Muslims in India have no inclination to resort to “ideologies and practices of violence”, Vice President Hamid Ansari said today, as he offered Moroccan scholars a glimpse of India’s efforts to seek acceptance of diversity.
“The Muslim experience in modern India is that its citizens professing Islamic faith are citizens, consider themselves as such, are beneficiaries of the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution, participate fully in the civic processes of the polity and seek correctives for their grievances within the system,” Ansari said.
“There is no inclination in their ranks to resort to ideologies and practices of violence,” he said while delivering a lecture at the Mohammed V University here in the Moroccan capital on the last day of his trip.
The Vice President said that Indian Muslims have lived in India’s religiously plural society for over a thousand years and that has impacted on modern India and its existential reality of a plural society on the basis of which a democratic polity and a secular state structure was put in place.
“The Indian model was of relevance to our globalising world because in India, an attempt was being made to look beyond the traditional virtue of tolerance and seek acceptance of diversity and adopt it as a civic virtue,” said Ansari, who was conferred an honorary doctorate by the university.
Speaking on ‘Accommodating Diversity in a Globalising World: The Indian Experience’, he said the challenge for the modern world is to accept diversity as an existential reality and to configure attitudes and methodologies to deal with it.
He said that in countries having complex societal makeup, accommodation of diversity in political structures and socio-economic policies is not an option but an imperative necessity ignoring which can have unpleasant consequences.
Noting that India counts amongst its citizens the second largest Muslim population in the world, Ansari said they are not homogenous in racial or linguistic terms and bear the impact of local cultural surroundings, in manners and customs, in varying degrees.
Muslims in India number 180 million and accounts for 14.2 per cent of the country’s total population of 1.3 billion.
Ansari said that the framers of Indian Constitution had the objective of securing civic, political, economic, social and cultural rights as essential ingredients of citizenship with particular emphasis on rights of religious minorities.
He said an overwhelming number of Muslims of the world are non-Arabs and live in societies that are not Arab.
“Equally relevant is the historical fact they contributed to and benefited from the civilisation of Islam in full measure. This trend continues to this day,” he added.
Referring to the Sufis in different periods in history who took Islam to the masses, he said the Sufi trends sought commonalities in spiritual thinking and some Islamic precepts and many Muslim practices seeped into the interstices of the Indian society and gave expression to a broader and deeper unity of minds expressive of the Indian spiritual tradition.
“The cultural interaction was mutually beneficial and an Islamic scholar of our times has acknowledged ‘an incontrovertible fact that Muslims have benefited immensely from the ancient cultural heritage of India’,” he added.