2nd Nov. 207
How should have Muslims taken an Id greeting from the RSS chief? Or is it more pertinent to ask how would Hindus have reacted to it? Was the greeting a sincere gesture of friendship or simply a PR exercise?
This has to be seen more as a question of perception than reality. The RSS is perceived, thanks to the continuous political and media blitzkrieg, to be an anti-Muslim organisation. It is seen as a hard-core anti-minority outfit, though any number of facts can be quoted to disprove this perception. Let us not forget that statistics and the Sachar report have shown that the minorities have fared the worst in states where the "secular" parties have ruled. Muslim girls' education has the lowest numbers in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. More riots and terror attacks have taken place in states run by non-BJP governments than in BJP-run states. The highest number of Muslim-Hindu dialogues has been held by the RSS affiliates, not by those who dole out all sorts of quotas to Muslims, thus creating rifts between communities.
An increasing number of Muslims are realising that any gesture of goodwill extended by the RSS is sincere and can bring Hindus and Muslims together. This is because the RSS won't fake its intentions like the politicians would do.
History tells the truth that no society can be purchased or appeased for long. Empowerment is a result of harmonious intermingling and climbing the ladder of professional abilities. After all, Shah Rukh Khan, Azim Premji or Sania Mirza didn't achieve what they did because of any Muslim-only support system or reservations. There are many such bright examples.
Hence when the RSS chief says Id Mubarak and combines it with his Vijaya Dashami greeting, it assumes significance beyond cosmetic peripherals. Sarsanghchalak Sudarshan even quoted Ghalib's famous lines underlining the existence of one God and the futility of false egos.
The RSS, often described as the biggest organised Hindu movement in the world, entered its 82nd year on Dussehra last week. The RSS was founded in Nagpur in 1925 by Dr K.B. Hedgewar. The RSS' Dussehra programme comprises an impressive march-past by its uniformed members and a speech by the sarsanghchalak on the nation's affairs where he gives direction to the faithful about the future course of action and programmes.
This time, the sarsanghchalak spoke of how terrorism is affecting us all, Hindus, Muslims and Christians: "(It is) not that only Hindus are being targeted. On 11 October a bomb exploded in Ajmer Sharif ... killing two and injuring 20. Before that Samjhauta Express and the mosques in Malegaon, Hyderabad and Aurangabad were targeted and those who were killed and injured were Muslims. And on 17 October the traders who received parcels containing 36 detonators hidden inside CD players as presents were also Muslims. This proves that the terrorists, whether Hindu, Muslim or Christian, or those who claim to be followers of Sikh Gurus, are bereft of all religious values."
He spoke of how Indians were being targeted by terrorism, of the Left's hypocrisy and of the scientific and security aspects of the Ram Sethu. He ended with the plea to adopt new methods to improve agriculture and get more yield per acre through multiple arrangements of crops.
Of late the sarsanghchalak has made it his mission to initiate schemes for water preservation, to start new units to manufacture bio-diesel and encourage the use of mother tongue in our daily conversations. He wants parents to speak to their children in their own language and not in English, as is the case in many neo-rich upwardly mobile families. To promote his ideas he meets leaders belonging to diametrically opposed ideologies. He says that for the good of the society and the nation, we should not believe in any sort of apartheid or segregation.
Few know that the sarsanghchalak is a keen student of Islamic history and its journey. He has addressed large exclusively Muslim congregations in Jaipur and Ajmer and has declared that the Muslims who join a jihad against Hindus go against Prophet Muhammad's teachings.
In his speeches he narrates at length Islamic stories about Mecca and Medina and often quotes from the 1905 conversation between Swami Ramtirtha and Lucknow's maulanas. He talks about the bloody fights between various Arabian tribes, their blind adherence to idol worship without knowing its significance. He narrates how the Kaaba was made the unifying factor for all by Prophet Muhammad who tried to bring in a harmonious way of living by getting rid of hatred and conflict.
One must understand that every religion gives certain instructions which are eternal (shashwat). And then there are other values that hold true only for certain times (yug dharma). The wise know this distinction, and should interpret their scriptures in a manner to ensure that respect and appreciation for different viewpoints are not lost. Make genuine efforts to know each other, share the positive side of all faiths and keep the dialogue open in every situation — that's the Hindu way of looking at a different ideology. After all, in India, Hindus, Muslims and Christians belong to the same race, and share their ancestors, language, culture, attire and social rituals. They are not "different" people.
The sarsanghchalak said, "Minorities are those who were uprooted in their own countries and took refuge in this country. That way, only the Jews and the Parsis may be called minorities — they came to Bharat 2,000 and 1,000 years ago from Israel and Iran respectively. The leaders of both communities refused Constitutional reservations and said that they were quite happy merging with the mainstream. We see that they did not suffer any disability whatsoever (for this). Our two generals, Gen. Jacob and Gen. Manekshaw, one a Jew and the other a Parsi, brought victory to our country during wars. Who can forget the role played by Dadabhai Naoroji and Madame Cama during our freedom struggle or the contribution of Jamsedji Nasarvan Tata in the industrial field?"
The maulvis of Lucknow had told Swami Ramtirtha in 1905, for us nation comes first because the place of birth and our ancestors are chosen for us by Allah and we must respect His wish. Mecca is holy because of our religion, and Bharat is holy because Allah has chosen this land for Muslims born here.
An organisation of young Muslims, Rashtriya Muslim Manch, is trying to propagate these ideas. Its members are campaigning for raising the level of education among Muslim girls. They are demanding the scrapping of the triple talaq system. They want it replaced with a modern system that will empower Muslim women. Since nowhere in the Quran cow slaughter is necessarily mandated, the Manch is collecting several lakh signatures from Muslims nationwide demanding a ban on cow slaughter.
Try seeing this new phenomenon without blinkers, and a bridge across the divide of fossilised hate doesn't look impossible. To deride or divide is easy. To include or appreciate needs the courage of conviction.