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Reflections of violence in Kanpur
By Anwar Ali, Advocate

Reacting to the destruction of Buddha’s statue by Taliban, the Hindu Taliban i.e. workers of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), by burning the pages of the Qur’an, have insulted the Holy Book and injured the feelings of not only Indian Muslims but also of Muslims throughout the world.

By burning a book, the messages contained therein cannot be burnt. A book does not consist of simply writings on pieces of paper. Rather, it is the name given to an article or message compiled by a combination of phonetic and visual words. A message that is ingrained in human minds is, in fact, the real and true book. Do the mischievous, stupid and misguided workers of VHP think that by burning the Qur’an, they will destroy the heavenly and divine messages contained therein?

Way back in 1952 when I was a student of intermediate class, a book was published in Calcutta titled Religious leaders of the World which contained an insulting and sacrilegious article on Prophet Muhammad (SAW). A wave of anger and sorrow spread throughout the country. Muslims organized peaceful protest meetings. Students of Islamia College, Saharanpur took out a peaceful demonstration in protest. It was not even five years when violent communal riots had erupted in 1947. Heart-rending images of human tragedies were still intact in people’s minds. This protest demonstration was construed as anti-national activity by the administration. One inspector of schools, Ganga Dhar, ordered rustication of four college students, including my friend Muhammad Hasan Ghanwi, now an advocate. Four students were spared, on personal bonds by their parents for good behaviour by their sons, after giving a warning. I was one of them.

A protest meeting of citizens was held after Friday prayers in Jama Masjid of Saharnpur. The first speech was delivered by Khan Bhadur Mahmood Ali Khan, chief of Kailashpur who was a deputy minister in Pant’s cabinet and a companion of Maulana Ata Ullah Shah Bokhari. His speech was forceful and full of excitement Na’ra-e-Takbir was echoing in the whole atmosphere. Thereafter, Shaikhul Islam Hazrat Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani delivered the speech, which was full of secrets and mysteries of Prophet’s mission and a detailed description of the trials and tribulations undergone by him in his personal life, ill treatment by the pagans of Makka etc. People appeared to be very much moved by the patience and steadfastness of the Prophet (SAW) and his close companions. The respected Maulana also expressed his views about the inevitability of the prophetic mission during the evolutionary stages of morality. While speaking on the ill and insulting treatment meted out to the Prophet (SAW) he said that in a frozen and static society, evils go on multiplying. People in such a society are overtaken by feeling of biased opposition to prophetic missions and finding no reason or justification for their opposition they stoop to the low level of abusive and insulting behaviour and then to violence. Indulgence in abusive and insulting activities either by word or deed, results from a feeling of inferiority complex. This is a psychological disease which can be treated and cured by good behaviour and preaching. The personality of prophets is embodiment of virtues and highest human values. Truth and voice of truth cannot be concealed or silenced by indulgence in mud slinging and insulting behaviour.

He also said that ‘under the present circumstances feelings of anger among Muslims are quite natural but Muslims are not overtaken by passion. Sagacity and farsightedness are invaluable assets of a Muslim. The commands of the Prophet (SAW) and the Qur’an are: “Expect and wish for the help of God by having patience and offering prayers.” Patience and namaz are effective weapons of Muslim. These are the sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) under unfavourable circumstances.’ Believe me, the huge gathering of Muslims which was raging with feelings of sorrow and anger, dispersed silently after listening to his speech.

Another event pertains to 1960 when anti-Muslim communal riots broke out in different cities of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, viz. Sagar, Jabalpur, Indore, Gwallior, Jamshedpur, Ranchi, Rourkela etc. This was the second strong wave of riots after 1947. The daily Al Jamiat, the organ of Jamiat-ul-Ulama was the harbinger of sane and serious voice of Muslims. The views of its respected editor, Maulana Muhammad Usman Farqaleet were read with respect in every section of Muslims. He wrote a detailed editorial about these riots in three instalments wherein he had described in detail the attitudes of majority sections towards minorities in different countries of the world. After analysis, his words were:

‘Muslims should bear in mind that in India they are in a minority and Hindus are in majority. If they act under emotions, instead of sagacity and farsightedness, if they react in a sentimental manner instead of patience, they will be at a loss. Muslims should work under the guidance of their intellect and in their senses, rather than under excitement and passion, see and judge every problem with wisdom and patience. These are the weapons of the weak. The weak achieve victory and God’s help by patience and prayers.’

Burning of pages of the Qur’an by VHP negates the claims of Hindus that ‘Hinduism is the religion of love and tolerance and that its fundamental principle is ‘sarve dharm sambhav’ i.e., it treats every religion with respect and honour’ Every reasonable and sane Hindu has condemned this hateful act of VHP.

But what some leaders of our own Muslim community have done? Those scholars and learned leaders and organizations, whose ideologue, mentor and jurist, Maulana Maudoodi while testifying before the Munir Commission in 1958, had said, ‘I want the establishment of God’s kingdom in Pakistan. If India becomes a Hindu Rashtra and Muslims are treated as second class citizens, there is nothing wrong. Muslims of India should accept the status of second class citizens.’ These leaders of Indian Muslims and the ‘Ulama’ are building their own world by fanning the emotions of Muslims.

Whatever has happened in Kanpur, whatever violence and barbarism was let loose by administration, PAC and police and perpetrated by VHP workers with the help and protection of government machinery, is a living example of ‘pogroms’ i.e., destruction of minorities through organized terrorism. But what kind of strategy and farsightedness is it for us to ignore the commands of God, and while exhorting simple Muslims to expect for God’s help by patience and prayers on the one hand while, on the other hand, pushing to collision with administration and security forces? What is this if not asking for self-destruction by provoking the bull with red cloth?

It is a great pity that the leadership of Muslims which claims to have eminent, wise and farsighted leaders like Maulana Azad, Shaikhul Hind Maulana Hifzur Rahman Sewharwi and the like has virtually abandoned the duty of guiding the Muslims. Muslim leaders, whose motto is ‘while promoting the religion of Muslims, we are building our worldly life’ are leading the Muslims towards emotionalism and isolationism. They are not bothered if Muslim children become orphans, women become widows and their business is ruined. They are simply concerned with improving their own lot and building their own world.

The need of the hour is that Muslim Ulama, intellectuals and leaders should organize an ‘All Muslim Parties Conference’ and lay down guidelines on the topic of ‘Bases of Relations and Attitudes of Muslim minority with Hindu Majority.’ Authorities of both madrasas of Darul Uloom, Deoband should take initiative in this direction and repeat the historic role of leadership of Muslims. Constructive intellectuals of Muslims like Sayed Hamid, AM Khusro, Professor Tahir Mahmood and such others should also be invited so that they could suggest and lay down a practical course of action on this topic and problem in the light of their learning and experience.
(Translated from Urdu)
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