Harijans in Islam
by Dr. Allah Bakhsh
The Light (Pakistan), 8th September 1981 Issue (Vol. 61, No. 17, pp. 3–4)
On page 5 we reproduce comments by the Indian Press on the recent conversions of Harijans to Islam. It is obvious that the condemnation of the cruel caste Hindu system could not but result in abandoning of the Hindu faith. So on the occasion of celebrations of the freedom-day, the Harijans in India have raised the slogan of ‘Quit Hinduism’. They have themselves expressed their reaction against the inhuman dogma of Hindu caste system based upon accident of birth. They have used the words ‘oppression, suppression and exploitation’. The blame is not only a justified and genuine grievance but has been a centuries long stigma upon the dignity of humanity. This deep-rooted blot is not an accidental or occasional affair but is the part and parcel of the Hindu faith, which is based upon hide-bound caste system, having been ordained through deeds of a past life. Transmigration of souls, as the doctrine is designated, takes its stand upon the vicious circle of births and re-births according to actions done in previous existence.
According to this ‘Sublime’ life-philosophy, men and animals are involved in an unending cycle of births and rebirths. The shape and form of future life of a soul is determined by the deeds it has done in a past life. A low life granted to a soul is due to its own earnings in a past existence. Thus a Harijan is born to a low-caste parents and owes his birth on account of his past misdeeds. A Brahman on the contrary has privileges in the Hindu law because of his merits in a previous life. The treatment of contempt and hatred heaped upon Harijans by the Hindu society is therefore not considered ignoble or blameable because in fact such is the due treatment the Harijans merit on account of their misdeeds in a previous life.
It is obvious from the above ideology of transmigration that no wretched or miserable person should seek any sympathy from another. The sole function of faith which rests on the brotherly good-will and help of weaker and less fortunate fellows, thus totally fails. The cruelties are no cruelties and the tyrannies practised by one individual of high caste are no tyrannies. They are all in fulfilment of our past-life deeds.
Man’s natural constitution is to seek brotherly and fellow-feeling treatment from another. This in fact forms the second great pillar of any true faith. Hinduism, however, takes its stand on the very negation of this principle of fellow-feeling and good-will because it contradicts the transmigration dogma. Obviously it is futile to expect any good out of an appeal to the high caste Hindu against the cruelties and inhuman barbarities perpetrated on the Harijans. So long as the Hindus believe in the doctrine of Karma and transmigration, it is an absurdity to expect any fair treatment for the low caste Harijans. Hence the resolve of the Harijans as reported in the press,
“We shall die, We shall kill but will not call ourselves as Hindus.”
Having truly realised the implications of low castes in the Hindu society, the Harijans have risen in revolt against the unnatural, irrational and anti-human Hindu faith. Man can face all kinds of hardships and trials but he is unwilling to face an inhuman and cruel treatment meted out to him, not on account of any of his misdeeds in this life but as a consequence of his birth-accident, over which he exercises not the slightest control. Honour and respect due to him as a human being is the first fundamental right a person demands from the society he lives in. Human dignity and honour, the basic right of a man is a must to be guaranteed to him, otherwise he finds no alternative but to rebel and revolt.
Islam as a religion guarantees human dignity and honourable status not only to its adherents but also to members of other faiths. It is the only faith that has been successful in eradicating distinctions of caste, colour, creed and race. This fact has been amply borne out by the Harijans embracing Islam. Even Christianity with its message of ‘Love’ has failed to fight against this inhuman caste system. The time is not too far when world would realise that the solution of present-day social problems lies in the universal message of Islam.