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Published in the 16-31 May 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

A guest we could do without

By Mahfoozur Rahman

The Milli Gazette Online

In eastern Uttar Pradesh there is a saying that the wife of a poor man is the bhabhi (sister-in-law) of the whole village. It appears that after Independence Indian Muslims have lost their status and their position has become more or less the same as that of the wife of a poor man. Muslims are getting a lot of advice from their friends as well as foes. The interesting part of these advices is that they caution them that in order to live in India in peace, they will have to change themselves and that there should be no difference between their life style, culture, language, customs and traditions, that their thinking, eating and drinking habits should not be different from the people of the vast majority of India. In short, the message is that if Muslims want peace and security they should be a true and perfect “Indian”.

RSS ideologue, MS Golwalkar had described the process of bringing about all-round changes in Muslims as gharwapsi (homecoming). He believed that the loyalty and attachment of Indian Muslims to the country could be considered trustworthy only if they accepted Hindu ways of worship and completely did away with their identity. He demanded Muslims to change their customs and traditions, lifestyle, dress, eating and drinking habit, marriage customs in a way that there would be no difference between Muslims and Hindus. Muslims did not consider this demand or advice worthy of attention because practicing them was not only difficult but impossible.

This demand or advice of gharwapsi later on took the form of “Indianisation”. The demand for the Indianisation of Muslims was first raised by Prof Balraj Madhok who, as president of Jana Sangh, had demanded it in his presidential address and later repeated it in different forms. The interesting thing is that all those who advised Muslims to change their customs and traditions did not belong to Jana Sangh only but there were others outside the Sangh Parivar who had put up the golden mask of secularism on their faces. The only difference was that their style of advising Muslims was somewhat sympathetic and there was a sense of oneness. All of them demanded Muslims to become true and perfect Indians. 

All this implied that Indian Muslims were somehow not true and thorough Indians and that their love and loyalty to India was not reliable and trustworthy. This concept is prevalent even today in some form or the other with one difference that now the name of a person has been added to this list who had neither any interest in Indian Muslims nor in India. He is the former prime minister of Pakistan, Chaudhary Shujaat Husain. He advised Indian Muslims, while addressing a congregation of Muslims in the Jama Masjid of Delhi after Friday prayers on 1 April, to be true and perfect Indians. In an effort to make his advice forceful and meaningful, he said that the forefathers of the present generation of Muslims had at the time of Partition accepted India as their country of their own free will. So now the Indian Muslims should not only live as true and perfect Indians but they should also play a positive role in the progress and development of their country (Qaumi Awaz, April 2, 2005). His advice was such as if Indian Muslims were waiting for a green signal from Chaudhary saheb after which they would start taking part in the progress and development of their own country. People should now themselves decide what else this can be called except the ignorance of an educated man?

Chaudhary saheb gave this ‘valuable’ advice on 1 April. I could very well have dismissed this advice as a part of April Fool rubbish but he gave this painful, unsolicited advice in the historic Jama Masjid in the presence of the “Shahi Imam” of Jama Masjid and some other Muslim leaders. They did not appear uneasy and feel disdain at his advice. They should have politely told him that by giving this unnecessary and unsolicited advice to Indian Muslims he had put a question mark on their loyalty and patriotism to their country and also their ability to understand what is good and what is bad. He should also have been told that by this untimely and meaningless advice he has given an opportunity to those people who day in and day out are doubting the loyalty and attachment of Muslims to this country.

Indian Muslims had been loyal to their country, are loyal and will always remain loyal. They had been true and sincere Indians, are and will always remain true and sincere Indians. They do not at all need the advice of Shujaat Husain or anybody else. In 1947 our forefathers, who had contemptuously rejected Muslim League’s earthly paradise, did not believe in the false slogans of Muslim League that there would be Islamic rule in the proposed Pakistan, and inspite of bloodbath in the country did not waver and decided to remain and live in their homeland. They had rejected the misleading and ridiculous stand of the Muslim League leaders that Hindus and Muslims are two separate “nations” who cannot live together. If Chaudhary Shujaat Husain advises Indian Muslims to live as true and loyal Indians, it can only be called as the worst example of his stupidity, self-deceit, misunderstanding and ignorance of human psychology.

Shujaat Husain is well-versed in the politics of opportunism and horse-trading. He is quite shrewd in Pakistan’s politics of horse-trading. The way he betrayed Nawaz Sharif and aligned with General Parvez Musharraf along with his side-kicks can be done only by a person of his calibre. No one else is capable of doing that. He has full right and authority to show his shrewdness and guile to his own people in Pakistan but not to the people of this country. Indian Muslims do not need his advice. He can advise Punjabis, Sindhis, Blauchis and Pathans to live as true and sincere Pakistanis instead of being adamant to live as Punjabis and Pathans in Pakistan. He should advise Mohajirs to become an inseparable part of the Pakistani society (if at all there is such a society in that country). He should also advise Punjabis to give up their misconception of being superior to other Pakistanis and make the country dance to their tunes. He should advise them (Punjabis) to give up their dream of dominating Pakistan so that their country may not have to undergo the bitter experience of witnessing another Bangladesh. He should also advise Shias and Sunnis of his country not to treat each other as enemies and not to fire bullets at each other in Allah’s house. He should advise Lashkar-e Toiba activists to put an end to their pastime of murder and loot and instead of being terrorists, they should become true and sincere Muslims, rather human beings, in the true sense of the term. But Chaudhary Shujaat Husain cannot do this because in Pakistan neither his personality is considered towering nor his party commands much respect and influence. The entire charm and influence of his personality is temporary and will last till he enjoys the support of General Musharraf. Chaudhary Shujaat Husain did not correctly utilise the opportunity of addressing the namazis in Jama Masjid. He had apparently come here to put the balm on the wounds of Muslims but instead, he recrudesced their wounds. He should apologise for his misplaced advice. At the same time those who gave him the opportunity of giving this unwanted advice and yet remained mute listeners should also apologise. (Translated from Urdu)
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