Hindutva and Muslims

Forces of Hindu Dharma, the theology, and Hindutva, the extremist communal ideology, seem to be in an utter state of confused excitement. The rise of the BJP under Modi seems to have disbalanced their senses. The calls for domination of Hinduism are hitting the nation in different decibels. There have been communally tinged calls for the abrogation of Article 370, for the “modernization of Madrasas,” and introduction of “uniform civil code”; there have been rabid anti-Muslim statements from the likes of Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia; there has been forced feeding to a fasting Muslim employee of Maharashtra Bhawan by Shiv Sena MPs; and there have been objections on Sania Mirza having been appointed the brand ambassador of Telangana in addition to hundreds of low key incidents of violence across the country. The list is pretty long. In addition, there have been numerous other incidents of various kinds that speak of the rising intolerance towards Muslims and Christians.

More importantly, a Dharmayudh, religious war, is getting intensified within the Hindu community on the question of the worship of Sai Baba whose Muslim identity has irked the Shanakaracharya of Dwarika so much that he wants Sai’s idols to be removed from all Sanatan Dharma mandirs and special rituals to be performed by Sai Bhaktas to get purified to return back to Sanatan fold. Instead of listening to the diktats of the Shanakaracharya, Sai bhakts have hit back by pouring in huge numbers to the Sai Temple at Shirdi and holding big protests against the Dharamguru.

The internal war within Hindu community is threatening a vertical split, with many akharas and Hindu priests openly condemning the Shanakaracharya and siding with Sai. Almost everyday, national TV channels are airing debates on the confrontation, and priests can be seen using extremely offensive language against each other.  

While all these happenings have something to do with the rise of Modi, people behind these events are not necessarily Modi supporters. Some of them are in fact open Modi-bashers who believe that they can benefit from the current situation. These include Togadia and the Shanakaracharya. The former has an old animosity towards Modi and the latter openly hates him and is largely perceived as a Congress supporter. Then there are elements within the BJP that want to keep pressure mounting on Modi.

The BJP itself is divided. There is a strong contingent within the party which wants to push the Hindutva agenda not only because this is in their blood but also because they think that BJP cannot survive for long as a political party without its communal and polarization politics.

There is another, fast growing group, which feels that Hindutva agenda should not be pursued beyond a limit at least for some years. Many in this group think that if Muslims can be wooed, this will be a better way to ensure a long-term BJP rule.

 It can be seen that ultimately, it is all a power struggle within the country and within the Hindu community. After all, they all are after power and would use it for the people who matter most to them.

Ideally, the power struggle within the Hindu forces should have had nothing to do with Muslims. Muslims are least concerned about what is happening within the Hindu religious fold. But unfortunately, they cannot remain unaffected by the drama. What to speak of the forces of Hindutva like BJP, RSS, Shiv Sena and Hindu Vishwa Parishad, even the Dharmacharyas who seem to cash on the anti-Muslim undercurrent in the Hindu community. In order to gain mileage, they do not mind using the Muslim card. Even the Shankaracharya of Tirupati has made it known to the whole nation that his hatred for Sai Baba emanates primarily from his Muslim background. Had it been not so, they would have perhaps declared him the Kalki avatar the way they declared Buddha the penultimate avatar of Hinduism.

 Irrespective of who emerges winner in the latest Dharmayudh between the different sects of Hinduism, what Muslims are worried about is the impact of all these happenings on the communal amity in the country. Muslims were worried about the rise of Modi but they have taken it bravely and positively, and are looking to develop stronger relations with the fellow Indians. If BJP government moves a step towards them, they are ready to move two steps towards it. On the other hand, if the government exhibits disregard to Muslim sentiments and needs, they will use their democratic rights to protest. Some of the initial statements from Prime Minister Modi looked encouraging. But with so many lobbies and pressure groups at work, there is an uneasy ambience, which needs to be urgently corrected.

The forces of Hindutva need to recognize that in almost all the matters related to cultural and social values, majorities of Hindus and Muslims tend to think alike. They think similarly on the sanctity of family system, social vices like alcohol, gambling, and Western cultural onslaught in the form of the culture of nakedness, live-in relationships, homosexuality and promiscuity. Even on the economic front, many of our concerns are common including poverty, corruption and economic disparity. If the forces of Hindutva give up their communal agenda and instead concentrate on moral and religious values, they and Muslims will find themselves standing on the same side of the line. This is the line of thinking in which lie the biggest opportunities of the integration of all religious communities in the country. If Muslims and Hindus do understand the true face of the so-called modernism, and regard it as their common  foe rather than fighting each other on non-issues, they can make the nation cleaner, purer, healthier and more peaceful.

The author is a thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough and Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map.
He may be contacted at:

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 August 2014 on page no. 2

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