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37 the surface at any point of time with any other trigger which could be political or economic. In previous years religious disputes had been the chief causes of collision, but the tension had not become so great that the most trivial incidents sufficed to start trouble. The demon of unrest was abroad; the spirit of lawlessness had been aroused by the nonco-operation movement; and the communal disorder had become the dominant factor of Indian political life (in Cumming ed. 1932: 115-116). Thus even the non-cooperation movement (which is generally characterized as marking Hindu-Muslim cooperation), served as a trigger to give expression to this ‘deep-seated conflict’.

The Hindu has many gods in his universe; he reverences the Brahmin; he venerates the cow; and he makes joyful music at his festivals. The Muslim is monotheistic; he is a follower of the Prophet; he reverences the Koran; he excludes music from the mosque. Once a year at the Bakr-Id festival he sacrifices a cow. The slaughter of kine excites the Hindu, and has been the proximate cause of communal rioting in nine cases out of ten. Disturbances of mosque prayers by passing bands of Hindu processionists rouses the darkest passions of Muslim worshippers and has been a frequent preliminary to serious disorder, especially in the larger cities during the last twenty years.

The great masses of the rural population, whether Hindu or Muhammadan, are simple cultivators, who at all normal times live in peace and amity. Their chief preoccupations are the timely arrival and seasonal distribution of the annual rains, the tillage of their fields, the gathering of their harvests, their dealings with their landlords and their moneylenders. Religious festivals are one of their few excitements. If these occasionally lead to strife and bloodshed, normal relations are resumed as soon as the lava flow of passion subsides.

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A Historical and Theoretical Investigation into 'Communalism' by Sufiya Pathan


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