Amidst the ongoing propaganda by a certain desperate section of the country, painting Muslims as anti-national, pro Pakistan and provocative name calling, Muslims of India continue to live with peace and harmony among the other Indians of different faiths.
Though the level of intolerance has definitely increased in past few years but that’s visible more on social media than on the ground. If you are a Muslim living outside India and think that Indian Muslims are facing any existential threat then please be assured that India still remains one of the safest place for Muslims to live, earn a living and practice their faith freely.
India is known for its “Ganga-Jamuni tahzeeb” and will always be a tolerant nation. People of all faiths have largely lived together, peacefully, for centuries and I don’t see why it won’t be the case for foreseeable future.
I was in India last month and can say that with all confidence that it is even safer than a many Muslim majority countries. Having said that we know that Islamophobia is on the rise across the world and India is no different. History is being twisted by certain vested interest to create an atmosphere of fear by stereotyping Muslims.
A scared person is not the best judge and that’s what these antisocial elements want to cash on. Scare the people so much that they believe in every crap that is dished out to them which in normal circumstances would have been challenged by the masses. Hence it is very important for the educated Muslims and those active on social media to put an effort to constructively debate and dispel the rumours.
We must try to put as much facts in the public domain as we can rather than getting agitated or violent. We must, also, not behave like a victim and wait for a messiah to show up rather the need of the hour is to get up use any platform that’s available to silence the propaganda and for that it is very important that we know our history. Islam and Muslims have played an important role in shaping up the Modern India, I will briefly mention regarding Islam’s first arrival to India (Subcontinent) and the role of Muslims in shaping the history of modern India and I would also like to fact check few allegations in following sections:
1) Muslims came to India as invaders and forcibly converted Indians to Islam.
Nothing can be farther from truth than the theory that invaders from central Asia were the first Muslims that came to India. Islam in India dates back to as early as 7th century i.e. within 100 years of Prophet (s) introducing Islam to Meccans. Arab traders had trade relationships with Indians living at the western coast of India (Konkan, Gujarat and Kerala) long before India was invaded by any Muslim ruler.
Both western and Indian historians have mentioned that the first Muslim settlers came to India around 630 CE (this was the time when Prophet (s) was actually alive) and there weren’t any Islamic kingdom and prophet himself was in charge Islamic world. That was the time when first set of Indians accepted Islamic faith. Then the Sufis like Khawaja Mohiuddin Chishti, Nizamuddin Auliya, and Baba Fareed etc brought a lot of people to Islamic fold with the message of equality, love and compassion. If you do careful analysis then you will find that most of the Muslim Indians (if one tries to map their heritage with caste systems) will fall into lower caste categories. Number of Brahmins or other Savarns converting to Islam would be very low when compared to lower caste population.
So the major reason for conversion to Islam was overwhelmingly peaceful and that was to break the shackles of untouchability and usher into an era of equality. Though there are historical accounts available that some Muslim rulers have tried to bring in the converts by force but projecting it as the prime factor behind growth of Islam in subcontinent will be injustice to the history.
2) Interpreting war between two rulers with Hindu/Muslim view.
Another divisive discourse that takes place in Social media and other Media platforms is how Muslim rulers had issues with Hindu kingdoms and have targeted Hindus. Two very common examples that are given are of Akbar vs Maharana Pratap, Aurangzeb vs Shivaji.
In all the above cases there wasn’t any religious angle rather it was simple expansionist mindset of kings and monarchs as was the case in those days. The very fact that Akbar’s Army was led by a Rajput king Raja Man Singh with a lot of Rajput soldiers vs Maharana’s Army had an Afghan battalion (5000 men) led by Hakim Khan Suri is enough to trash the religious angle.
Similarly Aurangzeb’s army had Rajput troopers whereas 66000 troopers out of 150000 in Shivajis army were Muslims who fought against Aurangzeb. There are numerous other examples which invalidate the communal angle given to the war/hostilities between two rulers of the past.
Further to above there aren’t any doubts that there are historical accounts available which lists down the excesses on the population by these rulers in the veil of religion but one can’t deny the fact that these rulers have been responsible for a lot of atrocities on Muslims as well.
The need of the hour is compassion, the need of the hour is to create platforms where people of all the communities can get together and discuss. If we want to be heard, if we, the Indian Muslims living in India or overseas, want other communities to have a heart and sympathise with our problems then we need to first listen to them, we need to raise their issues with as much compassion as we would raise ours. We need to create a platform where we raise the voices of down trodden both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. We need to create a platform which focusses on uplifting the educational standards of Indians in general and Indian Muslims in particular and at the same time it remains areligious in its operations and philosophies.
Indian Muslims have the responsibility to change the discourse and show the world that Khusro (father of Ghazal and Qawwali, inventor of Sitar) not Aurangzeb represents Indian Muslims and many more like khusro whose names are buried in the books of history.
It’s time to find those names and counter growing Islamophobia In the region.