When Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, vice-chancellor of the Darul Uloom Deoband seminary who has now quit his post, stated that all minorities are flourishing under Nare-ndra Modi, he had only confirmed the truth.
Nevertheless, the Muslim media reacted in a vitriolic manner, saying that the remark was misleading. It is difficult to talk about reform when the community is still struggling to come out of its ghetto mindset. Modi cannot be spared for the communal carnage but must be given due credit for Gujarat’s progress, including for Muslims.
In Indian Muslims: Where Have They Gone Wrong? eminent Muslim scholar Rafique Zakaria mentions that the need of the hour was for Muslims to become an integral part of the mainstream and break the barriers of alienation. He adds that Indian Muslims must realise that an increasing number of Hindus have begun to hate them because of their obscurantist approach. It is in their own interest to bring about a change in the hostility exhibited by communal Hindus.
Muslim leaders remain oblivious to the community’s decline. Leaders may gain publicity by voicing grievances but at the end of the day, the community is left to fend for itself. These leaders, in the most demanding circumstances, have been a divided house. Their credentials have never been verified, their uncompromising attitude only weakening Hindu-Muslim relations. Instead of coming out openly against Pakistan or taking a strong stand against jihadis, they remain busy buttressing their communal leadership.
Indian Muslims must give up asking for doles and quotas and learn to stand on their own feet. They have no true friends; those showing sympathy do so for electoral gain. Nor have Muslims of other countries ever come to their rescue.
To succeed, Indian Muslims must encourage their children to get the best of education. Merit, rather than patronage, will be rewarded as Maulana Vastanvi pointed out. They must not let clerics hold the community to ransom.
They must, without compromising the Koranic injunctions, agree to the introduction of certain essential changes in their personal law, particularly the enactment of monogamy. There is enough scope under the Shariah to amend the laws relating to marriage, divorce, dower and even maintenance. The issue of Babri Masjid must also be amicably resolved.
Sardar Patel once told Saifuddin Kitchlew, in a personal meeting on May 19, 1950: “The goodwill of the majority is the best safeguard for a minority.” Muslims must take a leaf from the Parsis, who, instead of obsessing about their religion, have produced luminaries in the fields of law, industry, business, medicine, journalism and banking.
(Firoz Bakht Ahmed is a Delhi-based writer)
*The views expressed by the author are personal