Udaipur killing should remind Muslims of the life and teachings of the Prophet

The two cold blooded killers of the tailor in Udaipur who also threatened the Prime Minister must get exemplary punishment. The barbaric killing should also serve as a lesson to Indian Muslims

Unrest in Udaipur after killing of a tailor on Tuesday
Unrest in Udaipur after killing of a tailor on Tuesday

Zafar Agha

The barbaric murder of a tailor in Udaipur on Tuesday cannot be condemned enough. The heinous crime was purportedly committed to avenge the insult heaped on Prophet Mohammed, who is called by Muslims as Rasul e kareem—Prophet of mercy. The killers ironically showed no mercy to the victim and no respect either to the Prophet. Those who committed the crime in the guise of religion were clearly ignorant about Islam and the Prophet’s life of mercy.

Every Muslim knows at least one incident of Mohammed Sahab’s early days in Mecca where he was born. When he declared himself the founder of Islam, he had to face tremendous opposition like all other reformers. One of the Meccan women was so hostile to him that she would hurl dirt on him whenever he passed her lane. It was almost a daily routine. On one such day when the Prophet passed through the lane, he was surprised because no dirt was thrown. Mohammed Sahab enquired about the woman’s well being. He was informed that she had fallen ill. He went to the ailing lady and offered his services to help and heal her in distress. This act of mercy melted her heart and she accepted Islam.

That was Mohammed the merciful. His genuine followers cannot be like the Udaipur killers.

One more clue from the Prophet to Indian Muslims for facing the current hostile political environment is to quietly follow Mohammed Sahab's example in Mecca. In those harrowing times of early Islam, he advocated patience or Sabar to his followers and advised them to stoically put up with whatever was inflicted on them. Indian Muslims’ only option in the prevailing political and social circumstances is to bear the Cross patiently. Any emotional act will surely lead to a backlash that will only strengthen communal forces.

If you look back at Indian Muslim leadership’s emotional and unimaginative responses in the face of communal crises in the past, you will realize that they immensely helped the rise of the BJP between late 1980s till recently. The BJP had the tally of only two Lok Sabha seats after the 1984 parliamentary elections. Barely two years later, in 1986, Babri mosque's doors were unlocked. Suddenly a Babri Masjid Action Committee sprang up to “defend the Ayodhya mosque”.

The committee took a highly emotional line in defence of the beleaguered mosque. It decided to take the issue to the streets. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s plea to the Muslims was to vacate the Babri mosque to let Hindus build a Ram temple because Hindus believed the mosque was constructed on Lord Ram’s birthplace.

The BMAC held big rallies, highly charged with religious overtones and laced with emotional slogans like Allah ho Akbar. The message broadly from these rallies was that Muslims would not let go of the mosque come what may.

The Sangh Parivar, including the BJP, quietly watched the tamasha while VHP was busy issuing statements and held press conferences to vow to build the Ram temple there itself.

The Sangh played a much more astute game with a long-term strategy to evoke a Hindu backlash to the emotional outburst of the BMAC. After the BMAC had already held several Muslim rallies, VHP also hit the street with its case. Slowly but surely, the Babri masjid issue began to acquire a communal Hindu versus Muslim tint. That was the Sangh’s game plan.

If you take out the Muslim factor, the RSS and BJP's politics fall flat on the ground and has little to offer. BMAC’s rhetorical and emotional outburst over the Babri Mosque provided the fuel and the fillip to the BJP which, with Advani’s rath yatra, took to the streets with an equally emotional appeal to the Hindus over Ram temple.

We all know how the BJP then succeeded in building a Hindu backlash and how the BJP established itself as the only party that can safeguard Hindu interests. BJP never looked back once Babri mosque was demolished in 1992. There is little doubt that Muslim masses in India are paying for the unimaginative and emotional political strategy of its own community leaders.

The Udaipur killing is once again an act that will provoke a Hindu backlash. The tragedy will prepare the ground for BJP’s polarisation of Hindu votes in the next assembly elections in Rajasthan.

It is high time for Indian Muslims to act wisely and not to respond emotionally. Those two men who beheaded the Udaipur tailor must get the highest punishment for the murder and for threatening the Prime Minister of the country.

(The writer is the Group Editor-in-Chief, National Herald)

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Published: 29 Jun 2022, 7:39 PM