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Hashmi,The Muslim:DANGEROUS SUPERIORITY COMPLEX, by Prakash Nanda,12 August 2009 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 12 August 2009

Hashmi,The Muslim


By Prakash Nanda

Two seemingly separate but connected developments in India have, perhaps, not got the serious attention of political analysts these deserve. One was the complaint of actor Eemran Hashmi that he was being denied suitable accommodation in a Mumbai-locality because he was a Muslim. And, the second was the hostile reaction of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) to the reported suggestion of the Law Commission that bigamy conflicts with “the Islamic Law in letter and spirit”.

Hashmi claimed that his attempts to buy an apartment in upscale Pali Hill, in the country’s financial and cultural capital, have been frustrated by the housing society concerned “because I am a Muslim.” His remarks evoked mixed reactions from fellow Muslim artists in Bollywood. While the likes of Shabana Azmi and her husband Javed Akhtar sided with the Hashmi, others such as Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan have disapproved his behaviour.

Salman slammed Emraan’s claim saying if religious discrimination had been at work in Mumbai, Emraan wouldn’t be the big star that he is today. Shahrukh, the reigning emperor of the world’s biggest movie industry, thought Emraan’s case to be a “one-off incident “ and said,  “We are a fast growing nation and we should not allow such little incidents to affect us.”

As subsequently found out, Hashmi had not done his proper paperwork and the seller of the given house had not given any commitment to that effect. Hashmi was only guided by the broker and those dealing in real estate business know how brokers operate. But, then Hashmi succeeded in getting all the headlines and prime-time television discussions; he activated all the so-called secularists and gave India all the adverse publicity. All this despite the fact that Muslim film makers, actors, singers, musicians and writers have always dominated the Indian film industry, which makes twice the number of movies in comparison to Hollywood each year.

If anything, Hasmi’s example suggests that many among India’s Muslim elites (not to be equated with the millions of ordinary Muslims) continue to maintain a superiority complex-- that they are different, better than the rest and cannot be bound by rules, regulations and customs that guide the lives of the overwhelming majority in the country.

Thus, if Hashmi wants something he should or must get it. Else, he will feel that as a Muslim he has been discriminated against. In reality, this amounts to reverse discrimination. Instead of being discriminated against, the likes of Hashmi are discriminating the majority. Worse, it also reveals that even after Partition many Indian Muslim elite think they are a separate entity from the rest and have some special rights unlike the rest.

It is precisely for the same reason that we see the AIMPLB’s reaction to the law Commission’s suggestion against polygamy, notwithstanding that it has been banned or put under severe controls in many Muslim countries. In Western nations too, which have a substantial Muslim population, the Muslims abide by the country’s uniform civil code that prohibits polygamy. But here in India, the Muslim elite will have nothing of this.

See what AIMPLB Assistant General Secretary, Mohammedd Abdul Rahim Quraishi has to say. Asserting that the practice of the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) and the Muslims prove the fact that Islamic law permits polygamy up to four wives, he makes it amply clear: “The Indian Muslims follow the Islamic law as is propounded in the Quran and the Hadith and they are not bound in any way to follow the examples of any Muslim country.”

Quraishi has advised the Government “to consult the Muslims of the country and particularly the Islamic scholars and the Board, which represent Muslims of all schools of Islamic jurisprudence before formulating any policy.” In other words, nobody other than the AIMPLB and those it considers “Islamic scholars” can interpret the Quran. And since they want to have this sole power or prerogative to interpret, they can justify at times practices which, strictly speaking, are not in accordance with the tenets and practices of Quran in rest of the world.

Take for instance the case of subsidy that a “secular country” like India gives to the Indian Muslims for undertaking the Haj. Shockingly, in 2008, Indian taxpayers paid around Rs 700 crores for Muslims to travel to Saudi Arabia! No Islamic State provides such subsidy, yet here in India the AIMPLB has no issue with it. Clearly, religion is a purely private affair in a secular country, and the Government has no business of promoting any religion. But the subsidizing of the Haj is discriminatory and tantamount to the endorsement of Islam. No wonder why the AIMPLB is happy with it. 

All this leads to one important aspect concerning Indian Muslims: the “secular” distinction of  “moderate” Muslims from the “hardliner” jihadis. But how many “moderate Muslims” are raising their voices in favour of the authentic and peaceful teachings of Islam? The “secularists” ascribe the rise of jihadis not to “Islamic imperatives” but to the poverty, exacerbated by ignorance and other factors. This approach is no doubt faulty. As the Mumbai-terror accused Kasab has now admitted,  he was trained to be a suicide-attacker because of factors, mainly Islamic. “ They told us that they (India) is against Islam,  against the Quran. They said wage jihad against them; we are waging jihad for the Quran.”

If discussions in Al-Jazeera television, which provides a forum to the jihadist elements, are any indication, their view of jihad differed sharply from the “jihad as a spiritual struggle or at best a war of self-defense” line upon which Islamic apologists in India and Western countries insist. Salah Al-Din of  Adhadhda of Hizb Al-Tahrir recently declared: “We have come here to talk about the pinnacle of Islam – Jihad for the sake of Allah.” He said that jihad, “like other precepts of the Shari’a,” had been “subjected to distortion and perversion, due to the ideological and cultural invasion (like free speech, democracy, women rights)”. He declared that Muslims must work toward “the conquest of the capitals of the world by the message of Islam, in order to save and liberate humanity, by pulling the people out of the darkness and tyranny of capitalism into the light and justice of Islam.”

The essential point that these extremists make is that they and Islam are different from the rest and they cannot coexist with others until and unless others accept their supremacy. But then how is such a version of Islam any different in substance from the likes of Hashmi and AIMPLB, who also suffer from similar superiority complex?

It is high time that genuinely moderate voices in the Muslim community in the country effectively countered these dangerous trends. The longer they dismiss this as insignificant or even deny that it is happening, the longer it will continue, and once Islamic jihadists have had a few more years to advance their agenda, it will be all the harder for us  to take the steps that need to be taken to defend free people. We need many more Salman and Shahrukh Khans.—INFA

 (Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)




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