India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic Republic. Fortunately our democracy has been successful during all these years largely because of the fact that the people in general are secular, tolerant and law abiding. As a matter of fact, success of secular democracy, a sacred principle, depends on the wisdom and sagacity of the people. It is unfortunate that sometimes during elections people indulge in divisive activities based on religion, caste and creed.

Communal politics is mainly responsible for divisive mindset which sometimes disturbs peace of the country. People must understand that politics and political parties are sources of ideas and not the vehicle of conflict or hate. Political and economic aspirations cannot be achieved by raising the religious sentiments of the people. Muslim community of India in general and U.P. in particular should refrain from communal politics. They must understand that Muslim political parties are no answer for their genuine cause which can only be protected by secular parties. It is because of the communal politics that democratic aspirations of a section of socially disadvantaged and discriminated group of people, Muslims included, remains unrealized.

Muslim political parties can not be the remedy to take care of Muslims and solve all their issues. Muslims should shun politicians who promise political and social empowerment through their rhetoric. These rhetoric result in political reactions causing hatred and suspicion among different communities. We must realize that minority communal politics is no answer to majority communal politics. Extremism of one community and fundamentalism of the other community feed each other.

Today Muslims are at a crossroad. They face a dilemma. Some of them step in the trap of emotional issues laid by people of vested interest. However, the best course for them is not to be carried away by the rabble rising of hate mongers. Communal politics bring misery not only to Muslims but every section of the society. Muslim exclusive politics is highly detrimental to their own interest. This has been proven time and again in recent past in several state elections.

Muslims need to strengthen Indian democracy by taking part (voting) in elections in large numbers and trying to elect candidates, from any community and party, who have integrity, moral values and are nationalists in true sense of the word. Instead of raising emotive issues, Muslims should only demand commitments, from the prospective candidates, larger and greater support for the cause of education. Muslims themselves need to focus mainly on modern education. For them, three issues are vital to fulfill their dreams of happy and respectable life and these are Education, Education and Education.

Poet Iqbal had said, "Taalim Hai amraze Millat ki dawa." (Education is the cure of all the ills of the community).

In spite of certain unfortunate incidences of the recent past which have disturbed the minds of Muslims, they must not suffer from siege mentality. India has always been a pluralistic society and it will remain so in future. Muslim should play their role in enhancing the values of secularism and pluralisms. They must adjust themselves with changing times to help the cause of pluralistic society. In this connection there is clear Quranic Injunction for them to follow:

"God does not change a people's lot unless they change what is in themselves" (Quran, 13:11; Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali).

A poetic translation of the above verse by Sir Iqbal is "Khuda ne aaj tak us qaum ki halat naheen badli, na ho jisko khiyal aap apni halat ke badalne ka." (God has not changed the condition of a nation which has not thought of changing themselves.)

Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi, Deputy Director (Retd.), National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, Member, U.P. State Biodiversity Board, Secretary Urdu Scientific Society.