Kashmir- Indian Muslim Dilemma

To have the freedom to conduct a respectful life and a peaceful death is the minimum birth right of any human being. But nowadays Indian Muslims are under severe anxiety even with respect to this right. How come this 120-130 million 'large' (strong will not be the right word !) fell into such a despicable existence? How did the inheritors of such a progressive and vibrant ideology like Islam manage this metamorphosis into faceless and voiceless crowd? If we, the Indian Muslims, can objectively analyze and find the root cause of this deterioration, it will be rather easy to get out of this 'agni- pareeksha' - the literal test through fire - we are in today.  Perhaps, if we all make an earnest effort, it might be possible to deduce some positive results even among the prevailing confusion in our society.

As per our belief, Islam is the religion of this universe and this faith was perfected in the final form through our beloved prophet, may peace and blessing of Allah be showered on him. Our ancestors in India could not remain indifferent to this light of consciousness shone amidst the desolated Arabian Desert. The new message had reached Indian shores almost immediately and flourished in it's fertile soil within a few centuries. We are not aware of any threats or opposition the miniscule Muslim community faced in those early years. On the contrary they were accorded warm welcome by Hindu kings.  Muslims progressed to rule most of the country for many centuries.

Even otherwise, they have never felt any insecurity under Hindu rulers of Calicut, Mysore or Maharashtra, to name a few. Bahadurshah Zafar was the unanimous choice of Hindus, Muslims and the Sikhs for Delhi throne during our first war of independence. It was the British colonial power who scientifically injected the communalist virus into Indian society. It seems the first 'historian' who identified Babri masjid as the birthplace of Lord Ram was a western monk!  The 'divide and rule policy ' test marketed through the division of Bengal could finally succeed in dividing our country.  Along with the land was partitioned the Muslim nation as well. The 'faceless voiceless' Indian Muslim was born! Oblivious of this act of neutralizing our own strengths and opportunities, large majority of the Muslim community supported partition.  The few like Moulana Azad and Gafar Khan could not sway the Muslim mood away from the mass hysteria.

There were yet others, notably the religious scholars, who were neither enthusiastic about partition nor acted decisively against the same. We may argue that Muslims were not entirely responsible for this tragedy.  Still I believe that we had our fare share and this is the single most factor, aided to breed and perpetuate hostility against the Muslims in India. If we do not acknowledge this fact, any further analyzes and conclusions will only be superficial. Let us have a look at the most common 'solutions' we get through various media these days: To strive for removing misunderstanding about Islam and to effectively neutralize the historical lies and exaggerations about Islam. Islam promotes polygamy, women are persecuted in Islam, Islam is contradicting science, Qur'an is full of war cries, Islam was spread by sword, Tippu Sultan forcibly converted Hindus, muslims are pampered by politicians etc are examples. These are being spread sometimes intentionally and sometimes innocently. Promotion of face to face dialogues; social campaigns, awareness through the media etc. are suggested remedies for this.

To strive for the uplifting of Muslim masses in education, employment, economical and social spheres.· To have long term strategy for developing selfless leaders of the stature of Moulana Azad and Zakir Hussain. To approach the sensitive issues, which attract most of the criticism, like Muslim Personal Law, women's freedom in Islam etc. in a realistic manner. Such issues shall be taught and understood in the true spirit of Islam. Muslims shall be trained and compelled to follow what is written in the 'Book' rather than defending the misuse of the provisions there in. To strive for strengthening the secular fabric of the country by supporting secular political parties
and identifying ourselves with other marginalized sections of the society like untouchables and backward classes. Nobody will disagree the relevance of all these suggestions, but these still lack the willingness to investigate and accept the root causes. A well-written secular constitution, dependable legal system and a working democracy are the most prestigious institutions in India.  Every one of us shall be proud of these. To sustain and strengthen these institutions is the best guarantee for every one of us, Muslim or non-Muslim. What are the prime issues we need to
attend for the same?

If the most severe injury for Indian secularism was partition, Kashmir issue is the prime factor, which still prevents healing the wounds of partition.  (I am tempted to buy a theory of colonial conspiracy in the haste in which the country was partitioned, at the same time keeping issues like Kashmir unresolved!) While accepting the right of self-determination for Kshmiris, let us not ignore that, it is in the best interest of the huge Muslim population in rest of India, to have Kashmir continue as an Indian state.

Kashmiris still can negotiate and avail maximum freedom - perhaps much better freedom than on the other side of Line of control- within the Indian constitution. Many other states within the Indian union have managed much development and progress. Kashmiris can do better, if only they divert the energy they spend now in confrontation, towards peaceful negotiation and selfless service of their people. We don't find any better chance for Kashmir, looking at the record of last 55 years across the borders.

If Kashmiris themselves decide to continue to be in India, the bone of contention between India and Pakistan will disappear on its own. Will the Muslim leadership - Muslim personal Law Board, Babri committees (!), any body worth the name- try to bridge Delhi and Srinagar? If peace and stability prevails in the subcontinent, the beneficiaries will be all - Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, everyone. Any efforts towards this noble cause will be more Islamic than the present day suicidal 'jihad'!  Nobody will deny the tremendous improvement it can bring to this region, if India, Pakistan Bangladesh and the rest of SAARC countries join together in the model of European union or still better, the USA. It is high time for the citizen of all these countries to dream about such an entity. Indian Muslims particularly deserve the opportunity to lead such a movement, which may be termed as our third war of independence.

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