Saturday, May 09, 2009

Political Islam in the offing

April 25, 2009 by Amitabh Tripathi  

political-islam1Few weeks ago I predicted in my article that this general election is pregnant with a hidden message of Muslim assertion in coming days with alignment of leftists and Islamists as well.  Above mentioned article was written when not even first phase of voting in general elections took place. Now till date two phases of general elections are completed and voting pattern of Muslims in various states has been known.  The Most populated state Uttar Pradesh has shown some trend of Muslim voting which tells story in itself. Few News papers in Uttar Pradesh broke story that few Muslim parties in this state are fighting with help of BJP to get into Muslim votes of some regional parties which are being known for their strong Muslim base. Although these parties out rightly denied these allegations but Muslim parties in Uttar Pradesh is the best case study for the aspirations of political Islam in India.

In this general election Muslims have astonished every political party who had taken Muslims for granted. Several analysts might not be agree that Muslim leadership collectively have formed some strategy for this election for their showdown but it is not far from truth that transition of leadership is very much happening there. It was very much evident with few facts which have gone unnoticed. Since last few decades it was almost a routine for Muslims to look for religious figures and seminaries to decide for their electoral strategy but in last few years this religious leadership gradually declined from its clout and in this election any religious figure and seminary refrained itself from issuing any order for Muslim voters and the most prominent seminary in Uttar Pradesh Darool-Uloom Deoband only said Muslims to use their democratic right of voting and in this appeal no political group was mentioned.  On the other hand several Muslim parties fielded its candidate in Uttar Pradesh and two parties were prominent in them Ulema council and peace party whose communal tone and theory of atrocity on Muslims with call of political empowerment was very much visible in their campaign.

Ulema council fielded its candidate in several constituencies with non Muslim faces with an electoral arithmetic of transfer of votes. Ulema council concentrated itself more in Azamgarh the place which came in light after several terrorists of Indian Mujahideen were found linked with this district. Ulema council fought their election in the name of discrimination meted out to Muslim youths in the name of terrorism and political empowerment of Muslims. Another Muslim political party peace party which fielded its candidate in eastern U P campaigned with communal overtone and centralized to the theory of atrocity on Muslims and crisis of identity.

Ulema council and peace party both are different in their character but one thing is common in both of them as they have been able to appeal their fellow Muslims to cast their votes for these parties to show the strength. The founder of AUDF a political party in Assam Badruddin Azamal was instrumental in forming the Ulema council. AUDF was formed in Assam in last assembly elections with an ambition to become third force as an alternative for Muslims after Congress and regional party Assom Gan Parishad who in the words of Badruddin Azamal are trying to push anti- Muslim agenda in the name of illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators.

In last few years after the rise of AUDF political parties in general and   Congress in particular has become passive on the issue of illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators in Assam. Rise of Badruddin Azaml was phenomenal and he pursued this formula in other states where Muslims are in sizable numbers as West Bengal, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh. In last municipal elections in Maharashtra Badruddin Azaml inspired various Muslim political groups to fight in those areas where Muslims population is decisive and they were successful in Aurangabad and Malegaon where Muslim candidate win with huge margin.

 Once AUDF gets success in Assam and Maharashtra it tried to replicate this experiment in other states where Muslim population is more than 15% and Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal fall in this category. Although Bihar and West Bengal has not been influenced by Badruddin Azaml directly but aspiration of political Islam in clearly visible there.  West Bengal has witnessed how Jamait-E-Islami has been successful to set the agenda for Trinmool Congress of Mamta Banerjee and gradually few demands are coming out as recognizing Urdu the language of state after Bangla. It would be interesting to see how people of Bengal react to these demands who are more fascinated about their Bengali sub nationalism.  Jamat has been able to uproot Left front from various pockets in the name of political empowerment to get their share in resources and development as well as come out of discrimination.

In this general election Muslims have come out of Babri demolition syndrome and they are more focused to their political empowerment. In Uttar Pradesh Ulema council appealed to Muslims not to fear with Hindutva or its leaders and think about your interests. Once Muslim would be able to show their strength their voice will be counted. We must have to analyze this phenomenon carefully. Today Muslim leadership seems in transition phase and their political leadership is fragmented but this situation will not last long as they are not confused about their goal and priorities. This transition of Muslim leadership has some implications. As we have witnessed in Hyderabad where traditional Islamic leader Owaissi of Majlise-Ittehadul-Muslameen is being given stiff challenge from an independent candidate who has been endorsed by  all other parties except of BJP and this candidate is no other than editor of leading Urdu news paper Siyasat Zahid Ali Khan.  This trend could be interpreted in several ways is moderate Islam coming out to root out fundamentalist Islam? Or political Islam is taking shape with new face? To read out this message we have to turn again our self to the aspirations of political Islam in India. Encounter in Batala House and attack on Mumbai on 26\11 were two occasions when we got a chance to read into minds of Muslim leadership and academia. All the Urdu press and Muslim intellectuals were more or less influenced with conspiracy theory and atrocity theory. 

New phenomenon of Muslim leadership reflects Muslim intellectuals, professionals and ideologues are trying to replace religious leaders with themselves. This phenomenon shows that in coming days debate will be ignited on Muslim reservation, political representation for Muslims and more allotment of resources for them as well as so called non discrimination of Muslim youths in counter terrorism. 

Emergence of political Islam in Indian context could evolve an elitist mentality within Muslim leadership with more aspiration of political power and this process could lead India towards pre partition era. Study of emergence of political Islam indicates that once colonial era ends and traditional village economy converts in new forms of economic development with rapid urbanization and a chunk of Muslim population migrated to cities and urban areas their fascination for alternate world view grows enormously and their traditional Islam becomes a political ideology as toll of change with an ambition to lead a political movement to impose shariyat. Political Islam believes in this utopian world view and so called moderate and reformist Islam wants to achieve this goal by exploiting the lacuna of democracy and constitution and in Indian context it has been witnessed how secularism has been practiced for Hindu bashing and Muslim appeasement.

This general election has come out with a clear message that movement for Muslim assertion is building on in massive way. Before elections were announced a conglomerate of Hindu organizations Dharma Raksha Manch send a letter to various Islamic organizations to declare India as peace of land ( Darool Aman) not Darool Harab and announce unequivocally that Jihad against Hindus is not justified and take them out from the list of Kafirs. Darool-Uloom Deoband the famous seminary situated in Uttar Pradesh hardly 50 miles away from capital of India reacted on this demand and said that Jihad was justified only in British occupation when Muslims were forced to live under Non-Islamic rule and after independence India has become democratic state so debate on Jihad has no meaning and relevance in today’s context. But this argument is full of contradiction which indicates the traditional stance of Islamic leadership but it cover up the goal and aspirations of Islam in India.

Traditional Islamic leadership in India is losing its clout and decisive role among its fellow community members and it has been replaced by some global Jihadi movement and its body politic. In this era of modern communication system and information global Jihadi appeal and strife between Arab-Israel attract Muslims more than fatwa of Deoband to denounce terrorism as un islamic.  Emergence of Al Queda and Taliban has thrown challenge to the traditional leadership of Islam everywhere in the world but issues and theory of atrocity on Muslims has an enormous effect on every section of Muslim society world over who have translated it in their geo-political context. This transition of Islamic leadership must be watch carefully as it has incarnated itself with new mascots, new idioms, new plan of action but with traditional thousands years old Islamic goal of imposition of Quranic and Shariyat system as an alternate world order.

Last 5 posts by Amitabh Tripathi

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