Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine


RABI-UL-AWWAL / RABI - U - THANI
MAY 2004
Volume 17-05 No : 209
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" Give More Space to Muslims"

ď Give More Space to MuslimsĒ

 

The Ameer (national president) of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Dr. Abdul Haq Ansari, is an acclaimed scholar of Islamic theology and holds a degree in religion from Harvard University. He is a prolific writer on the subjects such as ethics, Sufism and comparative religion and has taught at the Vishwabharati University, Shantiniketan. As the head of one of the principal Islamic organisations in India, he articulates the Jamaatís views on the role of Muslims in the current political scenario in an interview with Islamic Voice in Jaipur.

What are the expectations of the Muslim community from the democratic polity of the country and what is the Muslimsí perception of their status in the current system?

Muslims want peaceful co-existence with their fellow citizens of all faiths and expect an equal treatment by the State in all matters. The minorities should get an adequate breathing space within the system. Muslims feel that they have been denied their legitimate share in the fruits of development.

What is the significance of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections for Muslims?

These general elections are going to decide the future of the nation and would determine the course of democracy by giving an option to the voters to choose between secularism or fascism. Another term for the BJP will be disastrous for the country.

Why do the Jamaat-e-Islami and other Muslim organisations still treat BJP as a communal party? Hasnít it changed over the period?

It has not. On the contrary, it has strengthened its communal character after coming to power. The Gujarat carnage of 2002 is a glaring example of the BJPís inherent anti-Muslim nature. Injustice to Muslims continues and the BJPís sister organisations in Sangh Parivar are not even allowing the restoration of normalcy to the State. Against this backdrop, all pretensions of BJP to being a normal mainstream party are false and deceptive.

But how come a number of Muslim leaders are either joining the BJP or extending their support to the Prime Minister Vajpayee?

These are the people without any morals or principles. They do not represent the Muslim community and are out to serve their own interests. They must realise that the BJP has posed a serious challenge to the foundations of the Constitution and the rule of law by mobilising people on communal lines. In fact, the BJPís game-plan of dividing the Muslim votes and reducing their turnout at polling booths will be exposed during these elections.

Are you convinced of the secular credentials of the Congress?

Congress has certain weaknesses in its policies. It played the soft Hindutva card in the Assembly elections in Gujarat. It has to take some major steps to correct its mistakes in the past. Giving more space to Muslims and other minorities among its cadres may be one of them.

Who would the Jamaat-e-Islami like to see in the saddle in the Centre after the polls?

An alliance of truly secular parties alone should come to power in the Centre. Though each party has its limitations, they must keep the national interest above their rivalries and unitedly ensure the debacle of BJP.

Do you feel that the Ayodhya dispute is being made an election issue?

There is an intense pressure on Muslims to give up their claim on the piece of land where Babri Masjid stood. Though we have declared time and again that we will unhesitatingly accept the final judicial verdict on Ayodhya dispute even if it goes against us, the BJP has made it an election issue with the false claim that talks are in progress to resolve the matter.

How can the relations between Hindus and Muslims improve?

Despite the venom spread by the BJP and other constituents of Sangh Parivar, the majority of Hindus are moderate and open-minded in their approach. Muslims look upon them for building the bridges of understanding. Though the difference in religion is a reality, both the communities should respect each otherís sentiments.

How can the Muslim community play a bigger role in the nation-building process?

Muslims should work with people of other faiths to promote secularism and inter-communal harmony. They should join hands with other marginalised sections of society, particularly the Dalits, in their struggle to get justice in the current dispensation. This will also be in accordance with the Islamic teachings.

What are the Jamaat-e-Islamiís priorities on the social front and what kind of religious activities has it undertaken?

Jamaat-e-Islami is occupied in presenting the true image of Islam to the people with the belief that Islam offers a way to salvation for all mankind. The Jamaatís missionary activities are rooted in the local culture and languages and are aimed at dispelling the misconceptions of Islam being an intolerant religion and Muslims being violent and extremists.

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