India’s largest association of Muslim clerics on Sunday asserted “this country is ours” and that “those who dislike us are free to go to Pakistan”, turning on its head a warning Hindutva organisations are known to direct at the minority community.
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, which had a day earlier urged Muslims “not to fight fire with fire” but to “defeat hatred with love”, also stressed that the community would not accept any uniform civil code and would oppose it in constitutionally accepted ways.
“This country is ours and we will save it from the fanatics. Those who have a problem with our religion, our dress and our customs should leave the country,” Jamiat president Maulana Mahmood Madani said at the conclusion of a two-day convention in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh.
“We will stay here because we love our land. We had got an opportunity to go to Pakistan (during Partition) but our ancestors decided not to leave their country. Those who dislike us are free to go to Pakistan.”
Over 5,000 clerics from across the country had gathered at the event to discuss the “communal” socio-political situation in the country, possible solutions and future agendas.
“Those trying to impose on us their anti-national decisions need to know that they wouldn’t be able to make us accept these (decisions),” Madani said.
“The Muslim personal law relating to marriage, divorce and inheritance was formulated by our community centuries ago, and other communities’ whims cannot be imposed on it. A uniform civil code is also against the spirit of India’s Constitution.”
A uniform civil code, one of the Sangh parivar’s three “core” agendas, has recently been revived after the accomplishment of the other two: the Ram temple in Ayodhya and revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
Uttarakhand’s BJP government recently formed a five-member committee under a retired Supreme Court judge to work out a uniform civil code for the state and recommend ways of enforcing it. Many other BJP-ruled states too have expressed an intent to enforce a uniform civil code.
“We need to have patience and agree to fight constitutionally with the forces that are trying to marginalise us,” Madani said.
“Meanwhile, let me remind you that we are not a minority in India, we are the second majority,” he added. Muslims make up a 14 per cent share of the population that makes them the second-largest religious community after Hindus.
Madani read out the resolution adopted at the convention. “Divisive politics has gained strength because of certain court cases on the existence of the Gyanvapi (mosque) in Varanasi and the Shahi Idgah in Mathura,” it said.
“We will organise a sadbhavana sansad (harmony parliament) at 1,000 places in the country in the next one year to inform people about our views and plans. We believe that those picking on the Gyanvapi and Shahi Idgah are anti-national and anti-Indian. They don’t want India to prosper.”
Sangh parivar members and supporters have filed several court cases seeking takeover of the Gyanvapi, Shahi Idgah and other Islamic structures, alleging they were built after demolishing Hindu temples at those sites.
“Purveyors of hatred and their powerful influencers are trying to provoke Muslims through hate speeches, various activities and court cases. We want to remind them that we are tolerant people and believe in fighting them with the help of the law and the Constitution,” Madani said.