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Letters
What I and my drum say?   
CIA & MI6 in Bombay blasts
  
Islam and Secularism
  

MG
I have recently read a recent issue of MG. Being a Muslim I am proud of you. MG is indeed a progressive step especially as a Muslim journal in India. I am happy to find that articles of eminent writers like Wahiduddin Khan and Syed Shahabuddin find place in your journal. I suggest you to publish a well organized daily. It is very essential for Muslims in the current Indian context.
Shafeeq EP, Trippanachi (P.O), Malappuram 673641

The Milli Gazette is the only authentic newspaper with in its vast knowledge and information.
Dr Khan Akbar, Mumbai drkhan248@hotmail.com

Be more balanced
[I will] appreciate more balanced news coverage. In my opinion, efforts to go back to many centuries will certainly fail. A nation must always come first then any other consideration including religion.
Joshi pj44@usit.net

More South news, please
I am glad that MG represents the hopes and aspirations of Muslim India. It is gratifying that your esteemed fortnightly maintains the standard and language expected of a leading publication. Why don’t you consider publishing something more about South India especially Kerala Muslims who constitute about one fourth of the population of the state. May Allah the Almighty help you ascend greater heights.
Dr M Abdul Aziz,
Director, Ideal Islamic College, Calicut


Misconceptions about Iran
I have just returned from Iran having spent three weeks on behalf of Impact International to write a series of articles on social, cultural & political developments in Iran. Your comments ('West plotting against Iran', MG, 1-15 August 2001) that 'the call by Revolutionary Guard chief was the most specific by a member of the ruling circle to oppose the effort by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to restore diplomatic relations with Israel' is incorrect. Neither President Khatami nor any of his supporters in the reform movement support this cause. The debate in Iran is about the rule of law and accountability in the Islamic political system. The Conservatives insist that the Valie -faqih should be accountable to God alone while Reformists hold the view that all holders of public office in an Islamic State should be accountable to people.
Dr. Ghayasuddin Siddiqui
Director, The Muslim institute, London
drsiddiqui@talk21.com
 

Editor: We are sorry for this oversight. We know that Iran is staunchly fighting against the Israeli gangsterism on various levels and in all international forums.

Gandhi & Muslim freedom fighters
Apropos of Manzar Imam’s article about madrasas (Aug. 1-15) it would have been better had it been shown when and where Gandhiji had lauded the Maulvis of madrasas because there appears to be much conflict. I have read in a Gujarati book published in 1940 that has mentioned on p 140 of History of Congress that Gandhiji had, during a meeting at Dr Ansari’s house, humiliated the imprisoned freedom fighter Maulivis calling them ‘socially dead outsiders.’
S Akhtar, Khanpur Deh-392 150

Syed Shahabuddin
I was shocked to go through the letter of Mr Afzal Usmani entitled, ‘Syed Shahabuddin’ (MG 16-31, July). The charges made by the writer against Syed Shahabuddin seems to be outcome of his ignorance. I feel it is not Shahabuddin who kept the community in dark on the Babri Mosque as alleged by Mr Usmani but majority of the community is itself responsible for being in dark. I dare to say that we lack interest in reading, subscribing dailies and periodicals and reacting to a particular situation. May I ask Mr Usmani about his own contribution in this regard?
Syed Shahabuddin is often blamed by opportunist Muslims and communal Hindus because he is a force himself. I have not seen any other Muslim leader or intellectual who is opposing and exposing Hindutvites with such force as Syed Shahabuddin. I agree and Mr Usmani should also agree with Sayid Hamid’s comment that, ‘Some years ago Syed Shahabuddin was the best to lead (Muslims). But people did not support him’ (MG, 1-15 July).
According to Mr Usmani himself, he was very young when he first heard Syed Shahabuddin in 1989 in Shamsad Market. It will be interesting to recall what upto?’ He writes that, ‘After Shahabuddin left the Janata Party to set up his own Insaf Party, he began to bargain with the major political parties. He put forward four demands before them which included Ayodhya and a judicial inquiry into the Hashimpura killings’ (The Patriot, November,25, 1989). It means Shahabuddin did not bargain for a ministerial position or any other position of power but for community’s large interest. Has Mr Usmani courage to sideline his own wishes and comforts for the community? Accept that the fault and guilt lies not with Shahabuddin but with some black sheeps of the community.
N. Jamal Ansari
4/1083, Sir Syed Nagar Aligarh-2


Holy cow and beef eating
The recent intimidation of the historian of Delhi University, Prof. D.N.Jha for his academic work, 'Holy Cow: Beef Eating in Indian Dietary Traditions', is yet another instance of the growing intolerance and stifling of democratic and liberal space in the country. A demand has come from some individuals to arrest Prof. Jha for this work of his.
Here one has to distinguish between the academic work and the ideological contributions. The religious sentiments do require to be respected; we also need to be better informed of our own society and culture. This book is a serious work, referenced and based on impeccable sources. It does demolish the myth that cow was the object of worship all through, it does show that beef eating was a common practice not only in Vedic times and others but also that even today there are number of communities within the pale of Hindu traditions who consume beef. In a way this just elaborates the works of earlier scholars of the repute of Bharat Ratna P.V. Kane, who in his masterpiece on History of Dharmashastras shows that Vedic people ate beef. With the rise of agricultural economy Buddha appealed for bringing a stop to the animal sacrifices and set the trend for preservation of cattle wealth. Some of these responses and reactions assumed the form of worship of cow amongst a section of Hindus.
Dr Ram Puniyani
EKTA, Mumbai bmrrpia@cc.iitb.ac.in


What I and my drum say?
Talking to a Muslim delegation, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said that the question of associating the madrasas with Pakistan's secret agency, ISI’s activities does not arise. Vajpayee government had formed a committee of group of ministers consisting of home minister LK Advani, Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, former Defence Minister George Fernandes and Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha. Though this committee in its report described Arabic madrasas as centres of terrorism, anti- national and a danger to the integrity of the country, it failed to give any proof of its claim.
I want to ask the prime minister and the present government: how correct are the newspaper statements of some Sangh Parivar, Shiv Sena , Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, military training sponsored under saffron flag and repeated declaration of Bajrang Dal that 30 lakhs of Hindus are being trained in arms handling and that they have full cooperation and backing of the government. Do such activities not endanger communal harmony and are these steps not anti-national? Can all these things be allowed to Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and other minorities? All these movements against Muslims and Islam in India are being organized by Jews and Sangh Parivar. If Mr Vajpayee is correct in his statements, he should immediately get all objectionable matters in the GoM report removed and call an explanation from the GoM as to why such baseless and false report has been prepared which is likely to create unrest in the country and spoil the atmosphere which may prove destructive for the country?
I would request the ulama and responsible people of madrasas and other responsible persons to form a united front and convey the truth and their difficulties to the sensible and justice-loving Hindu brethren and other minorities and get ready to take suitable legal action to protect the integrity of the country.
Dr. Sayeedul Wahidi, New Delhi

CIA & MI6 in Bombay blasts
If there is an iota of truth, in the media reporting of allegations of involvement of CIA and British intelligence services in the Bombay bomb blast, supposedly made in the 3 anonymous letters received by Justice Kode which he has included in his brief for further investigations, the matter of state security is indeed very grave.
Our security establishment that is in the habit of conveniently rounding up the always easily available Muslims as the prime source of all destabilization in the country, should not be blinded by the communal hatred to ignore the real sinister sources of attacks on our country’s unity and integrity and they should not hesitate to keep the general public informed on a day to day basis, about all such sources of subversion and the real motivations of such subversion, so that state could get full support and sympathy in its efforts to ensure greater watertight net of security against forces that are deliberately pushing the Muslim face in front, to hide their own nefarious designs.
People are the best source of our countries’ strength. If they are kept informed and if they are united against foreign threat of subversion, then the task of our adversaries will be that much harder.
Western agencies are expert in playing such dirty tricks. The classic pattern is to encourage potential adversaries to attack and then gang in with all their might. The provocation from an adversary is the key to their so-called legitimized aggression. Attacks on Tojo’s Japan and Saddam’s Iraq are the most glaring examples of US machinations in the overall scheme of their objectives. India should grasp and understand the ramification of all such overt and covert interventions and strive to build up the unity of the nation by earning the trust and loyalties of all communities. RSS and its infantile off-shoots are inadvertently preparing ground for massive interventions by the West. Even their own troops of innumerable NRI sympathizers will be duped into providing willing assistance to such subversion of their beloved nation. They should see the future in its proper perspective and stop further division in the national polity. If not checked now, its poisonous spread could take a big toll and it will take decades before India will regain its freedom, if ever. Let the 3 anonymous letters serve as a warning to Sangh Parivar and its short-sighted leadership. It is unfortunate that the possible truth will be out only after a lapse of full eight years, when hundreds of innocents have already suffered unwarranted incarcerations for the prejudiced handling of the security establishment. All such innocents should be promptly freed and they should be generously compensated to win the confidence and gratitude of Muslim community.
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai
ghulam_muhammed@hotmail.com


Islam and Secularism
This is with reference to some fundamental issues raised by Mr. Zeyaul Haque in his review of the book “Islam and Secularism in the Middle East” by John L. Esposito and Azzam Tamimi.
Secularism, in the modern world, is largely concerned with the relationship between State and Religion, not only in a philosophical sense but in a functional sense because the religious majority in a democratic state tends, sometimes unconsciously but more often consciously, to colour the state in its own colour. In this sense, the State even though professedly secular, stands discoloured and flaws become obvious and visible in its secularism. In my view, democracy and secularism must go together, because no democratic state is wholly unireligious. The other face of the coin is the treatment of religious minorities by the State.
By this definition, no Islamic state can be secular because howsoever just and generous its attitude towards the non-Muslim minorities is, the latter do not enjoy an equal but a protected, subordinate status. Thus, they constitute second class citizens who are not permitted access to a decision-making position either in the legislature or the executive or the judiciary. Their enforced dependence affects their social behaviour and status, even if and when they occupy high posts in the administration.
On the other hand, all religious minorities in any modern state including Muslim minorities seek equality and, therefore, desire the State to be secular in theory and in practice. In fact, the state’s allegiance to secularism provides them with the rationale and the yardstick to protest against discriminatory treatment in any form.
In the Christian world, the Christian-majority states have largely gone beyond the desire of moulding the state according to Christian principles or as an instrument of promoting Christianity. But neither the Muslim world nor the Hindu world have separated religion from state, in this sense. In both Muslim and Hindu worlds, there are active groups – sometimes militants – who aspire to and work for the transformation of the State into an Islamic or a Hindu Dharma state, though with a difference. The Hindu militants wish to achieve the transformation, while constantly paying homage to secular principles and denying theocracy. The Islamic militants come out openly and frankly for a theocratic state. Many Christian majority states, often, also adopt the Hindu mode in practice.
The upsurge of ethnicity-based on race and language and fortified by geography and history is a different phenomenon though ethnicity may be supported by religious affinity in some cases. In any case it is causing cracks in the existing state structure, all over the world and leading to two contrary tendencies of fission and fusion. The Chechens struggle for liberation from Russia has so long been couched in the language of Islam vs Orthodox Christianity that one often fails to see it as simply another case of freedom struggle of a colonial people from imperial rule. But the Kurds are struggling against brother Muslims, in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, just as the Basques are struggling against Christians in France and Spain.
However, let us keep aside the case of territorially defined non-self-governing peoples within the recognized boundaries of nation-states (which need not be treated as sacrosanct as they are always subject to modification under internal or external pressure), and confine ourselves to the existential dilemma of modern Islam posed by Mr. Zeyaul Haque. For the present the Muslim world can offer no solution - neither the Kemalist State nor the Shari'ah State - primarily because the Ummah is generally viewed as a single seamless fraternity, though it is in fact fragmented into many Muslim majority and Muslim minority states, which aspires, in its heart of hearts, to bring them all together under a Caliphate Restored. The Ulema have obviously not come to term with the reality of the state system and, therefore, fail to see that the world order based on the State system whatever its deficiencies totally de-recognizes theocracy as a form of governance and refuses to accept any discrimination among citizens on the basis of religion. In any case, the Muslim communities in Muslim majority countries have made their own choice in their own interest and not in the interest of the Millat dispersed in the Muslim minority states, singly or as a whole. Each state has its own compulsions and, therefore, the Muslim minorities should be equally free to make their choice. Thus, in my view, the situation of the two sets are not relevant to each other, though both are equally subject to the spirit of the time.
However, the secular principle has also to come to terms with the pressures of religious majoritarianism – Islamic, Hindu, Christian or otherwise, which seeps through many fissures and cleavage lines in the structure of the secular state. To draw the line between permissible form and tolerance level of such seepages and the transformation of a secular democracy into a theocracy is perhaps the task of harmonization and accommodation, which awaits the world order in the coming decades.
Syed Shahabuddin, Editor, Muslim India, New Delhi
muslim@del3.vsnl.net.in

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