The Hindutva Jehad Against Madarsas
"Most of us do not even know the difference between Madras and madarsa. Some believe madarsa to be a pious religious school. It may have been so. No more now. They, at least most of them, are now jehad factories." (S. Gurumurthy, The New Indian Express, April 26, 2002).
A person who is unaware of the difference between the erstwhile name of a Capital city and the term for Islamic religious schools has no business to comment on either. But S. Gurumurthy, Chennai-based chartered accountant, auditor for the Indian Express Group and convener of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch wrote a three-part "investigative" essay on the madarsas is India in The New Indian Express. The compositions were allegedly based on top-secret reports of the Indian Intelligence, and it came to the anticipated conclusion that madarsas in India are a great security risk. Reading the commentaries, those of us who were skeptical of Darwin will have to withdraw our arguments. Beginning with the confusion that madarsa was actually something to do with Madras, the author in the next line concludes that they are jehad factories. In comparison to this, a monkey slowly (over millions of years) becoming a man seems realistic. Gear up folks, we are now being presented a Neo-Darwin theory of ultra-evolution - whereby every Hindutva extremist seems headed for a Quantum Leap. And we will trust how progression, (in information) takes place. We will be enthralled by ignorance. And, its ultra-quick transformation into intelligence.
When anti-Muslim pogroms are being ruthlessly conducted in Gujarat, and while the communal situation in the country is highly volatile, this incisive violence-inciting article shouldn't have been published. Now, that it has been printed in its full glory, we need to seek some explanations. Like what caused this breach of ethics? And what propagated this crude insensitivity? And finally, what/who licenses the full-scale debasing of minority communities?
As a starter to this saga, the first article was published under the heading: Madrasas - Pious schools or Jehadi factories? (April 26, 2002), which was automatically and expectedly succeeded by another entitled" Madarsas: The terror factories, their anatomy, spread, funds' (April 27). The third write-up dealt with how Pakistan is controlling Madarsas and why India should follow Pakistan's example (April 29). The essays deriding the madarsas as Jehadi factories need not have been published now. Jehad ceased to be a buzzword three months ago.
When anti-Muslim pogroms are being ruthlessly conducted in Gujarat, and while the communal situation in the country is highly volatile, this incisive violence-inciting article shouldn't have been published. Now, that it has been printed in its full glory, we need to seek some explanations. Like what caused this breach of ethics? And what propagated this crude insensitivity? And finally, what / who licenses the full-scale debasing of minority communities? Madarsas have been on the Hindutva hit list for too long. The timing of the article exposes the game plan of the Sangh Parivar. The writing is aimed at capitalizing on the current Hindutva sentiments. It follows the old RSS methodology of campaign first, crusade later.
Accordingly, Gurumurthy writes "The terror contacts were all in madarsas, all in UP. Who has uncovered these covert acts? The Indian Intelligence in a top-secret report. In a meticulously documented report, it brings out the link between madarsas and jehad. It says more." Why are these "top-secret meticulously documented" reports of the Indian Intelligence freely accessible to Gurumurthy - an average citizen, who is not associated with the CBI? Even granted he is a member, what allows him the right of reproducing information from a confidential report? For the illegitimate demands of the saffron mob to gain legitimacy, the Indian Intelligence is cleverly included.
Compare the Hindutva panic over the madarsas in India and the following report which was widely published: "We have never caught any militant with a madarsa background," said K. Rajendra, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir. "We have no objection to their functioning in Kashmir. They are unlike the madarsas in Pakistan which have become Jehadi factories," he added. Jammu and Kashmir Police, the Army and the BSF investigated the madarsas in Kashmir after the Government decided to ascertain the "hidden" agenda of the religious schools. None of them found any evidence that pointed towards the involvement of madarsas in spreading militancy. From the time militancy first reared its head in the Valley, these institutions of the Deobandi school of thought have distanced themselves from extremism. Their focus has solely been religious studies, the inquiries found." (Valley madarsas above board: Inquiry, The Indian Express, April 25, 2001).
Intelligence reports, like the one above, which illustrate the innocence of the madarsas, are cleverly neglected. The right wing indulges in selectively quoting only those reports that seek to sully the image of the religious schools. Lacking an unbiased brain, the saffron bandwagon reels off false information. Willing politicians take up the cause. Oft-stated falsehoods prominently published in the media achieve the exalted positions of truth. Swadeshi intellectuals' who don't know the difference between Madras and madarsas carry 'elaborate' desktop investigations into the 'Jehadi factories'. Only the madarsas and the poor Muslim students there suffer.
Heading the hallowed list of saffron 'intellectuals', who have decried the madarsas, is our Prime Minister Mr. Vajpayee. Enacting motherly concern he says, "We are not against all madarsas. But we want them to teach science, geography and other subjects as well as prepare children studying there to face global challenges in every field." On that account, he, rather the BJP government, is against some madarsas. Thus, these madarsas have to bear the brunt of weekly police checks, random seizures, a few tantalizing visits by the Indian intelligence officers and, to top it all, highly unfavorable media coverage. No need to fret Mr. Prime Minister, these harassments will ensure that the children studying in madarsas are well prepared to face global challenges in every field. Now, to the overtone of botheration: The pracharak in the PM wants madarsas to teach science, geography and other subjects as well. The words accentuate the pretense. If there was a genuine interest in the education of Muslims, steps must have been taken to improve the condition of Urdu. Significantly, the government endorses the VHP demand that Urdu must not be accorded the status of second official language. Instead of developing the madarsas, Vajpayee condemns them.
Going back to the Prime Minister's argument, how many part-time poojaris/purohits are trained in science, geography and other subjects as well? What could be the other subjects, Mr. Prime Minister? In keeping with Hindutva Agenda here's a possible list - Sanskrit, Jyotish Vigyan, Vedic Mathematics ' an oozing list of Hindutva mumbo-jumbo. Then, maybe the Sangh Parivar wouldn't find problems with these Islamic centers of education!
Talking about the madarsas in India, the saffron crowds openly bemoan the "damage that is being wreaked on impressionable minds." Why this misplaced magnanimity? And what about the "damage that is wreaked on impressionable minds" by the RSS itself - Who accounts for that? What about the militant exercises, the practice in lathi-wielding, the marches; all the physical training? Or the bauddhik sessions of indoctrination where anti-minority ideas are permeated under the guise of patriotism? At least no madarsa is India gives arms training to its students.
A prominent Hindutva website (www.swordoftruth.com) writes regarding the "Places of Worship (Special Provision Act, 1991): "On the surface this Act appears to be simply a guarantee by the government to protect places of worship. What it actually entails is that the ownership of
thousands of buildings which have been misappropriated by Muslims all over India, can no longer be questioned. It also means that limitations will be set on raiding Mosques which are primary
storehouses of weapons supplied by ISI to Indian Muslim terrorists. In other words such an act would severely restrict the law enforcement agencies of India from investigating and searching Islamic religious places like Mosques, libraries, Madrasas, etc. which are the primary training centers for anti-national activities." We read and as a first reaction, we laugh aloud. Secularists need their share of laughter - it maintains our sanity. We forage for some civil, sophisticated words to label this anti-Muslim madness - Hyperbole. Hallucination. Delusion. Delirium. Quite unpredictably what follows this high-handed laughing-at-silliness, this stylish cataloging-the-communal is a despondency that pulls us back into our former hurt selves. We read it again - the Hindutva definition of Mosques - primary storehouses of weapons supplied by ISI to Indian Muslim terrorists. The words traumatize, making us terror-stricken. Tomorrow, the words will serve their intended purpose - Catalyze the communalists to carry on their devastation.
The website quoted above comments on the formation of a madarsa Board: "Setting up of a Madarsa Board which will facilitate the Muslim students to be given modern educational facilities like computer education, visual and electronic aids etc. It is in these very Madrasas that ISI breeds its Islamic terrorists for Jehad in Kashmir. Allowing these students access to Internet, and electronic media ensures that ISI and the Muslim terrorists of India can have instant communication access to each other via email, etc." Without the help of evidence, the Hindutva zealots have accomplished in portraying the madarsas as breeding grounds for terrorists. As a second part of their campaign, they stress that madarsas must not be given modern educational facilities - computers, internet and the like. Information Technology, Dot Com Boom, Cyber Revolution - like the Vedas of historic times, must be inaccessible to non-Brahmans. And obviously, the Muslims.
The hysteric angst over the madarsas, is a reflection of the brahminical system that refuses education to others. Learning, according to the Manu Smiriti, was meant to be a completely Brahmin preserve. Sudras and the Dalits were denied the knowledge of the Vedas, and (as an oft-quoted example in the Manu Smiriti goes) a Sudra who accidentally heard the Vedas was liable to have molten lead poured into his ears. The Brahminical set up, was so very obsessed with the idea of safeguarding their knowledge that they did not commit any of the Vedas to writing. They maintained the secret of Vedas by an oral tradition for the inherent fear that it was always easy for the scripts, if any, to be stolen. Insecurity characterizes the high-caste elite in the Hindutva. The Muslim presence in population makes them feel threatened, not because Muslims are menacing. It is the liberating nature of Islam that forces the communalists into their incoherencies, their rehearsed babble. The Brahmin paranoia over education continues and modernizes itself.
The campaign against madarsas is the campaign against Islam. In Hindutva parlance, this translates to "doing away with madarsas is tantamount to doing away with Islam". This is a diabolic Brahmin way of letting Islam die a slow death. If there are no madarsas, from where will the mosques find the Alims and the Imams? When the Islamic religion is censured, who will stand up to defend it? Who will be left to spread the word of the Almighty? And the most important question: If there are no madarsas where will the poor Muslim students go? The answers are apparent.
With the recent developments, Fascism in India has finally (and formally) arrived. The Sangh Parivar has started advising the minorities that their safety lies in the goodwill of the majorities. That's what the new Hitlers tell us - If you wanna live, better listen to us. And they have begun to send out their orders. A Muslim eating beef can somehow end up hurting the Hindu sentiments. (See the cow is their spiritual mother.) And the Brahmins seem to have conveniently forgotten their beef-eating tradition. Perhaps, no meaty aftertaste of having ate beef remains. Remind them of the Vedic passages that describe in great detail how beef must be cooked, garnished in ghee and served - the saffron fanatics will tell us that they are cunning interpolations of their sacred Sanskrit. Absence of proof, will perhaps, absolve them of their sins.
The extensive focus on the absistence from beef eating by the Parivar must be understood in an entirely different viewpoint - it is not a matter of individual taste. Beef eating is the root of Untouchability. The following words of Dr. Ambedkar will highlight the severity of this stricture:
"Untouchability is the result of the breach of the interdiction against the eating of the sacred animal, namely, the cow. The Brahmins did not make a difference between a dead cow and a living cow. The cow was sacred, living or dead. Beef eating was not merely a crime. If it was only a crime, it would have involved nothing more than a punishment. Beef eating was made a sacrilege. Anyone who treated the cow as profane was guilty of sin and unfit for association."
The beefeaters, who were the scorned men - the Untouchables continued to reel under brahminical oppression. Only with the coming of Islam to India, did they gain an identity of their own, and most of the early converts to Islam were from the discriminated castes of the Shudras and the untouchable 'Dalits'. Islam ushered in brotherhood and social equality; concepts that were entirely absent in the existing Hindu society. Moreover, Islam never associates beef eating with a crime, or with a lowering of the social status - this has left the high caste gau-sevaks angered. As a result, with renewed vigor, the Sangh launches its dietary dictatorship - Muslims have been asked not to eat beef. Today it is food. Tomorrow we will be told a lot of other things. Like, what to wear. Whom to wed. Where to go. Which God to pray. How to live. When to die.
And, sadly for us, our death wouldn't be the end of damnation. We will be cruelly conditioned, to burn our corpses, not 'selfishly' bury it. During our lifetimes, we will be made second-class citizens, with the state believing that Hindu interest is national interest. To save our skins and for prolonging our dismal lives, we will be strained to blend in. The rightist regime will force Lord Ram on us. It was in their agenda even three decades back. Golwalkar, "Guruji" of the RSS fame wrote in the Organizer (June 20, 1971) - "Let Muslims look upon Ram as their hero and communal problems will be over". And the Parivar, in its role as a mighty messiah will take steps to shepherd us back into the Manuvadi faith of Hinduism. For this purpose, they may loot and shoot. Goondas and guns will have a gala time. The myth manufacturers will begin their businesses. Ramzan and Mohorram, they may announce were Hindu festivals in honor of Ram which were later corrupted by the 'invading Muslim armies'. We will be taught to hate our past. And more specifically, hate ourselves.
An Indian Muslim will be required to become a Hindu. The RSS will maintain that "they consider all the natives of this land as Hindus, irrespective of religion, but that their main stress is on organizing traditional Hindus." So, we will be Hindus and we will still be discriminated against. The traditional Hindus will be organized and the orthodox Hindus (Brahmins) will rule. Caste considerations will be stronger than ever. Hinduism is, after all, approved and unchallengeable Hierarchy.
The Parivar has taken extensive steps to see that a Hindu society is established. Pakistan, which was always viewed as the enemy, is now being lauded by the Saffron Wing. In February 2002, the VHP General Secretary Pravin Togadia called for a full-fledged drive against madarsas and wondered why the Indian Government cannot take action against the madarsas when President Musharraf could talk of action against them. The VHP asking the government to follow the Pakistani parameter shows their desperation against Islam. Why restrict oneself to Pakistan alone? So Gurumurthy, the Sangh Parivar's mouthpiece, craftily ropes in the entire world. He writes, "The whole world is concerned about the growth of madarsas. For, madarsas, wherever there are, in Egypt, or in the Middle East, in Iraq or Iran, in Pakistan or Afghanistan, in Malaysia or Indonesia, in India or Bangladesh, are now known as the cradle of terror. The world debates madarsa. Scrutinizes it. Tries to control it. But thanks to our secular establishment most of us are ignorant of this phenomenon." So the Swadeshi screams his long-harbored Hindutva demand: Scrutinize the madarsas and try to control them. There occurs at the end of three days, a grand finale to the entire series - "The story ends here. But the madarsa-inspired Jehad continues. It will continue as long as the madarsa is free to spread the message of terror, unimpeded and unregulated."
What pains me is the totality, the absoluteness. The complete absence of logic and a much forgotten love. It is true that one or two madarsas could have been conducive to the ISI, but condemning every madarsa in the land is a product of extremist perversion. Their concern is the existence of madarsas, not the lives of lakhs of Muslims, both students and teachers whose existence revolves around these centers. It wants all the madarsas down - perhaps reduced to rubble. This Hindutva insanity pulled down the Babri Masjid. A decade later, their aggressive plans have taken enormous proportions. Their target is no longer confined to one single mosque - it encompasses every mosque, every madarsa and every Muslim.
The author is Editor of The Dalit, a bimonthly magazine published by Dalit Media Network. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org