The Battle Lies Within

Neo-Islam, like neo-Hinduism, is injurious to India’s pluralism

Written by Abdul Shaban | Updated: May 20, 2017 11:38 am
muslim community, up vidhan sabha elections, neo-islamists, neo-hinduism, indian pluralism, mehr, modernism, india news The neo-Islamists also emphasise religious and educational practices that undermine male-female equality in the public sphere. (Representational Image.)

Muslims, one of the most deprived communities in 21st century India, have been the most adversely impacted by communal politics in recent years. The result of the UP Vidhan Sabha elections and subsequent developments in the state have shaken the foundation of “inclusive politics”; the state government has criminalised some traditional occupations of the community.

Frustrated with such developments, many Muslims advocate that the community take a sabbatical from electoral politics for some time, make its identity in politics invisible, and concentrate on rebuilding its progressive and developmental institutions.

A deeper look into the problems reveals that traditionalists among Muslims and neo-Islamists are also responsible for the community’s social, economic and educational backwardness, and its adverse reputation. Triple talaq, halala, an avoidance of appropriate mehr, the usurpation of women’s property rights and the practice of female circumcision among certain sections of the community are justified as “belief”, though they run contrary to the concept of insaaf, justice in Islam, and modernity.

The neo-Islamists have discovered a new form of Islam as a result of contact with West Asia. Religio-cultural imports from West Asian countries have considerably changed the cultural behaviour of Muslims. Dresses like the naqab, hijab and afiah, alien to Indian Muslims till a few decades ago, have become prevalent in the community in many parts of the country. Some of these cause divisions between religious communities and are inimical to the effective participation of women in everyday social, political and economic activities.

The neo-Islamists also emphasise religious and educational practices that undermine male-female equality in the
public sphere. These also undermine progressive relationships between religion, politics and economy, and between
communities. The cultural imports have slowed — even scuttled — reforms on women’s rights (including triple talaq) and the modernisation of the traditions of the Muslim community. Neo-Islam, like neo-Hinduism, is injurious to India’s pluralism.

Although economic compulsions and availability, not choice, shape the engagement of Muslims with educational institutions, the traditionalists’ emphasis on Urdu and Urdu medium schools have led them to ignore modern languages like English. A large share of Muslim students get educated in Urdu or vernacular medium schools, which have poor infrastructure and teachers of poor quality.

Urdu is neither the first language of the state, nor the market, so children educated in Urdu medium schools and madrasas add to unskilled, casual and menial workers. Maharashtra, where about 46 per cent of Muslim students are enrolled in such schools, is an example of such backwardness.

The drop-out rate among Muslims across states, after middle-level education, is high. Only a very small proportion of students from the community complete higher education, mainly from low-grade universities and colleges. Most of these graduates are not able to relate to modern economic sectors or to find gainful employment.

The community’s elites have acted strategically to maintain their class position by reinforcing obscurantism and encouraging neo-Islamic practices. The community lacks modern schools and higher educational institutions, especially in the social sciences, that can promote new research and precipitate reforms.

Significantly, the progressive elements from the community have been at the receiving end of right-wing elements, both from within and outside the community. Reformists and critics within have distanced themselves from the community, which prefers sycophants who eulogise obscurantist practices. The lack of space within the community for reformists has forced some to join the parties and groups they had, for a long time, blamed for being antithetical to communal harmony and national unity.

Interesting class divisions have emerged in so far as the expression of religiosity in the community is concerned. The neo-rich perform Haj multiple times and overspend on sacrificing animals, festivals and marriages — all this, while the poor and lower classes struggle to survive and face the brunt of Hindutva. The profligacies of the neo-rich have immense social and economic opportunity costs for the Muslim community, especially when it is in an adverse relationship with prevailing political powers, and is being asked to respond to its own problems.

 

The writer is deputy director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tuljapur Campus. Views expressed are personal  

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  1. S
    Sivakumar
    May 21, 2017 at 8:18 pm
    Shaban Sahib, well written but one sided view, may be because you are a Muslim. When you are pointing a finger at someone don't forget three fingers are pointing towards you. Introspect your self and your religious teaching, how Islam cuted non believers of Islam in the world Histry . Islam spread not because it's teaching are true but out of fear, out of lust, out of marrying and raping more women whom the riders conquered, if Allah is true God, how come it validates the kil of other human being, his own children's, think twice the crux of the teachings of Islam is very contradictory, it's a barbaric cult, if you don't agree openly , let your consciousness evaluate
    Reply
    1. H
      Harry
      May 21, 2017 at 7:55 pm
      "Dresses like the naqab, hijab and afiah, alien to Indian Muslims till a few decades ago, have become prevalent in the community in many parts of the country" This says all. Frontline soldiers Sufi sell Islam as tolerant faith, not much different from local faith. Then fis take over. So Hindus have to careful and avoid Sufis, as they are only mask. fis are the REAL.
      Reply
      1. K
        Kapil Sutra
        May 21, 2017 at 6:21 pm
        Taslima Nasrin of Bangladesh who is living on exile in India has the answers.
        Reply
        1. R
          RK singh
          May 21, 2017 at 11:28 am
          "Muslims-one of the most deprived communities of the 21 century" . Really? I feel they are so pampered like spoilt betas. They have best of treatment world wide, with no justification. They swarm all over Europe like parasites and take part of their welfare. Their religion preaches hatred, but we are forced to call it peaceful.
          Reply
          1. M
            MyTake
            May 21, 2017 at 2:09 am
            Although burqa was originally designed to keep the women safe, it now has taken a political meaning and in some part of the world they are being paid to make a point. When man and women are equally treated burqa is now exclusively serving the purpose of achieving political goals of "Islam means politics". It has nothing to do with the safety of women in Islam. Muslim women will feel more safe it Tripple Talaq and polygamy is withdrawn! Muslims, if you don't believe me ask your womenfolk if she is not agreeing with my statement. Remember the women named Sultana Razia who was fighting in the battlefield centuries ago giving a chase to "manhood"? Certainly she was not under burqa!
            Reply
            1. M
              MyTake
              May 21, 2017 at 2:02 am
              Burqa was designed to keep the lasty eyes of baranrians off the women in the land which was termed a land of darkness (as Islamic history itself talks about). it is certainly not designed for land where feminine power was placed on a high pedestal even leading to Heaven where faminine power having more say. Knowledge, wealth, strength are all in the hands of faminine power, what unfortunately the New-Mullahs and Old-Mullahs are fighting for to have full control and that precisely is the reason why they want to put a burqa on it and under cover! They have succesed to the extent that they officially declare to have four wives and at the fall of a hat also want to have the right to Talaq their women partner from their "contractual" (which by the way have nothing in common with the meaning of the word marriage) obligation! Respecting faminie power and putting it under cover is not the same thing by any definition - it's a talk right from opposite end of the spectrum!
              Reply
              1. M
                MyTake
                May 21, 2017 at 1:45 am
                Islam even makes their own people blind to the extent who can not see for themselves what it is doing to their own people! Why, otherwise, on earth children will be indcotrinated to turn themselves into suicide bombers to settle Mullah- score in the name of holding Allah in high esteem in otherwise and supposedly peaceful Haven? Is Allah a rogue to "enjoy" suicide deaths while sitting in His castle in Haven? Allah creates and Mullah destroys and they call it "Islam means Peace" formula! Need any other definition of "path to peace" that one has not heard of?
                Reply
                1. M
                  MyTake
                  May 21, 2017 at 1:38 am
                  Islam is best suited for Arab land with its harsh nature and conditions and not for land that talks about peace, diversity following the path of Ahimsa until one reaches even the stage of liberation without being violent to anyone.
                  Reply
                  1. M
                    MyTake
                    May 21, 2017 at 1:36 am
                    It is because of peaceful nature of Hindus, Muslims came to settle in India (even though that also ended up in fights for obvious reason), then dividing India for their "peaceful" existence in a separate land! Now they want to devour the rest in the name of their religion. It's like a virus entering a healthy body to colonize the it!
                    Reply
                    1. M
                      MyTake
                      May 21, 2017 at 1:32 am
                      Muslims always want something separate for them alone which than divides the society bringing in inter religious fights ending up with terrorist activities in the name of jehad and "Islam means Peace". It's a vicious cycle, once in you are in for life until you die and go to "Allah's Haven (?)! If Islam was only religion doing only religious activities people would not have any problem with that but the use of religion to achieve political goals make people legitimately su ious as it does not remain to be religion activity alone! It starts bordering line with fascism - giving rise to "do-this or else" and "everyone except Muslims are hated by God" phenomenon!
                      Reply
                      1. J
                        Junaid Khan
                        May 21, 2017 at 1:21 am
                        if girls come out in bikini it is good but if any girl wil ly wears hijab she is not good for society. What type of is this
                        Reply
                        1. A
                          Anand Ramanujam
                          May 21, 2017 at 12:56 am
                          A very brave attempt to bring parity to a hate filled religion with Sanatana Dharma.
                          Reply
                          1. M
                            Madhava
                            May 21, 2017 at 12:23 am
                            These anti-Hindu forces ignore facts and history.Swatantrya Veer Sawarkar was a profound philosopher and brought forward Hindutva.How many of you "Indian intellectual elite" know that he was a social reformer too? Do you think the fee of Hinduness is only found in upper classes and not in lower classes?Go to southern states where Christianity is rampant, and roam in Scheduled caste bastis.You will be astonished to see the fight between SCs who had converted to Christianity and the small population of SCs still hanging to their Hindu roots and fighting for their Hindutva.Each and every SC basti will give you a story particularly in AP and TamilNadu. I request Indian Commies, Indian Muslims, Indian Christians to try very hard (without tiring) to split the Hindu society.Until then,you will never get a response. Because we Hindus as a w , are in a deep state of slumber.Poke us as much as you can.I guess we will wake up. Once we come alive,I guess you people will meet your maker.
                            Reply
                            1. B
                              B
                              May 20, 2017 at 11:51 pm
                              Brunt of Hindutva only? Backward, ill educated, ignorant, illiterate Muslims are most likely to become terrorists and they should face the brunt of moderate Islam more than anything else! At the moment, the Muslim community's members' propensity for violence is the only thing other people are concerned about. Stop producing terrorists and neo Islam or pure Islam or whatever b can exist as it wants - by choice or chance. There is no religion to backwardness, but Islam seems to embrace it the most.
                              Reply
                              1. S
                                Sunny Cal
                                May 20, 2017 at 11:36 pm
                                There is no "neo Hinduism". Hinduism is a spiritual pursuit and has nothing to do with political movement. If one talks about RSS, its ideology is based on protecting ancient Indian cultural heritage and nationalism. Also, as for "neo-Islam", there is nothing "neo" about it. What we are witnessing in the world today is the atavistic reverting of Islam to its pure unvarnished fundamental teachings as per the Quran and what the Prophet practiced. So, actually Islam is going back to the time of Mohammed.
                                Reply
                                1. D
                                  Dr Shah
                                  May 20, 2017 at 11:31 pm
                                  with due respect & regard; there is nothing new in this Article, since long such type of article surface... if you really mean it come out with an article where solutions are mentioned which can be implemented for the betterment....
                                  Reply
                                  1. M
                                    Murthy
                                    May 20, 2017 at 10:07 pm
                                    India is not alone in facing radical Islam - which is the name I wish to give 'neo-Islam'. In every Western country with increasing Muslim population, authorities worry about their Madrassas inculcating in them: a) that Non-Muslims are decadent and thus "enemies of God" b) Muslims should not mix with Non-Muslims c) In India, it is noticeable how Muslims, unlike earlier times, do not come to attend Diwali or Dusserah functions - I do not mean Poojas, I would not expect them to, but to come and parti te in other activities. Only one or two of their men folk would come and stay quiet. After a few minutes they would leave. One can see the effects of Madrassa indoctrination. Music and parties - even birth day parties - are unIslamic, their Maulanas teach them, and so, many Muslim children in Western countries lead pretty lonely lives. Why should anyone wonder, if these children run away to Raqqa to fight for ISIS. Indoctrination of young Muslims is unprecedented in World History
                                    Reply
                                    1. V
                                      Vasudevan Venugopal
                                      May 20, 2017 at 10:03 pm
                                      Mr. Abdul Shaban, I have been, and still is, under the impression that Hindus, one of the most deprived communities in 21st century India, have been the most adversely impacted by communal politics.
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                                      1. P
                                        Provocateur Extraordinaire
                                        May 20, 2017 at 8:43 pm
                                        Some who choose to apply their minds are embarrassed by muhammads antics as given in the hadiths so they don't consider it as an islamic scripture. But if you disregard the hadith then kuran becomes totally meaningless. In essence, Ali Sina's crituque has not been answered by any islamic scholar who prefer to not to engage him in a debate. Those who do, give up abruptly because they don't have an answer. It would be nice if the present judges who are debating on the triple talaq be introduced to Ali sina's writings. It would surely enable them to deliver justice.
                                        Reply
                                        1. M
                                          Murthy
                                          May 20, 2017 at 9:54 pm
                                          Very few Indian journalists have even heard of Ali Sina and his easily accessed . Sadly, therefore, Indian Media is inward-looking, it has painted itself into a corner, through own mistaken notion of "secularism". For instance, our Media has not adequately explained the stance of Tasleema Nazrine, who has devoted many decades of her life looking at reform of Islamic beliefs and practices. I have not seen a single column on her. Timidity, and thus, dhimmitude, is all you find in Indian Media and Indian intellectuals, when it comes to Islam.
                                          Reply
                                          1. V
                                            Vasudevan Venugopal
                                            May 20, 2017 at 10:52 pm
                                            @Murthy: Well said.
                                        2. P
                                          Provocateur Extraordinaire
                                          May 20, 2017 at 8:36 pm
                                          There is no "neo islam". There is just islam and the wahabis and the current flavour of the season, the ISIS, are the closest in its practice. The rest are all all "kufr jahil" that means they transgress because of ignorance about islam. Ali Sina, an ex muslim, deconstructs the koran and the hadiths in its entirety with sound logic and reasoning relying only on these scriptures. The case he makes for is compel . Koran read on its own is just plain gibberish making no sense and many a times plainly contradictory. That is why to get some meaning out of it they look towards the actions of muhammad as given in the hadiths. And muhammad's character, as he is depicted in the hadiths, is not inspirational to any sane person. If some were to emulate him they would run foul of most penal codes in this world today. Yet he is considered as a role model for many muslims who don't know any better or plainly disregard it choosing not to exercise their free intellect. Continued....
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                                          1. A
                                            Ashish
                                            May 20, 2017 at 8:33 pm
                                            Burnt of hindutva...totaly rubbish..no such things even exist...
                                            Reply
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