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Sat, 1 October 2022

Jinnah was right

Shielding Hindutva behind the shallow façade of secularism is dangerous for India’s minorities

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THE QUESTION OF CO-EXISTENCE when it comes to Hindu-Muslim relations continues to cumber the world almost eighty years after the British Raj was partitioned. Once a proponent for the unification of these two religions under a single Indian banner, it had dawned on Muhammad Iqbal in 1930 in his address to the Muslim League that perhaps this was not the case; the first instance of a philosophical form of the two-nation theory had been presented, only to be morphed into a tangible object due to the efforts of the ironically irreligious Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Jinnah, too, had originally been an avid advocate for homogenous relations between Hindus and Muslims; a feat for which the late Congress leader Gokhale had dubbed him “the best ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity.” A notable Congressman himself, Jinnah, too, had drastically changed his views on such an ideology, popularly pinpointed in his Lahore Resolution address; it was at this moment, as noted by Stanley Wolpert, that the man had transformed into the Pakistan advocate we know him for today. The enterprise of Congress had never been originally designed to specifically appeal to any religious audience; it simply existed en-masse as a testament to the millions of cries for independence which Indians had longed for. As Jinnah navigated his way through the avenues of the party, he had began seeing it differently, realising that the inevitability of Hindutva rising through the leagues of India had been an unavoidable aspect of India’s future. Today’s Indian citizens view themselves as the martyrs of an unjust partition; one that had been uncalled for, as Muslims and Hindus had lived in harmony for centuries. An overarching question must be taken into account when attempting to dissect this standpoint—did Jinnah champion the regressive ideal of co-existence being a sham, or was something much greater on the line?

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Try and place yourself in Jinnah’s shoes in 1940 with your declaration of the Lahore Resolution: you’d have been called a madman for envisioning such a trope. Now, fast-forward to the Muslim India which exists in the modern sense of the phrase. Muslims are barred from entering mosques, such as Aurangzeb’s Gyanvabi Mosque in Varanasi; a statutory declaration carried out by hardline Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, fueled with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh rhetoric, who fervently instill the fact that specific mosques around the Subcontinent were built atop demolished temples. The same BJP currently threatens mosque caretakers with legal action to let them excavate their places of worship; they even go so far as to attempt searches inside the Taj Mahal’s mausoleum to forage for Hindu idols; devout Hindu nationalist propone the falsehood that the tomb of the wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan was originally a temple called Tejo Mahalaya. The Muslim call to prayer which has echoed throughout the nooks and crevices of Indian avenues for centuries has been ordered by BJP politicians to be turned down or outright barred in areas such as Mumbai. The southern state of Karnataka has banned the hijab for women. Most recently, BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma spouted anti-Muslim rhetoric to her fan-following, specifically making derogatory comments towards the Prophet Muhammad. While countries have taken diplomatic action against India for not condemning such comments outright—such as Kuwait’s removal of Indian goods in various supermarkets—some Indian politicians have taken to defend Sharma’s comments, citing India’s ‘secular, liberal’ governing style as a means of freedom for inciting hatred. It is high time for the Pakistani government to take matters into its own hands and prove, on an international level, that extreme Hindutva is a dangerous aspect for a proto-superpower to harness in the twenty-first century. Normalising hate sentiments towards Indian Muslims is no way to progress. Rising Hindutva makes this historically diverse nation a toxic wasteland for all minority groups, whether they be Sikh, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or, indeed, Muslim. Jinnah was right. India isn’t India; it hasn’t been since August 15th, 1947. This is Hindustan. So much for trying to remain equidistant from religion.

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