Shah Bano, Muslims in gutter & Zakaria’s secularism

Readers need to be assured the below sentences of wisdom is not the fiction of some Hindutva mind, but the actual printed thoughts of a man who was a PhD from London University

Shah Bano, Muslims & Zakaria's secularism
Shah Bano, Muslims & Zakaria's secularism

There is a great deal of anxiety among Indian Muslims who believed there is little they can do to save themselves, Dr Zakaria recommended the following


Referring to the Congress party’s continued opposition to the Triple Talaq Bill, our Prime Minister reminded that party of how it had similarly shielded the mindset of the minority community during the Shah Bano controversy by arousing the sentiment that “Upliftment of the Muslims is not the responsibility of the Congress; if they want to lie in the gutter, let them”.

The facts of the Shah Bano case are in nub are as follows:

The mature and nationalistic view is to bring the Muslims together and build a really great Indian nation.

  1. In 1975, Ahmad Khan (an advocate) threw out Shah Bano from her matrimonial home. She was then aged 62 years and was the mother of three children.
  2. Because of a court petition, she was granted monthly maintenance of Rs. 200. A few legal interventions later, the Supreme Court, on April 23, 1985, upheld a High Court judgment and granted her monthly maintenance of Rs. 179.
  3. But this verdict of Rs. 200 per month created a lot of heat and dust among the Muslim community because, under Islamic law, divorce maintenance is to be paid only during the period of iddat, or till 90 days after the divorce.
  4. The state was set for the “secular” Congress party to enter. Despite the protest of several of its leaders, and the resignation of Union Minister Arif Mohammad Khan, Rajiv Gandhi enacted the “The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986” which nullified the Supreme Court judgments and restricted the maintenance amount as per the Islamic law.

The entire situation may well have caused uncertainty among the Muslim community itself. And these Hindu extremists don’t reduce the general uneasiness among the Muslims.

So, what should Muslims in India do?

You’ll get angry replies to that question from Abu Azmi or Asauddin Owaisi or Abdul Razaq Khan and others. And the loony Hindus will want the Muslims to vanish to Pakistan.

The mature and nationalistic view is to bring the Muslims together and build a really great Indian nation.

And some of the suggestions towards that aim have come from the late Dr Rafiq Zakaria, a prominent Minister in the Maharashtra government of the Congress during the seventies.

His answers to the questioning Muslims are in his 219-page book “Communal Rage In Secular India” (Popular Prakashan, September 2002) in which, notably, the first Chapter is on the Godhra massacre of 2002 in Gujarat.

The book’s entire last chapter of 31 pages is devoted to “What Should Muslims Do?“, and accepting that there is a great deal of anxiety among Indian Muslims who believed there is little they can do to save themselves, he recommended the following:

Dr.Zakaria was a Congressman who was deputy leader of the party in Parliament after he had spent 15 years as a cabinet minister in the Maharashtra government

  • Confrontation has done no good to the Muslims. The only alternative for them is to change their outlook… Muslims must try and become an integral part of the mainstream. They must wholeheartedly collaborate in enriching composite nationalism. For this, they must get out of their ghetto mentality break the barriers of alienation and generate a harmonious environment.
  • They must discard their worn-out prejudices and outmoded habits and adjust themselves to the requirements of the changing times. Muslims must stop asking for doles which will only cripple them, and instead learn to stand on their own feet because the fact is that they have no true friends; many who show them sympathy are not sincere and do so only for electoral gain. Even Muslims from other countries have never come to their rescue. This has been proved time and again, and the wise must now take the hint and correct themselves.
  • Muslims continue to live in a make-believe world of their own. Their leaders waste their energies in whipping up emotions and bringing more trouble to ordinary Muslims. There are also the other warriors such as priests, academicians, journalists, who add fuel to the fire by taking up cudgels on behalf of the community. Indian Muslims have to come out of this quagmire; they must show such self-appointed champions of their cause in their place; they must do their best to change the hostile attitude of the Hindus against them and take their proper share in the nation’s development.
  • Indian Muslims must join hands with liberal Hindus to work zealously for harmony between the two communities. To succeed in this task, they must change their own behavior— indeed their entire perception.
  • Indian Muslims must boldly come forward to undergo an all-around transformation in their style of functioning. The younger generation, in particular, will have to arm themselves both educationally and socially. They will succeed if parents shed their old habits, give up their outdated notions, and help encourage and help their sons and daughters to get the best education. Merit alone gives them a reward; they must never seek patronage.
  • Indian Muslims must disarm the jihadis and disown the bigotry which has made Muslims pariahs everywhere. They must give assurance to the non-Muslims that their religion stands for “live and let live”. This reformation will rejuvenate Islam itself.
  • Without compromising the Quranic injunctions Indian Muslims must agree to the introduction of certain much-needed, essential changes in the Personal law, particularly the enactment of monogamy. There is, in fact, enough scope under the Shariah to amend the laws relating to marriage, divorce, dower, and even maintenance.
  • The controversy on the singing of Vande Mataram is meaningless. It was sung by all Muslim leaders of the Congress during the freedom struggle. Those Muslims who do not want to sing it may not, but they must stand up when it is sung as a mark of respect to an anthem which has a hoary past and is declared as a national song. Why add hurt to an already worsening communal relationship?
  • There is the question of family planning on which much of our country’s progress depends. It cannot be denied that Muslims have not taken to it as seriously as Hindus. This has to be corrected. There must be a vigorous campaign for its implementation among Muslims and their leaders in every sector must engage themselves to persuade them to adopt it so that they do not lag behind Hindus in fulfilling this most urgent task, without which India cannot succeed in eradicating poverty.
  • Muslims must make a sustained effort to convince Hindus that they should have no fear of them and assure them that they harbor no enmity towards them, nor are in a secret conspiracy with Muslims elsewhere to harm them. They must give assurance that Muslims are as much the sons of the soil as Hindus and as committed to the country’s glory and prosperity as Hindus are.
  • Finally, the punch line: “What Indian Muslims have to understand is that eventually it is not their leaders but they themselves who will have to make their destiny.”

Readers need to be assured that the above 11 sentences of wisdom are not the fiction of some Hindutva mind, but the actual printed thoughts of a man who was a PhD from London University who was called to the Bar from Lincoln’s Inn, and was active in India’s freedom struggle. He had a distinguished career in law, education, journalism, and politics, and was a scholar of international repute.

Even more significant to note for the likes of Rahul Gandhi and Mani Shankar Aiyer, Dr.Zakaria was a Congressman, first and last. Yes, a Congressman who was deputy leader of the party in Parliament after he had spent 15 years as a cabinet minister in the Maharashtra government.

The above manifesto is what one can call as Zakaria’s Secularism which, alas, is totally absent in the minds of most Congressmen — from Jawaharlal Nehru down to  the Abu Azmis, Azam Khans and Sonia Gandhis of our political world, on all the pseudo-secularists from Teesta Setalvad and Arundhati Roy to Amartya Sen, and, of course, on all our journalists bearing the Lutyens stamp.

1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Arvind Lavakare has been a freelance writer since 1957. He has written and spoken on sports on radio and TV. He currently writes on political issues regularly. His writings include a book on Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

His freelancing career began in "The Times of India" with a sports article published when he was a month shy of 20 years of age. He was also a regular political affairs columnist first for for five years or so and then shifted to He also wrote extensively for "till it stopped publication."


  1. I must thank the “Concerned Indian” above for his criticism and advice flowing from the high intellectual trouble he has taken to write your comment.
    Unfortunately, I do not have his/ her have the required mental ability to comprehend what exactly you say and advised me to do. In turn, I would humbly, not arrogantly, request/advise him/her about analysing the present Hindu-Muslim situation and recommend what needs to be done. I think will publish his/ her article; please treat it as a humble challenge to your apparent mental calibre. One request: the writer of that article must use his/ her real name instead of hiding under a pseudonym.

    • Hello, Thanks for the reply. It appears to be more incoherent than the article because of typos.
      Real name or religion is irrelevant. You have not spelt out whether you are a Catholic or Adventist, for example, although the article suggests you are not a Muslim.

      I am not sure why you feel that you are in a position to advise Muslims as you don’t seem to have so advised groups of other religions. If you really wish to dig out things from history, please tell us why Indian government passed the Hindu code bill in the first place. I will eagerly read that.

      There is a large group of people who believe that Indian Hindus and Muslims alone need to be disciplined and educated. I hope that is not your position.

  2. This is just old wine, that was already gone bad decades ago, brought back in freshly washed old bottle. If family planning is such a good thing, why was our top leader boasting about demographic dividend?

    The fact is, this author and many other deluded thinkers want to convert Indians to western values and western religion. Muslims have resisted that all along, Hindus haven’t. You can sell a lot of wishy-washy ideas to Hindus in the name of superior morality, you cannot to simple thinking Muslims.

    I will urge the author to stop writing stale stuff like this one. He should instead introspect, meditate, and critically analyse his position. Perhaps, he will see the obvious inconsistencies much faster and much more clearly that way.

  3. Unless the books of Islam are read and analysed by Hindus and unless they travel to Saudi and Pakistan , and unless they understand what is told in their Aazan prayers, they will be groping in the dark and wasting their time. Any one deviating and diluting what is written in their books will defacto become non Muslim. Core idea of Islam is to establish sharia all over the world, which is diagonally opposite to democracy. Hence debating on such topic is futile. The founder of Ahmadia sect propagated reincarnation and the result is the sect is banished from Islam. Time and Science will solve the issue with no deadline.

  4. The patriotism and dedication with which you bring out timely responses old or new is indeed remarkable dear Arvind. A lovely write up from a true Muslim for not only saving Islam but also the motherland he belongs to.Sri Narendra Modi is only reflecting his genuine affection for the Muslim community by requesting them to follow the path of Dr Zakariaand jointhe main stream of India and thus not only serve India but save Islam also.

  5. The above statement and article is good but unfortunately the Muslims are doing everything opposite to the above mentioned suggestions at present and that is a fact,
    , so Hindu majority will not trust them and yeah the historic crimes done by Muslim invaders and rulers must not be whitewashed the Muslim community must accept it as the Germans have accepted their Nazi war crimes only then there will be some sort of closure and real building of bridges between communities occur without that nothing will stand as it is rightly observed Hindus don’t trust Muslims and that is because of their activities and attitude

  6. This is an issue that can be addressed for the country as a whole rather than just for Muslims. This is a trap that BJP is falling into. They have the opportunity to bring laws that are applicable to all Indians rather than for one community changing the way from the approach taken by Congress in the past. At some point in the future BJP will be out of Power and Hindus are going to find themselves in the wrong end of the stick. BJP needs to change the narrative and become a champion of secularism.

  7. The Muslims in India must give up eating Beef on their own. Finally, by handing back Ayodhya, Mathura & Kashi they can correct the mistakes of the past committed by their ancestors.

    • Eating beef is the least of our issues. We need to first think about feeding the vast number our fellow Indians who are in poverty. We need to find a way to get them out of poverty. India is running out of ground water and the snow caps in the Himalayas are reducing fast. India needs to urgently come up with a water management plan. Further lack of proper waste disposal and environmental awareness is polluting our rivers and environment. We need to free the Hindu temples from the control of the government. If not, Hinduism and with that Indian civilization will slowly die out.

  8. Mr. Zakaria doesn’t say “how” Muslims can do all these. Basic psychological transformation can only happen if they are forced to ban the words Kafir, blasphemy, jihad and a few other idiotic and inhuman concepts, however nice-sounding apologetic interpretations may scholars give to these obviously harmful poisons of human mind.
    And they should also be told at every step in growing years that Hindus are their forefathers and their mentality is still carrying the decency and humaneness of Hinduism in spite if centuries of poisoning.

  9. Thank you Mr Lavkare for bringing out Dr Zakaria’s views . Clearly progressive ideas aimed at resolving the issues.
    I hope your article gets wide publicity.
    It will be a very good thing if, the stand taken by persons like Dr Zakaria, Arif Mohammad Khan is wide publicity

  10. Will the Hyd LS MP @asadowaisi take the above words of widom of Dr Zakaria and advise the Muslim community to faithfully accept, adopt and implement all the 11 well meaning suggestions, which are made for their own upliftment ? else leave them in lurch by perpetually suffer in gutter, as Congi leaders desire.


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