By Ruwa Shah
Indian Muslims – the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia - have little fascination for Islamic radical groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, say scholars and Muslim leaders agreeing with Home Minister Rajnath Singh's assertion that Indian Muslims were not attracted to their ideologies.
The minister, while speaking at a conference at Maulana Azad Urdu University of Hyderabad in Lucknow, said the terror organisation could not dominate in India because of the cultural and family values being practised here. "India is the only country where Muslim families stop their children when they get deviated from the right path. Only Indian Muslim families do this," he said.
Muslim scholars and clerics agreed.
Zameer Uddin Shah, Vice-Chancelor, Aligarh Muslim University said: "Indian Muslims follow the tenets of Islam which prescribes use of force only in self-defence".
Ruling out any liking for ISIS ideology among Indian Muslims, Maulana Abdul Hamid Nomani, Secretary of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, said: "Indian Muslims hate ISIS and such radical groups". The Jamiat is an amalgam of Indian Muslim scholars.
"There are very few people who support them and such people exist in every society. An Indian Muslim has no reason to get attracted to the organisation as it is anti-Islam," Nomani told IANS.
Agreeing to Singh's claim, Zafar-Ul-Islam Khan, the editor and publisher of a fortnightly magazine, The Milli Gazette, said Muslims in India were not taught to be pro-violence. "It is in our upbringing not to opt for any violent means. We are peace lovers," Khan said.
However, he questioned the harassment of some Indian Muslims on the suspicion of being linked to ISIS. "It is good that the government believes so, but why do the agencies harass Muslims over suspicion of being linked to ISIS?" he asked.
The issue of harassment is also taken up by Asaduddin Owaisi, President of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party. "Muslims are being tortured and harassed in various ways. It is very important for the establishment to look into these matters and not to let them escalate," Owaise said.
He said Muslims as a community could not be attracted to anti-national activities or any group like ISIS. "Muslims fight against discrimination and administrative issues not against the nation. Muslims are as much Indians as any other person from a different community," he said.
Another scholar, Sheikh Showkat, professor at the Central University of Kashmir, also voiced his concern over the harassment of Indian Muslims. "Despite the fact that there is no reason for Indian Muslims to get radicalised, the harassment of Muslim youth continues," Showkat said.
"In India, there are no such crises like in Middle East countries. And the cultural implications are such that no one would want to join such organisations, but if they are pushed to the wall and the state is extreme towards Muslims, radicalisation can occur in future," Showkat told IANS.
Officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), after deliberations with state governments and agencies like the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), have opted for counselling sessions for the "radicalised" youth. In many cases, parents have reported to police about their children "deviating" from norms and have asked for help in making them come back to the right path.
It is reported that over the last one year, more than 25 youths have been identified as those who got inspired by ISIS and wanted to join it.
Mohammad Anees Khan, a student agrees that there is no liking for terror organisations. He however, says that alienation felt by Muslim youth could be a problem in future.
"Muslims are increasingly alienated, globally. Despite development, Muslims are still wallowing on the margins," Anees said. Being in the radar of security agencies in India, Muslims have to prove their patriotism time and again".
(Ruwa Shah can be contacted at email@example.com)