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“Are you Hindu first or Indian first?”


By Dr Javed Jamil

Indian Hindus, more specifically Hindutvavadis are fond of asking Muslims: Are you a Muslim first or Indian first. This question is obviously asked as a test of their loyalty to the nation. To them, if they think they are Muslims first, they are not patriotic. I now ask Hindus, again particularly the Hindutvavadis: Are you Indian first or Hindu first? And then I ask them:

  • When Godse killed Gandhi, was he a Hindu first or Indian first? When you declare him a “brave” man and want to build his temple, are you proving to be Hindu first or Indian first?
  • When you destroyed Babri Masjid leading the country to worst ever social and emotional division since Partition, were you being Hindu first or Indian first? When you still hope to build Ram Mandir on the ruins of Babri Masjid, are you Hindu first or Indian first?
  • When you reserve Hindu Dalits, Hindu OBCs in the name of backwardness (about half of your population), and call any attempt for giving reservation to Muslims “appeasement”, are you Hindu first or Indian first?
  • When you call for making Gita and other Hindu scriptures part of educational syllabi, are you Hindu first or Indian first?
  • When Prime Minister Modi gifts Gita instead of a book on Gandhi or Indian History to foreign heads of state on his official visits, does he prove himself to be Hindu first or Indian first?
  • When Hindutva organisations try to equate “Hindu” with “Indian” giving fallacious grounds causing severe anguish to majority of Indians, are they trying to be Hindu first or Indian first?
  • When they raise voice only against terrorist attacks committed by Muslims and not against much greater number of Hindu terrorist attacks and much greater violence in riots, are they Hindus first or Indians first?
  • When instead of demanding severest punishment to Hindu leaders involved in communal riots, you honour them, are you being Hindu first or Indian first?
  • When they campaign for Hindus producing more and more children (so that they retain their demographic domination) are they trying to be Hindu first or Indian first?
  • When the Government declared Yoga Day and tried to present it as a national practice, was it Hindu first or Indian first?
  • When political parties like BJP and Shiv Sena endeavour to consolidate Hindu votes by promoting communal polarisation, do they behave as Hindu firstr or Indians first?
  • When you oppose Urdu, which is an Indian language, just because lately it has become more popular with Muslims, do you prove yourselves to be Hindus first or Indians first?
  • If tens of thousands of Hindus left India and became American, Australian or British citizens, while still retaining their religious identity, were they Hindu first or Indian first before their migration?

 It does not mean that Hindus should not feel proud of their religion. They must. The follower of every religion must be proud of his religion if he has faith in it. Till a person or a community is fighting for its own principles or right, there is nothing wrong about it. The problem starts when instead of being concerned about itself, it starts targeting others.

I find the very question of “what you are first/” absurd. Can you ask anybody: Are you a human first or Indian first?  Are you honest first or Indian first? Or a doctor first or Indian first? Are you Delhite first or Indian first?

To be Indian or not relates to one’s nationality. One can be an Indian, Chinese, American or Russian? To be a Muslim or Hindu or Christian or a Communist, Atheist etc relates to one’s ideology. One has several identities at the same time. I am an Indian by nationality, Muslim by Faith, Doctor by Profession, man by sex, and a Delhite by location. One can at the same time also belong to a political party. All these identities become important at different times. If as a doctor, I have to treat 10 patients having different nationalities, I will not treat Indian first but I will treat a patient, Indian or otherwise, who needs more urgent attention or who reported first. When you go to a temple and several people of different nations are there, you will not again identify them by nationality.

Nationality of a person in most cases is by chance, not by choice. When a person is born, he is just a human being. When he grows, he comes to know that he is an Indian and a Hindu/Muslim. He can then change or continue with the same identities.

I am a Muslim first when the question relates to Faith, I am an Indian first when it relates to nationality. If an Indian government in future becomes atheistic or Muslim or Christian, and that government asks a Hindu to do something which is against his faith, he will not necessarily accept it. Hindus may unite and campaign against the government even if they happen to be in minority.

Indian Muslims are mostly of Indian origin. Even those who are from foreign origin have accepted India as their nation. But Indianans does not mean that they can be persuaded by the majority to follow a wrong course in the name of nationality. Justice and honesty are above everything including nationality. If many American protested against American attack on Iraq, they proved that they were lovers of justice more than that of America.

It is just a ploy of the forces of Hindutva to keep raising issues that clouds the patriotism of Indian Muslims. I have seen British and Australian Hindus of Indian origin openly supporting Indian Cricket teams against their countries. Are they traitors? Indian Hindus feel the pain when a Hindu Australian or American is killed there. This is natural because they have common religion. On any ground of identity, one can feel closeness to anyone. When I was in Australia, I loved meeting Indian Hindus more than Saudi Muslims because of our common language and culture. When I went to Iran to attend a conference, my eyes were looking for any Indians, not for Iranian Muslims.

Religion tells you about your morality, about your preferences for good and bad. Nationality is about an administrative cohesion, which helps you achieve your aims in professional and other fields.

By putting such absurd questions, Muslims cannot be bullied anymore. They belong to this nation and the nation belongs to them. They have every right to influence the direction of Indian policies in every single field, and to get benefits from its achievements because they are partners in its work as well as result.

I am a great proponent of coming together of all religions, and I have recurrently argued that Indian Muslims and Hindus must come together against the immorality propagated by the current world for commercial aims. Westernism or New World Order, based on negation of religious morality and propagation of commercial morality, is a threat to every religion and the whole mankind. The fight today is not between religions but between religion and irreligion. Hindus and Muslims think alike in most matters be it family values, moral values or social values. We all hate alcohol, gambling, sex outside marriage and homosexuality and nakedness. We all are believers in God though our methods can be different. I will repeat here that Islam is not a religion started by Prophet Muhammad. Islam means submission to God, called Allah in Arabic and Parmeshwar in Hindi/Sanskrit and Jehovah in Hebrew. Hinduism in its original form may have been the old version of Islam, and Islam is the latest version of God’s religion, which includes Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism as well as Buddhism. Quran asks us to believe in the truthfulness of all the previous scriptures and messengers.

I believe one should be human first and any other identity should be secondary. The lessons of humanity are taught not by nationalism but by ideologies, religious or atheistic. So any person should be a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Communist first than an Indian, Russian, Chinese, American or Saudi. But this identity must be based on ideology and not community. If it is based on communal or ethnic considerations, it tends to be dangerous, especially when it is directed against others. Moreover, national identity should not necessarily mean support to the State in every matter, even if it goes against the principles of justice and humanity. Citizens must try to stop their governments from indulging in violent struggles against other countries.

Instead of indulging in a campaign of hatred, let us campaign for the commonness of morality in religion, and let us unite against the vices perpetrated by Westernism dominated by supremacy of Economics. Let those Hindus and Muslims who believe in this approach unite first. Others will follow.



–Courtesy “Muslim Mirror”

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