Assertive Maulanas, Submissive Gurus
by J P Sharma on 24 Dec 2009 13 Comments

Whether Swami Ramdev or the other Gurus who are condemning him for his silence at Deoband on the Vande Mataram issue have learnt any lessons from the humiliating treatment received by the Yoga guru at the hands of the Deoband Maulanas is yet to be seen.


Swami Ramdev went considerable lengths to accommodate the religious sentiments of Muslims by claiming that yoga was only a system of physical exercise and had nothing to do with religion; that Ishwar and Allah were the different names of the same Supreme Being, and that if Muslims had objections to the use of OM, they could use Allah instead, while performing yogic exercises. Yet just four days after Swamiji’s efforts to make yoga acceptable to Muslims, the Maulanas issued a decree advising Muslims against attending Swami Ramdev’s yoga camps because they began with the singing of Vande Mataram!


Another yoga guru, the high-flying Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, also visited Deoband a few days after Swami Ramdev, and claimed to have successfully persuaded the Maulanas to soften their stand on Vande Mataram. The compromise formula worked out provided that while the fatwa issued by the Darul Iftah of Darul Uloom against singing Vande Mataram (because it is un-Islamic) cannot be revoked and must therefore stay, the Maulanas will leave the decision to sing or not to sing to the conscience of individual Muslims. (Good Muslims will naturally defer to the fatwa).


Perhaps a charitable view of the two guru’s futile overtures to Muslims could be that they believed they were serving the cause of national integration by bringing the followers of Islam closer to the rest of India. But the end result made the Hindu gurus look like rejected supplicants.


Contrasting attitudes


The attitudes of the Gurus and the Maulanas conform to the historic pattern of each side. Steeped in a culture of meek submissive Hindus, the Gurus could not transgress the Lakshman rekha of sarva dharma samabhava in their minds, and innocently believed that the ancient Vedic maxim “ekam sat viprah bahudha vadanti” meant that the Ishwara of the Vedas and Allah of the Quran were two names of the same Almighty. They compounded their error by assuming that the Maulanas would accept this seemingly harmless proposition.


Obviously the gurus knew little about the beliefs and thought processes of the Maulanas. If they had taken the trouble to read the Qur’an carefully, they would have realized that Allah demands absolute, unquestioning obedience from his followers for Himself and for His Messenger, and condemns unbelievers to eternal hellfire because of their unbelief – a totally different entity than the nirvikar Ishwara of the Vedas.


Tradition of appeasement


In reaching out to the Maulanas without understanding their beliefs, the gurus were apparently following the path of Mahatma Gandhi, who led the Indian National Congress to support an exclusive Islamist demand for restoration of the Caliphate. In chasing his dream of Hindu-Muslim unity (or was it the ambition to be accepted equally as leader of the Muslims?) the Mahatma was prepared to condone the most heinous atrocities perpetrated by Muslims on Hindus as well as the personal insults received from Muslim leaders of the Khilafat agitation. Even after dream had ended in disaster with the creation of Pakistan, Gandhi was not prepared to give it up. The popular line of one of his favourite bhajansIshwar Allah tero naam…” seems to have got deeply embedded in the psyche of Hindus, including Hindu gurus, but made no impression on Muslim clerics.


Meek Gurus and demanding Maulanas


While the steadfast pursuit of Muslim appeasement by political parties is easy to understand on account of votebank politics, it is difficult to fathom the motives of Hindu religious leaders in kow-towing to Muslim clerics. In sharp contrast to the compromising attitude of Hindu gurus, the Maulanas not only stuck to their own understanding of the demands of their religion, but had no hesitation in re-opening, without provocation, an issue which had been settled more than sixty ago (by deleting the parts of Vande Mataram held objectionable).


The Maulanas were equally uninhibited in the pursuit of other points of their regressive and separatist agenda. The twenty five resolutions adopted at the 30th convention of the Jamiat ul Ulema-i-Hind contained some requiring the Government of India to modify its foreign policies regarding Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, according to Indian Muslim susceptibilities. Many demanded for Muslims a share in governance proportional to Muslim population. Others sought benefits for Muslims on account of being a minority and backward. One resolution proposed a common front of Muslims and Dalits as the key to power (an echo of Ram Vilas Paswan’s New York speech).


While seeking the benefits of modern education and job opportunities, the Maulanas were careful to insist that the primacy of their Islamic identity should in no way be compromised and modern education should be imparted to Muslim students in a proper Islamic atmosphere. Education for girls above ten years of age must be subject to the requirements of the Sharia. There were instructions to Muslims not to watch TV or Films. The resolution on terrorism sought to distinguish Terrorism from Jihad, and implicitly criticized government agencies and other communities for unfairly tarnishing the image of Muslims. 26/11 or the attacks by Qur’an-quoting Indian Mujahideen were not considered worthy of mention.


Appeal by Dharma Raksha Manch

That the yoga gurus were suffering from the same deadly virus incapacitating Hindus across the spectrum, and having a deeply ingrained aversion to learning the basic facts of life in the modern world, is too plain to merit elaboration.  To illustrate the abysmal ineptitude of the so-called Hindu leaders, one may refer to the appeal issued in Feb 2009 by the Dharma Raksha Manch to Islamic institutions of India (some extracts):


“The Dharma Raksha Manch, which consists of ancient and highly revered Hindu religious institutions, is extremely concerned about the relentless attacks on India by terrorists who openly claim to be inspired by the Islamic faith and the Islamic holy texts.


”The e-mail which were proved to have been sent at the instance of terrorists clearly make out that they are motivated by what they interpret to be their religious duty. Such e-mail came ahead of the blasts in Bangalore, Jaipur and Delhi and the media had carried them. The e-mail sent by the terrorists who described themselves as Indian Mujahideen before the terror attack on Gujarat brings out their reliance on their religious edicts for their act of ‘jihad’ against the ‘non-believers’ (kafirs).


“The terrorists’ claim is this: The Hindus are kafirs; the holy Quran commands the faithful to kill them; whatever they do constitutes religious war, jihad. So they are only obeying the command of Allah as proclaimed in their holy war...


“Despite this explicit and brazen invocation of the Islamic text for violence, the Islamic religious institutions have kept total silence on terrorists claim that their holy book commands them to kill non-believers. Instead, there is an attempt by some to explain away the phenomenon of terror as due to illiteracy, unemployment and other socio-economic causes.


“The Dharma Raksha Manch is of the firm opinion that Islamic theological institutions and their leaders owe it to their faith and its adherents to come forward and comprehensively deny, with an appropriate fatwa, as per Islamic tradition, the claims of the terrorists. But regrettably there is no such thought or move by Islamic religious leaders even though most of them have expressed themselves against terror and asserted that Islam is a religion of peace.


The Dharma Raksha Manch, therefore, appeals to Islamic religious Institutions and scholars to come forward with an appropriate fatwa to declare in unequivocal terms that:

* Hindus are not kafirs;

* Therefore there can be no jihad against Hindus; …


“The Dharma Raksha Manch recalls that in 1992 Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband, a respected Islamic school, issued a fatwa saying that Hindus are not kafirs, India is not Dar-ul-Harb, but Dar-ul-Aman. Unfortunately, many other Islamic institutions had issued fatwa against Dr Abdul Raza Bedar, the then director of Khuda Baksh Library in Patna, who had said that Hindus were not kafirs. Now even Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband has kept silent on this vital claim of the terrorists, although it has held large conventions against terror and has declared that Islam is against terrorism.


“The Dharma Raksha Manch also appeals to the Islamic religious leaders to declare that any one who violates their fatwa is not a Muslim.


“The Dharma Raksha Manch firmly believes that the Islamic religious leaders will not allow their faith to be misused by the terrorists and will positively respond to the appeal of the Dharma Raksha Manch. The Dharma Raksha Manch is firmly of the view that this is the only way to isolate the terrorists from the Islamic faith and mainstream Muslim society….”


The text of the appeal proves that our gurus/acharyas as well as those who claim to be trying to bring about a Hindu renaissance are living in a dream world of their own and stubbornly refuse to learn anything from experience.


The DRM appeals to the Islamic Institutions to issue a fatwa declaring that (i) Hindus are not Kafirs (ii) that India is not Darul Harb and (iii) that there can be no Jihad against India or Hindus in spite of being fully aware that “ the Islamic religious institutions have kept total silence on the terrorists claim that their holy book commands them to kill non-believers and on the contrary there is an attempt by some to explain away the phenomenon of terror as due to illiteracy, unemployment and other socio-economic causes.”


The DRM acharyas want the Maulanas to deny the terrorists’ claim of Islamic scriptural sanction for their actions, as if a declaration from the Maulanas will take away the religious sanction claimed by the Jihadis. Why don’t the acharyas verify for themselves whether the Qur’an contains the quoted ayats or not. Authoritative translations of the Quran are freely available. But our acharyas will happily rely on whatever story the Maulanas feed them. The acharyas surpassed themselves by asserting that the Islamic theologians “owe it to their faith to comprehensively deny the claims of the terrorists…” Are they presuming that they know the obligations of the Maulanas towards Islam and Muslims better than the Maulanas?


Past experience seems to pose no hurdle to the flights of the acharyas’ fancy. They are not deterred by the futility of the 1992 Darul Uloom fatwa conceding all the main points they are now demanding. They remember that many Islamic Institutions had issued fatwas against Dr Abdul Raza Bedar for his statement that Hindus are not kafirs. What grounds do they have for assuming that the Islamic clerics will issue fatwas requested by the acharyas or that a repeat fatwa will protect Hindus from being decimated by Islamists?


One would like to ask the acharyas, what category other than ‘unbelievers’ would they like Hindus to be placed by the Maulanas: (i) Muslims or (ii) Dhimmis, the second class citizens permitted to live under Islam provide they willingly accept their inferior status and pay jazia. (These are the only two categories of people Islam recognizes other than the unbelievers / kafirs / pagans).


Perhaps our acharyas are not aware that Pakistan’s emergence as the epicenter of global terrorism is commonly attributed to the Deobandi-Wahabi version of Islam or that Jamaat-i-Islami and Tablighi Jamaat are among the prime movers of Islamic Terrorism. Or that all the Islamic Institutions to whom they are addressing their appeal are sworn to place their loyalty to Quran, Kalima and Sharia above all other loyalties.


Dharmo rakshati rakshitah


Protect Dharma and it will protect you, goes the old saying. There is little doubt that the Sanatana Dharma is facing a grave and multi-pronged threat to its existence. How is dharma to be protected? The only strategy of the DRM seems to be to appeal for mercy. This is like a lamb hoping its appeal will convert the hungry tiger to a vegetarian.


If the leaders of the Dharma Raksha Manch are serious about protecting Dharma, they must first acquire a good knowledge of the aggressing faiths, the technology and strategy they use, and the sources of their strength. They should then find suitable ways to repel the aggressors. They must begin by removing the weaknesses of their own camp which led to the land being repeatedly conquered by big and small invaders, and weld the community into a unified and strong body capable of meeting the present and future challenges.


The writer is a former Addl. Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat

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