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Archive for June, 2013

Show me some love!

‘Mare the jinke liye, wo rahe wazu karte!’ How apt is this line to my last week’s post “Thank You, sorry and the slur that isn’t!” It was written in response to a post by Aakar Patel and got read by many but Aakar himself. But I have no regret because I had to write it, or someone like Chetan Bhagat would have done so. He did it today, anyway.

My post was born on the day Shafiqur Rahman Barq walked away during Vande Mataram and caused a stir on social media. His action met with fierce criticism and much despise. Abhijit Majumder, Editor of Delhi edition of Hindustan Times, and someone who I’ve admired for long, tweeted (something to the effect) that Bankim didn’t write it for the narrow minded and it was an insult to the nation. I had my argument that not reciting Vande Mataram doesn’t equate to insulting the nation as the lines in this hymn contradict a belief. I could sing ‘Jana Gana Mana’, ‘sare jaha se achcha’, or any patriotic song in any language that portrays my feelings and affection towards the nation. Why would a democracy doubt my nationalism based on my reservation to utter couple of words? Isn’t democracy about all-inclusiveness? Is saluting any lesser show of affection than bowing? And who dictates the diktat?

I was distraught to find that Abhijit wasn’t following me on Twitter anymore. He couldn’t merely have done so just because of my comments? Or the misunderstandings had reached a level where one couldn’t bear another viewpoint? I explained my views to him and later found out that he did not actually unfollow me for the comments and had no wrong assumptions. That was the time I decided that there are things that need to be said. It’s not about showing off or being apologetic, it’s about putting a hand on the shoulder and giving a reassurance. An assurance I’m happy I offered even if it clears a bit of mist, no matter how many think it to be unwarranted. Barq could have stood there to avoid a controversy, but his dissent opened a window of a meaningful thought that I should tell that despite my disagreement on certain issues, I’m still as good or bad Indian as any of you are.

I was overwhelmed with the response to the post, which eventually got published in ‘Kannada Prabha’. It was mostly positive, but it struck me how many people asked why can’t all Muslims behave in a same way? Why we give preference to the religion over the country? Do I accept the ‘shortcomings’ that my religion has? Why no less than ‘90%’ Indian Muslims support Pakistan when it comes to a cricket match between the two? Why do all Mulsims vote for a certain party? I’d leave these questions unanswered and let you clear your own doubts minus the convincing. Interact with the community and find out what exactly it thinks of these questions! My intention remains of giving ‘that reassurance’!

Honestly, I was disgusted when someone told me that my ‘belief’ was like blindly following a cult. Atheists may disown the concept of religion, but I believe people of faith should have some respect for other faith. How on earth do you wish to win hearts and unite people by telling people ‘it’s either my way or the highway’? Where does that leaves ‘right to freedom of religion’? Dub me an apologist, but scour your conscience whether you or I am contradicting my national obligation.

I’m happy many more readers chose to let my hand stay on the shoulder for a while instead of showing doubt over my intentions or actions. I wish I could calm myself down and deal with the emotions quietly but it gives me enormous satisfaction that I actually told you what I feel instead of burying my head in sand and cringing

‘Padhi hamari namaz-e janaazah ghairon ne

Mare the jinke liye, wo rahe wazu karte!’

Show some love, it’s a necessity of times!

Sarfraz Khatib

30-06-2013

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These lines by Aakar Patel appeared this morning on my Twitter timeline, very simple yet deeply meaningful, more so since these were placed under the heading ‘When sovereignty belongs to God’. “A community demonstrates its secular and pluralistic credentials where it is a majority. As minorities, all communities make claims of tolerance because it’s in their self-interest.”

There’s nothing wrong with these lines except these tell me to introspect whether my call for tolerance and communal peace is being viewed as an insecurity, of being on the mercy of 100 crore Hindus. I don’t ask myself this question for that fear never took shape in the sphere where I moved. Yes, we read of communal clashes and carnages, but my solace rests on the fact that it will take an utterly inhuman, ultra-Hitelrisque effort on part of the majority community to do away with Indian Muslims. Thankfully, I have not yet personally witnessed a single killing, nor experienced any hostility from my Hindu friends and employers AND FOR THAT I MUST THANK YOU AAKAR PATEL, FOR THAT MUST BE MUSIC TO YOUR EARS AND THAT’S WHAT YOU WANTED ME TO SAY, ISN’T IT? No, I am not being sarcastic, or may be a bit towards you Aakar, but in no way towards my Hindu friends and employers for I value their genuineness.

Not too long ago, I worked in Mumbai in a firm owned by a Sindhi family. Every morning a religious priest used to come with Prasad and apply vermilion tilak to one and all. I am not Shafiqur Rahman Barq, who walked away during Vande Mataram, hence I used to remain seated, extend my hand towards the pandit and he’d apply the vermilion there. It wasn’t a compulsion or insecurity but I felt it awkward to be classified differently. I thought it was decent for both of us to respect each other’s sentiment. There’s nothing exceptional or extraordinary about these details except that it had no hidden agenda, there was nothing to gain, or show off my liberal tendencies to my Maharashtrian girl pal, whose mom used to make outstanding Kothimbir Vadi, I used to gorge upon. I am not a fashionable liberal and come from a fairly religious family, with me being the black sheep for not praying regularly, an act which I reprimand myself often for. By now, you must have concluded what sort of Muslim I am.

On March 30, 2011 India beat Pakistan to reach World Cup final. Me and my friends danced like crazy on the streets of Dubai. The frenzy continued till the patrolling police told us it was late enough to move indoors and let the residents go to sleep. It was unlike anything that I had experienced before. Indians shook hands, hugged, climbed on car bonnets, waved the tri colors, threw sweets, whistled and beat anything that sounded like a drum. No one asked me why I was happy, being an Indian Muslims, who supposedly enjoy firework when Pakistan wins. Similar celebrations took place again after MSD hit that monstrous six to bring home the trophy. So did I celebrate Indian cricket team’s victory or celebrated being an Indian? It wasn’t merely a celebration of sporting victory; it was the pride of achievement that the nation had attained. No, I’m not out to prove anything to you Aakar, neither my loyalty to India, nor views on Pakistan, not even my religious views for you are just a fellow countryman, an equal mortal.

 I won’t tell you to shut up and mind your own business for that wouldn’t be polite and won’t solve your quandary about my Indian-ness. Also, we’re lucky to have the right to free speech, being a democracy, unlike Pakistan, which is a religious state, much like the Vatican and unlike India or United States that are democracies.  Therefore your comparison is not between two equals, when you compare the free hand that Hindu majority has given to Indian Muslims with that of Pakistan’s dismal behavior with minorities, Hindus, Christians and some Muslim sects that it chose to relegate. What makes you think that Indian Hindus should behave in the same manner that Pakistani Muslims do? I never take the ‘Go to Pakistan’ line seriously, it doesn’t even hurt me if I see it directed towards me or another Indian Muslim, just because it’s meaningless. No one is going anywhere! So why not become a bit courteous towards each other and live in peace? Ah, no I’m not being insecure Aakar, it’s the reality, and we seriously do not have any other option.

I deliberately have decided not to bring in terms like secular, sickular (our version of the Pakistani slur), terror, jihad, sharia and affiliation to political parties as this warrants a broader spectrum of knowledge and aptitude for argument, which in return will bring us back to nowhere.

I may have sounded arrogant in places in thus post, but it stems from my confidence as a right holder of this nation, and not my insecurity or shiny and hollow liberal façade. I won’t say sorry for Pakistan’s misdeeds and I won’t say ‘Thank you again, Aakar for your benevolence and kindness towards Indian Muslims’. I would rather end it with….

Ik tabassum* hazaar shikwo(n)** ka,

Kitna pyara jawaab hota hai!

*smile * Grievance

Thank you for understanding Aakar. This time I really mean it!

 

Sarfraz Khatib

(Twitter: @sarfrazhaan)

22-06-2013

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