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Why are Muslims, including the Tablighi Jamaat indulging in violence and defying lockdown: The answer lies in what Babasaheb Ambedkar said

The Indian administration may continue to take help from the few well meaning Islamic clerics but until the power structures within Islam are dismantled, there will always be certain clerics like those in Tablighi Jamaat who will hold the country hostage and the lives of over a billion people during times of crisis.

The conduct of the Tablighi Jamaat has horrified the entire country. Apart from spreading the Wuhan Coronavirus to the entire country, members of the Jamaat have engaged in sexually predatory behaviour against the female healthcare staff at hospitals, spat on doctors and others in an effort to infect them with the virus, thrown tantrums and made unreasonable demands and refused to cooperate with the healthcare staff and in addition to all of this, some of they have gone into hiding and switched off their phones in an effort to avoid detection by the administration.

A lot of people appear shocked by the level of indecency the Tablighi Jamaat have engaged in, however, to anyone who has paid any attention to the nature of Islamic fundamentalist organizations, such antics would seem to be par for the course. Indeed, if efforts had not been made to whitewash history and hide the true nature of things, it could very well be argued that the administration and the authorities would have been better prepared to deal with the contingency.

it’s not only in recent times that stalwarts have cautioned against Islamic fundamentalism, dire warning have been issued since decades and centuries. But with time, however, such words of wisdom have been relegated to the dustbins of history. And it falls upon us to delve through the pages of books mired in webs of misinterpretations and false innuendos in order to decipher the truth. There was a time when this country was much more united than it is now, when certain truths were regarded as so self evident as to not raise eyebrows when spoken out loud. But with the invasion of Democracy into every facet of public life, political partisanship gained primacy over factual accuracy and certain forms of truth, which were no longer convenient, were banished from public thought.

And so it happened that objective truth was thrashed, twisted, molded and finally recast into something that hardly resembled its original form, to put it mildly. Thus, Shri Rama became a misogynist, Hinduism became intolerant and Islam became the ideal every liberal should aspire to. However, it was not always so. There was indeed a moment in history when it was incumbent upon intellectuals to owe their allegiance to objective reality in order to be taken seriously. However, it was not always so. It was during such an era where certain truths were considered self-evident that Babasaheb Ambedkar wrote his famous book, ‘Pakistan or the Partition of India’ (PDF).

In his book, Ambedkar offered scathing criticism of Islam and minced no words. But the most salient feature of the book was the manner in which he highlighted the ideology of ‘Us vs The’ that is so intrinsic to the Islamic faith. Indeed, he went so far as to claim that it would be impossible for any true Muslim to consider India his motherland and regard his fellow countrymen of a different faith as his own kinsmen.

Ambedkar had said:

“The second defect of Islam is that it is a system of social self-government and is incompatible with local self-government, because the allegiance of a Muslim does not rest on his domicile in the country which is his but on the faith to which he belongs. …. Wherever there is the rule of Islam, there is his own country. In other words, Islam can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin.”

Admittedly, nonetheless, seventy years of living under a non-Islamic constitution in a country with an overwhelming majority of Hindus has had its effects. Therefore, it might not be entirely accurate to say as of now that a ‘true Muslim’ could never be devoted to the country. But the general observation made my Ambedkar still stands. It is indeed abundantly clear from the manner in which Tablighi Jamaat has acted in recent times.

From the words of Maulana Saad of Markaz Nizamuddin, it was clear that he does not have any respect for Indian Laws and neither does he believe he needs to obey them. He exhorted his followers to disobey the social distancing guidelines issued by the government and dubbed the Wuhan Coronavirus a conspiracy against Islam. And the consequences are there for all of us to see. Almost simultaneously, Mosques across the country have been found to be providing safe refuge to the Jamaatis even as the administration runs helter-skelter to find them. For their own safety, in case it needs to be told.

And it’s not just the Maulana Saad of Tablighi Jamaat who has been engaging in such conduct. There were those on the video-sharing app TikTok who decreed that the Wuhan Coronavirus is Allah’s NRC. And the undertones become tragic considering an overwhelming majority of those getting infected with the virus and succumbing to it are Muslims themselves. In another instance, one Tiktokiya who had mocked masks tested positive for the virus himself.

The ‘defect’ of Islam that Ambedkar was referring to manifests itself as loyalty towards one’s Maulana or Maulvi takes precedence over the country. The nation, of course, is an ideal of a very high order. Loyalty to Maulanas and Maulvis often takes precedence over even familial ties. It is this very phenomenon that manifests itself in the heinous practice of nikah halala where a Muslim man divorces his wife and then maker her have intercourse with Islamic clerics, or other members of the family, before remarrying her. This is the embodiment of the corruption of moral values encapsulated in its finest form, where individuals are motivated towards defiling the sacred institution of marriage in pursuit of the satisfaction of carnal human desires. And all of it in order to fulfill the whims of the Islamic clerics and perverse desires of the husband.

Ambedkar was also right when he opined that Islamic doctrines prevent Muslims from treating Hindus as their kinsmen. Even this has manifested during the whole Wuhan Coronavirus crisis when Muslims have continued to view their Hindu brethren with extreme suspicion and contempt. Indeed, it has become evident that even in the face of an impending apocalypse if it were the infidels warning them of it, Muslim fundamentalists would consider it a conspiracy to drive a wedge between Muslims.

There is a certain power structure within Islam. This structure places the greatest power and authority on the shoulders of the Islamic clerics. These clerics often have more power over their followers than the very laws of the land or the administration. If these clerics urge their followers to defy Indian laws, then an overwhelming majority of them will do so. And it is this threat that constantly looms large of the Indian Republic. There is an urgent need to inspire a reformation within Islam so that the power and authority of these clerics can be negated enough so that the laws of the land take primacy over them. However, it is an extremely difficult task and one that will not be achievable without pursuing illiberal methods.

Currently, Indian authorities take the help of Islamic clerics in order to control the population. It was most recently observed at Balbhoonpura in Haldwani, Uttarakhand were hundreds and thousand of Muslims poured out onto the streets defying lockdown orders after rumours spread that the Police was misbehaving with certain Muslims. The administration then sought the help of local Islamic clerics in order to make the individuals return to their homes. However, the damage by then could have already been done and the virus might already have spread further.

The Indian administration may continue to take help from the few well meaning Islamic clerics but until the power structures within Islam are dismantled, there will always be certain clerics like those in Tablighi Jamaat who will hold the country hostage and the lives of over a billion people during times of crisis. It needs to be understood that Tablighi Jamaat is not the problem in itself, it is the symptom of the problem that has long since plagued the Indian Republic. Unless that issue is addressed, circumstances will not improve for the better.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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