Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

A village without Muslims

July 1, 2016

So it happened. My native place, a village of 700, had 5-6 Muslim families. It was early 1990s and the people lived in good harmony. Muslims were Muslims like Marathas were Marathas, Kunbis were Kunbis, Dhangars were Dhangars, and Beldars were Beldars. My uncle was Sarpanch, an RSS volunteer and BJP position holder. Village had a daily baal-shakha.

So, those were the 1990s and Ram Mandir movement reached our village. There were mini-Rathyatras around too and one came in our village. In those days, we heard that the Muslims in our village were “good Muslims”, for example, Rauf Seth gave his golden ring to one of those the Ram raths.

But then the Muslims started to leave. The village had to migrate due to an upcoming dam. People were allotted plots at a place nearby. Marathas, Kunbis, Dhangars and Beldars shifted from old village to new village. Muslims left the village altogether. They didn’t come to the new village. They moved to another village, some 20-30 km away, that had sizeable Muslim population. We heard that they left because the Muslim community was not willing to marry their girls in a village where Muslims were only a few. Perhaps, they didn’t feel it safe anymore, after the Babri masjid demolition, to live in a village with such strong RSS influence. Perhaps, being “good Muslims” for an RSS village wasn’t good for them. I don’t know the reasons. I was a kid of not even 10.

One elderly couple stayed. They shifted from old village to new one with the Marathas and Kunbis and Dhangars and Beldars. They lived there till the old lady died. My uncle, the RSS waala, took up all expenses of her last rites. Afterwards, the husband left village too.

No one talked of an Exodus. My village itself never had any communal tension, but perhaps the whole atmosphere changed after the Babari. Perhaps, the “good Muslims” saw the villagers as “good Hindus”, but there was something they weren’t sure about — “Will it be good enough to be just good ‘despite being Muslims’ in the changing scenario?” I don’t know. I was too young to think of these things. I only knew RSS are good people, Muslims in our village are “good Muslims.” I, perhaps subconsciously, knew that the term “good Muslims” itself implies existence of “bad Muslims” too. At that young age, Rashtra was Hindu Rashtra and Rashtrabhakti was what I learnt from my uncle. In hindsight, when I see, I see my uncle was a “good RSS waala”.

So as it happened, my village has no Muslims anymore. Neither have the 3-4 villages in the vicinity. The kids born after 1995 in my village have not seen any Muslims neighbors. We haven’t been to any Muslim households. I myself hadn’t been to a Muslim household till I visited Shams bhai’s place in 2014.

I don’t know why I’m writing this, but I wanted to write about it for long. It’s sad. People, who were living there for generations, felt it wasn’t prudent to stay there further. We were a tiny village. But those words – Ayodhya, Babri – reached us, for no reason. My parents still talk reverently of the elders in those Muslim families. Many of those died. Some of them, the younger ones, sometimes meet the village oldies in town on market days and they talk like relatives met after a long while: ” Chachi kaisi hai? Sharif kahaan hai ab? Sharif ki ladki ki shaadi? Baap re..” We, the newer generations, don’t even know them.

What was it that happened? Who gained from it? Who lost? No one knows. As it stands now, we have no Muslims in the village.

P.S. I wrote it as I saw it as a kid of 10. Please don’t take out conclusions.

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is.gd? Yeah, it’s good!

February 26, 2012

When there is widespread stereotyping about something in the society, we inadvertently fall prey to it even without knowing ourselves.  Some are liberal enough to accept their mistakes and prompt to correct them; others remain clung to their own misconceptions.

is.gd - Mmmm, tasty URLs! Current issue is the “ethical” URL shortener is.gd and one such misconception in its ethical policy that I noticed a few days ago.  Is.gd is one of the leading service in URL shortening.  It is created by Richard West, a freelance developer and technologist.  I am a long-time fan of this service for their simplicity, and just for their look.  But a few days ago, I found something in their policy that upset me.  It read:

Many short domains used by URL shorteners are owned by nations under Islamic law which don’t enjoy the same freedoms we do in the West.

I found this sentence very much objectionable.  I felt somehow it implies that Islamic countries do not provide freedom of speech and also that freedom is predominantly a Western concept.  But what could I do?  I just stopped using is.gd and instead started using bit.ly, which is owned by Libyan domain, an Islamic country, just as a gesture of protest, self-sufficient to myself.  But firstly, I didn’t like the feel of bit.ly, and again I thought it won’t solve the problem.  I really loved is.gd and I felt I should try telling them about this glitch.  Their site noted that the mails are replied personally by Richard, so I thought to give it a try.  I mailed Richard this morning: (more…)

Shivaji: Saffronization of a secular king

February 20, 2012

Yesterday was the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1627-1680).  It was celebrated with great joy all over the Maharashtra and by all Marathi-speaking people wherever they are in some form or other.  Shivaji was one national hero of who is still revered by millions above cast and creed.  Indeed Shivaji is a towering name above all, and if you ask anyone to give just one name that binds all Marathi people together, it would be that of Shivaji without a second thought.

Let him remain as he was.  Don't color him saffron.

The popularity and greatness of Shivaji’s character have given rise to a typical phenomenon in the modern India.  Each and every ideological group want him colored in their own color, and unfortunately the far-right saffron Hindutva folks succeeded in it.  They distorted his image so much that he is almost deified as an incarnation of God who took birth “to save the Hindu people from the tyranny of Muslim rulers”; and this is far from truth.

This needs to be checked against historical facts and people should be made aware about this.  This has become more important in the post-1992 and post-Godhra India where Shivaji is again and again projected as a destroyer and enemy of Muslims.

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Spiritual songs of A. R. Rahman

December 14, 2011

This is a long due post.  I had been contemplating writing this for many days, but the list of songs grew too much to accommodate in a single post.  I had also thought about writing a separate post about qawwalis of A. R. Rahman, mainly the trio:  Piya Haji Ali from Fiza, Khwaja Mere Khwaja from Jodha Akbar, and Kun Faya Kun from Rockstar.  I could not complete that project too.  Then, I wanted to dedicate a post to Mann Mohana from Jodha Akbar; again I couldn’t do it.  Finally, here I am with this post, and I have decided to base this post only on three songs, three different genres, three different religions, dedicated to that one Almighty.

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Of potatoes, eggs, Ahmadiyyas, and Pakistan

October 26, 2011

I was casually going through BBC News website last evening and found a news about a YouTube video “Aaloo Anday” (potatoes and eggs) getting viral popular in Pakistan. What so special about a video, first one by the unknown-until-now band, to be so popular that BBC making a news out of it. I watched the video on YouTube. It’s a satire on the current sociopolitical situation of Pakistan. It’s in Punjabi, I couldn’t get it’s meaning by mere listening to it. I further googled to get some insight. The video itself and the situation surrounding it have obsessed me so much that I had been thinking of it almost every moment since I watched it.

The video starts with three school-going-looking boys opening their lunch box finding the same “Aaloo Anday” in them as usual. They put off the lunch boxes and start with the song: “my mother has cooked aaloo and anday. I don’t like them. I want to each pieces of chicken.” The video further takes a hard stand on some tough issues in Pakistan. They talk of a country where Mumtaz Qadir (one who assassinated a liberal minister) is treated like a royal nawab, where Ajmal Kasab has become a national hero, and of a country where no one talks about Abdus Salam, the first Noble laureate from Pakistan who won Noble Prize for Physics in 1979.

Abdus Salam (1926–1996)

Dr. Abdus Salam

Although the most part of the song made only a little appeal to me (as I am not that aware of the situation there), I must give the guys full credit for talking about Abdus Salam.  Abdus Salam was one of the most important scientists Pakistan has ever produced. He belonged to Ahmadiyya community, which is declared non-muslim in Pakistan by law of the land. Ahmadiyya is a community within Islam that believes Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahamad (19th century) to be the Messiah and hence denies the finality of prophethood of Muhammad. They believe in the oneness of Allah, they believe Muhammad was a prophet of Allah, they believe Quran to be the book sent by Allah, but deny the finality of Muhammad as a Prophet. Pakistan has about 4 million of Ahmadiyya population; and these people are declared non-muslims by law.

And what does it really mean? By law, an Ahamadiyya cannot pose himself to be a muslim in Pakistan, or he can have a jail of up to 3 years. An Ahmadiyya cannot say “Assalam walaykum” to someone else; an Ahmadiyya cannot call their place of worship a “masjid”; an Ahmadiyya cannot keep a copy of Quran in his home; an Ahamadiyya cannot quote the verses of Quran in public; an Ahamadiyya can in no way pose himself to be a Muslim. Anyone who applies for a Pakistani passport has to sign an oath stating that Mirza Ghulam Ahamad was an imposter and not the prophet of Allah and his followers are in no way Muslims.

Ahmadiyya are often a target of social malignity in Pakistan. In 2010, there was a suicide bomb attack on a Ahmadiyya place of worship and about 100 people were killed.  Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called the deceased “our brothers” in his condolence speech.  Eleven political parties together have protested his calling Ahmadiyyas “our brothers.” The prejudice against Ahmadiyyas is so intense that they often try to keep their Ahmadiyya identity hidden in their social life. In short, Ahmadiyyas are the Jews of modern Pakistan and living in almost the same situation as the Jews were living in the early Nazi regime.

Grave of Prof. Dr. Abdus Salam (1926-1996) in ...

The gravestone of Dr. Abdus Salam. The words "Muslim" are removed by a judicial action.

Abdus Salam was a proud Pakistani and a Muslim. He went to receive his Noble award in the national dress of Pakistan. He had quoted a verse from Quran in his Noble speech. He departed from the country in protest when Pakistan declared Ahmadiyyas to be non-Muslims. Afterwards, he lived in United Kingdom. He kept constant contact with his motherland for all his life. He died in UK. His corpse was brought back to Pakistan and buried in his hometown. His gravestone read “He was the first Muslim Noble laureate.” This was unbearable in Pakistan. He was an Ahmadiyya; he cannot call himself a Muslim even after death. They dusted out the words “Muslim” from his gravestone by a judicial order leaving it to nonsensical “the first Noble laureate.” Every attempt was made to clean out his name from the public memory; even his hometown was renamed. And such an important public figure in Pakistan was rubbed out of history, just because he was an Ahmadiyya, a non-Muslim. The prejudice against Ahmadiyya is so intense in Pakistan that a blogger satirically wrote a public sentiment like “we can convert the Hindus and Christians to Islam; we do not want the Ahmadiyyas.”

One can easily make remarks against political leaders; they are soft targets. A little more courageous can talk even against the military, but to talk against the public sentiment–it takes a great deal (think what kind of comments those got here in India who argued against the Anna Hazare movement). The aaloo anday guys must be congratulated for taking up such an important issue. It may not change the situation in a while, but it can set start a debate. The video ends with the lead singer holding a placard “If you want a bullet through my head, like this video.” Unfortunately, it is really such a case in Pakistan. Take care guys, may God give you a long life.

Mumbai Blasts: Some Obervations

July 14, 2011

Mumbai, the economic capital of India, shook with terror last evening with a series of near-simultaneous bomb attacks. I got this news on my twitter as a retweet by Omar Abdullah (@Abdullah_Omar) immediately after the second blast, when even the news media websites did not have any report. Till now, the death toll has reached to 20+ and my heart goes with the family who have lost some near and dear ones in those blasts.

But I intend to write about some of my observations on the social behavior of people during such time of crisis. People tweeted, and twitter was far ahead of any other social networking, and Facebook for that matter. People tweeted spreading the news, asking help, offering help, and retweeting the helpline numbers. Twitter was flooded with the hashtags, #MumbaiBlasts, #Happy2help, #EmergencyNumbers, etc. For example, some Tejas Tamhane tweeted just minutes after the blast, from Opera House, the venue of one of the blasts, “Anyone going towards Andhrei? Can you pick me from Opera House? #mumbaiblasts.” There were a lot of tweets offering help, as this one by some Dina, “Anyone stranded in Dadar west – contact me” with her phone number. Celebrities like Priyanka Chopra who has a large following base tweeted the police control room numbers etc.

Another kind of behavior I noted was of people who were out there just to create chaos. As Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) tweeted “The death toll has reached 21. What kind of animals commit such heinous acts?”, these stupid were prompt to suggest him that they were from his own fraternity, Islam. These people with apparently fundamentalist mentality were cheap enough to use bad words and **** for the whole Muslim community, and much more for the secular Indians, the prime minister, home minister, UPA chairperson, and Rahul Gandhi (e.g. using the terms naagin and sapola for Sonia and Rahul Gandhi respectively and using **** words for the Prime Minister of India). I too get one such reply on twitter all filled with F*** and Madar*** kind of words for just suggesting Javed Akhtar to ignore such comments.

Lastly, there was a rumor on all the social networks about it being the birthday of Ajmal Kasab (the only terrorist caught alive from the 26/11 Mumbai attacks) suggesting the link to the choice of date for the blasts (though this date is disputed, BBC and IBN Live suggesting it to be September 13. The Wikipedia article on Kasab underwent several edits just after the blasts and Kasab’s DOB was changed from September 13 to July 13). Many were expressing concerns over why he is still alive and why he was not shoot at the same time of the blasts. This is really a naïve question. Nine of his companions were killed in the police action. It was necessary to catch at least one of them alive and put him through the actual judicial process to let the world know who were the actual perpetrators of those attacks. Kasab’s case in the court has made many things clear. It was necessary to put those facts in front of the international community beyond doubt. Had Kasab been died in direct action, we would have only circumstantial evidences to prove he was a Pakistani. In court, he himself claimed this.

Finally, let’s pray for the families suffered. Their losses are immense, but may God bless them with courage to deal with it, and hope the government bring the culprits to justice soon.