#Interview “Muslims are unsafe only in nations where Muslims are in the majority”: Syed Rizwan Ahmed
Syed Rizwan Ahmed, an Islamic Scholar, is known for his forthright opinion and staunch nationalist point of view. He is the one who took a clear stand when his cousin and actor Naseeruddin Shah tried to create a narrative of ‘intolerance’. Amidst the competition for running fake narratives about Bharat and attempts to vitiate the atmosphere on communal lines, Syed Rizwan Ahmed spoke to Organiser Correspondent Nishant Kr Azad on various issues related to Hindu-Muslim relations in Bharat. Excerpts :
Q The debate over rising intolerance is surfacing once again, and the intolerance brigade is seen to be rejuvenated after Naseeruddin Shah’s recent comment. Some even claim that they feel ‘safer’ in Pakistan than in Hindustan. How do you see this?
Intolerance in India is the birth child of Muslim incompatibility to co-exist peacefully with other faiths. After the bloody Partition of 1947, Indian leaders, to whichever political party they belonged, preferred India to be secular. Also, the Hindus of India did not object to it at that time. That was a rare example of tolerance ever exhibited by any faith in history. However, the question is what the Muslims have done to Hindus in return? Sadly, absolutely nothing. And ever since Manusmriti was rejected, and Hindu laws were codified under modern law, the political dispensation of Jawaharlal Nehru offered special privileges to Muslims. Since then, there have been many incidents where Muslims failed to play any pro-active role, be it the Shah Bano case, or the Kashmiri Pandits when they were kicked out of their original birthplace, or the rampant and illegal immigration of Bangladeshis into India. So as time passed, the Hindus started feeling that they were getting 'raw deal' under the guise of secularism and that was hurting them somewhere down the line. Gradually, that feeling manifested itself, and now the Hindus have become more articulate, assertive, vehement which today is being perceived as intolerance.
Today, intolerance in India means, any person questioning any of the minority communities like Muslims, or any person holding minorities accountable for their conduct, or anyone asking them to conduct themselves in the framework of being an Indian is considered intolerant.
Intolerance is a false narrative of the pseudo-seculars and intolerant Muslims. If someone questions or criticises Muslims, the person is considered an apostate or ‘kaafir’ questioning or criticising Islam
For me, there is nothing like intolerance. It is just a false narrative of the pseudo-seculars and intolerant Muslims. The statement given by Naseeruddin is reckless and irresponsible. He is just a loose cannon ball.
Q How do you view intolerance or insecurity narrative in the last few years?
Muslims have become habituated to throwing tantrums, and being pampered in the name of minorities. The moment someone starts questioning them over their tantrums, they raise a hue and cry about ‘rising intolerance’.
Q Being a Muslim yourself, do you believe that Muslims are not safe in India as many from your community claim?
Muslims are only unsafe in one part of India, i.e. after you cross the Banehal tunnel of Jammu and Kashmir and enter the Kashmir belt of the country. Muslims are only unsafe in nations where Muslims are in the majority. But unfortunately, wherever Muslims are in the minority, they create such a situation in which they end up being insecure due to manufactured fault lines in the name of divine superiority and thus being victimised by 'others'.
Q On social media platforms whenever you speak about the negative side of Islam or condemn any act, you have been targeted.
These set of people have forgotten the essence of Islam. Islam was revealed in the land of ignorance that was Arabia. Islam was revealed to reform the people of Arabia. These people today feel that Islam in the form delivered 1400 year back as the most reformed religion or faith. For them reformed Islam is no Islam; for them, freedom of expression does not exist. The doctrine of Ijtihad, meaning application of mind in the backdrop of Islam to reach a logical conclusion, was shut in the 12th and 13th century. Since then if someone questions or criticises Muslims, the person is considered an apostate or 'kaafir' questioning or criticising Islam.
Two major players are responsible for the backwardness of the Muslim community. One is Muslim Ulema, and surprisingly, the other is the educated Muslims. The problem with Indian Muslims is that the educated Muslims connived with the clergy and did not support the reform within the community
Q While the NDA-led Modi Government claims that Triple Talaq Bill is the need of the hour, Opposition parties along with some Muslim patriarchal organisations are opposing the move—your Opinion.
Triple Talaq is not a part of Islamic theology. It became part of Islamic culture through executive order, and because of this in most Muslim countries, it is abolished. Ninety per cent of Muslim women feel that triple talaq is undesirable and most Muslim men feel the same way. But the animosity to Narendra Modi runs so deep in the Muslim psyche that they do not want to seem to be appreciative of Modi’s stand on triple talaq. And this animosity is keeping them silent and they are not supporting the idea to abolish triple talaq for they may seem standing next to Narendra Modi.
The people and the organisation who are saying that Modi is targeting the Muslims and want to put them in jail, they should only hold a press conference and announce that Talaq-e-biddat ceases to exist in India as per Sharia also.
They should issue a circular to all the Sharia courts and submit an affidavit under the same petition of triple talaq in the Supreme Court, as per Sharia, Talaq-e-biddat also ceases to exist. The moment All India Muslim Personal Law Board does this, the bill shall by default become irrelevant. The law shall not move because the law and Sharia shall be on the same platform. Thus registration of FIR shall be infructuous with no Muslim male ever going to jail. No triple talaq, no jail; win-win for all. But they shall never do so because they want to end up showing we made Narendra Modi lose in his endeavour.
Q It has been more than 60 years since Independence, but the Muslim community is still considered as a backward. Who do you think is responsible for the backwardness of the Muslim community?
Two major players are responsible for the backwardness of the Muslim community. One is Muslim Ulema, and surprisingly, the other is the educated Muslims. No community is educated in toto. Any race or community which has been reformed is through a handful of literate people who has the wisdom to see the future.
The problem with Indian Muslims is that the educated class of Muslims connived with the clergy and did not support the reform within the community. Had the Muslim intellectual class challenged the community after Independence and had pushed the community to embrace the mainstream, the scenario would have been altogether different today. However, the Muslim intellectuals and clergy are hand in gloves. That is why I say the idea of the Quran in one hand, and laptop in other does not suit my idea of Muslim reform.
Muslim clergy and intellectual class feel that the moment they chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ or ‘Vande Mataram’, they will submit themselves to the ideology of Bharatiyata. Instead, they depict themselves submitting to Arab ideology or the idea of Ummah, which says that Islam is one community which has nothing to do with isolated nationalism
One thing I want to add is that the political parties who always shot at the ‘Right Wing’ using the shoulder of average Muslims. They have always exploited, threatened and made the Muslims realise that the existence of Muslims and Islam in India is under threat because of Right Wing. It was the threat perception they inculcated in average Muslims, rather than pulling them into the mainstream; they pushed them out of the mainstream.
Instead of ironing out creases of doubts and fears from the minds of average Muslims, the Muslim intellectual class and pseudo-intellectual parties helped the clergy in pushing the community out of the mainstream in the name of religious identity.
Q It has been alleged that Indian Muslims find it difficult to say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and sing ‘Vande Mataram’. Even most of the time Muslim leaders and organisation openly say that we will not chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’.
As a Muslim scholar, I see a difference between ‘Bharat' and that between India / Hindustan. For me, Bharat is not about geographical boundaries; it is about tradition and the Bharatiya ideology. From 'Satyug' till date, everything sums up as 'Bharat'; the thought, civilisation, culture, tradition, language and ancestors.
Muslim clergy and intellectual class feel that the moment they chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ or ‘Vande Mataram’, they will submit themselves to the ideology of Bharatiyata. Instead, they depict themselves submitting to Arab ideology or the idea of Ummah, which says that Islam is one community which has nothing to do with isolated nationalism.
Q It has been alleged many a time that Modi Government is against Muslims. How true is that?
Any person who shall not pamper the Muslim community or ignore their tantrums shall be perceived as anti-Muslims.
Q What is your opinion about Ram Mandir in Ayodhya?
About Ram Mandir, I want to tell my Muslim brethren. As a responsible minority, we should not get into an argument on ‘Where Sri Ram was born?’ The day archaeological evidence proved beyond doubts that a man-made structure existed under Babri Masjid, that was a beautiful moment for the Muslims to withdraw from that piece of land leaving the Hindus to decide where the Ram was born or whether Ram Mandir is to be built there or not.
Acknowledging the fact that this land belongs to some other faith, Muslims should have unconditionally withdrawn from the disputed space of 2.77 acres, asserting for this being last such dispute.
Q What is your opinion over RSS?
How RSS came up?
1906: Muslim League with two-nation theory; 1909: Separate electorate for Muslims; 1917: Khilafat Movement; 1919-1924: Riots/ Mopla Massacre; 1925: RSS.
From 1947 to 1962-1965 War and the natural calamities Bharat has faced, RSS has always stood up for the hour as an organisation. And when it stood up, it did not discriminate between Hindus and Muslims. On only one occasion; Emergency, Muslims and RSS fought together shoulder to shoulder against the political dispensation. But surprisingly after Congress again coming to power, India witnessed severe riots subsequently creating enmity between RSS and Muslims which is still alive. The moment average Muslim starts developing an understanding and compatibility with RSS, the whole idea of pseudo-secularism will fall flat on its face in the country on which many political parties have been enjoying undisputed power of the government for the last 70 years. Hence, they manufacture rift between RSS and Muslims regularly.
Q What is the solution to ensure Hindu-Muslim harmony in Bharat?
In the last four years, the primary reason behind the rift between Hindu and Muslims are the Muslim clergy, pseudo-secular parties, Muslim intellectual class and fringe Hindutva elements. A very wrong perception about Bharat has been created globally and also in the psyche of the nationalist Muslims because of some death in the name of Gau-Raksha. The BJP Government should have more impartially and strictly acted against the fake Gau Rakshaks or who are glorifying the killings in the name of Gau Raksha.