Haseeb Siddiqui is the general manager of the Muslim Fund Trust, Deoband, which is a financial institution that works on a interest-free loan module adapted as per the Quranic Shariah model.
The locals, who across castes and communities avail the services of the Muslim Fund Trust, recognise Siddiqui as a social worker and spokesperson on Muslim issues. Popularly known as Abbaji, Siddiqui has actively participated in politics as a BSP member and now looks after the Trust full-time. In a conversation with The Sunday Guardian, Siddiqui talked about why Muslims need to review their “political prejudices”. Excerpts:
Q. The BJP’s victory in Uttar Pradesh is being seen as a defeat of Muslims in the state. Your comments.
A. The BJP won without nominating any Muslim candidate in Uttar Pradesh. However, around 5-10% Muslims voted for the BJP and I don’t think there is any problem with this. Muslims in India should now be able to see who or what is betraying them. Many promises that have been made to us, have never been fulfilled. We have been told that the BJP can never do any good for Muslims. This has become a mindset among Muslims. But the Muslims should see how much truth there is in these statements. We need to introspect.
Q. Did the triple talaq issue play an important role in convincing Muslims to vote for the BJP in this year’s UP Assembly elections?
A. An average Muslim is least concerned about the controversy over triple talaq. The elite Muslims are the ones who understand the issue and are able to contribute their thoughts and opinions. Issues that are rooted in religious practices should be left alone for Muslims to understand, interpret and implement. Other issues like the education of Muslim children and skill development of the youth concern every Muslim family in the country. Any person who addresses these issues will be able to directly connect with the community and gain its trust.
‘No mainstream Muslim organisation has met Modi and spoken to him about the community’s issues and concerns. Somebody will have to take the initiative to start a dialogue if the country has to develop.’
Q. Is the Narendra Modi wave in India anti-Muslim?
A. If you look at recent statements that Narendra Modi has made, you will find a hint that suggests that Modi wants to work for all in his development agenda.
I think he knows that a tree with many fruits cannot stand erect for long, it has to bow. He wants India to develop. India cannot develop with the development of only one caste or community.
I think we should put some trust in his “Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas” narrative. The state and the country have given the BJP absolute power to rule it. If the BJP wants to implement the mandate they have received by making “development” its top priority, there is no other party that will be able to defeat Modi anytime soon.
Q. The BJP won without the help of Muslims in UP. Why should Muslims give BJP any chance?
A. Yes, Muslims should give the BJP a chance. The BJP eliminated any hope of getting Muslim votes from their election strategy and focused on the rest 70% of the population in the state. Yes, they did not try to woo us. But the majority chose them. If the people of the state chose them, we should open our minds too. No mainstream Muslim organisation has met Modi and spoken to him about the community’s issues and concerns. Somebody will have to take the initiative to start a dialogue if the country has to develop.