Uploaded on April 27, 2022
INDIAN MUSLIMS – TASKS AHEAD
Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam
At this time, our dear motherland is moving in a strange direction. Due to the policies of the government, which came into being in 2014, the guts of the communal forces and anti-social elements have gone so high that every single peace-loving citizen of the country is extremely distressed. These conditions are compelling serious and sincere circles of the country, particularly minorities, to reflect on the present grave situation. On one side are communities living in our land and minorities, while on the other hand, are Muslims who constitute the largest minority. The latter are confronted with unparalleled anxiety. International bodies are also showing their concern over the over-all situation. In these circumstances there is no escape from seeking some effective remedy by undertaking certain measures. If these measures are taken, conditions may improve, and the gravity of the situation can be altered to a great extent.
First and foremost expedient is that in these trying times, Muslims must turn to Allah (Rujoo’ Ilallah). We believe that everything happens by the will of Allah. Even a seemingly ordinary thing can’t be accomplished without the consent of Allah Almighty. It is with His will that nations/communities rise and fall. Lord of the Universes has created explicit rules and regulations for our guidance and success; violation of these principles has led to the present state. The real cause of the thorough decline of Muslims is distancing from Qur’anic principles and rules. If we wish to regain glory and progress, we shall have to return to these principles and seek guidance from Qur’an and Hadith. Here, it will be worth citing what the twentieth-century great Islamic scholar had stated. He had said, “The progress of every community in the world consists in moving ahead, but the progress of Muslims lies in beating retreat, so it gets back to previous fourteen hundred years.” If this task is not undertaken, while the rest of the tasks are addressed, we can’t dream of the rise as Muslims. However, if this task is undertaken first, followed by other tasks, it is certain that Muslims will get special help from Allah Almighty, and then it will be possible for Muslims to go forward in other spheres of life.Next expediency is the unity of the community (ummah). Traditions of the Prophet (SAW), the examples of his Companions and all the reformers, aimma, ulama, and thinkers called for unity. They insisted to stay united and be intimate friends, but it is a pity that at this time, it is this community in the whole world that is a prey to dissensions. In the 21st century, the bearers of contradictory religious thought and culture have come together to achieve political and economic dominance. People who until recently were bitter enemies of each other are now seen in line with each other though they don’t have a common point for unity. On the other hand, despite differences, there are many common points to establish unity. Notwithstanding several things, including the belief in the Oneness of Allah Almighty and the Prophethood of the Prophet of Allah (SAW), which are shared commonly by all Muslim sects and schools of thought, Muslims are prey to dissensions on a practical level. The tragedy is that while leaders of the community suffering from dissensions always talk about unity, this mission never bears fruit. Along with the Islamic world, conditions in India have become extremely complex and difficult; every following day heralds new trouble and the upcoming Doomsday. The environment of the country is calling Muslims to unite, or else you will finish listless. We are suffering dissensions on political, social, cultural and religious levels and not considering any initiative that can cure evil in a practical way. In the following, we will present some of the things that may help overcome from this calamitous scene.
In this connection, first, we shall have to put all differences on religious matters aside. The best course is that we act according to our own ideology and new interpretation of shariah (ijtihad) and restrain from criticising others. Dissensions appear not because of the interpretation of one’s ideology and affiliation with a particular school of religious thought but come about when we indulge in criticising and fault-finding in others in the course of supporting our school of thought and ideology. Jurisprudential and scholarly differences are the distinctive features of the Islamic law (shariah); Companions of the Prophet SAW too differed on jurisprudential and scholarly matters, but they didn’t cherish any unpleasantness against each other. The same state prevailed during the time of Companions’ Successors (tabi‘un), aimma and jurists of the later period; their independent reasoning (ijtihad) tended to differ from each other, but they entertained cordial relations in their ranks; none of them bore any malice enmity against each other even equal to the smallest particle. However, the situation has altered in our times since the scholarly and jurisprudential differences are generating great malice and hostility. Followers of a particular ideology and school of thought are not inclined to accept the existence of other schools of thought. In fact, the truth is that instead of preaching religion, all focus is on the propagation of some particular school of thought (maslak). In 2014, All India Milli Council attempted to establish unity, and a resolution was adopted titled Covenant of Unity (Misaq-e-Ittihad). Then, on August 8, 2021, Ittihad-e-Millat Conference was held on behalf of all Muslim schools of thought and all Muslim bodies and organisations and a Misaq-e Ittihad was passed, which can be used as per today’s needs.
To achieve unity, yet another initiative is required. This initiative can also be taken by the trusted institution called Muslim Personal Law Board. At this hour, we are not talking about inter-masalik unity among Muslims; instead, we are talking about inter-faith unity. Even in this critical period, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has great relevance and significance since it is a common platform for Indian Muslims. Rising above their differences on religious matters and affiliation to different schools of thought, all Muslims should flock to the call made by this prestigious body. Though the task of inter-faith unity does not belong to the objectives of the Board but considering the critical moment, this task can be assigned to a sub-committee. A five-member committee may be constituted and given the task of holding meetings with the four Shankaracharyas, heads of great religious centres and mathas and distinguished and well-known Dalit, Adivasi and OBC leaders. Such meetings should be held publicly, while the media should be intimated about them. Before these meetings are held, it should be made clear that we are going to hold meetings with the purpose of protecting the Constitution and fostering fraternity, sympathy, equality and harmony. In such meetings, the Board’s sub-committee should explain the wrong and anti-nation policies of the present government and convince religious heads and leaders of the deprived communities that how these policies are giving blow to the prestige of the country. The world’s largest democracy is in jeopardy; the country is passing through crises on economic, political, social and educational fronts, which would impact adversely upon all people, irrespective of their religious affiliation. Besides this, the Board’s sub-committee should introduce Islamic teachings, explaining the views Islam and the Qur’an entertain with regard to non-Muslims and how Islam shows generosity and benevolence to heterogeneous societies.
To restore political and social dignity and to remove the difficulties of the Indian Muslims, it is expedient to form a political forum. There is no escape from the reality that to be reckoned in the country as effective and to get recognition for their position, Muslims shall have to become strong politically, but the tragedy is that Muslims are, politically speaking, extremely weak. They are divided into many compartments; they are not pursuing a common ideology-based agenda and mission. A large number of Muslim MPs, MLAs and many other kinds of representatives are also there, but they don’t have an agenda. Therefore, in our opinion, a political forum should be formed. This forum should also include all minorities and oppressed sections of society, undertaking the responsibility of mental training of those youth and leaders who are politically active. The head of this forum, holding a key position, must stay away from electoral politics and does not hold any position in the government. Under this forum, efforts should be made to secure representation in the election on the basis of an ideology; secure tickets for competent and virtuous candidates; instead of cultivating relations with a particular political party, support should be extended to a party on which hopes can be pinned in a particular constituency or wherever some alliance is forged with some party; corroboration can be struck with a party that has a Muslim chief at the helm and has a noticeable base.
Youth make the real foundation of a community. So, the youth of India’s Islamic millat require special preparations. Allah is most pleased with those youth who commit their lives to obtain the Pleasure of Allah (Raza-e-Ilahi). Allah has promised such youth a place under the shadow of the Throne of Allah (‘Arsh-e Ilhi). Therefore, in the present conditions, youth must prepare themselves to stay vigilant and work for achieving the eminence of the millat. They must always bear in mind that they are enriched with the inheritance consisting of enthusiasm, determination and high spirit. Disappointment and frustration may be permissible for someone but not permissible for the youth under any circumstances. So, the youth adorned with determination and high spirit must have to connect themselves with their faith and move forward by equipping themselves with Islamic culture and religious sagacity. They shall have to learn from their Islamic heritage and benefit themselves from the history of the battle of Badr as also from the events of Uhad. They shall have to assume leadership in all spheres of life; particularly, they shall have to set new milestones in education. They shall have to hold fast to their past, analyse the present and think about building a future.
Muslims should take into account the trend that conditions owing genesis to different reasons don’t last long. This is a temporal world, and what happens here is temporary and transitory. Real readiness means that after these conditions come to pass, we must be in a position to assume leadership. This can happen only when we are patient with full determination and perseverance and concentrate on building our future with an eye on the near tomorrow. Certainly, this could be an extremely difficult stage, but when this stage is followed by the appearance of a new dawn on the horizon, the feeling of previous difficult stages will pass away. In this regard, we draw guidance from the Meccan life of the Prophet of Allah SAW. The Prophet of Islam SAW and his Companions passed the initial 13 years since the inception of Islam with great patience and restraint. During this period, they were not permitted to resist; instead, Allah put them in the cauldron to be heated up so that all Muslims come out as exquisite gold. And it happened so. When, after 13 years, they were commanded to migrate, everyone turned out to be a minaret of invitation to Islam (da’wah) with lofty aims (‘azeemat). At that time, permission was granted to show resistance, and this is how began the history of battles (Islamic ghazwahs). However, to reach those stages, the 13 years of the Meccan life spent with patience and restraint provided the initial foundation.
Here, we should also bear in mind that every civilised society of the world and every law gives the right to protect life and property and defend them. Unsocial elements or people bent upon creating trouble and targeting humans or human society, and if their anti-human actions are suspected to destroy human magnificence and human dignity, it is then essential to confront them and defend themselves by every lawful means. On this subject and in the present context, we get a crystal clear message for our guidance from the following lines of Shaikh-ul-Islam Allama Syed Suleiman Nadvi:
I have written several articles Hindu-Muslim unity and alliance and even now I am convinced of its need. But imploring from enemies to survive, I prefer death by fighting in a manly way since manly death as a victim of oppression is no lesser than life itself. (M’aarif, July, 1941).
(The writer is General Secretary of All India Milli Council)