Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hard to be a Muslim these days

In another two days time, it will be the time for school children to practice their vocal cords and sing the Vande Mataram. The Muslim community is divided on whether to sing or not to sing. Javed Akhtar has been quoted as saying that if a mullah asks him not to , he would sing the whole big song and not the first two stanzas which constitute the national song—but on the other hand if the RSS types ask him to sing , he would clam up his lips. Hidden in all the hype about the Vande Mataram is the news of another fatwa from Deoband – the Vatican of the Indian Muslims that life insurance is impermissible for Muslims as it involves the transaction involving interest and usury is forbidden in any form in Islam.Some times I think it must be hard being a Muslim these days. Hemmed in from outside with all this ethnic and religious profiling, it must be a heart wrenching experience to be always under suspicion, under a cloud , to be presumed to be guilty by association till proved otherwise. And the community leaders don’t make it life easier.

Instead of working to improve the image and perception of the community, they pick on issues like which song to sing or not to sing, where not to invest their money.Imagine this. The Muslim community in India is among the most backward on all human indices- education, wealth, health, political representation and a host of other such indicators. The Muslim population in pockets of Western U.P is said to be responsible for India having the dubious distinction of having the world’s largest number of polio cases and the even worse distinction of exporting them to countries which were thus far polio free.

Muslim women are similarly more backward, less educated and less likely to be working, not just because of educational backwardness but also because conservative social norms discourage this.In such a time and circumstance, an enlightened Muslim man (or may be a woman, though this is less likely) decides to buy life insurance, so that his family – particularly his and wife and children are provided for, that they do not add to the considerably high numbers of the Muslim poor.

Does the community hail him for setting a socially progressive and progressive norm? Well no.If in Islamic world view, buying life insurance is bad in its current form; does it prescribe any alternative means of investment or savings? Oh, no. all it tells you is that this can not be done, that is Un Islamic, if you do this, you are doing some thing that is haraam, if you do that, you are doing some thing, najayyaz. No solutions are forthcoming, only problems, spanners and spokes. With such leaders as the Muslims in India have these days, which need enemies ? The community is all set on the path of annihilation – Arjun and Mulayam Singh and their efforts not withstanding. Oh, it is hard to be a Muslim these days in India!

No comments: