Tuesday, 27 March 2012, 5:12 pm
Article: Sazzad Hussain
March 26, 2012
Though India is the home to world’s second largest Muslim population its large majority are overwhelmingly secular. It was our recent history which had created the sense of the separation or ‘the other’ resulting in the Partition of the great Sub-continent. Before that, under the Sultanate and the Mughal period India was absolutely secular and nationalistic rather than religious in politics, administration, war and trade. On the other hand the concept of the ‘Islamic State’ dates back to the period immediately after the demise of the Prophet in the eight century when the entire Arabian peninsula and beyond was brought under one single political control. However that concept were lost or distorted in the following centuries especially after the fall of the Umayyad Caliphate at Damascus and the rise of the Abbasid Caliphate at Baghdad. The coming of the non-Arab Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth century brought plurality and diversity to the Arab dominated Islam which was very much homogeneous. But its decline and subsequent fall after World War I to European imperial powers created a vacuum in the present day Arab Middle-East where Islam was experiencing a fast moving exposure to the hitherto unknown colonialism of the West and was getting to adopt new life. At this critical juncture the political and territorial ambition of one Arab tribal chieftain, Ibn Saud formed the foundation which later came to be known as Islamic state. The system of Islamic state has contributed in shaping destinies of different nations of the world and reshaped the geo-political configurations of the world. India too, experienced the influence of the Islamic state order in its post-Independent period resulting in the further alienation of its Muslim population from the mainstream coupled with the hostile socio-political set up due to the Partition. Now India is facing a threat of being a parallel Islamic state for its Muslims, thanks to the free hand given to certain organizations advocating such a separate system in the name of minority rights.
The designs of the first modern Islamic state was initiated in 1744 near Riyadh by Ibn Abdal Wahhab, an itinerant religious scholar preaching an austere form of Islam by his concurrence to support the territorial ambition of Ibn Saud. However their initial programme did not lasted for long and their descendants revived it in early twentieth century when Abdal Aziz Ibn Saud started his military campaign with the militia Ikhwan(Brotherhood), an armed outfit adherent to the Islam as preached by Wahhab. The Ikhwan was an egalitarian movement attempting to replace the increasingly threatened life of Arabian tribal nomadism with settlement and agriculture the degenerate practices of saint worship and excessive veneration of the Prophet with the strict monotheism of Tawhid (Unitarianism).The Ikhwan revived the classical doctrine of Jihad, as the duty to struggle against unbelievers, and expanded to justify war even against fellow Muslims mostly the Shiites. With armed support from the British and backed by the Ikhwan Abdal Aziz Ibn Saud formed Saudi Arabia (the only country to be named after a family in the world) by 1930, thus establishing the first Islamic state in the modern world. For the sake of his royal family the Saudi kingdom allied with the Wahhabi followers known as Muwahhidun which had its own legal scholars, teachers, political spokesmen and militants. After 1932 it allied with United States for security and ensured the hurdle free pumping of oil by ARAMCO (Arab American Oil Co.) and used the holy Quran as its constitution to run the kingdom with oil wealth as a private property. The features of this ‘Islamic state’ have been the non-existence of a written constitution, no parliament, no opposition party, no freedom of the press, no women’s right and no human rights, public executions, absolute gender segregation and a complete homogenization of Islam in Arab forms. This Ismaization (Actually Arabization or Bedouinization) latter become a useful tool for American interests in this region since the 1950s as Arab nationalism and socialism swept the region with nationalization of the Suez Canal in Nasser’s Egypt and that of oil industry in Iraq, Syria and South Yemen. The Saudi Islam or Wahhabism, well known for its notoriety for being intolerant and most hardliner, was exported to neighbouring Arab states to thwart socialism and was carried as far as Pakistan. The intense proselytizing nature of Wahhabism quickened the introduction of Islam as a political from in the nation-states with active US backing. Its devastating consequences are now seen in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan. Because of the oil revenue used to fund it, this Islam is also known as Petro-dollar Islam and most recently as McJihad for its role in ensuring the interests of the global oil giants.
The threat of this system, which has devastated so many countries, in India is coming from the increased bowing of the state to the demands of Indian Islamist. As part of its global collaboration with the United States, Saudi Arabia exported its Wahhabism as proselytizing missions by setting up Madrassas where memorizing of the Quran in archaic Arabic is followed as strict practice of Islam. Such petro-dollar Madrassas started sprouting up across the country India from 1980s onwards and since then Islam has been losing its original and distinctive Indian features amongst us. The Islam that Indian Muslims practiced until mid 1970s is now completely engulfed by the Arabized form of Islam as ‘pure’ form of the faith. After the hara-kiri of the Indian Muslims in the Shah Bano case by the government before the Ayodhya incident, the Personal Law Board created a parallel judiciary system for the community. The demand of the visit by British author Salman Rushdie to the Jaipur Literary Festival from certain Muslim quarters and the government’s tacit support to this reiterates the incoming threat of setting up of a parallel Islamic state for Muslim citizens in India. Rushdie, who had visited the same venue in 2007, was not a problem for anyone at that time but the election time in Uttar Pradesh made the centre to succumb to the unjust demands. The way certain political parties advocated for Muslim quota in UP also exposes the same threat, which will definitely embolden the forces that supports such a system. However the public have rejected such divisive calls in UP polls. In Assam, which has a increasing Muslim population, there has been some attempts to impose the ‘Islamic’ system. The recent call to Muslim girls and women by a cleric to wear Burqas, the imposition of ban on entry women in the Estema venue in Dhubri are disturbing instances of the growing designs of turning our society to live in parallel orders. If our concerned citizens, academicians, women activists and social workers do not speak loud and bold our Muslim women and girls will soon be pushed inside the four walls of the homes and be seen in head to toe covered Burqas, vice controlling squads, holidays in Muslim areas on Fridays, kangaroo courts and stoning sentences and many more restrictions for all Indian Muslims. The government would do nothing against it as it will open more spaces for political mileages and electoral gains.
Sazzad Hussain is a freelance writer based in, North Lakhimpur, Assam.