‘As Much as India Belongs to Narendra Modi and Mohan Bhagwat, It Also Belongs to Mahmood Madani’

Mahmood Madani. Photo By arrangement

In his presidential address on Saturday, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind chief said, “India is our homeland”, and spoke about issues like Pasmanda Muslims, ‘bulldozer justice’, anti-conversion laws and Hindutva.

New Delhi: Mahmood Madani, the president of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, said that India is currently “reeling under the influence of hatred and religious prejudice”, which have become tools of destruction.

In the presidential address delivered on Saturday, February 11, at Ramlila Maidan during the three-day 34th general session of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, Madani raised several issues that he said were threatening India’s history as a secular and harmonious nation.

“Jamiat Ulama-i Hind considers aggressive communalism as a great loss to the whole country and community and considers it a serious threat to the integrity of the homeland. Communalism does not match India’s great heritage of social harmony. Friendly and brotherly relations between different religions are a proud and enduring feature of our society. To destroy these relations is a national crime,” he said.

The Wire is publishing some excerpts from his speech.

‘India is the best place for Indian Muslims’

India is our homeland, as much as this homeland belongs to Narendra Modi and Mohan Bhagwat, it also belongs to Mahmood Madani. Neither Mahmood is an inch ahead of him nor are they an inch behind Mahmood. The distinction of this land is that the first prophet of Islam Adam (peace be upon him) descended here. This land is the birthplace of Islam and the first homeland of Muslims. Therefore, to say that Islam is a religion that came from outside is completely wrong and historically baseless. Islam is the religion of this country and it is also the oldest of all religions. The last prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him) came to complete the same religion, which bloomed in India.

So, I have no qualms in saying that India is the best place for Indian Muslims, just like one’s house is the best place to live in, however dilapidated it may be. But at the same time, it is important to understand the fact that there is a system to follow to live in one’s own country, if that system is right, it will be easier for the citizens of this country to live, and if that system is corrupted, their life will be difficult. We have to see how the system of our country is and how responsible are those who run it. Before that, we also have to see the country’s constitution, democratic system and law and order institutions and their functioning in the current political situation. Only after that analysis, it will be possible to make a decision. We have to understand that (1) the Constitution, (2) Democracy and thirdly the Human Rights are the hallmark of modern India.

If these three features are preserved and implemented in true sense in the country, it will be easy for us to say that today’s India is the best place, but if any of these three or even one of them is compromised, then it will not be easy for us to claim this. To further examine and understand this we have to scrutinise the functioning of four pillars of democracy (1) Legislature (2) Executive (3) Judiciary, and (4) Media

On Hindutva

India is a beautiful country with a diverse and pluralistic society; one of its main features is the freedom granted to people with various faiths, beliefs and ceremonies to lead their own lives and follow their unique ideology while cohabiting with other faiths. Gandhiji and other leaders had made tireless efforts to save and nurture this tolerance and coexistence. In this regard, the efforts of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and its leaders are also part of the golden history of India’s past and present, the ideals and philosophy of united nationalism and Hindu-Muslim unity is the legacy given by them.

In contrast, the current interpretation of Hinduism and the aggressive sectarianism being promoted in the name of Hindutva do not match the basic ethos of this country.

We want to make it clear here, that we do not have any religious or ethnic enmity with RSS and BJP, but we only object to these ideas, which lead to unequal treatment meted out to different sections of the society, which further leads to racial discrimination and flouts the basic principles of the Indian Constitution.

In our view, Hindus and Muslims both are equal, we do not make any distinction between human beings and do not recognise racial superiority.

Whenever we talk about RSS and its ideologies, we are reminded of its past leader Guru Golwalkar and about his philosophy. However, one should also put forward the views of the current Sarsanghchalak of the RSS, some how endorses united nationalism, one nation for all and fostering fraternal ties between different faiths. According to Islamic teachings, the hand extended for friendship should be held firmly. We warmly invite RSS and its leader Shri Mohan Bhagwat and his followers to eschew mutual hatred and enmity and embrace each other and make our dear motherland the most developed and ideal country in the world.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses at a Vijayadashami function, in Nagpur

On Pasmanda Muslims

Among the distortions that have arisen in the Indian Muslim society, the most important is the caste system, although Islam teaches equality for all and racial non-discrimination. However, those who adopted the religion of Islam, found themselves chained to the old caste system and practices. They could not free themselves completely from the old systems and customs of their forefathers, thus they were a victim of contradictions, on the one hand, they wanted to embrace the Quranic teachings, but on the other they were chained to the old customs and the concept of ‘Ashraaf and ‘Arzaal’, further the societal pressure was so much that the Indian Muslims were not able to adhere to the teachings of the religious scholars and the holy saints…

There is no doubt that a large section of Indian Muslims are still affected by the ethnic and community discrimination and there is a dire need for measures like granting reservation to them to come out from their backwardness, but the categorisation of backwards on the basis of ‘Ashraaf and ‘Arzaal’ amongst Muslims is not true and acceptable at all.

However, accepting the presence of backwards (Pasmanda) and Dalits amongst Muslims as a reality, today on this occasion, we would like to assert that every section of Muslims has equal status in the Muslim society and the exploitations which were committed in the past, we are ashamed of those, and we pledge that we would try to forge economic, social, and educational equality amongst all sections of the Muslim society and also strive to demand reservation and special schemes for the welfare of pasmanda Muslims.

But at the same time we fully support efforts from Government of India to help the backward castes amongst Muslims, so as to ensure their progress and development by granting special measures for them. Today, we would like the Indian Muslims to be aware of plans to categorise and divide them, therefore they should adhere firmly to the principle of equality to all sections of the society as enshrined in Islam. We hope that the government will take practical measures to help these oppressed and marginalised sections of the Indian Muslims in all possible manner and recommendations made by different Commissions, earlier in this regard will be implemented as soon as possible.

On anti-conversion laws

Several states in India, using the legislative route have enacted laws recently to control religious conversions.

The Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh High Courts have struck down these provisions, saying they violate a person’s right to privacy. The respective governments have appealed to the Supreme Court. The anti-conversion legislation is aimed at undermining the fundamental Right to Religious Freedom and basically these laws target minorities. The language of these laws is so vague that they pose a serious challenge to religious freedom itself, which is a fundamental law as enshrined in the Constitution of India.

We are also against converting someone through “force”, “deceit” and “allurement”, but it is observed that those who genuinely convert themselves or those who facilitate their conversion are being arrested under false accusations of coercion, fraud and greed and the law is being used against them completely unnecessarily.

Therefore, such a law is no acceptable at all.

On ‘bulldozer justice’

The action taken in the name of “bulldozer justice” in India lately has undermined the country’s prestige globally. Using bulldozers against alleged culprits, without directive of court is tantamount to an attack on the democracy and constitution of our country. During a festival period in early 2022, sword-wielding elements carried out planned attacks on Muslim homes and businesses, in Khargaon, Karoli, Rajasthan, and Jahangirpuri in Delhi. These elements played loud music on loudspeakers in front of mosques during Ramadan, entered the Muslim neighbourhoods and subsequently a clash occurred between the two communities. Yet, the police unilaterally blamed Muslims for the unrest, arrested hundreds of innocent Muslims, including minors, and bulldozed their homes.

Similarly, after the BJP leader Nupur Sharma insulted the Holy Prophet (PBUH), a bulldozer operation was carried out in UP’s Kanpur and Allahabad cities and the punishment of an individual’s alleged wrongdoing was given to the entire family. In this regard, the Guwahati High Court in its historic judgment described the behaviour of the police as illegal and deplorable and said that if someone’s house is allowed to be bulldozed in the name of investigation, then anyone “will not be safe,” adding that demolition of the house is not permitted under any criminal law. Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has also filed a case in the honourable Supreme Court raising the plea of these oppressed people; the hearing in the case is currently going on.

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