Conversation of Muslims with a Hindu Swamiji. Bodhgaya, India.
As different streams, having their sources in different places, all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.
Defying communal pressure
In a spate of small but heart-warming incidents across the country, Muslims and Hindus are coming together to set examples of communal harmony, extending their hands to help their friends, neighbours and even strangers from the other communities. There certainly is unity in diversity when it comes to India. At a time when the literary world is abuzz with authors protesting the communal killing in the country by returning their awards and honours, there are people who have taken a more harmonious stand against the same religious intolerance. According to a Times of India report, two youngsters from Lucknow University are setting an example of communal harmony in the backdrop of ongoing religious intolerance. “Sahaduddin Ahmed alias Sameer, a close relative of Pram Vir Chakra winner Abdul Hamid and his friend Abdul Kalim observed fast on the first day of Navratri. The two will also observe fast on the last day,” says the report.
Sameer is said to have distributed fruits and ‘falahaar’ (food consumed during fast) to his Hindu friends at a university hostel on the first day of the Navratris, and recited the Durga Chalisa and performed the aarti as well. He already has plans for Diwali, saying that he will visit people who cannot afford to light a ‘diya’ in their house. “If I make few Hindu families smile, I will feel live in peace,” he’s been quoted in the news report. But this is not the only example of fellowship that Indian society has long laid claim to. In a report by Mid-Day, a 53-year-old businessman offered his shop to his Muslim brothers in Mumbai for namaaz since the local mosque was under restoration.
Kale, who runs a store called Jazz Leathers in Sion, owns a second shop right opposite the mosque in Mukund Nagar. “They came to me for help and I readily gave them my shop to use. After all, these are my people. We have all been living together in this area for over 40 years,” says Kale in the report. With the building not yet ready for use, Kale put in marble flooring in place so his neighbours could offer prayers in comfort, and even installed lights, fans and taps.
The most heartening thing about these incidents is that the news came from areas that have been splashed across the media at different times for religious unrest, and the people are now showing that despite all odds, they continue to withstand and defy anti-communal pressures.