Book Review: ‘Being Muslim in Hindu India’ by Ziya Us Salam

Ziya Us Salam's Insightful Journey Through Challenges, Compassion, and the Call for a More Inclusive Society.


Book Title: Being Muslim in Hindu India
Author: Ziya Us Salam
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Number of Pages: 344
ISBN: 978-9356995840
Date Published: Nov. 21, 2023
Price: INR 477

Being Muslim in Hindu India by Ziya Us Salam Book Cover

Book Review

Being Muslim in Hindu India” authored by Ziya Us Salam offers a critical examination of the hurdles confronting the Muslim community in India. Salam’s portrayal paints a stark and compelling picture of a community grappling with mounting challenges from Hindutva forces, as he argues in the book. At the core of the narrative is a poignant exploration of the most pressing challenge faced by the Muslim community, which extends to the very definition of a secular India enshrined in the country’s Constitution. The book serves as an impassioned plea for attention, shedding light on the deep-rooted issues within the Indian polity and society, and urging readers to not only acknowledge the despair but also foster awareness and understanding. Through Salam’s perspective, readers gain valuable insights into the intricate dynamics of religion and society in India.

The central thesis of “Being Muslim in Hindu India” contends that the Muslim community in India is currently grappling with unprecedented challenges, posing a threat not only to the community itself but also challenging the foundational idea of a secular India. The book elucidates the daily stigmatization and increasing threats of violence faced by Muslims in India, while also addressing attempts to erase significant portions of medieval Indian history. Salam’s work is a heartfelt plea for attention, striving to bring to the forefront the issues that have eroded the foundations of Indian polity and society in recent years.

Supporting his argument, Ziya Us Salam skillfully crafts a vivid and searing portrayal of the challenges faced by the Muslim community in India. By emphasizing the gravest challenge to the community and the secular ideals enshrined in the Constitution, the book provides a stark reality check on the ongoing stigmatization and threats faced by Muslims. Rather than being polemical or sensational, Salam’s writing is grounded in matter-of-fact observations supported by data and facts. The book calls for engagement based on disagreement at a substantive level, discouraging ad hominem attacks often found in some reviews.

For those who hold dear the founding ideals of the Indian Republic—democracy, pluralism, tolerance, and the rule of law—this book is a must-read. It refrains from engaging in a blame game, presenting its points in a straightforward manner backed by data and facts. As Salam suggests, a nuanced study, not sweeping generalizations, is essential in understanding the challenges faced by the Muslim community in India.

Being Muslim in Hindu India” by Ziya Us Salam is a compelling exploration of the formidable challenges confronting the Indian Muslim community. Salam’s writing is a powerful force that combines urgency with a nuanced approach. By weaving personal anecdotes, historical context, and rigorous research, the author provides a deep and engaging narrative. The book adeptly exposes the various manifestations of ‘othering’ experienced by Indian Muslims, from political marginalization to cultural assaults. Salam balances the severity of the issues with a note of optimism, emphasizing the resilience of the community and offering a well-rounded perspective that encourages readers to reflect on India’s secular fabric.

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Also, the book proves enlightening, expanding understanding beyond personal experiences to the broader challenges faced by Muslims, especially in the political arena. It catalyzes introspection, compelling readers to confront issues that impact India’s secular ideals. Critics argue that this book appears to be an orchestrated portrayal of victimhood, employing a formal tone and selectively choosing facts that align with a predetermined narrative. However, detractors contend that despite social and biological proximity to Hindus, the author posits that Muslims often express a stronger affinity towards foreigners such as Palestinians and Saudis.

In conclusion, “Being Muslim in Hindu India” is not only an informative read but also a call to action for a more inclusive and empathetic society, showcasing Salam’s distinctive blend of passion and factual depth.

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