“Yeh kemon musalman – What sorts of Muslims are they”, questioned Sheikh Hasina in 2016

Nirendra Dev

(A Pakistani thinker Mobarak Haider wrote acidly on Facebook in 2016 — “The long arm of ISIS has touched Bangladesh after Turkey. Can we understand ISIS and Al-Qaeda or Taliban and Boko Haram as separate entities?)

New Delhi

In 2016 a comment from Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had generated minor debate and there were reactions even from across the border in Pakistan.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister  was spot on.

In her first reaction to the Dhaka holocaust of July 2016, she had wondered how in the holy month of Ramadan, the Muslims could kill people in the name of Islamic values.

The bottomline was the ‘game’ has just begun and it would gradually assume an alarming dimension. Six years down the line, fundamentalism in India is showing an ugly face. Two cases of beheading triggered a bigger debate on whether external agencies are working in this vulnerable country with a large section of people too being ‘vulnerable’.

When I say ‘people’ — I do not mean Muslims only. Radical thinking has germinated and grown up gradually.

With Christians the journey is often off-track as more and more reasonable sections are turning anti-Modi for no reason or rhyme. At times perhaps unknowingly they even tend to toe an anti-India line too.

A few months back, Christian intellectuals were banking a lot on the so called ‘secular’ credentials of the Maharashtra government – presuming Uddhav, his son Aditya and the Shiv Sena family had transformed into a ‘secular’ outfit. Today, the dynastic raj has ended, manipulation king Sharad Pawar has to start thinking afresh.

Is Maharashtra then again a ‘communal’ state ? So, Christian wisdom is lost somewhere.

From time to time Christian intellectuals work overtime to project how injustice was meted to Jesuit Stan. Little do people remembered that Stan was the oldest person to be accused of terrorism.

On 8 October 2020, he was arrested and charged by the National Investigation Agency under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for his alleged role in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence and links to the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

These charges are denied outright by Christian organisations.

A significant decrease has been noticed in communal incidence between Hindus and Christians during the period (2014-2021) compared to the period (2006-2013).
The incidents of communal clashes have reduced by 43%, while the number of deaths has also decreased by 87%.

But when it comes to two beheading incidents, Christian leaders either straightway blame the Modi regime or leaders like Nupur Sharma; or the condemnation of such acts is rare.

In 2016, Pakistani thinker Mobarak Haider wrote rather acidly on Facebook “The long arm of ISIS has touched Bangladesh after Turkey”.
“Can we understand ISIS and Al-Qaeda or Taliban and Boko Haram as separate entities? We may not like to agree but the fact is that they are products of an ideological movement of respected Muslim ulama like Imam Hambal, Imam Taimiah, Ibn-Wahab, Shah Wali Ullah, Syed Ahmad Shaheed, Syed Maudoodi and syed Qutb. These are great names of Salafi, Wahabi, Deobandi currents of Islamic revival.

Hizb-al-Tahreer is said to be their present keeper. It may annoy some of us but the truth is that very few scholars of Islam have effectively disagreed with their vision and version of Islam”, wrote Haider.

These sincere and seemingly objective analyses were ignored. Christian leadership has every right to question the right wing fundamentalism of Hindus or the BJP; but they cannot look the other way when faceless Hindus are slaughtered in Amravati and Udaipur.

When it comes to Hindu-Christian relationship, ‘conversion’ is a matter of concern; and it is definitely an issue for the BJP and other Hindu organisations.

Census figures show Christians form a modest 0.50 percent of Gujarat’s 63 million (6.3 crore) people; but in about 8-9 assembly segments in the southern tribal belt, Chrisian numbers are sizable, maybe around 30- 55 percent. Many say conversion has been the trigger. But Christian bodies are irked when RSS leaders speak about the need to ban conversion.

It is not that Muslims do not understand the dangerous impact some radical organisations and their philosophies can have.

Organisations like the Popular Front of India (PFI) and any other such fronts, that have been indulging in anti-national activities and creating discord amongst our citizens must be banned and action initiated against them as per law, says a resolution adopted at an interfaith dialogue organised by the All India Sufi Sajjadanashin
Council. This is a significant move.

According to Hazrat Syed Naseeruddin Chishty, Chairman of All India Sufi Sajjadanashin Council, some radical organisations including Popular Front of India (PFI) ought to be banned

Importantly, NSA Ajit Doval attended the dialogue meet and he stated that
some elements are trying to create an atmosphere that’s “vitiating the progress of India”.
They are creating acrimony and conflict.

True, now the challenge is to work on ground to check the spread of fundamentalism of all kinds.

When it comes to issues of religions, people’s faith and issues related to such issues, one ought to refer to some conflicts and struggles witnessed in tribal heartland in Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh and also northeastern states.

The central government is treading the path cautiously.

The maiden speech of India’s first tribal President, Droupadi Murmu, speaks about the special relationship the tribal community enjoys with nature, taking “necessary resources from it” and also serving it with “equal reverence”.

Issues related to religions exist in these areas also.

In the tribal world, ‘animism’ is an important characteristic of people. The tribal people have beliefs in supernatural power on the back of heavy rains, big trees, stones, hills and mountains.

Nagas practice stone-pulling with great reverence though people have adopted Christianity long back.

The “amalgamation” of tradition and modernity has been unique and very smooth for Nagas. Of course in more ways than one, Nagas have stepped into modernity but have upheld traditional values and do cherish the ancestral motifs.

To sum up, there is nothing wrong in being traditional and religious. On the contrary there are merits in it.

But what’s important is that one admires and tries to implement the spirit of the resolution adopted at the interfaith conference.

“….any person or organisation found guilty with evidence of spreading hatred among the communities through any means must be acted upon as per the provisions of law,” it said and rightly so.


Details about the writer:
Nirendra Dev is an Independent writer.
for more details visit his blog