By Chaudhari Fariduddin
Many readers may feel that this scribe, who lives away from India in Kuwait, should really not write about matters that require a deep / close study of the political scene in the country. My justification and excuse is that it is not impossible to formulate ideas while taking a bird’s eye view. Thus the distant observer from the shores may present some ideas while corrections may be done by those who are, so to say, battling with the waves in the middle of the sea!
There is a long standing debate…which gains strength at the approach of any / all elections whether the Indian Muslims (IM) should form their own political party. It is raging now as well. I have read several strands of opinion: one is that a party exclusively of IM will be suicidal for the IM.
The second is that if there has to be, then there should be one united party and it should be established after the impending elections, not before. The third (this scribe’s view) is that a party led by God-fearing Muslims having its doors open for constructive non-Muslims is an urgent necessity for the country â€“ that it should â€œabsolutely notâ€? seek solutions to the problems of the IM but seek to â€œestablish a righteous and just societyâ€? in the country.
It is not that the problems of the IM do not exist â€“ these do exist â€“ or do not need solutions â€“ these are needed. But it is this scribe’s view that the solutions to the problems of the IM will emerge, apart from the internal resources of the IM but purely by the grace of God, from the efforts that this proposed party will make in order to achieve its stated aim of establishing a just and righteous society in India.
LET IM BECOME RELEVANT
This scribe feels that the IM is facing all the problems that it is facing for two internal reasons:
One is that it needs to be universally â€œGod fearingâ€? and the second is that it needs to be â€œrelevant to the people, particularly the poor and the wretchedâ€?, of India.
This scribe is often reminded of one such example of â€œrelevanceâ€? set by Muhammad, (blessings and peace of Allah be with him). When a companion lifted his shirt to show him that he had not eaten anything for long and was trying to still the pangs of hunger by tying a stone to his empty stomach, the beloved master lifted his shirt to reveal to him two stones tied to his stomach. In other words he was twice as hungry as the hungriest of his companions around him that day.
I am sure that not only the large majority of the IM but the large majority of the Indian Humanity (IH) has the potential of exhibiting this relevance. The need is that this relevance must first become universal and then be translated into the idiom of a political party, its manifesto, elections, winnability, assumption of responsibility with humility, honesty and sagacity and finally, a remaking of India into a righteous and just society as it must have been at various points of time in the past. As this scribe sometimes says silently to himself: Let the IM change this blessed country of ours from â€œjust a democracyâ€? to â€œa just and righteous democracyâ€?
This scribe often looks back at the arid landscape of the colonial centuries as well as that of the last six decades. This scribe feels that the IM is a pearl, which is neither strung in a necklace nor is it safely ensconced in the protective womb of its oyster, but has been lying on the garbage dump of history for the last three centuries and more. This scribe feels that there is a great need for the IM to change the context in which it is living: which brings us to this concept of Hudaibiya 2006.
The IM can reduce the burden of their political party by declaring the terms of a truce with the people of India including its political detractors to channelise their energies into their real work: of building a righteous and just India.
The elements of this truce can be:
1. The IM condemns the un-Islamic acts of past adventurers and rulers.
2. The IM will support a confederation of the sub-continent and a no-war pact between all its countries resulting in well recognised but open borders between all of them.
3. The IM wish to live with the IH peacefully. In order to achieve this, all, especially the IM and its political detractors should ensure that there will be no communal riots , no social boycotts and no overt and covert opposition to the IMs, etc. etc.
This scribe has been told that this may be of no use. He respectfully disagrees because he sets much store by the fact that the IM offering this truce will be led by God fearing Muslims who will be sagacious as well, which should be sufficient assurance of the success of this approach.
TOWARDS A NEW DESTINY
This party must prove that it is different from other parties. One of the areas of this proof will be its solutions to the long standing problems of India:
One of the perennial problems of our country is the poverty of a vast number of its people. There is no doubt that a large number of our political leaders have tried sincerely to find a solution to this problem. A certain success does seem to have been achieved as well, particularly during the last few years when, according to some estimates, we now have a middle class of 200 million people.
At the same time, however, we have come face to face with reports of an increasing number of suicidal deaths by farmers first in Andhra and now in Maharashtra. There may be unreported incidents of the same kind in Orissa and other places, from where other kinds of incidents such as sale of children for a pittance are regularly reported.
This party must commission studies to analyse the relationship between economic activity based on â€œinterestâ€? and the phenomenon of â€œthe rich getting richer and the poor getting poorerâ€? or even committing suicide.
It may be seen that the presence of interest in international trade and commerce leads to the occurrence of this phenomenon even among nations: the rich nations get richer and the poor nations get poorer, and the poor nations even do commit suicide by being forced to give up their independence to decide their courses of action in their internal and external policies.
In the interim, this party must devise solutions to eliminate interest first from the lives of the poor, knowing that interest must gradually be eliminated from all economic activities including business so that the general populace does not pay more for the goods and services it consumes, at prices that carry an â€œadd onâ€? due to the element of interest.
This party may propose â€œa step backâ€? from the current development model because it has given rise to this phenomenon of â€œemasculation of agriculture and pauperisation of the farmersâ€? and try to define another, lower but inclusive, level of development which can take place without this tragedy unfolding right in front of us.
This party must put its weight on the side of private enterprise but with the proviso that this activity must be undertaken by God fearing men operating under such laws and rules which ensure the gradual creation of a righteous and just society.
This party must talk of â€œalleviating povertyâ€? till â€œplentyâ€? is created and shared. It must formulate and popularise the concept that, in the early days, a distribution of poverty will make it tolerable for all.
This party must evolve a minimum wage and plan to make it a law as soon as possible.
This party must find a way to dispense correct and timely justice.
This party must aim to provide the basic necessities for all in the shortest possible time.
This party must study whether it will be beneficial for the country to surround itself with an â€œiron meshâ€? to sift out all such influences that will hamper the establishment of a righteous and just society.
All right thinking men whose heart bleeds for the poor are expected to be the natural friends of this party. Some groups such as the communists can be identified a bit more readily but no one can be discounted out of hand.
Another group which can be counted upon to support the new party is the judiciary, which has been doing yeomen service to the cause of public good apart from being the universally accepted group of last resort.
A third group, and this is very slippery ground, should really be of those who are the honoured ones, noting that the leaders of the yore are also expected to be the best people once they are convinced of the correctness of the stand of this new party.
This new party must begin its journey with commitment to the poor and the wretched of India, not forgetting that God assures man in the Qur’an at 29:69 as follows:
â€œWe will show those who strive for Our sake, such ways as are Our ways.”
[This article first appeared in Radiance Viewsweekly, Delhi]