Interfaith Bohemian in India
Thursday March 29, 2012 09:51:29 AM,
Syed Ali Mujtaba, ummid.com
There is a sea change in Hindu
Muslim relationship from days of the 1990's to the beginning of
the second decade of the new millennium in India.
Those who have been witness to the era 1990s can recall the trail
of blood and mayhem that was let loose on the country for the
construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya.
At that point of time Muslims in India ran helter and skelter
hiding their identity, as Hindu zealots destroyed their place of
worship - the Babari mosque.
In contrast, current era of communal atmosphere can be
characterized as one of bliss and harmony. There are two shining
example that stands tall in the current situation and needs to be
chronicled in bold letters.
The first one is from Kamepally village of Guntur District in
Andhra Pradesh where Hindus have donated land for the construction
of the mosque and the second is from Gaya, a district town in
Bihar, where Muslims have come forward to help construct the
Hindu's place of religious worship.
In a rare gesture of communal harmony, the grandsons of Basawyya
and Achamma of Kamepally village of Guntur District in Andhra
Pradesh, donated a piece of land measuring 300 square yards for
the construction of a mosque in their village.
Kamepally village has 40 Muslim houses in a locality of 400
households. The need for a mosque was felt for long time in this
village. But as the Muslims in this village are poor, they could
not afford a place of their own for community worship.
The residents of this village when saw that there was a church and
a temple in the village, but no mosque, they unanimously decided
to have a mosque as well.
The Hindu philanthropist then generously decided to gift a piece
of land to the Muslim community for constructing a mosque.
Following that, the Sahitya Trust (IMRP) came forward to construct
the mosque. The mosque that was built with a sum of six lakh
rupees, also houses a school/ madarsa in its premises.
The mosque had 1000 attendees present at its inauguration
ceremony. A non-Muslim at that time announced that he would
contribute Rs. 500 per month for the expenses of up keeping this
This is something unique when we compare to the days of 1990's
when all round the country there was Hindu- Muslim discord and a
vocal call from the Hindu group for constructing the temple on the
very site where Babari Masjid stood, “Mandir Whain Banegye.”
The other example of communal harmony comes from Gaya, Bihar. Here
Muslims have come forward to build a Hindu temple dedicated to
goddess Durga. They did so not just by making donations but also
supervising the construction of the temple.
The temple is located at the Loco Colony near the railway station
in Gaya town. There was active help from the Muslims residing in
the colony, all of whom are railway employees.
The foundation of the temple was laid in 2010 and since then
Hindus and Muslims worked together to construct the Hindu place of
Muslim community donated and collected funds worth nearly five
lakh rupees for this temple and no wonder it stands out as a true
symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in Gaya.
Gaya is considered a communally-sensitive with over a dozen of
Muslim dominated localities in this town. Ahead of every Assembly
poll, there is sharp communal polarization of votes.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cashing on the insecurity of the
Hindus has been winning the assembly seat for over two decades.
After the construction of the temple will the BJP is winning the
next election too, is something that remains to be seen.
Well these are not isolated tales of communal harmony there are
few more from our country. In a rare gesture some times ago, a
Muslim from Begusarai district in Bihar donated his land for
constructing a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
Mohammad Fakhrool Islam of Bachwara village in Begusarai had given
land for the construction of the temple. The most conspicuous part
is Bachwara is a Muslim-dominated village.
In the same village some Hindus, some three decades ago, Hindus
had donated a piece of land for the construction of a mazar.
These developments are something remarkable and a huge contrast
from the days on the 1990's when there was a sharp polarization
between Hindu's and Muslim communities.
The political mobilization centered on the construction of Ram
temple at Ayodhya created a wedge among communities whose wounds
still remains unhealed.
Centuries of cohabitation and religious tolerance were torn into
shreds when Hindu zealots spewed venom against Muslims in many
nook and corners of north India.
“Babar Key Auladun ko, Juta Maro Salon ko”, (beat the sons of
Babur with shoes) was the slogan that ranted the air.
It was on the insecurity of the Muslims, that some Hindu
organization thought building their political ambitions in this
country. Now after two decades, its time to introspect the
veracity of that jingoist nationalism.
If we compare from those days to the present then we realize what
a contrast situation now exits in India. A modicum of sanity has
been developed and Hindu and Muslim community are trying to lead a
life of peaceful coexistence.
The examples that Hindus having come forward to donate a piece of
land for the construction of mosque in Andhra Pradesh and Muslims
having collected money for the construction of temple in Gaya is
the story how Indian civilization has progressed through
The history living in peace and harmony between communities is
longer than those of conflict and antagonism. The patches of grey
are much smaller then the vibrant colors of peaceful coexistence.
The scars of the demolition of Babari Masjid, which many Muslims
nurse even this day, is the shade of grey in the history of
interfaith adjustment in India.
One may find solaces in the positive stories of interfaith
reconciliation that are now are coming out at regular intervals
from different parts of the country.
As the interfaith relationship improves in our country, these
examples of communal harmony give way to hope for peaceful
coexistence. The new narrative that are being written on the
debris of the demolished mosque, clearly tells that India is a
land of unity in diversity with some aberrations.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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