The recent incident of Tablighi Jamaat has brought in various debates among the left, right and Ambedkarite circles. The incident needs to be condemned no matter what your ideology is. When people were asked not to gather, when the world was going through a situation of crisis, such a religious gathering could have waited. This puts the lives of so many people at risk. Whataboutery like “The government had been irresponsible” or “what about Hindu events” cannot be considered as valid arguments to cover up the irresponsibility shown by the people in this gathering. Also, the way people are hiding away from getting quarantined, and misbehaving with the doctors shows how serious this can get.
All these been said, the irresponsibility of these people doesn’t justify Muslimphobia. We have to agree that this religious event has RELIGIOUS angle. Islam, just like any other religion, needs to be criticized for its irrationality and unscientific beliefs that it propagates, and which is responsible for creating this situation; but not the whole set of people who are Muslim by birth. This is because there’s high degree of heterogeneity on the ideologies that Muslim born people choose to follow- they can be religious, orthodox, liberal, atheists, agnostics etc. However, one of the biggest conspiracy played by the right, left and the Ambedkarites is the portrayal of Indian Muslims as homogeneous group of people. The common part of these three political stance is the belief that ALL muslims are believers of orthodox Islam.
The right wing portray Muslims as demonic set of people who believe that people from other religions are kaffirs. They argue that Muslims are only trying to increase their population and creating problems. They intentionally ignore how Hindus and Muslims in India were living together in pre-colonial India. Also they ignore the fact that a huge proportion of Muslims do not even read Namaz and do not have the education to read whatever is written in Quran.
The left wing portray them as a set of people who are extremely united, being minority. This is factually correct that Muslims had been discriminated and ghettoized in India, also they had been oppressed by the Hindutwa politics. But even in those ghettos there are differences, there are hierarchies where the religious leaders take up the top positions and the women take the last. There are orthodox women who are happy with hijab and polygamy and there are women who are believers but who want to go out and work. There are women want their men to not marry again. There are people who do not want to get married. There are people who keep their differences with Quran but do not have the guts to speak up because then they will be disowned by their community. The results might not be just disowning but much more, coming from both inside and outside the orthodox group. And what about the elite Muslims? They are not important! Taslima Nasreen had to join the Indian right wing to make her point. While the theories of Marx and Engels has spoken against organized religions and the way it propagates inequality, the Indian left wing believes Islam is the only way to mobilize people.
Lastly, the Ambekarites portray most of the present day Muslims are the oppressed dalits hence any criticism coming up against Islam from a non-dalit person is Islamophobia. Be it Markaz or Shajeel Imam, the Ambedkarites have always taken a stand with the orthodox Islamists. I believe identity politics is indeed necessary at times, but I do not think that a war against fascism can be won by countering one religious extremism with another because even your allies are heterogeneous set of people. Islam as a religion is propagating various irrational and unscientific beliefs as well as inequality that needs to be pointed out rather than doing whataboutery.
Regressive left and Ambedkarites never tried creating a space for criticizing Islam. Instead they mostly celebrated it when people from backward castes chose Islam. Numerous Facebook pages, Memes, conferences, academic circles etc are being used to address the notion of caste, patriarchy and irrational unscientific aspects of Hinduism, however, we hardly find any constructive criticism on Islam.
The right wing is trying to politicize this event at the moment by showing how Muslims are always creating trouble. I must say that our so called “progressive politics” and their conspiracies had been responsible for making this a successful narrative.