REVOLT: Mehmood Madani, head of the Jamait, accuses the Modi government of undermining the status of the Muslim community.
By Rajan Narayan
Mehmood Madani, head of the Jamait-Ulema e Hind (top Muslim organization in the country) has challenged the claim that India belongs only to the majority Hindu community, he says India also belongs to the Muslim community, that Om and Allah is the same!
For the first time the Muslims have taken the offensive. The head of the Jamait-Ulema e- Hind Maulana Mahmood Madani, the supreme Muslim organization in the country, has challenged the claim of the BJP and RSS that India belongs only to the Hindus. Madani has gone to the extent of insisting that India belonged as much to the 172 million odd Muslims who live in the country as to the Hindus. Madani has even gone to the extent of insisting that India is the home of Islam. That the Prophet Muhammad was born in India.
The assertion of Madani comes in the wake of increasing harassment of Muslims. And RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat statement that anyone whose ancestors migrated and adopted India as their home country, including Muslims, are Hindus. Madani points out that part of the problem is that unlike Hinduism, Muslims acknowledge only one god and He is Allah. Therefore they were united in their identity as Muslims. This, of course, is not strictly true because there are many Muslim factions in Islam. Ranging from the basic split between the Sunnis and the Shiyas to extremist groups like the Taliban.
There are also the Bohri (Shia) Muslims and the Khoja Muslims who are also the Agha Khani Muslims whose head is the Aga Khan who lives in France. These are virtual private community clubs and the Supreme Court recently stated that the Aga Khan, head of the Khoja Muslims, cannot expel any member. But by and large all Muslims acknowledge Allah as their god and Muhammad as the Prophet. Muhammad may be the central figure in Islam but unlike in other religions there are no images of Muhammad and indeed, it is considered sacrilege to create an image of Muhammad.
NO HUMOR, PLEASE
IT MAY be recalled that the cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier of French magazine “Charlie Hebdo” was killed by Muslim fundamentalists in France. Right now there are strong protests going on across the Islamic world over the burning of a copy of the holy book of Islam – the Quran — in Sweden.
Madani has pointed out that unlike the Muslims who remain united in their commitment to Allah, the Hindus have hundreds of god and goddesses. They did not identify any particular one religious figure as the head of the Hindu community or communities. Which is why the notion of Hinduism itself never gained any significance. Indeed, till the Babri Masjid and the BJP coming to power, the divide between Hindus and Muslims did not exist.
In the wake of post-Godhra riots in Gujarat Atal Bihari Vajpayee made it clear that Narendra Modi had not followed the “raj dharma” way of treating members of all community equally. The BBC, in a recent documentary which has become controversial enough for the BJP to ban it in India, endorsed the often repeated charge that as chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi had asked the police not to take any action against the rioters targeting Muslim homes to express their ire against the Godhra train burning incident in 2002.
INDIA & ISLAM
We do not know whether Madani’s claim that India belonged to Islam as much as it belong to Modi and the BJP and Mohan Bhagwat, but this will undoubtedly worsen the relationship between the two communities. The BJP is trying to reach out to the Muslim community particularly in Uttar Pradesh which has the largest population of Muslims in India. In Goa Mohan Bhagwat invited everyone including Muslims to join the RSS.
While they are concerned about Hindu-Muslim relationship and the BJP at the national level, we hope that at least Goa will retain its secular character. At least so far the name of the Adil Shah Palace has not been changed. It is estimated that the Muslim population of Goa is 1.22 lakh according to the latest survey. The Muslims however have become vote banks because they are concentrated in a few constituencies such as Taleigao, Valpoi, Mapusa, Vasco and Margao.
We are inclined to believe that the Muslim population in Goa is much higher than shown in the latest census, as the official records do not include the number of casual migrant labour coming in daily to look for jobs and settle in Goa where they feel safer than in their own home states.