Published October 30, 2012 | 1:09 pm
New Delhi: Indian Muslims have realised their political power as they have gradually understood the value of tactical voting, Jamia Milia Islama Vice Chancellor Najeeb Jung said Tuesday. He also praised the opposition by the Darul Uloom seminary at Deoband to British rule in India.
“The Muslims themselves have realized their political power. In almost one-third of seats in the lower house of Parliament, Muslim vote can make the difference between winning and losing. The Muslims have gradually understood the value of tactical voting,” he said while delivering a lecture on ‘Evolution of Muslims in India’ under Prof Mohd. Mujeeb Memorial Lecture 2012, organized by the university’s Dr. Zakir Husain Institute of Islamic Studies.
He also expressed satisfaction that the Indian government was making the right noises about the standard of Muslims in the country and the committees appointed by the government were suggesting means to address their weak condition.
“The seminary staunchly opposed British rule and was a symbol of Muslim opposition to the British. It stood tooth and nail with the Indian nationalists,” Jung noted
During the lecture, Jung dealt with issues like who are Indian Muslims? At what point in the last 1,000 years did India’s Muslims become a minority? Did they perceive themselves as a minority throughout history in India or did this change come about through time and circumstances?
“The times of Muslim rule are best reflected by writings of poets of the time rather than historians themselves,” he said.
Drawing upon the poets Amir Khusrau, Mirza Ghalib, Akbar Allahabadi and Mohammad Iqbal to depict the Muslim thought process and how there was a shift from Khusrau’s times of Nuh Sipahr, when Muslims enjoyed India, fought for it and died for it during the repeated Mongol invasions; to the times of Ghalib, when there was a sense of loss at the end of an age after 1857; to Akbar Allahabadi, when there was the drifting apart of Hindus and Muslims after the Khilafat Movement; to the final phase of Muslim evolution before partition, as represented by Iqbal.
Citing the reasons for partition, Jung said: “The reasons vary from a feeling of insecurity among Muslims, an inability to comprehend how they would reconcile to a ‘Hindu’ India and threats from the Muslim League were adequate to turn the tide opposing Parturition.”
Jung quoted the famous speech of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad at Jama Masjid on October 28, 1947, to highlight the fact that though Muslims had won a homeland, they had got nothing: “When the bitter political games of the last seven years were at peak, I tried to wake you at every danger signal. You not only ignored my call but revived all the past traditions of neglect and denial.”
Recalling the difficulties that the Muslims who were left behind had to face, Jung took the gathering through post-Independence history – the staunch secular attitude of Jawaharlal Nehru in the face of the rightist leanings of his colleagues, the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and the violence following the Babri Masjid demolition, the Mumbai blasts and the Gujarat carnage.
“The last eight years have by all standards been pretty normal in terms of Muslim attitude towards India. Despite a spate of jehadi attacks in various parts of India and attempts to disturb peace, there has been relative calm,” he added/
In his remarks, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, who presided, said that India has managed diversity of faiths so well because of a sense of accommodation, but that is lessening today and “we are not tolerating much today”.
He reminded the Muslim community that “you are as much an Indian, as much a part of this country. The constitution gives you all rights. Ask for your rights. Everyone should join the mainstream that is India.”
An urdu translation of English writings of Najeeb Jung, titled Fikr-o-Aaghai (Thoughts and Vision), edited and compiled by Akhtarul Wasey, director of the Dr. Zakir Husain Institute of Islamic Studies and published by Maktaba Jamia, was also released by Kuldip Nayar.