By Syed Ali Mujtaba
The Muslim community in India is at crossroads facing numerous challenges the prime being Hindutva fascism that is hurtling to exterminate the entire Muslim community. Even this imminent Muslim genocide forecasted by many global organizations and individuals has not woken up the Indian Muslim community and they remain in deep slumber and quite lazy to form any meaningful strategy to meet the challenges thrust on the community.
It goes without saying that the Muslim community is facing Hindutva wrath every day. They are being demonized, called outcasts, anti-national, disloyal people who inflicted huge pain on the Hindu community. The Hindutva forces want this pain to be avenged through Muslim genocide. There is such a pull in this idea, that a large section of the Hindu community has sunk their differences and got united on the anti-Muslim platform.
On the contrary, the Muslim community is totally confused about how to give a collective respond to the challenges faced by the community. There are some attempts being made by the leaders of the community but instead of reaching a consensus, criticism galore at any such effort within the community. Its obituary is written right away after any such idea is conceived.
Some suggestions have been made, like Muslims should form “a non-political, non-religious” organization that will work through “rational” and “logical” methods to respond to challenges posed to the community. This idea is shot down by asking, how floating a “non-political” organization can help in the fight a political battle. Such an idea is summarily rejected with the pronouncement that such a body can never achieve the desired objectives of the community.
Another suggestion is that the Muslim community should form an ‘interest group’ or an ‘advocacy group’ and try to negotiate with the political parties to solve their problems. Again such an idea is questioned as to how a Muslim interest group can negotiate with the political parties that itself is following the ‘soft Hindutva’ approach. They argue that the so-called secular parties have no interest in taking up Muslim issues. It is seen in not giving tickets to Muslim candidates to contest elections. Such parties do not want any Muslim leader to emerge within their outfit to take up the Muslim cause. So the idea of the Muslim community forming a pressure group is shot down with the pronouncement there is no secular party left in the country.
Another suggestion is; that the Muslim community should have its own political party and they should get united under its banner. This idea is also shot down reasoning that any such political party will be detrimental to the community. Instead of helping the Muslim cause, it will unite its inimical forces and further marginalize the community. Another criticism is how such a political party can be managed without huge financial resources. How such huge finance can be mobilized from a community that has no financial base? So the idea of forming a Muslim political party is also shot down.
As a result, there is no agreement on the kind of body that Muslims should form to resist the challenges faced by the community. In the end, what emerges is there is no unity possible due to huge differences within the community.
Whenever the larger problem affecting the Muslim community is raised, the issues of social discrimination within the community crop up. The discussion shifts to the plight of the Pasmanda Muslims and the entire discussion of Muslim unity gets high-jacked. There is no one to understand how come raking up Pasmanda Muslims will stop the genocide of the entire community. Will such a dreadful event spare the Pasmanda Muslims?
Another factor that blocks Muslim unity is disagreement on the leadership of the community. The two factions of Jamiat and third the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is the three major religious representatives of Muslims. Besides, there are dozens of Muslim political parties and an unaccounted number of Muslim organizations to serve the Muslim cause. However, there is no agreement among them as to who will lead the community. Each organization calls itself to be “the sole spokesperson of the Muslims.” All fight over sectarian differences and want to capture key posts within any such organization.
The leaders from various Muslim organizations vie with each other to establish their control over the entire community. Here again, the role of Pasmanda Muslim comes into play. They put forward the argument that Muslim leadership remains in the hands of its elites and that the downtrodden section has little role to play in choosing Muslim leadership. There is little realization that such fissures are deliberately raised to disunite the Muslim and put spokes to in their unity.
The Gujarat riots are a perfect example of where Ehsan Jaffri, the Muslim elite was brutalized along with the Pasmanda Muslims. In the Muslim genocide of 2002, there was no discrimination between Pasmanda Muslims and the Muslim elite. So those who raise such issues certainly do not know they are playing into the hands of their enemy and creating a stumbling block in forging Muslim unity.
Since the Muslim community is a divided house any efforts to forge Muslim unity remain a mirage. No one likes to take Muslims seriously as they know a united Muslim response or resistance can ever take shape.
There is no denying the fact that the Muslim community is divided from within. Whenever attempts at Muslim unity are made, infighting within the community crops up, and the whole effort to have a combined resistance to fight the current challenges is dashed to the ground.
The Muslim community recognizes that there is serious difference within the community but there is no consensus as to how to bridge the differences. Even in the deep crisis that the community faces today, none are ready to bury their differences and come together for safeguarding the community’s interests.
Even the scare of Muslim genocide does move the community to find a common platform to fight their common enemy. As a result, the core issues go into the background and what emerged are the differences, disagreement, scoring some brownie points, and relishing in shooting down the idea of Muslim unity.
This is a serious problem facing the community which is blocking any united resistance to the forces of Muslim oppression. If this is the situation then the foremost thing Muslims should do is to form a concrete action plan on how to resolve the differences within the community and only after that make attempts to foster national unity within the community.
What is seen in the meetings organized for Muslim unity is the discussion is not at all held on the failures of the community. They do not make any attempt to deal with the issue within the community, which is the foremost obstacle to Muslim unity. As a result, there is no unanimity within the community and no one knows how to cobble the inner diversity within the community to stitch up Muslim unity.
Nonetheless, if the Muslim community wants to fight the battle against Muslim genocide it has no other option than to forge unity among the Muslims first. This is very important because only through united efforts any resistance can be put up against the common threat.
So how to move forward in a situation like this is a herculean task? The only way is to recognize the diverse elements in the community and call its leaders for a discussion and put forward questions about how they may like to address the challenges faced by the community. A realization should down upon the diverse elements they cannot swim alone and the only option for them is to collectively unite else they can sink individually in the holy waters of India.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org