MUSLIM PARTY SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT BE
Asghar Ali Engineer
(Secular Perspective November 16-30, 2008)
These days some Muslim leaders are throwing up the idea of
forming a separate Muslim party. Recently some leaders from
At the outset I must say two things: one, it is within any ones democratic rights to form such party and seek alliances with other parties already in existence; two, the situation today is very different from pre-partition days and forming any such party cannot lead to separatism. That fear is quite unwarranted and perhaps no one now raises such fear either. So much for forming a Muslim party.
Having said that one must really seriously reflect whether
forming such party would at all be for good of Muslims? Unfortunately answer
does not seem to be very favorable. Often on such occasions Muslim leaders tend
to give example of
And then situation in
However, right from the beginning of separate party there
was debate among Muslims in
Mr. Ajmal was present when question was being discussed by Maharashtra Muslim leaders to float a separate outfit and was egging them on to do so. I feel Muslims should not fall into this trap and instead develop well thought out strategy so that their grievances are addressed. Ultimately wisdom rather than knee jerk reactions or worse, emotions, should prevail.
The Muslims should use the system wisely, even if it takes
longer time. Such steps which seem obvious to some prove very costly and even
harmful. It would undoubtedly lead to polarization and only communal forces
would benefit. In
Firstly, let us remember
These days every one is talking about Barack Obama. Even
these Muslim leaders can learn a lesson or two from him. Before him in late
eighties J.C. Jackson, also an African American leader formed a separate
Rainbow Coalition and contested presidential election and lost very badly.
Today Obama, contested from mainstream Democratic party and won hands down.
Though he is also African American but the white population of
He acted wisely rather than using mere rhetoric which alienates majority population which is what J.C. Jackson did and failed. In sixties African Americans were facing severe discrimination and Martin King Jr. fought for human rights and made famous speech ‘I have a dream’. Obama could realize his dream successfully, not through minority rhetoric but addressing majority grievances.
Indian Muslims have much to learn from Barack Obama and his wisdom. Maulana Azad had displayed such wisdom before partition but educated Muslims were infatuated by Muslim League rhetoric and suffered. His speech from steps of Jama Masjid after partition bloodbath when Indian Muslims were going through severe crisis, was full of wisdom and restored confidence among them.
Rhetoric is very infatuating and that is why communal forces, using high pitched rhetoric succeed temporarily but ultimately prove highly destructive. Majority community too tested this at the time of Ayodhya controversy and experienced the disaster. Minorities and marginalized forces are more tempted to be infatuated such rhetoric. This rhetoric tends to become an alternative for concrete action.
In democracy various forces contend with each other and it is for a wise leadership to understand various trends and choose one which would be beneficial not only to minority, or any one section of society but for all. This is precisely what Obama did and convinced of it to the entire nation. No one can rule out a Muslim becoming a prime minister one day if she/he rises to that stature.
May be country is passing through great political crisis and one does not see any chance today of any Muslim or Dalit becoming chief executive of the country. But who thought until yesterday that a Sikh could become Prime Minister. First he was thought to be mere puppet but he proved through his action and wisdom (though one may differ from him on many things) to be a leader in his own right.
Muslims have often been victims of their own rhetoric, now they should learn to carry whole nation with them and with welfare of whole nation in their heart. They will have to face complex forces and learn to successfully use democracy with wisdom and benefit of all. Today there is no political leader among Indian Muslims who commands respect of all sections of Muslims.
And in order to rise to highest status one has to command respect not only of the community but of the whole nation. Could Obama rise up to become President of USA had he represented or commanded respect of only African Americans? African Americans are roughly 12 per cent of American population and Muslims are 15 per cent of Indian population. Like African Americans they are poor and backward. Yet Obama managed to rise up to national stature.
Indian Muslims have all along been victims of political rhetoric be it of Muslim League before partition or of leaders of small stature after post-independence. Leaders like Maulana Azad or Zakir Husain did not live long to guide Muslims. Both of them were leaders of great stature who had good of the nation as a whole at heart. Both were good and most sincere Muslims but they avoided reducing Islam to a mere rhetoric and instead practiced its teachings and values.
There cannot be any contradiction in being good Muslim and good Indian. In fact both are quite complementary. However, some selfish political leaders for their own short-term gain make Muslims feel as if two are somehow antagonistic. We should guard against such rhetoric. Muslims in particular and country in general benefit only by developing complementarities of both. This needs great vision.
Communal forces have done great harm to our country. They
generate sense of insecurity and inferiority among Muslims. Again, Muslim
leaders try to fight this only with minority rhetoric and this further inflames
majority communalism. Muslims have to decisively come out of this trap with the
help of people of
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