Random Thoughts

India, The West and Muslim Minorities

For the centennial of the Bankim Chandra's poem "Vande Maataram", Bukhari, the Imam of the Delhi Jumma Masjid, has raised an objection that is very telling. In Sanskrit there is the saying "Janani janmabhoomischa swargaad api gariyasti" which roughly translates into  ' Mother and motherland hold a greater gravitas than heaven (trivializing the 72 virgins).

The English word gravity derives from the Sanskrit Guru and gariyasti meaning heavier or more weighty. Even in English is a famous poem '

Breathes there a man 
with soul so dead
Who in his lifetime 
has never said
This is my own, 
my native land.
For him no power, 
no riches, no pelf
That wretch 
concentered only in self '

Civilizations and cultures, the world over have sung the glories of their motherland and exulted their love for it. In multi-ethnic America, German immigrants fought against Germany, once they had become American citizens. The Japanese-Americans who had been mistreated by being put in concentration camps still formed an exclusive Japanese fighting unit to fight against Japan to prove their loyalty to their adopted motherland.

The First Stanza of Vande Mataram 
by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee

Vande Mataram!
Sujalam, suphalam, malayaja shitajam,
Shasyashyamalam, Mataram
Shubhrajyothsna puiakitayaminim, 
Phullakusumita drumadala shobhinim,
Suhasinim sumadhura bhashinim,
Sukhadam varadam, Mataram!

The English translation by Sri Aurobindo:

I bow to thee, Mother, 
richly-watered, richly-fruited,
cool with the winds of the south, 
dark with the crops of the harvests,
The Mother! 
Her nights rejoicing 
in the glory of the moonlight, 
her lands clothed beautifully 
with her trees in flowering bloom,
Sweet of laughter, sweet of speech, 
The Mother, giver of boons, giver of bliss.

The enslaved African-Americans constituted nearly 20% of the Continental army fighting for independence against the British in the war for independence. The decimated Navajo Indians used their impossible to understand Navajo language to broadcast radio messages to defeat the Japanese on behalf of America in WW2. A famous American patriot's last words before he was hanged were, "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country". Bhagat Singh during the fight for independence showed the same valor as did the Muslim soldier who died fighting Pakistanis in Kargil for India.

We have prominent Indian Muslims from Imams to film actors who still refuse to sing Vande Maataram, which has nothing to do with any religion, on the false premise that a Muslim cannot show reverence to anyone but Allah. This is consistent with the Prophet's last words that there should be no other religion in Arabia and that the Muslims should have the highest allegiance to the transnational Ummah. Of course, his hopes were dashed almost immediately as Muslims fought amongst themselves and the next four Caliphs were assassinated and a schism occurred between the Shias and Sunnis. The Muslim Turks soon fought and subjugated the Muslim Arabs in less than 200 years and the history of India under the Muslims, is rife with the internecine wars between the Afghans, Turks and Mughals.

The literal believers of Islam still cling to the oneness of the Ummah and raise the genuine possibility of Muslims being fifth columnists in their countries of origin or adoption. This is what has worried India for a long time and now has become a source of serious concern to Britain recently and much of Western Europe and America as well. This is not to detract from the longstanding policies of the West to exploit the Muslim nations for their rich energy resources or to justify their despicable policies.

It is true that Indira Gandhi in her amoral lust for power, gave birth to the Khalistan movements and the Kashmir insurgency, but through much of India's post-independence history, the Muslims have been treated more than fairly by the government even to the tune of subsidizing their Imams and Hajj trips, while enacting a separate civil code for their benefit despite the secular status of India.
There is an ongoing brewing battle for the hearts and minds of all Muslims with Al Qaeda, Hizbollah and Hizbul-e-tehrir and a host of other even more fundamentalist factions duking it out. As long as this appeal to the Ummah influences it, Muslims will be treated as unwelcome and rejected as potential traitors and terrorists, wherever they are in a minority. This is not to deny the discrimination and prejudices that they are subjected to in the West or even in India.

In India with its parochial tendencies and linguistic political parties, everyone is subjected to some unjustifiable prejudice. Muslims may suffer some more, but not uniquely so. Things will not get better until the Muslim community comes out of its mind-set of the seventh century and permits reformation in Islam. India with its poverty and lack of ascendance on the economic ladder has less to offer to be inclusive to minorities, but the controlled experiment of Britain clearly proves that economic betterment fails to switch Muslim allegiance and there are enough of them willing to commit acts of terrorism against their innocent fellow citizens. No one wishes to silence their just grievances and their expression. Many of us living in America vociferously indict what we think are wrong American policies, but never even dream of harming our innocent fellow citizens or the country. This maybe out of a sense of decency or gratitude, but if so what does it tell of the Muslims who don't follow this.

The West while verbally proclaiming the praise of Islam, is clearly promoting a war of civilizations by actions. To give India its due, it has mostly showed the historic and natural tolerance of its Hindu, Buddhist and Jain heritage. Nevertheless every attitude has its breaking point or Lakshman rekha and Pakistan and its henchmen in India are flirting close to it. The present and past cowardly, selfish and crooked leaders of India merely interested in holding onto power and its lucrative benefits, are realizing that and the vermin that they are, will change their tune to ensure their survival. To be fair it may not be an easy choice for Muslims either, but if they don't drop the absurdly impractical allegiance to the Ummah, there will be a dismal future for them, as well as India.

Every religion has its good points and bad points over others, though all faiths are irrational and unreasonable. The Indian born faiths supersede others in tolerance and have the curse of the caste system. Islam's glory is its equality where even in its slavery era, it allowed freedom for its slaves and their illegitimate progeny to such an extent that there was a ruling Slave Dynasty in India and other Islamic countries. Its real redeeming factor is charity. The best example of that was Saladin and his chivalrous treatment of the crusader Richard, the lion-hearted. It is important to note that Saladin the monarch, created so many Waqfs (charities) that he died a pauper with an estate of a few gold mohurs despite ruling over Syria and Egypt.

The Christianity of the West has written a far more sordid tale from the inquisition, slavery and genocide, even to the present day. Of course the West has been dominant for the last four centuries and perhaps the Hindus, Buddhists or Muslims would have been worse, but did not get the opportunity, as Imperial Japan has proved. Nevertheless, all faiths are old, tired and dated and to a greater or lesser extent dictated by evolution to control the access to female sexuality, to avoid males being cuckolded into wasting their precious and hard earned resources to support children, who are not their own. It is the arrogant certitude without proof or basis, of the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as opposed to the self-doubting uncertainty of the Indian faiths, which makes the former a malignant influence on humanity, as opposed to latter being relatively benign individual eccentricities. On the other hand the Western Christian nations because of wealth and to ensure peace within a civil society have built a social safety net which the renunciation based Eastern nations have failed to provide, thus becoming crucibles of social Darwinism with a Hobbesian war of survival of the fittest and definitely not the kindest, most decent or the most honest. 


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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