Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy
Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) is a forum of Indian Muslims committed to the values of democracy, secularism, equality and justice as enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of India. IMSD believes that these values are fully in consonance with the core teachings of Islam. It seeks to rejuvenate the tolerant traditions within Islam to generate a progressive and liberal voice within the Indian Muslim community so that Muslims in India are able to live in dignity, at peace with self and with all fellow Indians.
IMSD is an independent national movement of progressive Muslims. It is a non-party, socio-political organisation, seeking to create an alternative progressive discourse within the community and is firmly committed to the cause of modern secular values and gender justice. It is opposed to the forces of conservatism, patriarchy, the domination of the clergy, dogmatism, extremism and violence.
For IMSD, anyone who calls or identifies herself/himself or is seen as a Muslim, is a Muslim. It has an open arms policy towards people of all communities who share the values IMSD upholds.
IMSD was launched at a two-day convention in Mumbai on December 18, 2016. Over a hundred men and women from a dozen cities across India participated in this convention. However, IMSD finds its roots in Muslims for Secular Democracy (MSD) which was launched in 2003 with more or less the same objectives but remained inactive for several years. The decision to re-launch MSD as IMSD was taken at a meeting of 33 persons, many of them MSD members, on September 3, 2016.
The need for IMSD
In 2003, MSD had noted it was taking birth “at a critical juncture when India’s Constitution and democracy are in serious danger of being subverted from within and replaced by a fascist regime”. At the time of its re-launch as IMSD, the signals are even more ominous. No less worrisome is the apparent drastic rightward shift of the political centre across the globe, with racism and religious extremism on the rise.
Sustained hate propaganda, systematic communalisation of India’s history, complemented through the ‘saffronisation’ of education, instigation of communal violence and terror to polarise Indian society and painstaking organisation building, have been the Sangh Parivar’s preoccupation for nearly a century now. Today, having made deep inroads into the mass psyche, having infiltrated and captured State institutions, Sangh Parivar outfits, including its parliamentary wing (the Bharatiya Janata Party), are cynically misusing and manipulating the instruments and institutions of democracy to subvert them from within. The suppression of the country’s minorities, Dalits, OBCs, tribals, peasants and the working class, are part of Hindutva’s agenda to subvert the Indian Constitution. Intense, unchecked hate propaganda has succeeded to the point that anti-Muslim prejudice, and worse, is now the prevailing “common sense”.
As an organisation of Muslims, it is a matter of greater concern for IMSD that in recent decades, within India and internationally, a section of Muslims who claim to speak or act in the name of Islam and Muslims, reinforce the image of the community as one of ‘fundamentalists’, ‘fanatics’, ‘extremists’, ‘anti-nationals’; a community ‘unprepared for, or incapable of, peaceful coexistence with others’. Extremist and terrorist organisations such as those mushrooming in our immediate neighbourhood, as also the Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Boko Haram, are adding fuel to the growing ‘Islamophobia’, in India and globally.
The big challenge before Muslims today is to rediscover the compassionate, pluralistic and tolerant traditions within Islam, the Islam which the bigots and the extremists seek to destroy. MSD is being re-launched as IMSD to promote the values of equality, justice, freedom, compassion, human rights and the rule of law.