The most malevolent of these residues is Islamism, the residue of the Muslim invasion of India spread over several centuries. Its basic tenets are ultimately derived from the teachings of Islam which has so far succeeded in sealing itself off from every shade of empiricism, rationalism, universalism, humanism and liberalism, the hallmarks of Hindu as well as modern Western culture. But in the context of India where Islam failed in its mission of lasting conquest and total conversion, these tenets have acquired a singularly sinister and subversive character.
Let it be clear that the reference here is not at all to our Muslim brethren who are our own flesh and blood, except for that microscopic minority which takes pride in the purity of its Arab, Persian or Turkish descent.1 Instead of being the proponents of Islamism, the Muslims of India are its victims whom it is trying to use as vehicles of its poisonous virulence. The vast majority of Indian Muslims were converted to Islam by force or allurements. But the conversion did not help them socially or culturally as their status today in India’s Muslim society should amply prove. The Muslims of India, therefore, have to be freed from rather than accused of Islamism.
What we mean by Islamism is a self-righteous psychology and a closed cultural attitude which make it impossible for its converts to coexist peacefully and with dignity with other people. There are many Hindus who share several tenets of Islamism. On the other hand, there are many Muslims who are frightened by Islamism and who would gladly join the mainstream of Indian nationalism if they are freed from the whiphand which a minority of theologians, politicians and hooligans has come to wield in their community.
Those who want to know Islamism first-hand and in full measure are referred to Shaikh Sir Mohammed Iqbal’s two long poems which he wrote quite early in his career, and which earned for him the title of Allama among the adherents of this cult. These are the Shikwã and the Jawãb-i-Shikwah which Mr. Khushwant Singh has recently published in an English translation.
The Shikwã ends by summing up that “naghmã hindî hai tau kyä, lai tau hijazi hai mirî”, that is, “no matter if my idiom is Indian, my spirit is that of Hijaz”. Hijaz is that part of Arabia in which Mecca and Medina are situated.
The Jawãb-i-Shikwah ends on a still more strident note. Allah announces to the Allãmã His supreme message for mankind in the following words: “kî wafã tûne muhammad se tau ham tere hain”, that is, “if you are faithful to Muhammad, I shall be faithful to you.”
Now, there are many Muslims in India who have never heard the name of Iqbal or listened to his muse. And there are many Hindus whose admiration for Iqbal is immeasurable. No, Islamism does not refer to any particular section of Indian society. It refers to that intellectual-or unintellectual-attitude which awards the monopoly of truth and virtue to a particular prophet, and consigns all knowledge to the pages of a particular book.
Taking our cue from Allãmã Iqbal and his lesser cohorts like Altãf Hussain Hãlî, we can safely summarise the credo of Islamism in the following five fundamentals:
There are many Hindus like the late Pandit Sunderlal who fully accept the first two fundamentals of Islamism. It is a different matter that their logic fails them at this stage and they do not proceed to the next three fundamentals which follow irrevocably. And there have been many Muslims like the late Rafi Ahmed Kidwai and Justice M.C. Chagla who rejects these fundamentals as repugnant.
Having thus outlined its version of past Indian history, and the apocalypse towards which future Indian history should be forced to travel, Islamism has evolved a strategy in which the Muslims of India are envisaged as a base and an arsenal. Some salient features of this strategy can be outlined as follows:
The seven-fold strategy is aimed at the Muslims in India who are to be brainwashed, blackmailed, frightened and forced into the fold of Islamism. Another side of the same strategy has been worked out to neutralise, paralyse and blacken or pamper different sections of Hindu society so that the road is cleared for the forward march of Islamism. Some salient features of this secondary strategy can be outlined as follows:
Islamism did make some headway among the Muslims in Independent India mostly because the dominant section of Hindu intelligentsia partronised it for various reasons. The Congress politicians patronised it because they found out very soon that they were in a minority among the Hindus, and that they could survive in power only by combining a solid Muslim vote with whatever Hindu vote they could get. The Socialists went out of their way to patronise it partly because they harbour an anti-Hindu animus and partly in the hope of securing Muslim vote-a hope which has not as yet come anywhere near fulfilment. The Gandhians partronised it because they no more remembered that their great Master, Mahatma Gandhi, was a Hindu with a profound faith in Sanãtana Dharma, and because they misunderstood his doctrine of non-violence towards all people, including the Muslims of India, as an endorsement of Islam. The Communists patronised it because they saw in it a powerful ally in their campaign against Hindu society which they viewed as their main enemy. The self-alienated Hindu intellectuals patronised it out of sheer animus towards Hindu society and culture which they were out to damn on any pretext. Extending patronage to Islamism thus became a pastime for all those who wanted to pass off as large-hearted liberals, progressives and secularists.
But in the absence of local resources and international patronage, the progress of Islamism in India was rather slow. Pakistan, which was its only patron abroad, could not provide much help beyond some hysteria in its mass media and propaganda in international political forums. The several wars which India was forced to fight with Pakistan to the disadvantage of the latter, also inhibited Islamism in India from acquiring the requisite degree of self-confidence.
The use of oil as a political weapon by Islamic countries and the influx of petro-dollars in plenty from several Arab countries, particularly Libya and Saudi Arabia, since the early ‘seventies, has given to Islamism in India a new glow of self-confidence in one sudden sweep. This influx of Arab money is a natural and inevitable phenomenon because, in the last analysis, Islamism is only another name for Arab imperialism which had, at one stage of its history, pillaged and populated with its own progeny many foreign lands and which even today keeps many non-Arab nations spiritually enslaved.
Islamism in India is now busy employing to the maximum advantage the Arab money which is pouring in through many channels and in increasing quantities. Some of these uses are very obvious to the eye. A few salient features of the new scenario can be listed as follows:
The strategy is nothing new. The self-same strategy had been used by the Muslim League for the carving out of Pakistan. Only the aid and abetment which the British provided at one time have been replaced by the aid and abetment from Arab countries. And in the matter of a mere decade, Islamism in India has assumed the same menacing proportions as it had on the eve of Partition. The parallel should make us pause.
For further reading
on the subject, we recommend Mohammed and the Rise of Islam by D.S.
Margoliouth; Muslim Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab, 1947
by Gurbachan Singh Talib; Hindu Temples: What happened to Them,
2 Volumes; The Calcutta Quran Petition by Chandmal Chopra; Jizayah
and the Spread of Islam by Harsh Narain; Muslim Separatism: Causes
and Consequences by Sita Ram Goel. All these have been published by
Voice of India.