Islamic Voice
Rabi-ul-Awwal 1422H
June 2001
Volume 15-06 No:174

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EDITORIAL


No Room for Cheer
Taliban's Disservice to Islam

No Room for Cheer

There are two unmistakable conclusions from the outcome of the Assembly polls in four major states. The good news is that the BJP and the ruling NDA are dangerously sick. The polls offer them not even the slightest streak of cheer. It was evident when the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee declared that the BJP had not much at stake in these elections. It was like taking an anticipatory bail. But sadly enough, even the key NDA allies have failed to provide any room for joy. They have faced complete rout and paid for their opportunistic alliance with the BJP. More than anything else these elections provide two important pointers. First, that the BJP, unlike Congress, is a Hindi heartland party. The outcome in all the four states shows that the party is far from registering its presence in any of the non-Hindi states in any substantial measure. Its credibility as the central axis for anti-Congress national alternative is now under serious doubt. Second, more than communal credentials, it seems the Tehelka mud has done the harm. The BJP is seen to be no different than other parties when it comes to corruption and criminalisation of the polity. The very fact that the second installment of the slush money was demanded in dollars paints the party in unpatriotic colour too.

Now the bad news. The poll outcome is clear enough indication that central authority is weakening in India. It will be naive to be jubilant over Jayalalitha’s resounding win and bulldozing entry into the St. Fort George. It is the first ever case of a convict making it to the chief ministerial gaddi and law being helpless in checking her defiance. National conscience seems to be in deep slumber. It speaks of an all-pervasive fluidity, be it in law, Constitution, proprieties, conventions or niceties. It is a grave threat. History bears witness that whenever the Centre grew weak, forces of fragmentation received a boost.

Thirdly, the poll outcome needs to be read with caution by the minorities, especially the cloutless Muslim community. It will be too simplistic to interpret Tamil Nadu outcome as defeat of communalism. Minority votes do not count for much in that arena of Dravidian parties. A victory achieved by crafty coalition of casteist parties need not be attributed to secularism. In Jayalalaitha’s scheme ideology hardly matters. It’s she and she alone that constitutes the party currently. Tamil Nadu is still not the state where parties could be judged as communal or secular merely by looking at which side the BJP is. It was in fact Jayalalitha’s party that had first invited the BJP in a state coalition. By any standards, the DMK’s claim of secularism is still robust. That it hitched itself onto the BJP bandwagon is unfortunate and purely a circumstantial compulsion.

It seems the Muslims in West Bengal are not yet ready to desert the Leftist fold. They are not yet ready to chew the development bait offered by the alternative secular combine. Mamata Banerjee’s impetuous nature and her quick somersaults failed to convince them this time. Her gestation period will be long in the state where Muslim votes are one-fourth of the total and therefore decisive. In Assam and Kerala, the outcome is on expected lines as they have kept on the tradition of voting out the incumbents. Communalism is still not a big issue in Kerala. The BJP has found no chink in between the two robust alliances to extend its foot. But in Assam, in all fairness, the decisive Muslim vote has put paid to the hopes of BJP making any progress.

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Taliban's Disservice to Islam

The Talibans continue to be in the news, and for the scary kind of it. The latest diktat asking the members of the small Hindu community to flaunt their identity by wearing yellow badges betrays the sick mind that guides the government in Kabul. The Talibans seem to be in no mood to listen to the world opinion. Nor do they appear inclined to behave in a globalised world where building an ethnically pure, religiously puritanical and mono-cultural state is not within the realm of the possibility.

The Talibans are a phenomenon in themselves. Their nonchalance and insensitivity are typical of a regime in whose diction words such as diversity, tolerance, pluralism and overall civilized behaviour seem to be non-existent. Driving the women into primitive shuttlecock burqas or banishing them away them from public employment was obnoxious. Yet it did not evoke as much disgust as their action during the last few months. They chose to blast the two gigantic and historic statues of Gautam Buddha that had stood in the desolate hills for millennia. Even Mahmood Ghaznawi, one who is charged of being an iconoclast by the saffron lobby in India, had not touched them. And by the latest diktat, they are humiliating a helpless and microscopic minority of Hindus and Sikhs.

How far the closed minds of Talibans would go in seeking to foist their ideology on the hapless remaining populace in that beleaguered nation is anybody’s guess. But what surprises one is why no one in the Islamic world is trying to prevail upon this regime to see reason and understand the realities of the wider world that surrounds them. That some of the Hindus and Sikhs themselves welcome the identity mark, for it would spare them of being herded into the mosque for namaz, offers little consolation. There are more sophisticated ways like identity cards to ascertain one’s identity. Even in an Islamic state like Saudi Arabia, the mutawwa (religious inspectors) have better and more dignified ways to enforce dress code or public morality.

It is time some Muslim countries or international Islamic bodies take upon themselves to prevail upon the Talibans to desist from their bulldozer methods of applying their brand of Islam on minorities. Much of the Talibans ways only serve the cause and please the hearts of the drumbeaters in India and Islamphobes in the West. They are thus doing greater disservice to Islam than has ever been attempted.

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