Monday, December 19, 2022

‘A Minority’, By Its Identification As ‘Other’ Of ‘A Majority’ Becomes ‘Dependent’ For Its Rights On The State Controlled By The ‘Majority’

By Saquib Salim, New Age Islam 18 December 2022 “Minority Protection In The Ultimate Analysis Is Not The Protection Of The Muslim Interests; It Is The Vivisection Of India Into Various Groups, Sub-Groups, And Parties So That Any Coherent Action By The Combined Forces Of The People Will Not Be Possible In India Rezaul Karim ----- “The concept of a national minority is built, however, on a fundamental tension: on one hand, it signifies the membership of a minority group in a national polity; on the other, the minority group by virtue of its cultural racial, religious, ethnic, or linguistic difference from the majoritarian culture also represents an incipient threat to national unity.” writes Saba Mahmood, former Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, in her celebrated paper, Religious Freedom, the Minority Question, and Geopolitics in the Middle East. A Muslim family breaking their fast during Ramazan in Delhi's Jama Masjid (Ravi Batra) ----- In the present world, it seems impossible to think of a world where we do not talk about ‘minority’ and thus ‘minority rights’. In India, minority rights have been a field of contestation where on one hand a majoritarian view keeps accusing the polity of appeasing the different ‘minority’ groups, on the other ‘minority groups’ accuse the state of discriminating against them. Religious minorities, especially Muslims, are often asked to prove their loyalty on account of being coreligionists of the inhabitants of the neighbouring enemy nation. Intellectuals, politicians, scholars, and other leaders of our society often wonder how Indians could live without much religion-based bloodshed for centuries what happened in post-colonial India is that different communities look at each other suspiciously. As pointed out by Saba Mahmood, the idea of minority, while explicitly helping in securing legal rights to certain religious, social, or ethnic groups, simultaneously in an implicit fashion takes them away from the national polity of equal partners. ‘A minority’, by its identification as ‘other’ of ‘a majority’, itself becomes ‘dependent’ for its rights on the state controlled by the ‘majority’. One might not believe but the idea of a ‘national minority’ is only a century old. It was only after the First World War at “Versailles Peace Conference, the concept of ‘national minority’ has been used in International Law to distinguish communities that can lay claim to membership in a national polity versus those populations who can make no such claims”. The idea is problematic. In India, if we apply this category to Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, Sindhis, or any other group we end up excluding them from the national identity. Hannah Arendt also argued that though throughout history minorities were part of human societies “the minority as a permanent institution” was introduced with the treaties after the World War. The treatise recognized “that millions of people lived outside normal legal protection and needed an additional guarantee of their elementary rights from an outside body (The League of Nations)”. According to Hannah, acknowledgment of minorities and their rights implied, “that only nationals could be citizens, only people of the same national origin could enjoy the full protection of legal institutions, that persons of different nationality needed some law of exception until or unless they were completely assimilated and divorced from their origin”. This is not the case that Indians did not understand the perils of this categorization. Indian Muslims raised their voice against categorizing them as a minority. They argued that it would divide the country. Freedom fighter and member of the Constituent Assembly, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, vehemently opposed the term minority being used for Muslims of India in the Constituent Assembly. He disagreed with Dr. B. R. Ambedkar over minority rights and said, “I say: we do not want them. You have provided in the constitution that 14 percent of the seats should be reserved for Muslims. You still consider yourself 86 percent and Muslims to be 14 percent. So long as you have this communalism, nothing can be done. Why do you say that Muslims are a Minority? So long as you depict them in communal colours Muslims shall remain a Minority.” Another prominent leader and prolific writer from Bengal, Rezaul Karim, campaigned against the categorization of Muslims as a monority. He argued, “minority protection in the ultimate analysis is not the protection of the Muslim interests; it is the vivisection of India into various groups, sub-groups, and parties so that any coherent action by the combined forces of the people will not be possible in India. Therefore minority interest does not mean Muslim interest. Minorities are always minorities; they can never be made majorities.” Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, another revolutionary freedom fighter, argued that Muslims could not be considered a minority and that national citizenship should be equal for all religions. In his view, the psychology of considering themselves a minority would keep Muslims backward. Netaji Subhas Chandra also believed that Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and Muslims should not consider each other majority and minority. Every Indian nationalist enjoys the same status. For Netaji, it did not matter if the leader in power was a Hindu or a Muslim. In his belief virtue of nationalism surpassed that of religious belief. The impact of granting minority status to certain communities has often been detrimental. We have seen the international community taking notice of the minority problems, or sometimes ‘activists’ calling upon the international community to take notice of the ‘atrocities’ against them. Saba writes, “for a religious minority to call for international protection is to also draw attention to the uniqueness of the group as distinct from the majoritarian identity of the nation”. She goes on to argue that this special protection for minorities “also them more vulnerable”. In the international arena, the support is gathered by pointing out the ‘difference’ between minority and majority, which in turn renders them unstable in a national unity project and further “weakens the possibility of forging a collective life together”. Source: Should Indian Muslims Shun The Minority Tag? 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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