‘Those Who Insult Prophet Have Agendas, Muslims Must Not Fall Into Their Trap’

Maulana Qamar Sultan, a 52-year-old Shia cleric from Ghaziabad (UP), says the Quran did not call for violence when Prophet was called names in Mecca

Let me start with a famous story from the life of Prophet Muhammad. The story goes that an old woman in Mecca would throw garbage on the doorstep of the Prophet in defiance of his message, and one day she fell sick and could not throw the garbage. The Prophet visited her to know her wellbeing. She was so awe-struck by his character that she accepted his Prophet-hood and embraced Islam.

The moral of the story is: you do not reciprocate hateful gestures with hate. If you want a different outcome, hate should be dealt with differently.

Besides, the Prophet in his entire lifetime never commanded any war because he was being disrespected by those people. Even the Quran never commanded the Prophet for the same.

On the contrary, when the Prophet was called names by the people of Mecca, the Quran replied with words, not with any call for violence or retribution.

When the Prophet was called ignorant, the Quran stated, “He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom.” ~ (3:164)

When he was called mad, the Quran said: “By the grace of your Lord, you ˹O Prophet˺ are not insane.” ~ (68:2). There are various such replies all over the Quran rebutting the insults thrown at the Prophet, but there’s not a single verse that says that Muslims should wage war against the people of Mecca for insulting him.

Maulana Qamar Sultan counsels restraint to all law-abiding citizens of the country

It is evident from history that all great personalities faced love and hate from the people they served. We have the example of Mahatma Gandhi, a personality who is revered across the world but he became the victim of hate. The opinion about Gandhi is still divided as there’s one group of people in this country who have little respect for him and heaps insults on him while worshipping his killer.

ALSO READ: ‘Victims Of Religious Violence Are Always From Poorer Section’

Those who insult the Prophet have hidden agendas. They want Muslims to retaliate. It is high time Muslims understood this and avoid falling into their trap. We should be cautious and not protest violently but should take a different way of protest. I strongly condemn all the killings and violence committed in the name of the Prophet.

However, I would also like to present the counterargument to the whole case through some pertinent questions. Why do we expect only Muslims to be subservient and not protest over insulting remarks made on their Prophet? Why aren’t we acknowledging the restraints shown by those crores of Muslims who didn’t vent their anger publicly but protested silently? Why are Muslims being lynched openly? The questions go on…

I realize the blame game will not solve the problem, but we have to be objective in our approach. This country belongs to everyone. Our Constitution is clear about unifying the people. It has gone to the level of respecting the sentiments of people, belonging to different castes, creeds, tribes, and religions.

We should follow the Constitution in its letter and spirit. We should stop making offensive comments about others and we should also stop reacting if such comments are made. If we want a peaceful nation everyone must show restraint.

As told to Md Tausif Alam

Indian Muslims Are Anxious, Leaders Busy In Blame Game

As per the reports based on first-person accounts and news circulating on various social media platforms, the Indian Muslims across the country are worried about their and their future generation’s future in the country.

The community as a whole is living under a siege mentality and is unable to fathom how to proceed further. One positive fallout of this stress is that now the common Indian Muslim is ready to come out on the streets and demands his rights and stand against the forceful establishment, in absence of any leadership.

This change amongst the common Indian Muslims started in 2019 after the finalisation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The protests, which started from Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, soon spread to many other cities. A novel feature of most of these protests was that Muslim women were at the forefront of these demonstrations.

More recently, after the bulldozer politics started in certain Indian states, Muslims in many cities came out once again against the establishment and stood in solidarity with one another.

However, one incongruous fact, which has emerged from these developments, is the absence of any Muslim leader, with an all-India appeal, leading these movements or even coming out in support of these people movements. This once again proves the point that after 1947 the Indian Muslims have been betrayed by their own leaders-both religious and political.

The fact remains that the so-called religious leaders are busy in amassing wealth in the name of the religion and expanding their personal empires. In addition, the social and political leaders pay lip-service to the Muslims’ sentiments and just appear at the right moment to get their mug shots for the photos and videos, making sentimental not practical statements, whilst engaged in serving their political masters and enjoying their political and financial patronage.

ALSO READ: ‘Bulldozer Is The New Symbol Of Muslim Persecution’

However, a rather more worrying is the fact that recently some Muslim leaders have come out to speak against the establishment and its anti-Muslim policies, but in fact their main aim is not to vilify the establishment, but to vilify their religious opponents and divide the community on fissiparous tendencies.

Last week one such conference was held in Hyderabad, Telangana. The main organisers and speakers at the conference looked more intent on creating divisions within the community, instead of offering any cohesive, forward looking and practical plan to counter the anti-Muslim narratives and operations.

The reports say that most of the speakers at the conference were intent on blaming different international organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood, Ikhwan, Al Qaeda and ISIS for the current plight of Indian Muslims, which sounds so incongruous!

One fails to comprehend how these scholarly figures were able to draw any parallel between the international organisations and Indian Muslims. Even to make any connection of the Indian Muslims with these organisations is to make them more unsafe and open to a whole lot of criticism, added to the fact that Indian Muslims might be sympathetic to these organisations but they have never been and nor will be associated with these organisations, and so far no evidence-based study has been able to link the two. So in effect, these leaders in the name of serving the Muslim cause were making them vulnerable to more attacks.

One of the leaders even went to the extent of urging the Indian Muslims to connect with the rulers and the governments, as per the proper methodology of Islam and to advise them, instead of uprisings and protests to dethrone them and occupy their seats. I hope the incongruity of this statement will not be lost to the readers.

Another speaker spoke about the qualities and patterns of Khawariji terrorists, while exposing the double standards of Islamist preachers like Yusuf Qardawi, Hasan Al Banna, Syed Qutub and Abul-Ala Maududi. This too has no resonance in India, so far.

Now coming to another of these so-called ‘Muslim’ conferences, which took place in Mumbai on 12 May and was addressed by about 35 Muslim religious, social and political leaders. At the end of the day long conference they issued a statement, one point of which read: “The meeting of the Muslim Community leadership appreciates the courage of local Muslim leaders for resisting the evil designs of Fascist forces and thwarting their plans of creating large scale violence against Muslims. It is observed that Muslims organising themselves to defend their lives and properties is a positive sign. The meeting calls upon Muslim leadership to organise at local levels and continuously review the situation at your respective cities. An organised approach towards such planned attacks on Muslims will be the best possible way to thwart the plans of the Fascist forces in a situation where unfortunately the state declines to do its duty of protecting the Minorities”.

The third one of these conferences is to be held in New Delhi on 21 May, organised by a consultative Muslim body and supported by a religious and socio-cultural organisation — which till a decade ago banned its members from participating in the democratic and parliamentary process of India and a fledgling political party and a religious denomination. And yet another one is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on 29 May under the banner of Muslims intellectuals (sic).

Coming back to the statement issued after the Mumbai conference, one can take heart from the sentiments expressed by the community’s leaders who have recognised the efforts by the common Indian Muslims to come out against the tyrannical rulers and urged them to organise themselves. But in reality these common Muslims have been made and in future too will be made the sacrificial scapegoat again, whilst these so-called leaders remain ensconced in their luxurious homes with no threat either financial or physical looming over their heads.

have written and spoken many times in the past that the Indian Muslims have to adopt not a reactive but a proactive strategy to counter any campaigns against them. To construct and manage such an apparatus, which keeps an eye on the planning of aggressors and plan a counter strategy, you have to be equipped with monitoring, research and media teams, within the constitutional framework of the country, to counter the opposition’s efforts.

But alas none of our leaders is ready to adopt such an approach and the biggest irony is that even if the Indian Muslims agree to adopt such a strategy, then it will have to be led by the so-called religious leaders eschewing their religious denominational differences and act and behave as One monolith religion, as others view you, not as being Deobandi, Barelvi, Ahl-e Hadith etc.

Going by the past experiences, one is not very hopeful that they may be ready to do so. Instead like what happened at the Hyderabad conference, they are ready to further widen the gulf between different religious denominations and claim their superiority over one another.

‘Indian Muslims Must Remain Patient, Seek Guidance From Quran’

Maulana Qamar Sultan Rizvi Jarchavi, a 52-year-old Shia cleric from Ghaziabad (UP), offers counsel in these difficult times for the Muslims in India

Muslims in India are going through one of the most challenging times in the history of the country. They have been at the centre of a series controversies such as CAA, hijab, halal, loudspeakers, hate speeches and many more. They are being insulted, disparaged, belittled and have been pushed into a corner. They have come to a point when they feel they can’t take it any longer.

While Muslims are at the receiving end, the majority community needs to spare a few moments and think about the deteriorating, hateful situation that the country has fallen into. They need to do some soul-searching to see whether this hatred is part of Indian tradition or is it something new, premeditated occurrence.

There is another angle to view the whole problem. It’s in the innate nature of human beings when we attain absolute power, we also acquire the fear of losing it. This whole circumstance gives the birth of an idea of setting up a permanent authority, which we also call establishment.

It is commonly observed that to consolidate more power, establishments often look for foes. If they don’t find them, they create such enemies. This whole situation can be likened to an example of a raging bull. He needs opponents to prove its strength. If he doesn’t find one, it rams into poles and pillars to use his energy. So, it’s in the training and nature of the establishment to perform like this. Sometimes, this yields positive results like justice and other times, causes atrocities.

Jarchavi wants a unanimous leadership to emerge among Indian Muslims

We have seen how Muslim rulers oppressed their own Muslim subjects. In the Islamic history, we have an infamous incident of Karbala when Yazid martyred the family members of Prophet Muhammad. In the current times, we have witnessed Muslim rulers like Saddam Hussein and many others who crushed their own people. It shows that the power doesn’t care about right and wrong. It aims to remain unchallenged and wants everyone bow to its might.

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Thus, when Muslims are suppressed under the might and power of the establishment, they should turn towards Allah. They need to supplicate in front of him. Muslims have forgotten the power of supplications. We must not forget how help came from Allah in the battle of Badr. Though Muslims were a few hundred in numbers and their enemies were thrice as big yet they won the battle.

Muslims must remember the famous story of the Year of the Elephant. When Abraha al-Ashram led a military expedition to destroy the Kaaba, Prophet Muhammad’s grandfather Abd al-Muttalib, who was the caretaker of the Kaaba, realized he can’t fight the forces of Abraha, so he supplicated. The Quran (Chapter 105) has drawn this incident that how Allah answered his du’a and Abraha and his army were destroyed.

Indian Muslims need to have this much trust in Allah when they raise their hands for du’a.

Besides, we need to end the discord within. We are too involved in settling the issue of minor Islamic jurisprudence that we have forgot to follow the main message of Quran. “And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not quarrel with one another lest you should lose courage and your power depart. Be patient, surely Allah is with those who remain patient.” (Quran, 8:46)

Muslims also need to choose a unanimous leader who will lead the community in the country. In the absence of a true leadership, we have come to the point when we can’t address either our Islamic issues or worldly issues.

As told to Md Tausif Alam

Hijab Ban In Karnataka

A Headscarf Lifts The BJP Veil

First it was Love Jehad. Then, mob-lynching and beef. Then it was Romeo Squads. This was followed by blocking inter-faith marriages, harassing and humiliating adult couples.

If she is an adult Hindu woman wanting to have a consensual marriage with a Muslim or Christian man, then a thousand hurdles will be created for them. Reminds of the gory honour killings of yesteryears. Reminds more grotesquely of how Dalits are degraded and brutalised if they choose to have a relationship with an upper caste woman or man.

If this is the dominant narrative in modern India, that too in a pluralist, secular, democracy, then it is a major civilisational crisis. An entire country is being dragged into a retrograde and regressive abyss, a ghetto from which it will take great guts, resilience, enlightenment and the will to finally transcend into wisdom, love and hope.

As of now, every attempt is being made to turn this unhappy abyss in bad faith, as the principal adrenaline of our civil society, however unsuccessful. And lead protagonist in this horrible public spectacle, being celebrated routinely and ritualistically, is the BJP, the Sangh Parivar, and the states where it has its ruling regimes.

The latest thorn in their flesh are the hijabs worn by innocent and hardworking Muslim school girls in Karnataka, chasing a dream. The Karnataka government has declared that “clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn”.

Hijab has been banned in classrooms, though, clearly, it is not a violation of fundamental rights as inscribed in the secular Indian Constitution. Clearly, it is a wilful attack on law-abiding Muslim citizens, Muslim students, and, especially, Muslim girls seeking education and higher aspirations in an unequal, male dominated society.

It is a method followed in a certain predictable and clichéd pattern. In an oblique and yet brazen signal, this implies that it is an attack on Muslim youngsters attaining education, enlightenment, modernity, higher aspiration levels, and thereby finding their rightful time and space in a democratic India. It is therefore yet another signal that if you are inclined for education, then you better follow our repressive and regressive Hindutva rules, and it does not matter what were the values of the Indian freedom struggle.

No wonder, observers are certain that the hounding and prolonged imprisonment of brilliant Muslim scholars such as Umar Khalid on allegedly cooked up charges, is a sharp pointer, that, no, you have no business to reinterpret Indian history and politics, and, surely, you have no business to express dissent, or dream of a better society, and that if you do so, you will rot in jail for no rhyme or reason. This is the short, nasty and brutish message to all concerned, especially dissenters, especially youngsters, especially enlightened Muslim scholars, both men and women.

The banning of the Hijab, therefore, is part of this predictable and sick pattern. And, pray, how can wearing a headscarf ‘‘disturb equality, integrity and public law and order’’?

In that case, dupattas should be banned, and so should turbans, caps and hats. In that case, no one should wear a ‘tilak’ on his or her forehead, nor any sign or ornament depicting their religious identity. In that case, youngsters with shaven heads, mourning the death of their loved ones, should not be able to attend schools.

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And what if a Brahmin boy comes with a shaven head, what is called a ‘boddi’ in the Hindi heartland? Will he too be so unfortunately banned from attending school? Will sacred threads too be banned? And what if brothers flaunt their rakhis on the day of the festival, tied so lovingly on their wrists by their sisters?

And what about parents and guardians? Will they be allowed to participate in teacher-parents meetings wearing a burqa, a skull cap or a turban?

The example of France is too far-fetched. Barring fanatically defending the Rafael deal, the fanatics or their mentors in the Sangh Parivar are clueless about anything that is French, including its early 20th century staunch secularism, if not the narratives of the heady French revolution which inspired the world, the Paris commune run by the communists and anarchists, and an entrenched value system derived from fraternity, equality and liberty. Surely, they have no clue about its literature, art, architecture and culture, its cinema and music, and its great academic scholarship.

The French are fanatics about secularism, not communal polarisation, hate politics and xenophobia, which it hates compulsively. They only refuse to accept religious dresses in public institutions, including in schools, of all religions.  They do not discriminate. The French government allowed, for instance, Charlie Hebdo, to publish those extremely controversial cartoons, for which the newspaper, its journalists and cartoonists, had to pay a heavy and tragic price.

The Karnataka government would do well to learn a few lessons from the civil society and democratic government of New Zealand, including its police force. After 50 innocent people were massacred at two mosques in Christchurch, women wore headscarves all over the country, in solidarity with their fellow Muslim citizens. It was a heartwarming signature stamped across the faces of the women of New Zealand, including its Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who wore a headscarf too, and much earlier, as a leader of a secular nation where all communities are respected and are allowed to live with freedom and dignity. She was wearing a black scarf in solidarity, while meeting and hugging the mourning members of the Muslim community.

“I wanted to say: ‘We are with you, we want you to feel at home on your own streets, we love, support and respect you’,” a doctor in Auckland said. She was the inspiration behind the popular idea, reported Reuters in March 2019.

“Why am I wearing a headscarf today? Well, my primary reason was that if anybody else turns up waving a gun, I want to stand between him and anybody he might be pointing it at. And I don’t want him to be able to tell the difference, because there is no difference,” said Bell Sibly, in Christchurch.

Indeed, what became a celebrated image all over the world, a woman police officer on duty guarding the Christchurch cemetery, where the victims of the massacre were buried, held an automatic weapon, with a weapon in her hands, while wearing a headscarf.

Hijab or no hijab, it is the quest for humanity, enlightenment and pluralism which was celebrated in New Zealand by its people, its women across all communities, and its compassionate government. And that is how a civilized, pluralist and modern democracy should conduct itself. Not like what the Karnataka government is doing these days, targeting young school girls, with stars in their eyes, clutching onto their school bags, hounded and humiliated, denied their right to freedom and education. Indeed, and instead, they should celebrate them, as they do in those fake ads called ‘Beti Padhao…’

Pray, how much more fake can it get, really!

Hate Machine Is Legit, Centre Mute

Finally, everything comes back to hate and bigotry. Yogi Adityanath’s first declaration after the model code of conduct was imposed proves that – 80 per cent versus 20 percent. And the Election Commission and most opposition parties choose to remain silent.

Hate has become legit in contemporary India, as is the epidemic of mob lynchings across the tormented Hindi heartland. The bile of poison flows like a relentless dirty gutter in the dingy and cloistered inner lanes of the political subconscious of the ghettoized Neo-Nazi hate machine.

Xenophobia and the politics of hate have been overtly and tacitly legitimized by the dominant power narrative in India. No wonder even high-tech and educated youngsters have become ‘Trads’ – hate-mongering, online warriors who seem to be even Far Right of the Establishment Right Wing.

So much so, there is the danger that this viciously spreading apparatus would one day lose total control and eat up its own inheritors and mentors in the final countdown. Something the RSS and BJP, like the fascists in Germany, refuse to realise – that it is a mad monster they are riding which can one day ravage them also, and with them, the largest democracy in the world.

Eminent Social scientist Arjun Appadorai, who teaches in Berlin and Paris, wrote recently, and aptly so, “The silence of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah about these unprecedented calls for full-scale armed war against Muslims can be read in one of two ways: as signs of their sense of impunity and confidence, or as signs of their sense of precarity and insecurity. I make a case here for the latter argument… My argument is not the familiar instrumentalist argument about the Uttar Pradesh elections and the BJP’s concern about being humiliated in its sacred heartland. I believe we are witnessing what I call ‘Genocidalism’, which stems from a deeper logic which afflicts all ‘xenophobic nationalisms’. This logic is connected to ‘the relationship between nationalism and violence,’ and to what Marx and many Marxists identify as ‘the Treadmill Effect’.”

Taking the case of the youngsters caught in various small towns across India, auctioning Muslim journalists, professionals and educated women, mothers, daughters and sisters, ‘The Quint’ took the opinion of an expert who has done considerable research on this method in the madness. Indeed, this is not mindless, it follows a belief and value system, like that of the Ku Klux Klan, and it is relentless, often invisible and scattered, but based on the spontaneous mob lynching pattern and psychology, and gets support from the dominant narrative of hate prevalent in current times. Trads, or Traditionalists, are ardent followers of the extreme Right cultural and social ethos, deriving inspiration from the Neo-Nazis and similar movements and individuals. Perhaps they secretly hold the mad mass murderer in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik, as their role model.

Breivik killed 8 persons first by detonating a van bomb at Regeringskvartalet in Oslo, than murdered in cold blood 60 participants of a summer camp organized by the Workers’ Youth League, on July 22, 2011. In his Nazi-type manifesto, he wrote, among other fanatic ramblings, The (then) UPA government “relies on appeasing Muslims, and very sadly, proselytizing Christian missionaries who illegally convert low caste Hindus with lies and fear, along Communists who want total destruction of the Hindu faith”. Surely, most of the current Hindutva fanatics in India share Brievick’s worldview.

Surely, they are like a cult: sexist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic, verging on terrorism. They play with online genocidal ‘humour’, and one-dimensional hate unleashed against Muslims, Dalits, Sikhs, and other minorities. They believe in the ‘Manusmriti’, and that this retrograde anti-women, patriarchal, feudal, upper caste text, should replace the Constitution of India. They care two hoots for the values of the freedom movement or the sacrifices and martyrdoms of our freedom fighters and revolutionaries. According to the expert, they are so extreme sometimes that they even hate the BJP-RSS and its hydra-headed octopus like Sangh Parivar for soft-peddling on hyperbolic Hindutva. Apparently, as ‘The Quint’ reports, “they even dislike Modi and consider him to be unfit to be the PM. They mock his caste and his supposed inability to deal with the minorities with an iron hand…”

“The Trads only love those who can hate unapologetically. They even hate those BJP followers who take refuge in hateful dog whistles. Trads consider them to be hypocritical. Here, hate is ‘humour’ and it includes incitement to mass rapes and genocide. Those who don’t laugh have a problem according to the Indian chanosphere (alt-right universe)…”

Fortunately, the Trads and the mainstream-fringe groups still face large-scale and effective opposition on the ground from a huge majority of mainstream India, across religion and communities, from celebrities, students and intelligentsia, civil society, sportspersons and Olympians, to ordinary folks on the streets. Indeed, thankfully, the Supreme Court too has finally accepted to look into the matter on the call of genocide against the entire Muslim population in India by miscellaneous extremists masquerading as sadhus etc.

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That Modi and his entire cabinet have chosen to remain mum, is predictable. Even the women in his cabinet seemed undisturbed by the perverse and degrading ‘multiple auctions’ of Indian women in the Bulli Bai and Sulli deals. The UP deputy chief minister became brazenly belligerent when a BBC journalist asked him politely about the call for genocide. Why this fear to condemn what is so blatantly wrong and unethical, and goes against all the principles of social conduct, if not a clear case of violation of the law of the land?

To cling on to this fanatic hate machine, and to play this polarizing card, seems to be the ‘final solution’ of this discredited regime, with failure written sharp and clear on its face, on all the human development index, its economy and foreign policy in an abyss, and all its promises of ‘acche din’ having disappeared without a trace.

The petitioners said that they were constrained to approach the top court seeking its urgent intervention regarding the hate speeches between December 17 and 19, 2021 in the two events organized in Haridwar (by Yati Narsinghanand), and in Delhi (by the ‘Hindu Yuva Vahini’). It said, “the aforementioned hate speeches consisted of open calls for genocide of Muslims in order to achieve ethnic cleansing. It is pertinent to note that the said speeches are not mere hate speeches but amount to an open call for murder of an entire community. The said speeches, thus, pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country, but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens.”

The petition said, “…it is also relevant to note that no action whatsoever has been taken by the Delhi Police in relation with the event held in Delhi despite the fact that open calls for genocide, that are available on the internet, were made therein.” It also said that that the “recent speeches are a part of a series of similar speeches that we have come across in the past…”

Indeed, despite the bile and the poison, hope floats. Not only the secular society, but a large number of educated people have protested. Faculty members and students from the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) in Ahmedabad and Bengaluru have written a letter to Modi asserting that his silence “emboldens” voices of hate. The letter has 183 signatories – including 13 faculty members of IIM Bangalore and three of IIM Ahmedabad.

“Your silence on the rising intolerance in our country, Honourable Prime Minister, is disheartening to all of us who value the multicultural fabric of our country. Your silence, Honourable Prime Minister, emboldens the hate-filled voices and threatens the unity and integrity of our country,” says the letter.

 “For far too long, the mainstream discourse has dismissed the voices of hate as the fringe. That’s how we are here,” a faculty member at IIM Ahmedbad told the ‘Indian Express’.

However, the point is, is the Honourable Prime Minister listening at all? By all indications, he is not. He never did.

Azan From Gurdwaras In Gurgaon

The Sikhs and the Gurdwaras have yet again shown the way, and not only at the borders of Delhi where they are still camping, along with the resilient and non-violent farmers of Punjab, Western UP, Haryana and other states, with their prayer spaces for all communities, shared living and collective kitchens open to all. In the big business hub of Gurgaon, they have shown the way to universal path to prayer, peace, humanism and God. That all spaces on earth can belong to prayers for all communities, and that God has not divided the earth under the sky into sectarian enclaves of hostility and hate.

And this is not the first time that the nation has looked up to them with boundless gratitude and good faith. Indeed, they shine like a revelation amidst the relentless and vicious tyranny of hate politics unleashed by assorted groups of the hydra-headed parivar of miscellaneous xenophobes currently running amok in some parts of India. Apart from the shining moments of dogged optimism, they also remind of, for instance, those difficult days during the Kerala floods, when the churches opened their doors for the Muslims to offer their prayers.

It has been going on since the last few years in Gurgaon – unprecedented and concerted attacks on Muslims offering prayers, leading to the politics of communal polarization and hate-mongering, vitiating everyday life in the civil society. This seems to be the only, eternal and final trump-card of the politics of Hindutva. It has yet again intensified recently with Hindutva groups led by the Sanyukta Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, upping the ante, objecting to Muslims offering Namaaz in open and public spaces, which were hitherto undisputed, as all communities lived in peace and harmony.

We have grown up with people across communities praying and meditating in all kinds of public spaces. Including Muslims, who would spread a newspaper or a mat, and pray at the designated time, inside a moving train, in a railway platform, in an airport or a market place. This has been integral to our secular, shared and existential upbringing in all parts of India. So why is this sudden paradigm shift being celebrated so diabolically by a handful of hate-mongers?

Eight of the 37 sites, where the Muslims would offer their Friday prayers, were, therefore, not allowed by the Gurgaon administration, citing objections from local residents and RWAs. Meanwhile, BJP’s Kapil Mishra, along with others, performed Goverdhan Puja at Sector 12A, where the Muslims used to offer prayers, while Muslims were denied permission to pray at the same site.

Under all circumstances, this would have been construed as an extreme and crass act of provocation. But, in contemporary India, the extreme and the crass have become both, post-truth, and the new normal. Indeed, it has become the unwritten law of the land.

Mishra, as is well-known, made an inflammatory speech in North-east Delhi during the anti-CAA protests, in the presence of a top police officer. This neighbourhood was consequently rocked by violence, bloodshed, arson and looting. People were killed. While scores of brilliant scholars and students are in prison for months under a draconian law, on what is widely seen as fake charges with no evidence after the massive non-violent nation-wide protests against the NRC/CAA, he, along with a Union minister, who also made a highly inflammatory and violent public speech, have remained scot free – respectable citizens of ‘New India’. And as is the trend, and since this particular regime cares two hoots for public perception or protocol, the minister has now been given a plum portfolio in the Union Cabinet. (Besides, the bad-mouthing Union minister from UP, whose son’s vehicle crushed the farmers at Lakhimpur Kheri, has not even been asked to resign, despite the national outrage!)

Meanwhile, while this hate lava was being unleashed as a nasty public spectacle in Gurgaon, the Sikhs stepped in. Let us not forget that large number of Sikh farmers and others from Punjab had joined the peaceful Shaheen Bagh protests led by mothers, daughters and sisters against the anti-secular and anti-constitutional provisions of the CAA. Not only that, a Sikh gentleman had sold his house to offer ‘langar’ to the protestors at the site for days, even while the food was being prepared and shared by all communities across religion, caste and class.

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Indeed, five gurdwaras offered their premises for the Namaz. Speaking to The Indian Express, Sherdil Singh Sidhu, president of the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Sabzi Mandi, Gurgaon, said: “A gurdwara is the house of the Guru. People from all communities are welcome to come here and pray. If the Muslim community is facing problems in praying at designated sites, they can offer prayers in the gurdwaras. The doors of gurdwaras are open to all.”

Sherdil Singh added: “A few people are trying to spread hatred for their political agendas. All the communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians — made sacrifices during the freedom struggle. There should be no objection to people offering prayers.”

In another life-affirming and brave gesture, Akshay Yadav, 40, who runs a wildlife tour and travel business, offered his vacant shop at Sector 12 in Gurgaon to Muslims for prayers. He said he is a businessman, and has no political links. Around 15 people offered prayers in his shop, and his doors are open for them on all Fridays.  “My family said that if our place is being used to offer prayers to any God, it is a good thing. I have lived in Gurgaon for decades and it has always been a place of harmony and brotherhood,” said Yadav.

Indeed, when tens of thousands of emaciated migrant workers and their families were rendered jobless, homeless, hungry and thirsty after the sudden lockdown declared by the prime minister on the night of March 24, 2020,  and when the central government had refused to help one inch, the Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch, with its collective of local citizens, students, schools, and even Swiggy, among others, and the gurdwaras, pitched in wholeheartedly, feeding thousands of workers every day — without fail. And they did it out of love and compassion for humanity – and because that is what all human beings should do in times of such heart-breaking crisis.

This legacy of universal love is longstanding. For those who were beat reporters at the Boat Club in Delhi during the 1980s would remember that for all protesters, be it heat, rain or cold, food, tea and water would inevitably arrive from the nearby gurdwaras. JNU students would remember it distinctly during the protests after May 1983, when the students went to jail after the police action in the campus ordered by Indira Gandhi. Even the thousands of farmers from Western UP, then led by Mahender Singh Tikait, father of current farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikait, who were under a virtual siege and blockade by the police, were provided food and water by the gurdwaras.

In recent times, Jantar Mantar has witnessed the same phenomena as a beautiful pattern even as peaceful protests are celebrated as a fundamental right in a democracy. When Medha Patkar and her satyagrahis from the Narmada Bachao Andolan sat on an indefinite fast in the summer of 2006, thousands of protestors who joined in solidarity from the Narmada valley and elsewhere, would be given food from the gurdwaras, day after day.

This reporter has seen it during the devastating earthquake in Gujarat in 2001. At Anjar, Sikhs in their white lungis and long shirts would get down from a row of trucks loaded with foodgrain and huge utensils, travelling all the way from Punjab. Their presence itself would inspire confidence amidst the ravaged landscape. How many people can you feed, I asked. So, a tall and big Sikh, would speak, almost in a whisper: “We can feed 10 to 20,000 people, even more, two healthy meals every day.”

The Worsening Situation Amid Covid-19

‘After Love Jihad, BJP Will Rake Up Uniform Civil Code’

Fawaz Aftab, 21, a Law student from Delhi, says BJP leaders should focus on the worsening situation amid Covid-19, instead of targeting Muslims. Aftab prays for India to remain a pluralistic society

If you think ‘Love Jihad’ is the end of it – by which I mean the state meddling into citizens’ private affairs – it will not be. It is just the beginning. This year people have already seen so much hardships due to the pandemic yet our authorities are more focussed on issues related to a particular community, Muslims.

First, there was no proper dialogue before imposition of CAA- NRC, then northeast Delhi faced communal violence, later the communalisation of Covid-19 where the whole Tableegi Jamat issue was tarred, then the Ram Janma Bhoomi shilanyas (which could have been handled a little more gracefully), and now the Love Jihad law. A person who follows news in depth knows what will be their next stop: Uniform Civil Code.

Many people feel that now inter-faith relationships and marriages will raise untoward suspicion because of the new law. However, as a law student I feel that people shouldn’t give in to fear easily. The Special Marriage Act (1954) is still valid and people can still go for inter-faith marriages. The law has been brought in to curb forced conversions, be they done by a person of any religion. However, when the UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath or other BJP leaders and even the media talk about it, they use the term ‘Love Jihad’ as if it is meant to put a complete stop to inter-faith relationships.

ALSO READ: ‘Love Jihad Kills Beti Bachao Spirit’

It is perhaps easier to distract people from mainstream issues by bringing issues of lesser importance to the surface. I wish the government initiated dialogues on topics it thinks deserve importance before bringing a law for it. And I also wish that the people didn’t react emotionally to any news that the media presents, and did some groundwork on their own.

Aftab would want India to remain a pluralistic society

One of the main problems I have with this law is the point that anyone wanting to convert into another religion would have to give it in writing to the District Magistrate at least two months in advance. I feel it is a direct violation of fundamental rights under Article 21. Love, marriage and practicing of one’s faith are personal matters and the government shouldn’t get involved in it I feel, at least in the beginning. If the marriages run into problems, then the government can take cognizance of the matter.

The term ‘ Love Jihad’ first started coming to light around 2009-10, but the UPA government took it for what it was, an exception. I feel the current government takes offence even where none is intended. Prior to 2014, Hindus and Muslims and people of all other faiths mostly identified as Indians first, but now I can see traces of hatred and an unwillingness to know about and understand different faiths.

ALSO READ: ‘When Will The Hounding Of Muslims Stop?’

I hope we still continue to hold on tightly to the idea of a pluralistic India and no matter how much the media or our politicians try to divide us, we don’t give in to hatred; we don’t do any such thing that allows hatred to become mainstream. In the long run we can only control how we behave and I on my part will keep contributing my love and understanding to my fellow countrymen and women.

‘Love Jihad Law Kills Beti Bachao, Beti Padaho Spirit’

Pooja Behl feels the proposed ‘Love Jihad’ law by the UP Govt is perhaps an attempt to disintegrate an inter-faith, pluralistic society and will create more trouble than solutions

I am a 23-year-old professional from Lucknow working in the finance sector and I am in a relationship with a person who practises a different faith than mine. We plan to marry in a couple of years from now, when we have both achieved a certain level of financial stability, independently. Of late, I have been reading and hearing a lot about ‘love jihad’ as well as a proposed law to discourage it.

Willy-nilly, this law amounts to: Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, lekin beti ke decision pe fir bharosa mat karo (Use slogans like ‘save the daughter, educate the daughter’, then do not allow her to take her life decisions, or impose your worldview on her). Apparently, this is the signal being sent by the government in Uttar Pradesh.

If you educate your daughter, understand that she is going to have a mind of her own, and definitely a heart of her own too. Of course, one does take family into consideration, but these are family matters that should be sorted within the family as to who a person wants to marry. The courts/government shouldn’t interfere into it.

If a person is wise enough at 18 to vote and choose their leaders who have the huge and nuanced task of running a country, they are also wise enough to choose their life partners. Just because of one case (Priyanka Kharwar and Mohammad Salamat), the government cannot make people think that it is the norm elsewhere too. The earlier ruling given in that case has anyway been overturned now.

The real name of the ‘Love Jihad’ Bill is Vidhi-Viruddh Dharmantaran Bill, which takes into account forced conversions of all religions and not only by Muslims. But in popular parlance because of the word ‘Jihad’, only Muslims will be impacted. I feel they are trying to please both the intellectuals and non-intellectuals with this word-jugglery.

As someone who is in love with a Muslim man, I find this process in extremely bad taste. One does not take a likening to someone on the basis of their caste, community or faith etc. One merely takes a person’s heart into consideration, as to how that person makes one feel and how we feel when we care for them and their loved ones and families.

ALSO READ: ‘Love And Jihad Can’t Go Hand In Hand’

It is important for a country’s social structure that people live in happy marriages. If someone complains to the authority about problems in their marriage, then the government and courts may intervene. But bringing in the ‘Love Jihad’ kind of laws would be pre-empting things so far into the future that it becomes more of a problem than a solution.

My partner and I have talked marriage and we respect each other’s faiths and no one is going to convert to another’s faith. Our identity is for a large part dependent on the faith we practice and is one of the major reasons we fall in love with people. Someone who loves another truly wouldn’t want to change anything about that person, not even an inch, asking them to change the whole way they ‘practice’ (perfecting) their faith is totally out of question.

My parents have raised me very lovingly and we always listen to each other’s opinions respectfully. Open-minded and communicative parents leave their children a beautiful legacy and I wish, like parents, if the government really saw love jihad as such a huge issue, they should have initiated dialogues about it, rather than using it as poll rhetoric. I had never heard of the term ‘love jihad’ as a child, I started hearing it only in the recent years. I hope I stop hearing it soon.

(Representational picture used to keep the identity of narrator anonymous)