Beginning of 21st century has attracted global attention on Islam, its followers and the issue of terrorism. A series of terror acts and associated global socio-political reactions have made even liberals in the west to ponder about the problem with Muslims per se. The debate is flaring up whether Muslims have a problem with non-Muslims or themselves are the problem for the non-Muslims. The issue is not the economic one and cannot be deciphered from a socio-political perspective alone. There is a need to include the psychological dimension also to understand the issue better. In this regard, one can take a sneak peek in the Indian Muslim mindset. Practically, South Asian Muslims in general and India, Pakistan and Bangladeshi Muslims, in particular, have a similar mindset as they share a common history.  A larger section of the Muslim masses, both educated and illiterate, have the following common attributes. The reference to that section does not include radicalized ones or political activists, as socially perceived.

They don’t open up to outsiders

Most of the Muslims, who are neither socially perceived as a radicalized nor political activist, refrain from opening up to others who are an outsider to their own community, on social or national issues. However, the same people will be very assertive and expressive within the social gathering of their own community. For example, they will never disclose or discuss with an outsider about the Takreers that followed after their Friday prayer. They will never open up to outsider about their social issues. They will never open up about their religious belief in detail, beyond religious identity and sub-sect, with an outsider. They also avoid discussion on their religious literature and culture with outsiders.

They are Perpetually In denial Mode

In the course of the social discussion they are perpetually in denial mode. They will deny everything that has numerous glaring examples but acknowledging them will put themselves in socially in an awkward position. Such denials are related to not only their own belief system but also about their customs & traditions, political affiliation and international relations. Moreover, such denials will be persistent but without and proper reasoning and justification. It is also interesting to observe that any strong logic, solid reasoning with supporting credible evidence will not change their point of view. They are generally hard-wired for the specific type of thinking.

They Over Subscribe Conspiracy theories

Most of the Muslims in South Asia are very much fond of conspiracy theories. For them, everything that is not aligned to their socio-political or religious objective is a conspiracy. Interestingly, within their respective communities, whoever is talking against their socio-political agenda, is labelled a traitor. Such conspiracies can be easily attributed to non-Muslims, another sub-sect, the political party or group which is their political adversary or the country which is perceived as hostile to their subsect.

Religious traditions are paramount

For them, their religious traditions are paramount and they do strongly believe in the version of these traditions as per the interpretation given the clerics of their sect/sub-sect (Firqa). As a community, they are resistant to free interpretation of these traditions and beliefs at the individual level. In such matters, a strong feeling of collective identity at sect/subsect (Firqa) level prevails over that at the individual level. This collective identity is often used for socio-political posturing, showing numerous strength while seeking political dividend. Because of these potential benefits, even those who are not spiritually inclined towards the same tradition or beliefs, do publicly follow those traditions and echo the same beliefs.  As a result of that, the members of a Muslim sect/subsect (Firqa) become dogmatic that how the other members of their community should follow the tradition.

Emotionally charged without logic and reasoning

They rarely go for verification and validation of the information from credible and authentic references. They are emotionally highly charged and very often their emotions eclipse the logic, reasoning and rational thinking. The best way to invoke their emotions is to link any issue with their belief system and that is frequently done by the politicians and the clerics of the community. Any socio-political event or issue can be used for raising the war cry of ‘Islam is in danger’ (Islam Khatre me hai). Once that war cry is raised and fanned by the clerics then there will be hardly any sane voice within the community that can come in open and contest the call with logical explanation and reasons that the issue may not have anything to do with their religion. Since they are totally dependent on the clerics for religious knowledge and interpretation, there is hardly any scope for anyone else within the community to contest that interpretation. Even if somebody dares to do that, one will be immediately labelled as under the influence of Kafirs, one without any self-respect and pride in the faith.

Silent on the issues of national importance

They often maintain silence on the issues of national importance unless their clerics convey them that how that particular issue would affect their interests. Generally, they are not only silent but also largely indifferent to such issues.  This is a common trend in the region. For example, they are hardly seen ever discussing the issues of national importance like Education, Healthcare, Economic reforms, Terrorism, Population and Defence etc. However, they can give an oblique reference on political issues pursuing the line taken by their respective sect/subsect collectively.

Avoid public display of respect to national symbols or heroes

For most of the Indian Muslims may not be publicly showing disrespect to the national symbols or heroes but there no manifestation of that respect or love either. But, it’s hard to believe that they are indifferent our national symbols, icons or heroes. Whenever there is any violence by the Muslim mob, the idols of those national heroes or national symbols like Amar Jawan Jyoti etc. are their preferred targets. Similarly, public admiration of personalities like APJ Abdul Kalam, Ashfaq Ullah Khan and Abdul Hamid etc. is missing whereas Zakir Naik, Allama Iqbal and Owaisi etc. have a significant fan following within the community. Interestingly, Aurangzeb and Alauddin are common names within the community, but Darashikoh is not heard of with community or history after Aurangzeb’s regime.

Seeking unreasonable socio-political advantages

Most of the Muslims are not open for a fair, reasonable, competitive and balanced socio-political space with the rest of the demography. They want special treatment with political perks and privileges in addition to political pampering of their community, sect and firqa. But, they are not willing to accept the legal framework on the principle of equality and economic order based on fair competition. Socially they want the protection of the law to the extent it’s benefitting them, politically they want protective wings for anti-social elements within the community and on the economic front, they are not keen to compete openly and want reservation and subsidy.

Thus, we can see that most of the Indian Muslims have a different mindset which prevents them to be fully integrated with the rest of the masses. Unfortunately, this type of mindset was created by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and nourished by Deobandi, Barelvi and Tablighi sects. After independence, the appeasement politics not only preserved the same mindset but also promoted the same with consistently inculcating the fear and extending the unreasonable political protection. There is a need to effectively counter this mindset rather than focusing on individuals.

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