Root Cause Problems for Muslims in South Asia

A Great post by my facebook friend Iqbal Latif that I have decided to share on my blog in its entirety.

The root cause of Muslim backwardness in Indian subcontinent and the sad story of Sir Syed !

There is no magic wand, it has to start somewhere, inequities of Indian Muslims were not spearheaded by RSS/BJP, it has a long history. Why Muslims remained backward….

I wrote this in 23 December 2006 – The enemy is within please.

The root cause of Muslim backwardness in Indian subcontinent..

Story of Sir Syed and what did we do to him!! Sad and disgraceful.

It is not RSS/BJP please, it is the Fatwas of Maulana Qasim Nanotvi and Maulana Yaqoob of Deoband that we are in this mess please,nothing happens over night, the clergy planned meticulously over hundred of years for this clamity to strike, and like mindless repetitive parrots our experts hold either Modi nowadays or at best Ziaul Haq or Saudis responsible, no it is Deoband and Bareli as Sir Syed puts it was ‘the terrifying call of Kanpur, the lyrical satire of Lucknow, the idle tattle of Agra and Allahabad, the fatwas of Rampur and Bareilly and the snide remarks of holy men of Delhi…’

Great nations are not made overnight, every Muslim child that remains uneducated is the responsibility of those Draconian fatwas; what we shall sow is what we shall reap, we had sown venom and hate.

Maulvi Ali Bakhsh did the needful and travelled to Mecca and Medina on the pretext of pilgrimage and secured a fatwa calling for the beheading of Sir Syed if he repented not and persisted with his plan to establish the college.

The problem of Muslim backwardness and under-representation in public services is a fact but this is not a problem of independent India. In 1878 Sir Syed had said that “Muslims had derived least benefit from European sciences and literature” and in 1882 appearing before the Education Commission of the Central Legislative Council presented voluminous evidence to show almost negligible Muslim presence among the graduates of Calcutta University.

According to his memo, there was no Muslim among 6 Doctors of Law and 4 Honors in Law. Among the Bachelors and Licentiates of Law there were 8 out of 705 and 5 out 235 respectively. Likewise in Engineering and Medicine there was not a single Muslim graduate. In MA there were 5 Muslims out of 326 and in BA there were only 30 out of 1343. The memo pointed out that based on the population covered by Calcutta University the number of Muslim graduates should have been 1262 whereas they actually were just 57.

On the basis of these figures, Sir Syed pleaded not for job reservation but government help in initiating programs for their educational betterment. It is worth noting that this memorandum was presented just 24 years after the formal collapse of uninterrupted Muslim rule for almost 800 years.

Before presenting these figures to the commission it was pointed out that “in 1824 when Government decided to start a Sanskrit College in Calcutta, the Hindu leaders met under the leadership of Raja Ram Mohan Roy and demanded that they did not want Sanskrit College to be established by Government but wanted that it should start English colleges as far as possible. On the other hand in 1835, after 11 years when the Mohammedans came to know that Government intends to start English teaching in all schools, they submitted an application signed by 8000 Moulvis of Calcutta to stop it. Muslims vehemently opposed the new system of education believing that the philosophy and logic taught in English were at variance with the tenets of Islam. They looked upon the study of English as little less than embracing of Christianity.”

Later at the time of starting Committee for diffusion of knowledge among Muslims Sir Syed said: “it was a matter of deep regret that Muslims considered their religion which was so great and enlightened, weak enough to be endangered by the study of western literature and science.”

Sir Syed described his vision of the institution he proposed to establish in an article written sometime in 1872 and reprinted in the Aligarh Institute Gazette of April 5, 1911:

“I may appear to be dreaming and talking like Shaikh Chilli, but we aim to turn this M.A.O. College into a University similar to that of Oxford or Cambridge. Like the churches of Oxford and Cambridge, there will be mosques attached to each College… The College will have a dispensary with a Doctor and a compounder, besides a Unani Hakim. It will be mandatory on boys in residence to join the congregational prayers (namaz) at all the five times. Students of other religions will be exempted from this religious observance. Muslim students will have a uniform consisting of a black alpaca, half-sleeved chugha and a red Fez cap… Bad and abusive words which boys generally pick up and get used to, will be strictly prohibited. Even such a word as a “liar” will be treated as an abuse to be prohibited. They will have food either on tables of European style or on chaukis in the manner of the Arabs… Smoking of cigarette or huqqa and the chewing of betels shall be strictly prohibited. No corporal punishment or any such punishment as is likely to injure a student’s self-respect will be permissible… It will be strictly enforced that Shia and Sunni boys shall not discuss their religious differences in the College or in the boarding house. At present, it is like a day dream. I pray to God that this dream may come true.”

What happened after that call:

Maulana Hali in his biography of Sir Syed says that 60 maulvis and alims had signed fatwas accusing Sir Syed of disbelief and apostasy. Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan in his biography Hayat-i Jawaid by Maulana Hali, the storm of condemnation and takfir against Sir Sayyid is fully detailed.

“Sir Sayyid was called an atheist, irreligious, Christian, nature-worshipper, anti-Christ, and many other things. Fatwas that he was a kafir were prepared, and signatures of Maulavis of every town and city were obtained. Even those who remained silent against Sir Sayyid as regards takfir, were called kafir.” (p. 623)

“All the Muslim sects in India, be they Sunni or Shiah, conformist or non-conformist, the seals and signatures of the known and unknown Ulama and priests of all these are on these fatwas.” (p. 627)

A fatwa was obtained from Makka, bearing the seals of Muftis of all the four schools, in which it was written:

“This man is a heretic, or he was inclined to unbelief (kufr) from Islamic law in some aspect. … If he repents before he is arrested, and turns away from his misguided views, and there are clear signs of repentance from him, then he should not be killed. Otherwise, it is obligatory to kill him for the sake of the faith.” (p. 633)

Maulana Qasim Nanotvi and Maulana Yaqoob of Deoband issued fatwas against Aligarh, actually Sir Syed offered not to have any role in matters of religious instruction in the college and invited leading clerics to prepare the syllabus, they shot down the proposal saying they cannot associate with an institution which will have Shia students on the campus.

Sir Syed was targeted when he shared food with the British and defended his action in a signed article. The opposition became fierce during his stay in London.

Sir Syed responded through a memorandum saying: ”The terrifying call of Kanpur, the lyrical satire of Lucknow, the idle tattle of Agra and Allahabad, the fatwas of Rampur and Bareilly and the snide remarks of holy men of Delhi grieve me not. My heart is overflowing with the idea of welfare of my people and there is no room in it for any anger or rancour.”

With thanks to Iqbal Latif for this great write up. Iqbal tweets on@ilatif

Mohammed Abbasi

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