It is deeply frustrating to see reactions coming from the supporters of Late Shahabuddin, that thinly border on blind worship. But this is hardly the first time and conflicting opinions within the community go back a long way. With the current example, however, Muslims have yet again shown that they are utterly confused as to what stand they should take on any issue where community interests are associated.
The community’s opinion on the jailed former Siwan MP after his demise is once again split down the middle. The majority of the Muslim youth consider him to be a hero and believe that he wasn’t given fair treatment, neither in his life nor in his death. While on the other hand a whole lot of people are against this hero worship and want the community to completely isolate itself from the RJD strongman. Trying to present a more reasonable argument are a few people who think that Shahabuddin was no worse a criminal than what is such an integral characteristic of Indian politics and hence no reason he should be singled out for criticism.
Even as it may appear highly improbable, it would have been so much easier to reconcile the difference of opinions that keep on surfacing within the community, but for its recurring nature.
If at all by some divine intervention the community were to agree to a unanimous response on Shahabuddin, it would then have to confront these forever pestering issues that are a perennial source of friction within the community.
Jinnah, Azad, Babar and Aurangzeb are some such figures from the past on which the community’s response is forever divided. The issues of partition, migration, territorial dispute in Kashmir, its armed occupation and human rights violation are another few examples that have caused deep divisions within the community.
On the political front the question of leadership, community politics, representation, reservation, the ideals of secularism and communalism, support to Congress, opposition to BJP, the choice between the alternatives political formations and alliances are some examples of permanent source of conflicting opinion. So, while some vouch for RJD, SP, TMC, there are always others equally committed to the JDU, BSP, AAP and so on.
Not to mention the difference of opinion based on religion where we have people divided in opinion on the issues of fiqh, sect, caste and school of thought. Consequent to that are the differences in opinions of various Islamic scholars such as Maulana Israr Ahmed, Dr Zakir Naik, Jawed Ahmed Ghamidi, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, etc. Further to that, are the differences that stem from the differing interpretations of Islam coming from organizations like Jamaat e Islami, Ahle Hadees, Tableeghi Jamaat, Barelvi, Devbandi and so on.
There are still other figures that have contributed to deep division within the community in more recent times, popular among which are AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, JNU research scholar Sharjeel Imam and student activist Sharjeel Usmani.
Difference of opinion is an outstanding feature of democracy. But we need to reflect on its utility for a community that stands marginalized. With such a vast range of conflicting opinions, it’s not just a tiring task to establish a consensus, but it also warrants a question that who will bell the cat.
In the absence of a guiding force that can lead a coherent and unanimous response, the community will forever find itself fighting it out in the open like cats and dogs over their divided loyalties, trying to score petty points over their fellow brothers in faith.