Indian Muslims: Babar or Ram?
Indian Muslims: Babar or Ram?
INDIAN Muslims are today at the crossroads. The destruction of the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan has shown that Islam still considers Buddhist and Hindu statues, temples and worshippers as infidels, to be razed and eliminated. For the Taliban and those who support them, covertly or overtly, nothing has changed since Mohammed broke the first `idols' in the 7th century and the task has been left unfinished. The suicide attacks on the Indian army by Islamic groups, supported and financed by Pakistan, in spite of India's unilateral ceasefire, should also prove that the Islamic injunction of jehad is still very much alive and in practice in much of the Islamic world, from Sudan to Libya, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.
The question that Indian Muslims should ask themselves now is simple: who are we? Among the 120 millions of Muslims in India, only a tiny percentage descends from the Turks, Afghans, or Iranians who invaded India. The majority of them are converted Muslims. And converted how? By terror, coercion, force, bloodshed. The ancestors of today's Indian Muslims are probably those who suffered the most from the Arab and Muslim invasions. Those Hindus and Sikhs who chose not to convert, took refuge in their faith, fought together and kept their pride and honor. The first two generations of those who converted must have endured hell for they certainly did not convert out of conviction, but because they had no choice: their daughters and wives were raped, sons taken into slavery, parents killed.
It is true that many Indian Muslims were Hindu `untouchables'. Marxists wouldlike us to believe that they converted because they thought that theywould access the more egalitarian society of Islam. What rubbish! Does onethink in that way in times of war, terror and tears? Do today's Hindu lower castes convert to Islam when there is no violent coercion? Morelikely, the `untouchables' were the most vulnerable, the least apt to defend themselves; they had neither the faith of the brahmins, nor the riches of the vaishyas, nor the military skill of the kshatriyas.
Do Indian Muslims understand that they were part of the richest, most advanced, most tolerant and generous civilization of ancient times? That their culture was so advanced that it had spread all over the world? Do they realise that more and more archaeological and historical discoveries are pointing out that the genocide of Hindus by Muslim invaders is without parallel. The conquest of Afghanistan in the year 1000 was followed by the annihilation of the entire Hindu population there; indeed, the region is still called Hindu Kush _ `Hindu slaughter'. The Bahmani sultans in central India made it a rule to kill 100,000 Hindus a year. In 1399, Taimur killed 100,000 Hindus in a single day. Professor K.S. Lal has estimated that the Hindu population decreased by 8O million between the year 1000 and 1525, probably the biggest holocaust in history. Surely, many of present-day Indian Muslims' ancestors must have been among those slaughterers.Islam cannot be wished away. As Sri Aurobindo said, ``Mohammed's mission was necessary, else we might have ended by thinking, in the exaggeration of our efforts at self-purification, that earth was meant only for the monk and the city created as a vestibule for the desert''. Thus Indian Muslims have to keep their faith and any attempt by Hindus to convert them back is not only futile but counterproductive. But the question to be asked to them is: What kind of Islam do you want to practice? An Islam which looks westwards, towards a foreign city, the Mecca, swears by a scripture, which is not only not relevant to India but which was meant for people living 1,500 years ago, in a language which is not Indian? Or do they want to practise an Islam which is `Indianised', which accepts the reality of other gods, as Hinduism and Buddhism accept that there have been other avatars than Ram or Buddha?
Do Indian Muslims want to worship Babar, a man who destroyed everything which was good, beautiful and holy and lived by the power of violence, or do they want to imbibe the qualities of Ram, who believed in the equality of all, who gave up all riches and honours of the world because he thought his brother deserved the throne more than him? Whatever the West says, which is obsessed with China, India, a vibrant, English-speaking, pro-Western democracy, is going to become the superpower of the 21st century. Do Indian Muslims want to participate in that great adventure? Do they want to feel that they are part of India, that they are Indians?
Nowadays it is politically not correct to say anything against Islam. Youare immediately labelled anti-Muslim and dismissed as a `rightist'. No matter if you are only reporting the fact that there is a real problem with Islam in South Asia; that India is surrounded by fundamentalist states _ Afghanistan and Pakistan _ while more moderates like Bangladesh tend to close an eye to anti-Indian activities; that Indian Muslims sometimes tend to put their religion before their country. Thus the question has to be asked again: Do Indian Muslims want to be like Babar or like Ram? Their choice will shape their future for generations to come.