Thursday, June 23, 2011
The Welfare Party of India (WPI) is a new addition in the list of over half a dozen existing Muslim parties in India with Mujtaba Farooque who was till recently the secretary of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind(JIH)as its president and Syed Qasim Rasul Ilyas another prominent member of JIH as general secretary. JIH was formed in April 1948 as an offshoot of Jamaat-e-Islami(JEI) which was launched as a religio-political Islamic movement in 1941 by a puritan Islamist Abul Ala Maududi (1903-1979).
Even though 11 out of 16 office bearers of the WPI are JIH activists, the party president Mujtaba Farooque claims that it is neither a Muslim party nor a front of the JIH and has declared that it has five non-Muslims namely Fr. Abraham Joseph, Mrs. Lalitha Naik, Prof. Rama Panchal, Prof. Rama Surya Rao and Subramani in the list. Surprisingly, Dr.J K Jain, president of the minority cell of the BJP was also invited to share the platform and speak during the launch function. So much so Fr. Abraham Joseph a Church leader recited Gayatri mantra to prove secular credentials of the party.
Speaking on the concept paper of the WPI Mujtaba Farooque stated: “The real test of a democracy is how it treats its minorities. The biggest minority of the country, the Muslims, have gradually become the most backward social group. By all educational, economic and other developmental measures, they went through unprecedented downfall in the last six decades. They could not still get rid of the lethal sense of insecurity. The violent communalism always keeps them terrorised. The state excesses, sometimes, in the name of curbing communal conflicts and sometimes in the name of countering terrorism, have not yet stopped.”( Afroz Alam Sahil in Beyond Headlines).
JIH is known for its strong commitment to the anti-secular, anti-democracy and Pan-Islamist ideology of Maududi ever since its formation and therefore, never joined electoral politics in India. It hardly has any literature which supports secularism. Even after migration of Maududi to Pakistan the JIH activists have fervently believed and preached his ideology for over six decades.
Maududi advocated for a more assertive political Islam and preached Jihadi ideology of Islamism throughout his life. Widely known for his Islamic activism for obdurate fight against the political system of infidels by updating the proto-Islamist thoughts of eighteenth century Islamists like Shah Waliullah of Delhi and Mawlana Wahhab of Arabian Peninsula, his objective was to convert Indian sub-continent then under British rule from dar-ul- kufr (land of infidels) to dar-ul-Islam (land of Islam). Accordingly, while migrating to Pakistan Maududi advised his followers to boycott the secular political structure including legislative bodies, judiciary and executive which is not in conformity with Islamic scriptures namely Quran, Hadith and Sharia.
Due to his life long preaching on Islamic radicalism Maududi was the first recipient of King Faisal International award in 1979 for his Service to Islam. The award which was started by Saudi Arabia in 1976 carried a 24 carat 200 gram gold medal and a cash prize of 200,000 US dollars. (Wikipadea).
After partition of the Indian sub-continent and migration of Maududi to Pakistan, the JIH’s main problem was how to camouflage its Islamist character and guard the party against any Government action when Indian constitution accepted democracy and socialism. Since Maududi regarded Indian constitution contrary to the Islamic concept of governance, the JIH started its Islamist politics in ambiguity. It adopted a strategy to carry forward t the-political ideology of Hukumat-e-Ilahia (Rule of God) based on Islamic scriptures through Jihad (Holy War) as propounded by Maududi by replacing them with new terminology namely Iqamate Deen( Islamic religious order) and Saleh Inqilab (Peaceful revolution) respectively.
Staying aloof from direct electoral politics, the JIH floated a student front known as Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in April 1978 immediately after Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and extended support to its cadres from behind. When the Islamist design of SIMI was exposed following its aggressive campaign during Afghan war, the JIH kept a safe distance from it and formed another students front in 1982 known as Students Islamic Organisation (SIO). Almost all the top office bearers of both the SIMI and the SIO were drawn from the JIH.
Against the backdrop of the commitment of the JIH to the Jihadi ideology of Madudi, formation of a Muslim driven party by his disciples in a ‘secular’ mask named as Welfare Party of India is not only a new phenomenon but somewhat intriguing. Does it mean that the JIH has adopted the strategy to preach democracy and secularism openly and push Maududism secretly? Or has the JIH abandoned Maududism which does not permit the Muslims to be the part of the governance which is not in conformity with Islamic scriptures?
Since the JIH has been following Maududism since its inception and none of the WPI office bearers have given any statement that they have abandoned the anti-democracy ideology of Maududi, it appears that ‘Islamic revolutionaries’ who are committed to oppose vehemently the man-made constitution, legislative bodies and political ideas of democracy, socialism and secularism are now trying to achieve their objective through a seemingly 'innocent' means.
Due to the ambiguous style of politics the JIH is still having only a very small following among the Indian Muslims even after its existence of over six decades. But a significant section of radical Muslim youths who are found more inclined towards Islamist terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, Taliban and its associated outfits operating in India and are also against the strategic alliance of Saudi Arabia with USA may need political protection. Is it the objective of the JIH to unite them under the banner of the WPI and help them politically?
If the JIH is not a Muslim party, then why were the speakers one after the other concentrated only on the plight of the Muslims? Even the concept paper of the WPI focussed mainly on the alleged plight of minorities particularly the Muslims. A joint strategy of the party with ‘like minded’ parties to contest future elections particularly in Uttar Pradesh in 2012 revealed the political objectives of the JIH. They have already initiated dialogue with Muslim parties like Ulema Council and Peace Party in Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country.
The JIH was one of the radical Islamist organizations which took active part in hosting the royal welcome to Mecca Imam during his visit in India (March 24-28, 2011). The Saudi cleric asked the organizers to unite the Muslims for changing their existing social order and also plumped for setting up an Islamic TV channel in India for preaching the teachings of the companions of the Prophet. (See my paper on Mecca Imam visit in India). Within a month of his visit the JIH appears to have formed the WPI (April 19). Was this to impress upon the Saudi Monarchy that it was responding to the call of Mecca Imam for the political unity of the Indian Muslims?
Encouraged with the success of Muslim candidates in recently held Assembly elections particularly in West Bengal and Kerala, the JIH perhaps is now preparing for fielding its own candidates in coming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2012 under the cover of a secular party. In the era of coalition politics and political parties, it is possible that the JIH is exploring other means to acquire political clout. This should be seen in the light of the results of the recently concluded elections in Assam and West Bengal where the Islamist group has managed to send 28 and 59 candidates respectively to the assembly.
Some may argue that it is not a bad development if the JIH has floated a new party that is committed to the man-made constitution and people should welcome it. But if the intention of the Maududi-ites is so pious, why are they trying to enter politics through the back door?. They should have come forward and publicly declared that in view of the changing socio-political environment of the world, the intolerant and outrageous ideology of Mauduism is now outdated? They have not said so so far.
The problem of Islamist groups in India is that their leadership is not yet ready to understand the political ground reality of the country. Except Jammu and Kashmir, the Muslim population is scattered across the country and therefore even after sixty four years of partition there is no Muslim political party in the country which has a national character. Two Muslim parties namely Indian Union Muslim League in Kerala and Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen are not even regional parties and what to talk of their national status. While the IUML is hardly having any existence beyond Malappuram district in Kerala, the MIM is only a city based party in Hyderabad of Andhra Pradesh.
The emergence of a new political alliance among different Muslim groups including the Islamists should not end up as a danger signal for assertive communal politics in coming days as the heirs of Maududi. Mauddodism has to be fought and defeated politically. Is the JIH willing to reform itself politically? Or will it with the new 'secular credentials' not only make make demands like reservation for Muslims in government jobs but would also press for proportionate political share in democratic institutions like parliament and assemblies? This would take us to pre partition days and this is neither in the interest of the Muslim community nor in the interest of the unity and integrity of the country.
Religious Conversion for Marriage: A Message to Dharmics
Dilip Amin, Ph. D - http://www.interfaithshaadi.org/
Summary: The proud Hindu parents and youths need to learn to simply say “NO” to a religious conversion request (Baptism, Bris, Shahadah/Sunat; BBS) for an interfaith marriage involving a Christian, Jew or Muslim. This is a true test to help identify a potential religious fanatic. By saying NO to the BBS request, one will increase chances of a guilt-free and long lasting happy married life even if it is an interfaith marriage.
Proselytism and religious conversion of poor and less fortunate Hindus in India is of major concern to many, however silent religious conversions of most educated and blessed our young adults and their children in the West has not raised eye brows of most.
Thirty eight percent of marriages of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs (Dharmics) in America are to Christians, Jews and Muslims (Abrahamics). Forty five percent of Muslims in America marry to non-Muslims. However, there is a limited tolerance for Hindus and Hindu practices of praying multiple forms of the God in Abrahamics’ exclusivist supremacist monotheist religious beliefs1, 2, 3, 4. For this exact reason they expect conversion by the BBS of the Hindu spouse. It is unbelievable but still true today that many marriages in Christian churches and to a Muslim there is a must requirement for religious conversion of Hindus by Baptism and Shahadah, respectively, to the faith of intended spouse. In some cases, a Christian or Jew may not ask for a religious conversion for marriage but will certainly ask to declare the interfaith child as a Christian by Christening/Baptism or Jew by Bris circumcision ceremony, respectively.
Considering divorce rate in interfaith marriages is estimated up to 70%, why would a Hindu gives up birth religion for some intolerant Abrahamic? If Mahatma Gandhiji has to rewrite his famous statement today, probably he would say…“Your religion is like your mother. Just because your intended spouse is demanding that you adopt your mother-in-law as your dear mother, you are not going to abandon your birth mother!”
In all most all cases, the Abrahamic love mate will start by telling a Hindu youth that “I don’t care for all these BBS rituals,” “It is only a formality,” and “do it just to please my parents or grandmother” but don’t underestimate the inner desire of this Abrahamic. Don’t be in a wrong impression that the BBS is a hollow ritual devoid of meaning. Further, the religious conversion is not a onetime event; you are setting a new tone for your life. If you feed a shark, it will come back again for more food. Similarly, religious conversion for marriage will be followed by the expectation of a declaration of faith for your children via Baptism, Bris or Sunat. Later, you may be forbidden to practice your own religion so children would not learn and follow it. Also, your spouse or his/her family may not like to be part of a Hindu religious ceremony while at your parent’s home. When your fantasy love period ends and it transformed into a routine married life, then these issues will become sore points in your life.
Consider the BBS as a “tip of iceberg.” Let’s take example of the Bollywood star Sharmila Tagore. She converted to Islam to marry Mansur Ali Khan and changed her name to Begum Ayesha Sultana. All her 3 children have Muslim names and were raised as 100% Muslims. Their son, Saif Ali Khan's wife, Amrita Singh, had the same fate as Sharmila except later she got talak (divorce). Further, if Kareena Kapoor marries to Saif, probably the same saga will continue. For your daughter (or son), do you wish for the same religious fate like Sharmila? Would you not say “no” to the “unintended” BBS and divert the love Titanic away from a major disaster?
If your doctor tells you that you have a high cholesterol or blood pressure, would you not be concerned about future massive heart attack or stroke? A request for the BBS of a Hindu for marriage should be considered as an alarming sign for a major trouble coming 15 years into your marriage life.
If your intended spouse (or in-laws) is expecting the BBS religious conversion, especially for your children, then you have one of two choices: 1) accept his or her Abrahamic faith and be prepared to give up your birth religion and cultural heritage completely or 2) clarify that you have pride in your birth religion and ask for equality by denying the BBS religious labeling request. Promise only what you mean. A married life based on misleading assurances or lies will have serious consequences later for both. The married life is a long journey; do not start in a wrong direction.
Many times, without realizing long term consequences, Hindu youths may opt to accept a new religion just to please their intended spouse and in-laws. Further, in many cases, the Hindu parents allow Hindu children or grand children to convert to the other religion just to please their in-law. There could be 101 reasons to say “no” to Abrahamic’s proselytism tactics, while there is not one good reason for a proud Dharmic parents to say “wonderful son, go for the BBS” other than parent’s lack of courage to speak out.
These days, most Abrahamics are not religious fanatic, are open minded and thus will not expect the BBS from the intended Hindu spouse. But you want to make sure the one you are dealing with is not an intolerant for what you are. Keep in mind that the “tolerance” and “open mindedness” are not measurable characteristics and could change with the wind. However, the denial of BBS is a simple litmus test to find out the “true color” of the intended spouse. So Hindus youths and parents need to learn to ask a simple question: is there any expectation for the children of this marriage to have Baptism, Bris or Sunat?
Love is often not a planned event. Further, love is said to be blind to religion. If so then why only a Hindu is expected to be blind? Check if it is the love of his or her Abrahamic faith or a love for you comes first. It is Dharmic parents’ responsibility to guide their love-blinded children for equally of both faiths. The BBS has no place in an interfaith marriage with equality.
In many cases, when a Hindu adamantly deny the conversion for marriage and for their progeny; the other party considers and will understand it. When there are other options available, why not ask for it? Bollywood star Rhitik Roshan and Suzanne Khan kept two religions out and got married by a civil wedding, and it is an admirable act. A similar message has been given in Jodhaa Akbar, Gadar and Namastey London movies. If the BBS, which is nothing more than a religious conversion, is an absolute requirement from your potential Abrahamic in-law, why you will want to tolerate some one’s intolerance for what you are? Further, by submitting to the BBS request, you are nurturing and propagating Abrahamic’s intolerance practices against other innocent Hindu youths.
Marriages are made in heaven; however very high percent of interfaith marriages end in divorce. With such a high failure rate, why one would want to give up own birth religion irreversibly? In many cases, a divorce costs lot more than the marriage. The BBS promise will certainly have legal consequences, and after the BBS, Hindu will find difficult to win a child custody case against an Abrahamic. Check with your lawyer and view this video before submitting to the BBS request.
When it comes to college education, Hindu parents will do anything possible to make sure their children have noting but the best. For example, if their son or daughter gives up a high flying medical carrier for a bar tender job and finds a real joy of life, the Hindu parent will sure to give hell till the child changes his or her mind. Similarly, if a Hindu young adult becomes a cocaine addict, the parents will not support it by saying that “we want to see you happy and you decide what ever is right for you.” Contrary to that, when it comes to religious conversion for marriage many Hindu parents have no guts to guide their children or courage to face the Abrahamic in-law. In this Obama’s tolerant America, it is time for a “change.” It is time to say NO to the BBS.
In general Hindu parents are great bargainers when it comes to purchasing a car or a house; why not use the same negotiation skills when your son or daughter selects an Abrahamic interfaith marriage mate? One needs to respectfully deny for conversion by stating that we are Hindus and wish to remain exactly the same after the marriage. More specifically, tell your potential in-laws that we will not tolerate Baptism for a church wedding or Shahadah for Nikaah, the Islamic wedding. Further, proactively tell them that we will not tolerate Baptism, Bris or Sunat religious circumcision label for the grand children, especially when there is no scientific merit to the circumcision. Your tolerant potential in-laws will surely consider your request. At least one should ask just to learn of their “true color.”
If your Hindu daughter found a handsome and well educated Hindu and if that intended spouse later asks for - - $5,000 dowry - - as a pre-condition for the marriage, what would you think of that guy? Probably you may ask your daughter to reconsider her decision with the fear that this junwani (old timer) may bring more troubles later in her life. Similarly, why any one should tolerate if some junwani Abrahamic asks for your - - religious pride as dowry - - for the marriage?
Many parents tolerate the intolerance and accept the thought of religious conversion for their children thinking this is an easy fix to the marital grid-lock. Further, there is no risk to their prestige in the Hindu community since no one will find out. However, time will come when for these proud Hindus, now grandparents, will have a guilt feeling seeing their grand children following a different faith. It will not be pleasant for these proud Hindu grandparents to drive their Abrahamic grand children to a Church or synagogues or Mosque/Madrasas for religious education. This guilt feeling will get worst when time comes to pass your hard earned life estate for the benefit of the believers of the Abrahamic faith. At that time you may wish, instead of this “my way or no ways” BBS deal; the grand children had an option being Hindus.
You may be a Hindu for hundreds of generations. Is your Abrahamic son or daughter in-law worth so much that you are willing to end the Hindu heritage now? Was that the dream you came to the West with?
The BBS is a social evil for interfaith couples. No youth will bring up the talk of BBS in an early dating period with the fear of being labeled an intolerant. To present the BBS demand after years of romantic relationship is an ugly form of proselytism. No honest Abrahamic youth believes in imposing the BBS on their intended interfaith spouse; however they end up doing it because of pressure from their intolerant community and religious institutions. Unfortunately, instead of enjoying the most quality time, the couple has to resolve the BBS issue by uncomfortable discussion just before their marriage. It is hoped that soon there will be an end to the BBS religious conversion practices for interfaith marriages.
Well-informed and well-thought out decisions for selecting a life mate will certainly bring long lasting happiness in a married life, even if it is an interfaith marriage. But most importantly is that one wants to make sure you will have the freedom to follow your traditions and raise your children to do the same without threats to this liberty created by the Abrahamic in-law and his or her religious institutions. One of the most important things a Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist parents and youths need to do is to pro-actively say “no” to the BBS religious conversion practices of Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Bangladesh on Monday night decided to make a radical shift from secularism to a pro-Islamic constitution. The move angered pro-democracy, secularist activists and also surprised the nation's moderate Muslim population.
An amendment of the constitution will be brought soon to retain Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim (in the name of Allah in the preamble of the constitution, most gracious, most merciful), freewheel policy to religious biased politicking and Islam as state religion.
A meeting of the cabinet ministers chaired by Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina on Monday approved the amendments of the constitution. The constitutional reforms committee worked for months to recommend several revisions.
Meanwhile, the opposition led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia and Islamist alliance partners launched a countrywide agitation, including strikes protesting abrogation of non-partisan interim government to ensure free, fair, credible polls in the reformed constitution. They fear that the forthcoming general elections due in 2014 could be rigged based on proven track records of ruling party.
Two senior ministers AMA Muhith and AK Khandaker expressed their discontent during a cabinet meeting and protested the inclusion of “Islam as the state religion” of the republic in the reformed constitution. They argued that it will be in conflict with the constitution of 1972 ensuring the state should be secular with equal rights to all citizens practising other religions including Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity.
Commenting on the ministers’ argument, Hasina remarked, “the committee report has been prepared in this regard on the basis of reality as there have been many changes in the past 40 years.”
Secularists argue that state cannot belong to a faith, instead human beings may have a religion or faith.
A year after the bloody war of independence from Islamic Pakistan in 1971, Bangladesh (formerly an eastern province of Pakistan) adopted a secular constitution. Despite being the fourth largest Sunni Muslim dominated population, the country banned political activities of Islamic parties.
The 1972 secular constitution guaranteed religious freedom and respect of all faiths was installed by independence leader Shiekh Mujibur Rahman, the father of present prime minister Hasina. Subsequently the military juntas ruled the country for 15 years doctored the constitution, encouraging Islamization of Bangladesh.