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‘The common Muslim did not build the mosque to break the temple’, read Prof. Exclusive conversation with Hilal Ahmed

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In the Journal of the British Association of South Asian Studies Assistant Professor Hilal Ahmed He has written many books, has also made documentaries on topics like Muslim Political History and Political Islam. After the Gyanvapi controversy, he has a clear stand on the way controversies are coming out one after the other these days. talked to them Deepak Tanguria has. Here are the main excerpts:

How do you, as a social, political thinker, see the new equations in the relationship between religion and the state?
Gandhi believes that India is a culture. When the Constituent Assembly was formed, the idea of ​​secularism was the result of a whole debate of 30-40 years of the freedom movement. India is multi-religious, not multi-cultural. The culture of the nation is the same. The manifestation of his culture is religiously distinct. You can also see this in the marriage or death rituals of Hindus and Muslims, where there is much similarity. The state we created has two-three basic conditions. First, the diversity we have is a strength, not a weakness. Second, we are not only diverse religiously, we are also linguistically diverse, and third, the institutions we build will power these diversities. The constitution was very good, but in the name of need for electoral politics, we started accepting every backwardness. The result was that earlier this mingling was done in the name of secularism, today it is in the name of Hindutva. Now electoral politics is deciding the constitution.

The history of Hindus and Muslims is full of complexities. Struggle and cooperation both go hand in hand. What is the way to accept this truthfully?
British colonialism told us that our history has only been a history of complications. The history of the people is not determined by the history of the kings. Even today, in common Muslim families, the newborn is not named after Aurangzeb. The identities of religious communities are not determined by the kings. We have to understand the political structures of the medieval period. The work of kings was to hurt the religious faith of other kings, that is why temples have been destroyed. Unless we look at the stories of perceived cultural conflict based on local beliefs, we will not be able to understand them. Local cultural unity can be the answer to communal politics.

There have been many such incidents in the past, which disturb the public even today. In such a situation, how will the path of peace be found?
We should connect with our past and not with history. History belongs to kings, we live the past. If we learn to resolve local disputes at the local level, then there will be no need for courts. Gandhi was also saying the same thing continuously. The mosque was not built by a common Muslim by demolishing the temple, it was built by a king. The kings should be absolutely criticized, they were autocratic, unelected kings. Beliefs in Indian society come from harmony, not controversy, that is Indian culture.

In the past, mutual disputes have not been only between two communities. If this continues, where will these controversies end?
Nowadays the demand arises that just as Germany apologizes for the Jewish genocide, so should it be in India. But the question is, who will do this in India? Today’s common Muslim is not at all responsible for Aurangzeb’s terror or Akbar’s good work. Similar logic applies to Hindu kings as well. The politics of Hindutva has given us the history of Hindus losing. Gandhi’s self-control is a path here. The tradition of living together continues in India even today.

What did India fail to learn from the horrors of Partition? In the context of the bipolar communal discourse in today’s politico-social field, tell…
First of all, this communal discourse is not only bipolar, it is one sided with constant attempts to marginalize one community. It also has a relationship with electoral politics. Our political parties never participated in the process of social reform. Our parties were born out of ideologies, they deviated from the principles of the freedom movement. Narendra Modi’s idea of ​​’New India’ is currently the only one that gives a vision. There is a document of NITI Aayog on it. Nehru’s ‘idea of ​​India’ was abandoned by the Congress in 1991 itself.

Was the Places of Worship Act, 1991 an attempt to acknowledge the conflicts of our history and recognize that a new social-contract has now been written in constitutional India? But many new controversies stand against it. your comment?
Gandhi and Ambedkar are unanimous on one subject that even the very best of laws will do nothing in a hollow society. It is the language of politics that gives laws its meaning. There is a tangle of this law that it does not apply to protected monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India or the local Archaeological Survey of India. India’s monuments must have some religious character. Even if there are no religious programs with rituals, you have made a place for the politics of hatred.

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