In a democracy, all citizens are on an equal footing in the eyes of the state in terms of freedom of religion, equal civil rights and the allocation of electoral choice in political contests, whether for the Parliament, the Assembly or local authorities.
A citizen lives in the three dimensions of his temporal existence: personal, social and political. Freedom of religion or the right to worship defines a man’s relationship with his God – it is direct and totally personal and does not require the intervention of a third party.
Sufism paid a heavy price in its early years for suggesting that “saints” and “pirs” had the element of “holiness” and some ability to satisfy desires – both of which were considered anathema in Islam which believed in a very fundamental way that there was complete separation between God and a human being and that no “divine” attributes could be attributed to a person.
Ultimately, Sufism found a place in the Islamic umbrella by reaffirming the unity of God or “Tawhid” and accepting that “Sufi saints” provided only “Waseela” or closeness for a better understanding of the ultimate reality.
While religion decides man’s relationship with God, culture determines a man’s behavior with others in society. Hopefully, religion is meant to influence a person’s social conduct in the direction of maintaining harmony and the spirit of tolerance towards people of other religious beliefs.
There is no religion problem as long as “religious practices” practiced in broad daylight do not cause inconvenience to other sections of society, violate civic laws, and display “superiority of a belief system about others.
Religion should not bring its “exclusivity” to social relations and certainly should not extend it to the political realm by demanding, for example, a separate electorate or separate political treatment in violation of the fundamental principle of equality of all citizens. on which democracy is based.
What is happening is that the ulema and the elite trying to rule the Muslim minority are projecting the religion not only into politics but also extending it further and further into social conduct by demanding the right to offering namaz at large gatherings in public places, advocating the option of not standing during the singing of the national anthem and now projecting the compulsory use of the hijab by female Muslim students to cover their faces as a mandate of Islam.
The Quran calls on women to dress in a manner that maintains modesty, but as the Karnataka High Court has stated, the hijab is not among the fundamental injunctions of religion defined by the five Arkan or pillars of Islam. Islam.
The High Court also gave importance to public order factors as well as the unity and integrity of the country by upholding the right of an institution to prescribe a dress code. The application of crucial religious practices and the principles of liberty and “diversity” in the enforcement of institutional discipline by colleges will no doubt be finally settled by the Supreme Court.
It can also be said that by opposing a secular directive from an autonomous educational institution on the wearing of school uniforms, minority community leaders are pushing religious identity into the classroom and creating Muslim girls a psyche of vulnerability in these times when women successfully compete with men in all walks of life.
All communities have paternalistic tendencies, but can we say that a clear mention in the Koran that “men are in charge of women” leads the ulema to counter any measure favoring a feeling of independence among women?
What is important in all of this is the obvious encouragement of social exclusivism as a facilitator of political separatism. The latter was an instrument of leverage in elections where caste and community appeals were still a lingering factor in this country.
There must be a fuller recognition of the embedded secularism which the democratic state of India has demonstrated through the three-point framework of “one man, one vote”, equal opportunity as well as equal protection of the law and the constitutional mandate that no government will bear a denominational stamp.
Too much minority politics could also lead to a change in the electoral response of many in the majority community – this was apparently the case in the recent assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh which the BJP won on the back of its performance, in any case.
Day-to-day concerns about livelihoods and family affairs are the same for all Indians, regardless of their community, and domestic politics should evolve towards development for all and a legitimate degree of welfarism through projects for the ordinary man.
The communal divide here encourages a hostile Pakistan to fish in our troubled waters by projecting Indo-Pakistani relations within the Hindu-Muslim framework. All Indians – the leaders of the minority community in particular – would do well to counter this by emphasizing the fact that, in our democratic system, all citizens have the right to demand – individually or collectively – the fulfillment of their legitimate aspirations for the government of the day.
The internal security situation is today all the more threatened as the Sino-Pakistani axis is particularly active against India following the abolition of Article 370 of the Constitution by Parliament in August 2019 and the creation of two separate union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir from the former state.
China and Pakistan are now concertedly opposing India’s action and China is actively supporting Pakistan on various issues including Afghanistan, Kashmir and terrorism.
While China has stepped up its aggressive actions on the Arunachal Pradesh border, Pakistan has stepped up cross-border terrorism in Kashmir. Pakistan has started to raise questions about the treatment of the Muslim minority in India, actively encouraging the protagonists of the Khalistan movement and directly attacking the regime of Narendra Modi for allegedly pursuing a Hindu agenda – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said publicly that “the pro-Hindutva policies of the Modi government had endangered the position of the Muslim minority in India”.
The action of the Pakistani government in summoning the Indian charge d’affaires to its foreign ministry in Islamabad to express its “deep concern” over the “hijab ban” imposed on Muslim girls in parts of Karnataka confirms that Pakistan is determined to foment communal division in India as part of its foreign policy.
The Muslim minority leaders here should take notice and not allow any domestic issues to be used by India’s adversaries to their advantage. The leaders of Kashmir’s political parties based in the valley and their allies in the Center at the time, including the Congress, took a politically colored view of the inexcusable violence of the Islamic militants who had driven the Kashmir pundits from the valley in 1990- — we know that Pak ISI was at the origin of this project to make the Valley a totally Muslim territory.
These parties have always refused to name Pakistan for cross-border terrorism and, even worse, they even now argue that Pakistan had a file on Kashmir and should be engaged in talks. India cannot ignore the actions of Pakistani agents and cronies in the current situation where new forms of “covert” offensives are emerging, including the playing of “proxy politics” through sponsored public forums working with anti-Indian lobbies at home and abroad.
(The author is a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau. Opinions expressed are personal)