By Sayeedur Rahman Nadvi
Muslims form roughly 14% of the electorate of India. Even though the conventional wisdom considers them to be the largest “minority” vis-à-vis the “majority” Hindus, the “minority” tag of the former would easily vanish - at least in electoral terms - given the fragmentation of the latter in to innumerable caste and linguistic groups. The intensity of the division could be gauged from the fact that no individual caste of the latter could even claim the following of at least two per cent of the electorate today. But in terms of representation in the Lower House of the Parliament (Lok Sabha), it is the 15% upper castes (Brahmins, Kshatriayas & Vaishyas) who continue to dominate with a share of around 50% since independence. The schedule castes and schedule tribes, who together constitute 23% of the electorate, are represented in the Lok Sabha in same proportion thanks to the constitutional provision of reservation to them. Even the two and half per cent Christians, two per cent Sikhs and below one percent Jains and Buddhists have representation more or less in proportion to their respective numerical strengths in the population. But it is the Other Backward Castes (OBC’s) and the Muslims who suffer from huge under-representation on this score. Even though the OBC’s constitute 52 per cent of the population, their average representation in the central legislature is roughly in the range of around 20%.
And that of the Muslims is around 6 per cent. Muslims had the largest representation of 46 in the 1980 Lok Sabha and the lowest of 24 seats in the 1957. Their current tally being 27. Muslims form more than 30 per cent of the electorate in 42 of the total 543 Lok Sabha constituencies. West Bengal accounts for 10 of them. Uttar Pradesh and Kerala come next with eight seats each. Assam and Jammu & Kashmir account for five each. When it comes to 20 per cent and more, the seats tally rises to a staggering 140 seats. The highest concentration of the Muslims being in Uttar Pradesh (42 constituencies), West Bengal (20), Bihar (17), Assam, Karnataka & Kerala (8 each), Maharastra (7), Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh (6 each). But their representation in the Lok Sabha is far below than their numerical strength. Even the 42 constituencies with over 30 per cent electorate could send only 20 MP’s in 1998. Some notable exceptions in 1998 being Berhampur (Muslims 60%), Raiganj (55%), Basirhat (50%), all these seats falling in West Bengal. Even their representation pales into insignificance when compared to the other religious minorities as well. The case in point is Kerala. Here Muslims form 26 per cent of the electorate and send two MP’s from among the community. Whereas the Christians who form 21 per cent but contribute five to six MP’s each time.
In 1999 Lok Sabha elections, the largest nominations received by the Muslims is from Indian National Congress (35 seats) followed by Bahujan Samaj Party (16), Samajwadi Party (14), Left Front (14), Rashtriya Janata Dal (5), National Conference (4), Nationalist Congress Party (3) etc. From the National Democratic Alliance as well, it has received 12 nominations: Janata Dal-United (5), Bharathiya Janatha Party (4), Trinamul Congress (2) & Telugu Desam Party (1). The reasons for this pathetic showing on behalf of the largest “minority” are not far to seek. They are the least organised lot and are at the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder and hence prone to exploitation by any given powerful group. Leave alone the Brahmins and other upper castes, lessons can be sought even from the consolidation and assertion of Nadars and Vanniyars of Tamil Nadu.
By Yoginder Sikand
Mahmud of Ghazni’s raid on Somnath is routinely invoked in school history as epitomising Muslim barbarism. Mahmud is taken as a symbol of all Muslims. This, however, is a complete misreading of history, as Prof. Romila Thapar, renowned historian who teaches at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, makes clear in her
Somanatha: Narratives of a History.
Mahmud of Ghazni’s raid on Somnath in the early eleventh century and his destroying the Shaivite idol contained in the grand temple there is routinely invoked in school history text-books and Hindutva propaganda as epitomising an ‘irrepressible hostility’ between Muslims and Hindus, and alleged Muslim barbarism, intolerance and iconoclasm. Mahmud is taken, then, as a symbol of all Muslims in general and as repre senting in himself all that Islam stands for.
This, however, is a complete misreading of history, as Prof. Romila Thapar, renowned historian who teaches at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, makes clear in a recently published piece Somanatha: Narratives of a History. She cautions us that this way of seeing Mahmud’s attack on Somnath and his looting of the temple ‘is itself a misrepresentation of the reading of the event in terms of Hindu-Muslim relations’. She then goes on to look at different representations of the event, to see the many ways in which it was viewed through time.
Somnath, she notes, is first mentioned in the Mahabharata as a place for pilgrimage which did not have a temple until much later. The Shaivite temple at Somnath actually dates to the late ninth or early tenth century. Somnath was then a thriving port, a great centre of trade with Muslim
Arabia and Iran. A sizeable portion of the income that the temple earned from pilgrims was invested in the lucrative West Asian trade. Thapar tells us that well before Mahmud appeared on the scene, several local Hindu rajas, such as the Chudasamas, Abhiras and Yadavas, would regularly attack pilgrims on their way to Somnath and loot them of the money and valuables that they intended to donate to the temple. In other words, Mahmud was certainly not the first of the raiders attracted to Somnath by the legendary tales of its fabulous wealth.
A different picture emerges from the Jain accounts of this period. Dhanapala, an eleventh century Jain poet, attached to the Paramara court in Malwa and a contemporary of Mahmud, writes in his Satyauriya Mahavira Utasha, that Mahmud had been unable to damage the idols of Mahavira in the Jain temples. Dhanapala saw this as proof of the ‘superior power’ of Jainism over its historical rival, Shaivism. Hemachandra, the early twelfth century Jain author of the Dvayashraya Kavya, writes that the Hindu Chalukya king of Gujarat was greatly angered by the destruction of temples by the rakshsas, daityas and asuras [demons]. Curiously, he identifies these vandals not as Muslims or Turks but as local Hindu rajas. The Chalukya king, he tells us, then went on a pilgrimage to Somnath and found the temple in a state of neglect and disrepair, and apparently felt that ‘it was a disgrace that the local [Hindu] rajas were plundering the pilgrims’. Accordingly, he ordered the temple to be repaired. Interestingly, this very same
Chalukyan king also ordered the construction of a mosque at Cambay, which was later torn down in an attack by the Hindu Paramaras of Malwa, who are also known to have looted and destroyed many Jain temples built by their Chalukyan rivals. As Thapar perceptively notes, it would seem that places of worship were seen in this game of politics as ‘a statement of power [because of which] they could become a target of attack, irrespective of religious affiliations’.
Since the temple of Somnath was a store-house of great wealth, the Chalukyan kings of Gujarat took strong measures to prevent it from being looted by, among others, the local rajas, all of whom happened to be Hindus. A twelfth century inscription tells us that the Chalukyan king Kumarapala appointed a governor at Somnath to protect the temple ‘against the piracy and looting of the local rajas’. In another inscription dating a century later, the Chalukyan kings are portrayed as protecting the site from being looted by the Hindu rajas of Malwa. The Prabhaspattana inscription of 1169 speaks of the appointment of one Bhava Brihaspati as the chief priest of the temple, who reportedly persuaded the Chalukyan king Kumarapala to repair the temple because ‘it was an old structure, much neglected by the officers’. Curiously, there is no mention of Mahmud’s attack on the temple. Thapar says that this is perhaps because ‘the looting of a temple was not such an extraordinary event’, since it had been a frequent occurrence since well before Mahmud’s invasion.
The historical evidence that Thapar puts together convincingly demolishes the thesis that Mahmud’s attack on Somnath was motivated by a fiery religious zeal and that it sowed the seeds of a never-ending Hindu-Muslim antagonism. She points to a long legal document in Sanskrit dating back to 1264, which talks of a Muslim trader from Hormuz, in Iran, one Khaja Nuruddin Feroz, acquiring a large plot of land on the outskirts of Somnath in order to build a mosque. The land was acquired from Sri Chada, the local Hindu raja, and this deal had the approval of two local bodies. The first of these was the panchakula, consisting of local Hindu notables, including priests, officers and merchants, and headed by none other than the chief priest of the Somnath temple, one Purohit Virabhadra. The other body, the jamatha, consisted of Iranian traders from Hormuz as well as some local Muslims. Interestingly, the land given to build the mosque was part of the large estate of the Somnath temple itself. ‘The tone and sentiment of the inscription is amicable’, notes Thapar, and clearly suggests that Mahmud’s attack was not seen as an instance of alleged ‘Islamic vandalism’ but simply as one among many instances of looting that Somnath had long witnessed, starting well before the first Muslims appeared on the scene.
To further buttress her argument, Thapar refers to a fifteenth century Sanskrit inscription from Somnath which, curiously, begins with the standard Islamic invocation, Bismillah-ir- Rahman- ir-Rahim [‘In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate’. It is dedicated to a Muslim resident of Somnath, one Vohra Farid, son of the Arab Vohra Muhammad, and says that when Somnath was attacked by the Turks [Turushkas], he joined in the defence of the town and fought against them on behalf of the local raja Brahmadeva. Clearly then, Mahmud’s attack on the town can in no sense be seen as a ‘Muslim war against the Hindus’.
If this is actually the case, then, one might ask, how is it then that in Hindutva discourse and even in ordinary Indian school text-books Mahmud’s attack on Somnath came to symbolise a never-ending Hindu-Muslim antagonism? Thapar tells us that the first mention of a so-called ‘Hindu trauma’ in connection with Mahmud’s attack on Somnath was made in the debates in the British House of Commons in 1843. A year earlier, Lord Ellenborough had issued his controversial ‘Proclamation of the Gates’, whereby he ordered the British army in Afghanistan to return via Ghazni, Mahmud’s capital, and to bring back with them the sandalwood gates from Mahmud’s tomb there which, he claimed, had actually been looted by Mahmud from Somnath. He asserted that this would symbolise the British control over Afghanistan despite their poor showing in their battles against the Pathans and that it would also serve to assuage the alleged bruised pride of the Hindus. The 1843 debates in the House of Commons over the ‘gates of Mahmud’ raised a storm of controversy. Lord Ellenborough was accused of seeking to appease the Hindus or to set the Hindus against the Muslims. It was even pointed out that no historian had mentioned any such gates in any of the several accounts of Mahmud’s attack and that the story of the gates ‘could only be an invention of folk tradition’. However, Lord Ellenborough’s supporters managed to prevail in the end, arguing that bringing the gates to India would ‘remove the feelings of degradation from the minds of the Hindus’ and would ‘relieve that country, which had been overrun by the Mohammedan conqueror, from the painful feelings which had been rankling amongst the people for nearly a thousand years’, because, allegedly, ‘the memory of the gates had been preserved by the Hindus as a painful memorial of the most devastating invasions that had ever desolated Hindustan’. As in the case of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya, here, too, we clearly find British administrators concocting their own versions of ‘history’ in order to set Hindus against the Muslims and help strengthen colonial rule.
The controversy that the British sought to raise over the ‘gates’ had a curious end, however. A set of gates was uprooted by the British army from Mahmud’s tomb in Ghazni and brought back to India in triumph. On arrival, however, it was discovered that the wooden gates were of Egyptian, rather than Indian, workmanship and not associated in any way with Somnath! So, they were placed in a store-room in a dark chamber in the Red Fort at Agra, and by now have probably rotted away into oblivion!
By A Special Correspondent
Muslim communities have for long been the special focus of Christian missionaries, and with the rise of Islamic-oriented movements in much of the Muslim world this Christian ‘concern’ has become particularly striking, for strategic reasons connected with the challenges to western hegemony from growing Islamic awareness in Muslim lands.
Historically, Christian missionaries have not registered much success in Muslim countries, and even in India the number of converts to Christianity from Islam have been a trickle when compared to the flood of converts from Hinduism and animistic tribal traditions.
Many are the methods that Christian missionaries have used in attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity. The colonial period, from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century, witnessed a literal deluge of polemical tracts penned by Christian missionaries against Islam, in which Islam was sought to be depicted in the most lurid colours. Then, when much of the Muslim world gained political independence from the European powers, the Christian missionary strategy shifted from explicitly attacking Islam, for now they were left without their white Christian colonial patrons. The emphasis now shifted to talk about ‘Christian engagement with Muslims for a peaceful, harmonious world’. Scores of ‘development’ projects were set up by the missionaries, which, although they did bring some amount of material benefit to poor Muslim families, were principally motivated by the desire to spread Christianity. And then, from the ’80s onwards, talk of inter-religious dialogue became fashionable in many Christian circles. A close inspection of official church documents reveals that for many Christians ‘dialogue’ is not seen as separate from, or opposed to, ‘evangelisation’.
A very curious effort at this sort of Christian missionary-sponsored ‘dialogue’ with Muslims is the recently-established Institute of Beruma Ministries, based at Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh. It has brought out a considerable amount of literature, including Urdu translations of the Bible, an Urdu Bible picture-book, the biography of a Muslim woman convert to Christianity, as well as video tapes and audio cassettes dealing with Islam and Christianity from a comparative perspective, in order to ‘prove’ the ‘superiority’ of Christianity over Islam. All this is, of course, not a new development, because such literature and propaganda material have been produced by Christian missionary groups elsewhere, too. Where the Institute of Beruma Ministries departs from other Christian attempts at proselytising among Muslims is that rather than being explicit [and honest, one might say] about its agenda as a Christian missionary agency, it seeks to project itself as rooted in the Muslim context. Thus, its official periodical is called al-Salaam, and the phrase ‘In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful’ appears boldly on its cover-page.
The contents of the magazine are, similarly, deceptive. The strategy seems to be to ‘prove’ from the Qur’an itself that Christianity is the ‘true’ religion and that Islam is ‘false’. Thus, verse after verse of the Qur’an are laboriously quoted in order to show how high a station Jesus occupies in Allah’s eyes, the intention being to tell the Muslim reader that Christianity alone is the way to God. Thus, in a piece titled ‘What is Happening?: Way to Nijat’ [al-Salaam, Jan. 1999], it is said that all the epithets used in the Qur’an for Jesus ‘prove’ that ‘the only way to najat [salvation] is through Isa and His power’. Of course, al-Salaam remains conveniently silent on the many other verses of the Qur’an where Allah castigates the Christians for having corrupted Jesus’ message and for having turned him into their deity.
Prof. Dr. Mumtaz Ali khan
Nasreen was just 19 years when she died twenty days ago. The circumstances under which she breathed her last disturb even the most heartless persons. Hers is a case which warrants immediate and appropriate action. All those who stand for glorious principles of Islam have to wake up, organise and do some thing before many young married girls become the victims of the wrath and vengeance of men who are unfortunately married to these women, but do not deserve to be called “husband”. The word ‘husband’ has special connotation, sanctity and significance. Husband is a person who by virtue of his marriage has great responsibilities to protect the honour and life of his wife. It is his duty to maintain her and keep her happy.
But young Nasreen’s case is a typical example of a perverted, cruel and wicked man who happened to be her husband. When she died she had four children, all in the age group of 8 to 2 years. She was from a Muslim-dominant urban area in Bangalore. She had two brothers and a mother. She was married to a person in a place about 30 miles away from Bangalore. Her mother was careless while choosing the groom. Her anxiety was to dispose of the daughter as daughters are supposed to be a burden for parents. If girls remain unmarried after 14-15 years, some parents take it as something that leads to public comments. They also entertain the fear of ‘safety’ of the daughters. Though no mother wilfully gets her daughter married to a wretched person. Even before marriage, this person was known to be a habitual drunkard. Nasreen had to live in her in-laws’ house for a few years.
Everyday turned out to be a nightmare. Being abused and beaten up day and night, she did not know what to do. She had no father. Her mother behaved in a manner that was not generally expected of a mother. In other words, mother did not apply her mind properly to study the situation in which her daughter was struggling for existence. Nasreen complained to her mother on a few occasions. But mother remained unmoved. But when Nasreen feared of being killed under some pretext by her husband, she came to Bangalore and took shelter in her mother’s house.
One day she met me at the residence of one of the members of the management committee of our organisation. We were trying to scout women in distress to help them and their unfortunate children. Nasreen narrated her plight. She pleaded for sponsorship of her female child aged around six years. The conversation between us went as follows:
Me: Where is your husband now?
Nasreen: He is in Magadi with his people.
Me: Why don’t you join your husband?
Nasreen: No, never. I have suffered so much that there is no question of going there.
Me: If he forces you?
Nasreen: I would rather die .
Me: Why are you so scared of him?
Nasreen: He will kill me.
Me: What is the guarantee that you will stay back in Bangalore?
Nasreen: I am prepared to swear.
Me: Will you take up a job if offered?
Nasreen: Sir, my last child is just one year. Please give me one year’s time. I will work.
She was in tears. I decided to make some enquiries before making up my mind. I asked our social work wing to make enquiries. It was found that Nasreen deserved our help. The sponsorship was possible through Christian Children’s Fund (CCF) an internationally known donor agency with unquestionable secular outlook. Nasreen had to take the photo of her child, Sumayya. She had no money. I took her to the studio and got her child photographed. I asked her to have total faith in Almighty Allah. I used to advise her to forget the past and keep herself happy, as she had to take care of four children. I also urged her to be happy as otherwise life will become a great burden. When she was mentally preparing herself for a truncated but a new life without husband in Bangalore, destiny played its role. Her mother, though generally not much concerned about the daughter, started bringing pressure on her to go back to her husband. Nasreen initially resisted this proposal. But mother would not take it so easily. As a compromise formula, she forced the daughter to hire a house near her house and stay with the husband and children. I warned Nasreen not to take the risk of allowing her husband. After studying the antecedents of her husband, I had told her that she would be killed if she allowed her husband to join her. Unfortunately without consulting me, she took a house for rent next to her mother’s house and started her encounter with the husband. She was not too confident about her safety. But she had no option.
But very soon started the cruelty of the husband. He began to beat her mercilessly. Neighbours remained mute spectators. They were helpless as it was just a purely domestic matter.
For the last three days before her death, Nasreen was so badly beaten up by her husband that she was totally subdued and stopped crying and complaining. On the fateful day, she had a quarrel with her husband. There was no money at home to prepare breakfast. Husband not only refused to give money, but also forced her to prepare breakfast. She told the husband, “Where is the money, if you give me money I will prepare the breakfast”. Then the husband started beating her. She got fed up; went to a nearby shop and purchased some quantity of wheat flour, eggs, etc. and started preparing breakfast. The husband who had gone out returned with a burning cigarette in his mouth and fully drunk. As he entered the house, he burnt a broomstick. He told her, “look here, you would also be burnt like this”. Poor Nasreen thought he was joking. He picked up second cigarette and started smoking sitting on the cot. He got up, picked up the chimney and poured kerosene oil on her back. She thought he was just teasing her. “Why did you pour oil on me. See, a few drops have fallen on wheat flour too”.
Quite unexpectedly he threw the burning cigarette on her. It caught fire immediately. He pushed her into the room. She began shouting. Neighbours appeared on the scene and tried to intervene . He brought a gunny bag and covered her with it. She was rushed to the hospital. He too accompanied her. He threatened her by saying, “Tell police and others that you yourself tried to commit suicide”. He wanted to bribe the police. He asked Nasreen’s sister-in-law to give some money. She refused. Meanwhile, Nasreen gave her dying statement that her husband only did all this. He tried to run away. But police caught him and took him to police station for further action. Postmortem was conducted and the body was handed over to the relatives the next day. It was a pity that though Nasreen is said to have had 48% burn, she succumbed to them.
The number of drunkard husbands among the Muslikms is on the increase. There is none to correct the disease. Islam prohibits alcoholic drinks. But who has to preach this and who can enforce this on the erring Muslims. State Government wants money. Liquor barons control the State administration. Muslim priests have no hold over these deviants. Women are mute recipients of the dreaded and fateful torturous treatment. There is no difference between a broomstick and Nasreen when her husband torched both. Mother who forced the daughter to rejoin her wicked and dangerous husband remained indifferent. Should this be the fate of young girls who are married and have children? Should not the wives be advised to seek divorce at the earliest when they have such ruthless husbands? Who will take care of the innocent }children? We have decided to help one or two children by providing free educational facilities.
Meanwhile, Nasreen stands before my eyes, quite often, perhaps signalling that I should not forget her children.
ALLAHU AKBAR ALLAHU AKBAR
Allah is the Greatest Allah is the Greatest
ALLAHU AKBAR ALLAHU AKBAR
Allah is the Greatest Allah is the Greatest
ASHHADU ANLA ILAHA ILLALAH
I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah.
ASHHADU ANLA ILAHA ILLALAH
I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah.
ASHHADU ANNA MUHAMMADAR RASULULLAH
I bear witness that Muhammad (Peace be upon him-) is the Messenger of Allah.
ASHHADU ANNA MUHAMMADAR RASULULLAH
I bear witness that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah.
HAYYA ALAS SALAH HAYYA ALAS SALAH
Come to Prayer Come to Prayer
HAYYA ALAL FALAH HAYYA ALAL FALAH
Come to your Good Come to your Good.
ALLAHU AKBAR ALLAHU AKBAR
Allah is the Greatest Allah is the Greatest
LA ILAHA ILLALLAH
There is no deity but Allah.
An incredible medium for the proclamation of Tawheed of the Almighty Allah and Risalat of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), the sound of which echoes around the globe. Amazing though it sounds, fortunately for the Muslims of the world, it is an established fact.
Diagram showing Timings of Daily Prayers
Have a look at a map of the world and you will find Indonesia [a Muslim country] right on the eastern side of the earth’s central land mass. Indonesia consists of numerous islands, the principal ones being Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Celebes, all of which are well known. It is the largest Muslim country in the world with 180 million inhabitants. As soon as dawn breaks on the eastern island of Celebes, at approximately 5.30 am local time, Fajr Azan begins. Thousands of Mu’azzins in eastern Indonesia commence proclaiming the Tawheed [Oneness] of the Almighty, the Omnipotent and Omniscient Allah and Risalat [Universal Apostleship] of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). The process then continues and advances towards the western islands of Indonesia. The time difference between the eastern and western islands of Indonesia is one and a half hours. Hence, one and a half hours after the echoes have been completed in Celebes, it echoes in Jakarta and Java islands. Sumatra then follows suit and before this auspicious process of calling Azan ends in Indonesia, it has already begun in Malaysia. Burma is then next in line, and within an hour of its commencement in Jakarta, it reaches Dacca, the capital of Bangladesh. No sooner does the calling of Azan ends in Bangladesh, than it has already prevailed in western India, from Calcutta to Luknow. It then advances towards Bombay and the entire length and breadth of India resounds with this glorious proclamation.
Srinagar and Sialkot [a city in north Pakistan] have the same timing for Azan. The difference between Sialkot, Kota, Karachi and Gowadar [a city in Baluchistan, a province of Pakistan] is forty minutes, and within this time, Fajr Azan is heard throughout Pakistan. Before it ends in Pakistan, it has already begun in Afghanistan and Muscat. The time difference between Muscat and Baghdad is one hour. Azan resounds during this one hour in the environments of Hijaz-e-Muquaddas, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq. The time difference between Baghdad and Alexandria in Egypt is again one hour. Azan continues to resound in Syria, Jordan Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Sudan during this hour. Alexandria and Istanbul [the principal city of Turkey] are situated on the same geographical longitude. The time difference between eastern and western Turkey is one and half hours, and during this time it echoed with the call to prayer. Alexandria and Tripoli [the capital of Libya] are located at an hour’s difference from one another. It continues into Algiers, Tunis, Rabat and Marrakech. The process of calling Azan thus continues throughout the whole of Africa. Therefore the proclamation of the Oneness of Allah and the Apostleship of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) that had begun in the eastern islands of Indonesia reaches the eastern shores of the Atlantic ocean after nine hours. Prior to the Azan reaching the shores of the Atlantic, the process of Zuhr Azan has already commenced in eastern Indonesia, and before it reaches
Dacca, Asr Azan has started. This has hardly reached Jakarta, one and a half hours later, when the time for Maghrib becomes due and no sooner has Mahgrib time reached Sumatra, than the time for Isha Azan has commenced in Celebes! When the Mu’azzins of Indonesia are calling out for Fajr prayers, the Mu’azzins in Africa are calling out the Azan for Isha. If one ponders over this phenomenon seriously, one can only conclude the amazing fact that thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Mu’azzins around the world never cease to proclaim the Oneness of Allah and the Apostleship of the noble Prophet. Even as you are reading these lines, in some of the globe, Mu’azzins are calling the faithful for prayers. And Insha’ Allah, this universal and continuous calling of the Azan shall continue until the Day of Judgement. All praise be to Allah ta’ala. n
(Taken from Riyadh ul Jannah [translated by Hafiz Ghulam Muhammad Bora].)
By Hasan Mansur
The General Elections have come and almost gone. People are awaiting the results with bated breath, specially the most vulnerable sections like the Dalits, minorities, tribals and the poor in general because the result could make a difference in their lives. The centrist political parties and the Left have acknowledged how crucial these elections are and have named the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political front of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), as their main adversary.
Even those centrist parties which are not overtly communal but are united with the BJP in an unholy union know in the heart of their hearts that they are cohabiting with a treacherous ally. It will be no surprise if they desert this so-called ally when it is down and out, yet the damage would have been done to the polity in nurturing a Fascist force and endowing it with credibility and respectability. The sad part of the scenario is the factions among the Dalits, some of them intent on power, not empowering their men and women with the wisdom bequeathed to them by Baba Saheb Ambedkar.
The Muslims, though at places divided, have yet mustered their strength to oppose the BJP wherever it has emerged as a strong contender. Their sole objective is to frustrate it in its efforts to grab political power. Though they are painfully aware of the fact that in most constituencies, the Congress is the only alternative, what with its given track record of soft Hindutva. They are also aware of the worst violence in states where it had ruled, which finally culminated in the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
Hence the minorities, Muslims, have to be on guard and as the saying goes, one needs a long spoon to sup with the devil. Though it is not blatantly communal, its actions need to be carefully monitored so that it does not relapse into soft Hindutva again. Several ‘Matadhipatis’ of the Hindutva brand came up recently with a grim warning alleging that several Christian groups had burnt effigies of “national” leaders threatening them to prepare themselves for a backlash from the Hindus. Just as the sants of the saffron band have become saints, leaders of the Sangh Parivar have elevated themselves to the rank of national leaders. Yet this warning has ominous overtones and reminiscent of the past events that followed the infamous Rath Yatra and the demolition of the Babri Masjid and which left behind a trail of blood and tears. This needs to be countenanced too with determination.
It is never too late to conscientise all these classes cited to be the most vulnerable. What they need most is literacy, not the proverbial three Rs; it has to be liberal education that gives them social awareness and at the same time enables them to earn their upkeep. They need to organise themselves, not on lines of caste or community but as part of a broad-based movement and not let themselves be exploited by self-styled leaders for parochial ends. The men have a special responsibility in empowering their women through literacy and economic independence. They should not let their children fall into the death-trap of child labour, but see to it that they are given minimum education. Political consciousness is a must with a firm grounding in the democratic ethos so that they could transform themselves into a potential force opposing the rise of fascism in the country. Liberal education that makes the mind most catholic should enable them to stand up to the inroads made by pernicious forces. United, these forces must constitute a bulwark for setting up a democratic society that enshrines pluralism and human rights.
After these elections, the lesson to be learnt is that nothing should be left to chance. Elections must not turn into a gamble or a shot in the dark as it has been happening these few decades. The task of conscientising the most vulnerable at the ground level must be consistent and sustained so that the electoral outcome is not at the mercy of the exit polls but determined by the voters. The results must assure the democratic rights of the oppressed and the marginalised. People must be made to shed their scepticism and apathy. They owe a duty to themselves to defeat the diabolic designs of the Sangh Parivar which is seeking to restore the medieval, sick mindset based on Manusmriti which embodies inequality, violence, injustice to women and emergence of the macho male. This is the pernicious theology of one country, one people and one culture that passes for cultural nationalism which is nothing but the sophistry of the upper castes. This psuedo-nationalism must be challenged and shown for what it is: national chauvinism that needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history.
A clarion call has to go forth to unite all the vulnerable classes of this country in this crucial and decisive struggle against revanchist forces till they are vanquished, never to raise their heads again. The minorities, along with the exploited and oppressed poor, must be in the vanguard of this struggle so that men and women could live with dignity and pride, without discrimination in the land of Tagore’s vision, where the “mind is without fear”
By D.A. Sait
In a world dominated by man’s inhumanity to man and kindness and gratitude are at a discount this unusual tale of an animal’s kindness should make the world hang its head in shame, that is, if any shred of humanity still exists in human beings. This story was told to me by a friend, Shariff.
For some days Shariff had observed a bitch, taking advantage of his open gate, frequenting his backyard. This animal looks pregnant, felt Shariff, and is going to deliver its puppies any day now. His wife was for keeping the gate shut to prevent the bitch from delivering her puppies in her backyard. But the husband had set his face against such inhumanity to a dumb creature. Ultimately the bitch delivered herself of five cute, little puppies, three of them white and two brown like the mother. But the surprising thing was that, after staying with her offspring and suckling them for only five days, the bitch suddenly disappeared, never to be seen again. When the bitch was missing for the fourth successive day Shariff wondered what was going to happen to the puppies, which were growing less and less active day by day. Obviously they were in dire need of nourishment. A little milk in a saucer now and then was all he could offer. What could have happened to the bitch? It was so unnatural for a mother to abandon her offspring in such state. Perhaps the mother had been run over by a passing car or a lorry?...
Then came to pass the strangest part of all this human drama. A dog, white in colour, sturdy, appeared from nowhere and began to nuzzle the puppies and stay with them, as though ordained so by a divine power. Every now and then he would carry a couple of bones in his mouth and drop them in front of the pups. Apparently the dog had been foraging among the mutton discards in front of the nearby butcher’s shop. Soon it became a regular practice for the white dog to bring them bones and meat refuse on which the puppies began to thrive happily.
“Look how Allah provides for even the dumbest of his creatures,” observed Shariff, looking at his wife one day. “Where you and I would not touch a dog, nor provide for it, God in His infinite mercy has provided other means of succour to these abandoned creatures.”
“Remarkable,” assented his wife. “Would a human being in this self-centered, materialistic world, have taken the trouble to take a look at those starving creatures, let alone provide for them till they were able to look after themselves?”
Within a month of the beginning of this story the pups were able to look after themselves without outside assistance and were out and about, looking for sustenance in their usual canine way. The last act of this drama was played out by the unknown canine benefactor which, its appointed mission fulfilled, disappeared from the scene as suddenly as it had appeared when its services were in demand.