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WIT AND WISDOM OF HAMID DALWAI' 
A SECULAR MUSLIM 
Excerpts from his Book "Muslim Politics In Secular India"
 
A.K.Raina 
 
September 1994 
 
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"MUSLIM POLITICS IN SECULAR INDIA" By Hamid Dalwai 
This book was Published by : HIND POCKET BOOKS 
  
 
MUSLIM POLITICS IN SECULAR INDIA 
 
Scintillating and thought-provoking, this book gives an absorbing summing up of the problem of Muslim communalism in India.  It relates Muslim communalism to the make-up of the Indian Muslim mind and its historical background.  Balanced and well documented, Mr. Dalwai's analysis of the origin and nature of Muslim communalism has earned him a rapidly increasing audience in recent years.  His wide research on this subject leads him to make an eloquent and forceful plea for a movement for modernization, secularization and liberalization as the only long-term solution to the communal problem. 
 
Written in a refreshing, anecdotal style, these essays on the problem of communalism and its remedy will prove invaluable for an understanding of the Indian political scene. 
 
The author, Hamid Dalwai’s belongs to a middle-class Marathi speaking, Muslim family. A self-educated man, Mr. Dalwai has been active in Politics for many years and is an experienced journalist. In Maharashtra, he is known as a provocative publicist and also as an outstanding short story writer. 
  
 
1. Foreword by Dr A B Shah, President, Indian Secular Forum 
 
1.1 - Educated Muslims prefer playing safe even though that would mean pandering to the prejudices and superstitions of their less fortunate brethren that Mr. Dalwai is engaged in what may be called a one-man crusade against the obscurantism of Muslim society in India. (pg.6) 
 
1.2 - Mr.Dalwai's thesis is that the basic malaise of Muslim society (in India as elsewhere with the exception of Turkey and perhaps Tunisia) lies in the fact that ft has never had a renaissance in its entire history of more than thirteen hundred years. (pg.7) 
 
1.3 - However the type of integration that is necessary here cannot be achieved unless Muslims no less than Hindus learn to separate religion from the rights and obligations of citizenship of a modem state. (pg.7) 
 
1.4 - It is difficult for a Hindu to visualize, except by a special effort of reason and the imagination, a mind that is almost totally lacking in the conception of the individual and derives the significance of human life solely from the individual's membership of a collectivity. (pg. 12) 
 
1.5 - The founder of Islam had therefore also to found a state before its message was fully delivered, let alone developed in contact with a more advanced culture without the attainment of force. (pg.13) 
 
Note: (The founder of Christianity did not found a state, or attempt to do so. The Church's alliance with the state comes much later.) 
 
1.6- (Dalwai) dwelt at some length on this aspect of Islam as a cultural tradition.  The reason is not that Islam is unique in its record of intolerance in the past; it is, rather, that Islam still exhibits the same intolerance of free inquiry and dissent as ft did in less enlightened times. (pg.14) 
 
1.7 - The tragedy of Indian Muslims does not lie so much in the backwardness of a vast majority of them in relation to the Hindus which is only a symptom - as in the unwillingness of educated Muslims to undertake a critical reappraisal of their heritage. (pg. 16) 
 
1.8 - For historical and other reasons, the Hindu is at an advantage in this respect. But precisely because of that he has to accept the onus of promoting the modernization of Muslim society. (pg.20) 
 
Note: While Hindus are willing to take the responsibility, it is necessary for the Muslims to co-operate. 
 
2 - Chapter I - Historical Background 
 
2.1 - It is an old habit of Indian Muslims to blame Hindus for their woes. However, the Indian Muslim intelligentsia has never really been critically introspective. (pg.30) 
 
2.2 - It is no fault of the Hindus that the Indian Muslims embraced this theory of a separate, Muslim nationalism.  Nor is it the fault of the Hindus that Indian Muslims regarded Hindus in Pakistan as hostages ensuring their own (Indian Muslims') security in India. (pg.32) 
 
2.3 - The truth of the matter is that the Muslim intelligentsia has not yet given up its postulate of parallel society.  It has still not learnt to separate religion from politics.  Their idea of religious freedom is merely that the structure of the Muslim society in India should remain unaltered. (pg.33) 
 
2.4 - But the Hindus also had a liberal humanist tradition. (pg.33) The only effective answer to the problems of Indian Muslims would involve on their part a total rejection of the prejudices of history.  Only when they rid themselves of the misconceptions that history and tradition produce can they arrive at the conception of a free, modern mind committed only to fundamental human values. (pg.34) 
 
2.5 - However, I consider suicidal the Hindu communalist attempt to answer Muslim communalism by obscurantist Hindu revivalism.  Muslim communalism will be defeated only when the Hindu achieves a greater degree of social progress and modernizes himself.  By making the Hindus more obscurantist - by making them more puritan and orthodox - Muslim communalism can never be eliminated. (pg.35-36) 
 
Note: (And who is to modernize the Muslims?) 
 
2.6 - I oppose the ban on cow-slaughter on agro-economic ground. I oppose it even more strongly on non-economic grounds, because if the Hindus belief in the sacredness of the cow is encouraged, it would prevent the Hindus from modernizing themselves and from achieving a great degree of social progress. (pg.36) 
 
Note: (Banning cow slaughter was economic custom as well) 
 
2.7 - Mohammad Ghaznavi could defeat Hindu armies simply by using herds of cows as a shield for his own army! (pg.36) 
 
2.8 - Hindu communalists should not continue to make the tragic blunder of mistaking every Muslim for a communalist.  It is true that today it is difficult to find a thoroughly secular Muslim in India.  But if we want secular minded Muslims, in the near future, we must encourage and support those Muslims who are already stepping in that direction. (pg.37) 
 
3 - Chapter II - Reading the mind of Indian Muslim 
 
3.1 - Most Muslim leaders in India advance the odd argument that Muslims were not responsible for partition, and even argue that Hindus alone were responsible for it. (pg.40) 
 
3.2 - History provides some clues to the strange behavior and arguments of Indian Muslim leaders.  Indian Muslims always tried to impose their own demands on Hindus with the help of the British, who were a third party in the position of a judge. (pg.40) 
 
3.3 - When they saw that the judgment in this dispute was to be given by a third party, they tried to till the balance in their own favor even by resorting to an unscrupulous and fallacious argument, and the Hindus who were eager for independence conceded their demand. (pg.40) 
 
3.4 - Indian Muslims have committed an even worse sin.  They not only relied on a third party but also participated in a movement which aimed at creating a separate nation comprising all provinces which had a Muslim majority. (pg.41) 
 
3.5 - The question which arises here is- why do Indian Muslims make the obviously false claim that Pakistani Hindus are treated with due justice?  And why did the Muslims earlier refuse to rely on the conscience of Hindus to get full justice for themselves? (pg.43) 
 
3.6 - Indian Muslims leaders believe that in their dispute with the majority in India, Pakistan is the third party occupying the position of the judge.(pg.44) 
 
Note: See 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 
 
3.7 - However, it must be pointed out that the support of Indian Muslims to the creation of Pakistan was not entirely based on emotional frenzy.  It was also based on the theory of hostages.  At the same time, Indian Muslims believed that India would eventually be ruled by Islam. (pg.49) 
 
3.8 - Sardar Patel merged the princely states within the Indian Union and thus shattered their hopes. This is why Muslim leaders hate Sardar Patel. (pg.50) 
 
3.9 - Indian Muslims still regard themselves as Pakistanis, and they believe that their emancipation has been ensured by the creation of Pakistan. (pg-50) 
  
 
4 - Chapter III - Muslims: The so-called Nationalists and the Communalists 
 
4.1 - All Muslim leaders unanimously complain that injustice is done to Muslims in India.  However, they have a strange definition of injustice..... 
 
One of the methods of ensuring justice is to claim that Pakistani infiltrators in Assam are not Pakistani at all. A second method is to demand the granting of Indian citizenship to those Pakistanis who are illegal residents of Bihar, West Bengal and some other states of India. A third method is to oppose family planning. (pg.53) 
 
Note: See 4.9. 
 
4.2 - Savarkar admitted the existence of a separate Muslim nationalism.  He had even shown his willingness to give them a written guarantee that their culture, their language and their proportional representation would be safeguarded. The only thing Savarkar denied to the Muslims was a separate, independent and sovereign state. (pg.59) 
 
4.3 - In an undivided India a specially privileged Muslim community would have vigorously continued a movement for Islamization of India. (pg.61) 
 
Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madni was considered a great 'Nationalist Muslim' leader. He was president of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-i-Hind.  When the ulema convened a conference in Delhi in the year 1 945, he said in his presidential address, "it is the non-Muslims who are the field of action for this 'tabligh' of Islam and form the raw material for this splendid activity ... We are opposed to the idea of limiting the right of missionary activities of Islam within any particular area.  The Muslims have got a right in all the nooks and corners of India by virtue of the great struggle and grand sacrifices of their ancestors in this country.  Now, it is our duty to maintain that claim and try to widen its scope, instead of giving it up." ("The Deoband School and the Demand for Pakistan" by Z H Faruqi, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1963, pg.117) The same learned Maulana has said elsewhere, "if Dara had triumphed, Muslims would have stayed in India, but not Islam.  Since Aurangzeb triumphed, both Muslims were here to stay." (pg.61-62). 
 
4.4 - What was the difference between Jinnah and the nationalist Muslims?  While Jinnah wanted a separate state, the nationalist Muslims wanted the whole of India. (pg.62) 
 
4.5 - Muslim leaders always blame Hindu communalism for partition. I fail to see where, in this entire discussion, Hindu communalism comes in. (pg.62) 
 
4.6 - Jinnah was not fighting Savarkar and Golwalkar. He never mentioned their communalism.  Jinnah accused Gandhi of being a Hindu communalist, refusing to concede his demands. He criticized Nehru in the same way.  Similarly, when Muslim leaders hold communalists responsible for the partition, they want to suggest that it was Gandhi and Nehru who were 'Hindu communalists'. The implications are clear: they charge every Hindu with being a communalist. At the same time, they make the strange claim that every Muslim is a nationalist. (pg.63) The real conflict, therefore, was not between Hindu and Muslim communalists.  It was a conflict between the secular nationalism of Gandhi and Nehru and the religious nationalism of Indian Muslims. (pg-63) 
 
4.7 - When Christians were not modern, even they forcibly converted Muslims to their own faith. (pg.65) 
 
4.8 - Independence, according to the Muslims, is synonymous with all power being concentrated in the hands of the Muslim community. (pg-66) 
 
4.9 - They claim that the Hindu majority in India treats them with injustice. They fail to realize that their definition of Islam is twisted and strange, for these leaders believe that the greatest injustice to Indian Muslims is the simple fact that there is a majority of Hindus in this country. (pg.69) 
 
Note: See 4.1. 
  
 
5 - Chapter IV - The Communal Malady : A Diagnosis 
 
5.1 - Secular parties in India have always considered the problem of Hindu-Muslim relations from the viewpoint of romantic idealism and have refused to face boldly the harsh truth underlying it.  After the outbreak of a communal riot, they have hardly thought it necessary to do anything beyond issuing public appeals for communal peace and ritually denouncing Hindu communalist forces as the prime cause of trouble. (pg.70) 
 
Note: See 5.3, 5.7 
 
5.2 - If today the liberal trends among the Hindus are on the wane, the main cause is to be traced to the continuing predominance of separatist and communalist trends among Indian Muslims even 23 years after partition. (pg.71) 
 
5.3 - These traditions of Islam and the strong separatist trends they have engendered among Indian Muslims are the main cause of the persistent communal tension. To claim that Muslim separatism continues to exist because the country has not adequately imbibed the spirit of secularism is to betray ignorance of the working of the Muslim mind. The real cause of the present conflict is that the separatist urges of Muslim nationalism have always existed parallel to those of secular nationalism.  Muslims have never agreed that partition put an end to this problem.  As I have mentioned in a recent article, Mr. Hasan Suhurawardy, Chief Minister of undivided Bengal, had pointed out in 1946 that, "Pakistan is not our last demand".  In his letter written after the partition to Choudhary Khaliquzzaman, Mr. Suhurawardy had propounded the. idea of a Muslim majority area in India.  It is without significance that the post-independence trend of Muslim politics in India has followed the direction laid down by Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Surhawardy. (pg.72) 
 
Note: See 5.1, 5.7 
 
5.4 - Nehru was perhaps the only Indian statesman who understood the historical forces operating behind Muslim politics in India. (pg.73) 
 
Note : Yet he did fail prey to the politics of vote bank. 
 
5.5 - Nehru's insistence on a common electorate and the inclusion in the Constitution of the enactment of a uniform civil code as a Directive Principle of state policy inspire of fierce opposition from the Muslim communalists may be cited as examples of his determination in this regard. (pg.73) 
 
Note : (RSS has also the same program) 
 
5.6 - Moreover, Nehru was well aware that Muslims could easily combine themselves in one political party because of their social structure and the total absence among them of a modern political consciousness based on secular considerations. As regards Hindus, he knew that their stratified social structure always impeded their mobilization on a common political platform. At the same time, because of their liberal reformist traditions, Hindus had developed a progressive political consciousness which made them alive to larger socio-economic issues.  Hence, he knew, they tended to choose political parties, on non-religious considerations.  Because of this peculiar situation he usually tried to project himself as a guardian of Muslim interests with a view to preventing the re-emergence of a strong Muslim party. (pg.74) 
 
Note : A divided Hindu community has permitted the vote bank politics to continue with impunity. 
 
5.7 - Every communal riot has helped the growth of Muslim communalist forces.  Muslim leaders claimed that communal riots did not take place wherever the League had a strong force/hold among Muslims.  Many a times communal troubles are provoked by Muslims. (pg.75) 
 
Note : See 5.1, 5.3, 5.8 
 
5.8 - The Khaskar's tradition of dots and the orgy of violence, arson and loot indulged in by the Razakars in Hyderabad are too well-known to need detailed mention. (pg.76) 
 
Note: See 5.1, 5.3, 5.7 
 
5.9 - The Prime Minister (Smt. Indira Gandhi) wants to eradicate communalism from this land, but she is indulging in self-deception if she feels that she can curb Hindu communalist forces by conniving at Muslim separatism. (pg.77) 
 
5.10 - The unceremonious exit of Mr.M.C.Chagla from her cabinet and the relaxation of the rule prohibiting polygamy among Muslim employees of the Central Government are but two examples of the concessions she is making to Muslim communalism. (pg.77) 
 
5.11 - The problem of national integration cannot be solved by appeasing Muslim separatism. (pg.77) 
  
 
6 - Chapter V- Strange Bedfellows: Communists Intimacy with Communalists 
 
6.1 - In fact, this intimacy is not at all surprising.  There are significant resemblances between the communist movements and the Muslim communalist movement. (pg.78) 
 
6.2 - The basis of the Islamic movement is not the whole of a society but only the Islamic segment of it.  The Islamic movement can establish its own state only by subjugating, if not destroying, the other parts of society. (pg.79) 
 
Note: Many other people also say that the concept of brotherhood in Islam relates to Islamic brotherhood only. 
 
6.3 - Even this secular state would be the secular government of and by a Muslim majority, in which non-Muslims would have little or no place. (pg.79) 
 
6.4 - When the communists are not in power, they are internationalists; when Muslims are a minority in any country they lack a nationalistic spirit and have an internationalist, that is, pan-Islamic attitude. (pg.80) 
 
Note: See 6.1 
 
6.5 - A communist when not in power, is primarily an internationalist and only secondarily, if at all, a nationalist. A Muslim in minority is primarily a Muslim and only secondarily, if at all a nationalist. Both Muslims -and communists regard their own concept of social structure as perfect. (pg.80). 
 
6.6 - Most nations with a Muslim majority are extremely nationalistic in their social and political outlook.  In pre-partition India, the Muslim League used to demand greater provincial autonomy. (pg.81) 
 
6.7 - Communists purge their opponents no sooner than they come to power. Muslim nationalistic movements, wherever there is a Muslim majority, do not allow non-Muslims to exist freely and equally. (pg-81) 
 
6.8 - (The communists) decided to back Muslim communalists in order to precipitate nation-wide disintegration, gain a popular backing. from the Indian Muslims, induce the ruling group in Pakistan to support Soviet policies, and to benefit from the general chaos and factional fights in the entire sub-continent. (pg.82) 
 
6.9 - When the CPI accepted the Ranadive policy of nationwide subversion and uprising many eminent Muslim League leaders throughout India suddenly became 'communists'! (pg.83) 
  
 
7 - Chapter.  VI - The Chief Obstacle in the way of Muslim Integration 
 
7.1 - Among Indian Muslims there is a conspicuous absence of unbiased self-critical and rational individuals who can discuss this problem fruitfully. This is not entirely the fault of individual Indian Muslims. The capacity for self-criticism, the courage to face facts, the ability to lead the community with a critical awareness of one's own virtues and shortcomings implies the existence of a level of sophistication in the intelligentsia. The Muslim intelligentsia in India lacks these qualities. Their so called leaders are usually the leaders of a blind, orthodox, and ill-educated community. Such people do not discuss their own faults; rather they obdurately cling to their own view.  All of them put forward the same arguments in the same tone again and again.  When they find faults, the faults are invariably those of other people. They do not have the capacity to understand their own mistakes. (pg.86) 
 
Note: See 1.1 
 
7.2 - Some Hindu intellectuals have been consistently opposing the demand for a ban on cow slaughter.  It is not necessary here to discuss the grounds on which they oppose the demand, some oppose it because they believe that such a ban would be incompatible with the secular ideals of Indian society. (pg.87) 
 
Note : (Is this not being communal ?) 
 
7.3 - The unfortunate fact remains that not a single intellectual from among the number Muslims who style themselves as intellectuals had the courage to speak out openly on this occasion'. (pg.88) 
  
 
Chapter VI -The case of the missing hair at Hazratbal. 
 
7.4 - I must frankly state that there is a kind of Hindu who is always terrified when he thinks of Muslims. (pg.88) 
 
7.5 - The real obstacle in the way of secular integration is the vast gulf that separates the intelligentsia of the two communities. An intellectual minority always helps to shape the rest of the society on proper lines. (pg.89) 
 
7.6 - As long as such a vital difference exists between the mental make-ups of the two communities, Hindu-Muslim tensions are not likely to abate. I think this difference between the two communities is in the nature of a disparity of cultural levels. (pg.90) 
 
Note : (And yet we talk about the cultural contribution of Islam). 
 
7.7 - As modern men, we do not rely on religion for deriving our concept of social conscience.  Our social conscience is inherent in the democratic system of government we have accepted. (pg.93) 
 
Muslim opposition to secular Integration: Nature, Causes and Remedies 
 
7.8 - Secularism in India, although embodied in the Constitution, is as yet only an aspiration. It has not yet permitted our social life. (pg.94) 
 
7.9 - Muslims, who are today leaders of political parties such as the Right Communist but like Mr.Mohammed Illiyar of West Bengal are proven communalists, must be exposed. (pg.97) 
  
 
8 - Chapter VIII - Humanistic Modernism the only solution 
 
8.1 - (The orthodox Hindu) stages an agitation against the proposed removal of the word 'Hindu' from Benares University, and secures the support of the Muslim League. He would start an agitation for a ban on cow slaughter and Muslim communalists would support even that. For when they support him on such issues, both of them can establish a united front against Mr.Chagla, and then the Muslim communalist would also be left free to stage nationwide agitations for re-display of the prophet's lost hair.  He can bully critics of the Prophet.  In short he 
will always turn Hindu revivalism to his own benefit. (pg. 104) 
 
9 - Chapter IX - Indian Muslims at the Crossroad 
 
9.1 - One line of thinking was that as Muslims were denied recognition as a political entity enjoying parity with the majority, they were left with no alternative to establishing a state of their own.  Others thought that in a united India Muslims all over the subcontinent were bound to remain perpetually at the mercy of the Hindu community. (pg.111) 
 
9.2 - Muslims who were to remain in India were called upon to sacrifice their security and welfare to ensure a glorious future for fellow Muslims who would constitute the majority in Pakistan. (pg.111) 
 
9.3 - Whenever Muslims are in a majority they have refused to recognise the equal rights of non-Muslim minorities and where they are in a minority they have been generally reluctant to regard themselves as part and parcel of a non-religious nation. The recent revolts of Muslims in Philippines, Thailand and Ethiopia are merely expressions of the Muslim unwillingness to participate in a common social order on equal terms with others and this unwillingness is rooted in a long and deeply entrenched historical and religious tradition. (pg. 116) 
 
Note : See 10.2 
 
9.4 - Even educated Muslims whose religious faith is often skin-deep rarely rise to a broad, humanist outlook. This sensitivity to human suffering as human suffering is as yet feeble. (pg.119) 
 
9.5 - Surely the actual practice of the persons following a religion provides a much more reliable guide to its values than their professions. (pg.120) 
 
9.6 - Gandhiji never asserted that Hindus were, as a matter of fact, tolerant. He only insisted that they should cultivate tolerance. (pg.120) Note: Tolerance in the religious context means that there are many ways to reach heaven and each person is free to choose the one that is most suitable for himself. 
 
9.7 - If Muslims do not have the courage to confront these historical forces and the religious and social traditions which create and sustain them, they will be able to do very little to help their society to extricate itself from its present predicament. (pg-1 23) 
  
 
10 - Chapter X - Failure of a Mission ? 
 
10.1 - That is why also violence in India immediately calls forth condemnation by organised public opinion. (pg. 1 29) 
 
10.2 - The difference between the two communities does not end here.  Wherever Muslims are in a majority, they have denied equal citizenship to non-Muslims. (pg.130) 
 
Note: See 9.3 
 
10.3 - The fact that no major Hindu-Muslim riot has taken place in Pakistan after 1964 does not mean that the Muslims of Pakistan suddenly became secular after that years holocaust. Steady persecution of the Hindus and even of Muslims from what now is India has been going without allowing the facts to come out. Hindus are not now allowed to migrate to India without forfeiting their property to the Government. Nor are they allowed to sell their property except with the prior permission of the Government. (pg. 131) 
  
 
11 - Chapter XI - The Meaning of Bangla Desh 
 
11.1 - While attempting to create a nation of their own the Muslims only achieved their own political, social and cultural disintegration. (pg. 138) 
 
11.2 - A nation is created with a purpose; Its existence cannot be taken for granted in the absence of a secular purpose shared by its constituents. The rulers of Pakistan never recognised this.  They took for granted the political unity, of all Muslims qua Muslims. (pg.139) 
 
11.3 - Were Pakistan to disintegrate and become weaker, Indian would have no need to support the Arabs unconditionally in their fight against Israel. (pg.147) 
 
11.4 - The greatest beneficiary of the disintegration of Pakistan would be India, and no Muslim nation would accept this with equanimity. (pg. 147) 
 
11.5 - Nehru's own views were sharply different from the two trends among the Hindus described above. He accepted as relevant India's historical but not its religious traditions. (pg.150) 
  
  
 
HAMID DALWAI 
 
A veteran journalist and provocative publicist, Hamid Dalwai has long crusaded for a secular outlook among the new generation of Indian Muslims. 
  
 
"...this young Muslim who has chosen 
to take his own religion to task for 
obstructing the way to successful 
secularism in India, has certain 
positive points which may not be 
ignored.  One has to applaud the courage..." 
 
--Hindustan Standard, Calcutta