Saturday, June 16, 2012

Those born to rule

The Myth of the Muslim Vote Bank from Kafila by Sohail Hashmi
The assumption that Muslims are more religiously inclined is based on selective observation, Muslims congregate for prayers every Friday at a specific time and so their religiosity becomes more visible… The idea that the lives of Muslims are governed more by religion than is the case with other communities is also based on selective readings of the life of Muslims… And yet this stereotyping continues. And now about Muslims being a Monolithic block?
Muslims  have been divided between Shias and Sunnis for centuries…To the sectarian divisions among the Muslims you can add the peculiarities created through the interaction of Indian traditions and Islam and you have Muslims who think of themselves as the Ashraf- those born to rule and according to whom the non Asraf are the Arzal – those who are not fit to rule. The Ashraf would be the Sheikhs, the Syeds and the Pathans and everybody else will fall in the category of the Arzal… to these you must also add the modern day differences between the Land-Lord and the Poor-Peasant or landless labour, between the industrialist and the factory worker and all other economic distinctions and classes that exist among the general population, it may come as a surprise but it is a fact that there are Muslim scavengers, who face as much discrimination as do the Dalits… So what do we have now, we have Muslims divided in a large number of sects, Muslims divided among high and low, Muslims divided among contending classes and there isn’t one religious leader whose pronouncements have universal acceptance. Is there then any possibility of Muslims still behaving like a Vote Bank? […]
The very Idea that Muslims in India, almost 13% of the population, close to 160 million individuals, more than half of whom, 80 million people, are voters, with all their sectional, professional, cultural, economic, social, linguistic diversities and differences, at times rather antagonistic differences, can be herded like sheep and be guided, persuaded, pressurised to vote for a party or a set of parties or candidates is so stupendously devoid of commonsense that it is breathtaking in its stupidity. […]
The idea that 13.4 % of this country has stopped thinking is an idea that betrays a fascist bent of mind. Such an idea has its foundation in the assumption that Muslims are different from other human beings, that they are genetically designed to not have a brain. The idea that they can be led by their leaders and religious leaders at that in such, this worldly, secular, matters and made to do  things that  saner elements – read non Muslims- can’t be made to do is an idea that is born out of the tendency towards stereotyping, branding and profiling an entire segment of population? […]
After the demolition of Babri Masjid and more specifically after the Gujarat Genocide, the Muslim Voters try to ensure in whatever manner they can, that as far as possible the candidates put up by the BJP should not win. But that is not vote bank politics that is sheer self-defence, what else can they do? […] (A slightly different version of this article has appeared in Think India magazine.)

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