India Changing!
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India Changing!

How should Indian Muslims respond to this menacingly growing spectre of fascism and divisive discourse is too bewildering a question to be answered satisfactorily?

Since the inauguration of present dispensation Indian Muslims have become accustomed to bearing the brunt of wild fury of the majoritarianism that has come to stay as a characteristic feature of India's social landscape to distort their faces and dissuade them from playing any role in its polity. They are, therefor, least stirred or startled by the provocative announcements, of Yogi Aditya Nath, the new Chief Minister of UP, that have started grabbing the headlines to disturb the peace of mind of those who don't subscribe to his ideology and don't want to see India's pyramid of historical ethos crumbling down under the weight of fast growing fanaticism, obscurantism, authoritarianism and intolerance. For the wayward Yogi, with a history of serious emotional outbursts and criminal conduct, these public statements have become necessary to instil hope/faith and confidence in those who voted BJP to power that RSS's dream of Hindu India is soon unfolding blossoms as it is nearing fulfillment and on its way to completion/culmination. And they are now all set to enjoy the fruit and flavor of a civilizational stockpile that draws its sustenance directly from Vedas or Vedanta's. And that they have to live amidst too exclusive an ethos whose contours have already been drawn and defined by Golwalker, the RSS ideologue, and there is no scope for nonconformists to thrive.

Apart from signifying a move forward towards consolidating what has already been gained through RSS's jingoism and Modi's untiring efforts, intended to accomplish a "New India", Yogi's installation is a leap into tincturing the atmosphere with ultra saffron color. He is to scare the Muslims to realize how close they have come to losing their Nawabi moorings, Oudhi culture, Imambadas, Anees-o-Dabir's Marsiyas, mouthwatering cuisines: Kebabs, Buryani, Polaeo, etc; despite having been ruthlessly exposed to violent Muslim bashing, communal riots all these years so frequently and on such a horribly brutal scale that even the deaf, dumb and blind among them can evoke memories to give you a feel of their stinging and abhorring smell.

He is to change the nomenclature of the historical places where the abodes of Muslims are located and which are known after the names of their saints and great personalities of the yore. It is not unlikely, therefore, that Lucknow may soon get changed into Lakshmi Nagar; Hazrat Gunj into Hari Gunj; Sultanpore into Shivapore; Aligarh into Autargarh; Taj Mahal into Durga Mahal; and Deoband into Devvrade. He is to pay adieu to Lucknow-I-Tehzeeb along with all that it stands for. He is so impatient to implement his agenda that just two days after assuming office he banned boys meeting girls openly in public parks, secluded and isolated places, theatres, picture halls, multiplexes and malls. He is on his way to double his efforts to reap the crop of Love Jihad. His other priorities are: Gharwapsi, Qabristan, Shamshan, Eid, Ramzan, Diwali etc; which he is so eager to bring to a successful issue at the earliest.

Yogi represents what his benefactor, Modi stands for and believes in, and what his great, grand Guru and ideologue, Golwalkar propagated and tried for so vigorously. To tamper UP's history and spin, wind, twist, color and weave the yarn of his brand of socio-political tapestry is his main assignment which he is believed to accomplish with absolute catholicity, zest and religiosity.

He is to extend patronage to rip-roaring slogans and ensure that they are managed/raised with great array of special effects to daunt the Muslims. He has himself been campaigning on the slogan of:

" Desh Ka Her Bach Siya Ram Kahay

Is Deve Bhomi Per Islam Nahi Rahay Ga",

the horrible effects of which force the Muslims

to give up Azan and close mosques during Hindu festivals.

He is to ensure that the Public demands of Bejli, Pani, Sadak, hospitals etc; are completely supplanted by those of construction of Ram Temple, Cow Protection and closing down slaughter houses, the real development plank of BJP dispensation. He is fully geared to violate the very idea of India's unity in diversity and, thereby, push it, of course,unknowingly, into the quagmire of an unimaginable frenzy that may ultimately prove worst than the holocaust of Partition.

Coming days are, therefore, going to be field days for RSS Bigots, BJP Radicles, Right Wing Obscurantists, Cultural Chauvinists, Cow Rakhshaks, Patriotic Baghats and Staunch Ramzadas not only to spew venom against minorities or inflict a mortal blow to established institutions and traditions but also to display, openly, vocally and boldly their  feelings of endemic fascist antipathy towards other religions—more regularly, and particularly Islam and very occasionally and sparsely Christianity.

How should Indian Muslims react/ respond to this menacingly growing spectre of fascism and divisive discourse is too perplexing/ bewildering a question to be answered satisfactorily? Watching it just as mute spectators will be too suicidal to accept as inevitable the wilful and unlawful crippling of the community. It will allow it to grow further in its intensity. And encourage right-wing authoritarian narrative to slim down the Muslims to the position of second class citizens;  reducing them finally to begging for a living. Equally devastatingly harmful is to persuade them to keep away for a while from electoral politics to avoid attention which according to some politicians will reduce the magnitude of the hate generated by their very presence at poling booths which fact "turns every election into a Hindu-Muslim riots and clashes." Instead of producing any noticeable impact and taking off the weight of anti Muslim tirade such a proposition is fraught with dangerous consequences. The consequences that are too pernicious to widen the chances of sinking them into oblivion and making them too oblivious to what is happening at their back and in their absence in the State Assemblies and India's Parliament. It is  the spectacle of Muslim congregation on Fridays and Eid festivals that has become a major irritant; the real cause of trouble that keeps annoying the Safron brigade beyond proportions.

To my mind the most effective antidote to this increasingly difficult and unpleasant situation is the solid unity among Indian Muslims that is so conspicuously missing presently. They need to unite together under one banner to protect themselves; their identity; their culture; their ethos; their institutions; their history; and their civilizational achievements agains the fast growing communal virus. United they stand divided they fall. They shouldn't shy away from fighting together against the dominant communal discourse and determinedly preventing the spread of bigotry. An unbroken quality of being united together into one entity can be inculcated not  by clerics and their Madarassas but through the medium of formal/modern education. Equally important is a critical investigation into and objective understanding of their failures and shortcomings and thorough and meaningful introspection of their thoughts, desires and conduct.

(Dr. Ahad is author of Kashmir to Frankfurt, Kashmir Rediscovered, Kashmir: Triumphs n Tragedies; Legends if Unsung Heroes (forthcoming).

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