Society & Lifestyle
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|by BS Murthy|
It may be interesting to follow the Islamic fate of those unfortunate untouchables and other marginal caste groups of Aryavarta that embraced the bigoted faith of Muhammad. True, the Hindu fringes, at last, got their God that the Brahmans so cruelly denied them, even one amongst their three crore deities, and what if the God was an alien One for they were never allowed to feel like the natives in the land of their own ancestors? Nevertheless, as the enshrined caste edifice was too strong even for the Almighty Allah to pull it down, and since their Mohammedan masters would have only condescend to descended with them, the early converts might have been truly squeezed in their new religious ghettos. But still, for the pain of circumcision, Islam afforded them the solace of faith and the hope of the hereafter.
Moreover, for them, the Sufi sop of allowing them to nourish their new Islamic ethos in their old Hindu habitats was like having the cake and eating it too. But for the caste Hindus, they became mlechhas, apart from being the outcasts, while the alien circumcision brought upon them the ridicule of a katua. And making matters worse, it was only time before the Wahabi zealots forced the progeny of the Sufis’ soft converts to shed their loose Hindu habits, and adopt the strict Mohammedan customs, which were cumbersome to the core. Thus, the double jeopardy of the Islamic religious rigidity and the Hindu caste prejudice would have insensibly pushed those hapless converts into the ‘circle of hazard’ for life, and, what is worse, tied their progeny to an alien lifestyle for all times to come.
And in the modern era, as the naivety of a Nehruvian socialistic pattern of society perpetuated the Islamic legacy of celebrating poverty, Mother India remained a pauper in the vice-like grip of the State, tightened further by his self-serving daughter Indira, till Narasimha Rao unshackled it by the Manmohanamic wrenches!
Whatever, we may delve into the factors that kept Islam going in India, and that too with certain vigor; to start with, the mundane condition of the marginalized Hindus had admirably fitted into Muhammad’s Quranic glove that is Islam. Besides enhancing their self-worth, the creed of Allah promised them a certain heaven that Hinduism denied them anyway. While their social depravity was addressed by the equality before the God, their economic poverty was solaced by the Islamic deprecation of ‘here’ and its extolment of the ‘hereafter’. While they were kept out of the Hindu social fold as untouchables or retained as retinues at the social fringes, their religious transformation as Musalmans would have enabled them to develop a sense of solidarity in their ranks easing the burden of their former social exclusion. All this could have inculcated a ‘feel good’ in the converts about their newness ‘here’ all the while assured of the mouthwatering ‘hereafter’ owing to the happy circumstance of their having become Musalmans.
Why not, on the personal front, Islam has a lot to offer to the men of its faith, and sadly for the outcaste woman, as is the case with all womanhood, it was her man who calls the conversion shots for her and her children as well. And variety being the spice of life, one of the Islamic appeals to the enamored male converts could have been its appetizing ‘four wives’ regimen as opposed to the monogamous dharma of monotony. Wouldn’t Islam grant its men three extra mates, at any given time that is, and could there be a better ‘here’ for them leave alone ‘the hereafter’? And for the divorce that is an anathema to the sanatana dharma, the alien faith of Arabia gives the Indian Musalman a free hand to get rid of any or all his wedded wives. With no questions asked that is and naturally, that would afford man a sway in his home with the wife or wives in thrall, which is bound to pep up the ego sag of the economically poor Musalman.
Thus, while Islam gives its poor males a sense of invincibility within their homes, in spite of their vulnerability in the society around, it accords its privileged men the ‘license of levity’ for an unabated indulgence in the ways of the flesh.
It would be interesting though to speculate about the course Islam would have taken in Hindustan had the Musalman rulers made sharia – civil as well as penal part of it - mandatory for all the converts. Wouldn’t then the rigors of Islamic penal code - chopping off the hands for theft, stoning to death for adultery, lashing the backs for breaking the laws – have been repulsive even to the hapless outcasts? Would there have been even one willing convert to Islam by vouching that “There is no God except Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah,” to face the music of the sharia? Doubtful, isn’t it?
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02/26/2013 21:52 PM
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