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Mushirul Hasan and Gujarat

Vinod Kumar


Mushirul Hasan, an erudite man, highly regarded in India’s political and intellectual arena, in a recent article (Strongman Politics, Indian Express, and November 27, 2002) has compared Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat to Josef Goebbels of Nazi Germany.

Then he goes on to lament that in the upcoming elections in Gujarat, both the BJP and the Congress, are invoking only the name of Patel – the first Home Minister of India. He chastises Patel for "suspecting Muslims loyalty to India" and levels other anti-Muslim charges against him. He then laments "that not one person made even passing reference to Gandhiji or Jawaharlal Nehru, the principal architects of the great Congress movement. But what was even more disturbing to him was that even "the Congress has chosen to discard them during electioneering." He thinks it is "a serious error of judgement… It is vitally important to invoke shared tradition and religious plurality, and to remind people of the values that Gandhi and Nehru stood during their public life."

On Modi and Goebbels

Equating Modi with Goebbels is too ridiculous to even deserve a comment. No sane person will even dream of such an equation. I too will let it pass. It reflects more of the writer's mindset than what Modi did or did not do. How I wish Hasan had lived in Nazi Germany as a Jew?

On invoking Patel

Mushirul Hasan charges Patel of suspecting the loyalty of the Muslims to India. Well, if he did, he was not the first or the only one to do so.

It were the Muslim scholars who had themselves declared that as per their religion a Muslim cannot owe his allegiance to any nation, and specially a kafir nation. The very concept of a nation goes against the basic precepts of Islam.

Muhammad Iqbal – the spiritual father of Pakistan and a great Islamic thinker of the modern era wrote:

"Our essence is not bound to any place;
The vigor of our wine is not contained
In any bowl; Chinese and Indian
Alike the shard that constitutes our jar,
Turkish and Syrian alike the clay
Forming our body; neither is our heart
Of India, or Syria, or Rum,
Nor any fatherland do we profess
Except Islam."

Iqbal is not unique in such opinion about loyalty of Muslims to a nation state. I can go on to quote hundreds of Muslim scholars who have expressed such sentiments.

Dr. Ali Muhammad Naqavi also observed "nationalism is incompatible with Islam, both schools having two opposite ideologies" and "the idea of nationalist Muslim is as absurd as that of a ‘religious communist’ or ‘capitalist Marxist." "Islam rejects the idea that citizenship depends on birth-place. Islam asserts that it depends on belief" he went on to write.

Jinnah in his presidential address at the Annual convention of Muslim League at Lahore in 1940 had declared that Hindus and Muslims can never "evolve a common nationality and this conception of one Indian nation has gone far beyond the limits, and is the cause of most of our troubles, and will lead India to destruction, if we fail to revise our notions in time." The Muslims of India endorsed Jinnah over-whelmingly (86.6%) in the elections in 1946 – that led to the creation of Pakistan.

Ambedkar, in 1940 in his analysis on the question of partition, raised question of the loyalty of the predominantly Muslim army should an attack come from Afghanistan. "But suppose the Afghans singly or in combination with other Muslim States march on India, will these gate-keepers stop the invaders or will they open the gates and let them in? This is a question that no Hindu can afford to ignore" he wrote.

Lala Lajpat Rai, as early as the twenties of the last century, had raised similar doubts in a letter to C R Das.

Then how can Patel, if he did question the loyalty of the Muslims who were left behind in India, be faulted after when 86.6 percent of them had voted for Muslim League on the platform of Pakistan in 1946? Had the Muslim outlook changed in favor of India and on the question of nationality in just a few years?

Were the Muslims who created Pakistan and went there also not Indian Muslims?



On Invoking Gandhi and the Congress

It is rather laughable that today the Muslims should invoke the name of Gandhi. Gandhi had staked his entire political life on Hindu Muslim unity. He became the co-President (with Maulana Mohammad Ali) of the Khilafat movement to revive the Khilafat which had been abolished by a Muslim ruler of a Muslim country. Even though the basic concept of the movement – Indian Muslims’ loyalty first went the Khalifa – ran against what Gandhi preached that Indian Muslims were Indian first and they were loyal to India, he still garnered wide Hindu support for the movement. He had hoped by "showing respect for the religion of the Muslims, Hindus would obtain respect for their religion (and specially an end to cow-slaughter) from Muslims in return."

How were the Hindus and Gandhi rewarded with for this?

By Moplah riots, where the Hindus were mowed down in ghastly massacres and conversion. And Muslim ulema had the audacity to proclaim "if the Hindus converted to Islam to save their lives, it cannot be called conversion by force."

There is good reason why even the Congress does not invoke the name of Gandhi in Gujarat – the land of his birth?

Gandhi had failed in the most important mission of his life – Hindu Muslim unity and preventing partition of India.

It was Gandhi’s ambition to be leader of all Indians irrespective of their religion and caste. He came as a man of ahimsa and he is so identified in the world.

The Hindus accepted him as their leader but not the Muslims. Jinnah always called him a Hindu communal leader. And the Muslims rejected him and his Congress party outright when the Nationalist Muslim candidates forfeited their security deposit in many instances and the Muslim League won every Muslim seat. His philosophy of Ahimsa was torn into zillion pieces in the massacres of lacs of Hindus during partition.

What did Gandhi do to stop the Hindu massacre? Pray?

How can even Congress – the party of Gandhi invoke his name after having sent over half a million troops to Kashmir to fight Islamic terrorism and having been the main force in development of India’s nuclear arsenal?

It is laughable for a Muslim to invoke Gandhi’s name today. And it is fully understandable for a Hindu not to do so. Hindus have paid too heavy a price for their blind faith in Gandhi. Anyway, there is not much of Gandhi that is followed in India, or for that matter anywhere in the world other than paying lip service to the concept of non-violence. The world has yet to see a nation disband its army and fight an invader or even social unrest within on Gandhian non-violence. India, too, is highly unlikely to confront Islamic terrorism or an invasion by Pakistan by Satyagrah or by Dandi type march as Gandhi did against the British and might have recommended had he been alive.


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