The Narendra Modi government has appreciably brought an end to the 70-year old regime of a distorted version of secularism in the country by ending the Haj subsidy, which knowledgeable Muslims disapproved of, as the pilgrimage was undertaken on taxpayers’ money rather than the believer’s own hard savings. This was an atrociously communal, socialistic manner of robbing Peter to pay Paul or, in the Indian context, robbing Ram to pay Rahim. While the state support for the religious activity of a community irked the majority of Hindus in the country, the minority kept pleading helplessness all these decades, saying that they had not asked for it in the first place. Islam has always been categorical in insisting that the pilgrim’s maturity of age and sanity of the mind alone were not enough qualifiers for the holy journey. The religion adds that Haj can neither “cause an obligation to lapse”, which is “more important than the pilgrimage, nor commit a major sin that is more important in the law than abandoning the pilgrimage”. It further says that the “ability (to perform the pilgrimage)… is ascertained by a number of matters” including, very importantly, “the money or the (means) of earning or work enabling him to manage his life after returning from the pilgrimage”. That, of course, takes nothing away from the fact that the cabal of the Indian National Congress, its splinters that later grew into regional socialist parties and the communists would leave no stone unturned to pamper a section of the population showering upon it largesse that could be Islamic or un-Islamic, fair or unfair, just or unjust. For, the masses of followers, whatever be the religion, are by and large not learned and nobody minds some extra favour. And such favours help immensely in cultivating votes. The unscrupulous politicians did not care if the divisive constitutional provision kept the nation forever disunited.
The appeased are not even Muslims as a whole; the fake secularists brazenly deny human rights to about half the population of the community — their womenfolk — by insisting on the patriarchal talaq-e-biddat (triple talaq) and other misogynistic provisions of the mediaeval Shari’ah, unmindful even of renowned reformists like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who dismissed the Islamic code of laws as well as the hearsay-based Ahadith (anecdotes narrating Prophet Mohammed’s conversations with his companions). The unethical polity also wouldn’t like to pay heed to the Supreme Court’s citations from the Qur’an that held the practice of callous abandoning of one’s wife as sinful. In any case, India today should so bravely belong to the 21st century that it should discard anything that is retrograde for present-day Indians even if it was so willed by some scriptures. While the present government has hit the regressive Islamic marital system in the Lok Sabha too, it is unfortunate to not have enough strength in the Rajya Sabha to see the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, through. Nevertheless, by placing the legislation for consideration in the Lower House and ensuring its passage there, this government has made it clear that Modi and his team are in no mood to continue with two sets of laws for as many sets of citizens of the country even before a uniform civil code desired by the Directive Principles of State Policy is realised.
With this, the stage should be set for a nationwide, multi-party dialogue on what India’s UCC should be, and all fears of imposition of the belief system of one community on all must be allayed. There, the modern commonsense of — and informed opinions on — rights and wrongs must prevail. A section of Hindus, too, who believe India cannot be secular, must be persuaded to accept the truth that the only alternative to a secular state is a theocratic one, wherein Hindus themselves wouldn’t consensually — let alone unanimously — agree upon any set of rules descending from, say, the Vedas. Therefore, while on the home front and private capacity one ought to be free to pursue his beliefs, the state, which is to say its laws, can be dictated by modernity alone. Be it for animate objects like human beings or inanimate ones like buildings and roads, as and when evolved wisdom and religious dictation clash, the former must have its way, determining the fates of everything from the marital and inheritance status of individuals to the neighbourhood calm and vehicular traffic on thoroughfares disrupted routinely by temples and mosques, taziya, kanwariya and wedding processions alike. One nation demands and deserves one law, and a modern one at that.