Islamic interpretation of secularism

Date: 1/13/2006

Comment page=25//// Islamic interpretation of secularism///// By Ram Gopal///// In a discussion on ‘Secularism in India, its meaning, significance’, at the India International Centre, New Delhi, eminent personalities, like the former Central Minister, Shri Vasant Sathe, ex-MPs. Syed Shahabuddin and Shri Prafull Goradia, the chief of Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Hind, Maulana Ansari; VHP President, Shri V.H.Dalmia, and some others, expressed their views. ///// While Shri Sathe, Shri Goradia and Shri Dalmia pointed out certain portions of the Indian Constitution and government orders which militated against the secular character of the Indian polity, surprisingly Shri Shahabuddin too complained that India was not truly secular, albeit for entirely different reasons. He said that, in spite of the Constitutional guarantee for equal respect and protection to every religion, Islam and the Muslims of India were not getting their due. He argued that secularism, namely Sarvadharmasambhava (equal respect to all religions), meant that Islam, in its entirety, should enjoy full respect and immunity in India. Carrying his argument further, Shri Syed said that while other religions, like Hinduism and Christianity, were confined to spirituality, (relationship between God and man), Islam covered all aspects of human life and that the Shariat (Islamic law) is an essential element of Islam. Hence, according to Shahabuddin, respect to Islam is incomplete without providing full play to Islamic laws of the Muslims. He also asserted that all protagonists of a common civil code for all, (including Muslims), were non-secular and thus anti-Muslims. Maulana Ansari shared his views. //// Secularism means that the State should not interfere in the religious belief of its subjects, should not discriminate between individuals on grounds of religion, race, birth or sex and should not propagate any particular religion from State funds. Muslim intellectuals and their leaders, however, stick to their own version of secularism which means equal or even more rights for Muslims in a non-Islamic State and denial of any right to non-Muslims in their Islamic States. //// The roots of Shri Shahabuddin's thesis lie in the Gandhian philosophy of Sarvadharmasambhava (equal respect to all religions on earth), a slogan repeated ad nauseam by every Hindu activist. It is a one sided proclamation that comes only from Hindu platforms-social, religious or political. Their own chosen leaders and the Parliament allowed the Muslims to have their separate Shariat law, their separate Urdu language, subsidy for their Haj pilgrimage, in addition to mushrooming of mosques and madrasas. Following these concessions, they themselves have set up Shariat courts. And, yet they complain of their persecution, discrimination, and backwardness. To assuage their feeling, the Indian prime minister has set up the Rajinder Sachar Committee to find ways and means to grant job reservations to Muslims. The finance minister too has asked the Reserve Bank to take similar action for setting up an Islamic bank in India. According to latest reports, a memorandum prepared by 46 Muslim organizations and signed by 420 individuals, including 300 women, has been submitted to the prime minister urging him to bring agricultural land of the Muslims within the purview of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Act. The signatories include Syed Shahabuddin, former chief justice of India, A.M. Ahmadi, noted actress Shabana Azami and Iyricist Javed Akhtar. //// Tailored reports of Muslim backwardness, concocted stories of their persecution and other grievances will go on multiplying till they do not become absolute rulers of Hindu India. //// Will the non-Muslim secularists of India even now understand the Muslim mindset in its correct perspective? Tailored reports of Muslim backwardness, concocted stories of their persecution and other grievances will go on multiplying till they do not become absolute rulers of Hindu India. //// This is how, step by step, they went on increasing their demands in undivided India since 1906 till 1940 when they declared that they could not live in peace with Hindus on an equal footing, proposed Partition, started a civil war in 1946 and got Pakistan in 1947. An avowed anti-Hindu British regime was at their back. History is being repeated so soon. The only difference is that the anti-Hindu secularists have taken the place of the anti-Hindu British rulers. //// It is notable that, howsoever, the world may call Pakistan or Bangladesh a failed State, the Muslims there won’t complain of backwardness, discrimination or persecution. It is only in a democratic and secular India that they are using ‘secularism’ as a weapon to make it a Dar-ul-Islam, (land where Islamic rule prevails), from a Dar-ul-harb, (land where Islamic rule does not prevail). Syed Shahabuddin’s definition of ‘secularism’ is a clear signal towards this goal. It is a warning not only to the Hindus but to the entire non-Muslim world. //// 000000000