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01-18-2020     3 رجب 1440

Demonizing Muslim Identity -1

January 03, 2020 | Firdous Azmat  

 

 

Who is an Indian Muslim? It became a sizzling topic of debate on identity of Muslims after the revolt of 1857. Some scholars suggest after 1857, indeed minoritization of Muslims in subcontinent found a new ground in history of India, and thousands of books have been written on this topic both fiction and non-fiction including, travelogue, diaries, memoirs, novels and history.
All attempted to rationalise inherent religious bound to be rebel by the Muslims and that colonial interpretation of Muslims are still a shadow for Indian Muslims. Unfortunately, the projection of Muslims with centrality of religion has never been questioned in the history of Muslim scholarship. After the introduction of the Codification of Law (1861) on religious ground, it was incumbent before the colonial authority to identify people on the basis of religion, as a result they started identifying people, who are Muslims that resulted in an exclusive Book on Indian Muslims with title ‘The Musalman’ by W.W.Hunter, a civil servant of British Government. Later on it became a trend to discuss Muslims identity with religious glance, in court proceeding too, as in a historical judgment of Jiwan Khan v Habib, Lahore bench of the Court it was concluded- ‘Muslim-who is- So long as the two fundamental principles of Mohammedan religion are observed in faith by any person, he will be considered to be a Mohammedan.’ Thus, a Muslim, any person who professes belief (shahadat) that there is but one God and that Mohammed (PBUH) is his prophet is a Mohammedan religion, which emphasizes the monotheistic aspects of Islam.
Can all Muslims be referred as a monolithic block? Though all Muslims who can be classified as ‘Muslims’ adhere to Islam and its customs, is it an adequate basis for referring to them as collective entity or into an undifferentiated category? Are there no differences of caste, social class or region among them and even their physical outlook? Indeed, Islamophobia was a pampered child of the Indian mutiny. Hence Muslim has been projected as per their imaginations and requirement. However, three kind of approach has been very strong to gauge Muslims identity.
First and foremost, the stereotyped of Muslims as a category contrast to Hindu, depicted in Western Thought and Writings.
The first question that comes to mind is, ‘who is the Indian Muslim/Musalman?’ The definition provided in colonial deliberations and census reports is: ‘one who eats cow, who hates pork, who believes in one God and does not believe in idol worship; whose men keep beards and wear skull-sized caps, and whose women wear a burqa.’ The general perceptions that form the Muslim identity are that Muslim women are veiled, as opposite to unveiled Hindu women, as Muslims always do the opposite of what Hindus do.
Indeed, ‘keeping their control’ over Indian society appeared to be a big problem for the British. It was, perhaps, necessary for them to classify the people of India into categories for easy governance. Since Hindus and Muslims were the two major constituents of the Indian population, it was natural for them to distinguish the people of India as per their own requirements.
The Indian Muslim faced several problems because the British perceived all Muslims of the world to be a monolithic category; they assumed that Indian Muslims were similar to the Muslims whom they had come in contact with in Europe or other Islamic countries. As a result, they started several hypotheses about Muslims.
The British needed to provide a moral basis to their rule, and therefore, they projected Indian society as uncivilized and backward. Muslims, being a part of that society, were put into same category. The British projected that their purpose was to introduce rationality in what they assumed as inherent irrationality in Islam.
1857 alarmed the British, making them think about how to control Indian society and what policy should be adopted towards Muslims. This incident also was a lesson in maintaining distance from Indians where administration was concerned.
Apparently, the objective behind the Census Report (henceforth referred to as CR) was to count the Indian people and know their statuses. As Bernard Cohn emphasises, the history of the Indian census must be seen in the context of the British colonial government’s efforts to collect systematic information about the many aspects of Indian society and economy. It seems they wanted to create a rift amongst Indians on the basis of caste and religion. The CR constantly expressed its great apprehension about the increasing growth rate of Muslims over the Hindus. Was it appropriate time to alarm people about growth rate? Although CR depicted the growth rate, it was unable to bring out the hidden motive behind this. Illogically, they considered Muslims more fertile than Hindus.
These reports, condoned by the government, were heavily centralised and therefore, its approach towards space and people was dominated by concern for centralisation like many other reports. The CR reduced numerous variabilities into uniformities. Thus, all Indian Muslim were treated as a part of a general phenomenon and the several reflections on their conditions were demonstrated in a general way. The Census made observations that were derogatory and humiliating to Indian Muslims, However, a serious error is nevertheless noticed in the report regarding the high population figures of Indian Muslims. (To be continued )

 

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Demonizing Muslim Identity -1

January 03, 2020 | Firdous Azmat  

 

 

Who is an Indian Muslim? It became a sizzling topic of debate on identity of Muslims after the revolt of 1857. Some scholars suggest after 1857, indeed minoritization of Muslims in subcontinent found a new ground in history of India, and thousands of books have been written on this topic both fiction and non-fiction including, travelogue, diaries, memoirs, novels and history.
All attempted to rationalise inherent religious bound to be rebel by the Muslims and that colonial interpretation of Muslims are still a shadow for Indian Muslims. Unfortunately, the projection of Muslims with centrality of religion has never been questioned in the history of Muslim scholarship. After the introduction of the Codification of Law (1861) on religious ground, it was incumbent before the colonial authority to identify people on the basis of religion, as a result they started identifying people, who are Muslims that resulted in an exclusive Book on Indian Muslims with title ‘The Musalman’ by W.W.Hunter, a civil servant of British Government. Later on it became a trend to discuss Muslims identity with religious glance, in court proceeding too, as in a historical judgment of Jiwan Khan v Habib, Lahore bench of the Court it was concluded- ‘Muslim-who is- So long as the two fundamental principles of Mohammedan religion are observed in faith by any person, he will be considered to be a Mohammedan.’ Thus, a Muslim, any person who professes belief (shahadat) that there is but one God and that Mohammed (PBUH) is his prophet is a Mohammedan religion, which emphasizes the monotheistic aspects of Islam.
Can all Muslims be referred as a monolithic block? Though all Muslims who can be classified as ‘Muslims’ adhere to Islam and its customs, is it an adequate basis for referring to them as collective entity or into an undifferentiated category? Are there no differences of caste, social class or region among them and even their physical outlook? Indeed, Islamophobia was a pampered child of the Indian mutiny. Hence Muslim has been projected as per their imaginations and requirement. However, three kind of approach has been very strong to gauge Muslims identity.
First and foremost, the stereotyped of Muslims as a category contrast to Hindu, depicted in Western Thought and Writings.
The first question that comes to mind is, ‘who is the Indian Muslim/Musalman?’ The definition provided in colonial deliberations and census reports is: ‘one who eats cow, who hates pork, who believes in one God and does not believe in idol worship; whose men keep beards and wear skull-sized caps, and whose women wear a burqa.’ The general perceptions that form the Muslim identity are that Muslim women are veiled, as opposite to unveiled Hindu women, as Muslims always do the opposite of what Hindus do.
Indeed, ‘keeping their control’ over Indian society appeared to be a big problem for the British. It was, perhaps, necessary for them to classify the people of India into categories for easy governance. Since Hindus and Muslims were the two major constituents of the Indian population, it was natural for them to distinguish the people of India as per their own requirements.
The Indian Muslim faced several problems because the British perceived all Muslims of the world to be a monolithic category; they assumed that Indian Muslims were similar to the Muslims whom they had come in contact with in Europe or other Islamic countries. As a result, they started several hypotheses about Muslims.
The British needed to provide a moral basis to their rule, and therefore, they projected Indian society as uncivilized and backward. Muslims, being a part of that society, were put into same category. The British projected that their purpose was to introduce rationality in what they assumed as inherent irrationality in Islam.
1857 alarmed the British, making them think about how to control Indian society and what policy should be adopted towards Muslims. This incident also was a lesson in maintaining distance from Indians where administration was concerned.
Apparently, the objective behind the Census Report (henceforth referred to as CR) was to count the Indian people and know their statuses. As Bernard Cohn emphasises, the history of the Indian census must be seen in the context of the British colonial government’s efforts to collect systematic information about the many aspects of Indian society and economy. It seems they wanted to create a rift amongst Indians on the basis of caste and religion. The CR constantly expressed its great apprehension about the increasing growth rate of Muslims over the Hindus. Was it appropriate time to alarm people about growth rate? Although CR depicted the growth rate, it was unable to bring out the hidden motive behind this. Illogically, they considered Muslims more fertile than Hindus.
These reports, condoned by the government, were heavily centralised and therefore, its approach towards space and people was dominated by concern for centralisation like many other reports. The CR reduced numerous variabilities into uniformities. Thus, all Indian Muslim were treated as a part of a general phenomenon and the several reflections on their conditions were demonstrated in a general way. The Census made observations that were derogatory and humiliating to Indian Muslims, However, a serious error is nevertheless noticed in the report regarding the high population figures of Indian Muslims. (To be continued )

 


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Owner, Printer, Publisher, Editor: Farooq Ahmad Wani
Legal Advisor: M.J. Hubi
Printed at: Abid Enterprizes, Zainkote Srinagar
Published from: Gulshanabad Chraresharief Budgam
RNI No.: JKENG/2010/33802
Office No’s: 0194-2451076, 9622924716 , 9419400056
Postal Regd No: SK/135/2010-2019
Administrative Office: Abi Guzer Srinagar

© Copyright 2018 brighterkashmir.com All Rights Reserved.