How Can Hindus Function as Minorities in Islamic Countries?
There are a number of Hindu minorities in Islamic countries. In Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia
and Indonesia they are the remnants of the original Hindus of the
region. In the Gulf countries they come mainly as workers.
Unfortunately Hindus are not
treated well in Islamic countries, particularly as regards their
religion. They are often forbidden to practice their religion in
public. They are not allowed to teach their religion publicly. They
certainly are not allowed to convert Muslims to Hinduism. Nor will
any Hindu political parties be tolerated. This is all very different
than in India where Muslims are generally allowed to do all these
things. In fact Hindus are so oppressed in most Islamic countries
that they are often afraid even to speak out. The same is true to a
lesser degree in regard to members of other non-Islamic religions in
Islamic countries, including Christianity.
Traditionally Arabs employed
Hindus as servants and slaves, along with black Africans and other
non-Muslims they captured in war. Under Islamic rule in India Hindus
were oppressed, forced to pay religious taxes, and otherwise looked
down upon, just as the British later discriminated against them.
Hence it has not been the tendency of Muslims to appreciate Hindus,
and fundamentalist Islam has continued this tradition.
With such a history and
under such adverse circumstances Hindus in Islamic countries must
hold to the inner truth of their tradition, though it may be
difficult to express it outwardly. Above all, they should seek
alliance with Hindu groups in other countries, and Hindus in other
countries should seek to help them. We live in a global culture
today and Hindus must create a common cause with Hindus all over the
world. Otherwise Hindus who are suffering oppression will not be
helped by anyone.