Sorry Mr. Sareshwala, Muslims are not “fools”


In a scathing attack on prominent Muslim faces and organizations, Mr. Zafar Sareshwala, a business baron of Gujarat and a protégé of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reportedly said, “In AIMPLB, except its president Maulana Rabey Hasani Nadwi, rest all are fools. I feel that Muslim bodies like AIMPLB have no vision. They have failed to prioritise their issues.”

He added: “There are other bodies like the Muslim Majlis Mushawarrat which became defunct in 1964, but still its dead body is being carried on by some Muslim leaders. It is stinking now. Another is Milli Council. These are all redundant.” (IE, 20 Feb)

In a civilized society, difference of opinion and approach is welcome. Everybody has solemn right to dissent and disagree. Freedom of speech is a beauty. Islam established this right in its golden era andgave due space and respect to questioning. It was how an ordinary person could question the size of the shirt of a Caliph. Sureshwala has the right to question the wisdom and strategy of Muslims to redress their out-standing grievances. But he cannot enjoy liberty to call persons of eminence, experience and older in age to him as “fools”. His comment symbolizes arroganceand uninhabitable attitude and cannot be digested.

What Sareshwala substantiated after meeting Maulana Nadwi, is blatantly illogical. To his wisdom only the president of AIMPLB is a right thinking person and all those who elected him are stupid! Consider the logic.If the members are wise enough to elect a right thinking person, how can their wisdom in other matters be outraged and discredited? Certainly Maulana Rabey Hasani Nadwi is first among the equals. All members are competent to advise him and it is why he respects all.

Though Sareshwala did not disclosed what transpired during his meeting with the President of AIMPLB, but we can imagine that Maulana would have told him that he is bound to collective decisions of the members. In most of the organizations, the President or the Chairman follows democratic system; he does not decide himself on matters of policy without consulting others.

If Sareshwala thinks his wisdom and vision are absolute, then he certainly is a misguided soul. However it is not strange phenomenon. You can find patients confined in lunatic asylum claiming to be healthy. They think all others as mad. However problem arises when a person, young like Sareshwala, who has very little experience and knowledge, calls elders “fool” and “redundant”. This type of bad-mouthing is against our value system and put the person in the line of Sakshies, Adityanaths and Niranjan Bharties. Certainly their utterings did not help their mentor.

Right Mr. Sareshwala, Muslim leaders should have some engagement with the ruling class. But engagement is not one way manifestation. The ruling class will have to create space for one fifth population of the country. Engagement does not means surrender our concerns and keep our eyes and ears shut on the rhetoric country has been seeing since last eight months. We donot subscribe to your idea: "Muslims cannot remain isolated from a party which is in power, and Modi should not remain untouchable forever. Permanent animosity against a political party and its prime ministerial candidate will not help improve the community's.” (TOI: 24 Nov 13) For our principles and for the liberation of our country from a power like Britishers, we fought for hundred years and gave exemplary sacrifices. To some mundane comfort is paramount, to us is our faith and principles. 

What are the priorities of Muslim organizations, which have become “redundant” and have “failed to prioritise their issues”? In nutshell, they want Government of India to follow rule of law and translate guaranties given in our constitution into practice. They wanted to stop attacks on the faith and on the person and properties of the Minority community. They demand non-intervention in their personal laws, and religious matters, in their education until there is a serious breach of law. What Governments have been doing in the past and presently, is utterly against the assurances and guarantees given in the law books.

These organizations and persons demand curbs on the activities sought to create disharmony among the communities. What Mr. Sureshwala is enduring? He wants us to keep our eyes and ears shut, follow and support the person with blood stained history, who represent an organization whose ideology is diametrically opposite to our cultural values of tolerance and the dogma of sarva Dharma SamaBhava – the beautiful concept embodying the equality of all religions and to our constitutional laws.

Muslims organizations, irrespective of their popularity among the community, are law abiding. They do not play stunts for gaining popularity. Most of the persons attached with these organizations lead a simple and pious life. They do not need pump and show. They do not have their business interests with the government and therefore they do not agree to compromise with ideas of those who are presiding over the cultural and political attacks upon their faith and community in common and in particular on the very fabric of Indian social fabric and the foundation of the country.

Let Brother Sareshwala be aware, people cannot be make fool by one or two statements until words match the action. We are not averse to a particular person or party, but against the actions of the person and the organization they represent. Mr. Sareshewala, please do some ground work, go deep in basic tenants and teachings which are so dear to Muslim leadership. Also go into the assurances and the actions of the past and present rulers. We can assure him the Muslims, who have long faced so many traumas, are ready to come forward, we are still alive to good action and welcome him to discuss in a decent  manner all issues which are of paramount importance for us and are in the interest of “Multicultural India”.

Syyed Mansoor Agha, is General Secretary, Forum for Civil Rights, New Delhi and can be reached at syyedagha%hotmail.com