Firstly, I, in my wildest dreams, can never ever think that this issue is a ‘Hindu-Muslim’ one. I firmly believe that issue is all about Regressive Islamic thoughts Versus the Liberal Indic thoughts. A person with any religious background including Muslims and Atheists can possess Liberal Indic thoughts backed by secular and liberal values.
While there were lots of illegal congregations happening all over India in the lockdown period including some religious processions, this religious congregation of Jamaat was a special one.
Here you can hear the leader of the Jamaat, Maulana Saad preaching hate openly, who in fact is very influential not only in India but in the whole Islamic world. He is being heard saying that “Paraphrased: Corona Virus is a conspiracy to stop Muslims to congregate at a place. And if at all there is such virus, what place is better to die than to die in the Masjid”.
Now, when this issue came in limelight the administration started taking action by quarantining the people of the Jamaat but it had become too late. Till this time, the Virus was transmitted to almost all the states including the UT of A&N. There was a gross mistake committed on the part of the administration as well.
After that there were series of reports coming from all over India that the Jamaatis spat at, pelted stones, and in some cases fired on the Health workers and the Policemen. Jamaatis were semi-naked in front of nurses, displayed lewd signs at them and offered Namaz together defying every social distancing norms even in the quarantine places. Many Jamaatis and foreign visitors purposefully hid their travel details so that they couldn’t be quarantined.
This matter became more serious when a considerable number of foreigners were caught in series of raids in numerous Masjids and Madrasas including some deep rural pockets of India. These raids were conducted only after a lot of requests and announcements for the Jamaatis to come at the quarantine places on their own or atleast disclose their locations. Lots of Jamaatis have not disclosed their locations yet.
Now after observing all these incidents one thing I understood in my capacity that this whole issue was definitely a religious one, infact a very radical one. One can argue and draw false equivalences that there were Hindu processions too and why everyone is only talking about the Jamaat. A simple answer is that in other places there were only gatherings happening and not the unfortunate incidents which happened in the course of the Jamaat issue. I condemn every single congregation of any background that happened during the lockdown period but the Jamaat issue is beyond condemnation.
I observed that many people ignored this issue by saying that it’s just some idiots doing all these things and there is nothing religious about it. I strongly oppose this view. An influential Maulana using religion as a tool unfortunately influenced thousands of gullible Muslims which in turn must have influenced their families and their neighborhood. I think those who have such ignorant views that it’s nothing religious should reconsider their opinion and should remove the crown of ignorance from their head.
I expect that my young Muslim friends should call for a serious reform in Islam based on modern liberal values rather than ignoring the facts and drawing false equivalences with other religions. A reform must come from within a society rather than forced from outside. The latter one will always be deemed communal as I have been called communal for numerous times now. The forced reform, as in the case of Shah Bano or Triple Talaq, will not be accepted open-heartedly and will certainly be unnatural.
Religion should act as a river of knowledge and not as a pond of knowledge which stagnates after a time. Rigidity and static nature of any religion is not good for the mankind. Muslims contribute a considerable amount of population in India and when this big chunk of population remains backward in every socio-economic parameter partly because of the regressive behaviour, it becomes the duty of each and every citizen to talk about it, criticize it, definitely not ignore it and thus helping them reform the religion.
This is called Nation-Building.