Friday, April 22, 2022

Why Salman Nadwi’s Lamentation Puts a Negative Spotlight on Islam

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam 22 April 2022 A Call To Embrace Monotheism Does Not Necessarily Further The Cause Of Indian Muslims Main Points: 1. Salman Nadwi has produced a short video in the backdrop of Jahangirpuri clashes. 2. He argues that Muslims are facing this calamity because they have deviated from the path of Islam and become ‘grave worshippers.’ 3. He falsely argues that Sanatan Dharm and Islam proclaims monotheism. 4. He argues that India was gift given to Muslims by God to spread the light of Islam which they have squandered by behaving like the Hindu polytheists. ---- A short video by Salman Nadwi is enough to tell you what is wrong with the self-proclaimed Indian Ulama. The video has been made in the backdrop of Jahangirpuri clashes in Delhi which saw stone-pelting by Muslims after Hindus attempted to hoist a flag atop a mosque during the Ram Navami procession. Salman Nadwi analyses why this happened, how this is a lesson for Muslims to change their ‘deviant ways’, and how the provocateurs were not really the followers of Sanatan Dharma. > In the video, Nadwi makes a distinction between Sanatan Dharm and Hinduism, arguing that the former has always believed in monotheism (Allah/Ishwar ek hai). Hinduism, he says, was a pejorative designation given to Indians by the Persians. He may be correct that one of the usages of the word Hindu at that time was extremely negative, but should he be saying this at all in today’s religiously polarized context? What does he want to achieve by reminding the Hindus that they are still carrying the name given by Muslims? If today, a vast number of people want to call themselves as Hindus, then what is his problem? Why this urge to foist his own nomenclature on a billion who want to be known by that name. What it tells us about Nadwi is that he is still dwelling in the past, when the likes of his had the power to confer names and designations on people. Nadwi instead would like to use the word Sanatan Dharm to describe Hindus. But then he has a peculiar understanding of Sanatanis as well and it is not surprising why he prefers that word. His argument is that Sanatan Dharm is promotes monotheism rather than polytheism as is the popular Hindu practice. Thus, his preference for the word Sanatan derives from the fact that like Islam, the other faith also promotes monotheism. This tells us what is fundamentally wrong about Muslim religious leadership and their understanding of inter-religious co-existence. But more fundamentally, who told Nadwi that Sanatan Dharm is only about monotheism? There are strands within this religion which can be linked to monotheism, but there are other strands, equally valid, who don’t call themselves as monotheists. The whole Bhakti tradition imagined a personalized God, near to the self, with or without the image or the idol. Within the Hindu philosophy, they are manifestations of different attributes of the Almighty, the Creator. Not just this, Hinduism also has space for atheistic doctrines like Buddhism, early Jainism and even the Ajivikas, where there is no concept of God or becomes irrelevant within their larger philosophies. Such spaces of internal pluralism are simply absent in Islam and would probably attract the charges of blasphemy. Nadwi’s Islam can only relate to that strand of Hindu religiosity which imagines God as one. His Islam can only get into a conversation with a religious worldview which shares its assumption about the creator, not with those who are coming from a different philosophical location. And that perhaps is the biggest challenge which Islam, in a diverse society like India, hasn’t been able to solve. Ultimately all mythologies are arbitrary. If Islam can live by the myth that its Prophet split the moon into two, why can’t it believe in mythologies of Ganesha and Krishna? Nadwi’s problem, and of many Muslims like him, is that only their arbitrariness should be valid and all others should be declared as false. Why should there be just one way of expressing religiosity? What is the problem if one is believing in many headed Gods or no God at all? And is there any guarantee that when the whole world become monotheist, problems between communities will cease to exist. There is a lot of common ground between Islam and Christianity but they have fought long and bitter battles simply over whose version of monotheism is the correct one. Nadwi will do well to study the history of monotheistic religions in order to understand that it is hardly a recipe for peace. Nadwi doesn’t stop there. He argues that those who indulged in arson and looting in places like Khargone and Delhi should be called hooligans who have come from the jungle and do not know how to behave in civilized spaces like cities. Since Muslims are predominantly urban, it does not escape attention that he is trying to say that Muslims were the first to create cities and civilized spaces in this country. This is not the place to get into argument about urbanization in medieval India but the haughtiness underlying the assertion that Muslims brought civilization in this country needs to be called out. Such a demeaning understanding of the country’s Hindu civilizational heritage does not augur well for pluralism. Nadwi also gets into the causes of why Muslims are at the receiving end today. He starts by saying that the subcontinent was ‘given’ to Muslims to bring the light of monotheism. But given by whom? What he means is that India was gifted to the Muslims by God to make the Hindus realize the falsity of their religion. This is not just hubris but also shows the contempt in which Hinduism is held at by the likes of Nadwi. In a similar vein, he also argues that till the time Muslims do not openly preach Tauheed (oneness of God) to others, they will remain a damned community in the eyes of Allah. What really does he mean? Instead of exchange of religious ideas, Nadwi would very much like Muslims to invite each and every Hindu to the fold of Islam. This attitude of ‘my way or the highway’ is one of the many reasons why Islam appears alien and uncompromising, not just to Hindus but now also to many Muslims. Nadwi laments that Muslims couldn’t hold the light properly as they indulged in grave worship (Yahan Sajda, Wahan Sajda). Here Nadwi, true to his revivalist leanings, is accusing the majority of Indian Muslim population who are Barelwis of being too close to Hindus because they visit and pray at the shrines. In other words, Muslims indulged in shirk (associating partners to God) and hence God decided to punish them. Apparently, one of the ways that God is adopting to punish Muslims these days is by unleashing Hindu mobs on their meagre properties and homes, and even their mosques. It is clear that Nadwi has no empathy for any Muslim loss of life or property since he has declared them Mushrik anyway. And yet the irony is that lakhs of Muslims will continue to follow him. But what should worry Indian Muslims most is that despite so many centuries of living together with Hindus, we haven’t been able to evolve a theology of religious pluralism. Nadwi is just a crass expression of this failure. ----- A regular contributor to, Arshad Alam is a writer and researcher on Islam and Muslims in South Asia. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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