Renowned poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar believes it is the Hindu caste system that has forced Muslims to live under a false lineage, he said at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet here on Friday.
“You ask an average Muslim, what is your lineage’ They will say ‘My great great grandfather used to sell dry fruits in Basra, Iraq’. So they are willing to come from Afghanistan also, but right on Khyber Pass they stopped coming,” Akhtar said while speaking at a session revolving around Islamophobia, which means dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims.
“Why do they stop coming,” he continued.
“It is because of Hindu caste system. If he accepts my grandfather got converted in Punjab which he did, they (Hindus) will ask you what was your father before the conversion. It is Hindu caste system which has made him create a false lineage,” said Akhtar, who took the session by storm with his passionate speech.
Akhtar, who proclaims to have no religion and is an atheist, said 90 per cent Muslims in India are converts.
“They say ‘You are an invader, you have come from outside’. They say they have come from Ghaznavi. The fact is that they have not. The fact is 90 per cent of Muslims are converts. But they are accused to be the outsiders. And they say ‘Yes, we are outsiders’.”
Questioning the meaning of stereotype, Akhtar said “we tend to stereotype people in every field. But as long as it is benign it’s okay, the problem starts when it becomes malignant”.
Questioning the relevance of Ummah, a Muslim phrase meaning the collective community of Islamic peoples, Akhtar said: “It becomes malignant from both the sides. People who are looking for a particular group of people, they have developed an opinion about them. And people who are within a community, they also have developed a certain opinion about themselves. There are also stereotyping. It’s two way.”
“Muslims are like that. The fact that Muslims are no nation at all. There is a word they have Ummah, which is all the Muslims of the world are one nation, are they'” the 72-year old questioned.
“Let’s go and ask these Saudis and the Kuwaitis, are we the same nation’ In Kuwait or any any middle eastern country, so called Islamic country, nobody including a Muslim who is not from there will be able to allowed to marry a girl or do his own business without an Arab partner.
To Akhtar, there is no such ‘identity’ and it is a myth.
“As a matter of fact, there is no identity. It is falsely created by the people who are adversaries and by the people who are supposedly the supporters or the members of the group. It’s a myth. What is tragic about Muslim community is concerned, the stereotyping is of great help.”