(RAHNUMA) According to a study in 2015, Islam has 1.8 billion adherents, making up about 24.1% of the world’s population. By 2050 the number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world. In Europe, Muslims will make up 10% of the overall population. India will retain a Hindu majority, but also will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.
Due to whatever reason, India and its 200 million-plus Muslims have not been represented at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) since its founding over 50 years ago. While initially this was perceived by Indian Muslims as a snub from the Islamic world, today, it is being seen as a significant opportunity for Indian Muslims to take their place as the powerbrokers of Ijma – a position making them akin to America’s Electoral College – for all religious opinions pertaining to the interpretation of the Shariah for the majority of Muslims around the world.
Ijma – the third source of Sharia
Ijma is an Arabic term referring to the consensus or agreement of Shariah scholars on a point of Mohammedan Law. Various schools of thought within Muslim jurisprudence define this consensus to include the consensus of the majority of jurists and scholars of the Muslim world, or scholarly consensus; or the consensus of the majority of Muslims in the world, both scholars and laymen. Sunni Muslims (roughly 1.5 billion people) regard Ijma as the third fundamental source of Sharia law, after the Qur’an, and the Sunnah. Shia Muslims (roughly 240–340 million people) on the other hand deemed it as irrelevant, and accept the authority of the Twelve Imams as final. Later interpretations of Shia jurisprudence empowered Mujtahids and Jurists, but the status of Ijma is ambiguous at best.
By 2050, Indian Muslims will be able to leverage their numbers to influence opinions and attitudes in the Muslim world and demonstrate ideas as the consensus Ijma, or majority view. They will be able to back their positions with demographics, which will also allow them to share their culture and traditions with 24.1% of the world’s population with ease.
This blessing will allow Indian Muslims to regain a significant influence over attitudes and interpretation of religious law, and political theory in the Muslim world, and will bring them even closer to Saudi Arabia which is leading the global Muslim reform under the vision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is already seeing this and through its cooperation with the Government of India, is making it a point to recognize Indian Muslims more, and invite them to embrace cultural reform with them.
Attitudes are admirable
With numbers alone, thanks to social media, Indian Muslims will be able to influence tourism, give powerful reviews, alter cuisine options, liberalize culture and attitudes towards gender roles, and hold influence over political attitudes and optics when it comes to conflict resolution – particularly in the Middle East.
As such, earnest efforts will soon be underway towards the re-development of arts, culture and education among Indian Muslims, instead of allowing it to be undermined, and erased in the name of the now obsolete and vanished puritanical fallacies.
Historically, Indian Muslims were among the lavishly dressed Muslims globally. Men wore jewelry, and gems while women adopted the high culture of Hindustani fashion, which to this day can be argued compliments the exalted status of humans more then any other cultural dress.
Hindustani Muslims fashionable
As the ‘man who saw tomorrow’ Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Founder AMU, once said, ‘When a nation becomes devoid of art and learning, it invites poverty.’
The focus must be paid towards the revival of arts and culture in India’s Muslim community.
Indian Muslim attitudes are admirable. Despite all the recent communal rioting which took place throughout the country, Indian Muslims continue to demonstrate a positive attitude and strive to work closely with both authorities and fellow Indians to mitigate the spread of hate. They do not talk of revenge nor do they abandon their customs in the face of hate.
Furthermore, after the Government of India’s success in the matter of Article 370 in Kashmir, and the response by the vast majority of Indian Muslims to the Babri Masjid dispute, Indians who are not Muslim, are now themselves bifurcating Islam from Islamabad.
Islamabad, the long time rival of New Delhi, and Indian Muslims are identified as being responsible for keeping India’s 200 million Muslims isolated from the OIC since its founding over 50 years ago.
However, this miscalculation by the OIC or Islamabad is now being seen as a great opportunity that will enable Indian Muslims to grab the vacant seat as powerbrokers of consensus on religious issues for the Muslim world.
Such a position of influence could even be help bring consensus for leaders in the Gulf over religious issues, gender roles, and reform.
A revival of arts, information, and culture
However, the key here is a revival of arts, information, and culture among Indian Muslims to make them easier to identify with and even more interesting to the rest of the Muslim world – a dignity they only enjoyed prior to the British Era, not after it.
Indian Muslims need to be encouraged to learn about Muslim contributions to the advancement of human civilization through inventions, science, arts, geometry, music, and mathematics among others, and how science, culture, imagination, and moderation impacted the attitudes of others towards them.
India’s Muslims are confident of the coming period wherein no Muslim majority country will want to continue shunning them.
The commendable farsightedness of particularly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE and the Indian Government in building more bridges should be acknowledged and appreciated.
One of the major cited classical schools
Prior to the British Raj, Hindustani Islam represented one of the major cited classical interpretation schools of Islam in the world, next only to the colonial Ottomans in Turkey, who interestingly were not recognized as legally entitled to the title of caliph by Indian Muslims.
Indian Muslim attitudes towards the Sunni caliphate, for the most part, opined it was abolished with the Abbasid Empire at the hands of the Mongols since 1258.
As such, all major schools within Indian Islam focused on the central role of the spiritual heirs of the Prophet Muhammad – the Twelve Imams dynasty – instead of the orthodox caliphate. The Twelve Imams were accepted as the highest metaphysical caliphs of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and his legal biological heirs, and as such worthy of reverence and unconditional love. As such, we see Indian Muslim rulers from the Qutb Shahi dynasty to the Asaf Jahi rulers, to the Nawabs of Bhopal, Tipu Sultan, the Great Mughal Emperors and virtually every influential Sunni and or Shia in Indian history show homage and reverence to the Twelve Imams, casting aside sectarian difference when it came to the metaphysical Imamate.
This aspect of classical Indian Islam is also vital and can be emulated in today’s world, as an effective counter-narrative to the very idea of revivalism of the rightfully abolished Sunni caliphate.
The world has already seen the devastating impact villainous organizations attempting to revive the orthodox caliphate have wreaked on the lives of countless innocent civilians.
Between Afghanistan, September 11th, and the initial collapse of Syria to Daesh, the world witnessed the chaos and death such an idea can bring.
Indian Muslims were living comfortably without the caliphate under the Mughal rule, without any well-known debates on the need for its revival in place of the Delhi Sultanate – that it itself demonstrates how effective Indian Islam’s narratives were in emphasizing beauty over otherwise.
In fact, it was not until the collapse of the Mughal Empire, that India saw the rise of support for the Indian caliphate movement during the British period.From Abul Kalam to Abdul Kalam
Millennials among India’s 200 million Muslims, also known as Generation Y, are making it clear that they value their culture, freedom, arts and even their fashion and entertainment icons as best representatives of their true cultural sentiments and values.
India’s Muslim millennials are also very clear that unlike their parents, and grandparents, they identify more with Abdul Kalam than with Abul Kalam.
Value for KSA Vision 2030
India’s Muslim millennials have demonstrated excitement and support for the changes taking place in the heart of the Muslim world – the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – through the young dynamic Saudi Crown Prince MBS’s Vision 2030, and his cultural reforms.
However these millennials recognize the breakdown of their once rich Hindustani Muslim heritage, and cultural traditions which came out from the Delhi Darbar and other royal courts of Indian Muslim rulers, and the very altering of their self-image and even identity was the result of the spreading of an ideology which was once exported to India from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The new ideology, pushed by clergy, and laymen alike, changed the very fabric and once existing splendor and beauty of Indian Islam.
Undoing cultural damage of the past forty years
Now is the time for it to be reversed and undone.
Trends on social media demonstrate Indian Muslim millennials have decided to undo the cultural damage of particularly the past forty years. This period, arguably the darkest period of Islam’s history in India literally saw the undermining and undoing of virtually all Muslim cultural practices, fashion, musical traditions, philosophy, and even social behavior in the name of what was presented as the truest interpretation of Islam.
The MBS reforms in KSA have demonstrated for Indian Muslim millennials the changes were, in fact, political, not religious, and as such, again, following the example of their friends in the Kingdom, they too will embrace reformation, but given the openness of Indian society, may be able to take reform to levels others throughout the Muslim world may not be able to, thanks to the love they receive from India’s Hindu majority.