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Islamic Voice Logo
MONTHLY    *    Vol 13-01 No:145    *   JANUARY 1999/ RAMADAN 1419H
email: editor@islamicvoice.com

FEATURES


Baba Budan Giri: Shades of Another Ayodhya? :
By Yoginder Sikand

Bicentenary of Tipu's Martyrdom : Significance of Tipu Sultan's Life
Madhab - Where do we Stand?
Indian Muslims in the Changing Political Scenario
Writing on the Wall for the Minorities
Leaves From Life : Children Show the Way


Baba Budan Giri: Shades of Another Ayodhya? :
By Yoginder Sikand

In recent years the Hindutva brigade has been making concerted efforts to spread its influence and build up a solid base for itself in southern India. Though until now not very successful in this regard, the Hindu right-wing has been able to make considerable inroads in parts of Karnataka. A striking illustration of the growth of Hindu fascism in Karnataka is the fact that the BJP now has several MLAs and MPs from the state.

As elsewhere the Hindutva forces have taken to stoking the flames of communal antagonism in Karnataka in order to garner support. Following the raking up of the Hubli Idgah controversy, the newest feather in their cap is the dargah of Baba Budan Giri in the hills of Chikmagalur, a well-known Sufi shrine of great antiquity. In early December protests and rallies by Hindutva activists outside the shrine threatened to convert this little shrine into the centre of a stormy communal controversy.

According to popular belief, a Sufi saint, one Hazrat Shaikh Abdul Aziz Makki, also called Dada Hayat Mir Qalandhar, migrated to South India from Arabia some thirteen centuries ago and took up residence in a Cave in the thick forests of the hills of Chikmagalur, some 250 kilometres West of Bangalore. Then, in the seventeenth century, another Arab Sufi, Baba Budan, arrived in the region from Yemen. He settled down in Dada Hayat’s Cave and made it his centre to spread Islam and Sufi teachings among the local population. Popular Baba Budan is best remembered for having introduced the coffee plant into the area. Chikmagalur is today one of the major centres for the production of coffee in India.

In the years after his death, the cave of Baba Budan emerged as a place for popular pilgrimage for Muslims and Hindus alike. The shrine also received considerable royal patronage in the form of land grants and tax concessions. Among its many royal patrons were Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan, the palegars or feudal lords of Keladi and Ikkeri in north Karnataka, and the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnarajendra, Wodeyar.

According to a local legend, of doubtful historical veracity, the shrine also represents the seat of Dattareya, an incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu, and son of Atreya Rishi, one of the Sapta Rishis or seven seers of ancient times. It is said that Dattatreya performed penance in this cave. The pair of silver sandals and a lamp that are preserved in one corner of the shrine are, so the story goes, the sacred symbols of Dattatreya, and the raised platform inside the cave the seat of Dattatreya’s four disciples. On the other hand, local Muslims dismiss this story as concocted and claim that the platform houses the graves of Baba Budan and his disciples including Malik Tujan, Malik Wazir, Malik Kabau and Malik Safir.

Despite these different stories about the dargah, the Baba Budan Shrine has for centuries been a common place of veneration for both Hindus as well as Muslims, and a striking illustration of the harmonious co-existence of different traditions. For many centuries it has remained in the custody of a family of Muslims Sajjada Nishins who trace their descent to one Syed Shah Tanaluddin Alamgaribi, who had been appointed as the custodian of the shrine during the reign of Adil Shah of Bijapur.

The roots of the present controversy, centred around the issue of the ownership and control of the shrine, date back to the mid-1960s, when the Karnataka Waqf Board notified the shrine as coming under its jurisdiction. This was disputed by the Muzrai department, the commissioner of religious and charitable endowments incharge of Hindu temple trust in the state. In 1975, the state government directed that the shrine be returned to the State Waqf Board, but shortly after, in 1980, the Chikmagalur district Court struck down this order and restored the control of the shrine to the Muzrai department. Consequently, instead of the Waqf Board, the hereditary custodian of the shrine, the Sajjada Nishin, continues to control the shrine.

The Waqf Board decided to challenge the order of the District Court and so took the matter to the Karnataka High Court. In 1989, the court of the commissioner for religious and charitable endowments restored the status of the Sajjad Nishin as the sole administrator of the shrine, and allowed the syncretic rituals to continue to be performed as had been done for centuries. Two years later in 1991, Waqf Board dismissed the appeal of the Waqf Board and restored the pre-1975 status quo. The High Court’s order was later upheld by the Supreme Court, which dismissed the plea of the Waqf Board.

Although the matter of the control of the shrine has been in the courts for many years now, the issue has not been seen by ordinary Muslims and Hindus as a communal one. Indeed, the efforts to Hinduise the shrine are of relatively recent origin. The observance of one day every year as Dattareya Jayanti, when brahmin priests conduct a Puja in the shrine, began only about a decade ago, according to Syed Pir Muhammad Shah Qadri, present Sajjada Nishin of the dargah. He says that Hindus worship at the dargah in lakhs, but that the demand to convert the shrine into a Hindu temple gathered momentum only after the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992. He says that two years ago the Jayanti was changed into a three day affair, in the course of which the Brahmin priests worship a statue and picture purportedly of Dattatraya. This was done despite the court order laying down that traditional rituals should not be tampered with.

In order to turn what is essentially a legal dispute into an inter communal one, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad recently organised five Rath Yatras that toured various parts of Karnataka, converging at Baba Budan Giri on December 1, 1998, whipping up communal and anti-Muslim passions on the way. Outside the shrine they held a public rally, and on December 3, which in recent times has been sought to be promoted as a special Dattatreya festival at the shrine, saffron flags were forcibly hoisted in the vicinity of the dargah. Efforts were even made to instal an idol of the elephant-god ganesh and a picture of Dattareya inside the shrine, but this was forcibly prevented by the timely intervention of the police.

Although they were unable to take over the shrine, the large gathering of Hindutva activists succeeded, at least partially, in their main mission to whip up anti-Muslim passions and to project the shrine as the centre of a new Hindu-Muslim controversy. In their speeches, Hindutva leaders accused the present Sajjada Nishin of the dargah of “Islamizing” the shrine and misappropriating its funds. Provocative slogans, such as Pakistan Muradabad, Hindu Dharam Ki Jai, Vande Mataram and Jo Hamse Takrayega Choor-Choor Ho Jayega were raised.

That the whole affair was directed by base political concerns, in particular the assembly elections that are due in less than a year’s time, clearly emerges from the statements made by BJP leaders on the issue. Anantha Kumar Hegde, BJP declared that he would send ‘suicide squads’ to ‘liberate’ the shrine. The state convenor of the Bajrang Dal, Pramod Mutalik, threatened to capture the shrine if the government did not remove the Sajjada Nishin and hand it over to Hindu priests within a year. Suresh Kumar, BJP MLA and Deputy leader of the party in the state assembly, in fact admitted the BJP was involved in the Bajrang Dal-VHP programme and that the party’s Chikmagalur unit had confirmed its participation.

Shah Qadri, the Sajjada Nishin of the Dargah, accuses the Hindutvawadis of raking up the controversy simply to gain political mileage. He says that most Hindus are opposed to their efforts to turn the shrine into another Ayodhya. He asserted that he had always treated the Hindus with respect, and that there a no restrictions on their access to the dargah.

Meanwhile, with the urs of Dada Hayat to be held this March, apprehensions are being raised that the Hindutva wadis might seek to stir up communal trouble and violence on the occasion. With the next assembly elections as well as the next Dattatreya Jayanti almost coinciding this coming December, it is feared that the issue is bound to be raked up once again sooner rather than later.

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Bicentenary of Tipu's Martyrdom : Significance of Tipu Sultan's Life

Prof. B. Sheik Ali

Tipu, a revolutionary figure, deserves to be remembered for his fertility of mind which analysed the causes for the failure of the Indians to meet the challenges of the times. He found that the cross fertilisation of ideas had met a natural death in India.

Tipu Sultan was a fascinating figure of the 18th century, who offered his blood to write the history of free India. He had a vision and a mission in life. The vision was to make his people enlightened and prosperous, and the mission was to liberate his land from the yoke of the colonials. His short but stormy rule is significant because of his view that only that life was worth living which would unfold the drama of human freedom, not only political freedom, but also social freedom, economic freedom, cultural freedom, and freedom from want, hunger, apathy, ignorance and superstition. His definition of State itself was organised energy for freedom.

For this purpose, he struggled all his life first to gain political freedom from British hands, for which he used all his means, energy and power, not sparing even his life. He would say the life of a lion for a day was far better than the life of a jackal for a hundred years, and that death should be preferred to dishonour. The British had never been confronted with a more formidable, determined and inveterate foe, who never compromised on his ideals and never deviated from his goal. Even in his dreams he was engaged in a bitter fight against them. His regime began in the midst of war against them. He was the only ruler who had the distinction of dying in the battle field for the liberty of his land.

Tipu realised that the true intentions of the colonials were to reduce every Indian ruler to the position of a pensioned Raja or a Nawab. Tipu desired to form an alliance of the Indian powers to resist the expansion of British authority, but his neighbours were all lost in their self-interest. Neither the Marathas nor the Nizam responded to his call. Disappointed in the efforts, he turned to the French, the Turks and the Afghans. His efforts bore such good fruits that Napoleon actually moved from France and came as far as Syria, where he was defeated and forced back to France. Likewise, Zaman Shah came as far as Lahore from Kabul, but he too was forced to beat a hasty retreat, as the English engineered a rear action on his territory by exciting Iran to fall on Afghanistan. As for the Turks, they could not help because of the Russian threat on their empire. But Tipu did not leave any stone unturned to liberate the land from foreign control.

tippu2.jpg

Wooden Toys, Articles: The Art & Craft introduced by Tipu Sultan
inviting master craftsmen from Persia (Iran) is making money
in both local sales & exports

Despite the hectic political and military involvement, Tipu never ignored the main task of improvement of agriculture and industry, his promotion of trade and commerce, his novel system of the administration of justice, his building up of a navy, his opening of factories far and near, and his despatch of embassies to different and distant lands linked the small State of Mysore with the bigger world. He built an exceedingly efficient system of administration, which launched upon a series of innovative measures that would transform his state into a humming centre of great industrial activity. He exerted his utmost to secure artisans and craftsmen from different countries to manufacture guns, muskets and a host of other commodities. His reforming zeal touched almost every department of life including coinage and calendar, weights and measures, banking and finance, revenue and judiciary, army and navy, morals and manners, and social ethos and cultural affairs. His creative vision envisaged the construction of a dam across the river cauvery, the details of which still exist in an inscription installed at the gates of the present KRS Dam. He was the one who developed the technology of rocket system, and thought of establishing a university, which he named Dar-ul-Umur.

tippu1.jpg

Colonel Baillie's Dungeon Srirangapatna : British Officers
captured by Tipu Sultan in second Mysore ward were kept here.

Silk industry in Karnataka owes its origin to Tipu, as also state monopoly in trade in such commodities as gold, tobacco, sandalwood, precious metals, elephants, pepper and timber. He established a co-operative bank in which more dividends were given to depositors of small amount. His administration of justice was linked to environment, where convicts were made to plant trees and rear them. For petty offence such plants were suggested which would grow fast, and for grave offence, those that would take long, like jamun, mango, coconut. Efforts were made to establish pearl-fisheries in Malabar by inviting divers from Muscat. Chinese were invited to help in the production of fine-quality sugar. A French engineer was asked to design an engine run by water for boring cannons. Thus, he was far ahead of his times in many respects. He organised a Board of Admiralty which controlled a navy of 22 lines of battleships and 20 large frigates with 72 and 62 guns, besides a fleet of merchant ships.

Another aspect of his regime is his secular policy. Gandhiji wrote in Young India that Tipu was an embodiment of Hindu-Muslim unity. His letters to Sringeri Muth speak volumes of his deep respect towards Hindu religious establishments. He furnished Shri Shankaracharya with funds to reinstall the displaced image in the Sharada Temple. He gave several articles of silver to the Lakshmikantha temple and to many other temples. The Ranganath temple at Srirangapatana was hardly a stone-throw from his palace from where he listened with equal respect the ringing of temple bells and the Muezzin’s call from the mosque. His civil list included quite a few non-Muslims in higher posts, besides the lower cadres which were almost entirely manned by them. Therefore, to say that Tipu was not tolerant is highly erroneous. If he was harsh on the Nairs of Malabar, the Christians of Mangalore, and the Raja of Coorg, that was because of political reasons as they were allied with the British. He did not spare the Muslim Mopillas and Mahadevis either in the interest of law and order. He attacked the Nawabs of Savour, Cuddapah and Kurnool, and was more hostile towards the Nizam than towards the Marathas. His harshness was politically motivated and not religiously inspired. For a long time the colonials distorted our history to suit their imperial interests. They called our uprisings as mutinies, our heroes as villains, and our freedom fighters as usurpers and terrorists. The need is great to remove this wrong impression.

Thus, Tipu, a revolutionary figure, deserves to be remembered for his fertility of mind which analysed the causes for the failure of the Indians to meet the challenges of the times. He found that the cross fertilisation of ideas had met a natural death in India. That was the reason why he became a member of the Jacobin Club, planted the tree of “liberty” outside his palace and called himself “Citizen Tipu”. The colonials never felt safe as long as he was alive. He had to die in the heat of explosive combustion of hostile forces, and never in apathy, inertia or uninventiveness.

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Madhab - Where do we Stand?

By Ibrahim Shihaan

I read with a lot of interest the article “What is Madhab?” By Keller in the November 98 issue of Islamic Voice. Though the article is very informative in various aspects, in its crux brother Keller is way wide of the mark.

Great scholars as the four Imaams of Ahlussunna wal Jamaa’ah have indeed rendered great services to Islam, and their work is truly invaluable. What the Imaams achieved in terms of acquiring knowledge, imparting it and holding fast by the truth is really fascinating. In fact given their poor means for transport, communication and storage of information their scholarship is mindboggling. But though we, in the midst of numerous pseudo-scholars, would have preferred otherwise, these scholars also unfortunately had certain limitations be it in terms of hadith that reached them or the means of verifying them.

Imam Shafi’i said, “Everyone can have or miss the Hadith of the Prophet (Pbuh). So If I say something that reaches me from the Prophet (Pbuh) take it, otherwise look for what he said.”

Not all hadiths or all the interpretations of a verse by the Prophet (Pbuh) were known to each of the Imaams. The Imams themselves have said this and none of them ever claimed otherwise.

Imam Shafi’i addressed Imam Ahmad. “You know Hadith and its narrators better than me. So if a hadith is authentic show me so that I may stick to it.”

It is a common misconception that callers to Qur’an and Sunnah call for total abandonment of whatever is in the Madhabs. This, if true would indeed have been cause of great loss for Muslims. But what really is advocated is not to bring the words of Imaams to the level of the Prophet (Pbuh) in practice by strict adherence; not to create mutually exclusive ways of life in this way of life (i.e. deen) not to create different identities among Muslims because ‘my Imam’ said this and ‘your Imam’ said that not to spread the impression that one can only follow Islam as one Imam followed it. Neither did any Imam say this nor is it from the Qur’an and Sunnah. In the ayah quoted by the brother (4:83), where people are exhorted to approach people of authority, or anywhere else, there is not even a slight hint that it is the same person an individual should approach each time or even that a single person should be approached at a given time. It is also advocated that the Prophet’s words, commandments and actions should not be disregarded and given no more than a mere glance when they are not in line with what is followed in one’s Madhab. The Imams were by no means free from mistakes and they were the first to admit it.

Imam Malik said, “After the infallible Prophet (Pbuh) everyone else is fallible”.

On the other hand the Qur’an in verse 7 of Sura Hashr specifically orders us to “take whatever the messenger assigns to us and leave whatever the messenger forbids us.” This order has not come about from any individual nor can we extend it. In fact obedience to any other person is subject to the above condition. Muslims should also attach greater importance to the evidences the Imam produced for his case and not cling stubbornly to what the Imam said just for the sake of it.

Imam Ahmad said, “who rejects Prophet’s (Pbuh) hadith is at stake.” Imam Abu Hanifa also said, “unless you know the proof of what I said, do not give my ruling depending on my words.”

The Imam has done his best in his ijthihaad and Allah will insha Allah reward him handsomely for it. But it does not give anyone a licence to ignore the truth in the Imam’s name.

Brother Keller had mentioned the ayah (4:83) which says. “If they had referred it to the messenger and to those of authority among them...” It would be enlightening to read the earlier part of the ayah whereby it is clear that ‘it’ referred to a piece of information which the people had regarding a matter of public safety. In the same surah verse 59 Allah says; “O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the messenger and those charged with authority among you. If you differ in anything among yourselves refer it to Allah and His Messenger if you do believe in Allah and the last day...” (4:59)

Here Allah unambiguously says that if differences arise among us are to be solved by referring to Allah (Allah’s words Qur’an) and His Messenger (Pbuh) (his word the Hadith). We have not been advised to stick to our guns come what may.

It was painful to read the Brother refers to the following of the Qur’an and Sunnah instead of Madhabs as a ‘slogan’. Since the brother is obviously very much interested in Islam as a way of life and also holds the Imaams in high esteem, let us see what the Imaams have said on the matter.

Imam Abu Hanifah said, “If I say something irrelevant to Qur’an and Sunnah, then drop it.”

Ibn Abdeen (a follower of Abu Hanifah) said, “If you find a hadith that negates Abu Hanifah’s jurisprudence then l take the Hadith. Abu Hanifah said. “If the hadith proves authentic, then that is what I said”.

Imam Malik said, “I am a human being, so verify my opinion. Take whatever is in agreement with the Qur’an and Sunnah and reject the others.”

Imam Shafi’i said, “If one gets what the Prophet (Pbuh) said. It is obligatory on him to follow it and never to resort to anyone else.”

Imam Ahmad said, “Do not imitate me or any other Imam like Malik, As Shafi’i, Al Awzoai and al Thwari, but take from where they took.”

Though examples with cars and planes cannot really depict such matters I would offer brother Keller another situation. What would you say of a man who insists on travelling only on a plane designed by or of the same design as the one by the wright brothers since they were pioneers in airplane designing and flying? True they do hold a great position and certainly demand respect of all. But to insist that one should fly on planes only of that design occur to me as a giant step backward.

While I do understand some of the reservations the brother has in accepting the word of any scholar other than the Imams especially in this age, one cannot make such generalisations citing circumstance as the reason. Following a Madhab, or not following one for that matter, will not prevent pseudo-scholars from arising and finding following amongst the masses. Just as they are ignorant of the Qur’an and Sunnah the masses are also ignorant of what the Imaams really said. Neither will singling out one Imam prevent people from following their own desires and finding the easy way out. Sincerity to oneself and Allah in following Islam comes only through faith and God-consciousness, as the first hadith in Sahih Bukhari says, “The reward of deeds depend upon the intentions.. “ So if one is interested in correcting this aspect he should see how the Prophet (Pbuh) countered it. It was done by developing a special character in the Muslims where he or she before doing a thing asks himself or herself if the act would be beneficial or harmful in the context of aakhirah. The need of the day is to create that sincerity and remove the ignorance about Islam-not force people to choose forever one Imam which will solve nothing for Muslims.

The Muslim individual cannot escape the responsibility to exert a minimum effort to know the truth, to be able to discern falsehood when it is presented to him, to atleast know what differentiates truth from falsehood. After all we Muslims are told over and over again to read, to gain knowledge and to think and reflect. Not become a scholar but remove one’s ignorance to an extent that he recognises the truth when he sees it. This will alleviate a lot of our problems. Limiting of Islam to what one Imam said, though suggested with good purpose is not the way to do it. This approach to the problem resulted in the Muslims having the single brotherhood-offering the same namaaz in four different group under four different leaders one on each side of Ka’abah. That, by Allah’s mercy, we do not see today. But our hearts have still not joined fully, we are still not ready to drop our differences creating artificial barriers. Let us not keep trying to unite the Muslims on such ways that have time and again divided the Muslims. But let us strive to unite the Muslims on the way that united and strengthened them in the first place.

Allah has said, “.. and be not among men who join God with Allah, those who split up their religion and become mere sects each party rejoicing in that which is with itself.” (30: 31-32)

The Prophet (Pbuh) said, “The Jews and Christians will be divided into 71 or 72 sects and this nation will divide into 73 sects all in Hell except one, and that one is on which I and my companions are today.” (Related by Abu Daud, Thirmidhi, Ibn Majah)

Let me also quote one more beautiful sayings by Imam Shafi’i who said: “If I say something in contradiction to the authentic hadith of the Prophet (Pbuh) which is agreed by the hadith scholars as authentic, I revert from what I said in my life and after my death.”

Now where do we stand?

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Indian Muslims in the Changing Political Scenario

By Dr. Mumtaz Ali Khan

Indian Muslims occupy a very unique position in Indian politics today. During the Pre-Independence period, Muslims leadership was divided in its loyalty. While some stalwarts joined the forces bent upon the creation of Pakistan, some others remained loyal to the country. Since then Indian Muslims have been playing a vital role in Indian politics. Today they are a force to reckon with. They constitute a formidable vote bank. They have retained their status, popularly called “balancing power.” Every political party is after them. They can make or mar the future of any powerful party.

For more than five decades Indian Muslims stood firm in their support to the congress party. Many top and charismatic leaders like Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Dr. Zakir Hussain and others provided a stable leadership to carve a position of bargaining power. The secular nature of Indian society as well as Indian state provided ample opportunities to Muslims to adapt, adjust and assimilate with the Indian culture which is free from biases and prejudices. The Indian constitution drafted at a very crucial time when the flames of the after effect of partition were still very dreadful, provided for certain guarantees to the Muslims as minority community. The various Fundamental Rights have helped Muslims to live happily, peacefully and respectfully as equals along with the major community. Furthermore, Muslims have some special rights to safeguard their religious and educational advancement. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhiji and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar stood by the Muslims through thick and thin.

Muslims have since then been living a fearless life with self respect. It is true that occasionally there would erupt flames of communal riots. But this is only a passing and purely temporary social pathological phase. It is also true that when it comes to self-respect and respect to their religion, they do not remain mute spectators, swallowing bitterness of shame and insult. They assert their rights legally. The doors of courts are always open to them. They have reposed total faith in the Indian judiciary. It is particularly so in the case of the Supreme Court.

Indian Muslims are as loyal as Hindus. They are governed by the basic Islamic mandate that they have to stand by their watan by all means and at any cost. But it pains too much when some anti-social forces question the bonafides and loyalty of Indian Muslims. There may be a few individuals here and there who might act against the interests of the Nation. They may be anti-nationals, whatever may be their compelling reasons. But it should also be remembered that there are a few Hindus who do not lag behind in resorting to anti-national activities. May be both these groups work hand in hand for obtaining their personal ends. But this should not mean that Indian Muslims are not patriotic and are suspects. Let us examine a few instances.

Sometime ago, the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the well known singer of Pakistan, visited a few places in India. He was welcomed by both Hindus and Muslims. But the great Shiva Sena supremo Bal Thakeray questioned the bonafides of the great singer. Thakeray did insult the singer and wanted his performances banned. Then comes the question of Yusuf Khan, popularly called Dilip Kumar. Today he is one of the most respected secular and towering personalities in India. He is a staunch nationalist. Though he is not a politician he is well respected by all politicians and political parties. Last year he was honoured in Pakistan for his great contributions to the society. But, Bal Thakeray points his finger of accusation at him. He dubs him as Pakistani or a spy of Pakistan.

What has prompted Thakeray to act against Dilip Kumar is that the latter questioned the Shivasainiks who demonstrated vulgarly and rudely in connection with the screening of the film ‘Fire’. Dilip Kumar and the versatile Shabana Azmi denounced this type of demonstration. Dilip Kumar filed a public interest litigation petition in the Supreme Court seeking directions from the apex body to the central government and the government of Maharastra to ensure protection to all concerned.

Thakeray has publicly stated that he would not allow Pakistan cricket team to play matches in India or atleast in Mumbai in token of his protest against Pakistan government for its anti-Indian attitude and encouragement to terrorists. Who is Bal Thakeray to issue such threats? He attempts to take the law into his own hands. But to his dismay, the BJP government is not supporting his stand. Both the governments of India and Pakistan are trying to move closer despite their firm but conflicting stand on Kashmir. They believe that the people of both the countries should have friendly relationship. Exchange of cultural programmes is one of the best channels to achieve this end.

Another important and inexcusable act of Thakeray is his involvement in the demolition of Babri Masjid. He stands fully exposed and he is one of the accused facing trial before the Supreme Court. He thinks that he is the only patriot and nationalist. He invokes the spirit of Shivaji who built the

Maratha Empire and fought against the Mughals. But Thakeray is either ignorant or consciously conceals the fact that Shivaji was a noble man, man of sterling character and stood for secularism and humanism. Thakeray is doing disservice to this great ruler and humanist.

Thakeray is not supported by the BJP government and its stalwarts. The Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and even the Home Minister, L.K.Advani, have denounced the utterances of Thakeray. Both of them do want Pakistani cricket team to play matches in India and have assured full protection. Both of them have given a clean chit to Dilip Kumar. Above all this, the people of India, the Hindus in particular, have cut Bal Thakeray to size. They have condemned him. They know fully well the matchless contribution made by Dilip Kumar and Shabana Azmi to Indian society in general and secularism in particular.

All said and done, it goes to the credit of India in general and Hindus in particular that secularism is appreciated and practised. They do not encourage people like Bal Thakeray. They do not support political parties who believe in hatred and communal considerations.

Muslims are firmly and most sincerely rooted in Indian society and political scenario. They have a great and decisive say in making or unmaking political parties who want to capture political power. Today even the BJP is conducting a great exercise to woo the Muslim voters. Even the RSS is keen on establishing rapport with Muslims. The great congress party with more than 100 years of standing was made to eat humble pie and bite the dust in elections because of its anti-Muslim policies and actions during the period of the former Prime Minister, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao. Other parties including the BJP took advantage. But the latest election results in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have favoured congress and perhaps congress is going to gainhi Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, etc. in 1999 elections because of Muslim support.

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Writing on the Wall for the Minorities

By Hasan Mansur

Despite the horrendous fall out of Advani’s rath yatra which left a trail of violence and destruction of lives and properties mainly affecting the Muslims, and the inevitable felling of the Babri Masjid that brought in its wake the nightmarish scenario of blood-letting in Mumbai, Surat and in many cities in the North, there is a chilling complacency in the well-heeled section of Muslim society. Does it ail from a short memory? There is not even an attempt to look back at recent history, the trail of communal violence in free India starting with Jabalpur and advancing to Bhiwandi, Jalgoan, Ahmedabad, Bhagalpur, Meerut, Aligarh that brings to mind the meaningful title that the then editor of ‘Sunday’, M. J.Ahmed gave, “know your geography”. To recall all these tragic events is not meant to reawaken hatred and mistrust but to learn from history how to forestal repetition of such painful events in the future. To the elite in the Muslim community, caught in the magic web of consumerism, with its display of pomp and power in weddings, its life style borne out by the mansions and imported cars, the agonising events outlined above have not taught any lesson. Hence it is peremptory to retail what has happened and to prepare for the events to come.

It is a cliche to state that it is the poor in the community that has suffered most. Since communal violence has been largely urban-based, most Muslims living in slums are its victims. There they live cheek by jowl with Dalits, Christians and the poor from the Other Backward Classes (OBC). Life has taught them to co-exist with these other communities and what they share in common are denial of drinking water, toilet facilities and drains and other civic facilities, they are equally helpless in the face of slum-lords, criminalisation and corruption, police-politician nexus and the constant threat of eviction that hangs over their heads like the Damoclean sword.

In the villages, Muslims may not be as badly off as the Dalits since the latter are victims of discrimination at the hands of the upper castes, wholly dependent on the latter for employment, owing to being landless labourers. Perhaps, they are a notch higher on the social ladder. This is not to overlook that poverty that nags both communities in some degree or other since both of them are victims of an exploitative economic system.

Then there are the OBCs in other occupations, perhaps as poor and insecure as the others. These circumstances call on them all to forge a united front to secure their rights, the least, their fundamental right to life with dignity.

The Christians to their great consternation have discovered that despite the schools, colleges and hospitals they have set up, whose benefits have reached the elite of all faiths, though there is no denying the poor have benefited too, they are face to face with the ugly monster of communalism. The Sangh Parivar which never tired of accusing the Church of converting tribals and Dalits has warned in its mouthpiece, ‘the Organiser’, of 13th December, 98, “Lucifers (i.e, Christians are described as devils) are playing with fire. Their current minority madness smacks of separatist and alienating tendencies that were behind the partition. Are Christians to take the road that Jinnah took..?” This saffron weekly is incensed that Christians should have poured out in thousands all over the country to protest the indignities heaped on their community. Recently the media carried reports that the Sangh Parivar had initiated dialogue with Christians and Muslims with a view to promoting understanding among communities. While the saffron media are spewing poison, its leaders are engaged in exercises of deceit with the intention of lulling the vigilance of minorities.

There is a pattern emerging in the urban scenario, joint actions by Dalits, minorities and OBCs in order to safeguard their rights and to stem the rising saffron tide. Poverty and exploitation brings together all these communities to face the onslaught of the upper castes who are to be found in all the major political parties like the BJP, Congress and Janata Dal but the fountainhead is the Sang Parivar, the repository of Manuvada. There is a need to identify the Manuvadis in all the mainstream political outfits and also in the regional outfits too.

Democratic organisations are mobilising the poor of all communities and serious attempts are being made to bring the left and Dalit groups, social action and human rights groups.. to form a broad popular front to deal with the rising threat of communalism which the mainstream political parties have failed to do. Muslims endowed with social awareness need to bring all their folk into the democratic movement to deal with issues that so-called mainstream political parties have failed to do. This is to ensure the survival of all these groups and to stem further advance of the saffron hordes. Mobilisation and organisation of the poor of all communities are a must to halt communalisation of the Indian polity.

The war against Iraq and the muted rage of all Arab countries where most of the rulers are sold out to the dollar, the pusillanimity of Russia and China and the feeble protests of India and Pakistan speak of the unipolar world where the USA rules supreme. It rules the world through unequal treaties and uses the International Monetary Fund, the world trade organisation and the world bank towards this end. The rulers of most of the third world countries including India and Pakistan are subalterns of the mighty dollar. Further the growing impoverishment of this country, caught in the vicious net of debts, rising unemployment and mounting economic crisis would be the ultimate outcome of relentless globalisation. Enlightened Muslims must educate their community on this new peril whose collaborator is the ruling class here and this will turn into an axis of neo-imperialism and Indian Fascism. This grave danger needs to be averted and this could be done by the indivisible unity and struggles of the poor and exploited of this country.

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Leaves From Life : Children Show the Way

    By D.A.Sait

It was Children’s Day at the local convent school. For once the children were out of their uniforms and dressed in clothes of their liking. It was a day of liberty for them, with all inhibitions and restrictions shelved. It was a day to make new friends and look at the world with new eyes, forgetting old animosities.

But human nature being what it is, old animosities are not that easily forgotten, especially animosities instilled into the kids by parental compulsion. This was what was holding back Shabnam, my little grand-daughter, from reaching out to the olive branch proferred by her classmate, Razia, the daughter of another relative of mine. Relations had been rather strained between the two mothers for some time, with both instructing their children not to speak to or play with the other child. In order to ensure that their offspring complied with their instructions the mothers used to keep a vigilant eye on them when they turned up to pick up the kids after school. For months both Shabnam and Razia had obeyed their mothers scrupulously and stayed away from each other both in the class as well as outside. However, the very innocence of a child’s nature is unsympathetic to hate campaigns. Hate is a feeling entirely foreign to a child’s heart. That was why, though keeping at a distance from each other, the two kids were never averse to throwing a smile at one another whenever they met.

But today was Children’s Day when all barriers must come down and innocent hearts must unite. So when Razia said, ‘hello’ Shabnam did not hold back. From that to burying the hatchets forced on them by their parents was but a step. Soon the two kids were chattering away, as if the enforced animosities of the past months had never been. They exchanged chocolates, pencils, erasers etc. and spoke out whatever was in their little hearts. Then they ran towards the playground and were perched on a seesaw. And the holier-than-thou seesaw duel between the parents caught the little ones on the seesaw. Razia’s mother dragged her child off the seesaw and screamed at her for disobeying her. Shabnam’s mother noticed the tears in the eyes of the children and stood irresolute. It was at this dramatic moment that a bening motherly-looking lady, a teacher of the institution, watching the scene for sometime, divined the undercurrent of hostility coursing through two families. She now stepped forward and held the arm of Razia’s mother.

“This child of yours is a future mother,” she admonished. “What sort of a mother is she going to turn out to be if she herself is fed with the poison of hate? Do you want your child to grow up hating the world? Are you trying to build up her character or destroy it?” Then the saint-like lady turned to face my daughter and said, “My dear, these kids are the wealth of not only their parents but also the nation. Do not let the thieves of hate steal it and leave you destitute, bereft of love.” Then she took the arms of the two mothers in her frail hands and said, “God light up your path!” And when the mothers saw their daughters, the future mothers, embrace each other, they had no hesitation in following the children’s lead. The hatchet lay buried.

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