Khalid Anis Ansari’s article “Muslims that ‘minority politics’ left behind” (June 17) on pasmanda Muslims and their woes made interesting reading. While the author deserves praise for presenting the social reality, he is too optimistic of their quest for empowerment which, according to him, will help democratise Indian Islam and deepen democracy. It is unlikely to happen for the pasmanda hardly has any quest for empowerment.
Pasmanda Muslims have internalised their suffering and poverty, thanks to the hopeless system and age-old hierarchical traditions. India is a state of graded inequalities with caste, group and regional consciousness strong among all communities, including Muslims.
The article is an eye-opener for social scientists, philosophers, clerics and intellectuals who perceive and interpret Indian Muslims as a homogeneous group. The writer has rightly pointed out that caste, caste-based inequality and exclusion are a social reality among Muslims just as they are among Hindus. However, unlike in Hinduism, there is no ‘divine sanctity’ for the caste system in Islam.
The absence of inter-religious and intra-religious domination is what defines secularism. Indian politics has given priority to inter-religious domination. The marginalised communities have indeed been left behind.
Islam does not recognise any distinction among its followers on the basis of caste or creed. Even slaves were considered equal to others in Islamic tradition and history.
If the so-called ashraf-pasmanda distinction exists among Muslims, it should be eliminated.
Keywords: pasmanda Muslims