As a community, we have been in the eye of the storm globally ever since 9/11. We have been justifying our stand as good Muslims — but is it actually making any difference?
I write this piece to Muslims in India.
Several commissions and reports have found that, as a community, we are the worst off on a lot of social parameters and indices. Who is to be blamed? All the governments since Independence till date? If not, then I want to know which government and party took us to a different level apart from providing Urdu teachers and funding for madrasas and the yearly, symbolic iftars.
How many times have we sat and thought about the future — of coming generations — without playing victim?
What have we done to take our youth out of the madrasas and bring them to the mainstream?
A graduate from a respectable madrasa is not even paid a salary of Rs 10,000. We should understand the real meaning and motive when the Quran speaks of giving zakat. The Quran is asking us to earn a respectable living not only to support our respective families but also to provide financial assistance to the poor and downtrodden.
Now imagine a student from a madrasa who began his education with an amount raised through zakat and ends up earning his livelihood through zakat. I personally know of several madrasas in Delhi who, due to the delay in payments from various boards, call and ask for help. Is this the society we want to make?
The importance of a Hafiz-e-Quran (one who remembers the Holy Quran by heart and implements it) is mentioned with the highest honour and reverence in both the Quran and Hadiths. Now, what is the average salary of a Hafiz — not more than Rs 10,000 plus food through tiffins.
Is this right? What have we done to change the status of the madrasa student who became a Hafiz?
The Prophet (PBUH) has spoken about cleanliness but one can see the condition of Muslim neighbourhoods from afar. It is the same case when it comes to the respect and equality of women. Recently, we made a mockery of ourselves on the issue of triple talaq. The Quran does not prescribe it, so why could we not say it’s wrong and the nikahnama (marriage contract) can be modified? Instead, our so-called intellectuals suggested a “social boycott”. But just how does the board propose to enforce a social boycott in this day and age? Will they cancel passport/Aadhaar/PAN? Or will they prevent people from entering a marketplace?
Now, to education and becoming a part of the mainstream. There are schemes worth many hundred crores available for the education of minorities. How many of our leaders have gone and made sure that these are availed of? We say the ruling party has been instrumental in keeping us in the dumps. Agreed, but would they have been able to do so without the help of our leaders and the clergy?
After Maulana Azad, I wonder if there has been a mainstream Muslim leader with a selfless agenda. Our so-called leaders in the so-called “secular” parties are there for everyone to see. What are their contributions in the real sense except playing politics and securing their seats? And the 2017 Uttar Pradesh election has made matters worse. The BJP’s 312 seats have made us electorally insignificant. All the maulanas who support their favourite parties must take a minute to reflect. We Muslims were supposed to be the king-makers in UP, West Bengal and Assam but has any “secular” party made a member of the community home minister or deputy CM?
There are still many Muslims from humble backgrounds, who, instead of playing the victim card, choose to work hard. These people pray and observe Ramzan as well. It is time for us as a community to sit together and introspect on what has gone wrong — be it the education system, triple talaq or modernisation of the madrasa system and many more issues.
Only then will the government or the larger society give us what we rightly deserve. Education and economic empowerment is the only way forward. Let us follow the teachings of Holy Quran and the Prophet (PBUH) before we blame PM Modi or CM Yogi.