Being Muslim will be tougher after 16 May: Historian Mushirul Hasan
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New Delhi: Being a Muslim in India will become more difficult after 16 May, the day the Lok Sabha election results will be declared, historian Mushirul Hasan said.
The context for the remark apparently are the opinion polls that have shown the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the front-runner in the elections.
“We now have reached a stage when being a Muslim is going to be more difficult, particularly after 16 May,” said Hasan, a former vice chancellor of the Jamia Millia Islamia university.
Hasan was speaking at the release of Being Muslim in South Asia, a 351-page collection of 15 essays, edited by Robin Jeffrey, visiting research professor at Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore, and Ronojoy Sen, a senior research fellow at ISAS.
Instead of a stereotypical representation of Muslims and Islam, the book has tried to concentrate on how Muslims live their lives in South Asia and how they interact with other communities.
“Produce 500 books of this kind but I assure you it’s not going to be accepted. Muslims have been seen in a certain way,” Hasan said. “The mindset is such that such a book is not going to interest people because Islam is what Islam is, Muslims are what Muslims are and they can never be seen as active participants in local culture. They can never be seen as different from the larger pan-Islamic community.”
Releasing the book, vice-president Mohammad Hamid Ansari said, “There was a period when the religion of Islam was synonymous with being an Arab. The statistical reality is 70% of those who profess to be Muslims are not Arabs. So, try to judge what a Muslim is or is not has to be based on factual data.”
“In almost six centuries of colonial domination, the impact has been political, psychological and of course cultural but that impact had long term consequences. There was the resentment, resistance to foreign domination. And in a certain way, perhaps a negative way, it also conditioned those reactions, not all of them were necessarily positive,” Ansari said. “This book is a useful contribution (to the debate).”