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Published On:02 January 2021
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Communal rage in secular India

By Mohammad Wajihuddin

As the blighted 2020 is behind us and we welcome the New Year, my thoughts are with my own elder brother at a hospital bed recovering as he is from a massive heart attack. I am announcing it here only to seek blessings from friends for his fast recovery. However, this essay is not about my personal pain. It is about the enormous pain our country is being forced to endure.

It is the raging fires of communalism which give me the sinking feeling. Since the country is glued to the farmers’ agitation at Delhi’s borders, communal clashes in villages of Madhya Pradesh have not received the prominence they deserve in the national media. Whatever little reports trickle in are disturbing.

And this is happening in the name of building a massive temple for Lord Ram in Ayodhya. Reports say that groups of boys are touring villages collecting chanda or contributions for the grand temple. Nothing wrong with that. In a free country an individual or groups have all the rights to collect funds for places of worship they want to build. I have seen and met multiple sofra (agents) collecting funds in a big city like Mumbai for mosques in remote villages of Bihar. In Bihar I have also seen and met young Hindu boys stopping public and private vehicles to get chanda for puja of different deities or to construct temples. I have willingly given whatever little I could to their coffers. It was never a big issue.

But here the issue is different. These groups of chanda collectors reportedly roam the villages and insist on raising provocative slogans, especially when they pass by mosques or mausoleums. This has resulted in clashes. Videos of hooligans planting flags of a particular hue atop minarets and chanting communal slogans are floating on social media networks. These portend ill for the country. The combustible situation is harmful to communal harmony and national integration. This chanda campaign will only widen the gulf between the two communities.


The world knows that, once out of the court settlement to the Babri Mosque-Ram Janambhoomi dispute didn’t materialize, Muslims said they would abide by the Supreme Court order. The order came and it gave the disputed land to Hindus to build a temple for Ram and awarded five acres of land in Ayodhya to the Muslims for a mosque. Though many Muslim leaders said they were not happy with the decision as the court itself conceded that there is no credible proof that the mosque was built after demolishing a temple, the Muslim masses accepted it. The country remained completely peaceful in the aftermath of the decision. We thought it was a closure to one of the longest-running feuds in the country.

I personally hoped this temple in Ayodhya would exemplify what the poet Allama Iqbal in his poem Naya Shivala (New Temple) dreamed of. In this famous poem, Iqbal vocalises the spirit of India. The poet paints a happy picture when he says: Shakti bhi shanti bhi bhagton ke geet mein hai/Dharti ke basiyon ki mukti preet mein hai. The poet reiterates that both power and peace are in praise of the creator and our salvation lies in peace and love. He urges the countrymen to build such a tall temple that touches the sky but also symbolizes peace, prosperity, love and harmony.

Unfortunately, there are elements who want to keep the communal pot boiling. For them permission to build Ram Temple in Ayodhya is a license to mock and humiliate others. To them social discord is the only vehicle to endear themselves to those holding the levers of power.

It was not like this. At least the villages were not so communally divided. We took pride in the bhaichara, the friendly atmosphere in our villages. In my teenage I remember non-Muslim women brining their infants to the gates of the village mosque at the time of evening namaz. As the worshippers exited after the prayers, these women put their kids in front of the devout Muslims to bless them. The Muslims, freshly out of the mosque, would chant some sacred verses and blow them over the face of small children. A belief had it that the blowing of sacred chants would ward the kids off evil eyes or illnesses. That India seems to have died.

Similarly, we would wait for the prasad or sweets that would come to our house from my father’s Hindu friends’ houses on occasions of Saraswati Puja or Chchath Puja. Saraswati Puja which used to be held at educational institutions as Saraswati is believed to be the goddess of education are now being held at gullies and mohallas. The visarjan or immersion of the idols is increasingly becoming a source of discord and conflicts. A section among the devotees of idols insist on choosing routes of the processions only to inflame communal tension. Maintaining peace during immersion of idols is a big challenge for the administration.

Why is it so? It is so because religion has been hijacked. Religion’s soul has been hollowed out and what we are left with are rituals. Competitive communalism force people to focus more on rituals than on the soul of the religion. So, the focus is not on worship and prayers but on building massive and opulent places of worship and selecting routes of procession that can create trouble.

A poet articulated the pain that God feels at ornamentation of the houses made in his name. The poet’s couplet goes: Main na khush wa bezaar hoon mar mar ke silon se/Mere liye mitti ka haram aur bana de (I am unhappy and uncomfortable with marble pillars/Build me a house of mud and soil). Does God need lavishly decorated dwellings? If you believe God is the creator of the universe, why does he need an opulent house for himself amidst pervasive poverty. A mosque, temple, church or gurudwara is just a facility to assemble and remember the creator. Building a massive structure and calling it a place of worship is nothing but mere assertion of the devotees’ so-called love for their God. I am afraid if God wants his subjects to take the begging bowls to prospective donors for a house for himself.

God will certainly disapprove of the bands of young boys creating ruckus outside places of worship of other faiths in the name of collecting funds for Him. This is against the spirit of religion. This communal rage is nothing but weaponizing religion and killing the country’s secular soul. This is an ungodly act. This is madness.

Let us stop this madness as we enter 2021.

[Mohammad Wajihuddin is a prolific writer and a Mumbai-based journalist associated with a leading newspaper.]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on January 02, 2021. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on January 02, 2021. Filed under , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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