Mumbai, Nov 16 : Muslims in the country are deeply concerned for the country's security and secularism despite an onslaught from certain powerful forces questioning their nationalistic credential, said renowned intellectual and Islamic scholar Maulana Mohammad Burhanuddin Qasmi.
There is a tendency to keep shifting the terminologies for Muslims -- from being orthodox, traditionalists, extremists and now Islamists, said Qasmi, 49, Director of Markazul Ma'arif Education and Research Centre (MMERC), Mumbai.
"That has been the global norm since the dawn of human civilization with the stronger portraying themselves as 'heroes' and their weaker counterparts labeled as 'villains' always....The new terminologies we are witnessing today are simply marketing of the old poisons in a new wrapper only," Qasmi told IANS in a freewheeling chat.
However, the world is witnessing a communication era and thanks to social media, "the complete monopoly of anyone over dissemination of information to others" has been broken.
"There are millions of good souls in the world who wish to take the right messages to the people and shun the 'hate-campaign' against Muslims...This positivity will definitely show the desired results," Qasmi pointed out.
At the same time, it also helps the mainstream Muslims scholars to engage in their academic and literary works deploying the new means of communication technologies.
As far as the status of Indian Muslims is concerned, Qasmi feels it remains 'largely unchanged at the ground-level', with disappointment, helplessness, impatience and shades of dismay owing to the oft-biased and negative media onslaught both on the community and their religion.
"Many have failed to grasp that the Muslims here are deeply concerned about their own and the country's security and the democratic, secular image it enjoys, which is sought to be diluted," Qasmi said.
He finds solace in the face that the majority of Indians don't seem to be too happy about this ongoing violation of the nation's socio-political scenario, but are keeping silent, barring a few bold voices.
"The goings-on are merely a political narrative and part of attempts to 'polarise communities'. I am worried that if extremism takes over the mainstream system of India, then not only the minorities, but also the democratic majority, and the very 'idea of India' will be at stake," Qasmi cautioned.
The MMERC head chides the Muslim political, social and religious leadership for not being serious or adequately realising and rising to the tough challenges confronted by the community.
"They must first sit together, diagnose the malaise proactively, offer positive solutions to problems and help the community integrate strongly with the national mainstream, both academically and economically. They must place themselves as 'givers' rather than as 'receivers' only," Qasmi urged.
In this context, he finds "irritable" the attitude of vast sections of contemporary Indian media vis-Ã -vis the community, "which has potential to ruin India's global reputation and severely damage the social equilibrium".
"This needs to be checked with a genuine checks-and-balance mechanism in which the minority communities should have a say, the Muslim leaders must not hesitate to reach out to the media and explain their point of view....for mutual and national gains," said Qasmi.
Qasmi acquired his Fazilat (Masters in Islamic Theology) from the famed Darul Uloom Deoband, Uttar Pradesh and an MA (English) from the Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad.
Describing MMERC as a unique institution that blends contemporary and traditional religious education by educating Madrassa graduates in modern subjects, Qasmi has penned two books, lectured at national international seminars in the US, Europe, Gulf, South Asia and other countries on academics and human rights.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)