The Wahhabis would like the world to believe that the tenets of Islam are intolerant, when in fact the opposite is the case. All human lives are children of the Almighty, and not simply those who believe in the verities expressed with such eloquence in the Holy Quran. Compassion, beneficence and mercy are the virtues that are sought to be inculcated in the community of believers through the message revealed to Prophet Muhammad 16 centuries ago. However, what Wahhabi theology does is to seek to mainstream the opposite of such values, creating in the process an exclusivist, hate-filled vision of the world that is in perpetual internecine conflict. Unfortunately, for more than a century, the UK and later the US backed and boosted Wahhabism in order to achieve specific geopolitical objectives. Initially, the theology was deployed against the Turks and their empire, through creating an opinion within Arab communities that the Sufi doctrine favoured by the Caliphate was a perversion of the true faith, rather than an embodiment of its virtues. Indeed, an inversion of reality took place, with Wahhabism being touted as the faith in its “purest” form. Subsequently, Wahhabism was put into service in the 1960s against Arab nationalists such as Ahmed ben Bella and Gamal Abdel Nasser, and finally in the 1980s against the USSR in Afghanistan. The CIA, out of consideration for its (dog-wagging) ISI tail, declined the assistance of Pashtun nationalists in its battle against the Soviet invaders, preferring instead Pashtun and Arab Wahhabi groups nurtured by the Pakistan army, which since the time of Zia-ul-Haq in the 1970s has seen itself as the principal Wahhabi sword bearer against infidels. Decades later, in 2001, President George W. Bush made the same error, brushing aside the offer of help from Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in favour of a renewed alliance with Pervez Musharraf and his toxic army. Much of the difficulties that the world has been experiencing since owe their origins to the fateful Bush post-9/11 decision to anoint a lead arsonist as the principal fire-fighter.
Jawaharlal Nehru, in effect, sought to inculcate a collective guilt on the Hindus of India for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi. This had been perpetrated by an individual whom this columnist believes to have been a dupe of a section of the colonial bureaucracy. The conspirators, although discovered by the authorities, were allowed to commit their fell deed. The Viceroy-turned-Governor-General wasted less than a minute after the shooting before correctly identifying the killer as a Hindu, although this indiscretion has been sought to have been passed off as a stray remark. Nehru kept in place the numerous acts of discrimination against Hindus that had been perpetrated by the colonial authorities (such as the takeover of temples), and since then, he and his successors have only added more items to the list, making India among the few countries (Bahrain being another) where the majority community has been discriminated against. To the credit of the Congress Party led by Sonia Gandhi, they have been open about such a bias, for example by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitting to the tilt with pride. History has to be based on facts and not geopolitically convenient fictions (such as that Aurangzeb was actually a patron of the Hindus, rather than their scourge). Several temples were destroyed during the Mughal era and alternative houses of worship built atop their ruins. The wound that this has created in the psyche of a community that is almost a billion strong needs to be healed, and the surest path to such an outcome would be to restore the Ram and Krishna janambhoomis to their pristine state, and to do the same at the Vatican of the Hindu community, which is Varanasi. These three rectifications and these three alone would suffice to ensure that a wound, which has for generations had the capacity to engineer destructive splits within the national fabric, gets healed. While Wahhabis, who always look to create tensions, would oppose such moves, yet the compassion and mercy that suffuses the Holy Quran would get perfectly met by such an act of beneficence by the Muslim community towards their Hindu brothers and sisters.
That Muslims are overall as moderate as any other community in India has been shown by the welcome they have accorded to the Supreme Court decision to do away with the triple talaq and its attendant injustices to Muslim women. Another example of fealty to the divine virtues extolled in the Holy Quran has been shown by the efforts of Shia Wakf Board Chairperson Syed Waseem Rizvi to ensure an amicable resolution of the Ram Janambhoomi dispute, through ensuring both that Hindu sentiments get respected and simultaneously, prayer facilities for Muslims be not simply retained, but enhanced, they being non-existent at that location at present. Should a similar spirit of accommodation be found at Mathura and Varanasi as well, our Hindu and Muslim communities would join together exactly as they ought to have a century ago, before Mahatma Gandhi decided to side with the Wahhabis in the matter of the Khilafat agitation, thereby strengthening that group over the rest of a vibrant community in a way that directly led to the 1947 partition of India.
Both Hindus and Muslims should ignore the fanatics within their midst and ensure that an understanding be reached by the moderate majorities of both faiths on those three locations, so that the unity so needed between Hindus and Muslims becomes as hard as a diamond. The efforts at conciliation of Syed Waseem Rizvi indicate that such an outcome is possible, and indeed, that it could be near.