Stories about Indian Muslims

Thank you, Modi, for proving that partition saved the subcontinent’s Muslims from extinction

Dear Mr Narendra Modi, I was not at all surprised that your party, Bharatiya Janata Party (the BJP), swept the recent Uttar Pradesh (UP) elections. You ran your campaign on an anti-Muslim platform, you convinced most of the UP Hindus that Muslims in their state are Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agents and that Muslims would not vote for your party, therefore they voted en masse for BJP. In fact, to appear anti-Muslim, you did not field a single Muslim candidate despite the notion that there are more than 40 million Muslims in UP! So, in spite of the Muslim population of UP being over 20% of the total population, the ...

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The Modi brand is here to stay

The man is bigger than his party. This is the crux of the results of five assembly elections in India, especially the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) that sends 80 MPs to Parliament. After these polls, there is no denying that Narendra Modi’s popularity overshadows not only the opposition but also his own party, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). There was similar support for our first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, as was there for his daughter Indira Gandhi during her regime. Modi is no Nehru and is also quite different from Indira; the background of the ‘chaiwala’ has ...

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An open letter to AJK Chief Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Zia

Respected AJK Chief Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Zia, According to newspaper reports, you have announced that the annual salary increments of those working in your court will be based on “how regularly they offer their prayers”. You also declared that you would lead some of the prayers yourself, ostensibly to observe which of the court’s officers offer prayers and to secretly check whether they are complying with your order or not. Your honour, do you realise that your order violates Islam’s injunction which clearly states that there ‘should be no compulsion in Islam’ (Surah Baqarah, verse 256)? Since those who do not ...

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Why has Pakistan not had a census in 18 years?

Now that the country will have a census after 18 years, doubts are already being expressed about the accuracy of the data that will be collected. Farooq Sattar, MNA and former Karachi mayor, says that the census should not be influenced by the landlords as the census commission is very close to the landlords and there should be no injustice with the people living in Sindh’s urban areas. Mir Hasil Bizenjo, the chief of the National Party and the incumbent federal minister for ports and shipping, has said that the census should be put off in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) till the four million Afghan refugees return to Afghanistan ...

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Just another open letter to male rights activists

I regret commencing my response to Ms Umnia Shahid’s article in a manner that sounds as bitter and sardonic as the original, but I beg your pardon and hope that you bear with me. I want to acknowledge your efforts on behalf of my brethren. Really, I do. Your concern for the welfare of men like me is appreciated, but your version of male rights activism has validated my stance regarding the immense importance of ‘modern’ feminism. Ideally, I shouldn’t be writing this letter at all. I claim no authority over the subject of women’s issues, and this response may almost certainly have been better ...

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Is it okay if someone doesn’t want to say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ in India?

Humans have been organising themselves in some sort of collective national structure since time immemorial. As much as many intellectuals, including Rabindranath Tagore, may argue that nationalism is a Western construct which doesn’t apply to India, or advocate the concept of a wider community of humanity, the value of the nation in the lives of its people cannot be trivialised. While these intellectual ideals are definitely worth pursuing, it is critical to factor in the harsh reality of human nature that has determined the history of humanity and shaped political boundaries. Weak states and kingdoms have been wiped out and untold sufferings have ...

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The problem with Vande Mataram and Hindu nationalism

There is a constant debate of whether Hindutva nationalism has mainstreamed in India or does it remain confined to the right-wing constituencies. Whatever may be the case, the Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen MLA Waris Pathan’s suspension, through a unanimous nod, by the Maharashtra Assembly is an indication that there is a thin line between Hindutva nationalism and Indian nationalism. For now, Pathan remains suspended for the entire budget session until April 17, 2016; for exercising his right to not to speak certain things that he didn’t want to say, as guaranteed by the Indian constitution. In the double irony – which seems to have become a hallmark ...

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Why should Indian-Muslims get concessions that the Hindu majority does not?

Most Hindus believe that India’s efforts, after partition, to integrate Muslims have always hinged on policies excessively and unduly unfair to Hindus. To many, this is done by extracting from India’s Hindu majority extraordinary concessions and accommodation which would be absolutely unacceptable in any other part of the world. These efforts have always pivoted on the construct of the Muslim as a special citizen. This can been seen in every policy matter ranging from the double standards propping the unconscionably discriminatory Article 370 in Kashmir to the government funding of madrassahs and the stipends given to imams and mullahs (as opposed to ...

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We need to stop exaggerating minority victimhood in India and Pakistan

I had written in an article on this very forum some time back that many Indians and Pakistanis validate their deep-rooted nationalist prejudices by exaggerating the problems of the religious minorities on the other side of the border. As an Indian, I have written articles informing my fellow countrymen that Pakistan has had a Christian Chief Justice, Justice Cornelius, and he remains one of their most respected judges till date, and the tiny Zoroastrian community in Pakistan, like its Indian counterpart, has produced many remarkable personalities, including prominent judges. These include Justice Dorab Patel, who has also served as chief justice, and Justice Rustam S Sidhwa who ...

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Meet Maryam, India’s Malala

Recently, a 12-year-old Indian Muslim girl named Maryam won a contest by answering all the questions asked in the Bhagwad Gita. This is the first time in India’s history that a Muslim girl has broken such a record. The news of the young Muslim girl went viral on social networking portals and sparked numerous debates on news channel. While some highlighted the politics behind it, others praised the young girl’s efforts. Maryam has set a fine example for people who divide masses using religious bigotry. India boasts of diversity, given the existence of various religions, but within its internal system, people are bifurcated on the ...

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