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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Muslims in Haryana: No radio, TV, photograph in this Muslim town in Mewat

Mundogarhi is a predominantly Muslim town in Mewat region of Haryana. Huge minarets of the mosque catch your attention as you go past this town on the National Highway.

The town is situated almost at an equal distance from both Delhi and Chandigarh, but there is no radio or television. None of the inhabitants has a photograph and they strictly follow the tradition even if they miss out on many things.

From a loan application to a ration card, a photograph is needed for every document but Mundogarhi residents don't have any regrets.

There is no radio or TV in any house. 'I have heard music in the bus when I went out of the town', said a youth.

Ban on getting yourself photographed

Regarding the ban on photo, an influential person of the Mewati 'biradari' says, 'Man has no power to create any living being and if we get someone photographed, can we put life in this photo? 'We can't and thus it is a sin to get oneself photographed'.

Music is banned though some women said that they wished having a radio to listen to music and pass their time. An 18-year-old youth told the Sahara Samay correspondent, who visited the Mundagarhi town that he was learning English alphabets now.

It could have been a very good story had the correspondent Madhuri Singh and the Sahara anchor Punya Prasun Bajpai desisted from making unwarranted comments and passing judgments [though Bajpai was a bit restrained in comparison].

Mewat: The land of Mev [or Meo] 

The reporters's condescending attitude while talking to the women and the Maulana was irritating. After all, things don't change overnight. The town is situated on the GT Karnal Road and it is quite easy to reach the town to do the story.

There are countless other towns in far rural areas where the reporter may not have ventured. It is true that educational backwardness exists in Mewat. This region has one of the lowest rates of literacy amongst Muslim women in India.

In Firozpur Jhirka the literacy rate was just 1.49%. But the role of Panchayats and 'biradiris' whose writ runs large on the communities is not religion-specific alone. Rather across the Western UP, Harayana and parts of Rajasthan, the situation is more or less same.

The onus is equally on Muslim organisations as much on government and the NGOs to work in the region and open schools for changing the scenerio.

And yes, an amusing conversation I recall from the story:

Reporter: Yeh bachche madarse mein hil hil kar kyun paDhte haiN
Maulana: Is se bachche sust nahin rahte aur padhaai andar tak ghus jaati hai


[The question was about why the children keep moving forward and backward while reading in Madarsa. The reply was that it ensures that whatever they read goes deep down within the students and settles firmly.]


bhupinder said...

I have been to the Mewat area in Haryana and have been meaning to write about it. It is a strange land, the local Muslims are basically local converts who still follow the gotra system (that typically only 'higher' caste Hindus follow). I don't remember whether it was Nuh or one of the smaller villages, but it is divided between those who claim their ancestry from the 'Sun' dynastry on one side and the 'moon' on the other !

While there is so much of 'Hindu' traditions that are part and parcel of their life, they follow an extreme form of Islam, and are very adverse to what they see as 'impure' Islam. A local maulvi I had a chance to visit at his house, was sharp and very attentive for his age. I had a big struggle to get a picture of his son (whose name, incidentally is Salman Khan), after he made a number of attempts to hide his face since I pestered him (in a friendly sort of way I hope).

The Mewati muslims are a pretty isolated community- the UP Muslims don't consider them muslims because of the gotra system, and the Hindus don't conider them as Hindus because they follow Islam. I found them to be a very simple people. About 7 years ago, there were no telephone lines there either, now I hear that there is a sea change.

Sana Tariq said...

Its right to use radio n TV if not for wrong purposes. If u have them for fun, then certainly its not good otherwise if for preaching or listening to news or current affairs, then its Ok. also share what Islam says abt music at:


indscribe said...

You are right Bhupinder Sahab,
Actually this region due to the backwardness was a fertile ground for both the activists of the Shuddhi movement and later the Tablighis.

The present situation is a result of decades of Tablighi work. Lack of interaction with other Muslim communities have resulted in the Mewatis striclty adhering to whatever the Maulvis taught them in the name of religion.

Sana Sahiba: Individual freedom to hona hi chahiye.

history_lover said...

But Indscribe
Tablighi work leads to interaction with other muslim communities as Tablighi Jamaats move from place to place.

indscribe said...

...not much...some go with jamaats and mostly remain under the influence of their school of thought...back home also jamaats come and go...the main problem is that they are a close-knit and predominantly rural community...

Otherwise in Tablighi households not only TV but other so-called 'bidah' are quite common, aren't they! Obviously they are content with their religious work without bothering for the rest (school education etc).

How do we know said...

isse bachche sust nahi hote.. part is true at least.(one hopes)

i really like your recent posts.

Anser Azim said...

"Khuda ne aj tak us qaum ki haalat naheen badlee
na ho jisko khyal ap apni haalat ke badalne ka".
Its painful to learn this story. I respect Bhupinder's views and he was able to analyze the real problem. There are many places in the subcontinent where there is no education, specially among Muslim women. Unfortunately, Muslims of the subcontinent could not find another Sir Seyed in the last 150 years. Muslims, and specially Muslim women are the real victims of this Jihalat. The creation of Pakistan gave some education to women in the cities but the real village people are living with this curse in Pakistan and Bangladesh too. Muslim women In India too are far behind in education than to other races. Nice touching subject indscribe!! keep this up.

anser Chicago

How do we know said...


Am sure u've heard of this already, but still thot will share this with you.

indscribe said...

ThankS HDWK :)

حیدرآبادی said...

میوات کے بارے میں ہم نے سنا تو تھا۔ لیکن اس قدر شدت پسندی کا علم نہیں تھا۔ اسلام نے ایسی کوئی زور زبردستی تو نہیں کی ہے ، اعتدال پسندی کا درس دیا ہے۔ ہم نے مانا کہ اعتدال پسندی کا یہ مطلب نہیں کہ موسیقی کو رواج دیا جائے۔ لیکن شناختی کارڈ ، راشن کارڈ والی تصاویر کے متعلق اس قدر تحفظات حیرت انگیز ہیں۔ حالانکہ یہ تو دنیا کی مجبوری ہے۔ پھر کرنسی نوٹوں پر جو تصاویر ہوتی ہیں ، کیا اسی سبب کرنسی کا استعمال ترک کر دیا جائے؟
حقیقت یہی ہے کہ صحیح اسلام کی وہاں پہنچ ہی نہیں ہوئی غالباً۔ اور یہ ہل ہل کر پڑھنے کا بھی اچھا لطیفہ گھڑا مولوی صاحب نے۔ یہ صوفیوں کا طریقہ کار ہے جس کا حقیقی اسلام سے کوئی واسطہ نہیں۔ ورنہ کیا بات ہے کہ ہم نے عرب ممالک کے کئی مدرسوں و مساجد میں مقامی بچوں کو اس طریقے سے حفظ کرتے نہیں دیکھا کبھی۔