May 18, 2022
population myth

Book Review: The population Myth by S.Y. Quraishi

The book of S.Y. Quraishi busts misapprehension of Muslim high fertility rate and tries to establish that high fertility rate in Muslims is due to poverty, illiteracy, lack of health resources and awareness, not religious reasons.

After Babri Masjid dispute, population is the issue that ignited hate against Muslims very much. In India, Muslims has been accused for their high fertility rate and increased growth of family. It has been presented that Islam does not propose family planning and encourage its followers to born a high number of children to enlarge the population of Muslims. A misconception has been spreaded by right-wing that Muslims has planned agenda to outnumber the Hindu population and to emerge as a dominant group and if Muslim’s high fertility will be allowed to continue it will overtake the Hindu population in coming years.

Recently, Uttar Pradesh Government also passed “Population guidelines” and preparing to pass legislation on population. There is also a demand to pass population law at the national level.

The book “The population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India” which is authored by Former chief election commissioner of India S.Y.Quraishi, tries to debunk this misconception and, with its impeccable research, not only explodes the population myth but also explains the population control structure in India and the seriousness of Indian government’s plans and policies to achieve the goal of balanced population.

This book begins with the story of Indian family planning, what steps have been taken by the Indian government from independence to the present era and analyze every scheme, policy and plan on population and relates it to the population growth and family planning among both major communities (Hindu and Muslims) in India and inspect which elements cause high birth rate and what are those factors which force people to adopt contraception methods and later unfolds the issues of family planning among Indian Muslims.

After discussing worldly problems, further, it explores the religious issues behind it and spells out what Islam says on the population issue, this book further moves to discuss the position of other religions on the topic and the policies of major Islamic nations on population, it ends with the discussion of current Indian politics on population and suggestions to the government to handle the population issue not particularly in Muslim but also in general throughout India.

The book of S.Y. Quraishi busts misapprehension of Muslim high fertility rate and tries to establish that high fertility rate in Muslims is due to poverty, illiteracy, lack of health resources and awareness, not religious reasons.

Commenting upon the reasons for different fertility rates in Indian states, the book notes that fertility among religious groups varies substantially across states. In general, India has large inter-state variations in fertility, ranging from the lowest TFR of 1.56 in Kerala to the highest TFR of 3.41 in Bihar, among the large states. Thus, it can be inferred that if the population of some religions were concentrated in high-fertility regions, they are likely to have high fertility on account of the region factor than the religion factor. This suggests that there is no “Hindu fertility”, “Muslim fertility” or “Christian fertility” as such.  And there is no such thing as “Muslim (or for that matter, Hindu) family planning behaviour”.

This topic had possibilities of biasness, but Author addressed the topic in so balanced way, he did not try to hide faults of Muslim community, he presented the facts as it is. Book put its words with figures, tables and data and citing authentic sources for every information, which help to curb any possible biasness but also decreased the commentary of the author on the issue. 

Author used simple language which could be count as a plus point for the book, simple language makes it accessible for common people and not to just high-educated circle. While discussing population myth, book also develops good understanding of population matters, terms, plans, surveys to the readers. Reading this book helps you to understand the population issue almost thoroughly and it is also recommended for that.

This book delves into the Quran and hadith to show how Islam concerns about healthy families rather than sick but big families, and Islam is actually a forerunner of small and healthy families.

No soul shall impose (upon itself) a duty but to its capacity, neither shall a mother be made to suffer injury on account of her child, nor shall he to whom the child is born (be made to suffer) on account of his child.

(Surah Al Baqarah- The Cow 2: 233)

The most grueling trial is to have plenty of children with no adequate means.

(al-Hakim)

Islamic nations such as Egypt, Iran planned their population policies with the help of religious communities, and these communities did not oppose this population policy rather encouraged this among people and helped the government in balanced population movement.

Explaining every aspect of population, tarnishing down the propaganda against Muslim community with the help of researched data of government agencies, presenting the actual condition of public health administration, health policies, and future of these policies, this book is authoritative addition to the literature of population problems, family planning and Muslim parenthood.

Author Conclusion is that Population increase is not due to any religious issues it is because of the lack of services, the problem at hand is not to be viewed as a “Hindu versus Muslim” but the government should take serious steps to curb the problem. S.Y. Quraishi does not try to save the present condition of Muslims they appeal to Muslims to adopt preventive measures.

This article is written by Arshi hayat Gnagohi. She is a lawyer, blogger at ababeelfolks and writes on laws, culture, books, cinema, food and literature.

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