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Islamic Voice Logo
MONTHLY    *    Vol 13-04 No:148    *   APRIL 1999/ MUHARAM 1419H
email: editor@islamicvoice.com

FEATURES


The Haj Camp : Guests of Allah
Sighting of Moon : Reliability of Astronomical Calculations in the Light of Holy Qur'an and Hadith- I
Indo-Pak Friendship; A Response to a Diatribe
Shah-I-Hamdan Institute of Islamic Studies, Kashmir
Reactions to Mass-conversions of Meenakshipuram
Manuvada and the Language of Discourse
Leaves From Life : Procrastination - The Thief of Time


The Haj Camp : Guests of Allah

By Javed. G.

04haj4.jpg

A Replica of “Makkah’ and ‘Madinah’ Mosque enterance were erected
at the Haj Camp, it was a creative work of an artist Shiva
Below - A elderly person taking a nap under the shadow of a tree at the Haj Camp

"And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (Pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway ( to perform Hajj)" (Quran: Surah-22-Al-Hajj)

They could be the aged, the weak, the ill or the poor. But yet they make it. All by the Almighty’s grace and will, to the House of Allah. No wealth or status in the world lends as much pleasure and happiness as the Hajj. The hustle and bustle prior to the departure of the pilgrims is a sight worth watching. In Bangalore, the Haj flights herald the beginning of the pleasant journey. The Karnataka State Hajj Committee goes all out to see that the pilgrims from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have a comfortable stay at the camp set up two weeks before the flights take off. This year about 6047 pilgrims from the two States embarked on the Hajj journey after completing the formalities during their stay at the Hajj Camp. The 14-day camp set up in the lush green maidan, close to the Quddus Saheb Idgah, on Millers Road, was like a ‘one-stop shelter’ for the pilgrims. The Karnataka State Hajj Committee under the chairmanship of Mr Roshan Baig was extremely meticulous in the arrangements. The pilgrims who had travelled from their homes were promptly picked up at the stations by the volunteers. The lodging halls with names like Safaa and Marwah had clearly demarcated areas for resting, changing, with adequate privacy for all. Keeping the summer in view, the organisers had kept the water tanks as stand-by. Health, being a very crucial element for the pilgrims, the food served to them was cooked with utmost care.

04haj3.jpg

A large gathering vaving their hands to the HUJJAJ-E-IKRAM at the departure site.
Below - A scene of an excellent food arrangements to provide Hyginic food.

The first Haj camp organised by the State Haj Committee started off with 1200 pilgrims in 1995 and this figure has shot up to 6047 in 1999. Donations and sponsorship from 10 to 12 Muslim organisations eased the task further. Most of the departments at the camp were manned by private organisations. The government of Karnataka granted Rs 10 lakhs, while the major contributor included Amanullah & Sons who covered the cost of the shamiana and all the temporary structures worth Rs 65 lakhs. The Bismillah Education Trust sponsored the mineral water worth Rs 3 lakhs. Even the tea, snacks and juice stalls at the camp were taken care of by private firms and business set-ups. It was notable that many Muslim officials, along with the Muslim Students Organisation were seen assisting the authorities in the immigration and check-in formalities. According to Mr Roshan Baig, the Haj camp this year incurred expenditure around 1 crore.

But the magnanimity of the private organisations who volunteered to pool in the funds helped the Committee to provide the best of facilities to the pilgrims.

04haj1.jpg

Residencial camps using prefabricated structures
were errected at the camp for the pilgrims.

For all those who worked at the camp, the climax reached the peak when the time drew closer for the Hajees to board the bus to the airport. All the flights upto March 14 were scheduled for departure at 12.30 a.m. The flights were from Bangalore to Jeddah, with no stop-over at Mumbai.. Apart from the relatives and friends of Hajees who came to see them off, the camp attracted visitors from the city. In fact, the women who visited the camp did not mind just sitting there as they wished to perform the prayers with the Jamaat. Women in the city hardly get an opportunity to pray in congregation as mosques that provide a separate enclosure for women are rare in the city. According to some women visitors, the ambience in the camp induced the desire in them to perform the Hajj. Most of them were seen in tears during the Friday Qutbahs. For these women, the camp was like an inspiration, something they had been missing all along.

A remarkable feature of this year’s camp, was the solemnity with which the whole exercise was completed. Thankfully, there were no controversies like last year when the chief minister J H Patel was taken around the camp and right into the halls meant for women. This triggered off angry protests by the Ulema who dashed off letters and articles in the media.

Bouquets and brickbats are part of any event, but the Haj Camp in Bangalore seemed to linger on in the minds of not just the Hajees, but even the local people in the city who applauded the superbly organised camp for the guests of Allah. It was no wonder then that when the pilgrims boarded the buses to the airport, it was the volunteers, the relatives and friends and well-wishers who broke down as the Hajees recited -Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik. This echoed in the still of the night, reminding the Muslims that their destination was ultimately towards not just the holy cities of Makkah, Madinah, Arafat or Mina, but a pilgrimage to please God who would forgive their sins and smoothen their path to paradise.

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Sighting of Moon : Reliability of Astronomical Calculations in the Light of Holy Qur'an and Hadith- I

By Moulana Shihabuddin Nadvi

Divine Solutions for New Issues

Islam is a perennial code of life and it has solutions for all problems of life that may arise till the Doomsday. Both Qur'an and Hadith contain guidelines and commandments that can solve all problems that may arise from time to time. That is why whenever contentious issues arise, the Ummah has been instructed to refer to Qur'an and Hadith directly as referred to in the verse 59 of chapter 4 quoted earlier. On this basis alone, the Prophet (Pbuh) has assured that you will never go astray as long as you uphold and practise the teachings of Qur'an and Hadithö( Kitabul Qadr -ö in Muatta Imam Malik)

Since a perpetual religion does consist of such principles and rules whose relevant benefits could be deciphered only in the future, the Book of Allah has several such examples particularly those that are related to new vistas of sciences. Even the holy Traditions do not lack in such anecdotes. The above prophetic injunction pertaining to the sighting of moon fall under this category. This is certainly a miracle of Hadith in offering a solution to the modern-day issue.

In this manner, the Traditions conveying different meanings could be correlated very amicably and convincingly and the wisdom and expediency of the everlasting religion will become evident to all.

Two Commandments for Two Different Eras

It can well be said that two very clear and specific commandments have been enunciated in the Traditions of the holy Prophet (Pbuh). There is absolutely no contradiction between them. In fact, while one is provisional, the other is permanent, i.e., the commandment that 30 days of fasting should be completed in case the sky is overcast is provisional. In contrast, the injunction pertaining to seeking assistance from astronomical calculations is permanent. There cannot be any objection to the second rule from both traditional and rational point of view. But in case of the first rule such possibilities exist on both the counts.

According to scholars like Abul Abbas Ibne Suraij Shafai Baghdadi who declare the reliability of astronomical calculations, the addressee of the former commandment are the masses while that of the latter are the experts of the astronomical calculations. (Vide Aarizatul Ahwazi and Sharah Navavi etc.) This statement has generated much controversy. In reality, these commandments are meant for different eras. Although astronomy as a science had not developed at that time, various scholars of that period had recognised its significance and validity. Hence they supported it fully. Their far-sighted stand may lend us a helping hand in this scientific world.

Astronomy and Astrology

Knowledge about the movement of the sun and moon in the respective houses of the zodiac etc. is not a new discovery. In fact astronomy is one of the oldest of sciences. It developed considerably during the Muslim period and many Muslim scholars as well were well-versed in it. Some basic principles guiding the movement of the moon in different zodiacal signs have remained absolutely unchanged from the olden days. Obviously the learned Ulama who were well-versed in it had considered the validity of this science and believed in its reliability.

Generally speaking, astronomy was misunderstood in earlier periods as it was clubbed with astrology under a single science, Ilm Al-Nujoom (science of stars). Hence the scholars of those periods had an aversion to it. Nevertheless, for distinguishing purpose, astrology was referred to as Ahkam An-Nujoom and astronomy as Sinaat Al-Nujoom. (Vide Miftahus Sada by Taash Kubrazada)

The science which was disapproved of in various holy Traditions was astrology and not astronomy. The latter has been praised in the holy Qur'an and human attention has been drawn in varying modes to study and develop this science. One reference may serve the purpose.

"Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of Night and Day, there are indeed Signs for men of understanding, Men who celebrate the praises of God standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation, in the heavens and the earth." (Qur'an, 3:190-91)

Astronomy and the Book of Allah

There is reference to the movement of the sun and moon in several verses of the holy Qur'an. It has been said that they are moving in accordance with a set order and calculation.

He it is that cleaveth the day-break (from the dark): He makes the night for rest and tranquillity, And the sun and moon for the reckoning (of time). Such is the judgment and ordering of (Him), the Exalted in Power, the Omniscient. (Qur'an, 6:96) The Sun and the Moon follow courses (exactly) computed. (Qur'an, 55:5) "And the Moon. We have measured for her mansions (to traverse) till she returns like the old (and withered) lower part of a date-stalk". (Qur'an, 36:39)

The followers of Islam have been ordained to learn about the movement of the moon in the zodiacal signs: "It is He who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light (of beauty), and measured out stages for her; that ye might know the number of years and the count (of time). No wise did God create this but in truth and righteousness. (Thus) doth He explain His Signs in detail, for those who understand." (Qur'an, 10:5)

In the above verses the movement of the sun and the moon is said to follow a calculated path. And now it is being suggested that you should learn about this calculated movement so that the principles guiding the appearance of the new moon become clear on you. This knowledge is all the more necessary, for, on it depends the celebrations of the festivals and performance of Haj pilgrimage:

"They ask thee concerning the New Moons. Say: They are but signs to mark fixed periods of time in (the affairs of) men and for Pilgrimage." (Qur'an, 2:189)

Learning Astronomy is Farz Al-Kifayah

Astronomy is, thus, a very essential branch of knowledge on which are based many religious and cultural events. Hence its study attains the status of Farz Al-Kifayah according to the Shariah. If all Muslims neglect it, they will be committing a sin because it will not only be against the purpose and aim of the Shariah but disobedience of Allah as well. A team of the scholars should attain proficiency in this science in every era.

Realism of Islam

After the above discussion, there should not be any need to argue. We are illiterate community and we are ignorant of reading and writing.. This holy Tradition presents only a situation that existed at the initial stages of Islam. It never points to overlook the need for taking up the study of arts and sciences. Such a situation will be against the preachings of a progressive religion like Islam. There are umpteen number of verses in the holy Qur'an which stress the need for learning and working for the progress of various arts and sciences. The aforesaid Hadith merely indicates that as long as that condition prevails, people should resort to observation and physically sighting the moon. When this condition is overcome, other means of knowledge and reflection should invariably be utilised. This is quite reflective of the foresight, realism and perpetual nature of Islam.

Initiation of Intellectual Research During Umayyad Period

That the issue of sighting the Moon had drawn serious attention right from the beginning is evident from the attitude of the Prophet (Pbuh) himself. This has been pointed out in the Tradition related by Hazrath Ayesha wherein it is stated that the great Prophet (Pbuh) used to inquire about the beginning of the month of Shaaban earlier to the commencement of Ramazan. Other Traditions also point out this fact.

Comprehending the prophetic nature and intention, Caliph Hazrath Omar Bin Abdul Aziz (63-101 AH) had issued a decree to the residents of Basra. Narrating the Tradition quoted by Ibne Omar wherein it was suggested to utilise discretion and reasoning whenever the horizon is overcast,, he had instructed that "the best guess is if the moon of Sha'aban has been sighted on such and such day, the fasting will commence on such and such day. However if the moon is sighted earlier to it, then commence fasting as per the physical sighting of the moon." (Abu Dawood, Himms, V. 2, P. 742)

Through this Tradition, the meaning of Qadr or Taqdeer also gets determined and since this decree of the caliph has been recorded in Abu Dawood of the Sihah Sitta fame, the most authentic sources of Hadith, it attains the status of a guideline. This encourages us to examine the matter scientifically. It also indicates that astronomy cannot be discarded cheaply whose foundation has been laid out by a rightful caliph. It has to be given due recognition. Shariah admits its credibility and so there should not be any hesitation in accepting it.

Rational Approach of Shafai Scholars

It is strange that Shafai scholars have taken a lead over the Hanafi in adopting a rational attitude towards arguing in favour of astronomical calculations, even though the latter are known for their rational approach in all such matters. But they seem to sleep over the whole affair. Whatever be the reason, it is time that they come forward and review this matter of utmost importance, revise their earlier decisions and issue guidelines. This is both a matter related to Shariah as well as to nature. When the holy Qur'an itself stresses the need to study nature and its manifestations, due regard has to be given to study these celestial phenomena and utilise the inferences on Shariah matters.
( To be continued)

(The author is the Chairman, Dar Al-Shariah & Gen. Secretary, Furqania Academy Trust, No.82, 10th Main, Ist Cross, BTM Ist Stage, Bangalore-560 029; Fax:080-6682101; E-mail:furqania@vsnl.com)

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Indo-Pak Friendship; A Response to a Diatribe

By Yoginder Sikand

R.Brahmachari’s article ‘Muslims’ Psyche is responsible (Islamic Voice, March 1999) raises several important issues which, although they have been addressed before, need to be further stressed here. Brahmachari believes that a peculiar “Muslim psyche” is responsible for all the communal ill-will in the country and that it is to this supposed mentality of Muslim hostility to people of other faiths that the partition of India and the continued tension between India and Pakistan may be traced. In voicing these views, Brahmachari is not just repeating standard Hindutva myths but actually reflects a large body of uninformed opinion of otherwise perfectly liberal Hindus.

Brahmachari clearly contradicts himself at the very outset when he talks of the ‘extremely harmful, sinister and secessionist Muslim psych-profile’ but later writes that “There is no doubt that every peace-loving citizen of India and Pakistan would hail the endeavour to establish peace and amity between the people of these two neighbouring countries’. In the same breath, he adds ‘the doctrine of hate continues to guide the people of Pakistan’. Now then can it be said that all Pakistanis or, for that matter, all Muslims are guided by ‘the doctrine of hate’? It is categorically impossible to generalise about any community of people. Muslims, like Hindus or others, come in all shades, and to talk in terms of the ‘mentality’ or ‘mind set’ of any community is grossly misleading.

“There is no doubt”, writes Brahmachari, ‘that this secessionist Muslim mind-set has given birth to the two nation theory that culminated in the division of this great country. Brahmachari may here be forgiven for his poor lack of understanding of the whole Partition phenomenon, as the myth that the Muslims were alone, or even largely, responsible, for the division of India is one that has been passionately propagated by ‘secularist’ Indian historians and their Hindutva counterparts alike. Without seeking to go into the details of the matter, suffice it to say that revisionist historians are increasingly coming up with solid evidence to suggest that the emergence of the demand for a separate Pakistan emerged essentially from the refusal of the ‘upper’ caste Brahminical elite to share power with the Muslim elite in a united and free India. The whole thrust of the Hindu ‘nationalist’ (read Brahminical) movement, starting from Bankimchandra Chatterji and Balgangadhar Tilak, to Savarkar, Hegdewar and Golwalkar (interestingly, all Brahmins) was vehemently opposed to the united participation of Muslims and Hindus in the struggle against British imperialism. Indeed, the demand that the Muslims of north-west India (the present-day Pakistan) should be separated from the rest of India was first made, in the first decade of the present century, much before the Muslim League’s Lahore resolution of 1940, by none other than Bhai Parmamand, the Brahmin head of the arch-reactionary Hindu Mahasabha. He argued that if the Muslims of that part of the country were given a separate country and the Hindus living there were made to migrate to the remaining portion of India, the Hindus in India would be rid of a large number of Muslims, and thus the Hindus (read Brahmins) would be able to rule India without having to share power with others. Parmanand was not just a minor exception in this regard. Indeed, one can discern a similar strain in the arguments and the intransigence of the Brahminical elite in general in the Congress, the Hindu Mahasabha, the RSS etc., to concede Muslim demands. On the other hand, many Muslims who were deeply rooted in their faith were themselves strongly opposed to the Pakistan demand. Here, one can include Maulana Azad, the Jamiat-ul-Ulama-i-Hind and many ulama of the Deoband madrasa, along with scores of others. Muhammad Ali Jinnah himself was a staunch advocate of communal harmony, so much so that Sarojini Naidu addressed him as ‘the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’. It was only when he, along with many others, realised that legitimate Muslim demands were not to be met by the Brahminical elite in an independent India that he came out forcefully for the creation of a separate Pakistan.

It is a gross travesty of history to argue, as Brahmachari does, that the alleged Muslim ‘separatist’ mentality has been responsible for communal conflict in the country. If that were actually the case, then how can one account for the virtual absence of communal violence, conflict involving entire communities, in the almost thousand-year period of Muslim rue in India? True, there were many instances of Muslim and Hindu kings fighting each other, but these were not communal conflicts, as is clearly suggested by the fact that, for instance, Aurangzeb had many Hindus in his army, while some of Shivaji’s top generals were Muslims. If the alleged ‘Muslim separatist mentality’ is innate to Islam or to the Muslims, one would have expected communal conflict to have been pervasive in the medieval period, which, clearly was not the case. Indeed, it was the Muslim Mughal dynasty that actually united India for the first time since the Buddhist emperor Ashok (it is significant to note that in the centuries of the so-called Hindu period, India remained divided into hundreds of quarrelling Hindu principalities.)

Communal conflict, as we know it today, is a distinctly modern phenomenon, the roots of which may be traced to the developments following the imposition of British rule. And, at the root of the various controversies starting from the mid-nineteenth century that began to set Hindus against Muslims, can be seen the hand of aggressive Brahminical Hindu revivalism. Be it the Hindi-Urdu controversy that provoked Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan to advise Muslims to stay away from the congress, the cow-protection agitation or the shuddhi movement, one can clearly discern the active role of ‘high’ caste Hindus in instigating violence and mass hatred against Muslims. The logic behind this was simple. It was simply a means to preserve Brahminical hegemony by diverting the wrath of the ‘low’ caste majority, who had now begun struggling for their rights, from their real oppressors (the Brahminical elites) on to the deliberately constructed ‘enemy’ in the form of the Muslim ‘monster’. The very same phenomenon is at work today, but the target has now expanded beyond the Muslims to include Christians as well.

Brahmachari accuses Islam for ‘distorting the thought process’ and allegedly instilling a ‘separatist mentality’ among its followers. That, indeed, to my mind, is to add insult to injury. Separatism is actually inherent in Brahminism, which, in the garb of the Upanishads, Brahmachari suggests as the solution of the communal problem. Witness the mutual bickering of literally thousands of castes, sub-castes and sub-sub castes among the Hindus who can only be united on the basis of instigating them against Muslims and Christians. The caste system, that derives its legitimacy from the Brahminical scriptures, besides being the most oppressive social system that humankind has ever devised, is also the most separatist and divisive. Little wonder, then, that over the centuries it has been the victims of Brahminism-the Dalits and Shudras that have sought refuge in egalitarian creeds like Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Sikhism. The caste mentality, or Brahminism to be precise, cannot tolerate the co-existence of others on an equal plane. All those who fall outside the charmed circle of the savarna (‘upper’ caste) Aryans must be treated with utter contempt and scorn. Indeed, it is to the untouchability practised by the Brahminical elite that a leading Muslim social activist, Chaudhri Afzal Haq, traced the origins of the demand for Pakistan, in his little-known but powerful and deeply incisive book, ‘Pakistan and Untouchability’ published in the early 1940s.

It is simply untenable to argue, as Brahmachari does, that ‘only the Upanishads are capable of removing discriminations among the human race’ and that it is these texts alone which ‘consider the entire humanity as a family’. A tree, it is said, is judged by the fruits it produces. The Upanishads have been around for centuries, but have they made any dent on the discrimination unparalleled anywhere else in the world practised by their upholders- the Brahminical elites against women, the ‘low’ castes and the poor in general? The fact of the matter is that while the Upanishads may talk about the all-pervasiveness of God, they still uphold the legitimacy of the iniquitous varna ashrama system, the caste order.

While I share Brahmachari’s avowed sympathy for the goal of strengthening friendly people-to-people ties between Indians and Pakistanis I must stress that I believe that his approach to the issues lampooning Islam, making baseless generalisations about Muslims, and turning a complete blind eye to the follies of Brahminism are simply no way to go about the noble project. Indeed, such views can only make the goal recede further into the distance.

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Shah-I-Hamdan Institute of Islamic Studies, Kashmir

By Yoginder Sikand

The Shah-i-Hamdan Institute of Islamic Studies, a department of the University of Kashmir, Srinagar, is the only centre of its kind in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir for the academic study of Islam on modern lines. It is named after the leading Muslim missionary in Kashmir, the fourteenth century Sayyed Ali Hamadani, who is also called as the Amir-i-Kabir (‘the great leader’) or the Bani-i- Musalmani -i-Kashmir (‘the founder of Islam in Kashmir’), because of whose efforts Islam emerged as the religion of the majority of the people of this region.

Established in 1989, some 500 students have already passed out of the portals of the Shah-i-Hamdan Institute. These include a small, though growing number of women students. Starting off by providing teaching at the Master’s level, the institute now has facilities for providing training for advanced research, providing M.Phil, and Ph.D. degrees as well. Till now, the department has awarded eight M.Phil and four Ph.D. degrees for research into various aspects of Islam and the history of Islam and Muslims in Kashmir.

The Master’s course in Islamic studies is of a two year duration. In the first year, students have to take several papers, including Islamic Civilisation, Sufism, Muslim Philosophy, Religious Sciences and Elementary Arabic. In the second year the paper taught include Islam in South Asia, Islamic Social Science, comparative religions and the modern Muslim world. Plans are afoot to offer special papers on modern Muslim thinkers as well. All students receive a monthly scholarship of Rs. 1000 from the university.

Students who complete the Master’s course generally prefer to go in for some sort of government employment, especially as teachers at schools. However, the scope for employment as teachers is limited, as at present Islamic studies is not taught as a subject in the schools of Jammu and Kashmir. Of the colleges in the state, at present only four have facilities for teaching the subject. These are the degree college, Anantnag, the degree college, Sopore, the Amar Singh College, Srinagar, and the Islamic College for science and commerce, Srinagar.

Presently, the Shah-i-Hamadan Institute has a teaching staff of six, including two part-time lecturers. The head of the department, Dr. Nasim Ahmad Shah is a specialist in Islamic Civilisation. Other teachers include Dr. Sayyed Yunus Gilani (Islamic History), Dr. Hamidullah Marazi (sufism and Islamic Philosophy) and Dr. Abdur Rashid Bhat (modern India and Religious Sciences). Although the institute as such has not brought out any publications as yet, the teaching staff have several books on Islam and Kashmir to their credit. Dr. Hamidullah Marazi is a particularly prolific writer having already penned over a dozen books, on such diverse themes as the history of the revelation of the Qur’an, the concept of hijrah, and Islamic ideology. He is currently working on a book on the influence of Imam Ghazali on western thought. The institute is planning to launch its own journal shortly, and an application has been made in this regard to the concerned university authorities.

The Shah-i-Hamadan Institute has a small and rather unimpressive library, with an annual budget of only some Rs. 25,000. It does not receive any journals, and lack of finances is said to be the main constraint. Academic work in the past several years has also been greatly hampered by the general political unrest in Kashmir, as a result of which the institute has not been able to hold any seminars or conferences. Despite all odds, the institute is still struggling to survive and holds out great promise as a centre for Islamic research if the university authorities and the general public are willing to help in its work. Books on Islam for donation to the library may be sent to;

The Department Librarian,
Shah-i-Hamadan Institute of Islamic Studies
University of Kashmir (Hazratbal Campus)
Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir.

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Reactions to Mass-conversions of Meenakshipuram

By Prof. Dr. Mumtaz Ali Khan

The recent attacks on the Christian missionaries in India on the ground that they are resorting to mass conversions through force and money have created the second round of controversy in India.

Similar social situation had prevailed during the mass conversions of Meenakshipuram about 17 years ago. The main allegation was that petrol dollar was used to tempt the poor to get converted to Islam. There were several top leaders, both religious and political, who expressed their conflicting views. Not all Hindus resisted conversions. Similarly, there was no unanimity among Muslim leaders too. It is interesting to present a brief survey of these varying views of Indian leaders. This is based on my book “mass conversions of Meenakshipuram. A sociological enquiry” published in 1983. This is based on a scientific methodology adopted by personally investigating into the conversion scenario.

Islam does not permit conversions out of compulsions, and coercion. Religion is a matter of faith which cannot be forced into the mind and heart of any individual or groups of individuals. The history of spread of Islam in India holds a clean mirror to prove this point. It is untrue to say that sword forced conversions. If the Muslim rulers had decided to use military force to force conversions, India’s population composition would have been absolutely different.

Conversions in India were due to the very inherent weaknesses of the Hindu social system where caste played havoc and because the decisive factor in one’s own life style. The conflict between purity and pollution is again based on the caste to which one belongs. The scheduled caste people called by different names from time to time represent India’s most unfortunate people subjected to the practice of untouchability, an unparalled social stigma in human history anywhere in the world. Totally denied of human rights, but totally exploited and humiliated worse than dogs people challenged the Hindu society of which they were a part. As awareness was spread due to several socio-cultural factors, they picked up courage to come out of the Hindu garb containing them. The leaders of conversion were bent upon self-respect taught to them by E.V.Ramaswamy Naikar, popularly called “Periyar”. Even Brahmins did not oppose the conversion movement because the conflict was between the scheduled castes and the Thevars. The latter were the enemies of Brahmins too.

The views expressed by several top Indian leaders generally set aside the theory of involvement of petrol dollar or force. Social organization and political parties expressed their concern in their own way. The congress (I) leaders of Tamil Nadu did not initially support the movement as Smt. Indira Gandhi had expressed her views against it. But when once she changed her mind after ascertaining the fact that it was due to most cruel treatment that was meted out to the scheduled castes, the other leaders too expressed so. But A.R. Antulay, a Muslim leader heading the Maharashtra Government, lashed out at the mass conversions of Harijans to Islam which were detrimental to the interest of the Nation, democracy and secularism. Yogendra Makwana, Union State Minister for Home and a scheduled caste leader, made a spot study and said that the grievances of the scheduled castes should be redressed at the earliest. A thirteen member parliamentary committee was appointed to look into the causes for mass conversions. The committee too said that conversions were due to harassment of the scheduled castes. Devaraj Urs, the then Congress (U) leader, held the government and Hindu religious leaders responsible for conversions.

Jagjivan Ram, the scheduled caste leader, strongly resented the tone of speeches made at the Hindu Sammelan at Delhi which suggested that Harijans converted to Islam were a danger to the security of the country. He said “can Hindus alone keep the security of the country”. C.M.Armugam, a legislator and a scheduled caste leader, said that conversions were due to age- old oppression and ill-treatment by caste Hindus and police atrocities.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leaders such as Nanji Deshmukh, Attal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani were of the view that petrol dollar led to mass conversions. The Janata Party and MP Dr. Subramanya Swamy said that conversions were as dangerous to Hindus as they were to Muslims since it was paving the way to militants in both the religions to come to the front. He further said that the Harijans embraced Islam due to social oppression and talks about foreign money only helped deflect our mind from the main issue. Shahbuddin, a Janata leader from the North in his article, “conversions. A quest for equality or a challenge to Hindu India” said that educated and well placed persons changed the religion voluntarily, as a free act of conscience. He asserted that the Harijans quest today is for social equality and Meenakshipuram is a symbol of this, not a Muslim challenge to Hindu India. The former Chief Minister of Karnataka S. Nijalingappa made his observations in a different way. He held the religious leaders among Hindus responsible for conversions of fools and illiterate people.

Late M.G. Ramachandran, the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, threatened that he would bring out a legislation to ban conversions through threat, coercion or inducement which did not suit secular India. But the leader, Karunanidhi, the then former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, took an opposite stand to of that AIDMK of M.G.Ramachandran. He said that conversions were due to harassment and not due to petrol dollar. Swami Agnivesh, the Arya Samaj leader and an activist, held fanatic Muslim organizations in India planned mass conversions with the help of Arab money. He suspected Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to be behind the move. He also held the caste Hindu and government responsible for conversions.

The views of some journalists and literary figures are significant. Mr. C.T.Kurien of the Madras Institute of Development Studies said, “millions of Harajans are starving everyday, many die in caste conflicts, but nothing has been done to alleviate their sufferings. “When a 100 Harijans convert to Islam, you make such a hue and cry. Conversion is an attempt to find social acceptance.”

Ramaswamy ‘Cho’ a journalist warned about possible communal disharmony. Ramaswamy, an RSS worker, observed that Harijans craved for social equality. S.Guhan, former Finance Secretary made a similar observation. He said, “Harijans are taking a perfectly reasonable and logical decision”. Abdul Latiff, a Muslim league member observed, “Hindus should be thankful to Islam since only after conversion threat have Hindu reformers become active”.

Views of some Hindu religious leaders are equally interesting. Jagatguru Shankaracharya of Kanchi said that politics, money and problems connected with boot legging played a significant role in the conversions of Meenakshipuram. Vandematharam Ramachandra, senior vice president of Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, holds petrol dollar responsible. He wanted an independent commission to unravel this issue. The Swamiji of Pejawar Mutt suspected foreign hand in the recent conversions of Harijans. But he also held responsible the deeply rooted religious dogmas among the cast - Hindus.

Thus, it is observed that by and large opinion was not in favour of petrol dollar but against the caste Hindus, who suppressed the Harijans. Islam does not encourage conversions out of force, fraud or money. Faith in social equality and treatment of the converts in Muslim society play a vital role.

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Manuvada and the Language of Discourse

By Hasan Mansur

The language of discourse while combating communal fascism needs to undergo some change in order to deal with the contemporaneous situation. When one alludes to communalism, it is undoubtedly the vindictive theology of the so-called majority (in reality this so-called majority represents a lethal minority of bigots comprising the upper castes), but the latter represented by the axis of the Sangh Parivar which is most sinister because its revanchism is abetted by the iron heel of the Indian state. Since the so-called majoritarian communalism is identified as Hindutva as distinct from the undefined, abstract Hinduism, the latter more a way of life than a faith, it is necessary to effect a change in the language of discourse to endow these terms greater clarity that could facilitate better understanding of the present situation.

“Hindutva” undoubtedly derived from the pamphlet bearing this title had Savarkar as its author who was the fountainhead of Indian fascism. At the same time, he was too rationalist to exploit it as a religious term because his agnosticism was never concealed. But he found in Hindutva, a powerful political device to mobilise the so-called Hindus as though they were a homogeneous and monolithic community; this he could do by means of presenting Islam and the Muslim as the “other”, meaning to be the enemy whereas the so called Hindus were the “we”. This was the pernicious theology that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) grabbed with alacrity and it became its agenda which it is pursuing to this day. This theology of Hindutva is reflected in that notorious declaration of Golwalkar that Muslims can never have the same rights as the Hindus. It is necessary to recall this vicious statement of his; “In Hindustan exists and must need exist the ancient Hindu nation.. So long however as they (Muslims and other non-Hindus) maintain their social, religious and cultural differences they cannot but be foreigners.. There are only two courses open to foreign elements, either to merge themselves in the national race and adopt its culture, or live at the sweet will of the national race .. the non-Hindu peoples in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu religion... in one word, they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinate to the Hindu nation, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights.. in this country, Hindus alone are the nation and the Muslims and others, if not actually anti-national are atleast outside the body of the nation “There could not have been a more explicit outburst of the Sangh Parivar’s theology than this acrid statement.

To assail this theology as Hindutva presents some problems. There are many among those who pass for Hindus whose sensibilities are hurt when a critique is made of Hindutva or Hinduism because of the notion that these two latter terms are synonymous. This fascist theology has never been associated with the so-called Hinduism and hence whatever critique is made of what is derived from “Hindu” is likely to send wrong signals. To spare the sensitivities of such secular folk, the language of discourse must find an alternative to these terms, hence the plea for change in the language of discourse.

The mind set of Golwalkar which symbolises the thinking of the Sangh Parivar stands for the following precepts; It upholds graded inequality which is embedded in the vicious caste system, which Ambedkar characterised as anti-social; caste is an essential and integral part of this mindset, which reveals absence of a social conscience, because of moralistic unconcernedness which shows itself in the continual brutal exploitation of Dalits dating back to thousands of years. It espouses violence because of the belief that killing the body is not killing the soul, hence there is no regret or remorse over killings. What is worse, women are equated with animals and they are not acknowledged as human. Since this theology is derived from Manu, the law-giver, it is known as Manu Dharma Shastra, Manusmriti or Manuvada. Hence those who think and act on these lines are the Manuvadis, the present inheritors being the Sangh Parivar. Henceforth, they should be known as Manuvadis.

This is a strong plea that those who stand for this retrograde reactionary thinking of Manu who constitute a minority but possessing the potential for mayhem and murder as seen in the killings of Dalits, minorities and tribal over the years must be countered by the united will and organisation of all the victims of Manuvada. The pernicious doctrines of Manuvada have infiltrated the political right and centre, the bureaucracy, police and security services, not to mention sections of judiciary who have not risen to their constitutional obligation. This fascist theology must be resolutely exposed and opposed by all those whose faith is in a pluralistic culture which espouses social justice and whose underlying faith is in humanism. Let all the victims of Manuvada stand as one and roll back the saffron tide of intolerance, blatant lying and genocide.

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Leaves From Life : Procrastination - The Thief of Time

By D.A.Sait

A true Muslim must always be conscious of the fact that death stalks him every moment of his life. This consciousness will always keep him on the straight and narrow path, keep him away from putting off what has got be done at the right time. Here today, gone tomorrow, that is the transitoriness of life. So a wise Muslim never puts off till tomorrow what can be done today, because tomorrow might be too late. Who knows, except the All-knowing Allah, how long a man has to live? You may be full of plans for the future and you go about trying to carry out your plans, ignoring the fact that the success or otherwise of all your plans depends on the will of Allah. And all your plans are doomed to come to nought because you thought that it was in your power to succeed, God or no God.

Two instances in the lives of two men I used to know come to mind in this connection. The first one relates to a Muslim whose ambition in life seemed to be to see his only daughter married off to a well-educated, handsome, well-placed boy from a decent family. He had laid by plenty of cash and jewellery to provide a good dowry to his daughter, forgetting in the process that taking or giving of dowry is against the teachings of the holy Prophet (Pbuh). While he was in the middle of his search for the ideal bridegroom for his daughter a poor widow approached him for some help to get her daughter married off. He never asked her anything about her family, her financial problems. He never bothered to volunteer to see the girl married off at his expense. He just fobbed her off with a hundred rupees. He thought that he had done his duty by her, whereas he was ready to spend lakhs for his own daughter’s marriage. He went on interviewing prospective bridegrooms almost every month. But none satisfied him. He wanted only the best for his daughter because he was prepared to spend lavishly for that. Perhaps that arrogance did not please Allah. He died of a massive heart attack before his daughter could be married off. It may be also that the indifference he showed towards that widow and her problems displeased Allah. May be his presumption that only money mattered in the procuring of a bridegroom of one’s choice had invited divine retribution. My own feeling is that he ought to have realized that death is always near, and so we must never put off doing a good deed.

Then there is the case of another acquaintance who, though blessed with all the good things of life, would not attend to his prayers regularly. He would attend a Friday ‘Jumma’ prayer occasionally. When he is in the midst of Ramazan he would fast on Sundays or any other holidays, for being a government servant, those were the only days he found convenient to fast. When I tackled him about it he said he was going to fast and pray regularly once he retired. Again, when I asked him why he could not take a couple of months leave and go to perform Haj his answer was the same. I will perform Haj after I have retired, ‘as much as to say that if Allah wanted his Haj Allah had to wait till it was convenient for him to perform the same. The cool assurance that he had all the time in the world to carry out his plans was his undoing. He died before he had retired from service. Allah waits for no man. Man has to do what he has been asked to do without making flimsy excuses. Time and tide wait for no man. Neither does death.

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