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Thinking loud: 
Choice before Muslim leadership:
Community service or Parliamentary seat
By Abdur Rahman Abid

Lakhs of Muslims, defying the scorching heat and travails of long journey, assembled at Ramlila grounds on 2 May on a call from Muslim leaders. Whereas this huge gathering on one side demonstrated the brewing anger and dissatisfaction of Muslims about Gujarat and Islamic madrasas, on the other side this rally also proved that Muslim masses appear to be determined to change the future course of politics in India. If the political parties try to ignore this mood of anger and dissatisfaction of Muslims by treating this as their reaction against Gujarat only, certainly they would have to pay a heavy price for this.

It is true that Muslims are up in arms against the destruction of Muslims in Gujarat, government-sponsored massacre of Muslims, burning them alive, looting the houses and business establishments and setting them on fire, dishonouring and raping girls and women and such other heinous crimes. Political parties must understand clearly that this anguish of Muslims is not a momentary outburst. The new form of fascism that has come up in Gujarat when the entire government and administrative machinery has been deployed openly for one-sided genocide of Muslims has compelled them to seriously think over all this. Traditional Muslim leadership also needs to give a serious thought to the changing mood of Muslims because if they try to ignore it and cash in this mood for their selfish political game, the Muslim masses will feel no hesitation in dumping them and find out alternative leadership. 

The way in which this joint rally was organized under the leadership of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind and in which dozens of other smaller and larger organizations had also given their cooperation and support is a good sign. If Muslim organizations continue to show their unity of thought and action concerning problems being faced by Muslims, governments will perforce have to listen to their grievances and political parties too will be compelled to accede to their demands. What is needed now is that Muslim leadership should once again sit together and, keeping the present situation in view, chalk out a long term action plan for future and start taking practical steps towards that end. 

The present circumstances in the country, particularly the massacre and destruction of Muslims in Gujarat, have thrown up a challenge to Muslim leadership to secure an effective role for itself in the country’s politics and start taking practical and bold steps or die its own death. This role will be very important in political, economic, social, educational, business and industrial spheres. At the same time leaders of Muslim organizations will have to adopt a realistic policy at political level. This work is difficult, no doubt, but not impossible. One has to pass through difficult stages and circumstances, needing great patience, perseverance and hard work. All these things are not insurmountable. 

Dalits have proved by their practical and painstaking efforts that if the leadership is even slightly honest, it can do a lot for its community. The circumstances under which Dalits had started their struggle were extremely unfavourable and difficult. But now conditions have changed a lot. There are many facilities for carrying on the struggle today. Circumstances too are more favourable. Political atmosphere also is such that better and more fruitful results can be achieved through less of struggle. What is needed is that one should have the will and determination to work truthfully and honestly for the collective interest and well-being of the community and work should be started under the same spirit.

Political power and share in authority does affect every department and aspect of life. This is an undeniable fact. A community that wields political power has its say in every department in accordance with the degree of power and authority it wields. Howsoever educated, organized, or a great businessman or industrialist one may be, if he dos not wield political power, he cannot achieve his rightful place in his field, individually or collectively. (Individual success is, however, an exceptional feature which cannot play an effective role in the collective life of a community). Muslim leadership does understand this fact. Though it is too late but, as they say ‘better late than never’, struggle should be started to gain political power.

After the Gujarat events, all political opposition parties have initiated effective movement against the oppression of BJP government. These opposition parties include Congress, Samajwadi, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Communist parties, Muslim League, RPI etc. Muslim leaders should develop and maintain good and friendly relations with all these parties and try to assess as to which party’s programmes and policies are more beneficial to the Muslim community. It is almost a folly to expect complete truth and sincerity among political parties and that too in today’s dirty politics. Whatever decision a party takes or a policy that it adopts does so for its future prospects. Hence it is a folly to say that such and such party or leader is sincere or the other ones are opportunists and unreliable. The simple thing is that all political parties are seeking their own political gains and interests. You also decide about the collective and political interests of your community and decide your plan accordingly. You should follow your goals sincerely and exhort others also to do likewise. 

Among the parties considered secular, Congress is the biggest which ruled the country for almost half a century. The circumstances, difficulties and problems being faced by Muslims today are not the products of the past five, seven or ten years. These are the products of half a century or more when Congress was in power. It is true that the present government has doubled these problems and difficulties of Muslims during the short period of its rule. Same is the case more or less with others. But in spite of all this, we have to live in this country and make a place for ourselves under the existing circumstances. We shall have to make adjustments with these parties. 

Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind was not only a strong supporter of the Congress right from the beginning till date but also a sharer in all popular movements initiated by this party. When the Congress captured power after independence, Jamiat leadership devoted itself to its earlier work in educational and religious fields. Congress continued ruling the country and Jamiatul Ulama also continued to render all support to it. Later on, Congress encouraged and supported Jamiat leaders to become members of Parliament. Jamiat leaders like Maulana Hifzur Rahman Sivharvi, Maulana Sayed Ahmad Hashmi and Maulana Asad Madani became members of Parliament and continued to familiarise the government with the problems of the community through the Parliament.
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