A Brief History of the IUML and Kerla's Muslims
Unity in diversity is one of India's crucial features. Our noble Constitution makes room for Muslims and all minorities to assemble and engage in political activity.
Recently, the honourable chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanathji made a comment which concerned the Indian National Congress's president Rahul Gandhi's roadshow in Wayanad constituency of Kerala. The Indian Union Muslim League and the Congress are part of an alliance called the United Democratic Front in Kerala. At this rally IUML workers waved their flags (green coloured with crescent and star) as normal. Yogi Adityanathji remarked, "Congress is infected by the Muslim League virus."
He continued, "The country became one with Mangal Pandey in the 1857 War of Independence. But then the Muslim League came and divided the country. We are facing the same threat now. Green flags are yet again being waved. Beware, Congress is infected by Muslim League."
In his terms there is huge historic inconsistency, lie and political cataract. Why should the BJP fear a green flag with a crescent and star? Green is one of the colours of the Indian national flag, and the BJP flag also carries the colour green. What has the BJP been in Kashmir for its political existence? It has issued poll-related advertisements in local newspapers that don't have even a trace of saffron but are full of green, a colour known for its association with Islam and Pakistan. The ads have also appeared in Greater Kashmir and its sister publication Kashmir Uzma, which have not been receiving government ads for over a month.
Political ads in the Kashmiri newspapers, which often highlight alleged atrocities by security forces and are perceived as taking a pro-separatist line, dried up in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah hit out at the BJP. "The saffron of the BJP turns green when it reaches Kashmir. I'm not sure whether the party truly believes it can fool voters when it makes a fool of itself like this. Why can't they show their true colours while campaigning in the Valley?" he tweeted.
To come to the IUML itself. The IUML is a well known secular and democratic party in Kerala. On the issue of Kashmir the IUML's stand is very clear: its founding father Quaede Millath Muhammad Ismail Sahib, a Sufi leader, very vividly said that Kashmir is an essential part of India. To Yogi Adityanath's comment the IUML replied, 'Adityanath was talking to vacant chairs and the BJP was upset at Rahul Gandhi's popularity in Wayanad.'
IUML leader P.K.Kunhalikutty said the BJP was forgetting that it has had alliances with various "green flag" parties at various places, such as the Peoples Democratic Party with which it ran a government in Jammu and Kashmir till last June. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its leader M.A.Baby also deplored the allegation of Yogi Adityanath. Kerala Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran said Adityanath had made "a conscious attempt to create communal tension and to attack the Muslim community" and chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said it was "Bhogi" (hedonistic) Adityanath who was the "virus" and was making "completely intemperate" remarks.
The fact is very clear, as concerns Yogiji and Manuvadis' problems. It is not the colour of the flag but the caste, religion and Muslim community. It is re-readable of the words of the Sangh Pariwar nationalist Madhava Sadashiv Golwarkar, the second sarsanghchalak of the RSS who said: "Hindus, do not waste your energy fighting the British; save your energy to fight our internal enemies that are Muslims, Christians and Communists."
Another leader of the Sangh, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the author of Hindu Rashtra and one of the founding fathers of the Hindutva ideology, pleaded with the British colonial rulers of India for clemency and betrayed the freedom movement by turning into the King's witness.
Yogiji, before you shoot your illogical and irrational verses onto Kerala Muslims, you ought to understand something about Kerala Muslims.
Historical Background of Kerala Muslims
Muslims are the second largest community in India. Islam reached Kerala in the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Kerala community especially Muslims and Christian migrated in numbers into foreign nations for job purposes. Kerala has witnessed much social transformation through renaissance movements. Among the Muslim community also a lot of social renaissance movements arose. Through migration into foreign nations Kerala society including the Muslim community gained its economic stability and cultural diversity.
By their money they gave quality education to their children. In Kerala a top number of high quality English medium schools are situated in Malappuram district, which is India's second largest Muslim populated district where a large number of higher secondary madarsas exist. They learn traditional Sufi Islam from the original texts. These madarsas have a greater influence on moulding the character and culture of Kerala Muslims, meanwhile we have to remember that during the Babri Masjid demolition, Malappuram was highly calm and quiet, and here Muslims protected the temples of their fellow beings!
The IUML is the most prominent and tolerated political party in Malappuram. This district is India's most highly Muslim women educated district, and Kerala's first computer literate district. Kerala Muslims have integrated study and syllabus of spiritual and non-spiritual academic subjects. They have a number of colleges including Medical, Engineering, Arts and Science. The Darul Huda Islamic University is an instance of Kerala Muslims' integrating academics of spiritual and non-spiritual institutions, and it is a university that sends many students to foreign and central universities like JNU, HCU or EFLU for their higher studies.
Kerala Muslims are the big reading community after the Left Communist wing. Kerala Muslims have more than 50 publications including their mouthpiece newspapers. Kerala Muslims always walk along with the mainstream, they demotivate subcultures and all sorts of extremisms. Kerala Muslims use Malayalam as their mother tongue, the same as Kerala Hindus and Christians, like elsewhere in India. Kerala Muslims are well educated, highly tolerant and give great significance to religious amity and ideological unity.
Patriotic Muslims and the Freedom Fight
Kerala Muslims began their fight for freedom in 1498 against Portuguese colonialism, not in 1857 against the British. Can Mr Yogi Adityanathji produce the freedom fighting history of the Sangh Pariwar or the RSS? History noted the shoe licking of the RSS for British colonialists!
Malabar Muslims have a unique history of anti-colonial defence, which started in 1498 and continued through 1922, which means that for about four hundred years they fought for their motherland the great India, in a kind of continued and extended anti-colonial defence not seen in the case of any other community anywhere.
Shaikh Zainudheen Makhdoom II was the famous anti-colonialist leader against the Portuguese. He is the author of 'Thuhfathul Mujaahideen' which is considered the first history text of Kerala. He gave more support to King Zamorin of Kozhikode. He was a great diplomat and Islamic religious scholar. He gave more importance to religious harmony in society.
Kunhali Marakkar was a great fighter and naval chief of King Zamorin. He also strictly followed Islamic beliefs.
When the Britishers conquered India our entire community including the Muslim community fought for freedom. Mamburam Sayyid Alavi Thanghal was a great freedom fighter and Islamic scholar. He was never ready to compromise with British colonialists. His famous book Saiful Bathaar gave inspiration to people to fight against British colonialism. He was also a great ambassador of religious unity. After his demise even today his tomb Mamburam Maquam has function as a place of religious integrity. Mamburam Maquam is one of great pilgrimage centres of South India. The date of the famous celebration of the Munniyurekaliyattakkavu Temple was suggested and coined by Sayyid Alavi Thanghal of Mamburam. Even though British historians and landlords made efforts to depict him badly, his popularity and acceptance grew in all parts of Malabar.
Umar Quazi was a unique freedom fighter, and he was the first proponent of Civil Disobedience in British India. He accepted Civil Disobedience as a strategy of freedom fighting on 18 December 1819. Because of this he was pushed into jail. He declared that he would not pay the land revenue tax to the British. In doing so Umar Quazi started the civil disobedience strategy decades before Mahatmaji established civil disobedience as a methodology of the freedom fight.
IUML, A Historical Reading
The Indian Union Muslim League was founded on March 10, 1948 in Madras. Quaede Millath Muhammad Ismayil Sahib is its founding father. An honourable existence for Indian Muslims, including minorities, backward classes and Dalits is one of founding aims of the IUML. The IUML has had a presence in Parliament from 1952 to the present day, which means IUML has been contesting and electing members to Parliament decades before the birth of Mr Yogi Adityanath.
In the Indian National Movement there were two fronts, one of which argued for a nation based on religion under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. (It is worth recalling the praise of veteran BJP leader L.K.Advani for Jinnah.) The other stood with Mahatmaji for a secular nation. The front of Jinnah has gone to Pakistan for their religious nation, the second front of Gandhi stayed here for their secular state. In today's India secular democratic recognised communities like Hindu, Muslim, Christian etc. are the inseparable population of this nation. The IUML was formed by Muslim leaders who were under the leadership of Gandhiji to form a secular state.
But which stand has been followed by the RSS and the Sangh Pariwar? Why was Gandhiji shot down by a Brahmin RSS follower named Nathuram Binayak Godse? For a secular state? Why was the RSS banned by the Indian government? Because you also argue for a religion-based state just as Jinnah did! It was in this context that Shashi Tharoor wrote of a Hindu Pakistan. However, the IUML does not stand for a religion-based nation but for a secular state. So is it Yogi Adityanathji who is the virus here, or the IUML?
Modiji says that Rahulji ran away from the Hindu community and is contesting among minorities (as per the Census of 2011 Hindus are the majority in Wayanad constituancy) but I would like to say Modiji, may you send a Muslim or minority candidate like Mukthar Abbas Naqvi from your party for a fight against Rahul Gandhi by ballot!
Your people do not have the courage to talk about development, problems of common people, issues of farmers etc. You are interested only in communalism. Whereas the IUML is born and brought up among an educated public by highly educated people, with talks, discourse and debates. Here it is comprehensively building digital academic schools and villages, not toilets without water.
Education, Charity and the IUML
Nowadays all Kerala communities give high importance to education. Everyday people including laymen are seen reading at least five newspapers and engaging in debates including about politics. In every petty shop including in tea shops of railway stations you can see more newspapers and periodicals.
Malabar Muslims were very backward in the education sector. After the coming of the IUML its leaders like C.H.Muhammad Koya gave more attention to the educational development of the Muslim community. Koya always supported women's education, for which purpose he established scholarships for girls. He was a modern educational reformer of the Muslim community, and established three universities in Kerala, which are Calicut University, KUSAT and the Kerala Agricultural University. Besides he founded innumerable colleges and schools. Today Farook College of Malabar is one of the high reputed colleges of Kerala, and it bagged a high rank from the UGC. Amid the construction of Farook College the committee faced a finances crisis, so the IUML state committee sold their official car to help in the construction of Farook College. To establish an educational institution is not easy like starting a gaushala.
Malayalam University and Sanskrit University were founded by the education minister from the IUML, E.T.Muhammad Basheer (now a Lok Sabha MP). Always the IUML gave more attention to education, and in the academic empowerment of Muslim society the IUML has a crucial role. In the time of establishment of the Manjeri Medical College in Malappuram district the government faced a funding crisis, so under the leadership of the IUML citizens here entered among the public to collect money for the medical college.
Innumerable incidents of this sort are part of the IUML's activities. Indian Union Muslim League also gives crucial significance to charity work. Thousands of 'baithurrahma' houses (mercy homes) have been constructed and provided to homeless people without considering their religion, political ideology, caste, creed etc. They have a great scheme of charity for education, medical needs, and basic needs including food. Can the BJP produce any such paper concerned with their charity? Any idiot cannot hide the real actions and deeds of any political party or community.
IUML as a Secular Party
Since its founding long ago the IUML has grasped the value of the system of democracy, and has participated in parliamentary politics, which strictly follows the strong secular means and highly criticises extremist perspectives. When the Babri Masjid was demolished, the Indian Union Muslim League acted as a calming influence and refused to stoke communal embers, risking the wrath of some radical Muslims who have since then drifted to more hardline groups. Already our nation noted the mature action of the IUML in various communal issues.
Amid harsh criticism from extremist groups, the IUML's state president Sayyid Muhammad Ali Shihab Thanghal made the declaration that "the Muslim League will never move a bit from its secular and calm nature, by this policy even if it lost all seats and votes the party will never move its stand". After Thanghal's death in August 2009 the Indian Express newspaper wrote an editorial captioned "The last prophet of secular politics". The IUML had alliances with the CPI, CPM and now with the INC over the last fifty years, which started in Indira Gandhi's time. In Kerala the IUML led the cabinet once under the leadership of C.H.Muhammad Koya, who became chief minister of Kerala in 1978. In the early 1970s the IUML had seven MLAs in the state assembly of West Bengal with a minister. It has had MLAs in UP, Maharashtra, Assam, Pondicherry, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
The great parliamentarian and former external affairs minister E.Ahamed MP was the veteran leader of the IUML. He was Member of Parliament for 25 years and a legislator for 18 years. He was a minister for industries in Kerala from 1982 to 87 and Union minister of state for external affairs during 2004-2009 and held the portfolios of railways, external affairs and human resource development in the second UPA government. Many times he represented India at the UN, and even the BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee sent E.Ahamed to the UN as India's representative.
In the history of Kerala a Dalit was given a general seat for a legislative assembly contest by the IUML, then elected Chadayan as MLA! Can the BJP and Yogiji do anything like this? Malappuram is the most Muslim populated district in Kerala, still this Malappuram district Panchayat president is a Hindu Dalit man whose name is A.P.Unnikrishnan. He is a member of the IUML. Recently Kerala witnessed the issue of Sabarimala, and because the IUML supported the Ayyappa devotees, the opposition political parties called the league "Ayyappa league"!
Mr Yogi Adityanathji and BJP supporters must read and grasp the history of the Indian Union Muslim League, before shooting their mouths off about it.
The author is a PhD research scholar at Bharathidasan University, Trichy.
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