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[Y]Xpress: Why Sakshi Maharaj Saying He’s A ‘Muslim’ Is Not OK

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By Arati Nair

Ever since the Narendra Modi-led NDA government assumed power at the helm, loose cannons of the right wing political affiliation have been working overtime to further their sectarian agenda. That, they are relentlessly pursuing non-issues to achieve the same has been evident from the start. Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Yogi Adityanath and others of their ilk deem it their obligation to paint every governmental decision in hues of saffron.

sakshi maharaj

The upcoming ‘International Yoga Day’ found itself in the midst of a storm, when several sections of the Muslim community in India voiced their opposition to the government’s allegedly dubious resolve to promote yoga, even among minorities. Notorious for his misogynistic and callous statements in the past, Sakshi Maharaj was quick to capitulate on the opportunity and claim that ‘he was a true Muslim and Prophet Mohammed was the biggest practitioner of yoga.’ He went on to add — “In Islam, the biggest name is that of Mohammed and I think Mohammed saab is a great yogi. I think that a Muslim is one with ‘iman’, thus a Mussalman. I am a true Muslim.

In a broader sense, such statements, besides trivializing the concerns of some sections of the populace, also undermine the sanctity of the BJP’s election tagline, ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. In this particular instance, a delegation of the Muslim community expressed solidarity with the government’s programme for Yoga Day, after the contentious Surya Namaskar was scrapped from the list of asanas to be performed on June 21. Earlier, some Muslim groups had opposed it on grounds of Islam not allowing its followers to bow before anyone, except ‘Allah’. The matter should have ended there.

Unfortunately, certain fringe elements of the BJP could not let sleeping dogs lie. When Sakshi Maharaj says that he thinks Mohammad ‘saab’ was a great yogi, he questions the validity of concerns raised by the Muslim community. His condescending reference to the Prophet as the biggest practitioner of yoga is yet another failed tactic to justify the unilateral decision of the centre in this regard. Going one step ahead, he flagrantly declares himself a ‘true’ Muslim, failing to comprehend the complexities of theological thought accorded to different faiths. Along similar lines, last year Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti sought to inflame communal tensions by tagging non-Hindus ‘haramzaade’.

The government has tried time and again to distance itself from such controversial persons with little success, as they are more than mere proponents of religion – they are parliamentarians, capable of influencing policy decisions. In their hands the state machinery could become a tool to proliferate the ideology of ‘Hindutva’, which seeks to establish the hegemony of Hindus and the Hindu way of life in a culturally diverse nation. This spells disaster for a macrocosm like India.

These individuals are playing to a select vote-bank gallery. Several pockets of our country are rife with communal tension- a boiling cauldron that only needs be tipped to let loose violence against its own people. The annals of India’s history are bloody with incidents of communal discord and rioting, instigated by hate speech and partisan beliefs. Sections 153(A) and 295(A) of the IPC have achieved little in de-fanging these venom-spewing entities. The 1984 Anti-Sikh riots, demolition of Babri Masjid, the Godhra pogrom, the Muzaffarnagar riots are all past wounds that haven’t healed still. To avoid a repetition, the government must rein in these controversial MPs who cannot exercise restraint or sensitivity.

For a party that boasts of the merits of a ’56-inch chest’ and a thumping mandate, this should not be a difficult task. Setting an example by warning, if not expelling, these zealots would restore the faith of minorities in this government. A democracy gains credence when its chosen representatives lend an ear to the murmurs of protest, amidst the general cacophony of acquiescence.

You must be to comment.
  1. Prakhar

    So somebody said- Mohammed was a great ‘yogi’. How is that bad? Just because certain section of the society feels that no one outside the community has any right to comment upon who they believe to be theirs. But can I claim Jesus to be mine and only mine and then ask everyone else to stop praying to him or to pray in my own way.
    I think its illogical how we start thinking on the lines of certain people just so that we dont offend them. And we do it much often in India.

    1. mohd shaarif khan

      I think we are responsible for killing humanity. If we are living in india,, not an arabic country where non muslim cannt to a relugious place of a muslim, so we should have a right to go & pray any religious placie of any religion ….certainly it is not happenning” great somnath mandir has banned”, i dont whether it is for protecting their culture or any other reason but if we want to become a superpower we have rise above these issues like hate,caste,creed,religion. So thaplacieuohdy can praise lord jesus ,lord krishna,lord shri Ram and Prophet Mohmammad sahab.

    2. Arati

      Prakhar,

      In the present context, Sakshi Maharaj sought to disprove the claims of the Muslim sections who opposed yoga, particularly Surya Namaskar. When he says that the Prophet was a great yogi, he is inadvertently calling these people liars. What is he trying to prove? That he knows more about Islam and the people raising concerns are doing so to malign the government? This man is a serial offender; he passes such comments to stir up a controversy, not out of any sort of kinship he feels for Muslims. Making repeated attempts to belittle another religion is not part of his job description as a parliamentarian.

    3. B

      Its funny how we, puny people, think that we need to protect our almighty god, prophets and religions. Stope being offended so easily. People like you give fire to these religious opportunists. There is nothing wrong with people trying to prove something. Its ok. Relax. Let people speak.. no matter how stupid what they are saying is. We do not want an obsessively politically correct world where people only say what is acceptable to everyone instead of speaking their mind 🙂 Chill.

    4. B

      The above comment is not mine, it is a case of identity theft.

    5. Arati

      My only contention- Why display your stupidity before others? He’s an MP and this is how he speaks in public. And, in our country not everyone’s going to understand the idiocy of his statement. Many will nod their heads in agreement.

    6. Arati

      Er…this was in reply to the other ‘B’, whoever that is

  2. Batman

    Good article.

    1. B

      I agree with the Batman.

    2. Arati

      Thank you

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