Why Has India Not Learnt From Pakistan’s Mistake Of ‘Intolerance’?

How Seeds Of Communal Divide & Hindu-Muslim Disharmony Were Sown

Islamic history in India provides evidence that religion and culture are two separate entities. One could follow religious practices of Islam while being socially affiliated with the local culture, traditions, linguistics and ethnicity of another place. Indian Muslims share religious practices with other Muslims but socially, they are much closer to Indian Hindus than Arab or Persian Muslims.

Although the seeds of communal divide were sown when the British government introduced the separate electorate system for Muslims in 1909, but broadly speaking, there was no sense of segregation in the social climate of the country until the late 1930s, when Muhammad Ali Jinnah played the communal card for political gains. He argued that nationhood is defined based on religion, and hence, Hindus and Muslims constitute two separate nations –– thus, they cannot live together –– as per his so-called Two-Nation theory.

On this basis, he demanded a separate state for Muslims. Ironically, a large fraction of Indian Muslims bought into his theory without rationally thinking that there is no credible evidence to support this theory, and rather, to the contrary, both history and contemporary political events nullified this theory.

The Muslim history of 1500 years also witnessed that religion never bound Muslims into a nationhood; and race, ethnicity and/or tribal hood were the primary fault lines for the political divide, which often led to brutal bloodshed among Muslims.

The Arab revolt against Turks in 1916 that led to the breakup of the Ottoman Empire was the strongest contemporary evidence to Indian Muslims, that race and ethnicity supersede religious affiliation. Ironically, the same factors led to the break-up of Pakistan in 1971.

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