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Muzzafarnagar

But where is the India card?

 

Politicians continue to play stoke communal fires instead of attending to real issues
FIROZ BAKHT AHMED IS AN EMINENT EDUCATIONIST AND SOCIAL WORKER | Issue Dated: September 22, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Muzaffarnagar riots | Vote bank politics | BJP | SP | BSP | Congress | Communal violence |
 

One can only lament that nearly seven decades after Independence, there are people playing the Hindu and Muslim cards. When will we play the Indian card? Employing vote bank machinations to come to power, the Congress, Samajwadi party, Bhartiya Janata Party, BSP and others, are stoking communal fires. We are still in the clutches of a 1947-like communal frenzy at a time when far more serious economic, educational and social problems are crying for attention.

Riots like Muzaffarnagar do occur sometimes, but these small incidents are being used to serve the communal ends of political parties. Communalism has reached such proportions that every thinking Indian with a minimum sense of civic responsibility needs to define a position on this issue. Do Hindus and Muslims in a country like ours need to waste time frothing at the communal cauldron when there are far more serious concerns? Each Indian needs to contribute in his or her small way to the amelioration of this problem. Modern India is a land not of a solitary religion but of diverse religions.

The state does not sponsor or foster any one religion at the expense of the others. This is in keeping with the greatness of India, which through times immemorial has been the cradle of composite culture. The great poet Iqbal once said about Ram: “Hei Ram ke wajood pe Hindostan ko naaz/Ahle nazr samajhte hein us ko Imam-e-Hind!” (Under the umbrella of Rama, we are all one mankind/ For us all, he is the Imam-e-Hind). We believe that this process of assimilation has to go on continuously.

Sufi texts record that after Kabir, the inspired poet-weaver of northern India, died his lovers and the connoisseurs of his dohas (couplets) — both Hindus and Muslims — fought for the claim of cremating or burying his last remains. As the quarrel started to ignite communal passions, an elderly gentleman requested both communities to cover the saint’s body and wait till next morning. Astonishingly, when the sheet was taken off, the warring communities found that in place of the body, two heaps of flowers were kept. The Hindus cremated the tulsi (holy plant) flowers while the Muslims buried the jasmine heap, and the problem was sorted out. The moral of the story is that the two diverse cultures of Muslims and Hindus are inseparable and need to run like the parallel lines of a railway track — always together socially but also retaining their separate religious identities. Religion needs to be separated from politics.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was a deeply religious Muslim leader, a renowned Islamic theologian, but communal harmony was dearest to his heart. He never stirred Muslims to political action through their faith. Zakir Hussain, who devoted his life to Jamia Millia, did not take that platform to espouse a communal cause, neither did Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. Today Azads, Fakhruddins and Hussains would have been needed to counter inflammable propaganda. Their very presence and action would have kept the majority community in check. Instead, small time leaders of the minority community have adopted the view that offense is the best form of defence. This is a tactic that helps no cause.

Just before the dismemberment of the subcontinent, the Muslim peasant in Bengal participated as joyously in the village Durga Puja as his Hindu neighbour. In Bangladesh Hindus celebrated Eid. If entire Muslim villages in Malaysia can watch the Ramayana performed on stage, there is no reason why they cannot do the same in India or include Hindus in tazia (a ritual carriage) processions and Karbala enactments.

Meena Kumari, Nargis, Waheeda Rehman and Mumtaz umpteen times played the role of the devoted Hindu wife with sindoor on the forehead. What about bhajans sung in Muhammad Rafi’s sonorous voice? Should we ban his cassettes? Should we stop seeing a Dilip Kumar or an Aamir Khan or Salman Khan film? According to Muraqqa-e-Delhi of Nawab Dargah Quli Bahadur, Mughal emperors consumed only Gangajal. Their celebration of Holi, Diwali and Dussehra is well known. If the rulers were Muslim, the economy was run by Hindu administrators and officers. Muslim monarchs trusted Hindu accountants. In military history, if Aurangzeb had brave Rajput generals, Shivaji trusted only Muslim generals. Sufi saints like Sheikh Muinuddin Chishti, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki and other pirs like Haji Malang in Mumbai are highly revered by all Indians irrespective of faith. The rath percolated down to the Muslim society as the tazia. How long will RSS, VHP and the Shiv Sena deny this history?There is no danger of India becoming a Hindu theocratic state as we have secular and peace-loving Hindus, and fortunately they outnumber the less than 10 per cent hotheads.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017