Having witnessed the grisly news of the Mohammed Akhlaq killing in Dadri via media, I am reminded of Ameer Khusro, the inspired Sufi poet of northern India. These days, it is sad that we look not for a human but for a Hindu or a Muslim in each other's eyes. Khusro declared: "There is neither Hindu nor Muslim, but only man as the embodiment of the Divine!" This, in fact, is the basis of day-to-day secularism in India. We have dumped these voices of sanity somewhere.
Based on India's communal concord between Hindus and Muslims since time immemorial, Maulana Azad coined the term, Dar-ul-Aman (land of peace) as there were only two terms before - Darul-Islam (land ruled by Muslims) and Dar-ul-Harab (land ruled by non-Muslims). India is Dar-ul-Aman as many Muslims in Dadri were saved by their Hindu brethren despite the entire media taking up the cause of the slaughtered Akhlaq.
The communalization of certain sections of Indian society, as witnessed in Akhlaq's cold-blooded killing, now seems to have entered a new phase. Not very long ago, hate mobilization against Muslims was also seen at Muzaffarnagar. Neither the central government nor the Uttar Pradesh government got alerted after Muzaffarnagar.
In spite of Narendra Modi, a well-meaning prime minister who would like to take 1.25 billion-strong Indians with him, verbal attacks on Muslims are being relentlessly pursued by the likes of the saffron leaders including Yogi Adityanath, Sakshi Maharaj, Mahesh Sharma, Sanjeev Baliyan, Giriraj Singh and Swamini Narendra Jyoti. The Sangh schools continue to imbibe hate in young minds, through falsifying history and demonizing minorities.
Despite the schism within the Sangh Parivar, the attempts at communalization undertaken by social-cultural organizations continue. The Hindu-Muslim social cleavage that had existed during the British times has now been taking firm ground.
If the firangis banked upon the Hindu-Muslim divide, today's vote bank politics has been reviving that ghastly time as increased participation in political processes made minorities and lower caste people understand the importance of their vote and they begin to make increased demands, thus changing the dynamics of political change. This has unfortunately made India a divided house by creating reservations and packages like the one offered to the Patidars in Gujarat or the demands made by Muslim politicians for reservation based on religion.
Hindus and Muslims stood shoulder-to-shoulder against the English during the time of Bahadurshah Zafar; that bonhomie hasn't been noted for quite some time.
As far as the question of beef is concerned, Bahadurshah Zafar issued a diktat that nobody would slaughter a cow on the occasion of Eid-ul-Zuha as it's considered to be a holy creature for the Hindu brethren. Even Darul Uloom Deoband issued a fatwa seven years ago not to sacrifice cows as it would hurt the religious sentiments of the Hindu community. However, the fact of the matter is that the Muslims consuming beef are far and few as compared to non-Muslim brethren. Muslims of India too must take a leaf from this incident that they should prefer mutton to beef.
Society in general in India, despite being multi-faith, has been peaceful except for the demoniac fits and starts of communal frenzy. Poor Akhlaq lost his life on account of a design that is pursued very soundly by a group that even today supports Nathuram Godse.
As far as the Hindu-Muslim bond is concerned, it's mostly like milk and sugar but unfortunately, for reasons unknown, the salient features of the commonalities have not been highlighted by the media. There are testing times when we have to be alert about divisive forces that are found both amongst Hindus and Muslims. To be precise, all religions in terms of morals, ethics and norms and values are concentric; no religion should advocate anything unethical or immoral.
One thing is for sure: at one time, the people lived so amicably that they shared in common most socio-cultural activities, food, clothes and many customs and no one was concerned about knowing one's religion - something that's very personal.
Most of Tipu Sultan's ministers and advisers were Hindus. Ours has been a culture and heritage of conglomeration and inter-mingling. Can we deny that?
According to Muraqqa-e-Delhi of Nawab Dargah Quli Bahadur, the Mughal emperors consumed only Gangajal. Their celebration of Holi, Diwali and Dussehra is well known. If the rulers were Muslims, the economy was run by the Hindu administrators and officers. Muslim monarchs trusted Hindu accountants. In the military field, if Aurengzeb had brave Rajput generals, Shivaji trusted Muslim generals only.
Indian society will continue to experience violent caste and communal eruptions as long as it does not find political and economic equilibrium in terms of castes and communities. The rise of OBCs, on the one hand, and the impact of globalization on the Indian economy, on the other, will continue to cause occasional eruptions of violence in Indian society for quite some time. Caste and communal polarization will haunt us as long as we are unable to create a more egalitarian society.
I.K. Gujral, a former prime minister of India, had very rightly stated: "Remember, annihilation of Hindu-Muslim goodwill will mean India's disaster!"
Therefore, let's not turn India into a communal cauldron.
(The author is a commentator on social and religious issues, community worker and the grandnephew of Maulana Azad. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)