Misunderstood Today: Muslims in India

In general, it would mean to hate a thing foreign; but the new interpretation by the right wing is to call all ‘Abrahamic’ faiths as foreign. They want us to fear them – Muslims and Christians – worse than many other possibilities. Is it really true that a Hindu is being harassed to protect other minorities? Would it be fair to say that this development is much more dangerous in the present context than ever before? I think yes! It is an extremely scary thought that people are scared of a thing non-existent. It is alarming that people think of every Muslim as a threat. This new, engineered threat is a bad sign for India’s progress as a country that needs to leap into a new era. We want to enter a postmodern world with ideas befitting the days of conquest.

People rely on many statistics while coming to a conclusion that Islam is a real threat, they simply miss out on the biggest of all. We have a population of nearly 150 million Muslims. I seriously wonder if such a big population can be a threat. It is befitting to a fool who thinks that we can survive in a country where every one in ten people is a terrorist. They are more than capable of killing people; but obviously you and I are aware of the fact that we still co-exist..It is because they are not poster boys of Islam. Yes, the terrorists framed are often Muslim, but we tend to ignore other possibilities. If we talk about potential risk, everybody is equally potent in causing that risk. All outfits use guns and bombs. Everybody is motivated by a good number of reasons. For Jihads, there is a rigid interpretation of Islam. For a Naxalite, it is the ideals of socialism. Separatists have an idea of a separate land for their people. We cannot even stop if we start as to what the threats India is facing. Why should we be scared of Islam alone? There is good enough reason to keep ourselves shut behind doors for all our lives.

No doubt this is a bad phase in India. But are we so desperate that we would vilify 13% of our population over the deeds of a few black sheep? Is it even conceivable unless we have an African warlord or a person like Hitler? The extreme Right wants us to consider the religions originating out of India to be considered above others? This will shake the very foundation of our nation which believes in civil liberties for all irrespective. In fact this is going to be against the Hindu philosophy of God knowing no boundaries.

The threat is more from the people who are intent on dividing us. This can be Hindu, Muslim or anybody. It is not the Hindu right wing which got us out of troubled times during Partition. It was the spirit of the people- Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian or whoever believed in the idea of a land where we could live free and dream. By instilling fear, these people are simply taking away the right to a cherished dream that we as Indians are born with. By telling us to fear our neighbour they are doing a social evil worse than terrorism. When they tell us that partition was the handiwork of Islam, they forget the majority who stayed back! They forget those who wanted to cherish the future in a secular country, and this is how they divide people. Why should we hold Muslims in India hostage for what happened back then?

Our fundamentals that we learn in schools and colleges were set out by a Muslim by the name of Dr. Maulana Azad. As the first Education Minister, he had the opportunity to turn the tide and sneak all the Islam in text book as he pleased. This did not happen. The Indian Army’s most famous institution the NDA was headed by Maj. Gen. Enayat Habibullah when it was formed, could he not have been telling the boys joining the forces about the virtues of Islam? Do we not have Muslims serving to protect our borders? Why do we consider the Jihads to be the collective representatives of Islam bemuses me! Why do we forget that it was a Hindu and a swayamsevak who killed Gandhi! Why do we want to ignore the ‘holy’ men of Hindu faith who are involved in the very same activities?

The isolation Muslims are facing in day to day life is going to cost the nation some very fine young minds. Slowly and carefully Muslims are being pushed to corners of society. This is not a social risk alone. The risk is soon going to overflow into security too. The intelligence networks in Gujarat failed for these reasons among others. ‘Ghettoisation’ is a truth which is going to eat up our very fabric and we would not even come to know! I think we have to understand that annihilation is not really a solution to Indians today. It is co-existence which we have practised for ages which is going to answer all our woes in this respect. The way I see it is, if our Indian soldiers could fight on our borders to protect us, why can’t we just live together in the name of India?

Abhik Sen

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