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How do we fight the stagnation among Muslims?

By Farheen Sultana for Twocircles.net

Muslims get excited whenever they hear words such as ‘Subhan Allah’ and ‘Masha Allah’ from politicians and actors. ‘Oh look! He is a Muslim; He belongs to us’ come the replies, often accompanied by joy.

Muslims keep running after politicians who make false promises, only to receive another set of false promises. Take the example of one the biggest ‘crusaders’ of the Muslim cause in India, the Samajwadi Party. It had made promises for upliftment of Muslims, promising reservations in government jobs. Also, it had promised to establish recruitment camps in Muslim-majority areas. What happened to these promises? When it comes to broken promises, the Congress (a party allegedly meant to ‘promote’ Muslims, so much so that they are often called Khangressi by its right-wing opponents) is much worse.
The ‘Khans’ of the film industry seem to dominate the minds of the youth. The same youth that should have been busy building a better future for themselves and their community. Today, the youth is more interested in the new hairstyle of Shahrukh Khan and his signature step, or in Salman Khan’s limb-breaking stunts. Hence, the real world gets less attention and the stardom of the reel world seems promising to them.

Muslims are lagging behind as they do not realise what they need and what needs to be ignored. Not being able to set up their priorities, they find it difficult to catch up with the mainstream. The question is who is to be blamed for the backwardness of Muslims? Is it America? Israel? Or say ‘Yahood o Nasaara’ (As it triggers emotions of the community).

To a great extent, Muslims are responsible for their own plight. Glorifying the victimhood is the favourite card played by the politicians and opportunists. Lack of education, I believe, is a major determinant factor when it comes to analysing the backdrops of the community. Although, this factor is not solely responsible, those who are well educated don’t realise their responsibility towards their community. Either children do not take admission in schools, or they drop out after receiving meagre education. Thus, unable to pursue higher education, the community lacks representation within the system. The proportion of Muslims in government jobs is considerably less. The number of MPs and MLAs has never been an impressive one. Only 22 Muslims were elected to the parliament in the 16th Lok Sabha elections. Lacking representation within the system conforms not only to the fact that the community is not able to mark its presence in the highest domains, but that the cries of the destitute and marginalised goes unheard since nobody is sitting there in the governing body to voice our concerns. Hence, people are seen then, becoming sycophants. The community then gets divided. Some sections sit at tea stalls criticising the system and some get busy befooling their fellow community members in the name of various organisations, NGOs and political parties.

The second reason I see, is disunity. Sectarianism is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we forget collective identity (the only identity) of being a Muslim. Among Muslims, like in the followers of any other religion, there is an element of rigidity among its various sects. Each sect has adopted its own interpretation of the Quran. And they not only oppose the other people vehemently, but also sanction them as Kaafirs, (non-believers). These religious divides have fuelled sectarian conflicts worldwide. The entire gulf region is engulfed in conflicts. The root cause of these is the competition for leadership between Sunni Saudi Arab and Shia Iran. The similar results can be seen in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Yemen. The sole purpose of this fight for power seems to be aimed at complete eradication of the other sect. The anti-Ahmediyya movement in Pakistan, in which certain factions are hell bent on declaring them as Non-Muslims and which resulted in their continued persecution, is one of the examples of internal conflicts.

A similar kind of ‘hatred’ is also is also prevailing among Barelvis, Deobandis and Tableeghis in India over different interpretations of the Holy Quran.
These matters of faith, I believe, are very personal to everyone. Hence, should not be judged against any parameter.

This is a time of sheer identity crisis for Muslims. The bloodshed taking place in the name of Islam has resulted in Islamophobia. Muslims have now stopped taking pride in being Muslim. The same community in which Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi, Khalid bin Waleed were born and were ready to defend Islam at the cost of their lives, is now concealing its identity.

Whenever a Muslim (religious, usually) figure comes out with some stupid statement which is unpalatable, a common defence code of Muslims include:

1) He is an uneducated Maulvi (cleric).
2) it does not represent Islam (the current genocide of ISIS)
3) He does not represent Muslims.
4) He is a paid agent.
5) He is an agent of West (Osama bin Laden)
6) They must have done something to irritate him (as in Charlie Hebdo incident)
7) He is defending his faith (again Charlie Hebdo is an example)
8) He must be a Yahoodi (Jewish) agent.
9) Look at your religion first!
10) He is a Kaafir- non believer!

Instead of admitting the narrow mindedness, or making efforts to correct them, we sideline ourselves from the mainstream debate and the misunderstanding prevailing around.

Rather, the need of the hour is to act wisely and hold firmly the rope of oneness. A moderate approach harms nobody; the extreme approach does. The resulting negativity consumes self, the community and the society. It is the time when Islam is being represented by grenades and bombs and shells and tanks. When humans are slaughtered in the name of Islam with the slogans of ‘Allahu Akbar’, it is the time when active participation of this stagnant community is much needed. The silence of moderate majority of the Muslim world is allowing the extremists to define Islam, the religion of peace in the world. And when this extremist approach becomes dominant, it starts overtaking the identity of people adhering to a particular faith. No one will defend us in the times of crisis, only our actions will. Remember, our enemies are not Jews or Christians: our ignorance is a far bigger enemy, and fighting them is a much bigger Jihad.

Farheen Sultana is a student of English Literature at Jamia Millia Islamia. She likes to explore the world through reading and is interested in world affairs.