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Indian Muslims

Since the late eighties, a radicalism seems to grip some of the Muslim youth. Yet, nowhere but in India, they have had so much freedom to practice their faith. Try to be a Hindu, a Buddhist or a Christian in Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh ! And we know that the Pakistani or Bangladeshi bombers in Hyderabad or Mumbai could never function without the (very) active participation of some India’s Muslims, although Indian politicians keep mum about it.

Today it is even more acute: to physically attack a woman like Taslima Nasreen in Hyderabad and to riot in Calcutta, forcing her to go in hiding, shows the intolerance of Indian Muslims today and how influenced they have been by the hard Wahabite streak that most of them pick up when to work in Gulf countries. Yet, they find it normal when a M.F. Hussain paints Hindu Deities naked and fornicating. Is there a logic in it ?

The question that Indian Muslims should then ask themselves now is simple: “who are we” ? Amongst the 120 millions of Muslims in India, only a tiny percentage descends from the Turks, Afghans, or Iranians who invaded India. The majority of them are converted Muslims. And converted how ? By terror, coercion, force, bloodshed. The ancestors of today’s Indian Muslims are probably those who suffered the most from the Arab and Muslim invasions. Those Hindus and Sikhs who chose not to convert, took refuge in their faith, fought together and kept their pride and honor. The first two generations of those who converted must have endured hell: for they certainly did not convert out of conviction, but because they had no choice: their daughters and wives were raped, sons taken into slavery, parents killed. It is sad today that their descendants have sometimes made theirs the intolerant cry of Islam.

It is true that many Indian Muslims were Hindu intouchables. Marxists would like us to believe that they converted because they thought that they would access the more egalitarian society of Islam. What rubbish! Does one think in that way in time of war, terror and tears ? Do today’s Hindu lower castes convert to Islam when there is no more violent coercion? More likely, the Intouchables were the most vulnerable, the least apt to defend themselves; they had neither the faith of the brahmins, nor the riches of the vaishiyas, nor the military skill of the kshatriyas.

Do Indian Muslims understand that they were part of the richest, most advanced, most tolerant and generous civilization of ancient times. That their culture was so advanced that it had spread all over the world ?Do they realize that more and more archeological an historical discoveries are pointing out that the genocide of Hindus by Muslim invaders is without parallel. Surely, many of present day Indian Muslims’ ancestors must have been among those slaughtered.

Islam cannot be wished away. As Sri Aurobindo said “Mahomed’s mission was necessary, else we might have ended by thinking, in the exaggeration of our efforts at self-purification, that earth was meant only for the monk and the city created as a vestibule for the desert”…. . Thus Indian Muslims have to keep their faith and any attempt by Hindus to convert them back is not only futile but counterproductive. But the question to be asked to them is: “what kind of Islam do you want to practice ? An Islam which looks westwards, towards a foreign city, the Mecca, swears by a Scripture, the Koran, which is not only not relevant to India, but which was meant for people living 1500 years ago, in a language which is not Indian ? Or do they want to practice an Islam which is “Indianized”, which accepts the reality of other Gods, as Hinduism and Buddhism accept that there have been other avatars than Ram or Buddha.

Do India Muslims want to worship Babar, a man who destroyed everything which was good, beautiful and holy and lived by the power of violence, or do they want to imbibe the qualities of Ram, who believed in the equality of all, who gave-up all riches and honors of the world because he thought his bother deserved the throne more than him ? Whatever the West says, which is obsessed with China, India, a vibrant, English speaking, pro-western democracy is going to become the superpower of the 21st century. Do Indian Muslims want to participate in that great adventure ? Do they want to feel that they are part of India, that they are Indians ?

Nowadays it is politically not correct to say anything against Islam. You are immediately labeled anti-Muslim and dismissed as a “rightist”. No matter if you are only reporting the fact that there is a real problem with Islam in South Asia: that India is surrounded by fundamentalists sates: Afghanistan and Pakistan, while more moderates like Bangladesh, tend to close an eye to anti-Indian activities; that Indian Muslims sometimes tend to put their religion before their country; and that Kashmiris, far from being the persecuted that the Foreign Press likes to portray, are actually paying the price for having allowed Afghan and Pakistani Sunnis radicalize what used to be a more gentle and tolerant Islam and left their Hindu brothers and sisters being butchered and chased away from their ancestral land.

But the truth is that ultimately, what the Muslim invaders did during the centuries of their domination, was that they planted a seed of DIVISION, for at that time, their avowed aim, what was driving their extreme ferocity at converting entire nations at the point of their scimitars, was to turn the whole world into “Dar-ul-Islam”, the House of Islam. And today, the seed has matured, whether in Kashmir, in Pakistan, or even in India. Once more, it must be emphasised at the risk of being accused of boring repetition: the point is not to come down on Islam, whose greatness can never be denied, if only because they represent one third of the world’s population. The purpose is not to look back at history for a cry of vengeance. What has been done is done; you cannot wish away the Muslims of Bosnia, or of Kashmir, or the 12O millions Indian Muslims. They are part of history, they each belong to their different communities. The purpose is to look at history SO AS TO UNDERSTAND IT TODAY. The exercise is to glimpse back in time SO THAT WE DON’T REPEAT YESTERDAY’S MISTAKES. The Jews have taught us that the collective memory, the remembering of the Holocaust, Shoah, Shindler’s list are meant for the world not to forget its monstrous aberrations. And even today, there is no doubt that Islam has never been fully able to give up its inner conviction that its own religion is the only true creed and that all others are “Kafirs”, infidels. In India it was true 300 years ago, and it is still true today. Remember the cry of the militants in Kashmir to the Pandits: “convert to Islam or die”! And in the words of Sri Aurobindo: ” As for the Hindu-Muslim affair, I saw no reason why the greatness of India’s past or her spirituality should be thrown into the waste paper basket, in order to conciliate the Moslems who would not at all be conciliated by such policy… (Sri Aurobindo India’s Rebirth, page 161) But when will Indian Muslims understand that they have to be Indians first and then Muslims?

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