An associate of social reformer Hamid Dalwai, Syed Bhai of the Muslim Satyashodhak Mandal has worked towards eradicating ills in the community like oral talaq, misogyny and fundamentalism. He has also been a strong votary of a uniform civil code and the need for Muslims to embrace modern education.
In an interview with Dhaval Kulkarni, Syed Bhai says the two main political parties in India – the BJP and Congress – must apologise for the communal riots under their watch.
What is the sentiment among the Muslims regarding the Lok Sabha elections and prevailing political situation?
The society is immensely petrified. They are not sure about what will come out of the positions taken by the two main parties — the Congress and the BJP. The common man is shaken. The Muslims do not think differently than other common people and do not have a different political identity. The common man feels he has no political future and the Muslims are part of that thought process.
Ideally, what should be the reforms agenda for the community which must be adopted by political parties in the fray?
The Supreme Court's decision allowing Muslims to adopt a child is a step forward in the quest for a uniform civil code. The present practice of giving triple oral talaq at one go is not as contained in Islam. All parties must be committed to a legal framework to give women equal rights. Women are not slaves, practices like dowry should be banned. The community must be taken on the road to change. The voice of women who constitute around 50% of the population must be given importance. Hindu women will never say that they will like to burned on their husband's pyre (sati) nor will Muslim women want to be orally divorced. Sadly, they have no voice in the system. A human being must be allowed to live like a human being. Religion too must be a personal affair but we have allowed religion to come on to the footpath.
The Muslim elite has been blamed at large for not doing enough to reform the masses.
The Hindus and the Muslims are both becoming aware. However, some organisations have people who do not want the masses to be secular and rational and hence are putting a spoke in the wheel. This is because they will benefit from keeping people backward. People are eager to join political parties as they lust for positions. However, they are not eager to pitch in for social reform. This is the tragedy of the human society. In all communities, one class tries to dominate others.
How do Muslims view the rise of Narendra Modi on the national stage?
Both the Congress and the BJP must apologise for communal riots under their watch and declare that they will not allow them to recur. Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi must promise that if such communal conflagrations happen again when they are in power, they will dissolve their governments. This is important for people to have faith in them. Riots have taken place under Congress and BJP regimes and also during the rule of Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh.
Your organisation has always stressed on the need of practical education over religious education. Are things changing?
Muslim children have been taking practical education and the community has been gradually moving towards enlightenment. Just religious education will not help earn a livelihood. A scientific, rational education will help children for their future and the community has been opting for it.