Time to debate and evolve moderate Islam in India

Spirituality should guide politics

The dichotomy of politics and political correctness in political discourse and social discourse had always been there to not match the words with deeds and this paradox has provided a platform to either shy away from crucial issues or debate those issues in wrong way.

The issue of Muslims in India and their faith is one of them. There are two schools of thoughts on Muslims in India which has shaped the whole debate since independence or even before that.

One says Muslims are a problem for the society as they are the followers of strong faith which does not have its roots in the traditions , customs and heritage of this country which is the land of the amalgamation of the evolution of diverse faiths, philosophies and ideas which all of them rooted in the soil of this country . According to this school of thought the Hindu Muslims conflict which aroused before independence of country and ultimately culminated in the partition of country was the biggest testimony to prove that Muslims are the different nationality in India which does not want to live with heritage and traditions of this old civilization.

The Second school of thought responded this idea with opposite to this perception and negated any idea which gave any credence to prove that Muslims in India are not part of the same heritage of civilization but in shaping this idea  the politics of pre independence India clouded the vision for free India and after independence the policies for statecraft was envisioned in certain ways which did not provide any platform to take Muslims along with the state as one citizen to push them equally for reform and transform them as modern  society in consonance to the aspiring modern world .  The utter failure of policy makers and leaders to transform the Muslim society towards modernity and ignite the debate of progressive vs tradition in them equally along with Hindus and other section of people in country created an imbalance in society where Hindus and other social groups were forced to transform in to a modern  society where their society was pushed more to be govern by constitution and legality rather their religion and rituals but the Muslims of the country were kept away from this reform process and the biggest threat and fear was always there to stop the repeat of Jinnah like situation and avoid any pre partition direct action politics .

More than six decades of independence of country have passed and the generational changes along with several transformations in societies from social order to economic model and joint family to nuclear family and changes in human behavior, technological changes and its role in shaping the communication and human behavior and other transformations in rationalities have changed every society and compelled them to take a new call to contemporary changes to update their version.

The intense debate of role of Muslim society in country and their future has been the centre of political gravity for more than last two decades in country but time has come where we need to think something new beyond the two stereotyped ideas for Muslims which counter each other in more radical way.

If anyone wants to honestly debate the role of Muslims in country with their future both of the school of thoughts take us to nowhere. One school of thought is not ready to give Muslims even an inch space in society and statecraft and their suspicion for their faith and patriotism is always there and without providing any concrete idea or alternative updated school of thought they don’t hesitate to target the whole community on every issue ranging from their faith to other political problems with genuine concern for them. This school of thought gives more ammunition to politicians to use their narrative for polarization of communities for political purpose rather than solving the problem or bring the community to reformist pace.

The second school of thought believes that Muslims are doing favor to Indian state if they have decided to become part of country and to keep this country intact as nation  it is important to not interfere with their customs and traditions either even if they are outdated and in utter contempt to modern world and this school of thought has done huge disservice to  Muslims in India as due to this approach Muslims have not been able to evolve their strong political leadership which can negotiate on their behalf on their issues and the space of leadership was always been filled by the clerics and religious figures who never allowed the reform process in Muslim community to take place and when other communities in the world disconnected the role of religion as guiding force for their social behavior the religious leadership of Muslims kept them under fear psychosis and negated any reform process .

If one school of thought which is suspicious to Muslims and want certificate of patriotism from them on every step and not ready to accommodate and assimilate the social issues of Muslims either with state and unable to differentiate between radical and moderate faces of Muslims are no good  from  that school of thought which is also not ready to listen to any voice which raises some pertinent questions before Muslims in country to come forward to initiate some reform process in their society to take the nation to new heights in new century.

The solution and answer to the Muslims in India lies somewhere between these two school of thoughts as they have lost their relevance in contemporary modern world.

We need to work as responsible and great nation where all the communities and faiths need to co exist not because they are doing any favor to each other  so be given extra favor for not inviting them to become part of modernity but  at the same time we need to make sure that any process of reform and evolving the political leadership among Muslim society will be dealt with principle and ethics and to make it happen the instinct of  temptation to incite the hatred and suspicion for mere political reasons need to be curbed and real differentiation between radical and moderate Muslim leadership should come in deabte.


How to define the radical and moderate Muslims– There is a wrong pattern in our intelligentsia and academic world to look to west to define our problems with their solutions and the issue of Muslim is not exception to this phenomenon.

As per example the issue of terrorism and its association with Islamist ideology has somehow to do with the western response to the geo political issues in certain parts of the Islamic world and the fear of imposition of sharia in Muslim majority western world has ignited the fear among westerns for their civilizational identity and in the background of this threat western definition of radical vs moderate Islam cannot be applied in Indian conditions in solo.

In Indian context if Muslim women wears Hijab it cannot create any kind of serious problem for state or identity of country as for thousands years India has evolved the art to live with Muslims in every nook and corner in India and their beards, Hijab , Namaj, Haj , Zakat or Fasting Months have never been any problem in country so if any devout Muslim is a very faithful to his faith cannot be discriminated only on the basis of his identity at the same time if he raises some question cannot be singled out for his faith or the substance of this question does not lose its gravity because his identity.

The other issue with Muslims in India has been their approach for Shariyat but on this issue also the state and civil society along with intelligentsia and academicians need to categorize those points which needs to be raised among Muslims to initiate reform process and the whole sharia cannot be questioned or their association with Sharia cannot alone make them radical.

Since 1919 when Khilafat movement in India started in solidarity to the campaign to reestablish the caliphate two divergent ways to achieve this goal have been there from very beginning. One, which was not ready to accept the modernity and modern world order and have strong belief that   this order can be uprooted and any movement or method which lead us to achieve this goal should be supported without any condition and political problems of other parts of Islamic world can be used to incite the passion of Muslims in India as well and efforts should be made to connect their solidarity with those movements and issues.

Other, Which equally does not believe in the modernity and modern world order and perceived by them as an imposition on their supremacy and most of the problems of the modern world can be solved if Muslims adhere strongly to their faith and try to become devout Muslims but the difference is in their approach in achieving the goal, although they are not happy with modern world order but they are not eager to apply the violent method to fulfill their mission.

This approach has the potential to evolve into moderate stream but two things need to be done on this count. First, Rather than religious leadership political leadership among Muslims need to be given more credence and to make it happen they should be given space in statecraft and polices so they in return can show their people that they are not the people of state among Muslims but they are the  leaders of Muslims in state .

This process would take time and  it demands patience and more liberal approach needed to make this happen but if India has to grow and find its place at global stage it must overcome internal differences in new way as outsiders should not be allowed to exploit the Muslims as fault line for Indian nationalism.