For Muslims in India, Eid namaz was offered under the shadow of fear

Published: June 18, 2018
SHARES
Email

Indian Muslims pray as they gather for Jummatul Wida prayers on the last Friday of Ramazan at the historic Jama Masjid in New Delhi on August 2, 2013, ahead of the Eidul Fitr festival. PHOTO: AFP

I recently recalled the memory of an argument I had with one of my friends from school six years ago, when I was still in high school. It was around the time Narendra Modi was vigorously campaigning to become the next prime minister of India. He was a hot topic for debate, and every media house was discussing the sharp rise in the popularity of the chief minister of Gujarat, despite the Hindutva identity he carried.

The media termed it the ‘Modi wave’.

My friend and I were discussing the series of corruption scandals that unfolded during the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance, as well as the Hindutva becoming a part of mainstream politics. He kept on insisting that Modi is the only option to end corruption in the country, and most importantly, to revive ‘Indian culture’. This term, however, has never had an exact definition, and is often manipulated to fit into the propaganda started by the right-wing.

Four years after the Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government succeeded the 10-year-old Congress regime, many things have changed, but perhaps the most drastic and nefarious development is that hate has now been established in the mainstream. Over the course of these years, Eid versus Diwali and shamshan (cremation ground) versus kabristan (graveyard) are debates that have become part of conventional politics. Today, a wide and bold line has been drawn between Eid and Diwali.

On the one hand, it would be wrong to say all this began after Modi assumed power. On the other, it is safe to say things have become significantly worse for Muslims during this time period. Eid has now lost its sweetness, as well as the gesture of brotherhood it used to bring.

Danish Ahmad, a post-graduate student from Ranchi, told me,

“The frequent riots in Jharkhand have changed the emotions for Eid. Now, there is a fear of offering namaz (prayer) in public. People in my area are more concerned about safety and security. Communal clashes have brought an enmity between Hindus and Muslims, and have certainly left our lives in terror.”

I recall a lesson from my school, where I was taught to celebrate the plurality of India. After all, multiculturalism has always been the identity of this land. Merely a simple Google search will enlist examples where temples and mosques shared the same boundary. Of Muslims designing effigies of gods and goddesses for Hindus and their puja (prayer). Of people in India celebrating Diwali, Eid and Holi together, unhindered by religion.

Though cultural and religious differences have existed in India for a long time, unfortunately, over the course of a few years, offering namaz in public became known as ‘land jihad’.

The horrific yet frequent episodes of lynching have terrorised the Muslim community to an extreme. In its report, India Spend mentions a sharp increment in crime against Muslims after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came into power. The data maintained since 2010 suggests 97% of cow-related violence occurred after 2014, in which 84% deaths were of Muslims.

On May 20th, 45-year-old Siraj Khan was lynched to death in Madhya Pradesh. The state is ruled by the BJP, and is one where several reports of major assaults against Muslims have increasingly made headlines over the years. The Modi government has succeeded in blocking the thinking ability of the so-called “concerned India” from visualising the greater challenges that lie ahead.

“The current dispensation is more entrenched than what was found in the regimes of Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, as both regimes had no organisations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) backing them,” says Ovais Sultan Khan, who hails from Amroha, a district of Uttar Pradesh currently ruled by Yogi Adityanath, a saffron priest and the face of the militant Hindutva.

The newly coined but commonly used terms, like love jihad, land jihad and ghar wapsi, all cause anxiety amongst Muslims. Gau-Rakshak, the self-proclaimed cow protectors, and other offshoot organisations of the RSS have become the face of saffron terror in our country, and are leaving no stone unturned to demonise Muslims and their culture. And Eid is not an exception.

I have grown up in a pluralistic society with worthy exposure to the diverse culture of India. I studied in a boarding school, where most of my time was spent at the home of a man who was Hindu. He raised me like his own son, and always took care of me. I will never forget the kindness and generosity with which I would be treated during the month of Ramazan. Though I never got the chance to celebrate Eid at his house, choosing instead to go back home for the holidays, but every year I would return with a box filled with sawaiyan sent by my mother for him.

I often compare my childhood to the times of today, and it is remarkable how many things have taken a turn for the worse. My friend from school and I have not met since then. The sweetness of sawaiyan, whose smell could always be found in the neighbourhood and at friends’ houses, has now been confined to the ghettos. Sawaiyan has become untouchable, like Muslims, whose patriotism is now being questioned on trains, buses, at the workplaces and even in the privacy of their own homes.

As I am a Muslim, I am called a Pakistani sympathiser, and even asked to leave India – I call this high school bullying. Now even the auto driver, whom I pay for the service, feels compelled to question to my ancestry and my ‘Indianness’.

Despite our differences, Eid has always reduced boundaries between communities and spread love amongst our countrymen. However, in contemporary times, when mosques are vandalised and Muslims are used to harassment in their own colonies, Eid itself has become a minority, and has been reduced to a festival of ghettos. This year, Eid namaz was offered under the shadow of fear, and this is the harsh reality India has to live with. One can only hope that this hate too will age, and these times shall one day pass away, leaving behind the pluralism India once prided itself on.

Anwarul Hoda

Anwarul Hoda

The author is a Delhi based journalist. He tweets @Ianwarulhoda (twitter.com/Ianwarulhoda)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • 19640909rk .

    Dear Sir. Your fears are valid. Recommend

  • Patwari

    What you have described, (first hand experience ) is how Jews
    were treated in Nazi Germany in the 20’s and 30’s. A classic
    example of Fascism and Hindu nationalism on the rise. A very
    toxic mix. Indeed. Which is destroying Hinduland.
    Just substitute Muslims for Jews.
    Same country that was planning to send astronauts to Mars…..
    We all know how Nazi Germany ended up. That day for Hindustan
    is not far.Recommend

  • razzaq shamshuddin

    it is time that the indian voter, not just muslim, but hindu and other moinirity groups, depose this ruthless government that not only beratyed secularist policies, but has exacerbated corruption-Recommend

  • Abhinav Mittal

    Ever felt concerned for the minorities living in muslim majorities where discrimination is enshrined in the constitutions?Recommend

  • Rahul

    If things were so terrible in India, why aren’t Indian Muslims running to Pakistan or Bangladesh? Perhaps they see the fate of the Mohajirs who migrated to Karachi from India and have been living in ghettos for 70 years, their leader Altaf Husain unable to set foot on Pakistani soil (Altaf was able to visit India in 2004 but not his country of birth), their political organization the MQM has been torn apart. Perhaps they see the fate of the stateless Bihari Muslims who have spent 50 years in concentration camps in Bangladesh. India has its problems, but compared to its neighbors, Bangaldesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar who have all done ethnic cleansing, India is a paradise and Indian Muslims know it in their hearts. BTW, In India during Eid, you have water and electricity.Recommend

  • Justin John

    Dear Author, can you please explain how hindus, christions, Sikhs, Ismailies etc are living great life in beautiful and extremely tolerant Pakistan?Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    Yes. Like minorities in Pakistan.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Biased article without comparative analysis and periodical analysis. Per Peacefulness index, India has moved up 7 places in just 4 years.

    In comparison, Pakistan has only moved up 3 places since 2015.Recommend

  • gp65

    “The newly coined but commonly used terms, like love jihad, land jihad and ghar wapsi, all cause anxiety amongst Muslims. ”

    Love jihad is not newly coined in 2014. It was first used by a Christian priest in Kerala court. As you know Kerala is a state that BJP has never ruled. And yes this term was used in 2009.

    As far as ghar wapasi is concerned, either conversion is acceptable or it is not. It is unclear why you think that to convert a Hindu into Muslim is ok but the reverse (ghar wapasi) is not?

    ” Sawaiyan has become untouchable, like Muslims, whose patriotism is now being questioned on trains, buses, at the workplaces and even in the privacy of their own homes.”

    What rubbish. Our neighbors share sewaiyan with us just as we give them mathias and cholafali on Diwali. No one’s patriotism is challenged unless they support Pakistan’s support for jihadis. And no one barges into people’s homes to challenge this.

    “The current dispensation is more entrenched than what was found in the regimes of Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, as both regimes had no organisations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) backing them,”
    Has the current regime called for killing of Muslims the way Hitler killed 6 million jews as part of their policy? RSS is not a new organization. It exists since 1947 and were even honored by Pandit Nehru in 1963 for their contribution during the 1962 wars. Are you saying that India is worse than Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy since 1947?Recommend

  • Hammad Mian

    Thank you Jinnah sahib very much.Recommend

  • Parvez

    In the last election Modi adopted a strategy using the ‘ sectarian card ‘ as a catalyst to further his nationalist agenda…..and it worked. The problem with such strategies is that once the genie is out of the bottle, to coax it get back in is very difficult, if not impossible.Recommend

  • Talha

    Totally agree with you bro. The reality is that the people responsible for today’s India were always in the majority, however they didn’t have government backing previously. Due to the presence of these people before 1947, Quaid-e-Azam changed his mind from United India to a separate land for Muslims. I am one of the privileged whose grandparents migrated from India. Thankyou Allah and Jinnah. Prayers for Indian Muslims. we are always with you.Recommend

  • addo

    Not one article about Hindus murdered in Pakistan for celebrating​ Diwali.Recommend

  • Nihal

    It is true that even a single incident like this can not be tolerated. but saying that muslims in India living in shadow of fear because of total 60 incidents according to your own data in last 5 years seems very far fetched. Don’t forget there are around 20 crore muslims and 100 crore Hindus six times the population of Pakistan. On the contrary I think every single incident against Muslims got very good coverage and follow up through out these years. This shows strength of our institutions.Recommend

  • Ilias Ismil

    I know there is a atmosphere of apprehension in muslim community since the election of BJP governments, but we must also acknowledge that the repercussions were not quiet as catastrophic as most feared they would be. Organisation like SIMI and IM has helped BJP paint muslim society as aggressive, anti India group which has never truly embraced the secular policy of the country. So it’s just logical for the hindus to give up secularism too. Logic is the first casualty of heard mentality and that’s what has happened to both communities.

    What has the Muslim community done to fight the propaganda of BJP. Muslims prefer living in muslim enclaves for many reasons including cultural and social. But one side effect is that the social contact with hindus has become limited, in majority of the cities.
    I know many hindus who don’t proscribe to BJP and it’s ideology, at the same time I know a few muslims who view hindus as potential enemy for no other reason then what they have been told.

    I also blame social media that is used to flame communal animosity and over small things at that. Politics is also to blame but in democracy we get governments that we deserve not the one we need. So next time vote for better candidates, based on their record and not their religion or community, based on their record and not the promises they make.

    To make a society better we must first become a better individual. But that is the hard thing to do, it’s lot easy to lament on the way things are then to try and change them.Recommend

  • Sunil Sethi

    What a joke. You have wiped out Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh, there are so few there, yet the Muslim population has grown so much in India. Why don’t we swap our populations you take all the remaining Muslims in India and we will take all Hindus, Buddhists, Jain and Sikhs.Recommend

  • Sane

    Hindus, sikhs, christians, ismailies and all other minorities live a peaceful life. We have eliminated all India terrorist who were killing these minorities to create a propaganda against Islam. Being Muslim and Pakistani everyone is concerned about the safety and well being of minorities in Pakistan. Proxies of India involved in terrorism like Mulla Fazlullah and people like him operating from Afghanistan are getting nabbed or killed one after the other. After arresting Kulbhoshan Yadev the Indian terrorism network in Pakistan is also exposed.Recommend

  • Sane

    Minorities in Pakistan have no threat from the state and Muslims. Yes, they are threatened by Indian terrorist (garbed and attired like Muslims with names like Muslims) like Mulla Fazlullah. You terrorism network is exposed by arresting serving Indian Navy officer Kulbhoshan Yadev. So, stop your lies.Recommend

  • Arshad

    India is slowly and steadily treading on the same path which led to partition of India.Recommend

  • S K

    Before blaming everything of the world, please learn to respect others faith….Why should any one offer prayers on road to obstruct normal traffic ???Recommend

  • Mumtaz Qureshi

    EID had become reduce to festival of Ghettos” Oh my God, Please help the Indian Muslims. Now our religious festivals are confined to Ghettos” My heart is melting , what would be future of 200 million Muslims of India? Another holocaust? Our borders are always open for you ,my brothers.Recommend

  • Patwari

    This article is about Muslim mistreatment and near genocidal conditions in Hinduland.
    It is a well known fact. You cannot deny this. Even more so since Modi Sarkar came
    into power. Even the village person can tell you HIS agenda.
    This article is written by a Muslim citizen, of Hindustan, who is currently living there.
    What he sees, what he hears, what he feels, what he experiences.
    So, don’t sidestep the issue. Have the courage and fairness to deal with it. Looks like
    there is a severe shortage of decent Bharat ke naagariks.
    Perhaps YOU can pen an article about Hindus in Pakland?Recommend

  • Patwari

    It does not matter when the epithet ‘love jihad’ was coined. The fact that it
    is so widely in use along with ‘ghar wapsi’ as a means to denigrate, revile
    Muslims is beyond the pale. Example, Chief Minister Adityanath’s promise
    to put a statue of Rama in each mosque in Hinduland! Forced subjugation!
    At no time did the author of the blog wrote that converting Hindus to Muslims
    is fine. But not vice versa. It is something that YOU inserted! Please read the blog!
    Hitler DID NOT kill 6 million Jews in a short period of time. His hatred for Jews
    was of long standing. Since the early 1900’s. When he was a soldier in the defeated
    German Wehrmacht, of First World War. YOU should read Hitler’s ‘ Mein Kampf ‘.
    Hitler put his plans, regarding the Jews, in action, when he assumed power. After that
    it was full steam ahead, in extermination of the Jews. It started with small incidents.
    The Nazis could not kill them fast enough. So they graduated to full concentration camps. Plus there were Jews in countries they conquered. And we all know what happened.
    The ‘good’ German citizens knew what was going on. Yet they kept their mouths shut,
    and looked the other way. Or condoned it with fake arguments. Like yours.
    Modi’s hatred for Muslim goes back to his days as a political worker for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, also known as the Hindutva Mothership.
    Everyone and his brother knows Master Modi Sarkar’s agenda. It is only his die hard mureeds, who see him as the Shining Vermilion Lord.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Must be painful for you. The truth, hard hitting.
    This blog is about Muslims in Hindustan.
    Hindustan that used to be a secular, all inclusive
    country of the great Mahatmaji.
    Not any more. Like hell on earth now.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Don’t change the subject. You are ranting about Pakland, Bangladesh,
    Sri Lanka, Myanmar [Burma, to be exact]. This is about Hindustan.
    Because it is very hard for YOU to accept that a Muslim genocide is in progress
    in Hinduland. Which is very much akin to the Nazi regime and Mussolini’s atrocities.
    The Muhajjirs in Karachi, as you write, are a different topic. Not your problem at all.
    Do remember, the Gypsies of Europe are Hindustanis. Who migrated there from Gujrat
    parts of Punjab and Maharashtra, 1500 years ago! They are the largest ethnic minority in Europe. They are also known as Roma or Romani. And very very mistreated there,
    And Hitler had them on his fast track, extermination list, as ‘undesirables’ non Aryan race.
    So include them and Europe too, in your list of countries.
    No point in diverting attention. Your attempt is pathetic. But then you get paid for writing this.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Bullpucky in triplicate. Muslims live in enclaves and ghettos because no Hindu
    will rent to them, in other communities. They are a beleaguered ethnic community.
    They have daily, every day contacts with Hindus, in the course of living. Common
    sense will tell you they MUST AND DO interact with the larger ethnic and religious
    majority,…Hindus.
    Do not use fancy words to cloud a severe survival issue for Muslims in Hinduland.
    It is Hindus whose society is enslaved to a caste system. Who created this caste
    system. No wonder Bharati society is trapped and restricted by this.
    Do not put the blame on a minority. Not to forget that Modi Sarkar’s agenda of
    Hindu Rashtra. Which is another way of saying to all minorities to CONVERT or LEAVE.
    Because according to Hindutva, only Hindus can be truly patriotic and nationalistic when
    it comes Bharat.Recommend

  • Patwari

    We think YOU are wrong. Good to live in a bubble.
    And be sanctimonious and self righteous. Politically.
    It’s not a total of 60 incidents only. Your veracity is
    questionable. It is the daily fear of living in a deeply,
    divided, acrimonious and anti Muslim country.
    Wish you were a Jew living Nazi Germany. To be able
    guage the fear, the conditions, the helplessness, the
    hopelessness.You would have more empathy. Perhaps.
    Seems like you or your family have not been touched by
    Hindu extremists violence. That roving bands of thugs,
    RSS/Shiv Sena foot soldiers who make life miserable for
    Muslims in every major city of Hinduland. Be thankful.
    Or maybe you don’t live in Bharat. So there. Safe.
    By the way it’s more than 60 incidents, some don’t even
    make it to the news hour. After all it was just a ‘gair ikaee’.Recommend

  • Nihal

    And I wish you were Kashmiri Pandit. Your false victim hood will not work here. Extremists are there in all religions perhaps more in Islam you must know that. So instead of spreading insecurity and fear which is only going to further divide our society and weaken muslims it is time of introspection and self correction for all of us.Recommend

  • Patwari

    There is no victimhood here. Only cold hard facts.
    Verified by UNCOHR, and upstanding Bharatis who
    still have a spine left. And are able to stand up against
    the’Butcher of Gujrat’ and his Hindutva mowing machine.
    You are correct, each religion has extremists, more so,
    as the math shows, by sheer numbers, in Hinduland.
    Which will outpace China in population by year 2025!
    By the way, they said the same things about Jews in
    Nazi Germany that YOU wrote. As the Jews were led to
    their slaughter. Just substitute Muslims here.
    ‘How dare the Muslims spread lies about our fair maatrbhoomi.’Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    Indian Muslims are being killed by Pakistani Muslims to malign Hindus and India. I do not agree Indian Muslims are killed by Hindus. There is no proof that I can agree upon.Recommend

  • Swaraj

    & what abt Kashmiri Pandits. You yelled no single word about them. Muslims have problems with all communities ne it Hindu, Christianity Jews.Recommend

  • Harris Ahmed

    reality of shining indiaRecommend