. If we are not, why should Allah then forgive us?

Helping the poor and the needy is the responsibility not just of the madrassas but of everybody and all educational institutions. Aren’t we passing the buck here – again?

Muslims don’t have to merely survive “being Muslims because of these madrasaas”. They should thrive in this world – instead. They should lead it. They should make it a better place to live in. They should master all the sciences of the world and become founders of many more. Their recognition is not merely by appearance. The real recognition is by the contribution which they make to the society and the civilization – irrespective of East or West.

If “religion has nothing to do with market” it shows the failure of madrasaas in providing the holistic concept of Islam wherein business occupies a significant position. Business transaction (which does happen in markets) is an important component of Fiqh (al-Mu‘aamalaat). The exposition of Islam is very much flawed. This is why we run into self-contradictory situations – very often. This we will continue to do as long as we keep the deep divide of deen and duniya alive. Islam does not need to be saved in “its original form” as much as the Muslims need to be saved. We have a deep feeling in our hearts that Islam is a weak religion. Islam is not a weak religion. Muslims may be a weak people because they have left (the complete) Islam behind. If they had not, they would have been in the forefront of every aspect of human life and would be leading the humanity by their good examples.

We have to remove the dichotomy of knowledge (deeni and dunyaawi) and the division between deen and duniya. This is the ultimate objective. Nothing else is.


Dr. Wasim Ahmad is the Department Head of Islamic Studies at Preston University Ajman in UAE.

Muslims In India: How Long Will They Remain Marginalized?

By Shamim Akhter,

Two days back I went through a report in BBC website under the title “India state-run banks ‘turn away Muslims’” regarding denial of access to government banks to Muslims in India. The report reveals the truth of the government banks operating in different parts of the country.

The report quotes the National Commission of Minorities as saying that there has been a 100% increase in the number of complaints it has received over the past year from Muslims who say they are being prevented from opening accounts in state-run banks.

On the other hand this is the fact that Muslims make up India’s largest minority community.
BBC writes that reports indicate the worst case took place in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where some 90,000 Muslim students were unable to open accounts to deposit scholarship cheques given to them by the government.

However, some bankers say it is not so much their religious background, but their economic status that makes it hard for Muslims to get banking facilities. It says Muslims’ poor economic status means they are often excluded by private banks, which prefer more well-to-do clients.

Official reports frequently put Muslims at the bottom of India’s social and economic ladder. And already a number of reports have suggested that India’s Muslims fare poorly when it comes to getting access to quality education or employment opportunities.

Not only this, if we talk about the presence of Muslims in government jobs it is more heart-rending.

Today, about 140 million Muslims constitute over 13% of India’s billion-strong population. Since the independence of India in 1947 the percentage of Muslims in government census has remained same, i.e. 12% or 13% or less. But in an interview with “The Hindu” newspaper (Friday, October 01, 1999) Mr. Justice K. M. Yusuf, a retired Judge from Calcutta High Court had said that in his view the total percentage of Muslims in India is at least 20%.

But the appalling fact is that Muslims comprise only 5% of employees in the government of world’s largest democracy. A study says the figure for Indian Railways, the country’s biggest employer, is only 4.5%.

The study continues to reveal that the community continues to have a paltry representation in the bureaucracy and police – more or less 3% in the powerful Indian Civil Service, 1.8% in Foreign Service and only 4% in the Indian Police Service. And Muslims account for only 7.8% of the people working in the judiciary.

Moreover Indian Muslims carry a double burden of being labelled as ‘anti-national’ and as being ‘appeased’ at the same time’, says a three-year back report on the state of Indian Muslims.

India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had said, “If India was to be a secular, stable and strong state, then our first consideration must be to give absolute fair play to our minority.”

But what fair play and treatment have been provided to the Muslims of the largest democracy of the world? (The BBC report – India state-run banks ‘turn away Muslims’ reveals partially the truth). Why are we lagging behind in every walk of life? It is the time of self and collective introspection and to find the ways to overcome the appalling state.

(The writer hailing from the state of Bihar in India works in Kabul with Ariana Radio & Television Network, Kabul, Afghanistan)

Gunning For Mulayam: How Wise A Step It Is?

By Soroor Ahmed,

Political parties in Uttar Pradesh strongly criticized Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav after he publicly apologized before Muslims for roping in former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh at the time of election. For his opponents it may be a correct action as this is what politics is all about.

But what sounds somewhat surprising is the way some Muslim leaders––both religious and non-religious––reacted. Without understanding the nitty-gritty of the politics they gunned for Mulayam in such a way as if he is the greatest political enemy of the community.

Mulayam's mafinama

True Mulayam’s move to woo Kalyan might have been wrong, but it needs to be mentioned that in politics such steps are taken to weaken the rival––in this case the BJP. Besides, it was done when Kalyan was not a force to reckon with. Very often one comes to know about the opponents’ strategy and policy from these turn-coats.

Joining hands with Kalyan at the height of the Babri Masjid movement in early 1990s and wooing him 15 years later when he became politically cipher are two different things and should be seen in proper perspective. Many Muslim leaders have failed to make differentiation.

It must be made clear in the mind that be it Mulayam Singh Yadav or Lalu Yadav, they both are essentially politicians, who have their own way of running their respective parties and surviving politically. They may have their own weaknesses. But it is also true they both took principled stand during the entire period of the Babri Masjid crisis; thus they earned the goodwill of the Muslims. This does not mean that they will always do politics as per the desire of the community.

In democracy the community or any individual is free to vote anyone. But one may dare to ask the same set of Muslim leaders why they maintained silent and are still tight-lipped when other secularists unapologetically joined forces with the BJP. Be it George Fernandes or Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee or Chandrababu Naidu, Naveen Patnaik or Farooq Abdullah, Jayalalithaa or Mayawati all allied with the BJP and provided it secular legitimacy. Hardly anyone of them dared to condemn what happened in Gujarat in 2002. In fact George Fernandes dismissed the massacre and mass rapes of women in Gujarat by asking: had such things happened for the first time in the country?

Today there is no dearth of Muslims, even with flowing beards and caps, who openly associate themselves with these so-called secular parties of the NDA. Many more feel nothing wrong in getting photographed with Narendra Modi and Lal Krishna Advani. Yet if Mulayam or Lalu even seeks apology for any misdeeds such community leaders are quick to reject it. They can forgive the BJP, the Congress, the Left parties, the so-called secular constituents of the NDA, but not those who stood stoutly behind them at the time of gravest crisis in the post-independent history.

Mulayam surrounded by muslims after his mafinama

No it is not the issue of siding with these two satraps of the two north Indian states. But the argument is that politics should be understood in proper perspective. The irony is that those religious leaders, who know the history of Islam, relish in giving outlandish statements in the media––especially in context with the demolition of Babri Masjid.

What they need to understand is that Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) forgave none else but Abu Sufiyan and his wife Hinda when they virtually surrendered after two decades of strongest resistance to him. These leaders do not need to be told that it was Hinda who mutilated and disfigured the body of Prophet’s uncle, Hamza after he was martyred in the Battle of Uhud. Yet when the husband-wife duo lost all the political and military power and agreed to enter the fold of Islam the Prophet did not stop him from doing so, nor did he take revenge.

The above two issues should not be mixed up and misinterpreted––some people may try to do. The bottom line is that Prophet has taught us to forgive the staunchest enemy if s/he comes over to your side. Besides, it was strategically correct too. What we need is to understand politics in true Islamic perspective and do not indulge in cheap rhetoric.

Ayodhya: A No War Zone

On the tragic day of 6th December 1992 the Babri Mosque, a 450 years old archeological structure was demolished by the RSS combine, (RSS, BJP, VHP, Bajrang dal and other progeny of RSS). A make shift temple was hurriedly constructed at the site. The RSS combine has been pressing since then for the resumption of its efforts to build a Ram temple at the site since they claim that Babri mosque was built by demolishing Ram Temple. This claim is not backed up by Historical and archeological data. The argument put forward was that ‘Faith’ will decide the birth place of Lord Ram and Sangh Parivar will be guided by the mahants and sadhus about the future course of action.

Meanwhile four court cases have been going on in the Allahabad High Court Lucknow bench, about the issue of title of the land, where Masjid was located. Of these four the arguments in three of the four Ayodhya title suit cases have been completed. The arguments for fourth case will be over by the month end (July 2010). While one is waiting the result of these court cases, RSS combine has already planned to build pressure for constructing Ram Temple, irrespective of the outcome of the court cases. The cases pertain to ownership of the land where the mosque was located. VHP etc. are asserting that no mosque will be permitted in Ayodhya. As per VHP, mosque has to be outside the ‘Shastriya Seema’ (Boundary) as given in the Ramcharita manas (The Ram Legend, by Tulsidas) of Ayodhay. Meaning there by that Ayodhya is a holy place of Hindus only. Meanwhile, BJP and other associates have been instructed to step up the demand for building Ram temple at the precise spot where they had demolished the mosque on 6th December 1992.

It must be made clear that Ayodhya means (A+Yudhya: A no war zone). It is not only holy for Hindus. Ayodhya has been a focal point of many religions, Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. From about fifth century BC fairly large Buddhist community was living in Ayodhya. Though this religion suffered a setback during first millennium AD, several remnants of its existence did survive. According to Jain tradition Ayodhya was the birthplace of the first and fourth Tirthankara. The early places of Hindu worship of Ayodhya were of Shaiva or Vishnu provenance. The specific worship of Rama even as an avatar of Vishnu is a much later development. References to the image of Rama appear only in sixth Century. Nawab of Awadh region, where Ayodhya is located had given land for the biggest temple in the area, Hanuman gadhi.

One of the arguments being put forward is that state should take up the building of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya the way Somnath temple was built by the state. Advani and many others have been claiming that the Somnath reconstruction was done as per the decision of the Nehru cabinet. This is a total lie. Since the public memory is too short anything propagated repeatedly starts sounding like being true, the way Hitler’s propaganda minister Goebbels used to do. Contrary to this a little peep into the recent history will show us that Indian Government had nothing to do with the reconstruction of Somnath temple. The lie that Nehru Government had reconstructed or supported Somnath reconstruction is a distortion of the fact that two ministers of Nehru cabinet were involved in the reconstruction in their personal capacity. As such when the idea of reconstructing temple at Somnath was mooted by Sardar Patel, Gandhi who was alive at that time opined that Hindus are themselves capable to build the temple and they don’t need Government money or assistance for reconstruction neither should Government give money for such a construction.

With the death of Sardar Patel, K.M.Munshi and N.V. Gadgil, who were ministers in Nehru’s Cabinet, took up reconstruction work at personal level. There was no question of reconstruction proposal being passed by the Cabinet as falsely being claimed by communal forces. After the completion of the temple for its inauguration, the then President of India Dr. Rajedra Prasad was invited. He accepted the invitation against the wishes of Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru opined that public officials should never publicly associate with faiths and shrines.

This falsehood is being deliberately put forward to pressurize for temple construction, irrespective of the court ruling. Today nearly two decades after the demolition of the Babri Mosque, we have seen as to how much damage this Ram temple campaign has done to the political scene in the country. One also recalls that immediately after the Babri demolition, the then Prime minister Narsimha Rao had proclaimed that the Mosque will be rebuilt at the same spot. Accepting the outcome of demolition will be giving legitimacy to the criminal act perpetrated by RSS combine.

At the moment there are diverse opinions about what should be done at the site. Most of the Muslim groups have committed to respect the court verdict. The VHP etc. on the contrary are campaigning for temple irrespective of the outcome of court cases. Even before the demolition they had asserted that it is the ‘faith’ and not the law of the land which will guide their actions. In a democracy, it is the law of the land which should dictate the policies of the state and the actions of political groups. At this crucial juncture, what is needed is the utmost respect for law and promotion of communal amity and national integration. Since the demolition of the masjid the communal amity has been badly mauled. The suspicion about each other, the communal divides have widened and there is a set back to the concept of the rights of weaker sections of society and minorities.

The spreading of lies and emotive campaigns by political parties are not in accordance with the values of Indian Constitution. The elected representatives of people are duty bound to follow the Indian Constitution, so there is a need to appeal to all concerned to come to this basic understanding to uphold the values of freedom movement as enshrined in the Indian Constitution and let the court judgment be the decisive factor of future course of action.

Can India Afford To Ignore Islamic Banking?

By Raza Elahi,

The recent statement of MS Swaminathan, the father of green revolution in India, that Islamic banking can be a solution for farmers’ suicide in Vidarbha is apt reply to those opposing it tooth and nail by terming this banking system as anti-economic growth.

It is truth, nothing but truth, that exorbitant lending rates charged by moneylenders have created a vicious cycle of debt and suicide not only in Vidarbha, but also in several parts of the country. Islamic banking, which propagates zero-interest lending, can solve not only farmers’ suicide crisis but will also fill the gap between financially-excluded and financially-included classes of the country. In 2008, Raghuram Rajan Committee recommended interest-free banking in the country to encourage financial inclusion, but nothing much has been done in this direction. The initiative taken by the Kerala government in this regard is sub judice.

The financially-excluded class, which includes small farmers, landless labourers, self-employed, minorities and women, forms around 60% of the country’s population. They do not have access to formal banking. They find it difficult to meet the demand of pre-determined interest rates. If finance is available without the burden caused by pre-determined interest rates, it will be a far-reaching implication for the socio-economic and educational uplift of the masses.

The main objective of Islamic finance is to create a society of investors, unlike the conventional banking system, which has made and created the society of borrowers and lenders from the past 800 years. Islamic banking regards the public interest above all other motives. According to the Islamic banking concept, the banks involve themselves in real time trading or investment activities with their customers based on various contracts like Mudarabah (partnership), Musharaka (joint venture), Murabaha (cost-plus), Ijara (leasing) and some hybrids combining two contracts (Musharaka Mutanaqisa) etc, and therefore earn profit. All the products that these banks offer are Sharia-compliant. A Sharia board decides or monitors what sort of investments the banks can make.

Islamic Bank of Britain

Furthermore, Islamic banking in India will not only be beneficial for the marginalised and the minorities in terms of microfinance, but can also attract major investment from the Gulf countries. The UK and France have made necessary regulatory changes in order to attract these investments.

Islamic banking industry, which is operating for the past 30 years in the Middle Eastern countries, has gained popularity and curiosity around the globe during the financial crisis of 2008. Despite the financial turmoil that crippled so many large Western institutions, Islamic banks continued to grow in prominence and size.

According to a survey conducted by The Asian Banker, a Singapore-based publication last year, the combined assets of world’s 100 top Islamic banks increased 66% in 2008, bucking the trend of slow growth in other markets. Asia’s 300 largest banks, for example, only grew assets 13.4% in the same period. Now, many financial experts are seeing Islamic banking as an alternative to the conventional banking system, which is based on stronger regulatory regimes and a better international understanding of its dynamics.

It is a misconception that Islamic finance is just a Muslim-only affair. For all the Shariah-compliant products sold in countries such as Malaysia, around 40% of clients are non-Muslims. Around 20% customers of Islamic banks in Britain are non-Muslims. Manfred Dirrheimer, chairman of the executive board, FWU AG, a German financial services company, recently told Arab News, “For all the Shariah-compliant products we sell in countries such as Malaysia, some 70% of our clients are non-Muslim.”

In India, SEBI has permitted Shariah-compliant financial products such as mutual funds, but still many steps, including necessary banking regulatory changes, are required to establish full-fledge Islamic banking in the country. The delay, it seems, is a bit longer. When London, Tokya Singapore and Hong Kong could become hub and house of Islamic finance, then why not Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai or Cochin?


(The writer is senior journalist based in Delhi)

The article was originally published on the writer’s blog.
Link: http://razaelahi.blogspot.com/

Photo by: K-Wood

Kashmir: Unending Conflict, What Is The Way Out?

The conflict in Kashmir seems to be unending and the way it is being handled by our armed forces, especially the CRPF is further aggravating it. Unfortunately, it is still being addressed primarily as a law and order problem and the aspirations of people and their problems hardly matter. Our armed forces go on violating human rights and they know only to kill. This way instead of solving the problem, we will reduce Kashmir to a vast cemetery. More and more young protestors are dying and death hardly dissuades these young protestors from demonstrating.

It is not that people of Kashmir are really anti-India and want to opt for Pakistan. The recent U.K. think tank survey also established that not more than 4 per cent Kashmiri want to align with Pakistan. They have their own aspirations and problems which must be addressed which are not being addressed and, to the contrary, bullets are fired at them. Now at the all party meeting it was decided that lethal weapons will not be used and instead pepper gun will be used which does not kill but produces, psychological impact similar to real bullets.

Should it have taken so much time to take this decision after killing 15 young people and unleashing angry protests? Even CRPF has suffered great casualties, more than 273 Jawans have been injured in last one month and 1980 over one year. Could this decision not been taken earlier to save young lives and CRPF Jawans from injuries? Or was this technology of pepper gun was invented only before the all Party meeting. Do we have to kill so many innocent civilians before using appropriate technology? Had this decision taken in time it would have saved several lives and would not have pushed the valley on brink of such serious crisis.

I was in Kashmir in June for a workshop on peace and conflict resolution and talked to several people as to what they think could be the solution across cross section of people, including intelligentsia, activists and even common people in the bazaar. One thing which emerges is that Omar Abdullah has failed to deliver on every front and sentiments are overwhelmingly in favour of Mufti Saeed.

Mufti is considered as more mature and is thought to be talking frankly to the Centre and could handle Kashmir problem more satisfactorily. Omar Abdullah has lost grip over the situation and moreover lacks courage to talk frankly with the Centre. This comes out very strongly across the cross section of people I talked to. Also, the separatist sentiments are not as strong as it is thought to be from outside. They are more angry at the mess in which Kashmir finds itself today.

The youth is interested in employment and betterment of economic situation. Most of the young people I met bitterly complain about lack of economic opportunities in the valley. Even highly qualified persons do not find satisfactory jobs. They are either unemployed or underemployed. The separatists exploit this anger and frustration. However, neither the state government nor the central one is serious about it and keep on condemning separatists for the situation.

Also, in case of Kashmir there is serious political dimension that is of our Constitutional commitment to ensure autonomy and Nehru-Abdullah pact of 1953 further reinforced it but under political pressure from rightwing elements this promise of full autonomy to Kashmir was never fulfilled. Again after militancy movement in Kashmir during late eighties and nineties the then Prime Minister Mr. Narsimha Rao promised Faruq Abdullah whom I had met during my visit to valley in late nineties that he would grant autonomy to Kashmir and when Abdullah asked him how much, he told him ‘sky is the limit’. These words ring in my year even today.

However, nothing happened and then the BJP led Government came to power whose agenda was to remove article 370 from the Constitution itself instead of giving even a small element of autonomy to the people of Kashmir. Also, the way we held elections since independence never inspired confidence among the people of Kashmir. In fact the militancy in Kashmir began after 1988 elections were rigged and Salahuddein, a school teacher and now head of Hizbul Mujadidin based in POK was declared defeated though, most of the Kashmiris think, he had won.

It was only in 2004 that for the first time fair elections were held and when I visited the valley I found new confidence among a section of Kashmiri people and some of them told me that if fair elections are held in future also, things will qualitatively change in Kashmir and people of Kashmir will align with India. The elections in 2009 too were more or less fair but unfortunately Omar Abdullah does not seem to be in control.

After long years of militancy and violence people of Kashmir have realized one thing, and I am saying this after interacting with large number of people in the valley that violence does not pay and that peaceful solution is the only way out. But they want peaceful solution with honour and dignity and one which addresses host of their problems one of which is Kashmiriyat, their regional autonomy and pride in their culture and institutions.

We do have problem with Pakistan and we do not want to inter-nationalise the Kashmir problem and we do not want to go for plebiscite. All this is fine but what is coming in the way of our winning the hearts and soul of Kashmiri people. The way our forces indulge in fake encounters and seriously violate human rights is not the way to win their hearts and souls. With such actions we are greatly alienating them.

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited the valley in August 2006 for a round table conference with Kashmiri leaders he had given a statement that there will be zero tolerance for violations of human rights and there were again fake encounters in the valley. Immediately thereafter I conducted a peace workshop and some participants taunted is this the zero intolerance to violations of human rights?

Unfortunately if anything there is worsening rather than improvement in the situation. Day by day human rights violations are increasing. Few months ago two young women were raped and their bodies were fished out of water and till today no culprit has been arrested. Even CBI did not hold proper inquiry, it is alleged and it is suspected that military and police officials are involved.

Again my interaction with people in the valley show that except a small section of Kashmiris, as also brought out in the survey by the U.K. think tank, no one is for joining Pakistan. All they want is peace and honourable existence. The Government of India and the state government have to do everything possible to ensure this. People feel that Mufti had succeeded in wresting some concessions from the Centre which Omar Abdullah is unable to do either because of his inexperience or lack of courage. Whatever the reason, opinion is swinging in favour of Mufti.

Even Ghulam Nabi Azad is rated as better Chief Minister. The Government of India, in order to stop bloodshed will have to show political courage and determination to take bold steps and strictly discipline the army and not tolerate these violations for fear of ‘demoralizing it. Such an approach will play only in the hands of the terrorists and keep on aggravating the situation.

Fake encounters have absolutely no place in democracy and it is nothing but serious failure of governance if innocent citizens are killed by the police or army. Such unscrupulous officers must be rigorously punished. Such killings can lead to serious trouble even where there is no separatist or terrorist movements, much less in sensitive areas like Kashmir where issues of regional culture and identity are politically extra-sensitive.

Regional autonomy in many countries is a serious problem whether other countries are involved or not. For example, the question of Basque nationality in Spain is a serious question and only the other day the Basque nationalists organized a demonstration with 2.5 million people to press for their demand. Basque nationalists also resorted to violence for long and exploded bombs. However, they too realized that violence will not take them too far.

We have to sort out Kashmir problem on two fronts, our own internal front and Pakistan front. Here I do not want to comment as far as Pakistan front is concerned. Here my main concern is our own internal front and ensuring peace in the valley and people of Kashmir, in my opinion, are ready for non-violent and honourable peace. Firstly, development will play very important role. The youth must be won over through ensuring employment. Faisal Shah’s case is an important example. All Kashmiris felt proud that one of their own has been selected and stood first in IAS examination. Indian Muslims too felt very proud and organized series of receptions for him throughout India.

Thus to solve Kashmir problem internally what is needed is a measure of negotiated autonomy, economic development, greater recruitment of Kashmiri youth in and outside Kashmir including Central Government jobs which will give them greater sense of belonging to India, expeditious development of Railway network and ensuring non-violation of human rights and minimizing presence of armed forces except in border areas can lead to internal peace.

Gujarat: Making Of A Fascist State

Abdul Shakeel Basha, known popularly as Shakeel to his friends, has been arrested on 17th June 2010, on various charges. The major charge is that he along with his other friends was planning to start a Maoist revolution in Gujarat. Shakeel is 13th amongst the activists who have been arrested on similar charges. Activists who have been arrested on the charge of being Naxalites are Avinash Kulkarni, Bharat Pawar, Makabhai Chowdhary, Jayaram Goswami and others who have been working in different parts of Gujarat, particularly amongst the tribal and workers for their economic rights. There has been no news of any violence in the areas where they have been working. One knows Shakeel has a long record of working for communal harmony, justice for Gujarat violence victims, and housing for street children amongst other issues. ‘Peace issues’ has been his concern during last few years.

Apart from Shakeel the work of most of these activist’s, arrested by Gujarat police, has been within the confines of Indian Constitution, struggles based on the ‘rights as citizens’, as weaker sections of society. The major violence witnessed by Gujarat has been the one of sectarian type, the one directed first against Muslim minorities and then Christian minorities. On the contrary the work of some of these activists has been to promote communal harmony, which has been a hindrance to spread of divisiveness being promoted by the likes of Swami Aseemanand of VHP, an RSS affiliate, who is currently absconding for his linkages with the perpetrators of Ajmer terror attack.

With the nation wide beginning of operation ‘green hunt’, the targeting of Naxalites/Maoists, the Gujarat police, not to be left behind, has targeted the activists working within the confines of constitutional limits. Gujarat has never been known to be the work area of Naxalites/Maoists anyway. This has been an area where the followers of RSS have been calling shots from last two decades in particular and trying to convert it into ‘ideal Hindu state’. Gujarat has also been boasted as the ideal Hindu state, particularly since the violence against minorities became intense. The anti Muslim offensive culminated in Gujarat carnage of 2002. After 2002 there was a sustained attack on Christians. This is the violence which is the marker of Gujarat.

One never heard of any Naxalite violence and there are no criminal cases against most of the activists who have been arrested. As such through the intense media propaganda, social activists have been defamed to the extent that Medha Patkar was attacked physically for her campaigns to protect the rights of tribal. Strong propaganda against ‘activists’ in general is part of the norms prevalent in Gujarat.

The sequence of the political events in Gujarat is very revealing. First the sectarianism comes up; various factors promote this communal divide. This leads to the massive anti Muslim pogrom on the pretext of Godhra train burning. Then on the plea that Christian missionaries are converting the gullible Adivasis, anti Christian violence is unleashed. This runs parallel with the aggressive conversion of Adivasis into Hinduism under the garb of ‘Ghar vapasi’. Through Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, through swamis and associates identity issues are projected in the Adivasi areas. The result of all this is the overall suspension of the concept of Human rights and demonization of social activists. As such whatever little is there in the name of social activism has been dwarfed under the shadow of communalization of social space and communal violence.

Due to these anti minority attacks, minorities have been relegated to second class citizens. The culmination of this is the formation of Muslim ghettoes in urban areas and intimidation of Christians in Adivasi areas. Along with this the concept of ‘Swarnim Gujarat’ (Golden Gujarat), a heaven for investors is advertised through media. In tandem with this the rights of workers and tribal are being suppressed to ensure that the industrialists can have their sway to make big money. As Ratan Tata put it, industrialists have to be in Gujarat. And so Anil Ambani and others of their ilk project Narendra Modi as the ideal Chief Minister, the future Prime Minister of India. The inference is emerging that anti minority pogrom has effectively been undertaken to create a ‘smooth’ atmosphere for the industrialists. After subjugating minorities and the democratic values the illusion of ‘development’ has been manufactured.

Narnedra Modi has been compared to Hitler times and over again. Through his anti Jew, anti Communist tirades Hitler created the ‘ideal’ atmosphere for the big industrialists. It seems Modi has taken Gujarat on the same path. First he has ensured the suspension of human rights through anti-minority pogroms, then demonized the social activists and now whatever little activity prevailed for democratic rights of the marginalized, is being done away with. The human rights workers, working in the Constitutional framework are being dubbed as Naxalites and are being put behind the bars. The idea is to smoothen the path for big industrialists. The arrest of workers for human rights issues is like laying the red carpet for the reckless growth of industries, trampling on the interests of the deprived sections of society. What is hidden below the red carpet is the very concept of a welfare state, a secular state, a state with the concept of human rights of all. One is also reminded of the RSS ideologue M.S. Golwalkar writing in his book ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ that Muslims, Christians and Communists are the internal threat to Hindu nation. It seems following his advice first the Muslims, then the Christians and now the social activists (communist substitutes) are being targeted as Naxalites.

The happenings in Gujarat show us the deeper designs of the political class of the country, who are executing industrialization without a human face, industrialization on the bodies of the marginalized sections. Hitler did precisely the same. In the short term it seems very rewarding but surely one knows from History that once the violation of the concepts of democracy goes too far, the results are not very pleasing. Hitler refused to learn it in his life, that’s why he had to put a bullet in his head. Germany kept toeing his line, that’s why it faced the ruin after the temporary graphs showing economic prosperity!

One reaffirms that those believing in the ‘violence as a means for social change’ have no place in the democratic system. In turn, one must learn that democracy is doomed in a state which does not let the peaceful social movements to exist!

Politics Of Brinkmanship In Bihar: Why Is Muslim Leadership Silent?

By Soroor Ahmed,

What initially appeared to be one-off theatrics enacted by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on June 12––he cancelled the dinner of BJP bigwigs–– have now grown into full-blown dangerous game of communal polarization. Nothing exemplify this better than the way the lone Muslim Janata Dal (United) Lok Sabha MP from Bihar, Monazir Hasan, was made the villain of the piece on the India Shutdown (Bharat Bandh) day on July 5.

Yet what baffles the Muslim mass is the deceptive silence of the community leaders, though in the private, all of them are alarmed over a unique and unheard of experiment going on to disturb the communal amity in Bihar.

The so-called spat between Monazir and the BJP workers on the India Shutdown day in Patna is being dubbed as another stage-managed show enacted on behalf of the NDA leadership. Monazir was leading a group of Janata Dal (United) workers enforcing shutdown in the heart of Patna. Side by side were the workers of the alliance partner, the BJP, who were carrying the photographs of Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi. Of all the persons in Janata Dal (United), it was Monazir, who reportedly objected to the BJP workers for carrying the photos of Narendra Modi. Possibly for the political consumption he even went on to criticize the Sangh Parivar, with whose leaders, he had otherwise very cordial relationship. He even gave bytes to the television channels, whose reporters were present on the spot.

This was followed by scuffle between the supporters of both the ruling constituents in Bihar and sometimes later the BJP workers burnt the effigy of Monazir. What shocked the people most is as to why not a single BJP leader was present and why only Monazir was at the place when the Hindutva party workers were carrying Modi’s photos. Ironically Monazir himself was dressed in dark saffron colour shirt at that time. And why of all the persons, it was only Monazir who spoke against Modi.

If the whole exercise was not stage-managed and the clash between the workers of the two parties were really genuine then why not a single Janata Dal (United) leader condemned the roughing up of the party MP and subsequent burning of his effigy. In contrast senior state BJP leaders went hammer and tongs against Monazir and one of them, was quoted in TV channels as saying that he is the agent of Lalu Yadav’s RJD. State cooperative minister Giriraj Singh (he is of the BJP) openly stated that his party workers would certainly carry Narendra Modi’s photo, come what may.

As if that was not enough: the workers of the Minority Cell of the Janata Dal (United) in Begusarai, the constituency represented by Monazir, protested against the BJP workers and tore the photo of Narendra Modi. It remained a mystery as to why––apart from Minority Cell workers––not a single Janata Dal (United) leader took to streets in favour of Monazir.

The truth is that it was nothing short of stupidity on the part of Monazir to speak against Narendra Modi, when the political atmosphere is really getting charged. The Muslims, in general, were not at all impressed by the so-called wordy duel between the Janata Dal (United) and the BJP. But Monazir played into the hands of those who want to vitiate the communal situation in the state, achieved after enormous efforts in early 1990s.

What is strange is that not a single Muslim leader of national or regional reckoning––except of political parties like RJD and LJP––dared to expose the design and tell everyone, be it the chief minister Nitish Kumar or his party MP, Monazir Hasan, that please do not drag the community into this unnecessary controversy.

Though both the big shots of the Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat and All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Syed Shahabuddin and Syed Nizamuddin respectively hail from Bihar, they are yet to make an appeal to the NDA bigwigs to stop spoiling the communal harmony. By doing so they would certainly not be counted as Lalu-loyalist, as they may fear. It is their duty to guide the society and expose any such design to destabilize it.

Even the suspended former Janata Dal (United) Rajya Sabha MP, Dr Ejaz Ali, is yet to come out with categorical statement on the whole drama, which started on June 12. He only made an appeal to the Janata Dal (United)––the party which suspended him on October 21 last, for inviting Jaswant Singh to Patna––to dissociate itself from the BJP. If it does so the Janata Dal (United) would come to power alone in the next assembly election, he added.

But the million dollars question is as to why is the community leadership not understanding that the month-long drama, which started from cancellation of the dinner party of L K Advani, Narendra Modi and company to the return of flood relief money to Gujarat and than the so-called drama involving Monazir Hassan have the potential to jeopardized the life of innumerable people of the state––both Hindus and Muslims. The stage-managed drama like this has created an air of suspicion now.

True the local Press in Bihar, Urdu in particular, for obvious reasons, would never publish any statement of any body criticizing Nitish Kumar, yet these Muslim leaders can use media elsewhere in the country, for example Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow etc.

When there is growing feeling among the common Muslims that the Janata Dal (United) and the BJP leaders are playing a very dirty game to polarize the atmosphere what is preventing the leadership in general from coming out to call spade a spade?