Book: Visible Muslim, Invisible Citizen: Understanding Islam in Indian Democracy
Author: Salman Khurshid
Price: Rs 595
Former External Minister Salman Khurshid has written one more book Visible Muslim, Invisible Citizen: Understanding Islam in Indian Democracy. Generally our understanding of religion in modern India is highly influenced by the media and environment in which we live and grow. In the polarised society like ours it is always better to understand various religions in the proper context.
The book is mainly meant for non-Muslim (mainly Hindus) who do not know enough of Islam. It places the identity of the Indian Muslim in the context of Indian democracy; and deciphers the Muslim mind in social and political contexts, beyond theology. The book is also for the Muslims themselves, to help them steer out of the morass partly of their own making.
The idea of writing this book came to the author after reading Shashi Tharoor’s book Why I Am a Hindu. The author correctly analyses, “For decades after independence, Indian Muslims were implicitly, and sometimes even explicitly, blamed for the partition by people whose understanding of history was sparse.”
The reality is three Muslim leaders — Sheikh Abdullah, Hamid Dalwai and Arif Mohammad Khan — had potential to take their community forward. Sheikh Abdullah, a Kashmiri, stood for secular India, Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru and rejected Muslim League’s idea of Pakistan. Hamid Dalwai, a Maharashtrian, was a thinker and reformer. He was the first to organise a rally along with seven women against triple talaq in Mumbai in 1966. Unfortunately he died much before his time. He is the most relevant today. He adopted a rationalist approach to religion. Arif Mohammad walked out of the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet over differences on the Shah Bano issue in 1986. Now, he is Governor of Kerala.
We need to realise that being a religious does not necessarily mean one is a communalist. The fact is India is a secular country with religious people. The Hindus, Muslims along with people from other religions are living peacefully for hundreds of years. The misunderstanding about other religions needs to be removed for a better tomorrow. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Dr Zakir Hussain and many other Muslim leaders defied the false logic of the two-nation theory propounded by Muslim League and Mohammad Ali Jinnah. They trusted Gandhi and Nehru.
The author gives details of how Muslim community contributed in the freedom struggle and development of India. Maulana Hasrat Mohani was the first person who raised the issue of ‘complete independence’ in Indian National Congress meeting in Ahmedabad in 1921. He also says around 225 Muslim women gave their lives in the first war of Independence of 1857. The contribution of Muslims in the freedom struggle and independent India is also narrated in details.
The author also talks about communal riots and Sachar committee. The committee was appointed in 2005 to study the condition of the Muslim community. The report of the committee placed Muslims below scheduled castes and tribes in backwardness. The point is what is the answer? Everyone needs to respect every other person irrespective of his/her community. This is possible only in a tolerant society and sincere efforts needs to be done to move towards it.