Monday, May 27, 2024

Dalit Muslims take up cudgels: No representation in making of Ayodhya Mosque

Talk of caste discrimination in Muslim community in India. More than 90 per cent of whom are from “backward” castes and discriminated against by upper-caste Muslims brazenly. No less in the Ayodhya Mosque-in-the-making!

All-India Pashmanda Muslim Mahaj, the body which claims to represent 90 per cent of Indian Muslims, have now begun a protest against the Trust formed for construction of Ayodhya Mosque–awarded by the Supreme Court after it ruled in favour of Ram Temple last year. Their grouse is the latest instance of discrimination which upper-caste Muslims inflict on them regularly.

The powerful Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board, one of the foremost litigants in the Ram Janmabhoomi case, have nominated 15 members in the Indo-Islamic cultural foundation trust which doesn’t include Iqbal Ansari, one name which should’ve been an automatic starter in the list.

Iqbal happens to be the son of Hashim Ansari who was the oldest litigant from the Muslims side but was a backward (Pashmanda) Muslim and died three years before the verdict in 2016. It is believed Hashim is facing the brunt of this discrimination since he had accepted the Supreme Court judgment as an arbiter in the Ram Janmabhoomi case, upholding the Indian Constitution. Apparently, it hasn’t gone down well with the Upper-caste led Sunni Board.

The Muslims in India practice a strict hierarchical caste system though little is known so to average Indians, no doubt because the prepaid media of ours ensures the reality never reaches them. The Left-Liberals of the country, and the mainstream English media, do a cover-up job which would make a Gestapo proud.

One of the significant features of this caste-system is untouchability.  Research on untouchability amongst Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, conducted by the Economic and Political Weekly concluded so: “The precarious conditions of Dalit Muslims…is further complicated by the position taken by the conservative elite of their own community. Every attempt of this marginalized group for recognition is countered by conservative Muslims citing certain Quranic verses. “

So, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMLB), the all-powerful Muslim body of India, has 200 members but the representation of Pashmanda Muslims is negligible. Other powerful Muslim bodies are also dominated by Ashraf Muslims (upper caste Muslims) and again there is little representation of Pashmanda Muslims.

Upper Caste Muslims, which constitute of Ulema, Imam etc, control the narrative of Muslims in India by invoking Quran and its interpretation and grow further powerful since political parties make a beeline for their support. It’s doesn’t help Backward Muslims. The most striking example was one of Shah Bano and the verdict in her favour by Supreme Court which was overturned by the then prime minister of Congress, Rajiv Gandhi, to appease the upper-caste-dominated AIMLB. In essence, Congress indulges in wooing 10 per cent Muslims though it claims to be the champion of all in India.

Islam in India is vastly different from one of Arabic world. Here most Muslims could trace their ancestors to Hindu origin and some of their customs are uncannily Hindu too. Many communities among Muslims are known for their castes such as Khoja Muslims, Memon Muslims etc.

Thus, those who shed copious tears on caste discrimination among Hindus and many who have a flourishing career by becoming academicians on the subject—you could find them aplenty in Oped pages of Indian Express as some vice-chancellor of some university or some author—would never write on caste discrimination among Muslims. You can’t have a bigger proof than the present instance where Backward Muslims are protesting their omission from the trust which has the honour of making the Ayodhya Mosque.

Supreme Court had awarded 5-acre of land to the Sunni Waqf Board to construct a mosque for prayers as the Babri Masjid was demolished by karsevaks in 1992.  

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