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Five Courageous Ways To Respond To Anti-Muslim Hatred

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By Fatima Barkatulla

It was the day after the second Paris attack. Our local Muslim school sent parents a text-message telling them that security guards would flank the school gates the next day. Messages were flying around, complete with fuzzy CCTV footage of Muslim women who had been verbally or physically attacked in public places, in the climate of hatred and fear that seemed to hang like a cloud over us.

My sons, proudly wear traditional garments (thobe and white skullcap) when going to certain classes at the Mosque. It is the uniform for their Qur’an class. It’s of course not obligatory for them to wear it but they normally do. They were about to set out and catch a bus when a sense of dread came over me as I realised how vulnerable they looked and how so visibly ‘Muslim’. People had been fed a drip diet of negativity surrounding Islam and Muslims. The heinous crimes of some of our co-religionists, playing on 24-hour news channels had contributed to that climate. It would only take one angry person…

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Muslim boys

 

In that moment I considered telling my sons to pop their jeans on instead, reserving their traditional garb for when they were safely inside the mosque. In that moment I was terrified at the power I wielded as a parent to influence their mindset with a word I might utter. And in that moment, I bit my tongue and decided to choose Tawakkul and empowerment and banish victimhood and fear.

There was no real danger. Most of our fellow citizens are not full of hatred. Most of them do know a Muslim well enough to know better. I believe much of the fear-mongering that goes on in Muslim circles, is manufactured and perpetuated by people continuously forwarding unconfirmed scare stories to one another (or perhaps people infiltrating our lists and groups, maliciously intending to spread panic).

In the aftermath of these attacks it’s important to continue living as you normally live day to day as much as possible and since my sons usually do wear these clothes to the mosque without issue, I didn’t want to introduce the idea of hiding being a Muslim to them.

It’s not about fanatically holding onto garments. Indeed if there is real and present danger we should take the precautions necessary and should not put our children at high risk. However, this was about the attitude we seek to instil in the next generation of Believers.

Over the Channel in France, with its aggressive secularism, it has become commonplace for many Muslims to hide their Islam. Britain’s Muslims, including my sons, are confident and very comfortable expressing our faith and culture, Alhamdulillah. This is home and we aren’t guests here. The vast majority of our compatriots are respectful towards us and, especially in the vibrant melting-pot that is London, we have grown up together, laughed, cried, learned and played together. We grew up being told to express our culture and be ourselves.

British Muslims

In the 80s racists used to abuse us for having a different skin colour – which we couldn’t hide. They would hurl insults at my mother for observing hijab. That overt racism is largely gone. But the point is this: Our parents didn’t persevere through the tough times that they faced, only for our generation to lie down as soon as we face some pressure!

By all means let us teach our children to take the normal precautions any child should. Teaching them the very powerful duas and supplications for going outside as well as the du’a when facing fear, and the du’a for resolve, were my first port of call.[1] But I refuse to instil cowardice in their hearts and will continue to teach them to hold their heads up high as Muslims in a world where their faith is misrepresented.

I see parenting as a calling. Children are the ultimate carriers of our values beyond our own short lives. Most of us still hear our mothers’ voices in our heads, giving us the occasion telling-off or reminding us to do the right thing. Most of us subconsciously ask ourselves what dad would have done. We may of course reassess some of those values, rejecting some and adapting others. However, a parent’s attitude and philosophy of life is no doubt a most powerful factor in setting a child’s direction in the world.

So how will I be teaching my children to respond to anti-Muslim hatred? What do I hope their attitude will be, growing up in 21st Century Britain?

The key messages I will be giving my children are:

First: Have faith in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) plan. Our tradition teaches us that everything, however difficult it may be for us to understand, happens for a reason and happens by the will of God. It teaches us that through Sabr – patiently persevering upon the straight path, through hard work and prayer, we will see the fruits of our efforts.

Second: Never be afraid to be different. Some of the greatest people in history went against the grain. They were immensely unpopular and often persecuted. In the end, their unwavering, patient, perseverance for justice shone through. We have an example of that in the great messengers of God such as Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them. And in recent times we have the likes of Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X – who fought injustice, were persecuted or killed for their cause, but morally triumphant as eventually the world caught up with them.

Third: Be politically engaged. Outrage at injustices around the world is natural. But how you allow that to manifest itself is pivotal. The Qur’an tells us that we must live up to being “the best people extracted for the sake of humanity.” The conditions for being amongst the best of people are that we must enjoin the good, beginning with ourselves and forbid what is wrong and have faith in God. Loving ones country means sometimes holding a mirror up to it and with wisdom, speaking truth to power.

Fourth: Be socially engaged. Contribute and give to society positively with all your heart and with all of your talents. Serve your neighbours, serve your fellow citizens. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would go the extra mile to reach out to people and fulfil their needs, to feed, to clothe, to share a burden. He never encouraged us to live in ghettos, happy with our own piety. Mixing with people, sharing, caring, giving, getting involved with the issues of society is his example and your duty.

Fifth: Seek deeper knowledge of scripture from traditional scholars who are also forward-thinking. The Qur’an has a context to it. Reading ones own interpretations into it willy nilly gives a warped understanding. We see the catastrophic effects of that in lands where injustice is being justified by ignorant Twitter and Facebook muftis interpreting revelation. Our tradition is rich, it gave birth to one of the greatest civilisations in history. Don’t be rash. Don’t be a hothead. The energy of youth needs to be tempered by the wisdom of scholars and elders. Our faith needs a generation of leaders who have depth of understanding and a wealth of wisdom in order to traverse the murky waters that may lay ahead. Be that generation.

[1] Some of the supplications can be found in du’a books and on the website: http://www.makedua.com/ . A couple of examples are:

بِسْمِ اللهِ ، تَوَكَّلْتُ عَلَى اللهِ وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللهِ

“In the name of Allah, I place my trust in Allah and there is no might nor power except with Allah.”

The Prophet ﷺ told us, when we say this, an angel will say: “you shall be defended, protected and guided”. (Abu Dawud)

And this wonderful du’a which every one of us should memorise! It is protection from facing ignorance or harm when going out! Make sure your kids have memorised it!

 

اللَّهُمَّ إني أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَضِلَّ أَوْ أُضَلَّ ، أَوْ أَزِلَّ أَوْ أُزَلَّ ، أَوْ أَظْلِمَ أَوْ أُظْلَمَ ، أَوْ أَجْهَلَ أَوْ يُجْهَلَ عَلَيَّ

“O Allah, I seek refuge with You lest I should stray or be led astray, or slip (i.e. to commit a sin unintentionally) or be tripped, or oppress or be oppressed, or behave foolishly or be treated foolishly.” (Abu Dawud)

Fatima Barkatulla is a seminarian and award-winning Islamic lecturer. Follow her on FacebookA version of this article was published in The Times and Times Online on Saturday 9th April 2016

[1] ‘thaub’ is sometimes called a dishdasha (it is a long, dress-like garment worn by men in the Middle-East). ‘Thaub’ is the more commonly used name for it in the Muslim community.

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Yasmin

    April 14, 2016 at 11:47 PM

    Jazakallah Khair for this much needed post! Here in the United States we see a lot of negativity against Muslims especially in the media. However, I honestly believe that by following the wonderful tips you mentioned we can Inshallah change people’s opinion one person at a time!

    • Avatar

      Sjawwad

      April 25, 2016 at 1:29 AM

      A serene, soothing and beautiful online monthlymagazine in these hard trying times is Blossoms. Please do read it and forward the link to friends and family.
      http://www.blossomsmag.com

    • Avatar

      Ray

      June 12, 2016 at 12:30 AM

      Greetings. My name is Ray Bernard Leverette, and I wanted to share with you that we serve an Universal GOD that is filled with full of love, and compassion towards all humanity, and we should not hate one another, but love one another. Even though I am of the Christian Faith, and the bible tells me to love my fellow man. “Love thy neighbor as myself.” Who are my neighbors? All of us. We’re all neighbors, and we share a common ground. We’re all different and unique in the eyes of GOD. Love one another because GOD loves us all because we are all brothers and sisters. You are my brother and sister because we’re all made in GOD’s image. I love you all. Amen.

  2. Avatar

    Omer Riaz

    April 15, 2016 at 6:55 AM

    MashAllah Great Post!!! Islam is beautiful religion and some people are trying to portray a negative impression. It is our duty to change people’s opinion by spreading a positive image of Islam. Your tips are really helpful!!! Thanks

  3. Avatar

    Kristy

    April 15, 2016 at 11:33 AM

    I live in the United States in a large, diverse metropolitan neighborhood. There is an Ahmadiyya mosque about 5 blocks from my house with the nicest people you can imagine! They join us in social community events, return “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Easter”, and some even joined us for the annual Easter egg hunt block party with their children. In return, our local church invited them to come and share their experiences with Islamic fasting and Ramadan/Eid traditions. As a result, many Christian and muslim families have become close friends as well as neighbors!
    While I can’t comment on 4 of your 5 points, from what I as an Evangelical Christian have experienced from my many positive interactions with people from this Ahmadiyya community, they are living being socially engaged, contributing and giving to society positively with all their heart and talents.

    • Avatar

      AF

      April 16, 2016 at 9:16 PM

      Ahmadiyya Muslims are true pacifists. They are also only 1% of the Muslim population and considered a heretical sect by almost all other Muslims. Think Mormons versus Christians.

      The Ahmadi sect acknowledges a later prophet than Mohammed, a man named Mirza Ghulem Ahmed (d. 1908), although they do follow the Five Pillars of Islam, and revere the Koran and hadiths. Their belief in Ahmed violates an Islamic principle called “seal of prophethood”, which establishes Mohammed as the final prophet.

      This is a Salafist site, so whether they tell you or not, the Ahmadis are dimly viewed here. If you pay attention, you will notice Western Muslims like to ride on the goodwill generated by the Ahmadiyya, so they rarely point out the difference unless they see it as necessary.

      However, if you go to Pakistan, Ahmadiyya Muslims are cruelly persecuted by the sharia-ruled state, and it is a crime for them to call themselves Muslims. Saudis will not knowingly allow Ahmadi Muslims go on the Hajj, because they are regarded as non-Muslims. In Scotland, an Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper was recently murdered by a Sunni for positive remarks he made about his Christian neighbors.

      Westerners interested in the Ahmadi sect might want to try the book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”. It is about an Ahmadi, Nabeel Qureshi, who converted to Christianity. The first part of the book describes his family life and religious practices as an Ahmadi Muslim in some detail. There is also a very interesting section later on about the nature of the hadiths and Koran in which I learned a number of things I did not know. Caveat: it is a book with a strong evangelical message, obviously, so if that is not your thing, you will need to skip most of the second half.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        April 17, 2016 at 12:42 PM

        If pacifism is defined as “opposition to war of any kind, ever” then Islam is thankfully NOT a pacifistic religion. No religion is in practice pacifistic so those who preach this impracticality just end up appearing hypocritical. I agree that Ahmadiyya theology seems to directly contradict the Quranic injunction that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the seal of the prophets. I’m sure they have a clever way of getting around this but it is a stretch as far as most genuine readers are considered. That does not justify any injustice and ill-treatment directed towards this community.

      • Avatar

        AF

        April 17, 2016 at 8:56 PM

        And, in fact, Jonaid, I was wrong in calling the Ahmadiyya “pacifists”. They are known for being non-violent, but Nabeel Qureshi’s father was in the US military. I think it would have been better to say that they do not ascribe to violent Islamic conquest and the more extreme elements of sharia.

        The violence directed at the Ahmadi world wide is a direct result of the fact they are considered kaffirs pretending to be Muslim. Here is a Muslim site describing their animosity to the Ahmadi:
        http://muslimsincalgary.ca/2016/04/08/qadianiyyah-in-the-light-of-islam/

        My concern about the Ahmadis is that their vocal defense of Islam only represents their tiny sect and its beliefs. As Kristy described above, they are very involved in community outreach and they are able to tell Western audiences exactly what they want to hear about Islam, jihad, peace and tolerance. What they say is not true of the beliefs of the Muslim majority.

        “Qaadyani is a destructive disbelieving group that names itself Muslim to mask its obnoxious filthy objectives and beliefs. The most dangerous of their beliefs are their claim that their leader is a Prophet, they alter the Quran, they believe that there is no Jihaad, they declare Muslims as non-Muslims and they are allies to the non-Muslims.”

        As we all know, an Ahmadi shopkeeper was murdered in Scotland for saying complimentary things about Christians.
        http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-35976958

      • Avatar

        MH

        April 18, 2016 at 3:02 PM

        I hope you are not insinuating that it is only the Ahmadiyya community that support non-violent movements. As someone who is neither Ahmadi nor Salafi, I would like to say that there do exist orthodox, peace loving Muslims. Many of the ills of extremism are a result of cultural influences and a misinterpretation of Islam. As far as the persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan goes, I am of the opinion that it is wrong. Sure their beliefs are at odds with the orthodox strain but that doesn’t warrant the ill treatment or murder in Scotland. Do not think that I am modifying my opinions to appease anyone; Sheikh Hamza Yusuf (one of the West’s prominent scholars who also happens to be non-Ahmadi) has already condemned the Pakistan constitution for taking the extreme stance on Ahmadis.

        P.S. It was not my intention to divide the Muslim community into “Ahmadis” and “non-Ahmadis”, but I could not find another way to avoid excessive labelling.

      • Avatar

        AF

        April 18, 2016 at 8:34 PM

        MH:
        “I hope you are not insinuating that it is only the Ahmadiyya community that support non-violent movements.”

        No, but my impression is that they are one of the few strains of Islam with strong enough theological foundations for tolerance that they are truly non-violent as a group.

        “Many of the ills of extremism are a result of cultural influences and a misinterpretation of Islam.”

        That has become the burden of Islam to prove now. You can no longer give lip service to this idea without some kind of substantial proof. It is just as easy to say that you misinterpret Islam and violent fundamentalists are right.

        “Do not think that I am modifying my opinions to appease anyone; Sheikh Hamza Yusuf (one of the West’s prominent scholars who also happens to be non-Ahmadi) has already condemned the Pakistan constitution for taking the extreme stance on Ahmadis.”

        The problem is the stance Islam takes towards any dissenter/blasphemer/apostate, not the Ahmadis in particular. The Ahmadis simply fall into a category of people that are considered open targets by Muslims obsessed with everyone else’s religious opinions and determined to force everyone under the oppressive umbrella of sharia somehow.

        Hamza Yusuf is a Western convert with a Western mentality who knows how to talk to the West. How does he represent the worldwide ummah? His audience are American Muslims desperate to forge a mindset and theology that is not in constant dissonance with Western humanism. Either he will found a movement analogous to conservative/reform Judaism, or his followers will ultimately be sucked into the vortex of eastern Islam. Eastern Islam is built on a shame-honor mindset and will not survive here for more than 1-2 generations, so either option will result in de-fanging aggressive Islam as long as we can slow down immigration.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        April 22, 2016 at 7:00 PM

        AF:

        “My concern about the Ahmadis is that their vocal defense of Islam only represents their tiny sect and its beliefs. As Kristy described above, they are very involved in community outreach and they are able to tell Western audiences exactly what they want to hear about Islam, jihad, peace and tolerance. What they say is not true of the beliefs of the Muslim majority.”

        Have you considered that the Ahmadis really mean what they say about Islam – and not just their own tiny sect – because they happen to know to how to distinguish between the current climate in the Muslim World and the original message & teachings of Islam? The only real distinction between the Ahmadis and “orthodox” Islam is the status of their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed. Beyond that they subscribe to the exact same scriptures & teachings. The fact that they are involved in community outreach and vocal in defending their religion is because like all peoples who’ve endured suffering, they are more empathetic, secure in their faith in God, and have a level of integrity which is unfortunately rare in the bulk of the Muslim world today. One ought to trust those who have every reason to attack Islam, having endured real suffering at the hands of it’s so called followers, have no reason to hide or lie (for those of them who are in the West) BUT instead go out of their way to defend it. These people are speaking the truth.

        Islam has been around for 1400 plus years, in all sorts of contexts and represents nearly a quarter of humanity today. It is not rational nor realistic to assume that a religion is best manifested as it was intended to be 14 centuries after it was founded. The earlier one gets to its origins, the purer and pristine Islam was. Post-colonial era Muslims have all but lost their tradition and are now behaving like insecure children who feel humiliated and instead of taking responsibility and trusting God, they blame the outsiders.

        Having said all that, it is still very much true to say that the negative perception of Islam AND Muslims in the West is completely blown way out of proportion. This much is self-evident to anyone who knows Islamic history, is somewhat familiar with the socio-political context in most war-torn regions of the Islamic World, the history of the West’s disingenuous involvement in the affairs of Muslim-majority countries, and has an appreciation for correct perspective. Only 90 years ago the Ku Klux Klan had nearly 5 million members in the United States (out of a population of roughly 100 million – that’s 5% of the total population and roughly 15% of the eligible population). They’ve since continued to have thousands of members. All this despite the Whites being the majority and suffering no war, no oppression, no threats of any kind from any other racial group. If ISIS, Al Qaida, and every other “Islamic” terrorist group in the world – ALL of them combined don’t represent 0.1% of Islam’s worldwide adherents – suggest that Islam is somewhat problematic, than the West’s history with violence and racism is more than enough to stamp the West as outright racist and violent.

        Truth is self-evident when everyone is honest about their own problems. You have no idea what agendas are running the political shows in our countries in the West and those in the Muslim world. Let’s not blame the religion or the vast majority of peaceful, honest and sincere followers who are victims of other people’s deliberate caricatures and selfish agendas.

        Peace.

      • Avatar

        Haadiya

        April 25, 2016 at 11:16 AM

        Ahmadiyas are not muslims. Who ever doesn’t beleive that Mohammad (PBUH) was the last and the final Prophet of Allah, is not and can never be a muslim. They are deceivers and what ever their outer facade, it will never change their status of being a non muslim.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        April 25, 2016 at 11:28 AM

        AF:

        Apologies the April 25 comment was my attempt at re-doing the April 22 comment. The moderators on this website need to do a much better job.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        April 25, 2016 at 5:39 PM

        If I may: I think the moderating would be far better had it been an Ahmadi run website ;D.

        I’m not an Ahmadi.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        April 27, 2016 at 10:42 AM

        Wow 5 days and still not posted. You should call this censoring, not moderating. There’s not that many comments posted on this website yet they can’t keep up. Do people do their jobs?

      • Avatar

        Truth

        May 3, 2016 at 10:21 PM

        Jonaid.
        You say Islam is thankfully not a pacifistic religion and so who preach this impracticality just end up appearing hypocritical. Some religions are pacifist in ideal and yes followers often do not live up to these ideals but what can appear as hypocritical,only God can judge.
        However what is because pacifist religions hold these pacifist ideals, there exists a moderating influence on society and of individual believers that Islam unfortunately does not have. This is a major problem for Islam with its propensity to tear itself apart. From the beginning of its history it has always has torn itself apart.

      • Avatar

        Truth

        May 3, 2016 at 10:24 PM

        Hi again Jonaid
        You appear to be implying Islam lost its traditions and its way due European colonialism but yet say Muslims are now behaving like insecure children who feel humiliated and instead of taking responsibility and blaming the outsiders.Is this a contradiction ? And if so, is Islam not robust or flexible enough to benefit from western progressive and modern influences
        You mention the West’s disingenuous involvement in the affairs of Muslim countries? Can you give some examples?
        The Ku Klux Klan … 5 million members … 5% of the total population and 15% of the eligible population ??? What do you base these statistics on? Are you talking about the militant hood wearing types, non-militant signed up members or simply those sympathetic to the cause? Likewise how do you know ISIS, Al Qaida, and other Islamic terrorist groups don’t represent 0.1% of Islam’s worldwide adherents? What research and statistics do you base this on? And again are you talking the militant bomb making types, non-militant supporters or simply those sympathetic to the cause ? As the quote goes – “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”
        You say Truth is self-evident when everyone is honest about their own problems. However your response has echos of the insecure child feeling humiliated and blaming the outsiders instead of taking responsibility.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        May 5, 2016 at 6:40 PM

        Truth:

        I said: “If pacifism is defined as “opposition to war of any kind, ever” then Islam is thankfully NOT a pacifistic religion.” Please quote the full statement before you issue an opinion on it. Are you saying that an ideal moral code would outlaw ANY kind of violence, be it just, defensive war? The “moderating” effect would then require breaking the law because not doing so would result in annihilation. Christianity has a “Just war” doctrine as well. I’m not much concerned with other religions. Their impact on the world is and has always been quite limited as compared to Islam and Christianity (and to a lesser extent Judaism).

        “This is a major problem for Islam with its propensity to tear itself apart. From the beginning of its history it has always has torn itself apart.”

        Schism, corruption, breaking away etc. etc. are a universal phenomenon. That is exactly what the Devil and his minions do all the time. Islam is not free from this BUT on what grounds are you claiming that it is uniquely prone to tearing itself apart? There is incredible unity in the religion to this day. All 1.7 billion people believe in the exact same book (the Qur’an) without any debate whatsoever about it’s origins, it’s formatting, it’s language, it’s recitation, it’s status etc. etc. The basic teachings and practices of the religion are universally accepted by all sects of Islam with the possible exception of tiny, dissenting sects which don’t represent even 1% of the total adherents. The Shias and Sunnis – the two big sects – agree on ALL of the most important teachings: God is absolutely One, the Qur’an is his verbatim speech, messengers came throughout history to direct mankind back to the Truth and Muhammad was the last of them, they believe in angels, in the Last Day, in Heaven and Hell, in Satan and his scheme etc. etc.

      • Avatar

        Jonaid

        May 5, 2016 at 6:54 PM

        http://www.history.com/topics/ku-klux-klan

        According to this website, the KKK had 4 million members in the 1920s. According to Wikipedia they had 3-6 million members around 1924. The total US population around this time was just over 100 million. That’s where I get the 5% figure from. The 15% for the eligible for membership population figure comes from Wiki also. I’m talking about people who subscribed to KKK – not mere sympathizers.

        How do I know that “Islamic” terrorist organizations don’t represent even 0.1% of the global Muslim population? It’s simple math. 0.1% of 1,700,000,000 = 1,700,000. Al Qaida, ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, etc. etc. combined don’t add up to 1,700,000. As for “sympathizers” – that’s a bogus argument. If we are going to claim who sympathizes with something off color than everyone is guilty of something. Just to put things in perspective:

        http://www.gallup.com/poll/161399/10th-anniversary-iraq-war-mistake.aspx

        10 years after USA invades a sovereign nation by lying about it’s WMD production, 42% of Americans STILL support the initial assault and the continued involvement. That’s roughly 130 MILLION people. If people are going to be held guilty for “sympathizing” – we have proof positive that 130 million Americans are guilty for the Iraq war and the 1-2 million people who died, directly and indirectly as a result of our invasion.

      • Avatar

        Truth

        May 9, 2016 at 8:56 PM

        Please explain how I misquoted you? What you said was … If pacifism is defined as “opposition to war of any kind, ever” then Islam is thankfully NOT a pacifistic religion. How was this quoted out of context? Anyway correct me if I’m wrong, but the crux of what you appear to have said … “is Islam is thankfully NOT a pacifistic religion”. So are you thankful that Islam is not a pacifist religion or not?
        I disagree that Christianity has a just war doctrine. While Augustine developed this idea I challenge you or anyone to find anything in the New Testament that justifies violence. The Quran and hadith however have dozens of injunctions to violence.
        Not concerned with other religions? For you to simply discount the pacifist traditions of two major world religions such as Hinduism and Buddhist is evasive and misleading. I suggest Muslims do actually concern themselves with other religions as they may learn something.
        Did I say unique? Please quote me correctly. What I said was “a propensity”. Please quote the statement correctly before you issue an opinion.
        Unity in Islam? Most Muslims wouldn’t even recognise a Quran if it was thrown at them let alone understand Islamic doctrinal disputes to even begin to dissent. Most are Muslim in name only so to say all 1.7 billion adherents are unified is spurious.
        Civil wars, conflict over Mohamad’s succession (conflictnwhich still exists today), murders, assassinations and all within the first generation of the religion.
        Unity in Islam. Look at the polarised confusion existing within Islam today. Islamofascists polarised against moderates. The above 5th point Fatima Barkatulla makes is a case in point. Fifth: Seek deeper knowledge of scripture from traditional scholars who are also forward-thinking. The Qur’an has a context to it. Reading ones own interpretations into it willy nilly gives a warped understanding.
        Why the desperate need within Islam to educate its own?

      • Avatar

        Truth

        May 9, 2016 at 8:58 PM

        Thank you for your referencing for the KKK. This was informative. However your comparison of the KKK to 1.7 billion Muslims is an invalid and disingenuous sample comparison.
        Comparing the race consciousness of the USA (delusional as it was and often still is) with the world’s total Muslim consciousness is a bogus argument. Race consciousness in the US is far more acute and conscious compared to the Muslim awareness of militancy. Most Muslims probably wouldn’t even recognise the Quran if it was thrown at them let alone comprehend the militant Islamofascist ideologies that permeate the religion.
        What makes you so certain about this 1,700,000, 0.1 % figure? What do you base this on? And just who and how many of these etc, etc’s are there? You need to show there are only 1,700,000 (0.1 %) Islamofascist bomb toting radicals in the world?
        I happen to be one of the many opposed to the Iraq war. However what does soften the position somewhat was that the US invasion of Iraq to remove the Baathist (not an attack on Muslims) tyrant dictator Saddam Hussein was a in the context of fear after 911, the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction that Saddham Hussein had already used against his own people. Saddham Hussein had proven himself to be a threat to stability of the region.
        In the West after the Iraq invasion there were massive rallies in Western cities (tolerated by Western Governments) of millions of people protesting the war. Where are the rallies similar to anything like this in Muslim majority countries rallying against fundamentalist militancy? Where are your mass rallies protesting against Islamic fascism?
        “Sympathizers” as a bogus argument? Perhaps we could extend the same argument to the Muslim response to the American defensive action in Afghanistan? I don’t pretend to know how many Muslims were against this American defensive action, but no doubt there would be a very large proportion. We do not have the benefit of polling but it could it be argued that a sizable proportion of Muslims were in support of the 911 attacks on America?
        Let’s face it All countries have violence as part of their history. Your erroneous quoting of stats appears another Muslim attempt to vilify the USA and avoid Muslim responsibility.
        How many Muslim majority countries would allow the transparent internal dissenting discourse the US allows? I presume you live in the US? Give thanks you live in a free western society that allows you to post on such a site as this.
        You say Truth is self-evident when everyone is honest about their own problems. Again your response has echoes of the insecure Muslim child feeling humiliated and blaming the outsiders instead of taking responsibility.

  4. Avatar

    Azmath Moosa

    April 17, 2016 at 10:42 AM

    JazakAllah sister. very encouraging. In India fascism is currently on the rise. Make dua for us.

  5. Avatar

    Hamza Khurshid

    April 17, 2016 at 2:40 PM

    I believe that Muslim should not be reactive in responding to the events of the world. We need to be proactive and keep an eye on what is happening. Then we should develop a long term strategy to acheive what we have meant to achieve, world peace.

  6. Avatar

    Sarah SW

    April 18, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    Excellent points Fatima. As an Ahmadi Muslim I do believe our vocal defence of
    Islam is just that – a vocal defence of Islam ! When we write about Islam as a peaceful and tolerant religion we do so with reference to the Holy Quran, the Word Of God. Islam means peace and submission. The Holy Prophet (saw) was compassion personified. I therefore question how anyone could think we merely pander to a western wish list of how Islam ought to be ? We also believe that it is our duty to serve both God and mankind as directed by God Himself.

  7. Avatar

    Abdullah Muhammed

    April 29, 2016 at 9:18 AM

    Political Activisim is the key to changing the minds of millions.

    This conference in Chicago seems to touch on that and how Muslims should view Political Activism.
    The legacy of the Prophets of Islam from Adam (عليه السلام) to Muhammad (ﷺ) is deeply rooted in demonstrating activism through conveyance of the message from Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).

    We Muslims must arise to the call of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) when He commands in the Qur’an:

    وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

    And let there arise among you a group, inviting to all that is good (Islam), commanding al-Marouf (good) and forbidding al-Munkar (evil); and those are the ones whom are the successful. -[Translated meaning of Surah Al-e-Imran 3:104]

    Indeed the Prophet (ﷺ) has also stated in a Hadeeth as narrated by Imam Bayhaqi (ra), “There will be from the end of my Ummah a people that will be rewarded like the first generation as they enjoin the Maroof and forbid the Munkar”.

    Please join Hizb Ut-Tahrir-America at their annual Khilafah Conference titled “Muslim Political Activism- Aspiring to the work of the Prophets”.

    From Adam (عليه السلام) to Mohammed (ﷺ): continuing the call of the Prophets and Messengers
    “We have ALWAYS been here”: Recognizing our Muslim roots of Reverence and Perseverance
    Beyond Ballots: Political Activism in Islam
    Chicago, IL USA
    Sunday, May 15, 2016
    2-5 p.m.

    Hizb Ut-Tahrir-America
    https://hizb-america.org/

    • Avatar

      B. Mason

      May 4, 2016 at 9:20 PM

      The best way of stopping anger against Muslims is to work out why it exists – because of inhuman terrorist attacks – and do something about stopping them. Hatred of evil is perfectly understandable; instead of ‘countering’ a healthy abhorrence of savagery, you would do better to turn your energies to countering the savages.

  8. Avatar

    Muhammad Shayakh Salahuddin

    June 12, 2016 at 5:42 AM

    Assalam sister,

    A very Interesting and heart touching article …a great learning….
    Pray to ALLAH (SWT) for your safety, isteqaamath, as well for all of Ummah and entire humanity on earth.

    JazakALLAH Khair.
    Wassalam

  9. Avatar

    Noble Peace

    June 22, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    Bism Allah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem
    sallam alaikom,
    Please forgive the following as it is written in haste and also perhaps in lack of light and modesty…etc. With that said, may Allah mainly forgive me, as personally me and Him we are not currently speaking….my fault I suppose….

    let me feed my ego if I may by saying the following…..as to the Qadyayani issue…..just to quote a hadeeth that is written on this world wide spider web on the discoveringislam.org website and in its end time book, stating that Aisha may Allah be pleased with her, …do say that our beloved p.b.u.h is the seal of the prophets but do not say that there is no prophet after him…..!!….great fitna isn’t it? Dajjal will claim prophethood first mostly…but with that said, there is a jesus to come back?!

    main thing I wanted to state..is that there is no God’s chosen people…?! but chosen families may be…?! with that said , and in-sha-Allah…not to be a Ramadan satan…but it seems that al-Imran is the continuation of al-Muhammed/Ibraheem…alaihom kulhum afdal salat w sallam…..Allah knows best!

    what is chosen though is …as for humanity..is ISLAM…..with that said, God’s people are not neccessarly just muslim and even if they are, they are not neccassarly so….i.e of the people…..i.e. islam is the best way for us the humans..because I say to thee, that the true enemy is not humans but something else all together….I am not any kind of scholar, but sort of realising why al junaid al-baghdady, changed his style of writing…..with that said also, nothing written or said will be of any benefit, except what is done in the quite of the night…and I put my hand up that I am saying that what I am not doing…kubr muqtan with OUR Lord….istigfirAllah!

    woe to the arabs, woe to the arabs, woe to the muslims……o’people, o’muslims……the hills and the mountains…..whats coming and what and where is one to go?…..prepare and make provisions of the ZAAD of the ma’aad…….message especially to those in the western hemisphere…..what did Shk Hamza Y say about being further from the Makkah and the blessed lands….Allah is the provider…I tell myself first all of the above….tassaan l-abd al-dinar w al-dirham the pound and the sterling and any plastic or electronic thing which is just pressed by a button……leave the land to the scholars to do dawah..as the beloved is innocent from us otherwise….sorry all comes across in the wrong way, but I suppose I am following my nafs..so I’ll have to answer to Him and to Him ONLY!!

    OH ONE MORE THING…if I may, technology is wonderful…but there is much more that meets the eye I presume….sometimes fire is smokeless..?…..albeit, our beloved was sent to the ahmar and the iswid……and there is no difference between the arab and the non arab the black and the white and our beloved was sent us a mercy to all of mankind……

    only accept please if there is any sense or truth in what was said…..because if bad like I said it is form my vain desires…

    Allah al-mustaan and to Him is our return…..

    and peace and blessings on Muhammad w sahbaa and his wives and those who follow him till the end of time…..may I and you be amongst them too

    peace

  10. Avatar

    Noble Peace

    June 22, 2016 at 11:07 AM

    Bism Allah…
    sallam alaikom,
    part 2, if I may…just wanted to apologise to the above….1)because I did not take time to read what was being said and I just saw the Ahmadi issue and ran to quote about it…..

    just wanted to continue to feed my ego, as I feel like I have something to say…hahahaha….I am very wise aren’t I not? :)

    there is great wisdom as you all know in our beloved p.b.u.h being ummi…oral tradition is truly what is wonderful……I just want the fish..is that two lines?!.. I do not know, but there is ONE that does?……I feel like an aborigini or may soon to be…glad tidings to the strangers…..our beloved p.b.u.h quoted as saying ” those that will come will see great strife and confusion and every generation is a little worst off than the next,,,,,,,,also whether authentic or not, I pray someone could clarify, but there will be things happening that we as muslims will be saying,,, did our beloved mention any thing about this or that????…as to what is or will happen or about to happen….? ….do not mean to scare monger and as muslims we are supposed to be politically active and revolutionaries etc for the benefit for humanity…of course! but with that I said I pray myself and yourselves do not cause a fitna…especially as or when we are not connected….i.e. to Allah…..

    I have no love in my heart currently…so please forgive me, if it comes across in any way in a not too good manner or way…..but where does one stop? and at what point of the line…?

    I suppose first we need the love… I am so distant I keep taking the quran mahjura even in this blessed month……please remember me in your duas if you do happen to remember when you remember yourselves and the ummah…..

    truth and PATEINCE and prayer in and for all good things in this temporary world and for what is to come…i.e the after world…..

    yours sincerely,

    from me (auz billah) or is it me?…scare crow is just made of straw…..

    peace unto you all

  11. Avatar

    Noble Peace

    June 22, 2016 at 1:01 PM

    bism Allah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem

    sallam alaikom,
    excuse my arrogance yet again…but after reflection and a little contemplation, perhaps I admit with out much connection, and me stating that proves that….oooh I am going to be an ant on that day…Allah al-Mustaan and may He forgive….

    what did my ego want to say…erm…oh yeah, mere words I suppose….has the other got anything to do with what was sent down and its origins?…sounds sci-fi?! :) terminator film..etc seems so…..and with out promoting stupid and useless talk in this blessed month..so please forgive me….because the wand is truly unholy, even though sometimes truth may become known through evil and ignorance, and I am not recommending it……with that said and not at the same time…..zhul kifl and who he may be…had a prophecy..thats if he is he….!..so please do read on……as, as we all know sometimes prophecies are continuous i.e. on going ! and Allah knows best…..frozen han solo…..or a cave again..all again Allah knows best……independence day and the other that is being promoted..and subhan Allah we seem to be the others……but as to iron….the poets and the those that follow them….erm I do not know what I am saying…..I am just crazy…..will I be fed and have my brain altered, like is going on to us all, yet we know not…or perhaps we do…?!..it is all a FIB anyway….

    of the subject but all is to do with all it seems …lets reclaim our info? as not to be woed?!..and do not give any if you can and do not sign……its the signature that is worth all the money………what is needed is a true community or communities….where? the land is expansive……! just opinions…..so please forgive me

    may I ask those doing dawah in the western hemisphere…have we as muslims reached the amosh? because it seems they are true role models in one sense…..albeit, please forgive me for talking as such and asking like such….albeit again leave while we can….and even if against the current laws of the land…..whether as it is talk on the current times or end times…and only Allah knows best when the latter will be… so I tell myself first but what have we prepared for it?…..as to what I wished to say on that..is even if over ice,,,,it was an order all that time ago….so at least prepare for then…if not in our current time….and it might not affect us currently but most probable future generations…and also sudden is here and perhaps not yet again ….and if this is against the law or for my ego ……let it be…..so as before the editing floor blues…I believe in jesus, jesus, I am not afraid to say I believe in jesus…..it seems it is most definelty against THE LAW i.e. Allah’s law…1) for mentioning songs and not using His words….2)as it is in this blessed month…..I suppose that is one of the signs of the times also…..

    something inside me is telling me I am doing wrong writing today…..albeit, ma tawfiq except with Allah…….

    all I can say is that time is running out…..so I pray we do not get to the point when we curse God……al-Qariah…..a form or a result of ummmm ummm……???…remember islam is for humanity…but can you or anyone out here/there hear it too?

    Al-Asr……..imam al-shafii said it……

    fe amn Allah

    I sincere in-sha-Allah unchained

    and peace and blessings on the messenger sayidna muhammed and his companions and family and those who followed and follow him till the great day…final or finest…..in-sha-Allah the latter for those who believe in Allah the most High…Allah Akbar w al-hamdullah…He is Greater than all the ahzab……

    p.s. as to earlier parts, just so that it may or may not have caused fitna……. in-sha-Allah it has not or will not…..luke states that the prince of peace will not come for peace and to separate between family members…etc and the final testament says something like our children and money are enemies so be aware from them…etc but please do remember to give all its due that it is due to each and please if your mothers and fathers are still alive….please promise to kiss their feets tonight and especially in these last ten days and may you all have a happy and blessed Ramadan…..and do unto others as we like done on to our selves and our beloved is a mercy, so may we all be walking muhammads…and may he or the angels not tell us suhkan suhkan……and lets pray we get through this little time we have left, as to may Allah will, enter the garden with out reckoning……..

  12. Avatar

    Faisal Adnan

    September 10, 2016 at 7:41 PM

    Theres a phenomena called ‘islamophobia’. They dont even know Islam, and they dont even read the Quran. But they can easily say bad things. I hope we all muslim can unite face this issue with patience.

  13. Avatar

    Alston Arif

    November 1, 2016 at 4:45 AM

    The best approach of stopping anger against Muslims is to figure out why it exists – owing to inhuman terrorist attacks – and do one thing regarding stopping them. Please stay with your Iman and pray for us.
    http://www.muslimgreeting.com/2016/09/the-meaning-of-islam-iman-definition-and-6-pillars-of-iman.html

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#Current Affairs

In The Name of God: A Communal Rupture Sowed By Communal Legacy

At one point of time, there used to be a mosque in Ayodhya. It stood tall and lofty for 470 long years, until a mob of extremist Hindu fanatics came at it with axes and pickets and razed it to the ground. Stemming from the popular belief that it was the birthplace of the mythological figure of the warrior Hindu god called Ram, the act was carried out for the future construction of a temple devoted to him, and one that had to be erected at the same spot where the 16th century mosque had existed for so long. 

“All we need for the betterment of life is Lord Ram, and there is no survival without Lord Ram”.

The supporters of the Ram Janmabhoomi cause kept reiterating this loud and clear in Anand Patwardhan’s documentary film Ram ke Naam (In The Name of God), that still serves as the single-most myth busting source centred round the whole dispute. But this very claim itself is based on partial accounts that stem from loose historicity, as depicted in the footage.

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On December 22 1949, Lord Ram was said to have appeared in the dream of a priest in Ayodhya, who along with a few other men installed an idol of the god inside the mosque in the dead of night. The film tracked down one of the priests who had participated in the plan, and identified him as Mahant Ramsevak Das Shastri. He claimed that the erstwhile district magistrate K.K. Nayar was also an organiser of this act and had ensured that Shastri and the others accused were released on bail. Although generally identified as the first breach of communal trust that gradually gave rise to the whole dispute, in truth, this religious fundamentalism has its roots running deeper than most of us fully grasp or acknowledge. 

Even at present, about a dozen places in India and Nepal claim to be the potential birthplace of Ram and there is no consensus among Hindu scholars and historians regarding the same. Ayodhya has been housing many Ram temples since the 19th century, and incidentally, quite a lot of them had claimed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram at one point of time or the other. After the construction of the Babri Masjid in 1528 by the Mughal emperor Babur, historic records show that the first instance of communal riots in the area was not before 1855. Sunni Muslims clashed with Bairai Hindus in the area claiming that the temple of Hanumangarhi (for the Hindu mythological figure Lord Hanuman) was built where once stood an already demolished mosque. Nawab Wajid Ali, the then ruler of Ayodhya promptly intervened and made peace, but not before the incident caught the attention of the colonial overlords. This took place just two years prior to the Great Revolt of 1857. It was the first known pan-Indian unified struggle for independence, and one that was founded upon the Hindu-Muslim unity which had been turning into a growing threat for the ruling East India Company. And of all the temples claiming to be the holy birthplace of Lord Ram, the British chose a mosque having Mughal origins to be the designated one for spreading the rumour that Babur had constructed it after destroying what was once a temple housing Lord Ram’s original birthplace. 

As this notion started gaining momentum, the British installed a fence on the premise, which led to an arrangement that had the Muslims praying inside the inner court and the Hindus being allowed to use the outer courtyard. This communal understanding and secular practice went on and in peace till 1949, until the breach orchestrated by Nayar occurred. 

The 1949 breach then led to communal rifts, which was followed by the mosque being sealed. This marked the beginning of how those in power have been manipulating the masses for centuries, either for ensuring a vote bank, or being mostly fueled by a blind sense of religious fanaticism that made them feel empowered over other religions. 

Repeated petitions were filed to open the locks and allow namaz inside the mosque. While the inner court was kept out of bounds, puja was allowed to be carried out in the outer courtyard. As many as four suits were filed between 1950 and 1961 asking for the restoration of the Muslims’ right to pray, none of which were heeded. Twenty years later, the Sunni Waqf Board finally filed a suit for complete possession of the site, and the one which turned out to be the final blow. Hindu groups in turn formed a committee to protect their rights, and the plan to construct the Ram temple was spearheaded, causing the Ram Janmabhoomi movement gaining momentum like never before, with erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.) member L. K. Advani giving leadership to the same. 

It was no less than a “political game”, according to the court appointed priest Laldas, who was charged with tending to the Ram idol after the mosque was sealed. During his tenure from 1983 to 1992, he was known to have been critically vocal against the whole Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the premeditated conspiracy that was growing around Babri at that time. He was removed from service 9 months prior to the demolition act and was found to be shot dead a year later under mysterious circumstances. 

“BJP does not believe in Ram, only in hatred…the Hindu Parishad members have never made a single offering or prayed at the temple even once,” he had told Patwardhan during an interview clip in the documentary. 

Surprisingly, none of the subjects that Patwardhan approached in the film knew exactly when Lord Ram was born, or at least even in which century. Not the poor tanner squatting on the ground, not the first year law student brandishing a sword before the march to Ayodhya and not even the saffron clad priest inside the air conditioned Toyota van. But all of them were unwaveringly certain in their belief that Ram’s birthplace was none other than Babri, and how it has been a known fact for many years. 

It was December 6, 1992 that witnessed the right wing mobilisation movement carry out the act of political vandalism quite unparalleled in the modern world, leading to subsequent communal riots, and a massacre which the country has not completely recovered from since. Babri was destroyed. 

Twenty seven years, varying heartbeats, deadly communal violence acts and the loss of about 5,000 odd lives later, the landmark justice on the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute was delivered. 9th November 2019 was a date that meant too much to too many people. It was a day that either meant the end to so many years of rioting, divisibility and cut-throat communalism, or a further tint in the already widening secular fabric of the nation. 

2019 was also the year that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in for a second term and had implemented a number of administrative decisions that gave BJP’s Hindu supremacist ideology a new momentum and utmost urgency. One of the first things that he did after taking office was revoke the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution on August 5, 2019, which had so far granted the internationally disputed Muslim dominated region of Kashmir a special status independent of Indian jurisdiction. The abrogation allowed Kashmir to be reinvaded by a strong Indian military, annexed to the Indian subcontinent and put under complete curfew with an internet blackout. And exactly one year later, Prime Minister Modi is about to lay the foundation stone for the newly constructed Ram temple in Ayodhya on the site of the demolished mosque on August 5, 2020, as thanks to the landmark verdict on the decades-spanning historic wound that has completely redefined the politics of the country, the forces responsible for the demolition had found themselves in complete legal possession of the land. 

For many blinded by irrational faith and hyper nationalism, the judgement reinstated the inherent vice of fanatic Hindutva ideology in the sense that their religion is all superior, and one that fuels the necessity to construct the Ram temple at the very spot of the Babri Masjid. But to others still believing in the idea of the independent India that awoke at the stroke of the midnight hour on 15th August 1947, the judgement could have very well been a bigger, and more dangerous rupture in the democratic and secular pillars of the country than the actual act of the demolition itself. 

The current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, who was charged with overseeing the construction of the temple had gone on record as early as 2017 during a pre-election campaign to promise a Ram Mandir

Agar Samajwadi Party jeetegi to Karbala-kabristan banega, jabki Bhajapa ki Sarkar banegi toh Ayodhya mein Ram mandir banega.

30 years ago it was L.K. Advani who had promised that Mandir wahi Banega and today, it is Yogi Adityanath, the third face in line on the saffron political firmament, who is delivering on this promise.

Vikas Pathak, who is a professor at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai, said that this is Hindutva’s true and unalloyed form, one that was supposedly hidden beneath layers of political exigencies for so many years leading up to this. This claim is further supported by an independent multimedia journalist in Kashmir, who said he feels the same due to the obvious choice of the date of inauguration. Requesting to be anonymous, he expressed his thoughts on how this is more of a planned move than a mere coincidence, and one which gives out a clear message.

The fact that it’s happening on the anniversary of the repeal of Kashmir’s autonomy, accentuates the importance that the Modi government places on its aggressive pursuit of a Hindu nationalist agenda”, also augmented Michael Kugelman in his comment on the matter. He is senior associate of the Wilson Center and the deputy director of its Asia Program. 

Just like Jai Shree Ram, this Mandir agenda too had been normalised into one which sounded like a clarion call for battle. In Patwardhan’s film, an unnamed Congress politician held a campaign where he asked the Vishwa Hindu Parishad that if indeed a Ram temple should be built, why could it not be anywhere else in the city, as Ayodhya is such a large place. 

“I am amazed at this stubbornness that they will build the temple at the very same spot! And that too, only after destroying the mosque… He (Advani) can easily build a temple anywhere in Ayodhya, but please do not insist that this can only be possible by demolishing an existing mosque. I want to promise that the temple will most definitely be built, but the mosque must also remain.”

As we went on to see in the film, and even twenty seven years down the line, it was firmly decided that Mandir wahi banega, and one existing holy site was destroyed to give rise to another. Come November 2019,  the temple plan gets sanctioned by the Supreme Court of India as well, ironically granting the Sunni Waqf board an alternate piece of land to construct their mosque instead.

While the 5-judge bench lay claim to the demolishing act accepting it as a crime, and while they also accepted that the installation of the idols inside the mosque was an act of desecration, it also gave the land over to those who desecrated it at the same time. A judge on the bench had called it “one of the most important cases in the world,” but when the perpetrators of what the Supreme Court has openly identified as a crime find themselves to be the main beneficiaries of the judgement, it brings to question how just the verdict actually is.

Quite bizarrely, the court had declared that while there was some evidence of Hindus worshipping on the disputed site, no such documentary evidence could be found in the case of Muslims until before 1857. 

“The mosque was built in 1528, and the area was under Mughal occupation till 1722. Then it was ruled by Nawabs, and finally annexed by the British in 1856. It must be self-evident that during this entire period of being under Muslim rule, Muslims were offering namaz inside the mosque and not the other way round”, said a Kashmiri student currently studying at Jadavpur University in Kolkata on the condition of anonymity, adding how such a reasoning based on “balance of probabilities” as one of the reasons to give it to the Hindu side is itself one of inequality. 

On the other hand, the judgement also referred to a 574 pages long report published by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) 15 years ago, which claimed that Babri Masjid was not built on vacant land. Reading the unanimous judgement and considering the report valid on the assurance of being scientifically tested, Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi who was leading the bench said: 

“There was a structure underlying the disputed structure. The underlying structure was not an Islamic structure.”

While the court relied heavily on this ASI report, independent archaeologists who observed the site on behalf of the Sunni Waqf board differed entirely with the ASI findings. While the six month long court ordered investigation did reveal the existence of an underlying structure beneath the mosque, eminent archaeologists Supriya Varma and Jaya Menon believe that the evidence collected on their part do not support the claims made by ASI. 

Their report read: “underneath the Babri, there existed older mosques.” 

They further added that even if the underlying structures were not of Islamic origin, they closely resembled Buddhist stupas at the most, and in no way anything remotely close to a Hindu temple. This particular claim is in turn also supported by the archaeological surveyor Alexander Cunningham, who was the first individual to survey Ayodhya (around 1862-63), and was known for his interest in tracking down and identifying places associated with Buddhism.

Had India as a country boasted of a very robust and strong judicial institution, such an incident would not have been dragged all the way from 1949 to 2019, let alone pave the way to constructing a temple on the disputed land. December 6, 1992 should have been permanently brought an end to it with strict actions being taken against the perpetrators. While the B.J.P. indeed is directly linked to the whole incident, the Congress government led by Rajiv Gandhi allowed the locks to be opened in the 1980s. Following the demolition, the Congress Prime Minister Narsimha Rao allowed them to get away with the violence in 1992. And in 2019, the Supreme Court judges have done the same. 

Ayodhya, for more than a quarter of a century, had been turned into a place of cynical and political revanchism. And thrust between this politics of a loosely manufactured historicity aiming to upend the Republic of secularism by replacing it with a system running on Hindutva ideology, were those that represented what India truly stands for. Of the numerous subjects that Patwardhan interviewed, both Hindus and Muslims, most of them unanimously awaited, and wanted peace. Something that was so easy to understand for someone who lived a simple life of an ironmonger, belonging to the low Bishkarma caste, was at the same time completely unimaginable to those amassing trucks and weapons to demolish the mosque:

“Once it exists, it is wrong to break. If someone tried to break our temple, would we allow it? We’d say go build your mosque elsewhere.”

Zahir Adil, the lead on Save India From Fascism Project of the human rights organization Justice For All also expressed a similar sentiment, saying how he would have actually welcomed it if the temple was not built after illegally destroying a historic mosque. 

“Apart from being a day that RSS criminals are rewarded with a new temple after perpetuating systemic violence in India, 5th August 2020 also goes down in history as the day that the words Jai Shree Ram will be displayed in the iconic Times Square as the Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone for a Ram Temple on the site of the demolished mosque”, informed Masood Rab, spokesperson of Coalition of Americans for Pluralism in India (CAPI). It is one among the coalition of organizations that  have refused to carry forward the programming by the pro-Modi group in Times Square. 

The RSS, or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, being the parent organization of the current ruling party in India has its roots in pre-Independence times and were also known for openly supporting Hitler’s Nazi agenda. They were banned as many as four times when India was ruled by the national Congress, but it has now become the de-facto power under BJP rule, with Modi himself being a known RSS member. 

Indian American Muslim leaders, as well as human rights organizations, having categorically denounced this display of religious bigotry has called for a day long protest in the iconic Times Square from 8 AM, asking for this display of vehement arrogance to be stopped. Those like Adil and Dr. Shaik Ubaid (President of the Indian Minorities Advocacy Network) have also expressed concern on how the proponents of this fascist ideology have become so confident that they are celebrating an illegal and bloody act in the middle of Times Square, and for the entire world to see. But others like Kugelman expect, and have pointed out that while there will be messages in Times Square blaring out communal rhetoric, there may also be messages expressing solidarity for Kashmiris.

“It is perhaps fitting, in this globalized era, if the incredibly polarizing Kashmir issue plays out under the bright lights of Times Square”, said Kugelman over a brief electronic conversation, but added how this juxtaposition is also extremely divisive within the country on the whole.

The mandatory in this case seems more like a political campaign trick than anything to do with actual Hinduism, and essentially a symbiotic Displace perpetrated by a fascist government.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this could be the rise of divisive Hindu supremacy as never seen before. In all its entirety, the day of August 5, 2020 marks the end of an era and the possible beginning of a new one. It detriments the idea that our founding forefathers had envisioned for the nation, and while we may not like it at the same time, this is essentially a new India that is emerging for everyone to see – one that is a land of strident Hindutva and religious dissonance at the forefront. 

LINK to the documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMT18TMNQbY

 

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#Current Affairs

The Perennial Siege: Kashmir’s Tense Lockdown Anniversary

A year after the revocation of Article 370—special status of the valley, Kashmir continues to be under security lockdown, intermittent internet restrictions, almost negligible functioning of education system, amid reports of continuous detentions and across-the-board human rights violations.

Two-day curfew has been imposed in Indian-administered Kashmir in anticipation of containing any form of dissent ahead of the 5 August anniversary—the day Indian government stripped Kashmir of its special status. Officials say the curfew is meant to prevent violence by groups planning to observe 5 August as “black day”.

On August 5 2019, the state was split into two federally administered regions and its semi-autonomous status was revoked. The decision to revoke article 370—part of Indian constitution that guaranteed Kashmir special status—an action with potentially devastating consequences for Kashmiri identity and community was met with anger and feeling of betrayal in the region although it was widely welcomed in the rest of the country. In preparation for this, it put Kashmir into a complete lockdown at midnight on Aug. 4, 2019. Eight million Kashmiris were restricted in their homes. In-an-effort to impose a complete communication blockade, internet connections were cut, and phone connections were terminated.

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Everything seems to have come to a halt, and the past experiences have begun to conjure the images of unprecedented violence. Since the revocation or illegal annexation of Kashmir on August 5, the betrayed and besieged population, including me, treated like a prisoner in a forsaken paradise on earth, continue to mourn India’s deceptively organized virulent manifestation of democracy. The fact-finding report, Women’s Voice, counters the state narrative of “return to normalcy,” indicating that 13,000 boys and young men were detained illegally after August 5, including some as young as 14, with some imprisoned for up to 45 days, and with families paying as much as 60,000 rupees ($850) for their release

Kashmiris, however, saw their integration as a threat to the state’s ethnic character, and a milestone on the road to the realization of the BJP’s dream of a fundamentally Hindu nation. Many legal commentators decried the Indian government’s unilateral abrogation as “illegal,” calling it an “unconstitutional deed,” which was “accomplished by deceitful means” (Noorani 2019). 

The Problem oF Kashmir

A brief context of the conflict offers a perspective to understand the problem of Kashmir. “The world is reaping the chaos the British Empire sowed,” Amy Hawkins wrote in Foreign Policy, and “local populace is still paying for the mess the British left behind in Hong Kong and Kashmir.” The anti-colonial uprisings in the Indian subcontinent, China, the Arab world and elsewhere did not result in freedom or democracy for the nations ruled by the British Empire”. In Kashmir, the British left a bleeding wound amid the partition of colonial India. Kashmir in post-partition and to be more succinct, post-1947 emerged as a boiling pot from the cultivation uterus of the two-nation theory.

Since then, Kashmir is known to be the most heavily militarized zones in the world. More than 7 million soldiers have been deployed, as per the reports, to counter what the Indian army itself claims as “cross-border terrorism”. This myth has been busted time and again because of the actions of the Indian government in the last three decades. If there were any doubts earlier, they should have cleared by now. Their real enemy is the Kashmiri people, especially “Kashmiri Muslims”, the hindrance in the way of turning India into a “Hindutva nation” claims Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2019 U.N. general assembly speech.

India’s decision to abolish the state’s nominal autonomy last year is the most far-reaching move in the region in the last 70 years and has been pushed by the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as a development-focused action to “mainstream” the only Muslim-majority state in the subcontinent. While the government —which justified the shutdown as “preventive” — and the leading Indian media outlets are propagating an image of the region as slowly returning to “normalcy”, the reality on the ground, as documented by the New York Times, is very different. 

Kashmir continues to simmer under the siege.

Post 5—August SiegeAnd  Defiance

This season’s siege is more crushing than ever, possibly the worst since the first one nearly 30 years ago, a stratagem designed carefully to humiliate an entire population. There is also an unwavering manifestation of defiance, as by now the Kashmir street is sufficiently educated politically to not pin its hopes on an infusion of benevolence in the government’s Kashmir policy or any practical outcome from the partial solidarity from the international community. The mass arrests, in thousands, including minors and pellet victims [including a cancer patient] holding 7 million populations under eight hundred thousand jackboots has unveiled the façade of Indian democracy. 

“No government in the world has blocked Internet access as frequently as India. An incredible 213 times in just three years”, reports Time Magazine, “which is far more than Syria, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt together”. And more than half of those shutdowns have been enforced on Kashmir—is that because, questions Abid (PhD scholar, Dept. of political science department, Kashmir University) “of the special (autonomous) status Kashmir “enjoyed” in the larger Indian union? Will they also ban clean air, now that the special status has been erased?” 

Picking out promising adolescents; sometimes old men and even women, they branded them, as with batons and red-hot irons, to forcefully teach them how to behave. Abid Khan, 28, and Idrees, 29 from Shopian district in South Kashmir were raided in the middle of the night, tortured for hours by dozens of army men. Khan says he was dragged out and blindfolded along with his brother, who has learning difficulties, on August 14. “They gave electric shocks to my brother on the road outside our home. I heard him scream painfully,” quoted in AFP story, showing marks on his arms, legs and buttocks. Khan said. “Then they gave me electric shocks again on my genitals and wounds. One of them said ‘I will make you impotent’.” On September 13, Irshad Ahmed, a 12-year-old boy from neighboring Buchpora, Srinagar, suffered a serious head injury. His hospital registration card noted that it was a ‘fire-arm injury’, adding the word “alleged”. Those accompanying him said he had been hit by a cluster of pellets in his head. The bar has been raised so high for all forms of political dissent, and the detentions, numbering in thousands have choked any form of political activity on the ground. What remains still is an unwavering manifestation of the overarching defiance against the government-enforced execution of oppression. 

Pandemic Lockdown- In and Out of Kashmir

Since the world has now entered the sixth month of Covid-19 restrictions. With self-isolation, physical-distancing and e-learning online education, for most populations the robust internet and phone service has still provided a lifeline to let them work and be engaged and entertained. But in the Himalayan territory of Kashmir, the repression and militaristic method in the latest indignity in a 73-year cycle of oppression, militarization and scarcity especially since last year August in Kashmir has intensified: communications were completely cut in August 2019 and were only beginning, even after weeks pandemic broke out. Since March, only 2G is available, and only sporadically. As Waheed Mirza, novelist and political commentator on Kashmir asserts “A military siege is like a chokehold on an entire people”.  

For the world, asserts Arundhati Roy:

“Kashmir and Kashmiris signify as a prototype to learn the craft of surviving under a lockdown. For the former, it is a self-imposed precautionary measure experienced for the first time in the recent history by the world to fight against an unseen disease; as for the latter, it is the endless fight against the continuation of a seven month long enforced siege against their will.”

 This reality soon turned into a buzzword “the world is turning into Kashmir”. Azad Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan asserted India has been using the “cover of the coronavirus” to “mow down” Kashmiri youth and change the Muslim-majority character of the disputed region.  

According to news reports on Kashmir, anyone who violates curfew–even those with valid passes allowing them to leave their homes–risks being detained by soldiers or police and possibly beaten. Even doctors, who’ve been celebrated as heroes elsewhere in the world, report being harassed on their way to work in Kashmir, which already suffers an acute lack of medical resources and staff. Limited access to information has also obstructed Kashmir’s coronavirus fight. The region uses 2G internet, an online connection so slow that it is nonexistent elsewhere in the world. Indian authorities have cut online access in Kashmir 55 times since it was restored in March 2020. According to the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies, a local group that documents and litigates human rights abuses “this has delayed doctors’ ability to read emerging treatment guidelines and new research on the disease”.

For some, the repressive methods allude to the fact that the Indian government’s priorities in Kashmir have not been changed by the pandemic. “Any administration that is willing to impose the longest Internet shutdown in history only believes in the right of censorship and surveillance,” says Mishi Choudhary, the legal director at the Software Freedom Law Center, a group that campaigns for Internet freedoms. The period post 5 August 2019 has changed the whole political landscape of the region. This season’s siege is more crushing than ever, possibly the worst since that first one nearly 30 years ago, a stratagem designed carefully to humiliate an entire people. 

Mental health workers say “Kashmir is witnessing an alarming increase in instances of depression, anxiety and psychotic events”.  Doctors Without Borders estimated after surveying 5,600 households in 2015. Nine of 10 have experienced conflict-related traumas. The figures are much higher than in India, according to other surveys.

Education: The Perennial Casualty

Ten months after India unilaterally revoked Kashmir’s autonomy, reports New York Times, “education stands as one of the crisis’s most glaring casualties”. Previously, Kashmiri Valley in particular suffered huge education losses as the students were forcibly kept away from schools and colleges by frequent official curfews and restrictions, shutdowns, incidents of violence and prolonged political unrest stretching for months, the worst of these witnessed in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2016. “The long school closures in the valley cause major disruptions in young people’s educational and professional development, producing feelings of insecurity, helplessness, and demoralization,” said Haley Duschinski, an anthropologist at Ohio University specializing in Kashmir.

Around 1.5 million Kashmiri students remain out of school. All educational institutions are closed, and most government and private schools are shut—except for few intermittent opening of educational institutions for some weeks, one of the clearest signs of the fear that has gripped Kashmir since the Indian government locked down the disputed territory. Parents in the Kashmir Valley also show this fear that “they are terrified of sending their children out with any exception reaction from the public amid troops deployed everywhere and on the prowl for trouble”. 

“What if the school or a bus carrying children is attacked?” asked Saqib Mushtaq Bhat, a father worried about violence by Indian troops or militants. “What if there are protests and their faces get shot by pellets?’’ Amid only 2G internet services working in the valley, G.N. Var, chairman of Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) which has 2,200 schools associated with it, termed it ‘denial of right to education’. The research scholars across the valley have equally suffered due to low speed internet and hugely affected the mental stability of people across the spectrum of the society. 

He said, “The restrictions on high speed internet are making it difficult for our students to avail online courses and access information which is vital in their career-building. We see it as a denial of the right to education.”  Reports suggest “no government in the world has blocked Internet access as frequently as India with 55 Internet blackouts in 2019 alone, including the longest in recorded history, 213 days, when Delhi put the valley on lockdown last year August.

Settler Colonialism

So far, anti-insurgency operations have proved equally devastating for Kashmiris amid the pandemic. As of June 30, 229 killings, 107 CASO’s (cordon and search operation), 55 internet shutdowns, 48 properties destroyed in the first half of 2020. Children and women continued to be victims of violence in J&K as 3 children and 2 women were killed in the first half of 2020. India continues to take possession of Kashmir despite being hit ever harder by the pandemic.

With all the constitutional amendments and new laws India has instituted in Kashmir especially since 5 August last year, the Palestinian case is often invoked to find the parallelism of how this sounds like the beginning of settler colonialism. The recent developments that highlight this process are, on the contrary, a further deepening and expansion of a matrix of control characteristic of such a project, duly aided through laws, to ensure the eventual elimination of the native.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration’s order to withdraw a 1971 circular that made it mandatory for the Indian Army, the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force to obtain a “no objection certificate” to acquire land in the region is also seen as part of a settler colonial project. Not only has the decrees evoked a sharp reaction among locals, which have long feared Delhi’s forceful integration of the restive region with the Indian union, but observers are also accusing Modi’s right-wing dispensation of using the Covid-19 pandemic to advance its Hindu settler colonial enterprise in the region, saying it is a page right out of the Israeli playbook to transform the region’s demographics. United Kingdom-based Kashmiri lawyer Mirza Saaib Bég argues that “J&K’s demography is bound to be altered beyond belief. And at a speed so astonishing that the procedure for issuing a domicile certificate will seem, unfortunately, a quasi-colonial project”.

Around 400 thousand people have been granted domicile certificates in Indian-administered Kashmir till July, 2020 proving right the fears of the beginning of demographic changes in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region. The certificate, a sort of citizenship right, entitles a person to residency and government jobs in the region, which till last year was reserved only for the local population. “The whole purpose of revoking Article 370 was to settle outsiders here and change the demography of the state. Now this provides the modalities and entitles so many categories of Indians whose settlement will be legalised over here.” – Kashmiri law professor and legal scholar Sheikh Showkat Hussain (Al Jazeera, April 1, 2020).

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden said, “India should take all necessary steps to restore the rights of all the people of Kashmir.” He also asserts “Restrictions on dissent, such as peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the internet weakens democracy,” in a policy paper posted on his website. Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that India’s latest step was a vindication of the country’s “consistent stance that the major intention behind the Indian Government’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 was to change the demographic structure of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and turn Kashmiris into a minority in their own land”.

“This has long been part of the RSS-BJP’s ‘Hindutva’ agenda,” the statement added.

An  Indian Consul General in New York, Sandeep Chakraborty’s recent call for the ‘Israel model’ in Kashmir should ring alarm bells for the Muslim world. He flagrantly asserted “I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it,” Chakravorty said.

Kashmiris on Twitter were quick to call out Al-Jazeera, accusing them of “promoting settler colonialism”. The social media users were mainly drawing a parallel with expansionist or colonial settlements of Israeli Jews in Palestine or of Han Chinese in Xinjiag to forcibly settle and diffuse indigenous identity.

Tailpiece:

Kashmir is transformed into an open prison where the state works with a self-proscribed impunity to confiscate or mitigate basic universal rights, while the Indian state is trying to entice assimilatory participation of the common people. That territory-wide control by the state and its various institutions is countered through years of survival, persistence and resistance against the state’s operations over Kashmiri lives.

One inevitable fact that successive union governments since India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru have arrogantly with military highhandedness ignored is the political question of Kashmir. The recent political expedition of the Indian government in Kashmir paradigmatically problematized the political destiny of Kashmir and future of Kashmiris. Even in the 21st century globalized world, in the middle of a global pandemic, 8 million people are denied access to education, livelihood, entertainment, and health respite via a medium that has become an essential service for the rest of the world.

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#Current Affairs

Indian Myths Channel Genocide in Kashmir

India is a land and society of myths. More so now than ever before, under the Hindutva-inspired Bharatiya Janata Party government led by the claim of the myth manufacturer Modi: “India is a democracy; it is in our DNA.”

A much talked about myth has been that India is a secular state, and in the light of the post August 5 2019 developments in Kashmir and the Indian mainland, much sighing is being aired that Indian secularism is endangered.

However, the question arises, when was India secular? Was India “secular,” when it invaded Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) on October 26, 1947 on the pretext that a non-Muslim should rule a Muslim-majority state, or was it “secular” when Hyderabad Deccan was invaded and annexed on September 23, 1948 on the pretext that a Muslim could not rule over a Hindu majority?

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Based on a myth about the birthplace of the mythical “Lord Rama,” the 600-year old Babri Mosque was attacked and demolished on December 6, 1992. India’s Supreme Court validated the goon squad’s action on November 9, 2019. Today, the mosque’s attackers rule India.

Even the national anthem ‘Vande Matram’ is not secular, where Muslims object to its idolatrous aspects. For instance, the fourth stanza, addresses motherland India as, “Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen, with her hands that strike and her swords of sheen, Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned…”

When a Muslim sings these words, he is forced to equate his country with the Hindu goddesses Durga and Lakshmi, thereby deifying the land of India. This goes against the concept of tawheed (the Absolute Oneness of God), according to which a Muslim cannot supplicate to anyone except God.

The other long-standing myth, which India validated through a presidential fiat last year, is that J&K are its “integral” part – a territory it has occupied since September 1947 with a million-man force. In doing so, it served up another myth: the constitutional relationship between J&K and India.

Subodh Varma (“Some Myths About Article 370, 35A and Kashmir”, Sabrang India August 8, 2019) explains that in the process of effectively scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution through a presidential order supported by a Lok Sabha (lower house) resolution, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters regurgitated a slew of myths, half-truths and sleights of hand that have been part of its parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) propaganda for decades. Ironically, many parties and opinion leaders who do not subscribe to the RSS ideology also repeated them, which show how far these myths have traveled. Meanwhile, social media went ballistic with RSS/BJP supporters posting bizarre claims while others started offering land for sale in Kashmir.

Arun Jaitley (d. August 24, 2019), who served as finance minister from 2014 to 2019, had tweeted on August 4, “J&K integration with India took place in October 1947. Article 370 came into force in 1952, Article 35A came in 1954, four and seven years later respectively. How can Articles 370 and 35A be a condition precedent to merger?”

He had sought to prove that Articles 370 and 35A were somehow unrelated to J&K’s “joining” [albeit perforce] the Indian Union implying that they are unnecessary and also that they were the result of some [past] Congress governments’ stupidity.

This is a lie.

On October 26, 1947, India invaded J&K, obliging its ruler, Raja Hari Singh, to sign the Instrument of Accession (IOA); the Dogra ruler’s ancestor having purchased the territory and its citizen from the British. However, this document states that the Indian parliament could only legislate on the state’s defense, external affairs, communications and some ancillary subjects. The agreement’s Clause 5 reads: “The terms of this my Instrument of Accession cannot be varied by any amendment of the Act or of Indian Independence Act unless such amendment is accepted by me by an Instrument supplementary to this Instrument.” Clause 7 says: “Nothing in this Instrument shall be deemed to commit me in any way to acceptance of any future constitution of India or to fetter my discretion to enter into arrangements with the Government of India under any such future constitution.”

Simply stated, it says that many things left pending in the IOA were to be settled later through negotiations. After its invasion, India, which faced the Kashmiri resistance till 1949, finally seeking a UN-negotiated armistice, has yet to lay out the laws and governance mechanism. Accordingly, the UN Security Council adopted successive resolutions call for a plebiscite where the Kashmiris would vote freely to decide their future.

The UN continues to recognize Kashmir as a disputed territory.

The 1947 partition agreed upon by Muslim and Hindu leaders with Britain, the departing colonial ruler, reads that Muslim majority states would merge with Pakistan. Kashmir is a clear case.

To preserve the IOA’s spirit and to reassure the Raja, Article 370 was moved in India’s Constituent Assembly in May 1949, which was voted to be part of the Indian Constitution in October 1949. Consequently, Presidential Orders were issued in 1950, 1952 and 1954 to settle various issues. Jawaharlal Nehru  -India’s first prime minister- and his interior minister Vallabhbhai Patel (d. 1950) were part of these negotiations, which negates the RSS myth that Patel opposed Article 370.

The RSS propped up the full integration bogey to stir up agitation against the land reforms initiated by the Raja-appointed Sheikh Abdullah government. The RSS gave it a communal hue as the landowners were mostly Dogras and Pandits and most peasants were Muslims.

The RSS/BJP propaganda about Article 35A hides the fact that Raja Hari Singh had proclaimed the Hereditary State Subject Order in 1927, which allowed only the state’s residents to own land and to government jobs. The state’s assembly voted to include this order in the J&K Constitution. In keeping with the IOA terms regarding the preservation of rights of state’s residents, Article 35A was added to the Constitution through the Presidential Order of 1954.

Kashmir’s annexation falls under RSS ambition of a pure Hindu India.

The RSS states that J&K, with its “oppressive Muslim-majority character, has been a headache for our country ever since Independence.”

RSS alleges that forces “inimical to Bharat never wanted Kashmir to integrate itself with Bharat …  and in October 1947, these elements conspired with the enemy to defeat every move to save the situation from our [Indian] side.” While, India continues to loudly claim that it was Pakistani tribal fighters and not Kashmiri freedom-fighters who confronted the Indian invading army, RSS claims that it was its fighters who fought alongside Indian troops, adding that if a ceasefire had not been agreed upon, its fighters would have helped completely conquer J&K.

RSS blames the large Muslim presence for J&K being conferred a special status under Article 370, even after its total “accession.”

On December 11, 1991, BJP president Dr. Murli Manohar and Narendra Modi, and also, the now interior minister Amit Shah, led the 15,000 mile “Ekta Yatra” (Unity March) from Kanyakumari -a Tamil Nadu coastal town, the southernmost town in mainland India- which culminated in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on January 26, 1992 to hoist the Indian flag, signaling that they had “arrived to settle the account.”

RSS claims: “The endless appeasement of the Muslim population, especially in Kashmir, practiced by the successive governments at Delhi, has been the bane of our government’s Kashmir policy. Just as too much mollycoddling and lack of discipline spoil the child, so has been Kashmir, a problem created out of our own folly.” RSS alleges that Pakistan arms militants for armed revolt from within India.

Amit Shah has harped the long-repeated party line that Article 370 is the root cause of spread of terrorism. As a corollary, it is also said that the article was the source of sentimental belief in a separate Kashmir, providing ground to cross-border terrorists to exploit.

However, it is the erosion of Article 370 that has led to increasing disenchantment of Kashmiris and their search for a way out. For instance, Article 370 provided for extending provisions of law to J&K through Presidential Orders, issued after concurrence of the state assembly. However, the 1954 Order has extended almost the entire Constitution to J&K. Out of the 97 entries in the Union List, 94 have been made applicable to the state and out of the 47 entries in the Concurrent List, 26 have been extended to the state. This has largely reduced the state’s powers. Overall, Article 370’s provisions were used at least 45 times to extend Constitution’s provisions to J&K.

Not only have the J&K rights been increasingly restricted, but also the spirit of the section has been violated by simply getting the state government to rubber stamp such extensions.

Also, the J&K Constitution was amended several times using Article 370. For instance, Article 356 was extended removing a similar provision in the J&K Constitution (Article 92), which called for President’s concurrence for imposing President’s rule. Article 370 was used for the extension of President’s rule. Even Article 249 (parliament’s power to make laws on State List entries) was extended to J&K through a recommendation of the governor, bypassing the state legislature.

In the past, Congress governments and later BJP, used these measures to manipulate the politics of the state to install ministries or impose President’s Rule.

Another myth, really a blatant lie, proffered by BJP, is that development was not possible because Article 370 didn’t allow it. Post-August 5, Indian politicians and opinion leaders continue to harp that with the removal of special status, including J&K will now become part of global India. Seriously, how Article 370 stopped any government from providing or encouraging more investment and industry in the state when most provisions of the Constitution, including Union list entries were extended to the state. The Union governments could have undertaken any economic measures or programs they wanted in J&K. In fact, there was nothing except unkempt promises of colossal special packages. No Indian government undertook any economic or political measures that would provide sustainable and long-term benefits to J&K.

Simply, the removal of Article 35A will now free real estate sharks to gobble up properties and use it for setting up private businesses including private schools. It is difficult to believe that private investment will flow into J&K, when an occupied people there are discontented and uncertain.

Indian propagandists in and out of government harp on the myth Articles 370 and 35A, and the arrangements they enshrine, were unique to J&K. In fact, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, and Goa enjoy similar provisions. In other states too, there are laws preventing non-domiciliary persons from owning land.

The Narendra Modi-led central government had, after the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, recently announced that people will now be able to buy land in Kashmir. As a result, the 1971 circular, which restricted land acquisition and requisition without a ‘No Objection Certificate (NOC)” from the Home Department, has now been replaced by the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. And, the displacement of Kashmiris with the replacement of Indians has begun the process of ethnic cleansing, leading to a genocide of the Kashmiri people.

Citizens of India ought not to live by the myth of living in the largest democracy and in greatness but instead should heed to Gandhi, “as human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”

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