34. (Mrs) Veda Sampath
34. (Mrs) Veda Sampath
- Muhammad is Allah’s messenger, and a mortal human being. Hence he is only an intermediary, which is also the claim made by his votaries. Some sentimental Hindus may have no objection to count him as a saint. But there is no question of his being included in the category of Hindu Gods.
Jesus is considered as the Son of God. But according to Christian belief, he presented himself as a martyr for the sake of humanity. No Hindu God is known to have suffered as a martyr. On the contrary, Hindu Gods are known to have protected their devotees and eliminated evil people with might and force. Hence there is no scope for Jesus being counted among Hindu Gods.
Islam entertains the notion that it is the only true religion, and that all other religions are anti-God. This notion is not true. Moreover, Islam says that God cannot be reached except through the mediation of Muhammad. On the other hand, according to Hinduism God is accessible to all human beings who follow the path of truthfulness and goodness. Moreover, Hinduism does not command its followers to struggle for spreading the faith in a particular god.
Not everything in Islam is bad, nor are all Muslims bad. It cannot also be maintained that all Muslims are necessarily good. Elements of intolerance that have got built into Islam, may be explained as due to certain historico-geographical circumstances - for instance, Jihad and conquest of non-Muslims. Similarly, some of its social injunctions may have arisen in past contingencies, and look like injustices in the present situation. But so long as Muslims refuse to renounce practices like Jihad and Talaq, and regard them as enjoined by their religion, they will continue to carry the tag of ‘bad people’.
Undoubtedly, Muslims are very well aware of their Indian ancestry. But now that they consider themselves as Muslims, there should be no objection to that on any ground. Secondly, we should take into account the extraordinary circumstances under which they got converted. They should be left to live as they are. How on earth can the Muslims get reconverted to Hinduism in view of the Hindu VarNa-Jati system?
It is a proven fact that the British were the first to make political capital out of Hindu-Muslim differences. The Congress at that time felt compelled to make some concessions to Muslims in order to remove their fears due to their situation as a minority. Unfortunately, subsequent political leaders with the exception of Sardar Patel, converted their ‘minority situation’ into a ‘Minority Status’. And sure enough, Muslim leaders, having tasted special privileges, have brought pressures on the Government to placate the Muslims and resisted all attempts at national integration. The Hindu Brahmin class has also to share the blame for creating a class of Untouchables, and thus preventing the formation of a merit-based society. So unless sincere efforts are made towards establishment of a National Identity, Muslims, like other weak or strong communities, will continue to look at themselves as a distinct group.
The assumption that Muslims as a whole consider the BJP as Kafirs is perhaps an exaggeration. It is true, however, that Muslims as well as other Hindu vested interests have done great harm to the BJP by presenting it as a political party whose sole aim is to attack Muslims and oust them from India in due course of time. Thanks to the Congress version of Secularism, this concept has been devalued both politically and ethically. The small cultural differences between Hindus and Muslims have been widened and made to look as irreconcilable political and religious differences. The ruling parties have been thriving on this artificially created barrier.
All mystics are the best humanitarians. Looking at the lives and literature of Sufi poets, they do not appear to be particularly anti-Hindu or pro-Islam. As regards Shah Waliullah and the Sufis of Bijapur, my guess is that they became fanatics due to loss of status as rulers. The religious fanaticism of the Bijapur Sultans and their persecution of Hindus is a documented fact. It is quite possible that some sufis-in-the-making might have lent their literary talents to the Sultans presumably under coercion.
Some Muslim theologians and politicians have forced a ghetto mentality on Indian Muslims by instilling fear of traditional Hindus in their already insecure minds. But as of now this artificial separation is getting erased. And dispassionate and patriotic efforts by Hindu and Muslim politicians and intellectuals should be able to bring the two communities together in positively meaningful ways.
Considering the Islamic doctrine of Jihad, there is no such thing as a disputed site. But Muslims could have looked at it (Ayodhya) in a secular context. The point about Ayodhya is not that it is not a place of worship for Muslims, but that it is a place of tremendous significance for Hindus.
I am one with Dr. Godbole in his apprehensions about the Sangh’s over-zealousness as evident in the Sarva Panth Samadar Manch. Islam with its exclusivist claims and its sanction for the destruction of other people’s places of worship, makes its adherents intolerant towards the rest of mankind. This is a grave matter in the present context when many multi-religious nations have come to exist or, in other words, when mono-religious states have ceased to exist.
The concept of Sarva Panth Samadar Manch is nothing but the concept of Secularism which introduces an outside agent the supposedly non-communal mediator. What is the authority on the basis of which this agent of reconciliation or equator, puts forward his appeal? If the basis is Humanism, well, it has been tried out far too many times and has not worked. In case the Manch works at the cultural level, it is certainly more honest than Secularism which has been used solely for the political convenience and advantage of the ruling class. But if it is used as a religious platform, particularly in democratic and free India, it is no more than a farce.
In my opinion Islam and Christianity should not be equated with Marxism and called double-distilled Materialism. Such an equation is no better than equating religion with Fascism.
Footnotes: The writer is an M.A. in Sociology and lives in Bangalore.