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Muslim Khatik, Khandeshi Bakar Kasab Samaj demands scrapping of discriminatory Presidential Scheduled Caste Order of 1950, stop religious discrimination

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 02 July 2009 | Posted in

IMO News Service

Shamsuddin K. Shaikh, Chairman Legal Cell, Muslim Khatik, Khandeshi Bakar Kasab Samaj (MKKBKS), Kalyan (Dist. Thane, Maharashtra), recently filed a petition before President Pratibha Patil and the Supreme Court of India demanding the scrapping of discriminatory Presidential Scheduled Caste Order of 1950. Shaikh provided details about the petition in a press release. He said, “Being a secular country our constitution doesn’t permit discrimination among citizens on the ground of their religion, birthplace, caste, sex or race. But, since 1950 one crucial order, named as “The Presidents 1950 Constitutional (Scheduled Caste)” order has kept Muslim’s and Christian’s from SC status and denying them any benefits of reservations by saying that there isn’t any caste system in any other faiths except Hinduism. Then why this order was amended twice to extend the SC status to Sikhs and Buddhists, though there isn’t any caste system in Sikhs and Buddhists. Dalits belong to the ancient indigenous people of the land, yet they have to struggle for their basic right to live as human beings. Their lifestyle is not different from other Dalits and yet they are not qualified for the government affirmative benefits. A Dalit remains Dalit from birth to death. It is a community that bears a mark of deep wound that was caused by accumulated injustice and discrimination. They need healing and peace. Dividing the Dalits on the basis of religion and deprive them of their due rights is totally unacceptable in a civilized society and in a secular country.”

“Since 1955 so many commissions such as Kaka Kalelkar, Mandal, State level committees, Sachar commission and now Justice Ranganath Mishra commission recommend to extend S.C. status irrespective of religion. The Sachar commission has suggested that it will be “most appropriate” to absorb the lowest category “Arzal” Muslims suffering maximum social deprivations, among the scheduled castes by amending the only 1950 Presidential order. So it is not a question of Article 341. There is no need to amend the constitution if you withdraw the Presidential order of 1950 all dalits of all the religions will come under one umbrella. The Sachar commission on Page no. 193, Para. 3, also mentioned some Muslim castes such as Butchers (Khatik), Halalkhors (Bhangis/Mehtar) having unclean occupations and hence they were untouchables. They were converted to Islam, but the their occupation or caste nor any change in their social or economical status. Social analyst also argue that change of religion does not guarantee any change in social status and dalits continue to be socially backward even after becoming Muslim/ Christian. This fact is also satisfied by the Supreme Court judgement vide.no. S.C. AIR 1992 in which 8 judges out of 9 said that “change in religion does not changes caste”. But Presidential Order (1950) restricts S.C. status to them and their Hindu equivalents are enjoying S.C. status, which is purely discriminatory,” Shaikh said.

It may be noted that the 1950 Presidential order (Scheduled Caste) was amended twice, once in 1956 to include Sikhs and in 1990 for Buddhists in SC status. Only Muslims and Christians were practically kept away from SC status. “Previously same discrimination was for ST and OBC and other than Hindus nobody was eligible for ST status but as per Govt. Resolution No. CBC- 1058/E dated 14th May, 1958, persons belonging the Scheduled Tribe after their conversion to Islam, Christianity or Other faiths, made eligible for the concession as member of scheduled tribes and same amendment has been done for OBC. All the religions are placed equally in all the reserved categories except S.C. And also the Indian Constitution has neither said to give reservation on the basis of religion nor it has asked to stop the reservation on the basis of religion. But the 1950 Presidential order for S.C. has stopped the reservation facilities to the Muslims and Christian on religious basis, violating the Fundamental Right to Freedom of Religion and is discriminatory, unconstitutional and hurts the constitutional base i.e. Secularism, hence it is unconstitutional. There are Muslims in “Scheduled tribes, OBC, NT, VJ” but why there are no Muslims in Scheduled Caste. They should be included in Scheduled caste. This is discrimination among people on the basis of Castes/ Religion in the country which has to be rectified.
If only the 1950 order amended or cancelled all Dalits of all the religion will come under one umbrella and will work unitedly and our country will make progress and develop further. Because the basic idea of reservation for weaker section and depressed classes among Indian citizen was to uplift these people Socially, Economically and Educationally and make place for them in the society and to increase the literacy ratio for sake of development of our country,” Shaikh said in his petition.

Shaikh further pointed out in his petition and said that already so many state governments have asked the Union Government to amend the Presidential order. Recently the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission which was given the work to verify the validity of Para 3rd of the 1950 constitution (S.C.) order in which the SC status is given only to Hindu and Amended twice for Sikhs and Buddhists has submitted its report on 21/05/2007 and recommended the S.C. status to be given irrespective of religion. Head of Commission Justice Ranganath Mishra and other members comprising Tahir Mehmood, Mohinder Singh, Anil Wilson and Abdul Rashid have termed the exclusion of Dalits from SC list after conversion out of Hinduism as “violative of constitutional guarantee of non-discrimination on religion grounds”.

“The 1950 Presidential order violates Article- 14 – Guarantees every citizen the right not to be denied, equality before law. Article-15 - Prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste sex or place of birth. Article- 16 – Equality of opportunity in the matters of public employment. As per exhibit – P.12, no. 12016/30/90 – SCD( R.Cell) of Govt. of India/ Bharat sarkar, Ministry of Welfare/ Kalyan Mantralayas ( Note for the cabinet) subject of recognition of scheduled caste converts to Christianity as Scheduled caste, Constitutions (S.C.) orders bill, 1996 on Point no. 19 (A) that “ Demand from other religion Group” states that similar demands from other religious communities will intensify. In fact representations have already been recieved by the Welfare Ministry for the inclusion of Muslim Khatik and Mehtars in the list of Scheduled castes. In the context of reported moves to recognize Scheduled caste, Christian converts as scheduled caste, Some Member of Parliament have also written letters and tabled Question in Parliament recently regarding a similar dispensation for Muslim of Scheduled Castes origin, or to remove altogether the nexus between religion and membership of Scheduled caste in the existing Presidential order,” Shaikh said in the petition.
Shaikh also said that some recommendations and landmark judgments approves and supports the demand which are as follows:-
  1. Supreme court AIR 1992: 8 out of 9 judges bench said that “Change of Religion does not change the caste”.
  2. The Govt. of India Act. 1935 in scheduled 1st on Sr no. 25 clarified the meaning of scheduled caste in which no religion comes meaning as “ The Scheduled castes” means such castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes to his majesty in council to correspond to the classes of persons formerly known as “ Depressed Classes”.
  3. The National Commission for SC/STs in its report (vol. 1, June 14, 1983, Para 13) had strongly recommended that recognition of dalit converts as scheduled castes be accepted.
  4. The parliamentary forum of SC/STs on June 17,1992 passed resolutions to extend reservation to all dalits a memorandum signed by about 200 MPs was given to the then Prime Minister Shri. P.V Narsimha Rao. Another Memorandum signed by 325 MPs was submitted to The Prime Minister in May 1995. In all at least 500 MPs have signed in one or other memorandum to the PM on this issue.
  5. Various State Govts., Govt. of India, Social welfare exploration committees for extending SC reservations to all dalits irrespective of religion (Commissions Like Mandal Commission Backward Class commission of Andhra Pradesh, Kumara Pillai Commission report in Kerala, Satanathan Commission, Chidambaram commission report, Kaka Kalelkar Commission reports and union Minorities commission reports 1981-82, page 55 and so on.)
  6. In 1902 the then Maharaja of Princely state of Kolhapur, Shri Shahu Maharaj, had given the facility of reservation of 50% to the depressed classes irrespective of religion.
  7. The Supreme Court verdict on 4/9/2007 for 50% reservation ceiling and handicapped quota. The Bench comprising Justice S.B Sinha and Justice H.S Bedi mentioned that reservation might remain among the caste lines drawn by Mandal Commission.
MKKBKS has demanded that the SC status be extended irrespective of the religion and to provide justice to all citizens of India equally. Besides Shamsuddin K. Shaikh, the petition has been signed among others by Manzoor Haji Abdul Gani Khatik, President, Kalyan Muslim Khatik Samaj; Haji Husnoddin, President, All Maharashtra Muslim Khatik Samaj; Prof. Zafar Shaikh, Chairman, Education Forum, Maharashtra Khatik Samaj, Jalgaon; Javed Qurieshi, Vice President, Khatik Samaj, Malegaon; Salauddin Ameer Khatik, Secretary, Kalyan Muslim Khatik Samaj; Shanawaz Thanawala, Vice President, Bombay Mutton Dealers Association; Mehmood Nawaz Thanawala, Member, Bombay Kasab Jamaat; Sami Qureishi, Member, Khatik Samaj, Mumbai; Imtiyaz Abdul Aziz Masoorkar, Member, Khatik Samaj, Mumbai; Sk. Yunus Sk. Ismail Khatik, Secretary, Khatik Samaj, Jalgaon; Dr. Shabbir Shaikh, Ex. Councillor and Vice Preident Khatik Samaj, Raver. Dist. jalgaon; Junedakhtar S. S., President, Students Cell; Haji Jatkar, Member, Jatgar Samaj; Qureishi Qayyum Hasan, Member, Khatik Samaj; Haji Allah Bakash, President, Khatik Samaj, Ahmednagar; Bashir Palkar, President, Khatik Samaj, Satara; Sk. Anwar Haji Illahi Khatik, Member, Legal Cell, Khatik Samaj, Nasik; Abu Bakar Nanhe Miya Qureishi, Member, Legal Cell, Khatik Samaj, Sri Rampur; Ayyub Bhai Kareem Saheb Kamble, Member, Khatik Samaj, Pune; Shaukat Ali Haji Badshah, Member, Khatik Samaj, Ahmednagar; Shakeel Ahmed Kamliwale, Member, Khatik Samaj, Pandharpur; and, Haji Qayyum Qureishi, President, Khatik Samaj, Nanded.

Indian Muslim News - ISSUES

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 01 July 2009 | Posted in ,

Islamic Dawah Are We Wasting Our Precious Resources on It? By Shakeel Ahmad I worked for about four years in the tribal regions of Singhbhum and Dumka (both in Jharkhand state now), where I received the biggest surprises of my life - fortunately, at a young age of twenty-five. I had firm belief that Islam is the best religion, and there could be no fault in it; therefore, this has to be the best guide for the humanity. I came across a vast tribal population that had been baptized into Christianity. In trying to know the cause of this mass conversion of the tribal Hindus into Christianity, I found numerous Christian missionaries penetrating all parts of this region infested with dense forests and dreaded animals of all sorts. Christian missionaries had established schools to make the tribal people literate, and get them into the mainstream of education and employment. Every such establishment was backed by a health clinic and a church. My surprise was the complete absence of any Islamic establishment to impart either the mainstream education to this population or to provide any healthcare, leave aside the spiritual care. My biggest surprise was the existence of Christian missionaries near Dumka, where leprosy patients were being provided with the best possible care by Christians from around the world. This area is ill-famed for leprosy; therefore, no sane person would ever dare to live in this region. But, I wonder what inspired the Christian missionaries to throng the area and take care of the people's needs most sincerely. Interestingly, even the local government establishments would simply transfer their funds and responsibilities to these missionaries. I did not come across a single Muslim organization in the region serving the most important needs of the people. No wonders then, the people loved to baptize themselves voluntarily, and the population of Christians was growing very fast. Counter-missionaries, backed by their schools and clinics (which received funds from the government as well) started by Banbasi Kendras (an affiliate of RSS) had been successful in reducing the pace of mass-conversions into Christianity. Unfortunately, I did not notice a single Muslim organization involved in welfare activities in this region, although I had firm faith in the fact that Islam urges every Muslim to indulge in a race with fellow Muslims in doing good deeds (Quran, 5:48). Have Muslims lost this race, as well, to others, who had no obligations helping the human race? True that Muslims are not ready to help the lepers, the deprived masses in the tribal regions infested with dreaded wild animals; what about the Muslims elsewhere? How many charitable hospitals do we have in cities crowded with Christians and Hindus (Jains and Marwaris included), or medical centers of repute, for that matter? How many centers of modern quality education do Muslims own where "others" make a beeline for admission? I found one positive side of Muslim organizations, though – they are pretty well entrenched in Dawah activities, educating people within the community itself (majority of the organizations through preaching in Masajid, or through imparting education by means of Madarsas) and reaching out to other communities (organizations mostly visible in urban centers) as well. It is another matter that the Dawah activities within the community have led to sectarian disputes so much so that each sect is blood thirsty of all the other sects, without waiting for Allah to decide! The Dawah activities involving "others" meet with occasional success that satisfies us greatly, and excites us when a high profile reversion (commonly termed as "conversion") to Islam takes place (like, Michael Jackson's). Alhamdolillah, the West has witnessed a rising trend in this respect, and hundreds of non-Muslims are indeed accepting Islam. However, unfortunately, here also I see the Muslim community losing the race, with hundreds of thousands of Muslims converting to Christianity, mostly in the African countries www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdVnILalpeo , where age-old strategy still works - first induce civil wars leading them into grave poverty, then send missionaries to "serve" them. Ultimately, evangelizing into Christianity becomes a natural next step as Jesus turns out to be the "saviour" of the humanity, seen as a divine intervention. The whole of Spain, in the West, abandoned Islam for Christianity (the remaining were driven out - Book: Spain in the Age of Exploration, By Millar and Southgate), similar to Philipines in the East (President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo comes from a noble Muslim family). The "others" cause all the misery that comes our way - that's what our community believes - whereas, this is a community supposed to teach everyone the truth (Dawah) that nobody can cause even slightest of misery to anyone else against Allah's wishes, and that Allah is with the good-doers (Muhsinoon, the righteous, e.g., Quran, 16:128, 29:69), Muttaqun (pious, 2:194, 9:36, 9:123, 16:128), the momineen (believers, 8:19), and the sabireen (striving in Allah's path, with patience and perseverance – e.g., Quran, 2:153, 2:249, 3;146, 8:46, 8:66, ). How do "others" succeed in their designs against those with whom Allah Himself is so closely associated [with the good-doers, the pious, the believers, the patient, and with Muslims (e.g., Quran 9:40, 47:35)]? Why is our Dawah ineffective, and that of "others" effective? Dawah is an essential responsibility on every Muslim; there cannot be any dispute with respect to commandments of Allah, contained in various verses of Quran, such as, 3:104, 3:110, 12:108, 16:125, 41:33, and 103:1-3 etc, to invite people to the path of Allah's deen (the way of life – more than mere religion). Not indulging in Dawah may even be a sin, as Allah curses those who hide knowledge (Quran, 2:159) – this may be to kill the Brahminism at its root (Brahmins among Hindus, and the Jews in the era of Jahliyah, would hold the knowledge to themselves so that they could force everyone else to turn to them for every religious matter – this was intended to hold onto the reins of power as well as to earn a good living out of the knowledge they held). Appointed to lead the world (Quran, 2:143, 3:110, 22:78, etc), not making best efforts in spreading the deen of Allah may be construed as shirking away from the most important responsibility that a leader has. Dawah is an individual responsibility of every Muslim, as well as a group responsibility of the entire Muslim community. All the prophets were sent to this earth for this purpose, so all of their authentic sayings would surely be meant to invite the people to the ways of Allah and guide the humanity. Thus, every collection of Ahadees would surely urge people of knowledge to spread the knowledge, individually as well as collectively (e.g. Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr: The Prophet said, "Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence,…” - Saheeh Bukhaari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 667). There can be no doubt that all the sahabahs (companions of the Prophet Mohammed, Peace Be Upon Him) performed Dawah, the most important responsibility that has been transmitted to us through the generations that followed. Returning to the initial question – Is there a Muslim organization involved in welfare activities, even one-hundredth in size of the Missionaries of Charity, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or the Red Cross Society? We are hardly doing any welfare activities (good deeds) in an organized manner – liberating people from debt or slavery (bonded labor), helping the widows or nursing the sick and the old (any old-age homes, anywhere?), or maybe helping the poor get educated or earn a living? Yes, we all do our little bit individually, but, is it really organized the way it should be? What do we do with our zakat money, which we are supposed to spend in eight areas as directed by the Almighty in Quran (9:60)? Has any other community been commanded to follow a mechanism as good as this? Still, why is everyone else doing better than us (Sachar committee's report says Muslims are now worse than the Dalits)? Even the one activity in which our presence can be seen everywhere (Dawah), is not effective! If we focus most of our energy on just one activity, why are we so ineffective? Is it because we do not pray? Or, is it because we do not pray the way our prophet (Sallallah-o-Wasallam) used to pray? Is it that we lack the khushoo' and khuzoo' in our prayers? What do you think? When we talk of Islamic Dawah (inviting people to Islam), what do we really invite them to? Surely, to the five pillars of Islam! What are these five pillars for? Nobody should doubt the importance of these pillars, which serve as a strong support-base for the building that the invitee will ultimately construct over these pillars. Are pillars, alone, enough, for a building – a contractor once told me he was not interested in executing building contracts because they have hundreds of items to do? Hundreds of items, but just a few pillars! Pillars of Islam purify us (faith or eiman, prayers, fasting, zakat, hajj, all of them are just for purification, and perhaps no more), build our character, and prepare us for carrying out the responsibilities of a Muslim. Only water can quench our thirst, and only Oxygen can keep us alive – that is the mechanism devised by Allah. Similarly, we can become capable of fulfilling our responsibilities, and delivering acceptable results, only when we purify ourselves through the five pillars of Islam. By any means, can these pillars alone truly justify the purpose of our existence? Imagine an engineer who spends sixteen years in preparing himself, academically, to deliver some tangible products to the society, finally spends just praying and fasting, confining himself to a room, doing no work at all! Of course, zakat may not be due on him, nor is Hajj obligatory on him, because he does not earn anything. Are the resources of the society spent on preparing this Allah-fearing person, to bring about some good to the society, well-spent? He says this is the only way to bring him spiritually closer to the Almighty, and to purify him. I guess some of you would consider this as a subconscious attempt at committing suicide, since he will not even be able to earn a living for himself. There is, of course, no question of raising any offspring or earning a living for his family. Is he anywhere closer to the teachings of Islam? A Muslim is not allowed to live a life of seclusion, his spiritual closeness to Allah comes through the efforts he makes towards the zikr, prayers, fasting, giving away zakat (earn so that he may pay sadaqah and zakah), and do good deeds. Will Allah not ask what we did in this world, other than worshipping Him [please check Quran, 17:36, for an answer]? In His Book of guidance (Quran) - the operations manual for technical people, like me, Allah commands us to race with each other in performing good deeds [Quran, 5:48]. Throughout this operations manual, we are urged and commanded to do good deeds [e.g., in Quran, 2: 25, 2: 62, 2:82, 2:110, 2:215, 3:57, 3;172, 4;16, 4:124, 4:146, 4;149 …. - we have just covered four Surahs] - and this is apart from giving away part of our earnings in charity (sadaqah or zakat). We are urged to establish a system that can impart justice, promote peace, goodwill, and everything that is good, and stop all that is evil (Quran, 3;104, 3:110, 3;114). It is not difficult to understand, then, that the main purpose of purifying ourselves is to be able to follow God's operations manual - act honesty on its clauses (commandments), that is, implement them in our own lives and preach them to others. We can clearly see that the Dawah (invitation) includes inviting people to do good deeds, not merely to purify themselves by following the five pillars of Islam - that is, to make the best use of whatever talent, energy, strength, power, resources, etc., Allah has bestowed them with. Let's now turn to the question that has been raised in part-1 of this article: why is our Dawah ineffective (or, not as effective as that by others)? Before we try to answer this question, let's also keep this in mind that many of those who accept Islam mention that they do so not because of the actions of Muslims, but because of the inspiration and learning they receive from Allah's operations manual. Don't we all believe in the axiom "actions speak louder than words"? The best way to make people understand is through action. For example, if I ask people to do good deeds, what would they understand as "good deeds"? If we do those good deeds as our normal way of life, and show them by way of examples, they not only understand the term easily, but also know that we walk our talk! If I ask my son to stop smoking because it is harmful, but continue smoking myself, would my words be effective? Is there an iota of doubt that my Dawah (invitation) to quit smoking would carry no impact, and would actually be a sheer waste of my time and effort (resources), unless I quit it myself (better still, if I have never touched a cigarette, myself)? That's one part – preventing what is evil. A more important part is doing something good. For example, if I ask my son to say Salam to whoever he meets, and I don't do it myself, would he internalize this and turn it into a habit? "Be the change you want to see in the world", Gandhi is believed to have said, and possibly learnt from the Quran: How is it that you enjoin others to follow the Right Way, but forget it yourselves, though you read the Scriptures? Have you no sense at all? [Quran, 2:44] Now, we invite others to Islam, a religion that focuses on spreading knowledge, but we hardly build quality academic institutions for that! Similarly, we invite others to Islam, a religion that focuses on caring for all human beings, but do not build quality hospitals, do we have a chance to be heard? If we invite others to Islam, a religion that focuses on helping every human being through charitable deeds , but do not have institutional mechanism to help the needy, the downtrodden, the oppressed, those under the burden of debt (please go through the examples of tribal areas, cited in Part-1 of the article), would people be ready to pay any attention to our preaching? If we accept that actions speak louder than words, we must also accept that people will be more attracted towards those who are known to deliver the best. In marketing terms, reputation or brand image will make the product sell much more easily. What about the poor products, then, or the manufacturers carrying bad reputation or poor brand value (even if they try to deliver a quality product)? Is it any surprise, then, that we are losing the race in the area of Dawah, as well? Coming to how spending on Dawah may be a waste of resources, let's take the example of a person who manages to produce an electrical bulb which does not light up. Should we consider his efforts, and the resources that he spent on his work, as a waste or not? If he was the person inventing the bulb, his efforts may prove to be worthwhile at some point of time, in the future, but if a tested technology was available, along with an operations manual, and he did not use either of them, was it not a waste? Some brothers are tempted to produce the argument that results are not in our hands; therefore, we need not care for the outcome, rather continue with our efforts. If we agreed with the argument that results are not in our hands, what do you suggest? Should we continue to do whatever we do, in the shoddy ways we are currently doing? Suppose, I need to reach Chennai, and I hire a bullock-cart, do not buy a route-map to Chennai, start my journey towards the Himalayas, and continue with my sincere efforts to reach Chennai, will I ever be able to reach Chennai? Allah says, don't you have sense (Quran, 21:67)? Should we not seek knowledge, and learn the best ways of doing what we intend to do, before we start (Quran, 17:36)? Can we justify our role as the "best of the nations, raised for the benefit of mankind" (Quran, 3:110), by pursuing mediocrity? How long shall we remain deaf, dumb, and blind - are we void of wisdom (Quran, 2:171)? When shall we start applying our minds according to the Message of Wisdom (Quran, 3:58)? [Shakeel Ahmad is associated with Biharanjuman.org. He is currently residing in Dubai and can be reached at shakeeluae@gmail.com]

BJP should stick to the time-tested ideology

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,


By Anand Mishra ‘Abhay’

BJP should stick to the time-tested ideology that raised party tally from 2 to 182 in just sixteen years of its birth. Without any ideology, a person is just like a vagabond, a family is just like an orphanage, a society is like a mob of different hues and a nation is nothing but a big zero. Ideology is the very backbone on whose support a body stands and works. So a political party without any ideology is just a heap of garbage.

The first and foremost need is to regain self-confidence and maintain discipline in the party at any cost. Nobody whosoever he may be should be allowed to give any statement or comment to media-persons. For God’s sake, they must avoid giving any unnecessary statements. Everybody is fully aware that nearly most of the television channels are anti-Hindu, unpatriotic and serfs to their foreign masters.

One is rather shocked to see that the BJP an all India only nationalist party appears to be demoralised to such an extent that so-called stalwarts are gone berserk. One is writing an article and getting published in an English newspaper having a super deluxe secularist image. The fellow is said to be a culprit of Advani’s Jinnah episode. As told he is an ex-Leftist. Electronic media wishfully highlighted that letter and its writer without naming the newspaper. At last party had to declare its aloofness from that letter. What action has been taken against that fellow is still unknown. Before this infamy could subside, a senior leader of the party having an stature of his own as an important ex-minister in NDA government writes down a letter and publicised the same. What an irresponsible act to widen cracks in the party! A firebrand Bajarangi of Ramjanmabhoomi fame challenges the future support of reservation for women-folk in the legislature and thus exposes his caste-based mental approach. One has to remember that as soon as Shri Advani showed his intention to resign from the post of the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, a very senior leader and an ex-head of the party welcomed it in the name of idealism. And now an ex-minister and Deputy Chairman of the party has resigned from all the party posts. This is the state of discipline in a party, which had a high place in the mind of general public and also in its opponents for its reputation as the most disciplined party in the political field. If the top is so much free for all in its unthinkable sad state of affairs what the bottom can expect from the top.

It appears that they are so much frustrated due to so-called defeat in the recent Lok Sabha elections that they have lost either their equilibrium of mind or have become a prey to defeatism. This condition of depression is jeopardising the very future of the party, while the picture is not so oblique. Loosing only twenty seats in comparison to those of 2004 can virtually be converted into a boon for the party in near future. To materialise defeat into victory certain steps are essential to be taken in order to boost the morale of the workers at low level and committed vote bank of the party in general. These steps will enthuse them with such an energy that opponents especially the so-called secular lobby in the country will be compelled not to rejoice anymore. Instead they would be demoralised and come to their knees.

The required steps can be summarised in the following manner:

The first and foremost need is to regain self-confidence and maintain discipline in the party at any cost. Nobody whosoever he may be should be allowed to give any statement or comment to media-persons. For God’s sake, they must avoid giving any unnecessary statements. Everybody is fully aware that nearly most of the television channels are anti-Hindu, unpatriotic and serfs to their foreign masters. These channels and some of the newspapers follow the instructions and intentions of the owners. Only authorised spokesperson should brief the media when necessary otherwise leave them unanswered. It has been amply proved that the anchors and interviewers try their best to twist the spoken words and put their own words in the mouth of the speaker very shrewdly to fulfil their purpose. It is worth mentioning here that once Shri Tarun Vijay, the then editor of Panchajanya had to scold Dilip Sardesai when as an anchor he tried to shift mike from his mouth not to let him complete his words. Since then Sardesai dared not to invite him to his sponsored talk shows. To say the least, one should not be so crazy as to become a puppet in the hands of the anchor. Who does not know what Star News, NDTV or IBN7 are? Then why to oblige and enhance their importance by giving them any bites? They should be boycotted for some months to set them right and bring their haughty minds to ground.

Secondly stick to the time-tested ideology that raised party tally from 2 to 182 in just sixteen years of its birth. Without any ideology, a person is just like a vagabond, a family is just like an orphanage, a society is like a mob of different hues and a nation is nothing but a big zero. Ideology is the very backbone on whose support a body stands and works. So a political party without any ideology is just a heap of garbage. Bharatiya Jan Sangh had its own ideology and that was Hindutva i.e. nation first, anything else afterwards. BJP inherited Jan Sangh, but failed utterly in 1984 due to shift in its ideology from Hindutva to Gandhism and Socialism and got only two seats in the Lok Sabha, one from Andhra Pradesh and second from Gujarat. When a correspondent asked Atalji about, his answer was, “We are following the very policy of the government, ham do, hamare do.” Within no time it became a viable alternative to the Indian National Congress which was absolutely responsible for the uncalled vivisection of the country and all ills borne out of that. Ultimately BJP had to come to its inherited ideology of Hindutva i.e. Nationalism pure and simple. The present day crisis to blame Hindutva for the defeat is baseless. Just look at the results in Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Bihar and Assam, Hindutva was no less their. As regards the result in Mumbai, Rajasthan, Harayana, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Jammu and UP, it was due to wrong choice of the candidates, giving tickets on the basis of shameless nepotism and favouritism, wrong alignments and above all the infighting. It played havoc, but Hindutva was very much there where in spite of all these party-ailments, candidates made a record of success. For example, look at Varanasi, Muslim votes in total went in favour of BSP candidate Mukhtyar Ansari a well known mafia, but that aroused Hindutva in Hindu voters and SP candidate and Congress candidate too, after seeing the pattern of voting for a while transferred their votes with full vehemence and got BSP candidate defeated and BJP candidate victorious. Those who were worried to see very low percentage of voting in Varanasi constituency, found very happy to see Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi’s victory. It was a victory of Hindutva over communalism and perverted secularism. SP and Congress candidates should be congratulated for their timely discretion and prudence. Varanasi had seen such a scene in 1957 Assembly elections too when after observing the voting pattern, Jan Sangh candidate transferred his votes in favaour of Congress candidate Dr. Sampurnanand and ensured his victory over a staunch communist candidate.

All other three seats in eastern UP were also won due to Hindu consciousness aroused by day and night efforts of Yogi Aditya Nath. Pilibhit seat has been won by record margin of votes due to Varun Gandhi factor i.e. assertive Hindutva which played a role of fevicol in uniting Hindus despite castes and creeds. Smt. Maneka Gandhi, Varun’s rock like unshakable mother also won her seat due to this very Hindu feeling. The wonder of wonders was the victory of Jayaprada, a Samajwadi candidate from Rampur, the citadel of Islamic fanaticism, inspite of all stones turned by Aazam Khan and total shift of Muslim votes to Begum Noor Bano, the Congress candidate of high stature. The miracle took place only due to consolidated Hindu voting in favour of Jayaprada. In Rampur such a miracle was first played when Narayan Swaroop Sharma was elecled to the Lok Sabha on Jan Sangh ticket. Rest of the few seats won in UP were also a proof to the effect of this very fact while alignment with Ajit Singh played a very negative roll in western and southern part of UP. What a catastrophe, this alignment was exposed by overnight offer of Ajit Singh to support Congress.

On the other side when Congress decided to contest maximum seats on its own strength, it showed the mirror to those who were haughty enough to provide only 3 seats to it. Congress tally doubled in UP not due to Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Vadra factor, but the strategic voting pattern of Muslims played a great role in it. Extreme Muslim consciousness pushed them towards Congress as they were hell-bent not to see LK Advani as Prime Minister of India. All the forces of dollar and petro-dollar were also awfully busy in a certaining BJP’s defeat. The only alternative for them on an all India basis was Congress and Congress alone. While prudent Muslim mind-set deserves appreciation, Hindus especially BJP wallas have to learn a lot from them.

Thirdly BJP forthwith refrain from Roza Aftar Dawats. It has tarnished its image to a great extent and also annoyed its committed voter to a greater extent. It is sheer appeasement in the name of communal harmony. Communal harmony does not come this way. For that unwinnable and indomitable strength of Hindutva is the only guarantee.

BJP leaders should also refrain themselves from offering chadar on the mazars of Sufis. To call them ‘Sufi-saints’ is paradoxical in itself. History explicitly tells us that most of them were actually sappers of invading Islamic armies in the garb of faqirs.

Fourthly, BJP has to get rid of becoming a carbon copy of the Congress that too unreadable. To say that BJP is today just like the Indian National Congress of the pre-Partition days is a great folly. One should understand that pre-Partition Congress betrayed the public faith. In its silent consent to divide the country on purely communal basis it got butchered more than 20 lakh of Hindus and ousted more the 2 crore Hindus from their ancestral homes and hearths for no fault of theirs. They had wholeheartedly voted for the Congress in 1946 and got back the ‘reward’ in their total annihilation from the newly created artificial country named Pakistan.

The present party defeat is not a debacle. It is a very temporary phase that will very soon disappear. Instead of leg-pulling or blaming one another for the defeat or for settling their scores with the rivals, need of the hour is to shun all the melancholy and differences, gird-up their loins and stand up as one person behind a leader who is no less a jewel not for the party only but for the nation too. A political leader of Advani’s calibre and stature is a rare boon for the party. Hindutva is the very backbone of ours. To make it stronger and stronger will be the greatest service to humanity also. Bharat is Bharat till Hindutva is very much alive and kicking here. The day Hindutva is lost, Bharat will also be lost. Only a landmass will remain in the name of the country like that of Egypt, Iran, Messopotamia, Greece. But be sure that such a day will never arrive as the Hindu dharma is Sanatan. BJP or no BJP Bharat has to win and remain to be a winner that is our very responsibility.

So there is no need to be ashamed of Hindutva. Kulkarnis can come and go, Swapan Das Guptas may come and go but Hindutva will remain and remain with full confidence with the resolve to remain victorious in all odds and adverse circumstances. O Doctors of BJP, cure thyselves. Sooner the better otherwise history will not forgive you.

[The writer Anand Mishra 'Abhay' is Editor, Rashtradharma and can be contacted at Sanskriti Bhawan, Rajenedra Nagar, Lucknow-226 004.]

(Courtesy: Organiser.org)

Indian Muslim News - OPINION

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

Obama must reverse pro-Israel Middle-East policy By A. Faizur Rahman The Muslim world is entitled to question the glaring contradictions in Barack Obamas speech. Unquestionably Mr. Obamas Cairo speech was a breathtaking exhibition of oratorical eloquence. Watching it live on a big screen at the U.S. Consulate in Chennai this author was in a good position to evaluate the emotions and the body language of the charismatic speaker and it must be said that not a trace of pretence or dishonesty could be detected. The President was speaking straight from his heart. But not many Muslims across the globe share these perceptions. They feel that Mr. Obama was not exactly forthright when it came to the aspirations of the Palestinians. He wanted the Palestinians to abandon violence citing the example of the black Americans who according to him suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation and yet did not resort to violence to win full and equal rights. He also counselled them that it was not a sign of courage or power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or blow up old women on a bus because, through such acts, moral authority is not claimed but surrendered. Such an advice would have found acceptance among the Muslims had Mr. Obama also talked about the state terrorism of Israel, particularly the recent massacre of nearly 1,500 people in Gaza using weapons procured from the United States. In comparison (according to The Israel Project (TIP), an international non-profit organisation, which provides information about the Middle East) since Nov 24, 2001 Hamas mortar attacks killed 25 people within Israel. Yet Mr. Obama chose not to say word about the disproportionate use of violence by Israel. May be he did not want to antagonise the dreaded Zionist lobby in his country. But it is also possible he was not aware of these statistics. Nevertheless, he should have at least recognised the surrender of moral authority by his own country when it decimated Afghanistan and Iraq by shooting missiles at sleeping children, old women and innocent men who had done nothing to harm anybody and, later on dismissed their deaths as collateral damage. The Muslim world is certainly entitled to question these glaring contradictions in Mr. Obama's speech. Having said this, Mr. Obama must be congratulated for his boldness to equate the sufferings of the Palestinians under occupation with the Holocaust. But it must be remembered that the Palestinians were not responsible for the persecution of the Jews. On the contrary, in March 1492 when Ferdinand and Isabella issued the Edict of Expulsion against the Jews of Spain, the Muslims nations welcomed them. According to the French-Jewish scholar Isidore Loeb there were about 235,000 Jews in Spain in 1492 out of which 50,000 were forcibly converted to Christianity and the rest were expelled. They migrated to various parts of the world including Europe and America with 20,000 dying en route. Loeb writes that a total of 122,000 Jews were given refuge by the Muslims of Algiers, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Turkey. And even now the Palestinians have accepted the U.N. Partition Resolution of 1947 which gave away more than half their country to the Jews although the U.N. had no right to do so. And in all fairness it must be acknowledged that the Jewish homeland the U.S. so eagerly recognises has been carved out of the land belonging to a people who were totally innocent of the Holocaust. But the Muslims have no reason to doubt the intentions of Mr. Obama, particularly after his Cairo speech which, along with expressing his honest desire of putting the Muslim community on the road to education and innovation, emphasised the need to work for the day when the Jews, Christians and Muslims prayed together in Jerusalem. It is hoped that Mr. Obama would realise that this would be possible only when Israel stops building settlements, hands over to the Palestinians the existing settlements, recognises the right to return of Palestinian refugees and restores the pre-June 1967 borders by withdrawing from all occupied territories. And how can Israel be expected to comply if the U.S. vetoes all U.N. resolutions against it, and continues to give billions of dollars in the form of military and economic aid which is being used to violently subjugate the Palestinians? Therefore, as Mr. Obama is serious about finding a solution to the Israel-Palestine dispute his primary concern must be to roll back the unabashedly pro-Israel Middle-East policy of his country. This is the key to the peaceful establishment of a Palestinian state. [A. Faizur Rahman is an executive committee member of Harmony India, an organisation dedicated to communal amity and secularism. He can be reached at faizz@rocketmail.com]

Indian Muslim News - ISSUES

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

Violence, Islam and the Islamic Movement

By Dr. Mohammad Nejatullah Siddiqui

(Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)

What is the role of violence in human life? Under what conditions does Islam permit violence? What rules and conditions has Islam laid down for the conduct of armed conflict? When does violence qualify to be termed as terrorism? Does Islam at all allow for terrorism? This article deals specifically with these questions, although it is not possible for me to do full justice to these issues in a single article.

The reason why I have chosen to write about violence and terrorism is todays particular context, where, in many places, Muslims have been made victims of violence and terrorism, while in numerous other places Muslims themselves have taken to violence and terrorism. Is it at all permissible for Muslims to do so? Will this in any way benefit Muslims? Can violence be undertaken by Muslims in retaliation for violence directed against them? These are crucial issues that I would like to discuss.

Today, the ongoing joint American and British conquest of Iraq and the growing wave of Hindutva aggression in India have created a sense of extreme nervousness among many Indian Muslims. They are apprehensive about what the future holds for them. In such a context, what must be done for ensuring a better future for the Muslims and for Islam? This article also deals with these pressing issues.

Violence and Morality

It must be stressed that violence is, in essence, an immoral act. A civilized society that functions on the basis of a proper code of morals can permit violence only for the punishment of crimes, in order to counter criminality, and for self-defence, so that individuals can defend themselves from the violence of others. Other than for these purposes, violence cannot be permitted. The proper way to attain ones goals is not through violence, but, rather, through dialogue, exchange of views, and peaceful persuasion. Using violence for religious purposes is wholly inappropriate, because it entails compulsion, while, as the Quran says, there can be no compulsion in religion:

There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in Satan and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

Islam is based on mercy, love, tolerance, mercy and forgiveness. Killing, violence, disruptive activities and hard-heartedness all are not in accordance with the true Islamic spirit. As God says in the Quran,Keep to forgiveness (O Muhammad), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.

The Prophet Muhammad also preached softness and kind-heartedness, and warned that hard-heartedness and extremism do not produce any positive results. According to a tradition narrated by his wife, Hazrat Ayesha, the Prophet said that God is gentle and likes gentleness. He gives to those who act with gentleness what He does not to the hard-hearted. In a similar narration attributed to him, the Prophet is said to have advised people to adopt soft-heartedness and to stay away from violence, adding that while gentleness conduced to progress and welfare, its absence gave rise to a host of ills.

This is why Islam has forbidden offensive violence and has also not encouraged violence in retaliation. As the Quran says:

The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.

This is not to deny that Islam does, in some cases, allow for violence, such as for defence or the punishment of crimes, but our effort should be to minimize the use of violence to the extent possible and to present before people the true image of Islam, which is based on love, concern and mercy. That is why the Quran has presented us with such models who, when they could have resorted to violence in reaction to the violence unleashed on them, chose not to do so. Thus, the Quran relates:

But recite unto them with truth the tale of the two sons of Adam, how they offered each a sacrifice, and it was accepted from the one of them and it was not accepted from the other. (The one) said: I will surely kill thee. (The other) answered: Allah accepteth only from those who ward off (evil). (27) Even if thou stretch out thy hand against me to kill me, I shall not stretch out my hand against thee to kill thee, lo! I fear Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. (28) Lo! I would rather thou shouldst bear the punishment of the sin against me and thine own sin and become one of the owners of the fire. That is the reward of evil-doers. (29) But (the other's) mind imposed on him the killing of his brother, so he slew him and became one of the losers. (30) Then Allah sent a raven scratching up the ground, to show him how to hide his brother's naked corpse. He said: Woe unto me! Am I not able to be as this raven and so hide my brother's naked corpse? And he became repentant. (31) For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth.

In the above verses, the Quran teaches us that Adams noble son did not resort to violence even to defend himself. Immediately after these verses is another verse that announces stern punishment for those who spread strife, violate the law and engage in war against God and His Prophet.

Permission for Killing

It must be noted that in Islam violence that entails taking the life of another person is allowed only under clearly specified circumstances, as mentioned in the Quran. Till the early Muslims lived remained in Mecca and the Prophet Muhammad had not migrated to Medina, no permission was given to them by God to resort to any form of violence even though they were cruelly tortured by their Meccan opponents, which even resulted in the loss of Muslim life, such as that of a Muslim woman, Hazrat Summaiya. The point may be raised that Muslims did not resort to violence in self-defence at this time because they were then small in number and weak. But, by the sixth year of the Prophets declaration of his prophethood, a number of powerful and influential men had joined him and became Muslims, such as Umar and Hamza bin Abdul Mutalib, and they had even asked the Prophet for permission to take on the oppressors of the Muslims. Yet, even at this time, the Muslims did not receive consent to respond to violence with counter-violence. Instead, in the face of mounting violence and oppression directed against them, they were advised to migrate to Ethiopia. Consequently, more than 100 Muslims took refuge there.

It was only after the Prophet and many of his companions shifted to Medina that Muslims received permission to resort to violence to defend themselves from the attacks of others. At this time, the Prophet had established a political community that was ruled in accordance with Gods laws. Yet, despite this, aggression and violence directed against Muslims, including those who had remained behind in Mecca, continued, and so God instructed the Muslims to resort to violence in self-defence, as a response to their opponents barbarities. As the Quran declared:

Sanction (to fight) is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged; and Allah is indeed Able to give them victory; (39) Those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said: Our Lord is Allah.

Elsewhere, the Quran says:

Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.

The sort of war that Muslims have been permitted to engage in by the Quran is not an offensive or aggressive one or one that is waged in order to capture and incorporate any territory into a Muslim political domain. Rather, this is a strictly defensive war that aims at preventing the aggressor from engaging in war again. When in Medina, the Prophet and the early Muslims were finally allowed to resort to violence in self-defence, and this was in a context when their Meccan opponents attacked the Islamic polity in Medina and also forcibly sought to prevent people from accepting the message of Islam, which was their fundamental right. Consequently, Muslims were given permission to fight so that strife could be stopped and everyone who wanted to accept Gods path could do so. As the Quran says:

And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers.

And, elsewhere, the Quran says:

How should ye not fight for the cause of Allah and of the feeble among men and of the women and the children who are crying: Our Lord! Bring us forth from out this town of which the people are oppressors! Oh, give us from thy presence some protecting friend! Oh, give us from Thy presence some defender!

According to the Quran, by creating life and death God wants to test those who choose, on their own free will, to walk on the right path and those who choose to go astray. As the Quran puts it:

Blessed is He in Whose hand is the Sovereignty, and, He is Able to do all things. Who hath created life and death that He may try you which of you is best in conduct; and He is the Mighty, the Forgiving, Who hath created seven heavens in harmony.

Clearly, strife and corruption in the land often leads to people being denied the right to choose the path that they want to adopt for themselves. Thus, while Islam allows for Muslims to resort to violence to save their lives and lands from the attacks of aggressors, it also permits violence to challenge those who forcibly suppress peoples right to follow Islam on their own free will. Still, it must be noted that in Islam the use of violence, whether for punishment of crimes or for the protection of Islam and Muslims or for upholding the right of people to freely choose their faith, is allowed only to the limit necessary for the purpose, because violence more than that required for a particular purpose is impermissible.

To reiterate, besides for the purpose of defensive war and punishment of crimes, resort to violence is not at all permitted in Islam, especially the sort of violence that results in the loss of life.

Thus, the Quran specifically states:

Say: Come, I will recite unto you that which your Lord hath forbidden to you: that ye ascribe no thing as partner unto Him and that ye do good to parents, and that ye slay not your children because of penury - We provide for you and for them - and that ye draw not nigh to lewd things whether open or concealed. And that ye slay not the life which Allah hath made sacred, save in the course of justice. This He hath command you, in order that ye may discern.

Elsewhere, the Quran says:

And do not wrongfully kill any living being which Allah has forbidden; and for whoever is slain wrongfully, We have given the authority to his heir, so he should not cross limits in slaying; he will surely be helped.

The last sentence in the above-mentioned Quranic verse indicates that the heir of someone slain wrongfully can indeed take revenge on the killer. But it is for the Islamic state, rather than for the aggrieved party, to take this action with regard to punishment for the crime of premeditated murder. Islam does not encourage violence in revenge for violence. Rather, as it sees it, the best solution is to work out means to prevent future violence, and with regard to past violence to adopt a policy of forgiveness. As the Quran lays down:

And those who, when an oppressive wrong is inflicted on them, (are not cowed but) help and defend themselves. The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due, from Allah: for (Allah) loveth not those who do wrong. But indeed if any do help and defend himself after a wrong (done) to them against such there is no cause of blame. The blame is only against those who oppress men with wrong-doing and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice: for such there will be a Penalty grievous. But indeed if any show patience and forgive, that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs.

In this regard, one should keep in mind the response of the son of Adam mentioned in the Quran, which I referred to earlier. True believers in God do indeed have the right to respond to violence with violence, but it must be remembered that Islam has before it certain higher goals that might demand a different sort of response, and it is precisely this that the Quran repeatedly points to. It is true that we have the right to react to violence unleashed on us through counter-violence, that is to say in self-defence, but we must also keep in mind that doing so might, in many cases, have a seriously negative impact on our mission of inviting others to Gods path and of being witnesses unto humanity.

The Quranic verse that I just quoted was revealed at a time when the Prophet was still in Mecca and the Muslims were being cruelly oppressed. Yet, despite this, they did not receive permission to resort to counter-violence. Rather, this permission was received only later, in Medina, when an Islamic polity had been set up. Till such a polity is not in existence, retaliatory violence cannot possibly abide by the moral limits that Islam has set for it.

Violence and Terrorism

When some individuals or a group that are themselves not a ruling power in a particular country, but, rather, are subjects, resort to counter-violence, sooner or later their methods will degenerate into what we today call terrorism. In this context, it must be noted that Islam has no room whatsoever for terrorism, including indiscriminate killing of people, non-combatants, women, children, the infirm and the elderly, burning people to death, mutilating their corpses and so on.

Keeping this in mind, survey the present context. On the one hand are nation-states that spend the resources of their nations on maintaining huge armies and buying the latest and most sophisticated weapons of war that can kill people on a massive scale. On the other hand are individuals or groups, who, in theory, are prohibited by their governments from possessing any sort of weapons. It is illegal for these individuals or groups to maintain an army. They cannot openly raise a volunteer militia. If they resort to violence against their own government or against the government of some other country, they must do so secretly. In attacking their enemies they cannot abide by the strict limits that Islam has laid down, because they cannot themselves choose the battle-field or the time of the battle. They are forced to make secret preparations and to use any available opportunity to attack their enemies. This they might do by attacking civilian aircraft or killing civilians or trade centres, because they may not be able to easily target their enemies military aircraft or army personnel or military installations. The level of organization and control over such terrorist activities is, of course, much less than that of the army of a regular state, primarily because those who engage in such activities must do so surreptitiously. The history of secret, underground movements that engage in this sort of violence clearly indicates that they cannot remain under a unified leadership for very long. Nor does the leadership have a very strong control over its activists at the grassroots, unlike in the case of a regular army of a recognised state. Such movements that take to violence even in response to state terrorism inevitably and necessarily degenerate into terrorism themselves. And, as I said earlier, Islam does not allow for terrorism at all, although it does allow for counter-violence, but under strict conditions and limits and in the light of Islams higher purposes and aims.

The following incident well illustrates this point: When Abu Bakr, the first caliph [of the Sunnis] sent an army in the direction of Syria he instructed its commander, Zaid bin Abu Sufiyan, to abstain from killing any woman, child or very old person, not to cut down any fruit-bearing tree, not to lay desolate any habitation, not to unnecessarily slaughter any goat or camel, not to burn or disturb any bee-hive, not to tamper with the spoils of war and not to show cowardice on the battlefield.

Destroying property, blowing up buildings, setting to waste fields, etc. are all a form of strife in the land (fasad fil ardh), which is strictly prohibited in Islam. As the Quran says:

And unto Midian (We sent) their brother, Shu'eyb. He said: O my people! Serve Allah. Ye have no other God save Him. Lo! a clear proof hath come unto you from your Lord; so give full measure and full weight and wrong not mankind in their goods, and work not confusion in the earth after the fair ordering thereof. That will be better for you, if ye are believers.

Elsewhere, the Quran says:

And when he turneth away (from thee) his effort in the land is to make mischief therein and to destroy the crops and the cattle; and Allah loveth not mischief.

The counter-violence engaged in over the last two decades or so by Muslim groups in various countries, against the own governments or against non-Muslim powers, such as America, Russia, Britain and France, in response to their aggression or their anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim policies or their naked aggression, has clearly over-stepped the limits set by Islam. This is the case, for instance, of violence, driven by anti-Americanism, in recent years in places such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and America itself, in which innocent people have been slain and public utilities have been destroyed. This has also happened, although on a much smaller scale, in our own country, India, as a response to the violence of a section of the majority community directed against the Indian Muslims.

Such acts of terrorism, even in retaliation, on the part of Muslims are clearly prohibited in Islam. These acts cannot be considered legitimate defensive violence. Nor can they be treated as necessary for stopping strife. They cannot also be considered to be punishment for crimes, such as that a legitimate government can impose on criminals. Without a doubt, it can be said that the counter-violence that Muslims have been resorting to in recent years is entirely contrary to the teachings of Islam, trespassing the strict limits set by Islam for the conduct of counter-violence. Assaulting embassies, hijacking aircraft, killing tourists, including innocent women, children, the elderly and other non-combatants, are entirely anti-Islamic acts. As a consequence of these terrorist acts, the image of Islam in the eyes of people across the world has been greatly tarnished. Ironically, it is in the name of that religion, Islam, which preaches mercy, kindness and love for humanity and even calls for the respect for innocent life in the course of war, that these cruel and wholly immoral deeds are being perpetrated. The media highlights all this, and shapes the minds of ordinary non-Muslims in such a way that they now regard Muslims with fear, dread and even hatred. For a community that is meant to invite others to the path of God, and whose mission it is to be a witness unto humankind, there cannot be a greater calamity than this.

Violence in Today's Context

After detailing the Islamic teachings related to violence and counter-violence, let us turn to the case of some specific circumstances under which violence, some might argue, might be legitimately adopted. In this regard, let us consider four particular contexts:

  1. A Muslim majority country, where the government oppresses Islamic groups.

  2. An independent Muslim land, which has been forcefully occupied by a non-Muslim country.

  3. A democratic, non-Muslim majority country, where a section of the countrys Muslims are oppressed.

  4. Countries such as America and its allies that are today targeting some Muslim countries, groups and individuals.

A good instance of the first context is Egypt, where, for many decades now, a reign of oppression has been continuously unleashed on the Islamic movement known as the Ikhwan ul-Muslimun. In such cases, it is not proper for Islamic groups to react to state oppression through violence. Rather, they should use peaceful means to work for the preservation and promotion of human rights and justice.

An illustration of the second context is Palestine. The Palestinians struggle against Israel can be considered a legitimate Islamic cause, fought in self-defence. It is for the concerned people to themselves decide that in this war when and to what extent violent means may be used, and when and to what extent other options may be explored.

The third context is one that prevails in our country, India. If in a democratic, non-Muslim-majority country a Muslim minority is being targeted and the government is unable to protect its life and property or deliberately allows or encourages others to attack them or even does this itself, as happened in Gujarat in 2002, what should Muslims do? Should they resort to violence in response to this violence?

It is, of course, true that, like other Indians, the Muslim Indians have the right to defend their life, property and respect. The law of the land allows people to take appropriate measures to stave off attackers, even it means that in seeking to defend ones life the life of the attacker is lost. However, due to the pressure of circumstances, some Muslims have begun to advocate offensive violence, or what they regard as preventive strikes. I am of the view that this is not at all appropriate. Islam does not allow for Muslims to attack others before they have attacked them. Nor does it allow them to attack innocent people of one community in retaliation for violence against Muslims perpetrated by their co-religionists. Some people might think that this sort of counter-violence is permissible as it might deter non-Muslim attackers or the state and its police forces from further anti-Muslim violence. But, in my view, revenge attacks against innocent, unarmed and peaceful co-religionists of those who attack Muslims is completely un-Islamic.

American Aggression Against Muslims

The fourth context that I touched upon earlier concerns the present-day American aggression against Muslim states and groups. Using the attacks of 11 September, 2001 as a pretext, America announced what it called a global war on terror. The main targets of this war are Muslim individuals and groups that are angered with America or with their own governments, or those who regard the rapidly mounting American influence throughout the world as a threat to Islam and the Muslims, and who, therefore, seek to damage America and American interests. Because America regards certain Muslim countries as harbouring such Muslim individuals and groups, these countries have also been made a target of Americas war on terror. It was because of this that America first bombed Afghanistan and then invaded and occupied Iraq, and is now talking of waging war against other countries that it is opposed to, such as Iran and Syria. Alongside this, it is also on the look out for individuals in Pakistan and West Asia who have committed, or can commit, acts of terror directed against America. Assisting America in its war against terror are pro-American regimes in countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, that are now instituting even greater controls on Islamist groups within their borders. Because of this, across the world many Muslims are greatly suspicious of Americas intentions. They fear that just as America used the condemnable and criminal attacks of 11 September, 2001 as an excuse to pursue its preconceived agenda of invading Afghanistan and then Iraq, it will do the same with regard to Islamic groups and movements across the world, because it regards them as a danger to American interests. Using the war of terror as a cover, America wants to destroy all those who dare to challenge American hegemony, especially those who want to keep their societies safe from American-style immorality and permissiveness.

Muslims the world over are apprehensive about Americas intentions, but the Indian Muslims are particularly concerned, because the advocates of aggressive Hindutva in India also have similar anti-Islamic intentions. They are denigrating our madrasas, surveying our mosques, keeping a close watch on Muslim missionary groups and seeking to impose laws forbidding religious conversions. Indias Muslims are wary that extremist Hindutva groups might use Americas global war on terror as a cover to pursue their own anti-Islamic agenda and that, for this, they will secure the help of Israel and its intelligence agencies.

For want of space, it is not possible for me to discuss these apprehensions in detail in this article. Relations between America and Islam, or between America and Muslims, cannot be seen simply in the context of recent events. Our concern in this article is the question of whether or not Muslims should take to violence in response to American aggression against them.

My argument is that, given todays circumstances, it is neither permissible nor beneficial for Muslims to take to violence to counter American aggression. On the contrary, this sort of violence is only causing further damage to Islam and Muslims. However, if America attacks any Muslim country without any legitimate reason, as it did in Iraq, undoubtedly the people of that country have the right to fight in order to defend their land. This applies only to the people of that particular country alone, and the violence must be conducted strictly according to the conventional rules of international warfare. To use the American invasion of any Muslim country as an argument to call upon ordinary Muslims everywhere to kill American citizens, wherever in the world they might find them, and to destroy American buildings, embassies or anything else representing American interests throughout the world, as some groups have declared, is anti-Islamic. It clearly transgresses the limits set by Islam for the conduct of counter-violence. Further, it causes far more damage to Islam and the Muslims themselves than it does to America.

The Need for Complete Abstinence From Violence

In my opinion, Muslims must not take to the path of violence against America. Muslims must also seek to stop those Muslim individuals and groups that have adopted this path. In the present circumstances, the path of violence can only harm the interests of Islam and Muslims. Hence, Muslims must not cooperate with or assist anyone who has taken to this path. Such people should not be helped financially or in any other way. In todays context, violence engaged in by Muslims against America necessarily degenerates into a form that is wholly forbidden (haram) in Islam and can be categorized as strife in the land, which Islam vehemently condemns. Such violence cannot be ever legitimised, no matter for what purpose.

The violence that some Muslim individuals and groups have hitherto engaged in against America has wrought, as I noted above, grave damage to Islam and Muslims. The media has used this violence to depict Islam in a very negative light and to portray Muslims as cruel, hard-hearted and utterly inhuman, thereby causing many non-Muslims to hate Islam. Simultaneously, the American government has used this violence as a means to garner the consent of the American public for its global war on terror, through which it has sought to target Muslims throughout the world. In this way, this violence has only strengthened the hands of right-wing American Christians and the Zionist and Israeli lobbies.

Muslims clearly lack the strength to counter American aggression through violence. To seek to defeat America through violence is foolish and tantamount to inviting ones own defeat. If Muslims simply have to confront America (and this is something that I do not agree with), then their welfare resides in doing so in the ideological and cultural fields, not on the battle-field. It is wrong to think that engaging in violence against America will serve as a deterrent that will stop American aggression against Muslims in the future. The experience so far does not indicate anything of the sort. The balance of power is so heavily titled in Americas favour that it is completely unimaginable that violence committed by some Muslims against America could be so powerful as to prevent America from any future aggression.

I am also calling for Muslims to completely abstain from violence because this violence is causing great internal damage to Muslim society itself. The valuable material and human resources of the Muslims are being wasted on surreptitious activities, acquiring weapons and plotting and carrying out violent attacks, instead of on education, the media, political empowerment and economic development.

As I indicated earlier, individuals or groups which engage in violent activities against the state whose citizens they are or against another state necessarily have to carry these out in secret. At almost every turn, they are forced to violate the law. For such activities they evolve a new leadership, for the old established religious and political leadership of the community will not be willing to engage in underground, illegal, violent activities. Hence, the help of criminals is often taken, of people who know how to violate the law, smuggle weapons, travel under false names and fake passports and so on. Sooner or later, they will be forced to take the help of smugglers and international criminals. The sort of violence that these underground groups engage in can never remain within the boundaries strictly set by Islam, nor can pious Muslims engage in such activities.

The internal disruption and damage caused to Muslim society as a result of such violence is incalculable. In the Indian context, it would be absolutely wrong to let such un-Islamic individuals or groups take over the leadership of our community in the name of combating Hindu aggression. Instead, we would like our best people to take the lead in building bridges with our non-Muslim countrymen, people who, through their actions and words, are proper representatives of Islam, and who, even if they are forced to resort to violence in self-defence, would strictly obey the Islamic rules in that regard. It is also to be noted that during communal riots, when Muslims display proper moral conduct, such as protecting innocent non-Muslims who have no role in the violence, many non-Muslims come forward and display the same exemplary behaviour vis--vis Muslims, protecting innocent Muslims and speaking out and resisting their aggressive co-religionists. Our actual weapon to combat Hindu aggression or right-wing Christian groups or American hegemonists must be our morality and character and the ideology of Islam that we are supposed to uphold and which we are bidden to communicate to the whole of humanity. When, in the face of some temporary pressure, we resort to violence, our moral stature is seriously damaged and we are diverted from our Islamic mission for humanity to tasks other than what Islam ordains.

Need For Transparency

Among the various reasons why Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiments can so easily be spread is that non-Muslims, such as in Europe, America and even in our own country, India, know little or nothing about Islam. It is difficult and time-consuming to communicate to others the story of the Muslims past, but I think it is possible to easily disabuse people of the wrong perceptions that they have about present-day Muslims. What is taught in the madrasas? What happens inside mosques? What is preached by Islamic missionary groups? The answer to the wrong propaganda about all these issues is to keep our doors open to others to observe for themselves. It should be possible for anyone to be able to visit Muslim institutions to see things personally. Muslims themselves will benefit if their institutions become more transparent in their finances and management and clearly avoid ambiguity and secrecy. Records of their accounts and finances should be properly maintained so that no one can accuse them of garnering money in the name of providing religious education but using it to fan terrorism instead. This is also the appropriate way for saving our madrasas, mosques, charitable hospitals and other welfare institutions from falling prey to corruption. Their income and expenses should be properly recorded and audited and be open to public inspection.

Democratic Functioning of Islamic Institutions

When all the powers over finance and administration of an Islamic institution are in the hands of a single person, it is obvious that there will be a serious lack of transparency. For any institution to run on transparent lines, it is essential that decisions be taken collectively and through consultation. America and its allies allege that Muslim countries and institutions are un-democratic and that they are not governed through consensus or consultation. They accuse them of being dictatorial, and their leadership of not to being representative of the people, of being, instead, inherited from father to son, as in a system of monarchy, or acquired through force. It is a fact that this model of leadership characterizes many Muslim countries and institutions, including even their religious organizations, where the head continues to exercise control lifelong, till his death, after which he is generally succeeded by his offspring. Obviously, those who come to power through such anti-democratic means cannot take decisions in a democratic fashion. Naturally, this reinforces the impression that Muslims are mere puppets in the hands of their leaders, whether of their countries or of those who control Muslim institutions, and, therefore, in need of being freed by others.

It is utterly absurd that a characteristic feature that the Quran identifies with Muslimsthat of consulting each other in their affairsis totally lacking among them. Using this as an excuse, America and its allies have attacked Muslim countries and Muslim institutions in the name of promoting democracy. The Quran very clearly lays down that Muslims must settle their affairs though mutual consultation or shura:

Those who harken to their Lord, and establish regular prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for sustenance

The more transparent Muslim institutions become, the more beneficial they will be to Muslims themselves. Running these institutions on the basis of mutual consultation will make them more effective and will secure them greater public support. If Muslim organizations and religious institutions seek to involve all concerned people in their decision-making at all levels, their credibility is bound to improve. Sadly, today the situation is markedly different, because of which these institutions do not have the support of all Muslims. This provides Hindu extremists in India and, at the global level, America and its clients, to level all sorts of accusations against these institutions. It is easy to accuse religious institutions led by individuals who do not represent the people of being enemies of humanity, intolerant and extremist. Because throughout the world Muslim countries, organizations, educational institutions and other organizations are not run on conventional democratic lines, they easily raise doubts and suspicions. If Muslims were to adopt transparency and democratic culture in all their political and cultural activities, allow for the free ex-pression of views and democratic decision-making, and respect dissenting views, it will make it much easier for non-Muslims to properly understand them. In this way, some of the deep fears that they have about Muslims can be set at rest.

Popularity Among the People

As I just mentioned, transparency and democracy are essential for any organized effort on the part of Muslim institutions and movements to reform and uplift the community. But, a third ingredient is also required, and that is to establish strong fraternal links with people of other faiths, to share in their joys and sorrows and, as far as possible, to seek to solve Muslim problems, not as a unique case, but as something that Muslims share with other people. In actual fact, in India or elsewhere, the list of specifically Muslim problems is very limited. Muslims mostly face the same problems that others do, such as poverty, disease, lack of appropriate housing and hygiene, illiteracy, insecurity and so on. These problems afflict the majority of people in Asia and Africa, Muslims as well as others. Efforts to overcome these hurdles will be much more successful if Muslims work together for this with their non-Muslim neighbours and countrymen. Muslims must not seek to set up their own separate world. Rather, they must consider the whole world to be Gods and, accordingly, seek to work for its welfare and progress. In todays context, when many non-Muslims are suspicious of Muslims, such joint activities with people of other faiths could play a major role in building bridges and promoting confidence and good relations between Muslims and others, doing away with the hatred and suspicions that divide them. This is absolutely essential in order to combat violence and terrorism.

Today, NGOs are playing a major role in serving society in different ways, such as by preserving the environment, fighting against pollution, working for peace and human rights, struggling against poverty, disease, illiteracy, bonded labour and child labour, demanding a respectable status in society for women and so on. Our religion commands us to take an active role in such activities and efforts. The present climate of extreme suspicion about Muslims also demands that we join hands with our non-Muslim brothers and miss no opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them, and this can best be done through working with them for these issues of common human concern.

Conclusion

While steering clear from violence is not the solution to all of the many problems besetting Muslims, it is obvious that it will certainly solve those many problems that are a result of a tendency noticeable among Muslims to take to violence or counter-violence. The question of when our present lamentable state will change for the better and we shall be rid of those weaknesses that hold back our development has been debated for a long time now. Many efforts have been made for the uplift of Muslims in terms of their education and health, their economic and political conditions. This work requires a long time, and must be done with care and determination. To fall prey to temporary circumstances and take to the path of violence will only be a sign of despair and a reflection of lack of wisdom. Muslims must abstain from this path. Instead, they must walk with determination and wisdom on the path that God has prescribed for them.

[This is a translation of a chapter titled Tashaddud, Islam Aur Tehrik-e Islami, in Mohammad Nejatullah Siddiqui's Urdu book, Ikeesvin Sadi Mai Islam, Musalman Aur Tehrik-e Islami (Islam, Muslims and the Islamic Movement in the 21st Century), Markazi Maktaba-e Islami, New Delhi, 2005, pp.27-52). The writer Mohammad Nejatullah Siddiqui is a leading Indian Islamic scholar, whose specialisation is Islamic Economics. Recipient of the King Faisal Award for Islamic Studies, he has taught at the Aligarh Muslim University and the King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah. He was a Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles and Visting Scholar at the Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah. He served for sixteen years as member of the central committee of the Jamaat-e Islami Hind. He is the author of numerous books. He can be contacted on mnsiddiqi@hotmail.com. Several of his articles can be accessed on www.siddiqi.com/mns. The translation has been done by noted Islamic scholar Yoginder Sikand. He can be reached at ysikand@yahoo.com.]

Indian Muslim News - MUSLIM INSTITUTIONS

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

Case of Aligarh Muslim University and scope of Article 30

By Jasim Mohammad

When we got independence in 1947, the founding fathers of our Constitution faced a serious problem of safeguarding the genuine interests of the minorities. A sub-committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Sardar Patel to look into the matter. After prolonged discussions, the Committee recommended that the Constitution should have separate Articles to deal with the preservation of culture and language of the minorities, apart from Fundamental Rights.

At last, Indian Constitution adopted Articles 29 and 30 as safeguards for minorities to preserve their cultural heritage and languages. Article 29 states that; “(1) Citizens, living in any part of India, having distinct language, script or culture, have right to preserve them. (ii) No educational institution aided by the state can refuse admission to any citizen on the grounds of his religion, caste, language or creed. Article 30 clearly states that – (i) Religious and linguistic minorities have right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. (ii) State will not refuse grants to such institution on the pretext that they are established and managed by such religious or linguistic minorities. Article 29 and 30 falls in the category of the Fundamental Rights in respect of safeguarding cultural and educational institutions of the minorities.The Government and the media know pretty well that these “Special Rights” are enshrined in the Constitution of India in the form of Fundamental Rights and we commit no offence, if we seek to enforce their due recognition and claim to enjoy them to our best advantage without their being eroded by anyone including the government. There can be no valid objection to our endeavouring to safeguard our rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution as a minority community as long as the Constitution is in force and operative.

Case of Aligarh Muslim University

It will be appropriate to re-analyze the claim of the AMU being a minority institution. For a long time, the government and even the Apex Court had held the view that AMU had not been established by the Muslim minority and it could not be recognized as a minority institution. They were always trotting out the view that AMU Act (1920) alone established the University. At that time (during Azeez Basha case) the Apex Court failed to make distinction between “incorporation” of an existing institution (MAO College) already functioning with buildings, labs and other infrastructure and being merely conferred the status of a University and the act of “founding” afresh an institution with construction of new buildings, labs and other facilities. It was ignored that requisite infrastructures were readily made available by the Muslim community at the time of the incorporation of AMU in 1920 through an Act. In the judgement of the Azeez Basha case, the Supreme Court rejected the claim of the AMU “being minority institution established by them”.

In the judgement delivered by the Allahabad High Court, the Hon’ble Court admitted that MAO College was flag bearer of the Aligarh Muslim University but it went on to record that, “the enactment of Section 06 in the 1920 Act in a very important circumstance which shows that the Aligarh Muslim University when it came to be established in 1920 was not established by the Muslim minority”. In the last paragraph of the judgement, the Hon’ble Judge observes that, “Aligarh Muslim University is not a minority institution within the meaning of Article 30 of the constitution of India. Therefore, the University cannot provide any reservation in respect of the students belonging to a particular community”.

We, again remind you Article 30 which categorically gives us right “to establish and administer educational institutions of our own choice”. If we cannot administer our own institutions then how they will be of our “choice”? If we cannot make reasonable admission policies to achieve the basic aim of the establishment of the institution, then, what is the use of the Article 30 in the Constitution of India and what purpose it serves? If the Courts can draw their own conclusions, then, what is the use of being Article 30 in the category of “Fundamental Rights”?

Hence, we are of the opinion that our debate should revolve around meaning and scope of the Article 30. We are of the opinion that if need be the scope of Article 30 should be made clear by the legislature and its scope should be enlarged, if there is any need to satisfy the judiciary.

Constitution of India is for the people of India by the people of India. Muslim minority is the second largest community in India, if it lags behind, India will lag behind. We must analyse the soul of Constitutional provisions and accept that there is an urgent need for political will to implement the wishes of the founding fathers of our Constitution.

The case of the Minority Status of AMU is pending in the Supreme Court. The Apex Court has constituted a three judge Bench to hear it and the case has been listed for hearing in January, 2008 but till date no hearing has taken place.We are of the opinion that this is the right time to awake the masses.

[Jasim Mohammad is Research Scholar at Aligarh Muslim University and President of the Millat Bedari Muhim Committte (MBMC), Aligarh. He can be contacted at jasimmd@gmail.com, mbmcoffice@gmail.com]

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