The invasions of Muhammad bin Qasim, Mahmud of Ghazni and Amir Timur seem to have happened yesterday. The Qutb Minar in Delhi reminds one of Aibak and Iltutmish. One who visits the Taj Mahal of Agra, remembers Shahjahan. Akbar and Aurangzeb are still the talk of the town. Truly has Bernard Croce said that all history is contemporary. Our living present is the extension of the past which in many ways is still with us. No wonder then that Muslim state in India has not ceased to exist. It is not known as Nizam-i-Mustafa, as, in the Indian secular democracy, it cannot be known by that nomenclature. But it has been internalised in the Muslim psyche and is expressed in a number of euphemistic phrases like Muslim Identity, Muslim Personal Law, (Muslim) Minorities Commission, Muslim Waqf Board, Muslim (Madrasa) Education, and so on. All in all, Muslims by their personal law and separate identity represent a separate system within the secular Indian state, if not a separate state within the Indian state.
6.1. SEPARATE IDENTITY
The idea of Muslim exclusiveness and preservation of a separate identity is nothing new. In Islam all human beings are not treated as equals. It makes a distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims. This distinction has been repeated in passages after passages both in the Quran and the Hadis and observed by Muslims the world over. A non-Muslim is a Kafir, an inferior being. Non-Muslims do not enjoy any human rights in this world; they cannot enter Paradise after. death. Let us repeat some of the "revelations" about non-Muslims to drive home the point. "The unbelievers among the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) and the pagans shall burn forever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of creatures." "When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield, strike off their heads." "Do not yield to the unbelievers but fight them strenuously." "Muhammad is Allah's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another.' "Make war on them (the idolaters)." "Allah will chastise them through you and humble them." 'Allah has promised the hypocrites, both men and women, and the unbelievers the fire of Hell. They shall abide in it forever - the curse of Allah is upon them. Theirs shall be a lasting torment." "With chains and shackles round their necks they shall be dragged through boiling water and burnt in the fire of Hell." "Scalding water shall be poured upon their heads, melting their skins... They shall be lashed with the rods of iron." "Whenever in their anguish, they try to escape from Hell, the angels will drag them back, saying: 'Taste the torment of Hell-fire'."1 On the other hand, Muslims will repose in Paradise as portrayed in the Quran. "They shall recline on coaches lined with thick brocade... They shall dwell with bashful virgins - virgins as fair as corals and rubies." "They shall recline on jewelled coaches face to face, and there shall wait on them immortal youths with bowls and ewers and cups of purest wine." "The righteous (i.e. believers) shall dwell in bliss... their Lord will shield them from the scourge of Hell. He will say: Eat and drink in joy. This is the reward of your labours."2
All this and much more has already been cited before. The need to repeat it is to emphasise the Islamic injunction that Muslims and non-Muslims are distinct entities and the two cannot meet on terms of equality. This separate identity was crystallized in the twenty conditions laid down by Caliph Umar for the governance of the Zimmis. The Zimmis (originally Christians and Jews and later Hindus) were those subjects whose life was spared and who were a protected people (although no punishment was awarded to a Muslim who attacked a Zimmi). The conditions are like this. The Muslims are to be respected. The Zimmis are not to dress like Muslims. They must wear a humble dress so that they may be distinguished from Muslims. They are not to give each other Muslim names. They are not to ride on horses with saddle and bridle. They are not to possess swords and arrows. They are not to wear signet rings and seals on their fingers. They are not to rebuild any old buildings which have been destroyed. Muslim travellers are not to be prevented from staying in their temples. They are not to mourn their dead loudly. They are not to buy Muslim slaves. They are not to propagate the customs and usages of polytheists among Muslims. If any of their people show any inclination towards Islam, they are not to be prevented from doing so.3
One of the important condition was that the Zimmis were not to build their homes in the neighbourhood of those of Muslims. There are clear injunctions in the Quran for Muslims not to befriend infidels. "Believers, do not choose the infidels... for your friends." The danger in the living together with unbelievers is clearly spelled out in the Quran. "Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends... whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number... if you yield to the infidels, they will drag you back to unbelief and you will return headlong to perdition..."4 The Prophet ordained: "Momins do not marry infidel women until they accept Islam. A Momin slave girl is better than a mushrik woman however pleasing she may look to you. (Similarly) do not give a Muslim woman in marriage to an infidel until he becomes Muslaman. Because however good a mushrik may look to you, a Muslim slave is better than an infidel."5 This is one very important reason for treating the non-Muslims as aliens, even enemies. Their contact could contaminate. The life promised by Islam in this world and the next is full of material comforts women, wine and rich food. A Muslim whose soul hankers after spiritual elevation may be attracted to move over to 'infidel' cultures and become one with them. Hence there is persistent command to keep away from them. The tablighis in India are ever face to face with this problem.
The name given to the unbeliever or infidel in Islam is Kafir. It was freely used for non-Muslims by Muslim historians, rulers, elites, soldiers and common men in medieval India. The non-Muslims were treated as inferior beings in the theocratic Muslim state. In today's Indian republic the Hindus are in a vast majority. They cannot be openly addressed with contempt like this. But among Muslims, they are. Mr. Ram Nayak of Bombay has brought out a booklet wherein he asks how come there is no law to prevent 87 per cent Hindus from being abused as Kafirs whereas there is a law known as the civil protection act to prosecute anyone abusing Dalits.6 The problem is whether Muslims should have the Kafirs treat them as they treat the Kafirs. Anwar Shaikh's important work, 338-page Eternity, rejects the division of humanity into believers and infidels or heathens. He lives abroad under fatwa of death. Dr. Abid Raza Bedar, liberal Indian Muslim also advocates that the word Kafir should exclude the Hindus from its purview. There are not many Muslims who support him because the Quran contains clear cut injunctions regarding Kafirs. It is free from any vagueness about the treatment to be meted out to the non-Muslims; it believes in their complete subservience or total annihilation. Muslim scriptures lay down that the faithful must live separately and exclusively and not form part of the mainstream of the social and political life of a non-Muslim majority country like India. Their exclusiveness is so acute that nationalist Hindus constantly exhort the ,minorities' (read Muslims) to join the national mainstream by laying emphasis on the tolerant principle of sarvadharma samabhava while Muslims insist on their separate identity. Islam lacks any doctrine of coexistence, and the Shariat stifles free discussion. Muslim madrasas cannot shed their Kafir complex. That is why the majority of Muslims keep quiet on such issues as raised by Abid Raza Bedar. The present adjustment for coexistence is a temporary expediency in India. In Kashmir, in Assam, and in regions where Muslims are in a majority or are growing in numbers, the plan is to claim a separate state for Muslims. In Muslim countries, even in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the non-Muslims are by and large accorded the status of only Kafirs.7 Dr. Zafar-ul-Islam Aslahi of the Department of Islamic Studies, Aligarh Muslim University, says that in the light of the Shariat, imposition of Jiziyah on non-Muslims is justified.8
To conclude. There is a keen desire on the part of the Muslims, bordering on determination, to maintain their separate identity. They talk of composite Indian culture only to emphasise that it is Muslim culture. Harsh Narain therefore rightly argues that there is no composite culture in India.9 The ghetto mentality of poor Muslims living in Mominpuras of all large and small cities, is shared by the highest elites in Muslim society. The situation is best described by Ram Swarup in his inimitable style. "In his book My Eleven Years with Fakhruddin Ahmad, Mr. Fazle Ahmed Rehmany quotes an incident which throws interesting light on the psychology of secularism and its need to keep Muslims in isolation and in a sort of protective custody. During the Emergency period some followers of the Jamaat-e-Islami found themselves in the same jail as the members of the RSS; here they began to discover that the latter were no monsters as described by the 'nationalist' and secularist propaganda. Therefore they began to think better of the Hindus. This alarmed the secularists and the interested Maulvis. Some Maulvis belonging to the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Hind met President.. Fakhruddin Ahmad, and reported to him about the growing rapport between the members of the two communities. This 'stunned' the President and he said that this boded an 'ominous' future for Congress Muslim leaders and he promised that he would speak to Indiraji about this dangerous development and ensure that Muslims remain Muslims."
For Muslims to remain Muslims it is necessary that they are not governed by any laws except their own Shariat. It is the teaching of Islam to shun contact with non-Muslims except with a view to converting them. This should clear the doubt in the minds of those who wonder how a converted people can claim to form a separate nation. Muslim separatism expresses itself in multitudinous ways. One is Muslim Personal law.
6.2. MUSLIM PERSONAL LAW
Muslims constantly harp on their personal law. India is a land of many religions and followers of all these religions have their own religious or personal conventions or rules relating to marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, wills etc. Therefore it is realised that there should be some sort of uniformity in the civil laws of the land so that no community is discriminated against or favoured by the state in the eyes of the law. Moreover, for the progress of the Indian society as a whole, it is necessary to have a common civil code for all citizens. For example, as per the Indian Penal Code a Hindu or Parsi or Christian husband can be convicted for bigamy. But Muslims are excluded from this law because polygamy is recognised as a valid institution amongst their community. Thus while bigamy is a penal offence, Muslims enjoy exclusion from it. Apart from polygamy, another core issue is the divorce system (triple talaq or otherwise) among the Muslims. Hindus and Christians cannot secure divorce so easily. It has been constantly said that there was no reason why the Muslim community was not given the benefit of social reforms regarding bigamy and divorce. Two of the more important features of a uniform civil law of course would be a ban on polygamy and instant talaq. This will not only give greater security to Muslim women, but also prevent irresponsible Hindu males from embracing Islam just to be able to marry more than one woman. Polygamy and instant talaq are both sanctioned by the Shariat law. Both are loaded in favour of Muslim men. Muslim women are sufferers.
Woman in Islam
"Men have preeminence above women because God has made them superior to the latter. Also men spend their money... Good wives are obedient to men... Those who disobey you, first advise them politely to behave themselves. If they do not improve, stop sleeping with them. If even then they do not improve, beat them up...," says the Quran.10 The Quran also imposes elaborate veil on women. Momins are instructed to tell their wives and daughters to cover themselves with veil when going out.11 "Enjoin believing women to keep their eyes low, to preserve their chastity, to cover their adornments, to draw their veils over their bosoms and not to reveal their finery."12 Women were primarily meant to procreate, to produce Muslims. "Your wives are as a tilth unto you. So approach your tilth when and how you will" - by ploughing, sowing and raising crops, says the Quran. Or, "Your women are your field - go unto them as you will."13 Woman in Islam is not regarded as a person but as a field. Her husband cultivates it and reaps the harvest, for the harvest belongs to the proprietor. She is nothing but her husband's domain. Women could be beaten up for disloyalty and sexual non-comformity.14
No wonder, with such freedom on the part of men and such restrictions on the part of women, believers took to marrying freely from the very beginning of Islam. It is common knowledge that in Islam a man can marry four wives and possess numberless concubines. According to a tradition of Abu Abbas, the Prophet had said: "in my Ummah, he is the best who has the largest number of wives." Umar, the second Caliph (581-644 CE) had already married four times before the Hijra; in Medina he married five more times, the last when he was sixty. Umar said: "Prevent women from learning to write; say no to their capricious ways... Adopt positions opposite those of women. There is great merit in such opposition." At 57 Umar married Umm Kulsum, daughter of Ali and Fatima. Ali (600-661) was the Prophet's cousin and the fourth Caliph. He said: "The entire woman is an evil and what is worse is that it is a necessary evil... You should never ask a woman her advice because her advice is worthless. Hide them so that they cannot see other men." Islam was the first to impose the elaborate veil on women. Other ahadis advised likewise. In many of these women are depicted as fitna (evil). The Prophet said that "After me I will not leave any greater fitna for men than women". Women are naqis-ul-aql and naqis-ul-din. They are found in hell in large numbers. Men will be destroyed on account of women.15
In short, there was a spate of marriages, flood of divorces, lot of restrictions and damaging diatribes against women among the faithful. Ali's son, al-Hasan, the brother of al-Husain of the Karbala fame, had won a highly individual title for himself: "the great divorcer." He died at the age of forty-five and he had by that time succeeded in making and unmaking no less than one hundred marriages. Al-Hasan had twenty children, fifteen sons and five daughters, from whom are descended one section of the great Saiyyads.16 It is well known that polygamy and jihad helped Muslim expansion and colonization. "No wonder that in the annals of history, Muslim imperialism probably endured the longest."17
This was a great achievement of Islam. But it also resulted in damnation of half of the Muslim population, that of Muslim women, droves of whom had been obtained in Jihad. They were declared to be inferior to men in every way. They were to be freely beaten. "Wife-beating was perhaps already there, but Islam brought to it a heavenly sanction."18 Testimony of two women was considered equal to that of one man. In matters of sex man's desire was all that mattered. Captured women were like slaves or concubines or "what your right hand possesses". They were meant for amusement of Muslim men. Women could be married at will and divorced at will. No explanation was needed for divorcing a woman. "Islam has always considered women as creatures inferior in every way: physically, intellectually, and morally. This negative vision is divinely sanctioned in the Koran, corroborated by the hadiths and perpetuated by the commentaries of the theologians, the custodians of Muslim dogma and ignorance."19 In short, polygamy is a crucial point of Muslim Personal law.
Stir for Muslim Women's Liberation
It is noteworthy that a debate is going on among the Muslims themselves about having a second look at the Shariat laws regarding women and divorce, alimony and maintenance. But it is a low key controversy. For, the Prophet's revelations are final. The laws have been issued. Other societies adopt new laws as the need arises, as traditions change. This is not possible in Islam. "Islamic laws on marriage and divorce are not just social legislations... They are revealed truths, Allah's commands. To seek to change them is... rebellion against God." All that a Muslim can do is to 'reinterpret' the Prophet's decrees - by itself not an easy task. For example, Zafar Jung's article "Islamic law needs to be revised", ends by saying that the change should be in the spirit of the pristine purity of Islam. Abdul Moghni (Patna) reacting to Zafar Jung's article says: "It can be improved upon only by authentic Islamic scholars and accredited institutions rather than by the so-called secularists who are ignorant of Islam and its laws."20 "Consequently and as usual, all debate ends where it begins - everything is to be thought and done within the permissible limits of Islam."
The debate has not remained confined to men alone. Farida Rahman, an active feminist, jurist and a member of parliament of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, demanding women's share in property said: "I do not advocate that the holy Koran should be rewritten but I do demand that there be equal rights for men and women and that is why 1 would circumvent the laws laid down in the Koran in this particular case." For this remark Bangladesh fundamentalist leader Maulana Fazlul Huq Amini demanded her death - "Farida Rahman being a Muslim must be hanged for speaking against the holy Koran."21 A fatwa has been issued against her for demanding equality between men and women. Farida Rahman is safe(?) outside Islamic Bangladesh as she has sought refuge in Sweden. Riffat Hassan is also safe outside Pakistan. Born and brought up in Lahore, Riffat presently is a professor of religious studies in the United States. According to her the activities of Muslim fundamentalist groups throughout the world and especially in Afghanistan, Iran, Egypt, Sudan and Bangladesh have strengthened the view that Islam cannot coexist with liberal attitudes. Riffat Hasan is out to demolish the stereotype of a partriarchal Islam. Her struggle is against fundamentalists especially in Muslim majority states who are "working overtime to make Muslim women faceless and nameless".22
The demand that "Farida Rahman being a Muslim must be hanged for speaking against the holy Koran", is in keeping with the Islamic tradition. But Farida Rahman rightly raises her voice against the attempt to humiliate and ridicule Muslim women and make them helpless and faceless. Two examples of this attitude may be cited. A news item from Dhaka says that "A radical Muslim priest has offered love and marriage to Bangladesh's most controversial feminist writer, Taslima Nasreen, in order to bring her to the faith". "She will be my third wife," said Mr. Rahim Baksh, an Islamic cleric in Cox's Bazar town in southeastern Bangladesh.23 Another: "One of the most pathetic stories told during a recent video magazine programme on the triple talaq controversy was that of a middle aged Muslim woman who recounted how a group of mullahs laughed at her when she took her complaint about her marriage to them. She felt so helpless, she said, in a room full of bearded clerics - all men, of course - laughing at her plight and making it abundantly clear that she was living in a man's world where her grievances against her husband would bring no relief."24 it is clear that the iron law of the fundamentalists still has the community in its grip, preventing the articulation of any views or the adoption of any behaviour which carry a hint of non-conformism. Since all Muslims, including the liberals, seem resigned to let the bigots rule the roost, it only helps their opponents to buttress the case against their closer assimilation in Indian society. Any possibility of a successful rebellion against the medieval concepts is out of the question in the Islamic countries, but not totally unfeasible in an open polity like India's. But the initiative has to come from within the Muslim community, declare secularist political parties.
In a free country like India, Muslim women sometimes speak out. A few days ago a group of Muslim women took out a procession in Mumbai. They were protesting against polygamy and triple talaq as practised by Muslim men. Their delegation also met the Chief Minister Mr. Manohar Joshi. Working women stated that sometimes when they returned home late from workplace, their husbands pronounced talaq and in a moment they were rendered homeless and helpless. For a woman's right of inheritance is illusory. The concept of alimony is unknown is Islam, and the Quran sanctions maintenance for the customary period of iddat.25 Manohar Joshi promised to look into their problems sympathetically. What followed was published as a news item in The Times of India, Mumbai, dated 30 April 1997. "The Samajwadi Party has protested against chief minister Manohar Joshi's, assertion that his government would introduce a uniform civil code in Maharashtra... Samajwadi Party spokesman Nasir Jamal said here on Tuesday that Mr. Joshi's statement had 'created a feeling of insecurity among the Muslim masses'. 'Several Muslim organisations are planning to come together and jointly oppose any move to impose a uniform code,' he added. Mr. Jamal appealed to the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government not to 'tamper with Muslim religious laws'."26 So even a talk of reform creates a feeling of insecurity among the Muslims. A similar attempt of Kerala talaq victims to fight against polygamy through their newly formed forum 'Nisha' (Nisa in Arabic means women) and the movement called 'Makkal Samaram' (stir by children for share in fathers' property) are also facing rough weather from the orthodox section of the Muslim community.27
The remedy for most of such problems lies in having a common civil code for all citizens. This was realised by the framers of the Constitution of India. Article 44 of the Constitution says: "The state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India." Many a time aggrieved parties (like divorced Muslim women) have approached the courts for redressal and many a time the Supreme Court has asked the government to explain the steps it has taken for securing uniformity in the personal laws, particularly those of the Muslims, leading to the enactment of a common civil code for all Indians.
Many Muslims in India, both liberal and orthodox, are engaged in a debate on the merits of prohibition of polygamy and triple talaq and many other matters like adoption and inheritance and the desirability of having a common civil code. But since the demand for a uniform civil code comes from the Hindu forums also, it is resisted by Muslims in general and mullahs in particular. Muslims are generally allergic to the advocacy by Hindus of a common civil code. They consider it an interference of non-Muslims in the personal laws of Islam. That is why Nasir Jamal appealed particularly to "Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government not to tamper with Muslim religious laws". Any innovation or change is taboo in Islam because it is believed that the best code of laws for "all humanity and for all time" has already been sent by God fourteen hundred years ago and any suggestion for change is not only irrelevant but also "creates a feeling of insecurity among Muslims". Some Hindus in anger say: "Let them go to hell; let them stew in their own juice." But Indian society cannot progress if the condition of only some women (Hindu) improves through reform while the Muslim women are left out. If the society has to progress it has to progress as whole; there has to be a uniform civil code for all. The Bharatiya Janata Party wants enactment of a common civil code. The Congress Party opposes it. This is party politics, a basic of democracy. That is how Nasir Jamal's contention in Mumbai gets support from the Congress. Mr. Gurudas Kamat, a member of the interim committee overseeing the affairs of the Mumbai unit of the Congress, said that "the Congress would vehemently oppose any move to bring in the code. According to him the Sena was trying to create fear in the minds of the minorities in the state." It is well known that the Hindu secularists help Muslim fundamentalists in keeping the banner of instant talaq and polygamy flying. "Union government has already expressed its helplessness in enacting a common Uniform Civil Code (UCC ), applicable to all the religious communities. It feels that such a legislation would be against its policy not to interfere with the personal laws of minority communities... The government maintains that until the initiative for change comes from the community, it cannot interfere with its personal laws."28 The problem of enactment of a uniform civil code has become a grinding stone placed round the neck of the country. The political parties, the Parliament and state legislatures, the judiciary - from lower courts to the Supreme Court -, the intelligentsia, the media, the ulema have all got involved with it in one way or the other, but there seems to be no way out. It is true that a few Muslim women seek relief from law courts,29 but naturally not all the aggrieved parties can take their problems to the courts all the time. The courts themselves are handicapped because of variance of religious laws of so many faiths and ask the government what steps are being taken to implement the provision of the Constitution "to secure for the citizens uniform civil code throughout the territory of India".
It is necessary to admit that social reforms are not easy to effect. The more things change the more they remain the same. There is inevitability of gradualness in the field of social reform. In the West the Christians have moved a little faster, or so it appears. They have both the will to change and the determination to move forward. Hindus possess the will but change but little. They are aware of the evils in their society and pass laws to remove them. Laws have been enacted against untouchability, against child marriage, against demanding dowry, against begging, against child labour, against employment of children in hazardous industries, and in a dozen other areas. This shows the zeal of the Hindus in establishing a better social order. But in actual fact little change in these fields has come about, if things have not actually deteriorated. Some "progressive" Muslims sometimes talk of change with regard to rules of polygamy, divorce, adoption, inheritance etc. But other equally "progressive" Muslims oppose any such move. (The indoctrinated, poor and uneducated Muslims of course have no opinion to offer.) So they do the next best thing - defend everything Islamic. In place of improving the lot of their women, they assert that the status of women in Islam is the best, that their divorce rules are the best, and that their education in madrasas is correct and complete. They claim that their social rules enacted fourteen hundred years ago in the desert land of Arabia in the camel age are good in all countries for all times. If there is any suggestion from outside, they consider it an interference in their Personal Law.
As has been discussed in detail earlier, Islam has little to do with democracy. It does not concede equal status to Muslims and non-Muslims. In a Muslim state non-Muslims do not enjoy human rights as defined in modem times. Muslim religious and political leaders repeatedly claims that the Shariat laws and fatwas of Muftis have greater sanctity for Muslims than provisions of the Indian Constitution.
Although this attitude in many ways comes in the way of Muslims joining India's national mainstream, it does not debar them from enjoying the advantages flowing from Indian democracy. The Constitution of India provides for special consideration to the minorities and Muslims take full advantage of this situation. Besides, democracy is based on elections. Muslim voters take advantage of such a situation and minorityism flourishes in India through the assistance of some 'secularist' politicians and betrayal by some intellectuals. All political parties in India run after Muslim votes. This turns Indian democracy into politics of minorityism and vote banks, and helps the Muslims to remain a state within the state - with their own personal laws - and the absence of a uniform civil code keeps the torch of Muslim separatism burning. Still the condition of Muslim women in India is better than that in many Islamic countries for reasons more than one. For one, there is lot of Hindu influence on Muslim culture. Purdah-less Muslim women are a common sight. For another, Indian judiciary comes to the rescue of oppressed Muslim women in matters of maintenance and alimony.
In many parts of the Middle East women have been increasingly abused for not covering their hair, for going to beaches or for travelling in public transport simply because there was no provision in them for segregating the men from the women. Women working in the public sector were also threatened with death if they did not give up their jobs.
According to the findings of the Amnesty International recorded in their latest report, "Women in the Middle East: Human rights under attack", in several Middle East countries women face imprisonment, cruel punishments and even death under the law which is discriminatory and heavily loaded against women. Consequently, from being prosecuted for the clothes they wear or do not wear, women can be locked up for driving a car even.
In Saudi Arabia, driving by women has been banned through legislation. The Iranian law, in turn, states that a women should be buried upto her chest for sexual offences while specifying the type of stones that should be used. According to article 104 of the Penal Code which refers to adultery, "In the punishment of stoning to death, the stones should not be too large so that the person dies on being hit by one or two of them; they should not be too small either so that they could not be defined as stones."30
While in Iran, both men and women face sentences of flogging and stoning to death for sexual offences for hudud offences such as adultery, according to the Amnesty report a large number of women have been executed by being stoned to death. Such executions are of common occurrence. Three men and women were stoned to death in October 1997.31 However, men who kill for the sake of honour are let free. In Iran women also risk arrest and flogging if they fail to obey the dress code. The law provides for 74 lashes for violating the "dress law". Women of course do not observe purdah with women. In women's clubs (Hijab clubs), they can play games, swim, and practice athletics under women coaches, but all Islamic laws are applicable to them. They cannot, according to the Constitution, become presidents, judges or religious leaders. Men can divorce at will. "Women cannot travel without the written permission (emphasis added) of their husbands or fathers, and a woman's testimony in court carries just half the weight of man's."32
In Sudan women have been flogged for dressing in the ways that infringe the military Government's law on public morality. The Amnesty International has recorded that a woman living in Omdurman was fined and sentenced to 35 lashes because she was wearing trousers. Another woman a student at Khartoum University who was wearing a blouse and skirt was lashed 25 times for the offence.
As Muzaffar Hussain writes, "In Algeria the fanatics are out to brutally subjugate women who have some experience of women's liberty since the French connection. If a Muslim woman is seen without purdah or uncovered hair she is shot dead. If a Muslim woman continues in her old attire of the French colonial days of skirt and blouse, her bare legs are exposed to a fusillade of stones and before long she falls a cripple. In 1993-94 according to the official reports about 300 women were killed for various reasons." On March 6, when the rest of the world was celebrating Women's Day, in the very capital city of Algeria 16 women were mowed down for having seen a dramatic performance in a theatre. According to the information available with the UN there are fifty-five million refugees in the world; about forty million of them are Muslims. When a person has to leave his home and hearth and take to an unending road the most severe hardships come to the lot of women. In the world 17,500,00 Muslim women with their 75,00,000 children are roaming in search of shelter. The petrodollar rich Arab and other countries that swear by their Islamic faith have no time to think about them.33 Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia are considered progressive nations of North Africa. The position of women in other Islamic countries is not better if not worse. Fatima Mernissi, Professor of Sociology, Mohammad V University in Rabat, Morocco, in her book Islam and Democracy - Fear of the Modern World, dates "the powerlessness of women to the advent of Islam."34 Still, and as usual, it is claimed that "by comparison, women in Islam were in a much better and more protected position".35 This is true of India but not Islamic countries.
Indian 'secularist' politicians join the "minorities" in opposing a common civil code with a view to please the Muslims to gamer their votes. They find many other ways for the same reason. One such gesture is the government's granting subsidy on Hajj pilgrimage.
6.3. HAJJ PILGRIMAGE
Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina is a religious obligation on every Muslim. Consequently Hajj pilgrims converge on these holy cities once every year from all over the world. This year (1997) the estimated number of Hajj pilgrims from India totals to about 82,000. Of these about 32,000 went on their own while more than 50,000 persons were government sponsored: in other words their journey to Saudi Arabia was subsidised by the Government of India. There are many Indian Muslims who sell their houses and personal belongings to go to Mecca for Hajj. But we are here concerned with Indian 'secular' government's subsidy of crores of rupees annually on this pilgrimage. The Indian Parliament was informed by the External Affairs Minister Mr. Inder Kumar Gujral on 17 March 1997 that "a total of Rs.84.66 crores was spent on subsidising travel of over 1.06 lakh Haj pilgrims from 1994 till 1996."36 The First Report of the Standing Committee on External Affairs (1993-94) approved by the Tenth Lok Sabha, was laid on the table of the House on 19 April 1993. It stated:
"An amount of Rs.21 crores is estimated to be spent in 1993-94 for payment to SBI (State Bank of India) on account of foreign exchange released to Haj Pilgrims at official rate of exchange. It has been decided in January, 1993 that the pilgrims will be given foreign exchange at the official rate and the difference between the official and market rate of exchange would be borne through the Ministry of External Affairs' budgetary provision. The difference in the rates of exchange comes to Rs.21 crores.
"This year (1993) arrangements have been finalised with Aeroflot carrying pilgrims to Jeddah and back against a sum of Rs.18,000 per pilgrim. A pilgrim would however pay Rs.11,000. For 20,000 pilgrims travelling by air, a sum of Rs.14 crores will have to be set aside as subsidy at the rate of Rs.7,000. Besides a sum of Rs.8.8037 crores approximately will be required to be earmarked for subsidy on 4,700 pilgrims' journey by sea. Facilities extended by the Government of India for the Haj Pilgrims include subsidised fares by sea/air. Haj pilgrims are also exempted from payment of International Airport Tax of Rs.300, a, courtesy which costs the Government Rs.6 lakhs.
"Government of India also sends a 45 members team of medical/paramedical personnel for the duration of Haj every year. 6 Assistant Haj Officers and 8 Haj Assistants are being sent for the assistance of pilgrims during the Haj. Medicines worth Rs.7.17 lakhs have also been sent for the Hajis. All these and the additional staff recruited locally by the CGI Jeddah for the assistance of the pilgrims during the Haj season and the regular Haj establishment in Indian consulate cost Government of India Rs.1.02 crores every year.
"The Committee desire that while maintaining the services for the welfare of the Indian Haj pilgrims while in Saudi Arabia at an adequate level, the Government should progressively reduce and eventually eliminate the element of subsidy on their transportation to and from India. The Committee, however, do not see any justification for the newly instituted subsidy on the purchase of foreign exchange by the pilgrims."38
But in the place of progressively reducing the subsidy, the government is spending more and more on Hajj pilgrims. The number of Hajj pilgrims over the years has been on the increase. Earlier only 18 to 22 thousand pilgrims used to go from India. Last year, it was 50 thousand which swelled to 82 thousand this year. This year, 1997, the government's expenditure on Hajj has been reported to Parliament as being Rs.93 crore. A fire in the pilgrim's camp has killed more than 200 Indian pilgrims and injured an unspecified number, some critically. Doctors, medicines and goodwill missions have been rushed to the site. The government has promised to pay rupees one lakh each to the kin of the dead and the disabled. All this would come to a hundred crores. A country which has millions of people under poverty line to feed can ill afford such generosity. Giving of so much subsidy by the "Secular Government" for a religious minority puts a question mark on its credibility. For, it was the secularist Jawaharlal Nehru who introduced the Haj Bill in Parliament in 1959 to facilitate and subsidise Muslim pilgrims visiting Mecca. But, as seen above, it has now grown into a monster costing the Government 93 crores in 1997 alone. In addition to the Central Government, many State Governments and large cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi run Hajj Centres at taxpayers' expense.
There is also loss of revenue to Air India, the official government owned airlines. The dislocation in its normal services due to Hajj adversely affects its finance and reputation. Scores of flights are specially arranged to fly from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Thiruanantapuram to carry the pilgrims to Jeddah. And the Air Carriers have to return empty, obviously. On the reverse journey, Carriers fly empty to Jeddah to bring back the pilgrims from there. Newspapers are full of details of losses incurred by the government airlines every year. One report by Srinivas Laxman in The Times of India News Service, 24 March 1997, on the problem would suffice:
"Mumbai: Air-India's international flight schedules have been badly hit following diversion of several aircraft for Haj. Sources in A-I admitted that the diversion of aircraft had affected its flight schedules. This has tarnished the airline's image... He expressed helplessness saying the decision to divert aircraft was taken at the political level. A-I would now operate 142 special Haj flights for transporting 55,000 pilgrims. The Haj season is expected to end on May 21 and the special flights have forced A-I to drastically curtail its services, even to some of the lucrative destinations... The disruption in A-I services has been severely criticised by travellers and foreign tour operators. A foreign tour operator, who requested anonymity, said: The credibility of the airline has taken a severe drubbing again because of the suspension of services."
Dhananjayan K. Machingal, president of a German travel agency, was stated to have described the flight suspensions as a "political ploy" aimed at a vote bank in India. He is further quoted as saying that A-I was the "number one obstacle" to be surmounted for promoting India as an international tourist destination.
So revenue from Air India is lost, its flight-credibility suffers and Indian tourism gets a beating besides the Government losing crores of rupees on subsidising Hajj pilgrimage. This is not the end of the story. A few ships ply between the mainland and Andamans and numerous other small islands carrying essential supplies to those living on the islands. During the Hajj season some of these ships are diverted to carry pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. This results in acute shortage of necessities of life for island people including servicemen. So even the country's security is made subservient to vote bank politics.
On the other hand, the income to Saudi Arabia from Hajj every year is considerable, and this pilgrimage will keep it rich always, even if its oil reserves dry up. Because of this the Saudis have an old feud with Iran and Libya, with regard to the Muslim holy cities. Iranian police and pilgrims fought with Arab police in the main mosque in 1987. Libya wants Mecca and Medina to be declared as international townships, with the status of 'Vatican', arguing that they are common property of all Muslims.
6.4. IMAMS AS GOVERNMENT SERVANTS
Concessions to Muslims do not stop at Hajj subsidy. In the medieval period the Muslim state in India maintained the staff of the mosques at the expense of the royal exchequer. We have already said that Muslim state in India has not ceased to exist, so that the union government has taken the first step fixing regular pay scales for 1.15 lakh imams leading prayers in the various mosques across the country. The beneficiaries are 26,000 'alims' 46,000 'hafiz' and 43,000 'nazrah'. For implementation of this decision the government would have to bear an estimated expenditure of Rs.243 crores. Besides for coming three years an additional Rs.405 crores would be paid to the three categories of imams. Under the scheme, imam alim's pay scale will be Rs.1,000-1,600, imam hafiz's Rs.950-1,550, imam nazrah's Rs.850-1,400 and muazin's Rs. 800-1,400. In addition, Rs.30 per month will also be paid to the imams as medical allowance. Although these scales have been finalised, it has specifically been stated that the Wakf Board in charge of a state can pay higher scales. At least 1.15 lakh imam alim, imam hafiz, imam nazrah and muazin would get about rupees one lakh each towards back-wages and arrears since the court accepted the All India Imam Organisation (AIIO)'s plea for fixing their salaries. The governments' decision to frame a salary scheme for imams has been made despite the attorney-general's strong dissent that the state can neither promote a religion nor have one to nurture it. The governments' decision is being seen as a move to woo the imams for the elections which are round the corner.39 During Muslim rule masjids of course were government institutions, and preachers and readers were paid from the state treasury.40 Plan of making payment of salaries to imams today would also make them government servants.
But there is always a slip between the cup and the lip. The ruling party's plan to garner Muslim votes by paying salaries to imams of masjids alerted other political parties also. They also offered a deal and a better one at that. Muslim leaders also felt shy of the community's religious heads accepting such open inducement. They protested against the imams serving as government agents by accepting a salary from it. The Congress Party which had made the original offer also lost elections and went out of office. The case of making the imams salaried servants was shelved (for the time being?). But the project of payment speaks for itself. It tells (a) how a political party calling itself secular craves for Muslim communal votes, and (b) how the Muslims try to derive the best advantage from India's secular democracy.
Modern democracy is based on elections. Come elections (and they come so often), and Muslim leaders, religious and secular, are approached for support by individuals and political parties. Various Muslim outfits by themselves descend in the election arena to advocate the cause of the 'minority' community. The Shahi imam of Jama Masjid, Delhi, has been a keen participant in election politics and shown the way to Muslim clergy, maulanas, imams and overseers of dargahs to participate in electoral politics. Muslim votes account for a good percentage of the electorate, ranging from 10 to 35 or even 40 percent in some constituencies. Like any other community, they are divided on political issues. "The only point of agreement among the minority voters is their antipathy to the BJP..."41 The Congress and now the United Front is ever ready to exploit this mullah reserve for their anti-BJP party politics. Incidentally, by giving prestige to the mullahs and maulvis and by giving them a platform of anti-BJPism, 'secular' parties rekindled amongst them the Jihadist mentality which was never dormant and had witnessed the holocausts of Calcutta and Noakhali. The terrorist activities of Jihadist outfits from Kashmir to Kerala via Coimbatore are a direct result of this secularist syndrome. Secularist politicians and intelligentsia find it easy to enjoy power and influence by not criticising infiltrators, smugglers and other anti-national elements. They find it profitable to attack Hindus only and call them communalists.
6.5. FRIDAY CONGREGATIONAL SERVICE
Curiously enough in the Indian state as in any Muslim state the mosque is a place of religious prayer and political activity. Friday sermon is the imam's 'Order of the Day'. It is so today in the Jama Masjid of Delhi as well as all other important masjids in the country. In the Delhi Jama Masjid Prime Minister V.P. Singh of the 'Social justice' fame paid a visit to the Shahi Imam, Syed Abdulla Bukhari. His son Syed Ahmad Bukhari, the Naib Imam, has delivered venomous Friday sermons especially in the wake of the destruction of the disputed Babri structure at Ayodhya in December 1992. A fiery speech was made in early January 1993. The police naturally charged him with sedition and inflaming communal passions by his anti-national diatribe. The police filed the charge-sheet without arresting the Naib imam on the ground that it would cause a law and order problem. Pampered by the Prime Ministers, these imams have developed a clout. The court issued summons and later on non-bailable warrants against the accused, but Ahmad Bukhari obtained a stay on the proceedings from the High Court.
Even while Ahmad Bukhari's plea is pending in the High Court, the secular Government headed by H.D. Deve Gowda instructed the Delhi Lieutenant Governor to move the court for the withdrawal of the case against the Naib imam on the plea that dropping of sedition charge against him would help create a peaceful atmosphere in society. This step so alarmed the Hindus living in the Jama Masjid area that one Shyam Lal resident of Sita Ram Bazar and four others in his vicinity, moved an application in the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate opposing the withdrawal of the case. Shyam Lal pleaded that the people living in the area were terribly scared following the speech of Ahmad Bukhari and therefore the case should not be dropped against the Naib imam.
While it is rumoured that the decision to withdraw the case on the part of the United Front Government was due to a deal seeking Bukhari's support in Uttar Pradesh elections, the terror inspired by this centre of religio-political activity is due to many more reasons. Thousands of Muslims assemble in one place and collection of such a crowd generates a feeling of fright. The roads in front of the mosque are blocked on Friday afternoon. The namazis who assemble for prayer overflow into the adjoining streets, hindering movement of people and flow of traffic. This problem is acute in Mumbai. Then there are microphones. They screech loudly to call the Muslims to prayer. This problem is a headache for the government in Calcutta. One has only to see on any Friday the deployment of police force in the environs of the main mosques to realise that the Jama Masjid is a symbol of Muslim state within the Indian state. On collective prayers days like Idul-zuha and Idul-fitr, or on any Friday afternoon the whole atmosphere inspires awe into the hearts of the peaceful people of the vicinity. But this is no problem with 'secular' parties. Their problem is winning elections.
6.6. EXTRA-TERRITORIAL LOYALTY
Islam is an exotic religion in India. It was born outside and was imposed upon India by waves of conquering armies which periodically inundated the country. Throughout the history of Muslim rule in India, distinguished soldiers, scholars, administrators, merchants and sufis came from abroad and remained loyal to their homelands. Muslims of foreign extraction and even of indigenous birth looked to foreign Islamic lands for guidance and support. Muslim scriptures teach a Muslim that he belongs to the world of Islam. Love of a non-Muslim country, even if it be the country of his birth, is not incumbent upon him. Islamdom (umma) is more important for him than nationalism. We have written about the psychology developed by this philosophy in the preceding pages. Therefore, for modern times, only one or two examples may suffice of their extra-territorialism.
The Times of India, Bombay edition of 29 August 1925, published the following report which speaks for itself. "The Muslims of Bombay, including every sect, observed Friday as Yowmud-Dua by a general hartal by suspending all business in the city and offering special prayers after the usual Jumma prayers for the liberation of Medina from the horrors of the Wahabis. Prayers were offered in every mosque during the afternoon. The spiritual feeling with which they have been drawn to the Holy Places, especially the tomb of the Prophet at Medina, was demonstrated by the fact that they went in procession to the Jumma Masjid in Shaikh Memon Street and the Hamidia Masjid at Pydownie. The Muslim quarters of the city presented a gloomy appearance as a result of the suspension of business." Such sorrow is not always gloomy. it takes an angry and aggressive form with dire consequences for the victims. A few years ago the al-Aqsa mosque was damaged during Arab-Israel tension. The event had nothing to do with India or Indians. But Indian Muslims without any provocation at home indulged in lot of rioting and destroyed Hindu temples in many places.
The love of Arabia by Muslims everywhere resulted in developing a feeling of contempt among them for their own country and culture. "As a result, the foreign Muslims have no loyalty to their own motherland... The Muslims of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh... are refugees in their own countries for having no real love and respect for their own motherlands... By destroying the national spirit of non-Arab Muslims, Islam has demolished the Asian centres of civilization such as Egypt, Iran and India." Muslims of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh "feel proud of bullying and bruising and bashing the honour of their Hindu ancestors and they pretend to be the progeny of the Arabs, the Turks and the Mughals, who were nothing but their oppressors."
In the medieval times Khilafat had an importance which Muslims everywhere recognised. We have seen how Indian sultans paid obeisance to Caliphs living outside India. They held him in reverence and transmitted treasures to him. Ibn Battutah gives an instance of the servility of Indian sultans to the Caliph. Once the son of the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad, Ibn-ul-Khalifa Ghiyasuddin, during his visit to Delhi got annoyed with Muhammad bin Tughlaq. The Sultan instantly rode to his residence and apologised to him. "Ghiyasuddin accepted his apology, yet the sultan said, 'By God I shall not believe that you are pleased with me, until you place your foot on my neck'... then he placed his head on the ground, and the great Malik Qabula lifting Ibn-ul-Khalifa's foot with his hand placed it on the sultan's neck. This done, the sultan stood up and said, 'Now I know you are pleased with me, and my heart is at rest.'"42
In modern times the issue of Khilafat formed a part of the Indian struggle for freedom as late as 1920s. Even when Khilafat was abolished in Turkey, Indian Muslims remained attached to it. The revival of a universal Khalifa is preferable for many Muslims to a national secular state even today. In a front-page article entitled Khilafat or Jihalat (Khilafat or Mental Backwardness), the mass-circulating Urdu weekly Nai Duniya (Delhi, February 11-18), analyses the Muslim community's "psychological compulsion" for Pan-Islamic unity and revival of a glorious past, under a single Khalifa or supreme head (Amir-ul-mominin) in keeping with the Prophet's injunctions. The real question, it says, as posed by the founder of the movement Maulana Asri Falahi, is which one to choose, "Khilafat or Nationalism". The paper explains that the conception of Khilafat or the installation of one religious-cum-temporal head for all the Muslim countries of the world "holds a great attraction for Muslims of the world in general and Indian Muslims in particular" as it is based on the concept of the brotherhood of the Kalima - that is unity of all Muslims owing allegiance to the Kalima proclaiming faith in one and the same God.
As a result, a new movement for the revival of Khilafat has been started in India recently. It has been spearheaded by the youthful Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). It was launched with a call for a Muslim awakening from November 29 to December 8, 1996 on a national scale. Its avowed aim is to acquaint the Muslims with the "harmful consequences of nationalism". The core of its ideology is based on the premise that Pan-Islamic community is an ideological as well as a divine entity, and that it is its God-ordained duty to establish one religious-cum-temporal head "to strengthen Islamic foundations, to instill fearlessness among Muslims so as to perform the holy mission of freeing the whole humanity from slavery".
This is a goal with which no Muslim organisation, including the Jamiat-ul-Ulama disagrees. However, there is woeful lack of infrastructure for such a worldwide institution of Khilafat. To cap it all, the Muslim countries themselves are caught in mutually destructive controversies. Urdu Weekly Nasheman of Bangalore (December 1, 1996) is greatly worried about the lack of unity and cohesive action among the Muslim countries of the world, which, it says, is hindering the fulfilment of the supreme Islamic mission of establishing the Islamic system and Islamic order all over the world. For, according to the paper, "only Allah's system can work on this Allah-given earth". By which of course is taken to mean the Quranic and the Shariat system of governance and jurisprudences.43
The idea of revival of the universal Khilafat is not as innocent as asking for quota for jobs or promotion of Urdu. Even in embryo, it is an attempt to reestablish a Muslim state, of Allah's system, of weaning away Muslims from the 'harmful consequences' of nationalism. In short, it is an attempt to revive Nizam-i-Mustafa in India, an independent Muslim state, if not entirely independent, at least a Muslim state within the Indian secular and nationalistic state. There are already pockets of such independent states as for example in Deoband (Saharanpur), Nadwa (Lucknow), Bareilly, Rae Bareli, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and so many other places. The literature produced there is a mirror of their psyche. The autonomy enjoyed by them is a security risk for the country - as the 1994 incident at Nadwa shows.
The Nadwa Incident
In 1947 India was partitioned on the basis of the notorious two-nation theory. The theory stipulated that in India Muslims were a nation different and separate from the Hindus and that they needed a separate homeland. After Partition Pakistan was established as an Islamic state. There, in 1991, was also enacted a Law of Ideology. It punishes anyone who writes against the two-nation ideology of Pakistan. The penalty is 10 years rigorous imprisonment.44 On the other hand a secular democratic republic was set up in India. Here there is no 'law' of ideology. But the researcher is expected to remain secular. His secular writings cover so much but cover up still more. What is covered up is Indian Muslims' seeking help and inspiration from Pakistan. Indian Muslims have their problems like any other section of society. But they look to Pakistan and other Muslim states for their solution. Of course there are loyal and patriotic Muslims in India. But most Muslims still think India as their battle-ground and Pakistan as their saviour. In India they are constantly harping on job reservations, minority rights, preservation of personal law and Urdu; they look to Pakistan for help in achieving their goals. Their attitude is best reflected and symbolised in what Ali Mian said in Karachi in July 1978 at the First Islamic Asian Conference. Addressing the delegates of the Conference he said: "The Musalmans of Hindustan (and) Musalmans of the whole world were looking to Pakistan with hope and longing eyes for guidance and help. Indian Muslims were also affected by whatever was happening in Pakistan or any other Muslim country. Indian Muslims were greatly pained at the defeat of Pakistan in 1971." Ali Mian (full name Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi) is the Nazim (Rector) of Nadwat-ul-Ulum, a renowned academy of Islamic learning at Lucknow. Born into a Hanafi Muslim family of Rae Bareli in 1914, he is known as a leading scholar of Islam. He has produced 75 books. His word has a weight in Islamic countries. Known as a rather liberal Muslim he, living in India, openly declared that he was not happy at (non-Muslim) India's victory and (Muslim) Pakistan's defeat in 1971.
Most Muslims living in India think and behave like Ali Mian. Their sympathetic attitude towards Muslim Pakistan encourages the latter to send terrorists in Muslim majority Kashmir and those other parts of India which have substantial Muslim population for destabilising the country. it is by now well-known that Pakistan is waging a proxy war against India. Its terrorists and agents provocateurs are trained in Pakistani camps and are sent to India with the help of ISI (Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence). They have built their pockets in the Tarai region - Pilibhit, Bareilly, Rampur and Moradabad. in forty out of 65 districts of Uttar Pradesh alone they have about 400 active and about 10,000 sleeping agents. In five districts of U.P. - Ghaziabad, Aligarh, Meerut, Saharanpur and Moradabad - there are many places which have become centres of Pakistan spies and terrorists.45 Here highways are no longer safe. On 6 December 1993 bombs were simultaneously exploded in some superfast Rajdhani express trains in India. Rape, murder and mayhem is perpetrated by them in Kashmir every day. Some American and British tourists were abducted by Afghan terrorists of Hizb-ul-Mujahidin and Harkat-ul-Ansar cadres and brought over to village Masuri in Ghaziabad which they had made their centre of activity. The Indian intelligence and police traced the terrorists, who had perpetrated these crimes, to Nadwat-ul-Ulum in Lucknow. Abu Baqar, a Guyanese national responsible for blasts in Rajdhani expresses on 6 December 1993, was a student of Nadwa for eight years. Many terrorists were living in Nadwa hostels as regular students. The Intelligence Bureau, after careful planning, raided the Nadwa college in search of the Kashmiri militants. Seven young men were arrested. Abu Baqar, who was responsible for bomb explosions in Rajdhani expresses, was one of them. The Delhi Police and IB was in search of a man called Khursheed Ahmad. He was in Nadwa but having got an inkling of the raid, fled the scene. IB sleuths arrested an ISI agent hiding in Dar-ul-Ulum Deoband College of Islamic Studies in Saharanpur.
Ali Mian was all rage. He of course denied sheltering of terrorists in the hostels of Nadwa. He demanded an apology from the Central and U.P. State governments for the raid on such a venerated institution of Islamic learning. He called a meeting of the Personal Law Board of which he is the chairman. He said in a statement that any attempt to malign the Nadwa college amounted to insulting the entire Muslim community in India. He wrote to seven or eight heads of member states of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC). He insisted on OIC to raise the issue of police raid on Nadwa at its international fora. The Arab News published from Saudi Arabia, Akbar-ul-Mujtama published from Kuwait, as well as Khalij Times, Gulf Times and some other newspapers published in Gulf countries printed the news prominently. Some wrote editorials on the event, says Maulana Ishaq Husaini of Nadwa. A minister of U.P., Azam Khan, wrote to the President of India protesting against the Intelligence Bureau's taking photographs of those arrested and requested for the return of the photographs and their negatives.
How could Ali Mian behave as he did? Because in U.P. there was the government of the Samajwadi Party headed by Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav and at the Centre there was the government of the Indian National Congress headed by Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao. The party politics in democracy helped Mulayam Singh to blame Rao for the raid on Nadwa. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) utilized this opportunity to repeat its warning against anti-national elements residing in India. Meanwhile there were strikes and hartals in Muslim dominated areas of Lucknow and Kanpur.46 Communal tension prevailed in many other towns. Frenzied mobs crowded the streets shouting slogans like 'Long live Mulayam Singh, down with Narasimha Rao'. Effigies of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and officers of Lucknow district administration were burnt. Rao sent Railway Minister Jaffer Sharif to meet Ali Mian and assuage his ruffled feelings. "Mr. CK Jaffer Sharif, abandoned his election campaign in Karnataka and flew to Lucknow to offer apologies on behalf of the Prime Minister." Mulayam Singh Yadav also apologised for raid on an educational institution. The Chief Minister said he was not informed about the raid in advance. Many police and intelligence officials were warned and transferred.
Why did the Prime Minister and Chief Minister of U. P. and other politicians behave as they did? U.P. has a substantial Muslim population. Muslim votes influence elections both to Parliament and State Assembly. There was a time when the Congress was the most prominent and powerful party in U.P. Now new political parties have come up. All the old and new parties are keen to preserve and increase the number of their Muslim voters. Even the BJP is keen to garner their votes. It debunks the propaganda that it is anti-Muslim. It says it is only against anti-national elements. Hence the Prime Minister, the U.P. Chief Minister - the political parties like the Congress, the SP, BJP, BSP - all try to befriend the Muslim vote bank. Hence parties and politicians in power ignore the aberrations of anti-national and anti-social elements. Hence they are specially considerate to Muslim leaders and their restive followers. if Muslims behave like bullies, they concede them their status. They overlook minor militant attacks. They even look the other way when Muslim infiltrators from neigbouring countries sneak into India. It is even said that they encourage such clandestine immigration because it increases their vote bank.
Undoubtedly, Muslim voters are ever increasing. The Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday, 6 May 1997, that 11,000 Pakistani nationals were found overstaying in India till 1996. Replying to a query by a BJP member, the Home Minister said that the centre had asked the state governments to launch special drive to detect and deport foreigners residing in the country illegally. The Border Security Force intercepted a total of 57,391 infiltrators from Bangladesh during the last three years ending 1996, while pushing back 42,246 illegal migrants from across the eastern border, he said. Union Home Minister Indrajit Gupta told the Lok Sabha that it was difficult to detect illegal aliens from neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh as, racially, they were all of the same stock as Indians. The Bharatiya Janata Party MPs who had raised the issue were quite flummoxed when Mr. Gupta candidly admitted that the number of such aliens was close to 10 million.47
Many of these infiltrators and overstayers are Pakistani agents. They find shelter from Bahraich to Bangalore, Hyderabad to Chennai. Details of their activities cannot be publicly known but they are under surveillance of police and intelligence agencies. Reports about them lie concealed in secret files of government and police. At times the politicians and police form a nexus and keep inconvenient information a secret. At others intelligence officers work under unfavourable conditions, as for example with regard to Nadwa raid. "How can we carry on investigations against the people to whom our political masters have been offering unconditional apologies," said a senior official on condition of anonymity. Even the CBI sleuths are reluctant to continue with the investigations. The central intelligence agencies express helplessness in view of blatant political patronage to the people figuring in their list of suspects. "When the State Government can accuse us of keeping it in dark about the raid, although we had informed (concerned officers), it is not difficult to guess the state of our morale," he said.48 When such situations arise and some politicians in power in government are found to trifle with the country's security for their vote bank, other politicians in the "Opposition" expose them in and outside Parliament and compel them keep on the right path. This is the advantage of having democracy; it compels the government to, be transparent.
The people in general come to know about antinational activities through the newspapers mainly. Their correspondents are ever busy in hunting for stories and interviewing persons who know. For instance news items and reports of the Nadwa episode were brought to light by all leading local and national dailies like Jansatta, Sahara Samachar, Nav Bharat Times, Amar Ujala, Nadeem, the Indian Express, The Times of India etc. etc. These have been collected and published by Lok Abhiyan Samiti, Lucknow, in the form of a booklet of 108 pages under the title of Nadwa ka Sacch (Truth about Nadwa).49 This is the benefit of having a free press in a free country. Newspapers carry reports of anti-national and anti-social elements in town and country. Every day newspapers carry reports of raids on terrorist hideouts and arrest of them and Pakistani agents. Large hauls of arms and ammunitions are also reported every now and then. For example, when the Gujarat police recovered arms and explosives worth more than 12 lakhs of rupees from as far away a place as Bijnor in U.P., the details were published in The Times of India.50 Thus the "Opposition", the media and the Intelligence (not intelligentsia) keep the people informed and help the government in performing its duty of safeguarding the country's security. That is how the country is kept safe from the extra-territorial loyalty of anti-national people.
The main object of Islam was, and still is, to spread Muslim religion throughout the world. The Quran, the Hadis, the Hidayah and the Sunnah all direct the faithful to fulfill this 'pious' task. In Islamic scripture there are found commands, directions and exhortations; there is no mention of discussion or consensus on this issue. However, as the Dictionary of Islam says, Muslim writers are "unanimous in asserting that in the time of the Prophet... the only choice given to the idolaters of Arabia was death or reception of Islam". Obviously, force was the medium of spreading Islam in early stages. So also it was in India. Early medieval Indian Muslim chronicles mention the sword as the greatest harvester of converts. Islam was made to spread, as the old saying goes, with Quran in one hand and sword in the other. Sword was freely used in forcing people to become Musalmans. There was a pride felt in converting people forcibly as exhibited by aggressors like al-Hajjaj or Mahmud of Ghazni. In the Islamic march for proselytization in medieval times there should be no temptation to discover any peaceful missionary movement because there was none. "The spread of Islam was military." Every Muslim is taught that this din will be established for ever. "A group of Muslims will always fight for its cause till the day of judgement."51
These days a group of Muslim writers is busy making an all out effort to present Islam with a benign face. A long series of defeats at the hands of Christian Europe and persistent resistance of Hindus in India, has resulted in inculcating in the Muslim masses a hatred of the West and the Hindus. At the same time it has also prompted some Muslim scholars to present Islam as religion of peace, to put it on par with, say, Hinduism, Jainism or Buddhism. One such writes is Asghar Ali Engineer. He is a prolific writer and does not make a secret of his aim when he says that "Islam needs an ecumenical movement".52 At one place he says: "Islam is all too often portrayed as a fanatical, violent religion which encourages its followers to wipe out kufr, unbelief. It is also believed that Islam incites its followers to spread the Prophet's message by the sword, and that it executes all believers who renounce that message. The fight in defence of Allah's way, is termed jihad by the Koran. Thus jihad is essentially a war for justice, not for aggression or lust for power... The real jihad lies in striving to control our own negative tendencies... The Sufis, in particular, have never approved of wars of aggression... The Sufis could practise absolute non-violence because they had withdrawn from the empirical world and confined themselves to the spiritual life... Islam is as non-violent a religion as any religion could be: the Koran repeatedly describes Allah as 'the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Forgiving'."53
The truth is farthest from all this. The bluff of Islam as a religion of compassion has been called by its history, tradition and fatwas.
Islam cannot be non-violent with jihad as its major duty and inspiration. In all Hadis collections, scores of pages have been devoted to the waging of real jihad, In the Quran itself jihad is described in many Surahs and ayats. A few ayats are given here as specimens.
"Kill those who join other gods with God wherever you may find them. When the sacred months are over slay the idol-worshippers wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them (9:5-6).
"O ye who believe! murder those of the unbelievers... and let them find harshness in you (9:123).
"I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, maim them in every limb (8:12).
It is a great sin for a Muslim to shirk the jihad against the unbelievers - those who do will roast in hell. it is abundantly clear from the many of the above verses that the Quran is not talking of metaphorical battles or talking of controlling of "our own negative tendencies". It is talking of the battlefield and advocating bloodthirsty injunctions against Kafirs. The Quran does not read like a religious book but a war manual. It does not preach non-violence.
Nor could the sufis "practise absolute non-violence because they had withdrawn from the empirical world and confined themselves to the spiritual life". The sufis belonged to a number of orders. Four of those orders Chishti, Suhrawardi, Qadiri and Naqshabandi - became prominent in India. The first two became popular, for the latter two were extremely orthodox and fanatical. Very few sufis shunned material wealth; most of them received land and wealth from rulers and nobles and some lived in a lavish style. They did not withdraw from the world to confine themselves to spiritual life, but often instigated their patrons to wage wars against non-Muslims, and themselves participated in battles. Even Shaikh Muinuddin Chishti's "picture of tolerance is replaced by a portrait of him as a warrior of Islam."54 There is a whole array of sufi warriors from the days of Muinuddin to those of Shah Waliullah. They took active part in religion, politics and war. Shah Waliullah, a renowned sufi scholar, greatly venerated among Muslims, wrote to the Afghan king Ahmad Shah Abdali to invade India to help Muslim brethren against the infidels.
Like Asghar Ali Engineer, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan of the Islamic Centre, New Delhi, writes that "Some extremist Muslims indulging in violence in our times have led people to the conclusion that Islam is an intolerant religion. But this is certainly not true. Islam is as tolerant a religion as any other."56 He also says that the propagation of Islam in India was through peaceful means. Writing about the present-day tablighi proselytizers, he says, "After the prayer, the despatching of missionary groups from Bangla Wali Masjid near the tomb of Nizamuddin Auliya (a mosque which had been a centre of tablighi conversion movements for decades) was attended to. The names of those who were undertaking the journey were called out one by one, and each in turn came out to the chief to shake hands with him and receive his blessings before he departed. Such a poignant scene evoked memories of the Prophet sitting in the Masjid-i-Nabwi, exhorting people and sending them in groups to propagate the message to those who were ignorant."57 Or, as he writes elsewhere, "Islam aims not so much at conversion as at making people aware of its message... so far as forced conversion is concerned, it is totally unlawful in Islam."58 According to him, "The Quran is a collection of revelations which the Prophet received over 23 years. If the Prophet received negative responses from some, and was persecuted by others, he strictly avoided confrontation, and followed the path of forbearance."59
Both these statements are not correct. Prophet Muhammad did not send any groups to spread Islam through peaceful means. What he sent were military expeditions inviting one Arab tribe after another to embrace Islam at the point of the sword. Out of the nineteen ghazwahs ('holy' expeditions) carried out in his time, he personally participated in seventeen.60 The Prophet never avoided confrontation or followed the path of forbearance.
He fought wars and struck terror into the hearts of his opponents. The Hadis collections mention scores of cases in which his pet order about any defaulter was "kill him".61 His victims were sceptics or those who dared to oppose him. Similarly, and in actual fact, forced conversions were accomplished first; the converted Muslims were made aware of the message of Islam later on through the apparatus of tabligh. Hence the need for tablighi movement even today for Islamizing those Muslims whose ancestors were converted centuries ago.
Asghar Ali Engineer, Maulana Wahiduddin and Zafar Jung are not historians. They belong to institutions whose aim is to give a face-lift to Islam and present it as a religion of peace. Such institutions receive liberal funds from Gulf states for this and similar purposes. Zafar Jung, President of the Muslim Mainstream Movement, New Delhi, declares that "the word Islam means peace. The Quran and Hadith foster communal harmony."62 Howsoever untrue, Zafar Jung is doing his duty to his Movement. But historians should not suppress or twist facts to hide the true face of Islam. This is what Muhammad Mujeeb tries to do. Regarding conversion of Hindus to Islam he misinterprets well-known facts in cleverly carved language. Says he: "The vast majority of the Indian Muslims are converts. Force was used on occasions, but the existing historical evidence does not enable us to estimate either the scale or effectiveness of such conversions. Also, the risks involved in a policy of conversion by force should not be understated. Islam was adopted by families or groups of families who were regarded as outcasts in Hindu society... Service in the army was an attraction, specially for tribal groups with war-like traditions, and this service would inevitably make them outcasts... The main agency for conversion were the mystics, and most of the largescale conversions seem to have taken place in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. But legend and fact have become so mixed up that hardly any such event can be precisely dated."63
I knew Muhammad Mujeeb personally. He was Head of the Department of History and Shaikh-ul-Jamia or Vice-Chancellor of the Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi. I used to visit Jamia in connection with sundry academic work in the History Department. In 1972, however, there was a mild 'confrontation' between him and me.
Sometime that year there was a Selection Committee meeting for the post of Professor of History in Delhi University. I was then a Reader and candidate for the post of Professor. Mujeeb was an 'expert'. About this time my Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India was in the press. Mujeeb asked me a question: "Why did the Hindu convert to Islam?" It was a loaded question carrying the suggestion that the initiative for conversion came from the Hindu. In all probability Mujeeb expected me to say that the Hindus suffered from the injustices of the caste system, that Islam was spiritually so great and its message of social equality so attractive that the Hindus queued up for conversion the moment they came in contact with Islamic invaders. A tactful candidate (not a truthful one) would have said what Mujeeb desired, but my answer was different. I said that Hindus did not (voluntarily) convert to Islam; they were converted, often forcibly, as told by Muslim chroniclers. Muslim invaders and rulers felt proud of their achievements in the fields of loot and destruction, enslavement and proselytization. Their chroniclers, writing at their command or independently, speak about their achievements in these spheres in glowing terms. They repeatedly write about the choice offered to the Hindus - "Islam or death". Mujeeb expected a different answer. I was not selected.
A few months after this confrontation, the University of jodhpur sent me an offer of Professorship. There is a proviso in University advertisements for the post of Professor that the University is free to offer the post to even one who may not have applied. I had not applied but the Selection Committee in jodhpur recommended my name for the post on the basis of my academic work. I joined jodhpur University on 1 January 1973. Later on, while at Jodhpur, I was offered the post of Professor in the Department of Islamic History and Culture, University of Calcutta, and still later by the newly established Central University at Hyderabad. I joined at Hyderabad in October 1979 and finally retired from there in June 1983.
It is more than twenty-five years since I met Professor Muhammad Mujeeb at the memorable Selection Committee meeting in Delhi. It is now an old story recollected with contradictory feelings of resentment and all-that-happens-happens-for-good. In retrospect, however, I realise that even today I cannot answer Mujeeb's question to his satisfaction. To my mind such a question can be answered by Muslims who have converted from Hindus, say, a Hashmat Ali can tell why he became a Hashmat Ali from Brij Mohan - or some such person. But evidence of this nature is hard to come by. It is amazing that while there are millions and millions of converted Muslims in India, not one, to my knowledge, has written why or how he or his father or grandfather converted to Islam. I have done some research in this sphere in my Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India and Indian Muslims: Who are they. But if a Muslim wrote it, it would have the stamp of personal experience inherited in the family or families of relatives. As per human nature, had they been happy or proud at their conversion, a few at least would have narrated the event with great enthusiasm. in the absence of such records, the only sources of information available are medieval chronicles. These are replete with details of war, capture of captives and choice of 'Islam or death' offered to them. But such evidence is not palatable to 'secular' Muslims like Mujeeb whose mission it is to project Islam as a religion of peace.
The scale and effectiveness of conversions by force are clearly detailed in al-Kufi's Chachnama (for Muhammad Qasim in Sindh), Utbi's Tarikh-i-Yamini (for Mahmud of Ghazni) Hasan Nizami's Taj-ul-Maasir (for Muhammad Ghauri, Qutbuddin Aibak etc.) and Minhaj Siraj's. Tabqat-i-Nasiri (for the early years of the Sultanate period). All Muslim chronicles from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century write with pride about forcible conversions by rulers and nobles. Mujeeb must have seen these chronicles and still he declares the existing historical evidence as inadequate for estimating the scale and effectiveness of conversions by force.64 He has also not elaborated on the risks involved in conversion by force. There were no risks involved because force backed by powerful armies eliminated all risks. Indeed Muslim invaders themselves together with their chroniclers and poets, sing in praise of their achievements in proselytization by force.
The stereotyped theory that low caste or outcast people willingly embraced Islam also stands exploded. It is now well known that low caste people were more determined to preserve their caste and strove to preserve it at all costs, even at the cost of fleeing into the forests and living a miserable life of tribals rather than accepting Islam.65 Service in the army for tribal groups did not make them outcasts. 'Scheduled' tribes and castes joined the Kshatriyas in continually fighting Muslims rulers' atrocities.66 The myth that "the main agency for conversion were the mystics" also stands exploded.67 It is true that largescale conversions took place in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (as was also the case in earlier centuries), for the Delhi Sultanate had split into a number of Muslim kingdoms where more effective proselytizing endeavour became concentrated as it became in small areas. Legend and fact have not got mixed up to create confusion. There were of courses some conversions accomplished through peaceful means. Some Hindus opted for Islam to escape from financial burden as in the time of Firoz Tughlaq or to save their lands as during the reign of Aurangzeb. Firoz Tughlaq writes that when he rescinded the Jiziyah to attract people to Islam, groups of Hindus, "day by day from every quarter" came flocking to become Muslamans.68 These groups generally belonged to the poor sections which included low castes who found it hard to pay Jiziyah. But low caste people as such were not attracted by Islam. In fact they put up tough resistance against conversion.
The facts mentioned by chroniclers about largescale forcible conversions are dated and detailed. Despite the way the apologists would like to depict it, Islam was spread by the sword and maintained by terror throughout its history. As Jan Knappert aptly states, "Islamic propaganda, funded by the unlimited ' means of the Gulf states, is responsible for a plethora of untrue ideas of Islam. Firstly, that it is a religion of peace. It is not and never was, witness the endless expansive wars fought by Muslim rulers and raiders. Even now the majority of conflicts of the world have Islam at their roots: Bosnia, about which we are particularly misinformed, the Sudan and Chechenia, Afghanistan, Sin Kiang, Kashmir, Timor, Azerbaijan and the Philippines. Muslims will not rest before they rule the state."69
There is no need to feel apologetic if most conversions were forcible. Force and violence have a special place in Islamic history throughout the world. The heroes of Islam in India are men like Muhammad bin Qasim, Mahmud of Ghazni, Timur and Aurangzeb. They, their chroniclers and their poets, all become lyrical when they describe their achievements in the service of Allah which included conversions by force. There is no justification for M. Mujeeb to unseat these old Muslim heroes from their ferocious pedestals and turn them into pacifists like Hindus and Buddhists. Rizwan Salim briefly but effectively spells out what the Muslims really did in India.70
True face of Islam
If writers like Engineer, Wahiduddin Khan, Rafiq Zakaria and Mujeeb do not suffer from "the struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide", there are some brave and conscientious Muslims who write about Islam's true nature with courage and conviction. These Muslim writers fall into two categories - one who denounce and the other who defend extremism of Islam - but the "essentialist" core of Islam in both is the same. Those who denounce the fierce nature of Islam are few but they are there in all Muslim countries including Iran, Egypt and Turkey. Of those who trace their 'origins' from the Indian subcontinent, some prominent names are Anwar Shaikh, ibn Warraq, Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen. Ibn Warraq is in all probability a pseudonym which points to the fear (of fatwa) of death which stalks them. They have all settled in Europe or America for the same reason. Residence in their homeland is not safe for them since they bring out the true nature of Islam. The generality of Muslims may dislike their daring, but those in authority in Islam would not tolerate such 'renegade' Muslims although their account of Islam confirms the true nature of Islam as spelled out by Anwar Shaikh and Warraq. These scholars, and interpreters of Islam, certainly wield greater authority than Muslims like Engineer and Mujeeb. Only one such authority may be mentioned - Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Ten years before the fatwa of death against Salman Rushdie was issued, there appeared, in 1980, a book entitled Sayings of Ayatollah Khomeini.71 Its contents show that the fatwa was not issued by him in any excitement or hurry. It was based on the great divine's study of the teachings of Islam. In the book he says: "Moslems have no alternative, if they wish to correct the political balance of society and those in power to conform to the laws and principles of Islam, to an armed holy war against profane Governments... Holy war means the conquest of all non-Moslem territories. Such a war may well be declared after the formation of an Islamic Government worthy of that name, at the direction of the Islamic Imam or under his orders. It will then be the duty of every able-bodied adult male to volunteer for this war of conquest, the final aim of which is to put Koranic law in power from one end of the earth to the other... that is not only our duty in Iran, but it is also the duty of all Moslems in the world, in all Moslem countries, to carry the Islamic political revolution to its final victory." That is why French monks in Algeria, Greek and German tourists in Egypt, foreign and mother country tourists in Kashmir, as non-Muslims are considered a fair game for Muslim "warriors". That is how the fatwa of death against Salman Rushdie is irrevocable and this fact is reiterated again and again by those in authority in Iran.72 Incidentally, it may be mentioned that the very ones who say that verses in the Quran and references to ahadis in Islamic scriptural collections are dated, that these pertained only to the contexts in which they were revealed, are the very ones who, when it is convenient, say that the provisions of the Quran and Hadis are eternal and cannot be disregarded or altered or confined to any particular context, without destroying Islam itself.
Hatred of non-Muslims is a cardinal principle of Islamic theology. But many Muslims like Anwar Shaikh and Ibn Warraq hate the idea of hating non-Muslims and challenge these repulsive characteristics that are written into the Quran. Ibn Warraq's support for Rushdie has to be seen as a part of a larger war against this fundamentalist Islam. He cites in his support the war that is taking place in Algeria, the Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, "a war whose principal victims are Muslims, Muslim women, Muslim intellectuals, writers, ordinary decent people..." "The best thing we can do for Muslims is to free them from Islam." Similarly, Anwar Shaikh wants the world to be saved from Muslims. In India both Hindus and Muslims need to be saved from Islam. Taslima Nasreen advocates a revision of the Hadis.
Although wherever there is secessionism, terrorism, bomb blasts and planned killings, Islam is somehow associated with them. The Christian West is too strong to be browbeaten by Islam. Israel too can look after itself against the Jihad of Hamas. In India the Islamic cult of knife may not return because of Hindu resurgence. But the historian can certainly pity the Muslim victims of Islam. For the throats that are being slit in Algeria are Muslim throats. The Sunnis who are shooting down Shias and Shias who are killing Sunnis in Pakistan are all Muslims. So also is the case with the Ahmadiyas, the Mohajirs and the Zikris. In Afghanistan the victims of the Taliban fundamentalists, who revel in public executions of men and flogging of women, are Muslims. Men and women who are flogged or stoned to death in Islamic countries are Muslims only.
In the modern world some Muslims react to this scenario with a feeling of revulsion, others with helplessness, but still some others, to be on the safe side, lament: "Mine is the voice of those who are born Muslims but wish to recant in adulthood, yet are not permitted on pain of death. Someone who does not live in an Islamic society cannot imagine the sanctions, both self-imposed and external, that militate against expressing religious disbelief... So we hold our tongues, those of us who doubt."73 Another Muslim from Pakistan, Professor Mubarak Ali, mourns that "in the present times of grave crisis we need dissident intellectuals who can challenge the establishment... Pakistan did not develop any tradition of dissident intellectual activity."74 Dissidence is precisely what Islam does not permit. All Hadis point to the fact that only one Will prevails. This Will derives its strength from being the command of Allah.75 Hence dissidence is ruled out, not only in Pakistan but in all Islamic countries. So that Ibn Warraq's. scholarly work must be written under a pseudonym for fear of death at the hands of fundamentalists. Islamic fundamentalism holds unchangeability as the strength of Islam. All believing Muslims being fundamentalists, they threaten with death the Muslims who try to dissent. Muslims live in fear. "There is fear of the foreign West, fear of the Imam, fear of Democracy, fear of Freedom of thought, fear of Individualism, fear of the Past, fear of the Present."77
The Islamic principles of denigrating the non-Muslims, of aggression and violence against them, principles that perpetually incite to riot and rapine, have boomeranged. Howsoever brave face the fundamentalists may try to put up, the victims of Islam today are by and large Muslims themselves. The Prophet must have known that violence begets violence and repeatedly exhorted Muslims not to kill one another after his death.78 He also had premonition that violence of Islam against non-Muslims will be met with a backlash. There is a hadis in Sahih Muslim which says that once the Rasul opined that Islam which began in poverty in Medina would one day return to Medina in poverty. "Just as a snake crawls back and coils itself into its small hole, so will Islam be hunted out from everywhere and return to be confined to Mecca and Medina."79 The increasing power of the non-Muslim West and the disenchantment of Muslim dissidents like Anwar Shaikh, Ibn Warraq, Fatima Mernissi and a host of others in many Islamic countries point towards that possibility, howsoever remote.
To resume. There is a uniqueness about Islam. Non-Muslims are to be converted to Islam freely. But once a Kafir becomes a Musalman, he has to remain so for ever thereafter. He is not permitted to renounce Islam or revert to his original faith. Punishment for such apostasy (irtidad) is death. "So here is a psyche for which logic and conscience have no meaning, which converts others by force and which prevents apostasy by force." Such nature of Muslim dogma ill-prepared the Muslims for defeat. The long series of defeats at the hands of Christian Europe and resistance of Hindu India at last stayed their hand from making forcible conversions. Forcible conversions are not possible in India today. Therefore recourse is taken to other means. What is significant is that conversions to Islam still go on as if India is still a Muslim state. The only difference is that now sword is not used to make converts. On the other hand conversions are often effected in a hush-hush manner. Pamphlets are secretly distributed among Muslims providing them with guidelines for proselytization work. Influential Muslims and politicians (M.L.As, M.Ps) visit villages of Dalit Hindus, mostly at night, and promise all kinds of inducements for becoming Musalman. Petro-dollars are received from Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Gulf emirates for proselytization work. Lucrative jobs are promised to Indian youth in Muslim countries. Only Muslims can be appointed to these, thus prompting many to change their religion to cam good remuneration abroad. There are many other methods of converting non-Muslims to Islam.
Of the many pamphlets and brochures in Urdu instructing Muslims in the ways of converting Hindus,80 only one may be examined to give an idea of the stuff contained in such literature. It is the Daiye Islam (Propagation of Islam) by Khwaja Hasan Nizami (1878-1957). Hasan Nizami was a sufi divine connected with the dargah of Nizamuddin Awliya of Delhi. The pamphlet teaches the Muslims the quickest and comprehensive way of converting Kafirs to Islam. The Khwaja exhorted Muslims of all categories from the highest to the lowest, to serve the cause of Islam by helping in the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam. In this missionary endeavour Zamindars and Nawabs, doctors and prostitutes, ekka players and bangle sellers were all invited to make their contribution. Muslim lawyers and doctors were to influence their Hindu clients to convert. Nawabs and Zamindars were to pressurize Hindu tenants under them to become Musalman. The prostitute was required to exert her influence on her Hindu visitors and admirers into becoming Muslims. The bangle seller was to seduce young Hindu girls and the ekka driver was to seduce away Hindu ladies and children. Such a recipe was neither spiritual nor edifying but it fitted with the Muslim mentality. The pamphlet recorded wide sale among Muslims. The Nizam of Hyderabad fixed an allowance for the Khwaja and other Muslims Chiefs and Zamindars followed suit. Muslim magistrates, police and excise inspectors and other influential officials were found working according to the plan laid out by this sufi devotee of Islam.
We have already dwelt on the tablighi endeavours of many mullahs in North India,81 and therefore, will refrain from repeating the same here. In the South local M.L.As and M.Ps belonging to the Muslim League are equally busy in bullying and inducing Hindu Harijans to become Musalmans. Their field of activity is mainly Kerala and Tamil Nadu, their target, poor villagers.
The story of the conversion of almost the whole village of Meenakshipuram is in general the story of the proselytization of low caste Hindus to Islam in modem times. Meenakshipuram is a small hamlet near Pampohzi village in Tenkasi, Tirunelveli District. On Thursday 19 February 1981, a function was arranged here with great pomp and éclat. About 4,000 Muslims from neighbouring Tenkasi, Kadayanallut, Vadakari, Vavanagram and other places participated in the conversion ceremony. The village, which had hardly ever been visited by any outsider, witnessed a sudden rush of visitors - mostly Muslim V.I.Ps. Prominent among them were Mr. Sahul Hameed, the Muslim League M.L.A., Mr. A.K. Rifai, a former M.P., and Mr. Abul Hasan Sahad Ali, the Jamat-ul-Ulema chief of that area. The Jamat chief explained how Islam treated all its followers as equal. Then he chanted the Kalima. Repeating after him the villagers knelt down facing west for their first prayers to Allah. In less than an hour, Sunderraj had become Sardar Mohammad, Madaswamy had become Mohammad Soaib, Jabamoni had become Jabarulla Khan, Murugesan had become Muhammad Islami. Then, some of the visiting women went to bring the Harijan women who were still in their houses. With their heads now covered, they were escorted to the maidan where a maulvi (borrowed from the Panpoli mosque) married the wives again to their respective husbands, according to Islamic rites. Unmarried women too got new names and a new religion. The conversion was now complete; more than three-fourths of the Harijans of the village had abandoned their faith of generations. A village which had no Muslim ever before had around 1,000 of them now. Meenakshipuram was renamed Rahmatnagar. The mass conversion ceremony sent a wave of resentment and, for Muslims, excitement. The Parliament committee on the welfare of SC & ST visited Meenakshipuram on 11th August 1981. It said that the "the Muslims of the area and certain Muslims who had come from outside had arranged a feast and invited the Harijans for feast (bara khana). Those Harijans who did not want to go were dragged to that feast. The conversions followed the feast... Prior to that a local M.L.A. belonging to Muslim League and a Member of Parliament belonging to the same party were seen visiting the village. They generally came after 10 P.M... It was alleged that many well-to-do Muslims were putting pressure on them (the Harijans) to get converted." In a subsequent note it stated that "conversion of scheduled castes to Islam was being done in an organised way". Replying to a discussion in Parliament, Home Minister Zail Singh said that it was a matter concerning one and all. "Because this kind of conversion is politically motivated, and this is not a good method of changing religion."82 In fact this mass conversion jamboree was timed to coincide with the Sixth All-India Conference of the Jamaat-i-Islami Hind, held in Hyderabad. "The tenor of Hyderabad conference was set by Maulana Muhammad Yusuf, Ameer-e-Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, in his presidential address, when he outlined the duties and responsibilities of Indian Muslims. The Maulana harped on Muslims being a distinct, separate entity, with more things in common with their co-religionists in foreign lands than their compatriots."83 About this we have already referred to in the extra-territorial loyalty syndrome of the Muslims. A year after the mass conversion of Harijans to Islam at Meenakshipuram the stage was set for a new wave of conversions.84 Home Minister Zail Singh in reply to a question, informed the Lok Sabha on 19 August 1981 that "about 2000 Harijans in Tamilnadu have embraced Islam since February 1981. Some isolated cases of conversion of Harijans to Islam have also been reported from some other parts of the country," like Malappuram in Kerala.
Sword of Islam Liberally Lubricated
In fact it was reported that there is a move, "funded by the Gulf countries, to convert at least one million Harijan families into Islam every year. The London based Islamic Cultural Centre recently circulated a report which said that 50 Harijan families had been converted to Islam simply by a grant of Rs.400,000 for an agricultural project. The expectation was that the sword of Islam, liberally lubricated with oil from the Gulf, would cut a deep swathe across the lower strata of the Hindu society, raising the Muslim population from 80 million to 200 million at the end of the decade."85
In Hyderabad, for example, a few hundred maulvis fan out of the city every year and scout around villages for people willing to embrace Islam. From a meagre 50 such cases before independence, the number of conversions has now gone up to 500 a year.86 Money, of course, played its due role in the politics of conversion without conviction. "Subramanium, who returned to the Hindu fold last week after having embraced Islam under the name of Ashraf Ali early this year, told a UNI correspondent that he had received Rs. 500 on February 21, the day mass conversion took place, and had been promised more assistance. A Police official added that wealthy Muslims from Madurai and Tiruchirapalli handed gifts including cash to the converts. A strong-willed Harijan youth, Ayyapan by name, spurned the offer of 500 in cash to induce him to renounce his faith at Meenakshipuram."87 Ishaath-ul-Islam Sabha which claims to have arranged 17,000 conversions in Tamil Nadu since its inception 37 years ago, reported that "Thousands of non-Muslims are waiting to join the holy faith of Islam but they are kept in the waiting list for want of funds". Similarly, about 1,000 people at Sivakasi in Ramnathpuram were ready for conversion. But it was being delayed due to lack of funds for clothes, food and circumcision.88 It is reported, however, that the Islam Sabha has stepped up its proselytizing activities in recent times and has been raising funds abroad. It is stated that a donation of Rs. 20,000 was promised by a religious preacher from Saudi Arabia for building a mosque for which he laid the foundation stone. He also assured that he would soon arrange to take five converted boys to Arabian countries for the study of Islamic culture. Three converted boys had already been sent by Jamaith to study Arabic. The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) study team throws further light on the scenario. It says that "the conversion in Attiyuttu village and surrounding villages in Tirunelveli are being organised and executed by the Keelakarai money. Keelakarai is a notorious place in the South for smuggling operations... The Keelakarai Muslims have intimate relations in and with the Gulf countries. Illegal remittances of money from Gulf countries are arranged through Ceylon and Singapore. There has been a sudden increase in grants and remittances from Gulf countries to individuals and institutions (like Jamaat-i-Islami and Dar-ul-Ulum) in the sensitive districts. For instance, Satguna Vaidyasalai has received Rs. 1.25 crores from Libya, allegedly for running a technical school. The Government is well aware of such sudden increase in remittances from Gulf countries. However, inflow of illegal foreign money goes on unchecked."89
If people could be made to change their ancestral faith just for a pittance of Rs.500, it speaks for their extreme poverty and deprivation rather than any merit for the creed for which they opt. A well-to-do Hindu, well-versed in his own faith and that of Islam, will not renounce his religion. But backwardness, hunger, poverty, caste inequality, all kinds of oppression, make the Harijans turn to a new God, the Bread, which Christianity or Islam (temporarily) provide. Both the creeds have been competing to convert the Dalit Hindus. The Dalits hardly understand anything about these religions, but Rs. 500 provide them food, for some time at least. In the race between Christianity and Islam, however, the latter has an upper hand because of permission of polygamy. "Those in quest of dowry seem to have found a new way out. The latest is bigamy by changing one's religion. There is little the law of the land can do if a man changes his religion from Hinduism to Islam and takes on a new wife."90 Details of many such marriages are interesting to read,91 many more take place all over India every now and then, making still more exciting reading.
Hindu Response to Muslim Proselytization
The mass conversion of Hindus at Meenakshipuram, and ongoing individual conversions at many other places, have made Indians sit up. The Government, the political parties, the politicians for whom social justice is a game of numbers have all been shaken. But the most shaken are the Hindus in general. The Hindus would have taken these conversions like they bore the brunt in medieval times, but the proclamation by many Muslim leaders that through conversions they seek political power and one day would convert secular India into an Islamic state has alerted the Hindus.92 The motive for conversion may be petty - temptation for some cash and gifts, lure for employment in Gulf countries, lust for a second "wife" - but the potential for mischief is self-evident. A news item 'from the states' datelined Guwahati says, "The proportion of Hindus in Assam has declined by five percent since 1971, according to the 1991 census released here on Friday."93 Hence Hindu individuals and organisations have geared up to meet the challenge.
Of the individual "rebels", we have already referred to the case of Subramanium. He was given the name of Ashraf Ali but he returned to his original religion. Paramasivam, 45, a Harijan, whose name was also changed to Ashraf Ali (common name given to converted men is Ashraf Ali, to women Aisha), said he was forcibly converted. On the day of conversion he came to Meenakshipuram and his name was also included. Some one placed a cap on his head and gave him the new name. Before he could come out of the daze, everything was over. He went home only to be scolded by his family and was ostracised.94 We have seen how the sufi divine Khwaja Hasan Nizami in his Daiye Islam had instructed the Muslims on the ways to convert Hindus to Islam. His over-enthusiasm cautioned the Hindus. The instructions did not remain a secret, the book was translated and the Hindus found out how and why secret kidnappings, abductions and seductions of Hindu girls by Muslims in almost every town and city of northern India had become the order of the day. Hindus, individually and through their organisations, began to exercise vigilance. They began to undo such dirty attempts by rescuing Hindu girls, widows and orphans and bringing the offenders to book. This same Nizami also announced that an important Hindu Raja was soon going to embrace Islam. It was people's guess that the reference was to Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir. The result was that the Maharaja came under the influence of the Arya Samaj. He appointed justice Meher Chand Mahajan, who was known for his Samajist leanings, as the Prime Minister of J&K in September 1947.95
The blatant tablighi endeavours, even after the partition of the country in 1947, prompted the Hindus also to reconvert people to Hinduism. Hinduism is not a proselytizing religion. But conversions cannot remain a one way traffic for ever. Hindu religious leaders raised their voice against untouchability which is one of the causes of conversion. Heads of various Hindu religious orders (mathadhipatis) declared at the Visva Hindu Conference at Udupi in 1969 that untouchability has no scriptural sanction. They ordained that all Hindus should behave with one another as equals, that untouchability is adharma. In September 1981, the leading mathadhipatis in Karnataka came forward to give mantra deeksha (initiation), which was till then reserved for their own followers, to all Hindus, including Harijans. They also declared their maths open to all Hindus, including Harijans. Scores of mathadhipatis and sannyasis are now mixing with the Harijans in their mohallas, visiting their houses, worshiping in their temples and partaking of the prasad. Mass awakening movements like Jana Jagaran Abhiyan, Hindu Seva Sangh, Hindu Seva Pratisthan (Bangalore), Hindu Munani (Kanya Kumari) began to meet the challenge of conversion to non-Hindu creeds. The Arya Samaj, the Hindu Mahasabha, the Vishva Hindu Parishad, in one way or the other, were already persuading those who had converted to Islam to return to the Hindu fold. They have succeeded in some group conversions (of Hindu Christians) in some tribal areas and (of Hindu Muslims) in Mewat and Rajasthan regions. Individuals and political and social organisations keep a watch on the inflow of foreign money. They inform and pressurize the Government to stop such clandestine remittances. They expose those parties and groups which treat Muslim immigration and conversion as addition to their vote bank. "Some commentators, especially those close to Vishva Hindu Parishad seem to be satisfied that the tide of conversions has been contained..."96 This may or may not be true. But the Hindus have also learnt from Muslims to proselytize and demolish shrines of other religions even if their attempts are only token and symbolic.
Like proselytization, desecrating and demolishing the temples of non-Muslims is also central to Islam. Iconoclasm derives its justification from the Quranic revelations and the Prophet's Sunnah or practice. Muhammad had himself destroyed temples in Arabia and so had set an example for his followers. In return the mujahid, or fighter of jihad, is promised handsome rewards in this world as well as in the world to come. Because of early successes at home, Islam developed a full-fledged theory of iconoclasm.97 India too suffered terribly as thousands of Hindu temples and sacred edifices disappeared in northern India by the time of Sikandar Lodi and Babur. Will Durant rightly laments in the Story of Civilization that "We can never know from looking at India today, what grandeur and beauty it once possessed". In Delhi, after the demolition of twenty-seven Hindu and Jain temples, the materials of which were utilized to construct the Quwwat-ul-Islam masjid, it was after 700 years that the Birla Mandir could be constructed in 1930s.
Sita Ram Goel has brought out two excellent volumes on Hindu Temples: What happened to them.98 These informative volumes give a list of Hindu shrines and their history of destruction in the medieval period on the basis of Muslim evidence itself. This of course does not cover all the shrines razed. Muslims broke temples recklessly. Those held in special veneration by Hindus like the ones at Somnath, Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura, were special targets of Muslims, and whenever the Hindus could manage to rebuild their shrines at these places, they were again destroyed by Muslim rulers. From the time of Mahmud of Ghazni who destroyed the temples at Somnath and Mathura to Babur who struck at Ayodhya to Aurangzeb who razed the temples at Kashi Mathura and Somnath, the story is repeated again and again.
Sometimes the Hindus have also retaliated. just as the Hindus do not believe in converting people of other faiths to Hinduism, yet, when Muslim proselytization continued unabated, Hindus also retaliated, although in a token way, by reconverting and taking back into Hinduism those who had fallen a prey to Muslim spree of conversion. In the same way Hindus do not desecrate or break the shrines of peoples of other faiths. But when Muslim vandalism got beyond Hindu patience, they also reconverted some Hindu temples which had been turned into mosques by Muslim invaders and rulers. But while the Muslims convert Hindus openly, punishment for renouncing Islam is death. Similarly, while the shrines of non-Muslims are regularly destroyed, non-Muslims cannot reclaim their desecrated temples. This is the law of Islam. Hindus are not bound by it. Muslims razed the temple of Somnath repeatedly; the Hindus rebuilt it again and again, so that the present majestic temple built after Independence is the seventh in the series. Similar is the attachment of Hindus to the temples of Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi. The Babri structure at Ayodhya was built by Babur with the debris of a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ram. The Hindus destroyed the Muslim structure on 6 December 1992 and reclaimed the site of the temple. The interesting part of the story is that not a day passes without some remark made about the demolition of the Ayodhya structure in 1992, particularly by Muslim secularists and Hindu Marxists and "intelligentsia". But Ayodhya is not the first act of people's reaction against the desecration of their shrines. Muslim armies of Delhi attacked Gujarat in 1299, and again sacked the temple of Somnath. They looted the opulent city of Anhilvara and sacked a number of monasteries, palaces and temples in Asavalli, Vanmanthali, Surat, Dholka and Khambayat. The Gujaratis could not forget or forgive this vandalism. 40,000 brave Dalit Barwaris from Gujarat arrived in Delhi over the years and sacked the main mosque in Siri in Delhi in 1320 under the rule of Sultan Nasiruddin Khusrau, a half-convert. Idol worship was started inside the palace and mosque. Copies of the Quran were tom to pieces and used as seats for idols which were placed in the mehrabs (niches) of the mosques, and the slaughter of cows was forbidden.99 The Barwaris had known Muslim invader and rulers breaking temples, burning their religious books, and enslaving their women and children. The Barwaris paid them back in their own coin. They say "revenge is a kind of wild justice". And there are many more such examples of which only a few may be mentioned here. When Sher Shah conquered and occupied Jodhpur, the temple in the fort was converted into a mosque. There was retaliation and when the mosque was taken back by Hindus, they prevented the reading of Friday prayers there.100 Temples were freely destroyed under Firoz Tughlaq and Sikandar Lodi. In return Rana Kumbha also claims to have broken a mosque.101 Medini Rai in Malwa turned some Muslim women into slave girls,102 a practice freely indulged in by Muslims in regard to Hindu women.
Those who cannot forget 6 December 1992, should also remember another date, 9 April 1669. On this day Aurangzeb issued a general order "to demolish all schools and temples of the infidels and to put down their religious teaching and practice". Much vandalism had preceded this order and reckless destruction of shrines followed.
During Aurangzeb's reign temples were desecrated and destroyed everywhere; 235 temples were destroyed in Rajasthan alone. This enraged Bhim, the younger son of the Rana of Udaipur, who retaliated by attacking Ahmadnagar and demolishing many mosques there.103 Temples in Mathura and Kashi were destroyed by orders of Aurangzeb and mosques built in their stead. The Satnamis, the Jats, Marathas and Sikhs struck back against this fanaticism by destroying mosques at many places when they gathered strength.
Recent events about Ayodhya are well-known. Long before the structure was pulled down, Muslims in Bangladesh had destroyed more than 200 temples in November 1989 (reacting against the Shilanyas at Ayodhya). In November 1990 another 50 temples were razed or burnt, not to mention about the women raped and men killed. So also was done in Pakistan. The Kashmir Samiti has produced a report titled Riots in Kashmir, listing 85 temples destroyed, and claiming that 550 people had been killed in the Islamic purification campaign in 1990.104 And still many Muslims and some Hindu "intellectuals" make a hell of a noise about Ayodhya. Hindu religion and scriptures do not permit, much less 'advocate' desecration of the religious places of other peoples. But there is a limit to forbearance. Destruction of the shrines of other faiths cannot for ever remain a one way traffic.
But Hindu fear of Muslim iconoclasm
still remains. A thousand years of aggression and terror cannot be easily
erased. While many Hindus are happy at the achievements of Karsevaks
in eliminating centuries old humiliation at Ayodhya, they do not exhibit
any bravado about it. Contrast it with the assertion of Taliban in Afghanistan.
They openly declared recently that they would destroy the statues of the
Buddha at Bamiyan. On the other hand in India many Hindu leaders plead
that the destruction of the Babri structure was unfortunate, that they
do not know who did it. In this context they mention the letter of Mr.
"un Singh dated 1 December 1992 addressed to Mr. S. Rajgopal, Cabinet
Secretary, which says: "There is indication that
some agent provocateurs from Pakistan have been able to infiltrate into
Ayodhya and would try to damage the Babri masjid if the VHP Karsevaks
fail in their mission to do the same. The resulting civil strife as consequence
of this event is what Pakistan would very much like to happen."105
The credit due to Karsevaks is thus tried to be snatched away by the fear
in the Hindu intelligentsia generated by centuries of iconoclastic oppression
of Islam. Those who approved of the destruction of Babri structure and
reclamation of their holy Ram Lala temple, should be obliged to Pakistan
if it repeated Ayodhya in Mathura and Kashi also and helped them in not
soiling their hands by repeating such "unfortunate" acts in
Mathura and Varanasi also. Such disordered thinking cannot be sustained.
As has been repeatedly said, all history is contemporary. It is not possible
to forget 9 April 1669 because it is 'remote past' and . continue to be
apologetic about 6 December 1992 because it is 'immediate past'. Nothing
is past. These two dates are just two points on the eternity of Time in
which action and reaction go on and on in the course of our history.