Opinion » Lead

Updated: February 4, 2012 00:22 IST

Growing irrelevance of the Indian ayatollah

Praveen Swami
Comment (43)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
The Hindu

Helped by the government, Deoband's clerics won the battle to silence Salman Rushdie — but their armies are in inglorious retreat.

Late in the ninth century CE, the great physician, chemist and philosopher, Muhammad ibn Zakaria al-Razi, launched a scathing attack on the pietist ideological foundations of the world he lived in.

“All men being by their nature equal,” he argued in his magnum opus, Fi Nekdh al-Adyan, or Refutation of Revealed Religions, “the prophets cannot claim any intellectual or spiritual superiority. The miracles of the prophets are impostures or belong to the domain of pious legend.”

The theist's counter-argument, he said, was violence: “asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them”.

Last month's silencing of Salman Rushdie, preceded and followed as it was by a succession of faith-inspired attacks on free speech, tempts one to believe little has changed in a thousand years.

That isn't true. The organisers of the Jaipur Literature Festival barred a videoconference with Mr. Rushdie, fearing it would provoke violence — but not one bus was burned or a stone thrown when he went on national television that very night. Mr. Rushdie's name hasn't even figured in campaigning in Uttar Pradesh. Had it not been for the helping hand of the Indian government, it is improbable the clerics of Deoband would have succeeded in Jaipur.

In more than two decades, the clerics have not staged a single mass-mobilisation of consequence. This fate and Deoband's contrasting success in Pakistan help illuminate the prospects of communal politics in India.

Founded in 1867 in an old mosque shaded by a pomegranate tree, Deoband represented the clerical class' effort to defend the faith after the fall of Mughal power. Like the new western-modelled institutions then springing up across India, it had a formal curriculum and rigorous examinations; less than half of the 20 subjects taught were exclusively religious. The Deoband graduate was to be equipped to deal with a modernising world, not just employment as a Maulvi.

Deoband's image

Deoband's image as the ideological vanguard of the modern jihadist movement has not a little to do with its dramatic growth in Pakistan's Punjab. In 1929, dissidents who broke away from the Congress-led Khilafat movement set up the Majlis-i-Ahrar-i-Islam. The Ahrar campaigned against Hindu and Sikh monarchs, and attacked what it characterised as Shi'a and Ahmadiyya heresies. In 1953, the Ahrar spearheaded a violent campaign seeking the sacking of Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Chaudhury Zafarullah Khan, an Ahmadi. The clerics won. Pakistan's 1956 Constitution decreed it would henceforth be called an “Islamic Republic,” and pass no laws repugnant to the Koran or the hadith. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto declared Islam the state religion, promised to bring secular laws into line with the Shariah, and introduced blasphemy laws which ejected the Ahmadiyya from Islam.

His successor, the military despot Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, expanded state patronage to Deobandi-jihadist groups. Key among those groups was the Harkat-ul-Ansar, co-founded in 1991 by Maulana Masud Azhar and Fazl-ur-Rahman Khalil. In 1999, following Azhar's release from an Indian prison in return for the lives of passengers on board an aircraft hijacked to Kandahar, he set up the Jaish-e-Muhammad — still one of the largest jihadist organisations.

From the Fathul Jawwad, Azhar's disquisition on four Koranic verses dealing with jihad — which, parenthetically, is perfectly legal read in India — it becomes evident that Deoband degenerated into a cult of death. “The light of the sun and water,” Azhar writes, “are essential for crops; otherwise they go waste. In the same way, the life of nations depends on martyrs. The national fields can be irrigated only with the blood of the best hearts and minds.”

The Jaish reaches out, as this language suggests, to an audience of small and landless peasants — but one which can see clearly what lies inside the barred gates of the capitalist earthly paradise. “As we fly in aeroplanes in this world,” he writes, “the souls of martyrs, entering into the bodies of green birds, fly in Paradise for recreation”.

“Having no alternative ideology like Marxism or Liberalism or even language-symbols which may challenge the feudal stranglehold,” social scientist Tahir Kamran has explained, “Deobandi militancy remains one of the few ways to counter it.”

In a magisterial 2009 essay, Pakistani scholar Ayesha Siddiqa illuminated the despair of the peasantry. “A few years ago,” Dr. Siddiqa wrote, “I met some young boys from my village near Bahawalpur who were preparing to go on jihad. They smirked politely when I asked them to close their eyes and imagine their future: ‘we can tell you without closing our eyes that we don't see anything'.”

Figures put together by the India DataLab at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, using National Sample Survey statistics, help understand why Deoband's fortunes in India continue to nosedive. The average Uttar Pradesh Muslim's monthly per-capita expenditure has risen from Rs.138.73 in 1987-1988 to Rs.824.15 in 2009-2010. Then, between two-thirds and four-fifths of Muslims were illiterate across Uttar Pradesh's five regions; now the figure has dropped to below half in all but one region, the southern upper Ganga plain. Less than one per cent of Muslims had a graduate degree in 1987-1988 except in the State's central region; the figures for 2009-2010 showed three-fold growth. The expansion in the number of Muslims who had graduated from middle-school was even stronger.

New middle class

Endemic discrimination remains a fact of life for Muslims: their average monthly per-capita expenditure and education levels, for example, remain below State average. Yet, the kernel of a new middle class, the vanguard of a future political leadership, is manifesting itself. Ever since 2010, the Deoband clerics have been reaching out to this class — aware that it, like them, is rejecting the peasant Barelvi traditions which the vast majority of Indian Muslims endorse.

This new middle class, though, is repelled by Deoband's reactionary posture — an attitude exemplified by the seminary's hostility to women entering the workplace. The seminary's online fatwa service illustrates how deep these attitudes run. May a successful private sector worker shave? No. May a student overseas work at a pork-using Pizza Hut to make pocket money? No. May families attend weddings with “dance, song, mixing of men and women, photography or videography”? No. In one fatwa, a believer seeking sanction for visiting a historic church is upbraided: “the good effect of one's Islam is that he gives up nonsense things”.

In an essay in the Milli Gazette, commentator Saad Shadi offered insight into the challenge that now confronts faith-centred politics. The war over Mr. Rushdie, he asserted, was “between the God-centred view of the universe with the theory of nihilism [sic.]”. Failure to effectively fight that battle, he noted, had made it “difficult for ordinary Muslims to make sense of striking the balance between tradition and modernity and they either become desacralised or withdraw into their shell.”

Declining hold of faith

Put simply, the fact is this: Deoband is dying because the social classes and conditions from which it drew its strength have changed. Deoband's clerics aren't the only faith-based political order to be facing this crisis: organised Hinduism has haemorrhaged followers to new-age gurus; Sikhism to a range of eclectic cults. Faiths, as a whole, exercise less of a hold on lives than political struggles for equity or, for that matter, a popular film and the veneration of consumer goods — facts which have helped secular politics sustain itself and grow.

Ever since the barbaric assault on the Babri Masjid in December 1992, no communal issue has had a national impact; even the savage carnage Gujarat saw in 2002 failed to propel the Hindutva movement to power. Even though communalism remains a depressing part of India's political landscape, its lethality is diminishing. From successive reports of the National Crime Records Bureau, it is clear that communal violence is in decline; in 2010, religious hatred ranked below lunacy and witchcraft as a cause of murders. Hindutva terrorism has arisen precisely because of this: the large-scale riot, the traditional instrument of communal power-projection, has been greatly undermined.

Economist Joseph Schumpeter once described capitalism as a “civilisation”: an accurate description of a system of relations that reorders not just relationships of wealth, but culture, civic association and the most intimate transactions that characterise our personal lives. In India, faith and this new civilisation are pitted against each other in an epic battle — and god's armies are losing.

More In: Lead | Opinion

freedom of speech should be absolute. a question everyone should ask is who will decide where to draw the line? What exactly divides religious criticism from blasphemy? Who in this world would you relegate the responsibility of deciding for you of what you can read and what you can't?
If you have answers to these simple question you can start to limit freedom of speech and expression.

from:  Amit
Posted on: Feb 11, 2012 at 17:52 IST

That the Deoband has participated in the independence movement or has issued a fatwa against terrorism is not reassuring enough -- ask RSS their achievements, they too will have such stories to tell.

from:  Yashwanth P
Posted on: Feb 4, 2012 at 20:23 IST

The spate of "islamist" parties winning everywhere - Tunisia, Egypt,
Countries in Africa and now Kuwait - when the common man is given a
chance to pick his/her choice of governance shows whether God's armies
are winning or losing. Islam promises a beautiful, principled, just,
safe, secure, impartial and peaceful government. The media has made
such a bad propaganda of islamic principles in an extremely biased
manner that the above adjectives might seem paradoxical to many
readers. However truth shows its face when the common public is given
the power to choose, having lived and seen the practical aspects of
islam, rather than the prejudiced impractical concepts that some
authors try to force into peoples' minds. God's armies will keep
winning everywhere until truth keeps having credibility as a virtue.

from:  Nasrullah
Posted on: Feb 4, 2012 at 09:01 IST

In the first place, why some body has to ask about the proof for the soundness of others religion? Its their belief, if you accept it fine, if not just keep quite. Why do you want to start an argument in the first place? I think that is the root of all problems, and it starts strangely from the right of expression which the constituion has provided us. I think we need not waste our time in discussing religious issues. It's of no use, except creating hatred among ourselves.

from:  Jaya Prakash
Posted on: Feb 4, 2012 at 07:16 IST

I don't know whether I will live to see our people saying
unanimously "We, the citizens of India" rather than "we, the
muslims", "we, the brahmins", "we, the dalits", "we, the christians"
and so on, although I am just a teenaged boy now. Is n't it high
time that we stave off,these so called prophets and priests from our
daily life? For how many days these people want to uphold their
religious identities. Let all the religion which came into existence
in history of A.D be razed to dust bringing back the oldest religion
of charity to poor. Its high time our mutt pontiffs and Imams keep
away from this dirty politics. They should relinquish all their
connections with political parties first. We should brush aside this
religion and caste based quota or religious identities first.Unity
within cultural diversity has been India's strength and it should
be.Lets forget all the communal violence of past, even Gujarat's and
go ahead to make our ends meet & bring prosperity to India

from:  Sriram Padmanabhan
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 22:22 IST

@Ryan, Pallavi - I share your enthusiasm for science but it would be
a mis-characterization of science to call it a form of religion.
This plays right into the hands of the religious, who can turn
around and say - "you have your religion and we have ours, and it's
all the same". Further, conflating science with religion is clearly
false. Science is the very antithesis of religion, just as
rationality is the antithesis of faith. Science is the endeavor to
know more about our world and our universe, and it does this by
meticulously gathering evidence for its theories. As Richard Feynman
once said, "If a theory disagrees with reality, then it is wrong".
This attitude is the very antithesis of religion and faith.

from:  Raamganesh
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 14:51 IST

What an Article Praveen!
The way the essay starts and ends, I feel like I am reading a great scholar's stuff!
Kudos to Praveen for doing such kind of data mining, and THE HINDU for publishing!

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 13:14 IST

The basic purpose of All religions and communities is to maintain harmony and peace in the society ."A Religion and philosophy has no values unless they inspire good character".The essence of all the religions is to recognise god and spread'Love'. "A dog recognises his master, anyway the master dresses",If we cant recognise our master then we have so much to learn from dogs.All the religious leaders should teach us at least what a dog is...if we dont understand what the love is ......

from:  SK Raju
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 12:22 IST

Mr. Swamy, this piece simply shows your deep hatred towards Islam and nothing else. Who are you to question what is right and wrong according to Islam.

from:  Zaidi
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 11:27 IST

In reply to Mr. Tahir Khan's comment which is "One person ideology cannot change billions of people believe", Islam started with one person, Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Can we not say the same about him? How could his belief change the belief of billions? The same thing can be said about Jesus Christ.

Therefore, what I want to ask Mr. Tahir, how can you stop a person from proposing an idea which is contrary to the belief of millions or billions?

Religion is strictly a personal matter and mind you neither any religion nor a person's understanding of his/her own religion is perfect. For me any religion is a path to be traveled to explore the truth and do good to every living being.
Getting stuck with a religious belief which no one can challenge and no one can change can not be a religion. Religion itself should guarantee freedom to believe. You can not enforce the belief of a billion people on one single person, who has a different belief.Think about it.

from:  Naser
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 10:27 IST

//The average Uttar Pradesh Muslim's monthly per-capita expenditure has risen from Rs.138.73 in 1987-1988 to Rs.824.15 in 2009-2010. // Mr.Swami seems to be oblivious to the existence of an economic factor called 'inflation'!

from:  Syed Sikandar
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 06:33 IST

I am surprised at this article. Praveen is generally a much more sophisticated commentator on this issue. I actually think that there is an enormous increase in hard-line religion amongst young people. Of course, many other groups other than muslims are involved but they are certainly very much present and often very aggressive with their point of view. It would be a good question to ask how to counter this. I think it involves a broader education than just technical education, reading history and culture and understanding that everyone has been victimized sometime for some reason at some point in time. Everyone should learn something about a religion different from their own.

from:  al beruni
Posted on: Feb 3, 2012 at 04:53 IST

It seems that the author has expressed his ideas with one eye open, Every religion has its role to play in the society and it is beyond that the Fact that Muslims in general and Islam in particular has played an immense role in the development of the Indian states respectively,so as Deoband, from the 1857 till date Deoband school of thought has its unique history and historicity.So far as the Rushdies issue is concerned want to pose a question to author and all other such Indians why Maqbool Fida Husain- Picasso of India,was forced to die in exile?Because he attacks religious emotions.Smilarly Rushdie attacks emotions of Muslims not only in India ut in whole world.IfIndian authors,leaders and writer activist remain adamant in punishing Fida Husain salute my Molvis who silenced Rushdie what if on support of Indian congress led Governoment.But it would have been better if these Deoband molvis would have acted individually without Govt support,as they are the part of Rushdie conspiracy.

from:  Mir Tariq Rasool
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 22:00 IST

as a South African muslim i can tell you for a fact that the deobandi
movement is extremely strong and having visited europe its strong
there as well.95% of masjids in south africa are run by deobandis.very
seldom you listen to a south african molvi give a speech without
quoting deobandi elders that have past on.peaple like ml husain ahmad
madni,ml qasim nanotwi,qari tayob,ml thanwi,ml anwar shah kashmiri,ml
ilyas khandehlwi etc are mentioned in high regard.most of the masjids in leicester, manchester ,birmingham and a number of masjids in london and the rest of england follow the deobandi school of central/southern africa alone most peaple follow the deobandi school of thought and i can carry on an on.dnt forget north america,australia ,thailand,indonisia,south america.actually venezuela,chile and argentina all masjids follow the deobandi in short the Deobandi movement is very very active,non violent and caryin on the work of the elders

from:  mo
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 20:24 IST

Not just the article, the comments are also so illuminating. Kudos to
the writer of the article and the readers as well.

from:  Sandeep
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 20:18 IST

Well written article, providing a fresh and unbiased perspective. Some arguments do not hold good though. Like many have already pointed out, Deoband's historical contributions have not been properly detailed, the UP Muslim's per-capita expenses have actually fallen when corrected for inflation and Islam has lost much less than Hinduism in the fight between faith and capitalism.

from:  Nitin
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 19:10 IST

A very well written article highlighting lot of issues in the most rational way possible.Some of the previous comments seem to have failed to understand the learning from the article. This is not about growth or spread of any particular religion or its following. There is nothing to be achieved from that. We follow a particular sect, just because we are born in a family that follows that sect. We would not otherwise. Every tamed and trained animal can perform the same set of tricks everyday, as instructed by its Ring Master. This is not magic or rocket science. All educated citizens of India should stop paying unnecessay attention to Religion and focus on Progress of India and Peace in India.

from:  Shaunak
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 18:23 IST

In my views, as long as any institution, be it religious, spiritual, educational etc, is tolerant to differences of ideas & welcome conflicts in a constructive manner, is bound to be relevant for much longer time. Intolerance in any form is bound to fail in today's world of equality & liberty. At the same time I'm also of firm view that differences of opinion/conflicting ideas should be devoid of any violent, unethical, immoral & derogatory act.

from:  Abhishek Garg
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 16:53 IST

"I may disagree with you but I will fight to death to protect your right to disagree with me."While its true that no freedom is absolute there is no point in usurping one's freedom when you are not sure that the person is going to instigate violence.Things happen and someone or other will always take offense,but there should be no concern unless the speaker calls for violent action,whether it is Hussain or Salman.
Another excellent piece by Praveen Swami.But by suggesting that communal issues have taken a back seat in our politics the author appears hopeful rather than truthful.I still believe there are many fanatics,from both sides,out there waiting for an opportune moment to show their ugly faces.May we all live to see the day when no kind community and caste organization exist in India.Caste and community,all along human history have divided people,never brought them together.Caste and community are better left to the personal space and should not be dragged into social space.

from:  Charan
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 16:41 IST

Surprising to see an article in THE HINDU. World is changing fast and influence of religious schools like Deoband may be diminishing or dying in the national media. However, young muslims know and practices more Islam now than 100 years ago and are better citizens of the country with tolerance and friendship. People talk about Islam now than ever before. The Arab spring changes in Middle Eastern world is not by influence of any religious Fatwa or edict of an scholar or ideology. We can see similar diminishing influence of other religious based organizations or political parties with religious affiliation over individuals and families. An Indian whether Muslims or Hindu or Christian or any faith, realizes that in this fast paced world, organizations or parties do not feed their children or provide jobs. For today's generation of muslim, Persons like Mr. Rushdie is completely irrelevant in their life.

from:  Fareed
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 16:14 IST

@Raamganesh: We don't need to engage in any of the arguments regarding if there is a god or not. In democratic societies everything is decided by vote and the vote in turn determines the law. People must follow the law, just because it is the law, regardless of if they believe in it's philosophical basis.

from:  Tipu Qaimkhani
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 15:10 IST

The Government has make a mockery of society, in the name of
"maintaining law and order". We are among the countries that have
banned the largest number of books, & movies to appease a certain
section of society. Agreed that there is no "absolute right to
expression", but where does one draw a line between freedom to express
& "spreading hatred"? Also, how can we call ourself a functioning
democracy, when the freedom to express oneself, can be taken away, by
a mere government order?

When we do this, we allow fundamentalists on both sides - be it Muslim
or Hindu, to gain in strength. Certainly, this is not the brand of
secularism that our founding fathers had in mind. We gained independence from the British, but real "freedom" is yet to come. We can thank our selfish politicians, for whom re-election matters more than the unity of the country, and least of all, personal freedom. We can clean this mess, and bring back our freedom - but only if we put freedom, ahead of our religion.

from:  Padma Narain
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 14:43 IST

@Ryan: I completely agree with you. Science is our religion, and rationality, reasoning and tolerance are its values. The only way equality and freedom can be achieved is by only this way and no other way. I am proud of all those great peoples/Scientist/Philosophers etc who have and are constantly working towards eradicating peoples misery.Dear The Hindu, i am 18 years old and have just switched to your website after watching your ad. You are definitely helping me in my quest for knowledge. Thank you so much! Keep up the good work.

from:  Pallavi
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 14:30 IST

@TAHIR KHAN : Is that a threat? : I don't understand why are people talking of threats to communal harmony. This is the kind of language and attitude which was posed by Jinnah on Direct Action Day. Religion (your or mine) is personal, and should be kept that way. If one really believes in her/his prophet/gods/religion, then any amount of hearsay should not affect him. And as you have your views, so does Mr. Rushdie.

from:  Himanshu
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 13:48 IST

Mr Swami as usual shows his amnesia. The Salman Rushdie affair is a
dead horse now which has been flogged so shamelessly by everyone that
it no more generates any interest. While on the one hand Mr Swami
takes great pains to indulge in bashing the Deoband, his criticism
becomes very mute when it comes to the right wing Hindu groups
including the BJP and ABVP. Why does he maintain a conspicuous silence
when it comes to screening of Sanjay Kak's documentary on Kashmir.
Just because it was stopped from being screened by ABVP? Why these
double standards Mr Swami. It is high time that he stops writing this
one dimensional commentary about different issues and maintains a
sense of balance in his writings.And while capitalism has started to
disintegrate in it's biggest bastions, Mr Swami wants us to believe
that it is panacea for all our ills.What 'logic' !!

from:  Tariq
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 13:19 IST

“All men being by their nature equal,” he argued in his magnum opus,
Fi Nekdh al-Adyan, or Refutation of Revealed Religions, “the
prophets cannot claim any intellectual or spiritual superiority. The
miracles of the prophets are impostures or belong to the domain of
pious legend.”
The theist's counter-argument, he said, was violence: “asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them”.
This is a beautiful quotation. As an atheist, this perfectly expresses my attitude towards all religion. There is no God. But even if there is a God, we atheists refuse to believe any human being who claims to be a spokesperson for God, who claims to somehow know what the God wants and claims to do God's bidding on earth. We don't believe any prophet is infallible or worthy of any more respect that what is generally afforded to any other human being. Congratulations to The Hindu and the author was an excellent article.

from:  Raamganesh
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 13:11 IST

The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance. And the price though high is necessary.
India can forgive its past but should never forget it. India's mistake before 1000 years was, it was not united, aware and prepared to defend itself from the Violent cult arriving from the north west. I am 24 years old and i don't buy your story of coming Utopia. We should understand how important it is to have freedom and prosperity through the path of Capitalism, but we should be always ready to defend it in any way possible (Internal or External). The above article is just to make people feel good. But the truth is >not always in statistics. We cannot feel good till the time we completely eradicate this irrationality from our society.
The very famous religion these days is Science and i am one of its followers and proud of it!

from:  Ryan
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 12:40 IST

Well written article. Above all happy to read an article which is fit to be published in a newspaper. Not politically driven, clean and without misguiding headlines. The comments too are intelligent and rational. All in all happy to have switched to The Hindu. (Certainly staying ahead of the Times ;) )

from:  Ashish
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 12:32 IST

While the article takes through a look in the lines of Steve Pinker's 'Myth of Violence', unlike the latter, the arguments here seem hand waving. Comparing monthly incomes over 20 years without accounting for inflation etc., seems like the author is trying to push his arguments through with selective and 'suitable' statistics. I still believe what is written is true, however not because of the reason author gives.

from:  Krishnan
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 11:51 IST

The author should visit some mosques around the country - a lot of us
are doing it - inspite of capitalism, the populations there, esp
youth, are only increasing. Practicing muslims, albeit slowly but
gradually, are now seen everywhere, from top notch universities to
best corporate jobs. Bearded guys, namaz arrangements, blogs,
commerce, youth interested in practising traditional islam has
increased - I have lived across the country - from Bombay, Bangalore,
Hyderabad to remote coastal areas and talking out of practical
experience not theoretical prejudiced inferences. UK has recently
released a study in which every religion except ISLAM was on decline,
in practice. TIME magzine had quoted that in spite of all the bad
talk, the populations of women who wear hijab,the men who are going to
mosque have only increased. Lemme not delve into the topic of the rise
of islam in Europe and US. The author seems to grabbing on straws in
building theory. Occupy mvmnt is showing what Capitalism is!

from:  Nasrullah
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 11:45 IST

Praveen Swamy has ignored the positive role of the ulemas of Deoband in the freedom movement. They were staunch Congressi and rejected the idea of Muslim League. Yes there are hot heads in Deoband, especially in Pakistan. But then why just single out Deoband. Even the modern Jinnah who has nothing to do with Islam and his followers did the same thing. Bareilvis too hold the same opinion on issues related to Prophet Mohammad. Who killed Salman Taseer? Secondly, there is nothing like pure Deobandis or pure Bareilvis among Muslims. Both the Deobandi and Bareilvi thinking are declining. It is only the media which is keeping them alive. Actually they are simply madarsas. To give too much credited to them is useless. Average Muslims have much more things to do, rather than remain confined to such non-issues largely created by the media. In Islam there is absolutely no space for clericism. Fatwas are not binding. Fatwa just means opinion. So why keep harping the same old non issue.

from:  Soroor Ahmed
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 11:41 IST

A misleading article on Deoband. The writer has completely ignored Deoband's role in Indian freedom struggle. Clerics from Deoband stood by Mahatma Gandhi and fully opposed Muslim Leagues demand for Pakistan.

from:  Parvez Alvi
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 11:38 IST

Good writing Praveen. Please help me understand which cults of Sikhism are you referring to above.

from:  Roopak sehgal
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 10:36 IST

writing try to grasp too many thing all about religious hardliner so for the best interest of country all these organization like deoband , rss , shiv shena , bajrang dal Must be ban. one thing news always made when you criticized some one Many times muslim are easy target. Nation need indian ..not hard lines who make bombs , organize Riots ,spead hatred, belong to any majority or minority should be and must be punished , so that justice is to be done. this justice spreads secularism in the society ..Religion teaches about GOD . GOD is love..

from:  yatish
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 10:02 IST

Praveen Swamy says religious fanaticism is in retreat. I hope he is right and, though I am not convinced yet, I enjoyed this well written piece.

from:  Ranga
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 09:50 IST

Belief in the supremacy and infallibility of one's faith creates problems. This along with intolerance and non-accommodation to other believes and faith makes things deadly. Religion being a personal affair it is better that we stop spreading it ,using money, and stop defending it ,using guns. A crude summarization of the article I think can be-- Sustainble development (social, environmental and economical) is the best way forward to, end religious fanatism and make way for tolerance .

from:  S.THEJHAS
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 09:22 IST

I think Mr. Swami underestimates the power of religion and therefore its power to show the ugly side. Its a phase thing. If you were in your twenties in the 60s, you wouldn't have imagined that religion would make a comeback. People were drawn to science and its potential then. Not so today.

from:  Reju Nair
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 08:54 IST

Muslims who harbour opinions different from the Deoband and mind you, I
know many of them- are frightened to death, to vent their disgust.
Reforms can only be brought about if: either the Deoband becomes more
sensitive to the concerns of this insecure, non-vocal group, or
conversely the latter displays the bravado to remain un-browbeaten,
despite threats from such bigots. This trend has already caught on in
many non-Islamic faiths

from:  V.B.N.Ram
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 08:23 IST

It's not just the government, but plenty of outsiders as well. Look at the disgraceful conduct of Justice Katju. As an important person in the press and one who is always willing to offer an opinion, he totally refused to condemn how Salman Rushdie was treated.

from:  Gopal Vaidya
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 07:04 IST

Decision take by Government of India to maintain the social harmony in literature festival was correct but being in intellectual you can share ideas thoughts as constitution guarantees in freedom of speech but it does not mean an absolute freedom. One person ideology cannot change billions of people believe. Gujrat carnage and babri masjid riots and Malegaon Blast are example of exaggerating of issue. Salman Rushdi should acknowledge the limit to freedom of speech and suppose to work for the national integrity in India with international support.

Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 06:31 IST

No sure what your logic is behind saying that the Indian ayotollah is
getting irrelevant. Going by the manner in which governments, private
organisations and even NGOs are bending over backward to accommodate
fanatics that ban books.. one can only conclude that the ayotollahs of
all ilk, hindu or muslim.. are only gaining currency.

from:  saumendra
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 06:23 IST

Accepting with you totally. But, unless some muslim leaders hold
their community strongly and lead them to modernism on the lines of Syed
Ahmed Khan's earlier preachings they will remain backward.

from:  venkat
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 01:37 IST

"Less than one per cent of Muslims had a graduate degree in 1987-1988
except in the State's central region; the figures for 2009-2010 showed
three-fold growth. " You mean to say, it has grown from 1% to 3% in more than 20 years? And what are you suggesting there?

from:  khan
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 01:16 IST
Show all comments
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor



Recent Article in Lead

Private projects coming up in urbans lands on the outskirts of Hyderabad as the Union Government passed the Land Acquisition and Resettlement Bill 2013 on Thursday in the Lok Sabha. — Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

Land, development and democracy

India cannot continue with a pattern of industry that yields so few jobs but has such a large ecological footprint. Neither can it be excited by the urban nightmares that its cities are today. The land law debate must be the occasion to talk about these key national agendas »