Salman Khurshid: We need a rediscovery of each other in these times

Indian Muslims can be called the majority of the minority in our multi-cultural country. And yet we know little about this community who are now facing major issues. Keeping this in mind, well-known politician, advocate and author Salman Khurshid has come out with a book to explain Islam to non-Muslims.

Published by Rupa Publications, his book titled Visible Muslim, Invisible Citizen speaks about not just Islam but also the character of Indian Muslims in our democracy and our country’s social and political context.

What prompted you to pick this topic as your next book? Was the general atmosphere presently in the country the reason? How would describe the basic premise of the book?

It is an important topic of contemporary democratic discourse and had become somewhat contentious in recent times. I was mulling over these matters for some time and somehow events have brought these issues centre stage.

The title is quite intriguing. Why did you choose it?

It sums up the essential debate about identity and equality, both central to our constitution and yet distorted in popular conversations.

Since the topic is not something which is usually discussed, how has it been written and presented?

My endeavour has been to connect divergent opinions and find common ground that allows conversations without screaming at each other. Some people may object to the extent of accommodation but I have flagged the points that needed to be noticed.

Will the book hold something for Muslim readers considering the target readers are non-Muslims?

It is really for all and each segment may see it differently. Muslims obviously are familiar with their condition, yet there are distortions that need to be corrected. On the other hand, other people such as Hindus in the past were much better informed about Muslims than most are now. In a sense, we need a rediscovery of each other in these times.

Why do you think Indian Muslims have to deal with more issues within the country than other minorities?

That is inevitable because of their foot print and size. Yet there are many other common issues shared with other minorities.

Do you not think that educated and more influential Muslims like you are in the minority and the leaders of the community are still not able to bring the community ahead?

It takes all kinds to make the community mind. In history whenever someone has sought to introduce modernism there has been resistance. But now it is important that enlightened opinion must find ways.

How would you compare the views of Indian Muslims compared to the Muslim community from other Muslim and non-Muslim countries in the minds of non-Muslims?

I agonise to think of the damage that our wonderful global image must be suffering because of avoidable discord and disagreements at home. We were a shining example of harmony and cooperation since Independence movement and it is truly sad that we have allowed it to be put under stress of divisive politics.

Do give the readers one reason to pick this book and how it will change their mindset.

It should be an eye opener to all in an atmosphere where objectivity and reason have taken a backseat as populism rules the roost. I will be happy if some objectivity is induced into public discourse.