An unsolicited advice: Hindus and Muslims should realise that centuries old tolerance is the creation of Hindu sages in ancient times

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
O MUSLIMS!
O Muslims! You have every right to believe in the superiority of your religion but do not be arrogant to be the best or denigrate (Zakir Naik style) other faiths or hurt the sentiments of the majority community as has been done by the likes of the Owaisis, Azam Khans and Imam Barkatis. Stop cribbing and complaining. Stop playing the crying baby and victim card. That Islam is the best religion must not be proved by mere lip service but by following the path of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). You are doing everything that He disliked!
O Muslims! People like Owaisi, Azam Khan & Co treat the RSS, Shiv Sena and BJP as untouchables but remember that in politics, nobody is untouchable and any good candidate, no matter, from whatever party should be voted. Try to understand the changed political scenario and electoral calculations. No political party can annoy 80 pc population just to please 20 per cent people.
O Muslims! stop demonizing the BJP candidates in an election shouting to vote for anyone who can defeat the BJP. 
What happens in the process is that the Muslim votes never get united as they vote for everyone and there is a Hindu backlash resulting in the BJP candidate’s victory, who ignores (though he mustn’t) the Muslim areas as he is irritated with you for letting him down. That’s why your areas have turned into ghettos. Stop living in fool’s paradise that you can create a Muslim League today and win elections. 
You have voted for the Congress enbloc for 60 years now announce and do the same for the BJP. RSS and BJP will change as such an act will bring the change of heart! At least try once! (By the way, I am not carrying the brief of the RSS or BJP). It’s only an unsolicited advice. Like the poet said: Apney bhi khafa mujh se hain beganney bhi nakhush/ Mein zahr-e-halahal ko kabhi keh na saka qand (Strangers and my kin, they are angry all/ What was lethal poison I could not sugar call).
O Muslims! You classify yourselves as minorities but as per the words of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India’s first Minister of Education, Muslims are the second majority. However, remember, everywhere in the world, the minorities have to be above average to survive and thrive.
O Muslims! Personal Laws, triple talaq, Babri Masjid, Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen and graveyard fencing are not the most important issues confronting the Indian Muslims. Issues like poverty, illiteracy and unemployment are the most serious ones. Don’t be the first ones to shoot off the block and cry wolf when the announcement of Common Civil Code is announced. Do not select the wrong tree to bark at.
O Muslims! Perceived past glory that you had ruled India for a thousand years can only ruin the future. Fact is that India is as much yours as it is of our Hindu brethren. Islam did not spread in India through sword but by the holistic and humane approach of the Sufi saints. True that your ancestors who had ruled over India, were secular and took one and all with them; however, today the media has coined a cliché for you, “All the Muslims are not terrorists but all the terrorists are Muslims!” Look into yourselves and introspect why 26/11, Sharm-al-Sheikh, Glasgow, Serbia, Peshawar school massacre and Kashmir Uri terror attacks besides umpteen others happened.
O Muslims! imbibe genuinely secular values before expecting Hindus to be as such. More than 90 per cent Hindus of India are secular. Most of Tipu Sultan’s ministers and advisers were Hindus. Ours has been a culture and heritage of conglomeration and inter-mingling. Muslims in Indonesia see Ramlila, yet their Islam remains intact. But what’s happening today? Swami Vivekaananda rightly said that men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it — but live for it. 
You are followers of a faith that can’t be wavered come what may! When Maulana Azad smashed a coconut to inaugurate a new railway station on December 14, 1948, Pak creator, Qaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, sarcastically remarked next day in the Karachi daily, “Dawn”, “Today Maulana Azad has smashed a coconut, tomorrow, he will apply a “teeka” (mark on forehead of a Hindu ritual). At that Azad replied in “The Hindustan Times” of March 16, 1948, “Jinnah Saab, my Islam is stronger than your and I’ll become a far mor deeply entrenched Muslim if such activities are there as part of office and interfaith concord as these are the values that will cement Islam and Hinduism in a more firmly grounded manner!” 
He was a modern Maulana with complete authority and knowledge of Islam as he had written, “Tarjuman-ul-Quran” (a commentary on the holy Quran). Azad remains relevant and meaningfully contemporary as masses look in askance all around in their search of stability in the prevailing times of confusion and communalism as he coalesced with endogenic creativity, the Vedantic vision of many parts of truth with the Islamic doctrines of Wahdat-e-Deen (unity of religion) and Sulah-e-Kul (universal peace).
O Muslims! Shun emotion and be pragmatic. Come out of the ghetto mindset. Everybody who is not with you on some issues is not against you either. Don’t be impatient, especially, you, Muslim clerics, whose closed minds and howling in the umpteen TV debates leave the viewers in a very bad taste with a conclusion that the entire Muslim community is rabble-rousing like them.
O Muslims! Do understand now that in electoral politics, you can only play the catalyst or incremental and not a decisive role.
Better imbibe genuinely secular values before expecting Hindus to be as such. If you will follow Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in letter and spirit, you will never announce huge cash awards on Danish cartoonists or Salman Rushdie as it shows your immense intolerance and in Islam, nobody is allowed to take life.
O Muslims! You are not the only sufferers in the country. There are Dalits and other poor who have suffered a lot, no less than you. Don’t play the victim card. Work hard and make the dent felt on the national fabric.
O Muslims! Beware that your leadership has lost its voice and its utility. Most of the leaders (who you think, speak up for you) today, are brokers and cheats who play the politics of vote banks to acquire state patronage for themselves and their coteries
O Muslims! Imams are revered beings but let their role be limited to leading daily prayers. Do not allow Imams to mislead you. Do not lose hope as the darkest of nights can not stop dawn besides the fact that in Islam, disappointment is blasphemy.
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O HINDUS!
O Hindus! You are our brethren! You are 200 years ahead of us in modern education. Respect the rights of people who live and think differently.
Please do not adopt the Talibani model. Your faith symbolizes and celebrates diversity. Do not destroy its mosaic character. Violence anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere. Let me vouch that Muslims are not major cow-eaters and most of them rear cows for mil, yet the are beaten and killed by cow vigilantes. Do you know, Bahadur Shah Zafar even gave a fatwa (decree) against the sacrifice of cows. Besides, 10 years ago, the most revered Muslim seminary (madrasa), Darul Uloom, Deoband, issued a fatwa against the sacrifice of cows on Eid-ul-Zuha Please do not peep into the peoples’ kitchen and fridges! Never and ever indulge in the kind of bestiality as in the cases of Akhlaq, Junaid, Pehlu Khan and others.
O Hindus! According to a study by senior columnist friend, Hiranmay Karlekar, usually religions are often judged by what their most debased, fanatical and intolerant followers do. It has been the same in the case of Islam. It tends to be judged by the vandalism of a Mahmud of Ghazni or a Mohammad bin Qasim in the past and the Taliban, with their barbaric and medieval social practices and destruction of Buddhist statues. 
This is as unfair as judging Christianity by the savage tortures perpetrated by the inquisitionists of Spain or the degeneration of the Catholic Church under Popes like Alaxander VI, Sikhs by their murdering Indira Gandhi or Hinduism by the vandalism of those who destroyed the Babri Masjid. Muslims have contributed a lot from Emperor Shahjahan’s architectural wonders to the statesmen like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and scientist, APJ Abdu Kalam’s Agni missile defence mechanism. Today Muslims need your pat on the back.
O Hindus! What is unfortunate is that despite the Muslims having repeatedly asserted their identity as Indians, they find their patriotism being questioned.
O Hindus! Develop true scientific spirit and shun the story tellers of questionable past glory. Hindus and Muslims have a lot in common. Do not look backwards. A Hindu of Kolkata is more akin to a Bengali Muslim than a Delhi Hindu. Similarly a Maharashtrian Muslim shares more in common with a Mumbai’ite Hindu than a Muslim in Punjab. Hindus and Muslims in their respective states are like a beautifully spun harmony on the pleasing, graceful Indian fabric.
O Hindus! If Prime Minister Modi wants to take one and all on the road to progress and if he wants to see a computer in one hand and Quran other of young Muslims, strengthen his hands and rein in and shun the ones like Giriraj Singh, Sakshi Maharaj, Vinay Katihar, Sangeet Som, Sanjeev Baliyan, Kailash Vijayvargiye, Sadhvi Narendra Jyoti etc.
O Hindus! Real development and not blind faith in dream merchants can take our country forward. Respect the rights of people who live and think differently.
What is lamentable is that Indian Muslims have been snowballed into one controversy or the other like —jehad, kufr, triple talaq, Vande Mataram, family planning, text books, purdah, Shah Bano, Ameena, Gudiya, Imrana besides many others — none of them really being the real problem. This is reflected in the way they (most media) deal with sensitive Muslim issues. This reinforces stereotypes and widens the gap between the two communities. Shun God men and superstition and no more of communal frenzy.
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O HINDUS AND MUSLIMS!
For centuries on Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians of India have shared in common customs on the occasions of birth, death and marriages. They should realise that the centuries old tolerant milieu of India is the creation of the Hindu sages in ancient times, which predates the arrival of Muslims and the birth of Sikhism in India.
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*Social activist and educationist, grandnephew Maulana Azad

Comments

Zarin Desai said…
I am sure, as aforesaid in the blog, 90% of both the communities will concur with the appeal, I being one of them.