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Book Review
Understanding the Muslim malaise
By A U Asif

Book: Understanding the Muslim Malaise: A Conceptual approach in the Indian Context
Author: Rashid Shaz
Publishers: Milli Publications, Milli Times Building, Abul Fazal Enclave, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi 110025. 
Year: 2001
Pages: 135
Price: Rs 110 / US$ 7.50

After September 11 Islam and Muslims have again come into focus. One often comes across several articles in newspapers and other periodicals and papers and lectures as well as books on Islam and Muslims from different angles. But it is surprising that this discussion and debate hardly bothers the Islamic and Muslim scholars. Nothing is being seen from their pens. 

In this situation the book under review naturally attracts one. The 135-page book has been written by the 38-year old AMU alumnus Dr Rashid Shaz. While going through the book the impression one gets is that Dr Shaz has tried to see the Muslim malaise from his own eyes, irrespective of the facts and circumstances at the time in most of the cases. He seems to ignore the interpretation of secularism by the Constitution of India. 

His rejection of the thoughts and actions of not only Sir Syed, M A Jinnah, Dr Zakir Hussain, Prof Mujib, Abid Hussain, A A A Fyzee, Dr Syed Mahmood and Dr Abdul Jaleel Faridi, and but Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi, Shah Waliullah Jamaluddin Ahmed Afghani or Asadabadi, Allama Shibli Nomani, Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Allama Iqbal, Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani, Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi, Maulana Abul Lais Islahi Nadvi and Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi also creates a confusing situation. It is not known why he has not touched the present-day scholars and ulema (except Maulana Asad Madani). Interestingly, there is no mention of the names of Qazi Mujahidul Islam Qasmi or Maulana Wahiduddin Khan. Besides, through his discussion on Darul Islam versus Darul Kufr in the Indian context, he also seems unnecessarily to get engaged the Indian Muslims in an irrelevant topic. His approach is unquestioningly a departure from the existing thinking. 

What Dr Shaz has opined in his present book is not new. As the editor of the "Aligarh Magazine" (English) he expressed the same views in its special number on the problems of Indian Muslims. Later his literary journal "Tajdeed" also revolved around the same thought. It is said that at AMU he came under the influence of the two scholars. At Aligarh he founded the Institute of Muslim Ummah Affairs. In 1993 under this institute the controversial Milli Parliament came into being. Its Urdu weekly mouth-piece "Milli Times International" was later on launched but ceased to publish after some time. No body still knows about the real aims and objectives of Milli Parliament even eight years after its inception. 

He is of the view that Indian Muslims live today in an "intellectual diaspora". Actually he has tried to explain this "intellectual diaspora" in his own style in this book while centring on issues like Muslims and the new state ideology, Muslims and the Indian nationalism, religious freedom, ulul amr (authority), and darul Islam versus darul kufr under a dozen heads. According to him, this book would help "all those willing to return to the pristine purity of Islam". 

Dr Shaz emphasises all through in his book that a devastating tragedy has befallen the Muslim community in the post-1947 India. And that was the "conversion of Muslim Indians from Islam to Secularism". 

He elaborates: "The Muslim leadership and ulema willingly approved a secular polity and accepted secularism as state ideology. In fact, in secularism they found a place of refuge. Name any Muslim of prominence from Maulana Azad down to our time, be he a religious figure like Hussain Ahmed Madani, political visionaries like Syed Mahmood and Abdul Jalil Faridi or from among the contemporary ulema like Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi or Maulana Asad Madani, there is hardly any Muslim of prominence who does not consider secularism as a road to salvation for Indian Muslims. A quick look at the resolutions adopted by various Muslim organisations during the last 50 years or any significant report of their milli activity can easily lead us to conclude that secularism as a practicable ideology has become a corner-stone of the Muslim faith. The impact of secularism on the Muslim mind is so strong that the Muslim intellectuals today feel at home with secular ideals, and consider them as essential for the salvation of both Muslims and the country.

"This is a clear example to prove that the Muslim thought in post-Independence India has gone completely out of Islam. If one learns from a God-conscious and sincere scholar of world fame that individual and collective salvation lies in secular democratic ideals rather than in Islam, probably there can be no other alternative explanation for such mistaken utterances."(Page 71-72)

Dr Shaz considers the fall of Delhi in 1857 and the termination of khilafah in 1924 as "the two major blows, one after another, that devastated the Muslim Indians dismantling the very structure of their milli lives". He avers that after the fall of Delhi, "they were no longer citizens of a darul-Islam", and "later, the termination of the khilafah and the dismantling of the khilafah-state placed them in a situation, perhaps for the first time in their history, when they discovered themselves to be the hapless subjects of the British Empire". 

While tracing back the situation leading to the post-1947 India, he writes: "Sir Syed had supported and popularised the legitimacy of non-Muslim rulers. Now, the khilafah movement, going a step ahead, had placed a non-Muslim leadership (Gandhiji) at the very helm of Islamic political struggle. The Muslim mind had now no reservation in entrusting the leadership role to non-Muslims. The emergence of Muslim League for the protection of Muslim rights, the debate of separate electorate and the fear pshychosis that had gripped the entire Muslim ummah by the early twentieth century convinced them that in the present situation the sum total of their agenda could be to protect themselves as Indian Muslim nationals".( Page 37-38)

As is well known, the term "Muslim Indians" was in the recent history first used by the well known Muslim leader Syed Shahabuddin. However, it is also seen in use by Dr Shaz. The difference between Shahabuddin and Dr Shaz is that the former is particular in use while the latter sometimes uses "Muslim Indians" and the the other time "Indian Muslims". Therefore, it is not clear whether he uses them consciously or unconsciously.

According to a Muslim scholar, his seems to be a third way. But it is surprising that most of the thinking people have not bothered to take notice of his new book. When asked a number of responsible figures in different Muslim organisations and other scholars said that "they have received the book but don't want to waste time". The question is: Is it a reasonable way to reject a thinking not liked? Generally our leaders awake after a writing has already created some problem. They will have to mend their ways of thinking. 

Interestingly, opposed to the ideology of Jamaat-e-Islami, he is a nephew of the octogenarian Mohammed Hasnain Syed, a close associate of late Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi and his present book has been printed by the Dawat Offset Printers, Delhi.

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