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Interfaith Bohemian in India

Thursday March 29, 2012 09:51:29 AM, Syed Ali Mujtaba,

There is a sea change in Hindu Muslim relationship from days of the 1990's to the beginning of the second decade of the new millennium in India.

Those who have been witness to the era 1990s can recall the trail of blood and mayhem that was let loose on the country for the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya.

At that point of time Muslims in India ran helter and skelter hiding their identity, as Hindu zealots destroyed their place of worship - the Babari mosque.

In contrast, current era of communal atmosphere can be characterized as one of bliss and harmony. There are two shining example that stands tall in the current situation and needs to be chronicled in bold letters.

The first one is from Kamepally village of Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh where Hindus have donated land for the construction of the mosque and the second is from Gaya, a district town in Bihar, where Muslims have come forward to help construct the Hindu's place of religious worship.

In a rare gesture of communal harmony, the grandsons of Basawyya and Achamma of Kamepally village of Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh, donated a piece of land measuring 300 square yards for the construction of a mosque in their village.

Kamepally village has 40 Muslim houses in a locality of 400 households. The need for a mosque was felt for long time in this village. But as the Muslims in this village are poor, they could not afford a place of their own for community worship.

The residents of this village when saw that there was a church and a temple in the village, but no mosque, they unanimously decided to have a mosque as well.

The Hindu philanthropist then generously decided to gift a piece of land to the Muslim community for constructing a mosque.

Following that, the Sahitya Trust (IMRP) came forward to construct the mosque. The mosque that was built with a sum of six lakh rupees, also houses a school/ madarsa in its premises.

The mosque had 1000 attendees present at its inauguration ceremony. A non-Muslim at that time announced that he would contribute Rs. 500 per month for the expenses of up keeping this mosque.

This is something unique when we compare to the days of 1990's when all round the country there was Hindu- Muslim discord and a vocal call from the Hindu group for constructing the temple on the very site where Babari Masjid stood, “Mandir Whain Banegye.”

The other example of communal harmony comes from Gaya, Bihar. Here Muslims have come forward to build a Hindu temple dedicated to goddess Durga. They did so not just by making donations but also supervising the construction of the temple.

The temple is located at the Loco Colony near the railway station in Gaya town. There was active help from the Muslims residing in the colony, all of whom are railway employees.

The foundation of the temple was laid in 2010 and since then Hindus and Muslims worked together to construct the Hindu place of worship.

Muslim community donated and collected funds worth nearly five lakh rupees for this temple and no wonder it stands out as a true symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in Gaya.

Gaya is considered a communally-sensitive with over a dozen of Muslim dominated localities in this town. Ahead of every Assembly poll, there is sharp communal polarization of votes.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cashing on the insecurity of the Hindus has been winning the assembly seat for over two decades. After the construction of the temple will the BJP is winning the next election too, is something that remains to be seen.

Well these are not isolated tales of communal harmony there are few more from our country. In a rare gesture some times ago, a Muslim from Begusarai district in Bihar donated his land for constructing a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

Mohammad Fakhrool Islam of Bachwara village in Begusarai had given land for the construction of the temple. The most conspicuous part is Bachwara is a Muslim-dominated village.

In the same village some Hindus, some three decades ago, Hindus had donated a piece of land for the construction of a mazar.

These developments are something remarkable and a huge contrast from the days on the 1990's when there was a sharp polarization between Hindu's and Muslim communities.

The political mobilization centered on the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya created a wedge among communities whose wounds still remains unhealed.

Centuries of cohabitation and religious tolerance were torn into shreds when Hindu zealots spewed venom against Muslims in many nook and corners of north India.

“Babar Key Auladun ko, Juta Maro Salon ko”, (beat the sons of Babur with shoes) was the slogan that ranted the air.

It was on the insecurity of the Muslims, that some Hindu organization thought building their political ambitions in this country. Now after two decades, its time to introspect the veracity of that jingoist nationalism.

If we compare from those days to the present then we realize what a contrast situation now exits in India. A modicum of sanity has been developed and Hindu and Muslim community are trying to lead a life of peaceful coexistence.

The examples that Hindus having come forward to donate a piece of land for the construction of mosque in Andhra Pradesh and Muslims having collected money for the construction of temple in Gaya is the story how Indian civilization has progressed through millenniums.

The history living in peace and harmony between communities is longer than those of conflict and antagonism. The patches of grey are much smaller then the vibrant colors of peaceful coexistence.

The scars of the demolition of Babari Masjid, which many Muslims nurse even this day, is the shade of grey in the history of interfaith adjustment in India.

One may find solaces in the positive stories of interfaith reconciliation that are now are coming out at regular intervals from different parts of the country.

As the interfaith relationship improves in our country, these examples of communal harmony give way to hope for peaceful coexistence. The new narrative that are being written on the debris of the demolished mosque, clearly tells that India is a land of unity in diversity with some aberrations.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at






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