Course: Ideological Foundations of Pakistan (537)
Semester: Spring 2017
Level: M. Sc (Pak Studies)
ASSIGNMENT No. 1
Q. 1 Muslim rulers made concerted efforts to create harmony and an environment of understanding with their Hindu subjects. Elaborate in detail.
The Muslims of India, over 120 million, constitute about 12 percent of the total population and are the second largest religious community in the country. They are about 10 percent of the total Muslim population of the world and are nearly one third of the total Muslim minority population in the world. India has the largest concentration of the Muslims outside the member countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the second largest (after Indonesia) in the world.
The Muslim immigrants, mostly Arabs, Turks, Afghans and Mughals, made the sub-continent their own homeland. Scattered in different cities, towns and villages, they became indistinguishable from the original inhabitants of India. The Muslim scholars and religious leaders propagated Islam among the original inhabitants and a large number of them converted to Islam. The vast majority of the present-day Indian Muslims are the descendants of these converts. It is therefore not correct to say that Indian Muslims are not Indian but outsiders as it is wrong to say that they are all descendants of the converted Muslims. As far as the question of Indian origin is concerned, there is no difference between the descendants of the Aryan invaders (Brahmins, Kshatryas, Vaishyas) and the offsprings of the Muslim immigrants. In fact, the Muslim community of India, with its major segment having indigenous Indian origin, is more Indian than the descendants of the Aryan immigrants who had their origin somewhere in the Central Asia.
The Muslim Rule
The invasion of Sind by Muhammad Ibn Qasim al-Thaqafi in 713 A.D. was precipitated by the failure of Dahir, the ruler of Sind, to punish the pirates who had interfered with Muslim shipping near the coast of his province. The Muslim kings and emperors who ruled over India for over one thousand years were not colonial rulers. Those who had gone there from other countries made the sub-continent their own home. They did not make any discrimination between religious communities but gave equal opportunity and ensured social justice to all irrespective of their religious affinity. In fact, the Muslim rulers-the Khaljis, the Lodis, the Syeds and the Mughals- kept the indigenous Muslims, who constituted the bulk of Indian Muslims, at a safe distance from the apparatus of power. In the words of Iqbal Ansari, “It is the greatest travesty of facts to call this period of dynastic rule of Persian and Turkish origin as Muslim rule. Islam did make its presence felt during this period on Indian social and cultural life. But Islam did not play a dominant role in statecraft. The conquest of India by Islam was again not on the agenda of the Muslim kings. Islam and its promotion was not even a major factor in state policies.” This is well-established by the fact that although Delhi remained the capital of Muslim rulers for 647 years (1211-1858 A.D.), the Muslims were a small minority there throughout the period. According to the 1971 census, the Muslims of Delhi constituted only 7.8 percent of the total population of the city. The bulk of the indigenous converted Muslims- artisans, craftsmen, and tillers- did not enjoy any privilege under the system of Muslim rule. Rather high caste groups from among Hindus enjoyed greater privileges under the patronage of the Muslim monarchies. In many cases, the most important jobs like those of ministers and chiefs of army were given to non-Muslims, especially Hindus.
During Muslim rule, there was complete social peace and harmony all over the country. This is aptly proved by the fact that history fails to produce even a single instance of communal disturbance which took place during the period of Muslim rule. Communal disturbance is a phenomenon which came to be known in the sub-continent only during the British rule. This menace has emanated from the ‘divide and rule’ policy of the British colonial power.
The British Rule
The process of colonization of India by the British colonial power began in 1757 AD. with the downfall of Siraj-ud-Dowla, the ruler of Bengal. This was the outcome of a staged drama, known as the Battle of Plassey, where the main actors were the British East India Company, a group of Hindu aristocracy and their stooge, named, Mir Ja’far (commander-in-chief of the government army). The British emperor took up the reign of the sub-continent in 1858 AD. following the abortive revolution of 1857 led by the Muslims against the colonial forces. The new colonial power regarded the Muslims as a potential threat to their political power as it were the. Muslims from whom they had snatched the power. The Muslims, naturally, were hostile to the alien rule and showed their apathy to the new administration. The Hindus, on the other hand, welcomed the new masters, began flirting with them and reoriented themselves with the blessing and sympathy of the ruling class.
From the very beginning therefore the foreign rulers adopted a discriminatory policy, hostile towards the Muslims and sympathetic towards the Hindus. The privileges earlier enjoyed by the Muslims in terms of property rights, etc., were withdrawn, government jobs were denied to them and trade facilities were made restricted for them. They remained backward also in education as they did not like to accept the new education system to the detriment of the traditional one. All these factors combined together relegated them to a lower cadre in the new social order of the country. The pioneer role played by the Muslims in the struggles waged from time to time against the colonial rule made the government more and more anti-Muslim.
The Hindus, especially the Brahmins, readily cooperated with the new rulers and did not fail to seize any opportunity to upgrade their status in every sphere of life. It did not take much time for them to become dominant in various spheres of the society. The spread of education gradually made a new renaissance movement started in the Hindu community who had made a lot of progress in the areas of education, trade and commerce. When the Muslims realized that their noncooperation with the new administration was only adding to their miseries and backwardness, it was too late and they were much behind the conscious Hindu community.
As a part of their ‘divide and rule’ policy, the colonial power tried to instill communal feelings among the two major communities, Hindus and Muslims. As a result of this, it did not take much time for parochialism and anti-Muslim feelings to overtake the Hindu leaders. Gradually, they became so communal in their attitude and behavior that it became clear to the Muslim leadership that in a united independent India dominated by Hindu majority, the religion and culture of the Muslims would be in jeopardy and socially and economically they would be relegated to a level of second-class citizens. This feeling among the Muslims led to the demand for separate independent states for Muslims constituting the areas where they were in majority. However, a section of Muslim leaders were against the partition of the sub-continent, may be, keeping In view the fate of the Muslims who would remain within Indian territory. Among them was a towering figure like Moulana Abul Kalam Azad who was among the top-ranking leaders of the Congress Party. Another eminent Muslim scholar and freedomfighter, Moulana Husain Ahmad Madani, the then President of Jami’at Ulama Hind, was among them. They decided to throw the lots of the Muslims with the Hindus expecting that in course of time sanity and reason would prevail upon the latter. In apprehension of the far-reaching consequences of the partition of the sub-continent, Moulana Azad put forward his formula of federated India, but it was outrightly rejected by Jawaharlal Nehru (leader of the Indian Congress), although it was acceptable to Muhammad Au Jinnah (leader of the Muslim League).
Q. 2 What are the major principles of democracy prevalent in the Western countries? How did British system of representative government convert the Muslims into a minority?
Democracy (“rule by the people” when translated from its Greek meaning) is seen as one of the ultimate ideals that modern civilizations strive to create, or preserve. Democracy as a system of governance is supposed to allow extensive representation and inclusiveness of as many people and views as possible to feed into the functioning of a fair and just society. Democratic principles run in line with the ideals of universal freedoms such as the right to free speech.
Importantly, democracy supposedly serves to check unaccountable power and manipulation by the few at the expense of the many, because fundamentally democracy is seen as a form of governance by the people, for the people. This is often implemented through elected representatives, which therefore requires free, transparent, and fair elections, in order to achieve legitimacy.
The ideals of democracy are so appealing to citizens around the world, that many have sacrificed their livelihoods, even their lives, to fight for it. Indeed, our era of “civilization” is characterized as much by war and conflict as it is by peace and democracy. The twentieth century alone has often been called “the century of war.”
In a way, the amount of propaganda and repression some non-democratic states set up against their own people is a testament to the people’s desire for more open and democratic forms of government. That is, the more people are perceived to want it, the more extreme a non-democratic state apparatus has to be to hold on to power.
However, even in established democracies, there are pressures that threaten various democratic foundations. A democratic system’s openness also allows it to attract those with vested interests to use the democratic process as a means to attain power and influence, even if they do not hold democratic principles dear. This may also signal a weakness in the way some democracies are set up. In principle, there may be various ways to address this, but in reality once power is attained by those who are not genuinely support democracy, rarely is it easily given up.
How did British system of representative government convert the Muslims into a minority?
Muslim integration is one of the most contentious issues in the immigration debate in Europe, and one that gets right to the heart of public anxieties about immigration. European countries are grappling with ways to accommodate Muslim minorities while upholding national values. Getting the balance right has not been easy. Some policies have drawn public support in some quarters but been criticized elsewhere as an attack on Islam, such as France’s ban on the burqa and other face-covering headwear, and Switzerland’s referendum banning the construction of new mosque minarets. Other policies have sought to smooth tensions between native-born and Muslim communities, such as the introduction of Muslim councils to help resolve conflicts over cultural practices.
While Islamic-Western tensions have shaped world news since the September 11, 2001 attacks, in Europe a series of flash points raised broader questions about European immigration and integration policies. In the Netherlands, the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim radical catalyzed debate about the limits of toleration. In Denmark, the unrest that followed the publication of satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad was seen as threatening free speech. And several countries, including the United Kingdom, were forced to re-evaluate relations with their Muslim populations after a series of terrorist attacks were perpetrated by “homegrown” fundamentalists.
The Muslim population in Europe is relatively new, with Muslims present in substantial numbers in Western Europe only since the labor migration of the 1950s and 1960s, when Turks settled in Germany and elsewhere, and migrants from former colonies moved to France and the United Kingdom. Initially arriving as guestworkers, the Muslim population swelled as a result of family reunification over time. It continues to grow, primarily due to immigration and family reunification, but also due to a high birth rate.
Because Muslims are a highly visible community in Europe, the rapid pace of this demographic change has exacerbated public anxieties about how immigration has altered local communities. Fears about Muslim minorities as a security threat, their perceived unwillingness to integrate, and their socioeconomic exclusion have become interwoven in public discourse—and have propelled European governments to develop a diverse and sometimes highly controversial set of policies toward Muslims as a religious minority group.
This article explores the sources of public anxiety toward Muslims in Western Europe and the array of integration policies that countries in the region have adopted in recent years. Although battles have been fought over religious (halal) food-preparation practices, religious headwear, and mosque-building, Islam is now part of the architecture of the state. Governments invest in mosque-state relations, and many are seeking to cultivate a “national” Islam by supporting religious education in schools or training for imams. Nonetheless, taking public anxieties—and their root causes—seriously while protecting religious freedoms remains a perennial challenge.
Public Anxieties about Muslim Integration
Large-scale and diverse immigration patterns over the last four decades in Europe have contributed to rapid social change. While estimates of the Muslim population are notoriously unreliable (because countries often omit religion from their census questions), research suggests they are one of the fastest-growing groups in Western Europe. Fewer than 4 million Muslims lived in Western Europe in 1990; by 2010, this figure had nearly tripled to 11.3 million, according to The Future of the Global Muslim Population by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Pew estimates that by 2030, Muslims will number 16.4 million or around 9 percent of the projected population.
The complaint that Muslims are unwilling or unable to embrace the national identity and values of their country of residence is a common refrain. Critics describe areas with a high concentration of Muslims and segregated schools and shops as parallel societies, and express concerns about the overreach of foreign governments, for example in providing imams or funding for mosques. For some members of the public, the proliferation of visible symbols of identity such as religious clothing or mosque minarets reinforces a sense of difference.
In a 2011 study by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, a majority of respondents in Germany (72 percent), Spain (69 percent), France (54 percent), and the United Kingdom (52 percent) thought that Muslims in their country wanted to be distinct from mainstream society.
But this perception may not align with Muslims sentiments: a study by Open Society Foundations in 2010 found that over 60 percent of Muslims felt either very or fairly strongly that they belong to their country of residence.
Much of the anxiety has been intentionally stoked by the inflammatory rhetoric of a few high-profile figures, for example, the Dutch far-right politicians Pim Fortuyn (who headed up his own anti-Islam party before being assassinated) and Geert Wilders (leader of the Netherlands’ far-right Party for Freedom [PVV]). Media reports about violent practices such as forced marriage, female circumcision, and honor killings have also coated anti-Muslim sentiment with a film of legitimacy, disregarding how few and far between these cases are.
Marginalization, Unemployment, and Discrimination
These negative perceptions and anxieties are sometimes exacerbated by the perceived marginalization and social exclusion of some groups of Muslims. Commentators point to their higher-than-average unemployment rates—especially among women—and low education levels as cause for concern. Muslims are also significantly under-represented in high-profile and political positions in Europe. As with other immigrant communities, some Muslim groups are more likely to live in areas with high poverty and inadequate public services, raising concerns about ghettoization.
But a number of factors lie behind these trends. Since a substantial proportion of the Muslim population across Europe was recruited through the guestworker schemes of the 1950s and 1960s, many of these migrants were low-skilled and came from rural areas. This meant that they lacked the skills, education, and financial capital to thrive in their destination country. Another factor is that Muslims face considerable discrimination in the labor market, with numerous studies showing that people with Muslim-sounding names are less likely to get both shortlisted and hired.
Security fears have infused public discourse about Muslims in the years following the September 11 attacks. In Europe, the flurry of successful and foiled terrorist attacks including the Madrid train bombings, the London Underground bombings, and the attack on Glasgow Airport made counter-terrorism a central policy priority. The role of “homegrown” terrorists in these attacks encouraged governments to turn their attention inwards and scrutinize relations with their Muslim populations. These attacks were widely denounced by Muslim groups, but levels of anxiety about terrorism remain high: a 2011 Pew Global Attitudes survey found that 73 percent of respondents in Germany, 70 percent in Britain, and 68 percent in France are worried about Islamic extremism.
For many Europeans, these concerns unite to form an impression that Muslims have failed to integrate. This conclusion is simplistic, not least because Muslims are extremely diverse and the problems described above apply only to a small percentage. Almost all Muslims condemn terrorism, and strongly disassociate from radical or extremist groups and ideology. But these anxieties put pressure on policymakers to take action.