The Home Minister needs enlightenment
Sunday , Nov 08, 2009 at 0358 hrs
Let me give you one small but important example. It is not part of Indian Muslim culture for women to be treated as human bundles to be veiled and locked indoors, illiterate and helpless. That is the Taliban way and we must make sure that they keep their ideas to themselves or take them back to Saudi Arabia where a woman can be jailed for wandering about without a man. And, whipped if seen in the company of a man who is not a relative. Muslims in India have never subscribed to such barbarous practices.
What puzzles me about Mr Chidambaram's exercise in inter-faith dialogue is why he chose the Darul Uloom at Deoband as his first stop. Having had the dubious pleasure of a day trip to that institution, I have said more than once that I have never seen a religious institution that has frightened me more. My troubles began at the gate when the bearded gatekeeper told me that the head maulana would never grant me an audience since I was not veiled. I responded that he could veil himself if he was that shy and gave myself a little unguided tour. I met rabid, young Islamists who refused to speak to me because they said they were forbidden to speak any language other than Arabic. In dress, manner and beard they affected what they thought was proper Arab culture. In the hour I spent wandering about among the fine buildings and manicured gardens of the Darul Uloom, I saw only one woman and she was so heavily veiled that all I saw of her were her eyes and the tip of her nose. It was as if I had strayed into a little patch of Saudi Arabia.
If only the Home Minister had spent some time visiting the Darul Uloom's website before his visit, he would have discovered that what he thinks of as 'terrorism' is quite different to the Darul Uloom view. Listen to this. 'The struggle of resistance of the weak for securing their legitimate rights against suppression or aggression is branded as terrorism'. Even less ambiguous is the Darul Uloom's definition of who the world's real terrorists are. 'According to the definition of terrorism by intellectuals and thinkers of the West, the conduct of the governments of USA, Israel, Russia, Phillipine (sic) and Burma may be regarded as brazen acts of state terrorism.' Is this the position of the Government of India? Do we think of these countries as sponsors of 'state terrorism'?
Then there is the Vande Mataram fatwa. Last week's gathering of 10,000 Muslim clerics banned Muslims from singing this song. Vande Mataram is not the national anthem, nobody is forced to sing it, so it is not clear why a fatwa was needed at all unless it was to hint at a rejection of something bigger and more important: Pre-Islamic Indian culture, civilisation and history. I very much fear that this was the fatwa's real intention. On the Darul Uloom's website I came across a line that described the state of India before this fine institution came into being. 'The old madaris in India had almost become extinct and condition of the two or four that had survived the ravages of time was not better than that of glow worms in a dark night'.
Is 'dark night' a description of India before Islam came to 'enlighten' us infidels? I ask because when I read the words I was reminded of a board outside the grave of an Iraqi preacher who came to Rajasthan many centuries ago to spread Islam. He ended up in Nagaur and the board outside the shrine that preserves his remains says that he came to India because he saw it as a 'vast darkness'. So the Vedas, the Puranas, that extraordinary treasure of Sanskrit literature, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, all get dismissed as pre-Islamic garbage. Right? They cannot possibly have come out of the 'darkness' that was India and cannot compare even with the 'glow-worms' that existed before the great enlightenment that has come since the creation of the Darul Uloom.
November 5th, 2009
When the nation is facing grave threats from the Maoists and the Lashkar-e-Taiba's Islamist mad-heads, and discussing how to counter the Chinese arrogance, suddenly mullahs living in a frozen Arabian time zone have cried that they won't sing "Vande Mataram".
Are they concerned about the people? People whose lives they think they govern through some fatwas and scriptural instructions? Do they realize that hardly any educated Muslim with his head firmly positioned where it should be, listens to them leave aside "obeying" their dictates? Still they make some noises to get media attention and register their political presence.
What was the compulsive necessity for making such an announcement while the home minister was there to have a plateful of appeasement biryani in hope of garnering their votes for a 21st-century government?
One explanation that has come to us through Deoband observers is frighteningly pregnant with serious consequences to our already strained social fabric. The Congress wants to create another monster out of Muslim fanatics to further erode Mayawati's vote bank and simultaneously distract public attention from its failure on the Maoist front and keep the public debate away from the price rise. These are the issues it couldn't handle; hence, the distraction was immediately needed. And the way fanatics helped the British before India was vivisected, the maulvis have obliged the party in power. It's advisable not to get trapped in this political lunacy, but then the media will be taking it up in a big way for certain unexplained reasons and there will be obvious reactions and diatribes from both sides to keep the issue alive.
Public memory shouldn't be too thin. Remember how Bhindranwale was created, the statements about his "saintliness", the permission to his brigands to roam free through Delhi's roads brandishing AK-47s on top of buses. And then only too recently, Raj Thackeray was propped up to counter Shiv Sena-BJP's growth in the Maratha land.
They forget that a Bhindranwale and a Raj results in self-defeat, a defeat for the national unity and collective goals of economic prosperity. The Deoband mullahs have never helped their community in making economic, social and educational progress. At any moment of a social crisis among Muslims, they have delayed any decision or taken a retrograde stand. The "shining" examples of their fossilized mentality were too visible during the Shah Bano case, Gudiya's tragic story and equal right to Muslim women. They kept a studied silence when five lakh Hindus were driven out of their homes in the Kashmir valley, after announcements were blared out on the dreadful night of January 11,1989, asking Pandits to get out and leave behind their women. Jammu & Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in India and if Deoband is "concerned" about Islam's peaceful, and humanitarian face, why should it not try to influence the terror groups operating in the name of their religion and in turn, as the maulvis say, bringing bad name to their great message of universal brotherhood?
But never will one find them engaging the "bad elements" and issuing a fatwa against their "anti-Islamic" action. All they would do is to irritate Hindus and punch the patriotic people belonging to all denominations with untimely and out of context pronouncements like the one they made while the "man with a mission" Chidambaram was in their midst.
They know very well that "Vande Mataram" is a song celestial for a patriotic Indian no matter to which stream of faith he belongs. It's a song that inspired Bhagat Singh and Ashfakullah alike and is more popular with an electrifying affect than any other song. An A R Rahman refashioned it and offered a beautiful rendering of it with Bharat Bala making its universal appeal more thrilling. Millions of Indians, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and all denominations sing it with pride and confidence. It was the song which united India against the British repression that had caused the death of millions in Bengal creating an unnatural famine .The original song appears in the famous novel of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay named "Anand Math" which describes a revolution against the foreign yoke led by ochre-robed monks. The deity is Mother India, the song is in praise of the Mother and it's accepted as a national song by the Constitution. No organization can be given an option to denounce or reject the icons representing the national ethos and the spirit of the freedom struggle. If they don't belong to us, they don't have a right to enjoy the fruits of a pluralist society, democracy and a Constitution that gives them more than their ilk offers to any non-Muslim anywhere. Instead of making an Indian identity stronger and helping their community to join the national mainstream endeavouring for a happy and progressive life, they are, at a time when an average Indian is more concerned about dal roti and security, more concerned about a song that was opposed in the same manner by Pakistan seekers pre-1947.
Then to which country these Deobandis and Jamiat's big-mouths belong? What's their problem? It's not the song they are opposing. The message is loud and clear that they don't want to forge a sense of unity with the national life. They want to create a divide on the lines of a Muslim Indian and an Indian Muslim for political leverage. P Chidambaram is certainly not a scholar of Islamic theology that they invited him for a religious discourse. The home minister was there on a political mission. The home minister of India must have made them sing an Indian song rather than emboldening them to oppose it.
Their Arabian-night fever must be brought to an end with the firmness of a united Indian patriotism symbolized in our Constitution and the ever victorious tricolor.
Vande Matharam song translated by
Mahakavi Subrahmanya Bharathiyaar.
(பங்கிம் சந்திர சட்டோபாத்தியாயர் எழுதிய
வந்தே மாதரம் கீதத்தின் மொழிபெயர்ப்பு)
இனிய நீர்ப் பெருக்கினை! இன்கனி வளத்தினை!
தனிநறு மலயத் தண்காற் சிறப்பினை!
பைந்நிறப் பழனம் பரவிய வடிவினை! (வந்தே)
வெண்ணிலாக் கதிர்மகிழ் விரித்திடும் இரவினை!
மலர் மணிப் பூத்திகழ் மரன்பல செறிந்தனை!
குறுநகை யின்சொலார் குலவிய மாண்பினை!
நல்குவை இன்பம், வரம்பல நல்குவை!
முப்பதுகோடி வாய் (நின்னிசை) முழங்கவும்
அறுபது கோடிதோ ளுயர்ந்துனக் காற்றவும்
திறனிலாள் என்றுனை யாவனே செப்புவன்?
அருந்திற லுடையாய்! அருளினைப் போற்றி!
பொருந்தலர் படைபுறத் தொழித்திடும் பொற்பினை!
நீயே வித்தை நீயே தருமம்!
நீயே இதயம் நீயே மருமம்!
உடலகத் திருக்கும் உயிருமன் நீயே! (வந்தே)
தடந்தோ ளகலாச் சக்திநீ அம்மே!
சித்தம் நீங்காதுறு பக்தியும் நீயே!
ஆலயந் தோறும் அணிபெற விளங்கும்
தெய்விக வடிவமும் தேவியிங் குனதே! (வந்தே)
ஒருபது படைகொளும் உமையவள் நீயே!
கமலமெல் லிதழ்களிற் களித்திடுங் கமலைநீ!
வித்தை நன் கருளும் வெண்மலர்த் தேவிநீ! (வந்தே)
போற்றி வான்செல்வி! புரையிலை நிகரிலை!
இனிய நீர்ப்ப் பெருக்கினை, இன்கனி வளத்தினை
சாமள நிறத்தினை சரளமாந் தகையினை!
இனியபுன் முறுவலாய்! இலங்குநல் லணியினை!
தரித்தெமைக் காப்பாய், தாயே போற்றி! (வந்தே)
நளிர்மணி நீரும் நயம்படு கனிகளும்
குளிர்பூந் தென்றலும் கொழும்பொழிற் பசுமையும்
வாய்ந்துநன் கிலகுவை வாழிய அன்னை! (வந்தே)
தெண்ணில வதனிற் சிலிர்த்திடும் இரவும்
தண்ணியல் விரிமலர் தாங்கிய தருக்களும்
புன்னகை ஒளியும் தேமொழிப் பொலிவும்
வாய்ந்தனை இன்பமும் வரங்களும் நல்குவை. (வந்தே)
கோடி கோடி குரல்கள் ஒலிக்கவும்
கோடி கோடி புயத்துணை கொற்றமார்
நீடு பல்படை தாங்கிமுன் னிற்கவும்,
கூடு திண்மை குறைந்தனைஎ என்பதென்?
ஆற்றலின் மிகுந்தனை, அரும்பதங் கூட்டுவை,
மாற்றலர் கொணர்ந்த வன்படை யோட்டுவை. (வந்தே)
அறிவும் நீ தருமம் நீ, உள்ளம் நீ, அதனிடை
மருமம் நீ உடற்கண் வாழ்ந்திடும் உயிர் நீ
தோளிடை வன்புநீ, நெஞ்சகத்து அன்புநீ.
ஆலயந் தோறும் அணிபெற விளங்கும்
தெய்வச் சிலையெலாம், தேவி, இங்குனதே. (வந்தே)
பத்துப் படைகொளும் பார்வதி தேவியும்
கமலத் திகழ்களிற் களித்திடும் கமலையும்
அறிவினை யருளும் வாணியும் அன்னைநீ! (வந்தே)
திருநி றைந்தனை, தன்னிக ரொன்றிலை!
தீது தீர்ந்தனை, நீர்வளஞ் சார்ந்தனை
மருவு செய்களின் நற்பயன் மல்குவை
வளனின் வந்ததோர் பைந்நிறம் வாய்ந்தனை
பெருகு மின்ப முடையை குறுநகை
பெற்றொ ளிர்ந்தனை பல்பணி பூண்fடணை.
இருநி லத்துவந் தெம்முயிர் தாங்குவை,
எங்கள் தாய்நின் பாதங்கள் இறைஞ்சுவாம்! (வந்தே)
No Vande Mataram, but why Pakistan?
06 Nov 2009
Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray's attack on the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind for opposing the singing of Vande Mataram, saying that those who oppose the National Song should go to Pakistan, misses the wood for the trees.
The point is not whether Muslims should sing this song, but whether they are legitimately entitled to Pakistan (and Bangladesh) as 'homeland' for the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent when Islam neither recognises nationalism, nor national boundaries, nor any concept of nationhood as understood by the modern world, nor any forms of government, barring the extinct Caliphate.
The logic of the Muslim plea that they cannot bow to any form of divinity other than Allah is well-taken; if their religion prohibits it, so be it.
If devout believers wish to adhere by the tenets of their faith as best as they can in a land in which they constitute a minority (Allah be praised for this significant mercy), and if this involves keeping a sharp distance from the national ethos and majority community, it follows that Muslims must disengage from participation in the Indian polity.
Far from contesting elections by canvassing votes from the non-believing (Kafir) majority, much less demanding reserved seats in the Parliament and State Assemblies, Muslims must live only religious lives if they consent to be guided by an ulema that insists that Religion Alone defines their identity.
If Muslims cannot have multiple identities as believers and as secular citizens, professionals, and so on, this purely religious identity cannot be allowed to intrude upon the national sensitivities of other citizens. More specifically, it cannot be allowed to be projected publicly in a manner deemed offensive and insulting to Hindus who comprise the country's majority and autochthonous religious and cultural group, its civilisational tradition, and foundational ethos.
More pertinently, Muslims thus defined by religion must cease and desist from making secular demands upon the secular State. Far from being entitled to the first claim on national resources, Muslims with such a pick-and-choose attitude to symbols of nationhood have no right to demand state support for their clergy-producing factories, segregated education for girls, reserved employment in public services, and so on. Defined and circumscribed by their own ulema, kept aloof from vibrant participation in national life, they should learn to fend for themselves as well.
Indians, particularly Hindus, do themselves no honour by decrying the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind as regressive for endorsing the Deoband Darul Uloom's 2006 fatwa prohibiting Muslims from singing Vande Mataram even in its truncated form or 'official' version. The 30th general session of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind at Deoband aimed at de-linking Indian Muslims from an Indian national identity as a prelude to something grimmer, which will doubtless be unveiled in coming days.
What Jamiat achieved – and we must see it that way – was to release the rest of us from the burden of further accommodating Muslim separatism. We cannot tell Muslims how to live, and in any case, it would be far more rewarding for Hindus to resolve their own social problems like dowry and female foeticide before pontificating on the value or demerit of the Muslim veil. But we can refuse to permit the extension of mullah fiat in the national domain.
As a first step, Hindus must demand that Vande Mataram be restored to its full glory; the truncated official version must henceforth be equated with iconoclasm. The song is an ode to the Mother Goddess Durga and Bharat Mata, motherland of the Hindu people, and the Goddess and Land are one and indivisible. This subtle and profound multi-dimensional perception of divinity, a unique attribute of the Hindu people, must now be allowed to bloom in its full glory in its native land.
As a necessary corollary, the mollycoddling of minority separatism must stop forthwith. The forthcoming winter session of Parliament, where the Sonia Gandhi-led UPA is likely to bring in legislation to provide public sector job reservation for Muslims, will be crucial in the battle to defeat Muslim Separatism, Part II.
Hopefully, the UPA's Muslim Appeasement Agenda may be in some difficulty due to the presence of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram at Deoband, though it is true that he was not physically present when controversial Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind resolution was adopted. Neither Chidambaram nor the UPA have distanced themselves from the Jamiat decision, nor have they demanded due respect for Vande Mataram. This is equally true of every Congress or Communist state government and party apparatchik, and Hindus nationwide will have to take a call on how long they will accept to be led by political knaves who cannot even defend the National Song.
At Deoband on November 3, Chidambaram vacuously averred that it was the duty of the majority community to protect the minorities. He did not say what the offence-giving and aggressive minorities had to be protected from. Could it be Hindu assertion? Intoxicated by his own profundity, he said: "We must always remember that pluralism is our inheritance and strength… We cannot view Islam as an alien faith because this is the land of your forefathers; this is the land of your birth. It is a matter of our pride that Islam exists in India along with other major religions."
It is impossible to fathom what he meant. Islam is alien – it was born in the sandy deserts of Arabia, as an expression of Arab nationalism. As the Arabs were a Bedouin people, it upheld the principle of expansion through acquisition of territory by conquest and conversion. Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam too has little affection for geographical boundaries – because its quest for expansion is infinite. The Prophet declared the unity and brotherhood of the believers, ummah, rather than the Arab tribes, and this has been a source of endless instability historically.
To call the existence of Islam in India a matter of pride in an era of unending jihadi homicides is cynical and irresponsible. Chidambaram must tell us why he went to Deoband in the first place – it was obviously to cut a deal of shameless realpolitik.
As for the Jamiat brothers who wish to live by the true tenets of the true faith, do tell how the brotherhood of Islam that does not believe in the concept of nation-state, could stomach the indignity of the lands of the Prophet and the Revelation, the ancient, wise and humanist Arabia of legend, where men understood the language of the birds, to be rechristened 'Saudi' Arabia after a tribal upstart propped up by the British Empire to contain the Ottoman Turks? Is this proxy kingship in conformity with the tenets of Islam?
As for Hindus, it is time to insist that Pakistan (and Bangladesh) was an illegitimate creation of the British Empire, now being propped up by America. Pakistan has been a failed state from its very inception because Islam is definitionally incapable of welding Muslims into a nation.
We need to think up bold strategies of bringing these unhappy people back to the faith and culture of their ancestors, rather than let them wreak further ruin upon themselves. We must also immediately scrap the divisive Article 370 and stop pandering to the Muslim majority of Kashmir. Here again, it would be pertinent to note that if Christian missionaries can convert 10 percent of the Srinagar Valley to Christianity, this suggests that a huge population is waiting to abandon Islam. The task surely is to bring them back to the Hindu fold.
Finally, Hindus must insist that henceforth there will be no conversion in mixed marriages except to the majority faith, and no more 'love jihad.' In this context, BJP president Rajnath Singh recently called for a ban on conversions. This must be accompanied by monitoring funds received by minorities from abroad, and a strict vigil on the anti-national proclivities of myriad NGOs.
The writer is Editor, www.vijayvaani.com