ON THE OCCASION of India@75, is the time right to propose a series of Sanatani Accords between various sections and communities of India? We might take a leaf out of the Abraham Accords, signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates on August 13, 2020, followed by the Israel-UAE-Bahrain normalisation agreement of September 15, 2020. Other countries such as Sudan, Morocco, and Oman have also joined the accords, in which the US is a co-signatory.
Although the situation in India is quite different, could we try to envision an amity pact or accord, especially between Hindus and Muslims? The draft proposed below is between Hindus and Muslims within India. If it succeeds, it could also be extended to relations between India and some of its neighbours in the subcontinent, and beyond too. But before we think of going beyond the national boundaries, an experiment on the following lines may be tried within India itself. We might call it the “Hindu-Muslim Amity Pact of India@75”.
The overwhelming majority of us, the Muslims of Bharat, that is India, are not the progeny of foreign invaders and conquerors, but have descended from sons of the soil, the very denizens of this subcontinent that make up this ancient nation.
As such, we repudiate the notion that before the incursion of Islam, this country was steeped in darkness, ignorance, and superstition, commonly called Jahiliya.
Instead, according to accounts of Muslim historians such as Al-Beruni (973-1048), India was already an advanced civilisation on the eve of its despoilation and conquest.
Furthermore, as India’s largest religious minority, Muslims have not only enjoyed equality under the law, but also safeguard their religious traditions and beliefs in independent India. This despite the Partition of India on religious lines in 1947 and the creation of the enemy state of Pakistan, which has been in a never-ending war with India.
In the interest of concord between Hindus, Muslims, and all sections of society and with justifiable pride in India’s pre- Islamic past, we resolve the following:
THE AMITY PACT
– As we expect our prophets and heroes to be respected, Indian Muslims have no difficulty in according respect to the cultural and historical heroes of India, both those who preceded Muslim rule, and those who came during and after.
– The “Places of Worship Act, 1991” was introduced by the PV Narasimha Rao government to counter the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement. We support its revocation by another act of Parliament so as to pave the way for alteration of the status of shrines considered sacred to Hindus.
– In this regard, we affirm that as Muslims, we are permitted to pray anywhere. There is no specific significance or holiness attached to a specific place of worship. Therefore, getting alternate sites where pre-existing Hindu temples were destroyed and replaced by mosques will serve our purpose.
– We repudiate the violence, vandalism, destruction, loot, and takeover of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, or Sikh shrines by Muslim invaders in the past. We do not consider these either theologically or spiritually justified.
– Loudspeakers are not required in our religion to call the faithful to prayer; in fact, an app may remind us equally effectively. Congregational prayers must also be confined to mosques and prayer grounds designated for the purpose, not spill over to block traffic or cause inconvenience to other citizens.
– We disassociate ourselves from forced conversion, slavery, atrocities against women, and the imposition of the “head-tax” of jazia by Muslim kings and emperors on their non-Muslim subjects.
– In reviving the peaceful traditions of our faith, we reject Islamist militancy, jihad against non-believers, and violent extremism to attain political ends.
– We reject anti-national and criminal activities, including extortion, supari and other forms of contract killings, drug and gold smuggling, and so on, that some members of our community as well as the crime syndicates formed by them are known to indulge in. Instead, we reaffirm our adherence to the Indian Constitution and the rule of law.
– We discard the two-nation theory, which results in ghettoisation and no-go zones in some parts of India where the Sharia is attempted to be imposed.
– We welcome efforts to come up with a uniform civil code in India so that all citizens of this great country can be guaranteed equal rights under the law.
– We welcome efforts to improve the status of Muslim women in India, including the abolition of triple talaq.
– We pledge our commitment to joining the national mainstream, working towards cordial relations with Hindus and the other communities in the country, as well as efforts to educate our children along modern, scientific lines.
The Pact violates none of the cardinal principles or pillars of Islam—namely, Shahada or profession of faith; Salat or prayer; Zakat or almsgiving; and Hajj or pilgrimage. Islam would not be endangered in any way by such an accord. Only its aggressive, militant, or anti-Sanatani expressions would be checked or retracted
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We might invite prominent Muslim organisations, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, All India Shia Personal Law Board, Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, Nadwatul Ulama, Muslim Rashtriya Manch, and parties such as All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, All India Muslim League, Indian Union Muslim League, and so on, to suggest alterations, revisions, or amendments to the above draft so that it can be improved and made acceptable to the largest possible sections of the Muslim population of India. At the very least, a dialogue on the contents of such an accord might begin across the country. That this is a civil society initiative would augur all the better for its acceptance.
The beauty and benefit of such a pact is that it violates none of the cardinal principles or pillars of Islam—namely, shahada or profession of faith; salat or prayer; zakat or almsgiving; sawm or fasting; and hajj or pilgrimage. Islam would not be endangered in any way by such an accord. Only its aggressive, militant, or anti-Sanatani expressions would be checked or retracted.
If the primary purpose of Islam is not world conquest but the spiritual uplift of believers, then such a pact would be welcomed by all those who wish to be true Muslims. The desire to decimate or dominate others is the root not only of conflict but evil—if believers, regardless of which faith tradition they belong to, accept this simple dictum, the world would be more peaceful and happier.
It is for Muslims themselves to choose which version of Islam they believe in and espouse. But at least the others would have fair warning knowing whether they are dealing with world conquerors or believers in wahdat al-wujud, the unity of existence or unity of being. All of us, whether Hindus or Muslims or otherwise, must continue to hope and pray that peaceful coexistence on earth is both scripturally sanctioned and practically possible for people of all faiths and belief systems.
If Indian Muslims come forward to seize this peace-first initiative, they might become not world leaders in their own faith but also exemplars to others. Why shouldn’t we be hopeful? India has been the laboratory of consciousness, the home of all experimentation in all matters religious and spiritual. Inter-religious harmony has been a long-standing wish among countries and communities for several hundred years. Why shouldn’t India@75 show the way to the world?