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Published in the 1-15 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Cow slaughter and Indian Muslims

The recent advisory from Darul Uloom Deoband asking Indian Muslims to refrain from cow slaughter, in states where it is banned, is being viewed by the Sangh Parivar as some sort of a belated victory. The advisory was wrongly termed as a "fatwa" and the saffron press was delighted in promoting it as such. "Deoband ka Fatwa, Gai ki Qurbani sey Tauba," screamed a headline in the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh mouthpiece Panchjanya. The article tried to project the act of cow slaughter as some sort of a sin, which the Muslims have been committing until now. 

The fact is that Muslims have been voluntarily abstaining for many years from cow slaughter, in keeping with the law in the states where it has been banned, and in respecting the sensibilities of the Hindu population. The appeal from Deoband was just a formality issued on the eve of Eid ul Adha when the animals are sacrificed.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad General Secretary Dr Pravin Togadia welcomed the step of the Muslim community saying that 'such a bold step has not been taken during the last one thousand years.' Well, it looks like the doctor needs a refresher in Indian history.

There have been many instances where Muslim rulers and other notable of India have asked the Muslims to refrain from cow slaughter. More recent to contemporary times we can cite the example from 1920’s of Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Abdul Bari Firangi Mahli. As a friendly gesture towards the Hindus they stopped eating beef and advised the Muslim community to do the same. For the first time Eid was celebrated in many Muslim homes without beef. This created such an atmosphere of unity that the then Viceroy, Lord Reading, was compelled to write, 'the bridge over the gulf between Hindu and Muslim' has been created. The above example shows a lot can be accomplished by showing respect to each other’s sensitivities. The Muslims have made the first move in the regard. Will those who claim to represent the Hindu populace reciprocate the gesture?

M Ayub Khan, Toronto

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