What to make out of Muslim-Bhagwat meet?
Cordial relations between Hindus and Muslims are a prerequisite for India to emerge as a powerful and prosperous nation. Any step, including dialogue, in this direction is welcome. This is exactly what RSS chief is doing.
What to make out of the recent meeting between RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat, and some distinguished Muslims? While the traditional critics of the organisation are busy attributing motives and smelling something fishy in this initiative, several Hindutva sympathisers are confused- wondering whether RSS is turning 'soft ' to Islamic communalism. Then of course there's an obvious question: Can such an exercise bring an end to angst that defines Hindu-Muslim relations?
In his subsequent Vijayadashami address at Nagpur, Bhagwat again reached out to Muslims, saying "misinformation" had been spread about Sangh. There is scare-mongering, Bhagwat said. "Because of this fear, some members of the minority community have been meeting us over the past few years. We are also meeting people from the community," he explained.
Underlining that the Sangh has been doing this for quite some time, he said, "We will continue this conversation", and referred to his recent meetings with prominent Muslim civil society and faith leaders to ward off such concerns.
The five individuals who met Bhagwat in Delhi recently included former Delhi LG Najeeb Jung, journalist Shahid Siddiqui, hotelier Saeed Shervani, Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah and S Y Qureshi, a former Chief Election Commissioner of India.
Writing in a multi-edition English daily later, Qureshi recalled "Bhagwat in his opening remarks, emphasised three things: Hindutva is an inclusive concept in which all communities have equal room. The country can progress only when all communities are united, he added. In a very significant statement, he emphasised that the Indian Constitution is sacrosanct, and the entire country has to abide by it."
Bhagwat's remarks may have surprised the uninitiated, but he didn't say anything new. He merely reiterated what Sangh has always believed in and practiced. Responding to fears and apprehensions expressed by the five-member Muslim group, according to Qureshi, Mohan Bhagwat "sought to dispel the fear that RSS is seeking to abandon the Constitution at the first opportunity. And, that Muslims will be defranchised."
The news of the meeting came as some sort of a shock to self-styled 'liberal secularists'. The fundamentalists in the Muslim community and 'secular' politicians of various hues, were livid and declared the meeting nothing less than a "sell out" on part of Qureshi and his teammates.
Many of the Hindutva sympathisers too are confused, and can't rationalise Mohan Bhagwat's gesture to reach out to Muslims particularly when Islamists, using the cover fire provided by the 'left- liberals', been unleashing violence against Hindus, and ironically also shaming India abroad through a manufactured narrative of Muslim persecution by Hindu nationalists and Modi Government.
The genesis of Hindu-Muslim discord in the Indian subcontinent can be traced to three principal reasons -- Islamic theology, local Muslims' misplaced pride in the past, along with insecurity created by uncertainty of future, and mischievous role of Communists, restyling themselves as 'left-liberals', to suit the present socio-political milieu.
Successive generation of Muslims, including Islamic rulers while persecuting, demeaning and killing non- believers, ravishing their women and razing places of worship, have claimed inspiration from Islamic concepts of 'kafir & kufur'. The accounts by Muslim rulers and their official chroniclers of their regime make a chilling reading, giving graphic details of their gory deeds, and sadly recording them as 'achievements' deserving religious merit!
Who's responsible for the plight of non-Muslims in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Hindu genocide and exodus from Kashmir? RSS -- the favourite whipping boy of Communists responsible for any communal flare-up? Unfortunately for them, the organisation doesn't even exist in these areas. The communal virus that has exterminated non-believers in these areas, transcends geographical limits and borders, and has infected several parts of residual India in varying degrees for long.
Muslims were always a minority in the sub-continent, but didn't feel insecure. Instead, most of the time they were belligerent, and subjugated non-Muslims. Once the departure of British looked inevitable, bulk of the Muslims, bolstered with a misplaced pride of the past, and burdened down with apprehensions of competing as equals with Hindus in an independent India, collaborated with colonial masters, and worked for the vivisection of the country - further exacerbating Hindu-Muslim divide.
The role of Communists in widening the Hindu-Muslim chasm, has remained largely ignored. They were the agent-provocateurs and provided every argument Mohammad Ali Jinnah needed to justify his demand for Pakistan. In independent India, wearing the 'secular' mask, they invariably egg on Jehadis and other divisive forces to balkanise India.
Muslims wanted Pakistan, a country where non-Muslims would have no rights, they got it in spite of Hindus. In residual India, they have equal rights (even more), because of Hindus. India is secular because of its plural Hindu ethos. More Muslims are killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan in intra- Islamic clashes, than in communal riots in India.
Since partition, the number of Muslims has gone up in residual India by over six times (from about three crores to nearly 20 crores ). The share of Hindus, meanwhile, has dropped drastically in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and almost by four per cent in residual India.
Along with thousands of other indigenous places of worship, three most revered Hindu temples- Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya - were demolished by Muslim despots in the name of Islam, and mosques were raised on their ruins. These mosques were not for worship. They are monuments to etch in stone and mortar the humiliation of vanquished Hindus and to establish the supremacy Islam. Why is the present generation of Muslims so adamant to identify itself with the black deeds of Islamic invaders? This mindset needs to change.
Muslims have two separate nations, carved out of India, where non-Muslims can't survive even as second class citizens. Hindus, on the other hand, cannot have back, the three of their most sacred places of worship. Hindus got Ayodhya, after several protracted battles, spanning over five centuries, including seven decades of struggle in independent India. Kashi is in courts and status quo continues in Krishna Janambhomi in Mathura. The absurdity of the situation, gnaws the Hindu psyche.
If left to themselves, Hindus and Muslims may have sorted out these vexed issues between themselves. But because of the mischievous role of 'left- liberals', even any meaningful dialogue not been possible.
Would Bhagwat's recent meetings with Muslim groups help to ease Hindus-Muslim relations in immediate future? No, for various reasons. Are such initiatives totally purposeless? No, they do have a use and should continue.
The fears and prejudices among Muslims about Hindus in general and RSS in particularly are too deep-rooted to be cleared soon and easily. The issue of 'kafir & Kufur', the bane of Muslim & non Muslim relations is not something any group of Muslims, however, eminent it may be, can deal with, since the concepts have roots in Islamic theology.
RSS Chief had raised the issue of 'kafir' in the meeting. According to Qureshi, "Our response was that though the original meaning of this Arabic word was non-believer, if it is considered derogatory, Muslims must avoid it completely. Very easy. Very doable." Qureshi's optimism on this count shows how poorly he is connected with his community.
Cordial relations between Hindus and Muslims are a prerequisite for India to emerge as a powerful and prosperous nation. Any step, including dialogue, in this direction is welcome. This is exactly what Bhagwat is doing. Doesn't a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?
(Mr. Balbir Punj is a Former Member of Parliament and a Columnist. He can be reached at: email@example.com)
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