Jamadi Ul Akhir 1422
Volume 15-09 No:177
In a never static world challenges spring unabatedly. Life lies in taking them in stride, fishing a way out of the situation of an impasse and coming out with adequate responses. Those who perceive a threat in the challenges, see conspiracy behind every hurdle, or consider them a handiwork of their opponents, never succeed. They merely imprison them behind self-created walls. They are all likely to seek solace by flaunting the victimhood. This attitude does not serve any purpose other than deluding and deceiving oneself.
Whether one agrees or not, Indian Muslims have, for better part of time since the fall of Mughal power in Delhi in 1857, merely grieved over their plight. Hurtling from one tragedy to another catastrophe, they have learnt to lay all the blame on the doors of their rivals and enemies. This has bred in them a tendency to cry wolf at each crisis. They avoid introspection and refuse to evolve winning strategies and success formulae. This keeps them from investing their might in the right direction and being proactive.
There have been fewer occasions when Muslims have demonstrated sagacity demanded of a minority trapped in a web of crises. Theirs has been an attitude of callous disregard for changing times and technology and challenges emanating from accumulation of this technology in the hands of forces inimical to their interests. Whether by design or default, such challenges do wake up Muslims but mostly in a reactionary manner. No wonder then why Muslims have been prone to forming “Tahaffuz(protection) Committes” be it with regard to Babri Masjid, Shariat, AMU, Urdu or Madrassas.
Changes are inevitable. So challenges are bound to emerge. But a visionary leadership should prepare the communities to accommodate changes rather than turning our back against the changes. This attitude never helps. Look at a few instances. There were times when religious leaders frequently issued fiats against Muslim women visiting cinema theatres. The gender bias inherent in such fiats is one aspect which will ignore for the present. The threat of social boycott did work in Muslim strongholds such as Malegaon or Bhiwandi (both Maharashtra), Vaniyambadi, and Ambur, (Tamilnadu), Kolar or Bhatkal (Karnataka) or Deoband (UP). But not beyond a point. Upgrading technology brought in video and CD players, and TV channels unleashing a cinema boom. Soon the drawing and bedrooms got deluged by the onrushing flood of obscenity. How do we now plan to combat this onslaught? By breaking TV sets! Fiats and diktats are simply redundant. The solution does not lie in banishing new technology or in imprisoning the community in a sanctuary but promoting healthy, and morally safe cinema. None thought of this. Nor do we see any action in this direction even now. The community is yet to have a proactive agenda in this sphere.
The Ulema’s war against English was fought on similar lines. English to them was a symbol of foreign domination. But there was hardly any realization that how their hate for Firangi was slamming the gates shut on new concepts, law, science and technology from the developed West. Religious leaders won against Sir Syed Ahmed Khan but the community lost as a whole, pushed at least a century behind other compatriots. Decline set in among Muslims and other communities stole a lead over us by identifying the new tools of empowerment. The alternative lay in embracing the English and simultaneously learning to combat the British domination. An early realization would have altered the history of Muslims in the subcontinent.
Even with respect to women our attitude had been no different. Under the garb of guarding women’s dignity and chastity, we barred for them all avenues for education, employment and entertainment. It is no less serious a crime than the West which under the garb of freedom relegates them to a plaything. A proactive approach lies somewhere between the two extremes which the Islamic world as a whole is yet to decipher and demonstrate.
True, Muslims are facing onslaughts of media, saffronisation of syllabi, discrimination from bureaucracy, police and administration. But we are far from being blameless. Reactionary attitude of Muslims too has contributed to the plight. Never in the past the community has made efforts to reach out to them with a positive message. Shorn of PR skills, the community has learnt merely to scrutinize their function but never to reach out to them with greeting cards, garlands, shawls, Eid feasts, felicitation, Manuals on Islam and constructive suggestions in moderate language. Each section of these sectors need to be wooed and held in constant communication rather than merely criticized and ostracized. All these come under proactive agenda. But all that we witness is hyperbolic utterances, maniacal posturing, angry fists, rhetoric, agitation and “Tahaffuz” committees. Barriers built on mortar of illusions and fog cannot be wished away by emotional fervour. At best emotions will cloud our own judgement or at worst will tranquillise people. But for sure, cannot subdue the communal lobby. The sooner we think of proactive agenda, the better it would be in our own interests.