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Published in the 16-31 Oct 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Ills of the Indian Muslim society

By Yusuf Rampuri

Muslims are capable of leading their lives in their own way because they have their own culture, civilisation and society, no matter wherever they live. The religion they follow guides them on the right path from birth till death. The philosophy of life and the principles laid down by Islam are based on facts of life and are in accordance with nature. Even after 1400 years, Islamic culture, civilisation and way of life are alive and thriving in the world. Educated people acknowledge Islamic values. They know that Muslim society is based on simplicity, morality and brotherhood. There is no concept of high and low in Muslim society. Islam calls upon its followers to behave gently with one another and to help their neighbours even lay down their lives for the cause of humanity. Islamic society and way of life is based on external and internal sincerity, truthfulness and loyalty. It gives priority to justice and equality and takes care of poor and helpless and protects the honour and dignity of women. It gives women their rightful place as human beings. In Muslim society there is no room for bad customs, traditions and innovations. However, it is a pity that Muslim culture, civilisation and way of life is under threat and passing through crises.

The population of Muslims in the country is roughly 200 million [138 million according to the 2001 census]. Their way of life, customs, traditions and life style do not reflect Islamic culture. Among them many customs, traditions, innovations and practices are found which have no place in a true Muslim society. Many evil practices are common among them which present Muslim society and way of life in a bad light. Islam preaches brotherhood. Quran has commanded that 'all Muslim are brothers.' Yet there are differences among Muslims at every level. There are innumerable sects and classes in the Muslim society all over the country. Some times situations take an ugly turn and lead to clashes and fights among them. 

Those who belong to higher “classes” take pride in it and look down upon those belonging to lower “classes”. They openly violate Islamic principles and values. Justice and fairplay in Muslim society is discarded because of the class (biradari) system. Justifying wrong and unjust things of one's class is common. Besides sectarian differences, Muslims are also divided economically and politically because of which they are gradually disappearing from the political arena. Muslim representation in Parliament is decreasing and they are becoming ineffective even in assembly elections. 

Simplicity and good behaviour is a quality of Muslim society but these virtues are lacking in India’s Muslim society. There is much vanity among Muslims and they consider it necessary to show off their status and importance. Muslims give importance to suits and ties. Muslim ladies are vying with each in wearing modern outfits and exposing their bodies. They use cosmetics not only to protect skin but also to make themselves glamorous. After observing the present Muslim society one concludes that there is no simplicity in our Muslim society. 

Moral values are deteriorating among Muslims. Misbehavior and arrogance are increasing day by day. That is why Muslim society is being criticised and described as uncivilised. There is lack of proper education and training among Muslims whereas Islam is very serious about education. It calls upon its followers to acquire knowledge and learning. Progress and development are not possible in any society without education but no proper attention is being paid to education in our society.

Muslims are considered dirty. Their localities are full of filth and dirt. The same is the condition of their houses. Muslim localities are dirty for other reasons also. Municipalities deliberately ignore Muslim localities and Muslims themselves are indifferent to this. Islam and Hadiths lay much emphasis on cleanliness. Hadiths say that cleanliness is half of the faith and Muslims must pay attention to it.

One of the aspects of Shari'at is that it enjoins upon the followers — rich or poor,. educated or uneducated, man or woman — to lead a simple and austere life so that they remain free from unnecessary burden of life. Simplicity and austerity should be observed at the time of marriages to save parents from being burdened by expenses. These Islamic teachings are ignored and customs and traditions of other communities are adopted instead. Shariat has made marriage a simple and inexpensive affair but Muslim society by following the examples of others has made it difficult and expensive. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Muslims to marry off their children, especially daughters. 

Moral values and natural requirements are not given importance. Lies, untruths, violation of promises, deceit, cheating and corruption have become common among Muslims. People openly and unhesitatingly tell lies and no one seems to mind it. People make promises and break them at will. Cheating is not frowned upon.

The Muslim society in India is representative of poverty, backwardness, illiteracy, lying, cheating, misbehaviour, moral degradation, abuses, evil customs and innovations. All sorts of evils are found in the Muslim society while true human and Islamic culture is absent. It is, however, a matter of satisfaction that there are many Muslim religious and social organisations in the country, innumerable madrasahs, ulama, hajis, namazees.. If all these people and institutions fulfill their duties and responsibilities certainly a social, cultural and civilisational revolution in the Muslim society is possible.
(Translated from Urdu)

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