Changing course of Indian Muslims: Domestic and foreign


Dr Rajkumar Singh

IN course of its spread far and wide Islam came to India with Arabs. Initially the Islam that settled down in India was not so radical. Its core got impacted by Hindu philosophy, bhakti movements which provided Islam a broad based co-existence with all religions of India. For over 300 years, Islam remained peacefully as a religion and taken its place among the many religions of India without trouble or conflict. Before Islam, Jainism and Buddhism had been absorbed by Hinduism. Also there were Christianity and the Hebrew religions that had reached India probably during the first century after Christ, had found a place in the country. Historically, Hindu society had shown a peculiar ability to absorb and culturally assimilate groups which entered its fold from outside, even with military power. But Islam was the first exception. Islamic groups had much greater cultural self – confidence, and clearer self-recognition in terms of doctrines and observances. This prevented an absorption into Hindu society in the treacherously insidious way that had been the common fate of earlier intruders.
Muslim community on decline: The industrial revolution which dawned, failed to provide an alternative set of values and along with it, a sense of belonging to these people. To offset this deficiency they try to reclaim and assert their traditional identities more stridently. The alienation generated in the process of modernisation provided the material for the growth of orthodox religious forms. It is said that this modern phenomenon of terrorist movement is born out of frustration and despair. Despair caused by social marginalisation, economic decline and political defeat. Leon Trotsky once described the two emotions central to terrorism as being despair and vengeance. The betrayed hopes, one talks of are, as we are aware, the hopes of diverse communities to obtain their fair share of the cake. In a nutshell, the Islamic fundamentalism or pristine puritan Islam had lost its original dynamism and failed to meet the challenges of the time. The continuous enjoyment of political power for over 1,000 years had given the Muslims a self-confidence which was based on a faith in Islam, which they believed would never let them down. But as a result of the renaissance in Europe, with the age of reason, the invention of gun power, the geographical explorations, the industrial revolution and the colonial expansion of the European powers, Islamic glory became a thing of the past. The mainstream of the intellectual and creative section of the society fell into the grip of traditionalists who valued piety more than progress. Islamic decline became more apparent from the 18th Century, when the French Revolution gave new concepts of democracy and nationalism to Europe and the Muslims were left far behind in every sector of human life.
Dilemma and struggle for self-identity: In the circumstances fundamentalist revival sought to strip modern, innovative and foreign influence from the Islamic faith. Earlier when Muslims were unable to meet the challenge posed by Western countries, the situation created fundamental doubts among the educated Muslims in Islamic values and ideas, and they were inclined more and more towards an appreciation of Western culture and outlook. The matter became much worse when not only the Westerners but also the Western-educated Muslims began to think the same way. Hence, Islam came under fire both from within and without. But this does not mean that the Muslims did not resist the European onslaught. They fought every battle in India, including the one in 1857. Turning events for Muslims outside India: In post-World War II phase radical Islam’s opposition to the West in general and the USA in particular continued unabated. No doubt the West has given the world science and technology and also introduced the concept of democracy and human rights. But it has also rubbished India, China and the Muslim world. They have imposed on these civilizations. Missionaries have been sent with foreign funds to subvert the religion and culture of those people. Muslims resent it more because they have recent memories of their power.
Many Muslim countries were occupied. Even after independence their governments were either toppled or turned into puppets. Their oil wealth still goes to enrich the West. Their oil revenues are diverted to arms purchases. Neighbouring countries are encouraged and armed to fight each other. The end of second world war witnessed the beginning of cold war between the two superpowers of world politic – the USA and USSR. Initially the USSR was a territorial power against the nuclear dominance of the United States. At the height of Cold War for supremacy in world politics the USA blocked the USSR in Europe through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and both the USSR and China in East Asia through alliances with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. In early years with a view to pursuing its policy of containing Communism, it placed higher priorities on West Asia, where a Soviet military threat was perceived, and to Southeast Asia where the Chinese were suspected of long-term expansionist ambitions.
— The writer is Professor and Head, P G Department of Political Science, Bihar, India.

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