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Markaz event: Provoked, cajoled by clerics, Indian Muslims may get further ostracized

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed* 
I had penned articles under the same agonizing title in 2006, followed in 2007, in the spate of terrorist attacks by some wayward Muslim youth, who, totally misinterpreting Islam, took innocent lives either as murderers or as suicide bombers.
Today, in the aftermath of the Tablighi Jamat Markaz at Bangleywali Masjid, which allegedly led to the spreading of the coronavirus throughout India, has resulted in hanging my head in shame. What is more lamentable is, media is being accused of indulging in machinations for demonize Muslims.
In supplication to this is also the devilish creation of Tik-Toks, mocking at the coronavirus, imploring Muslims not to wear masks or maintain social distancing, and carry on congregations in the mosques. The situation is far more ghastly, as the terrorist attacks take fewer lives.
Perhaps there is a deliberate attempt to overlook and let down the state even in the wake of all the instructions of the Prime Minister and the government warning for the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and for maintaining social distancing and staying at home.
These and many more people are also violating the golden mantra given by the Prime Minister -- “Janata Curfew” (people’s curfew), “Lakshman Rekha” (following deadlines) and “Jaan hei to Janaan hei” (If there is life, everything can be done). In fact, the true tabligh should have been to get these three instructions be announced five times each day from the mosques.
The errant preaching of Maulana Saad catered to nothing in the name of God but misguiding his innocent and unassuming followers from all corners of the world. He knew well that he was doing it in the wake of the government clearly announcing on March 14, 16, 19 and 24 (twice by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 19 and 24) for social distancing via lockdown.
The biggest disservice that the Maulana has done unto Muslims is that he has incited his unassuming devotees against the state telling that the government has been trying to lock the mosques, besides it is creating divisions among Muslims by asking them to discontinue the congregations and that they avoid getting treated by non-Muslim doctors and that the best doctors would be from the Jamat only. It’s shocking that he has not spared even science and medicine besides telling them that it is better to die in mosques.
The Maulana has himself escaped under the guise of self-quarantine, leaving in the lurch his faithful followers who have been running from pillar to post, spreading the disease. No one knows which brand of Islam this Maulana has been propagating. It seems more talibanized rather than Sufi, ultimately providing the guilt edged opportunity to the Islam baiters.
The brand of Islam taught by the Maulana is not what was the hallmark of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) that was based on the teachings of the holy Quran and purely, the Sufi mannerisms to the extent that almost half of the world started following him. One fails to comprehend as to what kind of tabligh (preaching) these tablighis propagating.
When one sees an exuberant religious head like Maulana Saad of the Markaz (other counterparts of his in other faiths being no lesser), enjoying an extremely secured and lavish lifestyle, I am reminded of the true Islamic fakirs and saints like Khwaja Hazrat Nizamuddin, Ameer Khusro and Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti, who used to fast in the day and prayed the whole night while breaking the fast with sookhi roti (dried bread) and plain water. What a huge difference in lifestyle.
Sadly, the value system, something that must never change even after 1400 years, if compared to the times of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), has presently rattled down to a bottomless hell among Muslims who are ready to take or sacrifice life for the Prophet (PBUH) but wouldn’t follow him in letter and spirit.
God forbid, the Markaz Maulana, owing to his recalcitrant, stubborn and arrogant nature, would now be held responsible for large number of coronavirus deaths! Despite an FIR against him for so many days, he hasn’t been traced, nor surrendered – something that he must have done on the first day. 
When he stated that he wasn’t afraid of anything, why has he escaped for the fear of getting arrested? The congregations continued till March 28 and it took an Ajit Doval, the National Security adviser to ask Saad Kandhlawi to get the premises vacated for fear of huge number of Covid-19 cases. 
Muslims, already cajoled and beleaguered, treated as they were as the Congress vote bank, have been further distancing themselves from non-Muslims by aping their belligerent leaders, who use inflammable language, like Asaduddin Owaisi, when he stated in an Anajna Omkashyap Aaj Tak debate, “Hazrat Adam ne pehle sarzameen-e-Hind per qadam rakha tha isliye, yeh hamarey baap ka mulk hei!” (Prophet Adam [PBUH] first stepped in India and it belongs to our father!)
People of his ilk have given a completely lopsided picture of Islam, otherwise a completely relaxed, full of accommodation and latest creed. They have done huge damage by distancing the community from the national stream of assimilation and passing spiteful remarks against the government.
Owing the utter absence of leadership among Muslims, the community today has been at crossroads, there is the scare of the backlash from the Hindu community. In fact, it has just started: In certain channels, the viewers have begun asking questions like, “Why are Muslims anti-India?”, “Why do Muslims want to spread corona?” or “Why do Muslims hate Hindus?” Such mindset is not going to augur well neither for Hindus, nor for Muslims.
Firoz Bakht Ahmed
The fallout of the Muslim community’s blind support to the Jamat has been that the ever-friendly Hindus, more than 90 per cent of whom are truly secular and accommodating, have been feeling frustrated on account of what they perceive as recalcitrant behavior of Muslims.
In almost all walks of life, including the televised debates, the way most Muslim leaders and representatives set a negative narrative, might result in the non-Muslims completely slamming whatever the opened doors were there.
These bigots think that they have the right to dictate terms and espouse views on issues that extend from the public domain of Indian Muslims to the privacy of their bedroom. Stoke a controversy involving the community and the usual suspects start emerging from the murky and infested woodwork of the Muslim platforms. This might tear away in the social and secular fabric of India.
Though there might not be a Hindu backlash, no stone has been unturned in instigating the otherwise cool Hindu community. The direct example of the fallout of this disastrous situation is that a doctor in Rajasthan refused point blank to treat a terminally pregnant Muslim woman and told the couple to go to Jaipur.
Arabs called India Dar-ul-Harab (land ruled by non-Muslim), but Maulana Azad countered, calling giving it the title Dar-ul-Aman (land of peace)
Aghast and disgusted, the couple proceeded to Jaipur in an ambulance and on the way, the infant was delivered but died for want of medical treatment. The doctor on duty must not have refused treatment at any cost to a patient discriminating her on the basis of religion.
Yet another example of this has been when two non-Muslim women were standing at a Muslim fruit-seller’s cart selling apples and one of them wanted to buy these. The other advised her not to buy as the vendor might have spitted on them! How catastrophic can these things be, remains only to be imagined.
The present Markaz mishap has already created the social distancing, primarily between Hindus and Muslims, and the Prime Minister-supporters and haters. The unwarranted development smacks of the communalized ambience of 1947 pre- and post-Partition phase. Though India will not see another vivisection, there’s a parallel ghetto mindset that seems to have percolated among the Indian Muslims who do not want to adhere to the instructions of the Prime Minister.
There is a fear that the already beleaguered and cajoled Muslims may be ostracized in Indian society owing to being provoked by these clerics, whose positions are safe owing to the material wealth sans all values, amassed by them, but their unassuming brainwashed followers might face the backlash.
Nevertheless, the silver lining has been that the entire Muslim community is not like that. Large sections of Muslims are liberal and balanced, catering to the voice of sanity and reason. The problem has been that this liberal chunk has no courage to come up openly and call a spade a spade. They fear that the belligerent other half will turn their lives hell and would be seen as supporting the government or Modi.
In the present scenario of these testing and trying times, one is reminded of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the doyen of communal harmony and the first Minister of Education of India, who was a deeply religious Muslim leader and renowned Islamic theologian. 
To him communal harmony was the dearest. While people were fleeing to Pakistan in 1947, he had stated: “Jo chala gaya usey bhool ja/ Hind ko apni jannat bana!” (Forget the one who has left/ Let India be your home the best).
Arabs called India as Dar-ul-Harab (land ruled by non-Muslim), but Maulana Azad countered that giving India the title Dar-ul-Aman (land of peace). True, ours has been a land of mixed traditions. Ex-President of India, Dr Zakir Hussain, who too devoted his life to Jamia Millia, never once mounted a platform to espouse a communal cause, nor did Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.
Today, people of their standing are needed to counter inflammable propaganda. Their very presence and action would keep the majority community in check. Instead, small time leaders have adopted the view that the best defence is offence.
The need of the hour is that all the people, irrespective of their region, religion, political and other loyalties, rise ecumenically to the occasion to fight the deadly virus as there is no way out.
---
*Chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University and the grandnephew of Bharat Ratna Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

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