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Seeds of discord (Letters to the Editor)

Seeds of discord (Letters to the Editor)

Author: M Ratan, Karol Bagh, New Delhi
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: November 23, 2001

Sir - Mr A Surya Prakash, in his 8-part essay, 'Islam and the Indian Constitution' has raised many serious questions that have an important bearing on secularism and national cohesion. Since this is a very sensitive subject, any one who dwells on it with a degree of frankness, exposes himself to the familiar charge of anti-Muslim prejudice and communalism. Hence, one must admire Mr Prakash for his intellectual courage to take up this vexed topic in an attempt to stir a national debate.

None call challenge his assertion that in 'Secular' and 'Democratic' India, the Constitution reigns supreme, All personal laws, social traditions and religious practices are subservient to it. Any action that violates the Constitution is unacceptable. Yet, as Mr Prakash has noted in his essay, there have been cases wherein some religious and political leaders have tried to defy constitutional parameters on the plea that those practices have scriptural sanctions behind them, due to which the national constitutional law cannot interfere with them. This fundamentalist retrograde mindset is the primary cause of social friction and inter-communal misunderstanding.

This is one area where an enlightened and secular Muslim leadership plays a crucial role. One cannot expect these obscurantist Imams and Ulemas to provide proper guidance and true leadership. In India, the Islamic agenda is set by the likes of Panatwalas and Ahmed Bukharis and not by liberal, secular politicians and intellectuals like Ms Shabana Azmi and Mr Javed Akhtar. Unfortunately, even academics like Dr Mushirul Hasan appear petulant and hypocritical where one expects them to be broad-minded and objective while talking about possible flaws in Islam. For instance, there was jihad even in pre-Partition India and it was Mr Jinnah who held sway over the Muslim community with his separatist agenda. in preference to a liberal nationalist leader like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad. flow is it that bigots and terrorists like Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden are so popular with a large section of the Muslim community, knowing fully well that they are the sworn enemies of India? Isn't Mr Prakash justified in his assessment that Islamic brotherhood seems to have greater importance than Indian brotherhood?

Recently, a leading national TV channel showed images of' an Indian Muslim outfit organising training camps for its young followers to indoctrinate them with treacherous ideas 'and thus fulfill the mission of Islamic rule in India. This may comprise a small minority of fanatics but what about the supposedly liberal and educated elements defending an anti-national body like SIMI? Let not Mr Hasan dismiss this letter as the product of a communal RSS mindset.

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