By JS Rajput
Visuals of children and young persons throwing stones at their own security persons and getting injured, could disturb sensitive citizens in any country. In Jammu & Kashmir, it has been standardised as an ‘approved’ mean of protest by the unscrupulous. This must be a singular instance in which those responsible for burning schools are not booked for sedition and put behind bars. Flush with funds from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, they indulge in perpetrating violence on a daily basis, sniffing lives out of innocent citizens and security personnel.
Their frequent bandh calls inflict immense hardships and misery on every citizen, particularly children and the daily wage earners, small shopkeepers and all those who earn their daily bread through minor jobs. Sadly enough, the state presents a picture of helplessness, unable to constrain the activities of known miscreants. They spread religious hatred and; against all norms of humanity; resist relocation of Kashmiri Pandits. What an irony that the perpetrators of inhuman and heinous crimes get Government security and perks.
Indian civilisation and culture has had no place for religious conversions. If Kerala and Gujarat could welcome Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam with open arms, it was only because of acceptance of diversity ingrained in the Indian psyche. The seeds of acceptance of diversity were so deep-rooted that the adherents of Sanatana Dharma could live together in peace and harmony in spite of conversions. Contentious social and cultural issues emerged only after it was insisted upon by some evangelists that only their religion was true, and it was the religious duty of its followers to convert everyone else to their fold. Whatever terminology be used nationally or internationally, the fact remains that violence is mainly an outcome of the sickening mentality of those who are on their ill-conceived mission to convert the world to Islam.
Once this is acknowledged, and accepted, the chances of evolving a strategy to deal with the madness may become brighter and attainable. Further it must also be vociferously articulated by the larger Muslim population that terrorists and fundamentalists are no friends of Islam anywhere; and that includes Muslims of India
It is unimaginable that a true Muslim would burn school, and that too in the name of Allah. This one single act establishes how Islam is being maligned by barbaric elements. The Kashmiris who converted to Islam, willingly or unwillingly, retained their links to their past, maintained affinity to Hindus, lived a life of complete social cohesion and religious amity. Kashmir became a living example of social cohesion, respect for each other’s religion and religious places. Blessed with unfathomable natural beauty, this paradise on earth became the envy of globally reputed tourist destinations. All that adulation and reputation now stands under the sullied siege of terrorists. It now appears pure hypocrisy to avoid terms like ‘Islamic terror’ or ‘Islamic fundamentalism.’ The terrorists have been fed on such interpretations of Islam that ensures unfathomable rewards, bliss and pleasure to all those who kill the Kafirs! There can be no act more damaging and anti-Islamic than such misinterpretation.
One needs to view the J&K happenings on a broader canvas to comprehend the psyche of the miscreants. History is replete with examples when fringe elements from within the Muslim community have indulged in misleading the community against others, to sustain enmity and anguish in their own interest. This strain has not yet been extinguished. One example is the address of Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan to the 54th All India Muslim Education Conference held in Agra on December 29-30, 1945: “The insistence on ahimsa is only meant to root out from Muslim youth their martial spirit and traditions. Similarly, the principle of territorial nationalism is opposed to the Muslim view of nationalism which is based on a philosophy of society and outlook on life rather than allegiance to a piece of territory. The emphasis laid on nationalism in the scheme is calculated to destroy the distinctive identity of Muslims and to merge them in to the nationalism of Hindu majority…
“The scheme sought to inculcate in the Muslim children the belief that all religions are equally true and to make them study the life of the holy Prophet only in the setting and background of Arabia so that they may cease to hold the cardinal Islamic belief. That Islam is the final truth and their Prophet the universal teacher and then the process of the merger of Muslims in the Hindu fold may be accelerated. Thus what the Congress as a political organisation could not do openly, if the Wardha scheme had its way, it would have achieved by a low but true method.”
The saner elements within the community have persistently pleaded against such provocative ideology and outlined the right path before the community. This is well summarised in another presidential address delivered by Sahibzada Aftab Ahmad Khan, Bar-at-Law, at the 23rd All India Muslim Education Conference at Aligarh, December 26-31, 1923, could still pave the path for a better tomorrow to the community, and thereby, to all others as well, “…If we desire to revive true Islamic spirit, as we must, we should look not only to the externals but more particularly to the inward essence of the result. Maktabs, schools, colleges, universities, examinations, degrees, and the rest — these are all necessary, but only as a framework in a living organism.
“The life and soul are the culture and character of our product. Just as a true cultivator looks not to the height and thickness of the plants but to the quality and quantity of the crop he gets, so we should fix our attention not so much on the number of our graduates or their degrees as upon as the content of their culture and character, upon the quality and quantity of their knowledge refinement, truthfulness, patriotism, courage, cleanliness of mind, body and speech, love for fair play, temperance, self-denial, gentleness to the weak and bold front to the bully, power of physical endurance, practical efficiency, unshakeable public and private honesty and appreciation of beauty in nature, in art and in human conduct.”
This is the way. This alone is the long-term solution. Initiatives must come with renewed vigour from the Muslim community. Let the present crisis in J&K situation be resolved by the systems of governance, but a long-term strategy has to come from the society, particularly from the Indian Muslims. India and Indian Muslims can take a global lead in reversing the trend from violence and bigotry to equal respect for all religions and mutual trust amongst the country’s diversities.
The choice before the community leadership is clear: Be pragmatic; 21st century just cannot remain at the level of the seventh century. Victimhood and blaming others shall not help. Reflect seriously, analyse the global tensions and the turmoil, and find a way out to let the world believe that Islam is indeed a religion of peace, and that it has no intention to swallow all other religions. Credibility and gratitude to restore world peace shall then go to Islam in full stream.
(The writer is former Director, NCERT and an educationist