Sangh Parivar’s attempts to convert Tadvi Bhil Muslims

Syed Zakarya Madni

Beed (Maharashtra): Among Indian Muslims, those living in the border areas of the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, especially Saat Pura and Saal Maal regions, are called Tadvi Bhils. They are Muslims of tribals origin. RSS, Bajrang Dal and other fascist forces are trying to take advantage of Tadvi Bhil Muslims’ illiteracy, ignorance and unorganised social and religious conditions and are busy in an organised manner to snatch them away from their religion through the enticement of material benefits and public services. These organisations are carrying on their campaign in the name of so-called “ghar wapasi”.

According to official figures, the total population of Tadvi Bhils in 2010, spread over hundreds of villages and tahsils, was 1,818,792. Tadvi Muslims offer Namaz, get nikah solemnised, get their sons circumcised, bury their deads, celebrate Chehlum, etc. In short, they lead a Muslim life. Most of them are poor, landless labourers who live in small huts. Five percent men and one percent women are educated among Tadvi Bhils. Because of abundance of labourers and paucity of work, many Tadvi Bhils leave their villages and go to towns to work in brick kilns. In order to remove the feeling of poverty and deprivation they became habituated to drinking, with the result that many of them die young and leave behind their widowed wives and three or four orphan children. The practice of divorce is common among them.

Tablighi Jamaats come in this region but since most of the menfolk go to other places for work as labourers, no men are normally found in their villages and only women, children and elderly men are found in these villages. There are no mosques also in these villages. In bigger villages there are one or two mosques but because of the absence of religious knowledge, namazis are rare.

There are no modern schools for the education of  children in their villages, though there are some religious maktabs or madrasas where only religious education is imparted but very few children are sent to these maktabs. In this region, there are residential schools of Marathi medium with arrangements for lodging and boarding. Some children of the Tadvi fraternity study in these residential schools. For them surya namaskar, vandana, pooja, prarthana etc are compulsory along with Hindu children. After passing from these schools, they can get jobs but their faith is lost. In the houses of such educated Tadvi people idols of gods and goddesses are found. These people arrange poojas on the occasions of Ram Naumi, Ganpati, Nauratra, Pola, Dussehra, Diwali etc and they are not sorry for that nor do they consider these rituals objectionable. Seeing such favourable conditions, Sangh outfits are actively conducting their ghar wapasi campaign in this region. Sangh has created a strong cadre of these so-called Muslims by giving them money, salaries and vehicles etc. And now that there is a BJP government in Maharashtra, Sangh expectations are very high.

A news item was published in Urdu Times of 14 February, 2006 under the heading ‘Religion of thousands of Adivasi Muslims of Jalgaon in danger: efforts of religious conversion on fast track’. The report said that RSS and VHP have speeded up their Shuddhi movement. The region of Jalgaon is in the grip of apostacy. Bhil adivasi Tadvi Muslims of this region are on the RSS’s target. In TCs (Transfer Certificates) given by the schools of this area ‘Muslim’ is mentioned in the column of ‘caste’ of father and in the ‘caste’ column of the son ‘Hindu’ is written.

After the publication of this report, a delegation from Malegaon toured the area of Tadvi Muslims. After return from the tour, Maulana Shafiq Ahmad Qasmi said that this time when the majority of Adivasi Muslims was absent from Eid Namaz, we asked for the reason, the answer was that we have become Hindu and hence did not come for Eid namaz.

VHP and RSS are actively and enthusiastically working for ghar wapasi. Hence it is necessary for Muslims to move to stop it. We should set apart a percentage of  Zakat and Sadqat every year for Adivasi Muslims. If even 20 percent of these amounts is used for them, many charitable works such as support to local madrasas, pensions to widows and educational expenses of poor Muslim students could be done.

In some villages Adivasi and other Muslims live but there are distances between them. The need is to bridge these distances. By meeting them frequently, particularly on the occasions of Eids, participation in marriages etc these distances will be narrowed down, and love, sense of unity and oneness will increase. They are called “Bhaltay” which makes them suffer from inferiority complex and in this way distances increase. It is necessary to promote friendliness between Adivasi Muslim women and other Muslim women. In this way Adivasi women will be attracted towards Islam and Muslims. Arrangements for Iftar and Sahri can be made for Adiwasis who observe fast during Ramadan. On the occasion of Eid, new clothes may be given to Adivasi children and men and saris etc to their women. Iqbal Painter of Patoda district of Beed, Syed Zakarya Madni of Beed, Moin Master, former chairman of the municipality and Khurshid Alam, councillor Mominpura, Syed Naveduzzaman etc have been doing such work for the past 4-5 years. In the same way, a religious madrasah, Madrasa Darul Uloom Muhammadia in Pohar, Jalgaon district, is being run by Hafiz Mujahid Suratnay. In this madrasa there are 45 students who are being imparted religious as well as modern education. Zakat money is being used in this madrasah and every year 20 group marraiges are organised in the month of May which are managed and financed by Madrasa Darul Uloom but since the financial resources of this madrasa are limited, this function of group marriages is not managed properly. Hence, well-wishers and affluent people are requested that in order to discourage or at least to slow down the campaign of ghar wapasi, they should financially help this madrasah. Some NGOs should come forward to conduct a survey of these people’s difficulties and arrange ration cards for widows and poor people under the BPL scheme and also arrange other facilities for these people under Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojna, Shravan Baad Yojna etc from Tahseel office so that these poor people, particularly widows, could get help under the government’s many schemes.

In some bigger villages, where there are no mosques, small mosques of 15’x12’ can be built and Adivasi educated Muslims, alims etc, who can live in villages, may be employed on a salary of Rs. 5000/pm to impart religious and modern education so that religious inclination could be promoted among Adivasi men and women. If alims, Hafiz etc live in these villges, it will become difficult for RSS, VHP etc elements to carry on their ghar wapasi activities there. Former president of Aurangabad’s Muslim Representative Council, Owais Ahmad (Tel. No. 09823171113) is running two madrasas in this area.

Young boys of this region have acquired education upto high school, intermediate and even B.A. Some of them are non-matriculates, though educated. They do not get jobs. Hence if these young boys are kept in madrasas of bigger cities like Amravati, Akola, Jalgaon, Malegaon, Aurangabad etc, where they get religious education along with skill training in electrical, plumbing, motor cyle and automobile repairing and tailoring etc, they will become self-employed. In that case, ghar wapasi campaign of RSS outfits can be defeated.

A sincere appeal is made to well-wishers of the millat, milli, social, religious and educational organisations to kindly include the problems of Tadvi Bhil Muslims in their agenda and programmes at their respective levels to help these Adivasi Muslims so that a large section of these people could be saved from apostacy and become a useful part of the millat. Avenues of  cooperation and coordination should be made at the village, tahseel, city, district, region and state-level to help these people in social, religious, educational and training fields.

(Translated from Urdu by MG staff)
The writer may be contact at 09822016094  

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2016 on page no. 11

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