The spirit of assimilation is India’s trump card

There is Maulana Tiqir Raza Khan, the head and cleric of the Union of the Congregation, and there comes Narsinghanand Saraswati, the priest of the Dasna Devi temple in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. Unfortunately, they both have speakers with decibel levels that no one wants to control. Reza insults the Prime Minister and blatantly calls for jihad and aims to provoke Muslims against Hindus. Narsinganand, who has been slapped in the wrist by a few FIRs, is calling for genocide.

It is not known how much resonance they have in their communities outside of social media or WhatsApp but one thing is clear: Majorities in both communities are investing in the future of a secure and prosperous India. People in both societies want their children to study hard and be treated fairly in the competitive world of education and employment. One could hope the hateful words weren’t so far-reaching.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was absolutely right when he said that you cannot imagine India without the contribution of Muslims. He had said, “The day Muslims are said to be undesirable here, the concept of Hindutva will cease to exist.” It is unfortunate that these statements do not reach the rabble who spread hatred.

It is also unfortunate that every Indian who thinks, with a minimum sense of civic responsibility, needs today to determine her position on issues such as mosques, temples, veils and the call to prayer while serious economic, educational, unemployment and social problems call for attention. But let us use this occasion as an opportunity to create a new social pact in which each of us, whoever God we pray to, contributes to reducing tension and blurring the societal divide.

This is a country where the great poet Iqbal once said of Lord Ram: “Hai Ram K wa Ajoud Bi Hindustan Ko Naz / Ahli Nazar Samajhti Hain, Imam of India!” (The people of India feel proud to find Ram among them/He is considered by the visionaries to be a great spiritual leader of India.) Iqbal’s words are not frozen in time but should be part of an ongoing process of assimilation. For this to happen, there must be reform and rethinking on both sides.

Muslims should start thinking about the ideology of banishing the BJP and pledging to vote for anyone “capable of defeating the BJP”.

This has done them harm because the parties that want to “defeat the BJP” appear to be stuck in a period of time – in a world where dynasties enjoy privilege. There was a time, during the six decades of Congressional rule, when it convened–and Congress is guilty of perpetuating this myth–that to come to power at the center, I needed a Muslim vote. This myth was shattered in 2014 and in nearly every election since then.

Muslims know that these parties have failed to address their social, educational, and security problems. However, these parties relied on their vote. No wonder, the abstention of all these parties – Congress, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and AIMIM – is that the RSS and BJP seek to marginalize Muslims. Why don’t these parties have Muslims in their highest ranks?

The debate over the headscarf in a few districts of Karnataka has been trying to turn it into a national issue when it finds no echo in any other state. Fears of India becoming a Hindu religious state are also exaggerated, with secular, peace-loving Hindus outnumbering fanatical and rabid parties. When a young Hindu in Hyderabad, Bi Nagaraju, was murdered in plain sight by the Muslim brother of his wife Ashrine Sultana, his only crime was that he and his wife were in love, very few from the community stood up and spoke out against him. He. She. Even the usual suspects issuing pamphlets were silent.

Before the dismemberment of the Indian subcontinent, a Muslim peasant in Bengal happily participated in the village of Durga Puja like his Hindu neighbor. In Bangladesh, Hindus celebrate the anniversary of identity. If entire Muslim villages in Malaysia can watch the Ramayana performed on stage, there is no reason why they should not do the same in India or involve Hindus in the processions of Tazia and Karbala Legislation.

Meena Kumari, Nargis, Waheeda Rahman and Mumtaz played the faithful Hindu wife with sindoor on their foreheads. And what about the Bhajans who sang in Muhammad Rafi’i’s delicate voice? Should we ban these recordings? Should we stop watching movies starring Dilip Kumar, Aamir Khan or Salman Khan? After the namaz when Muslims came out of mosques, in almost all neighborhoods of walled cities across India, one can notice Hindu men and women standing with their sick children to be blessed. Mulvi Sahib used to wake Panditji to ring the temple bells in the morning. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan once praised India’s complex culture by describing the country as a beautiful bride with charming eyes – Hindus and Muslims.

Sufi saints like Sheikh Moinuddin Chishti, Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya, Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, and other saints like Haji Malang of Maharashtra are revered by all Indians regardless of their faith. The spirit of assimilation is India’s trump card. It can make the country a beacon of hope to the world. The Urdu poet, Afzal Mangaluri, aptly put the goal: “Koi mushkil nahin hei Hindu ya Musalmaan hona / Haan badi baat hai is daur mein insaan hona (It is no feat to be Hindu or Muslim / What matters today is to be a good human).

This column first appeared in print on May 19, 2022 under the headline “The Nation’s Winning Card”. The author is a former Vice President of Maulana Azad National Urdu University

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