Monday, March 09, 2009

Muslims and RSS leaders meet in UP

When the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) leaders and Muslims including the Ulama meet, it should make a news but there was no report published in major newspapers published from Delhi.

The programme was held in Moradabad. Many Muslims were sceptical. Some called it political skulduggery though there were a few who welcomed the initiative. The occasion was Ittehad-e-Ahl-e-Watan conference.

The questions in the mind of Muslims were raised. Several Muslims asked direct questions and the RSS leaders replied to the charges. Though cynics would laugh at such an exercise and dismiss it as useless, I personally feel that social interaction with even your die-hard opponent is a welcome step.

Agreed that RSS has an agenda and its leaders have a different vision of India, a country where minorities are subjugated. Many Muslims say that it is hydra-headed RSS propaganda that has demonised the madarsas.

Such is the situation that seminaries like Deoband that played a leading role in freedom struggle are today seen with suspicion while RSS and [especially, its allied organisations] that had no role in independence movement, today set yardsticks for nationalism.

The current global geopolitics is also responsible for the situation. But it's always better to talk. I don't see any harm in that. When RSS leader Indresh told the gathering of Muslims that there should be joint monitoring committees to check riots and identity the rioters, it was nevertheless a heartening thing to hear for the audience.

"Many of you just said that you have a fear and suspicion about RSS. But today I'm standing amid you without police protection and we have talked, agreed on many issues and there is no discord", spoke Indresh, who asked the Muslims to think whether not all the major communal riots in India till 1992 were under the Congress rule.

There were Maulanas, Muftis and a large number of ordinary Muslims. Nobody should expect any change of hearts but at least, social contact will help improve the relations and also strengthen the unity.

Personally I feel that when you know a person of other religion and share a bond with him, the next time you are making a statement, the next time you may use a less harsh word for him or his religion.

Neither an RSS worker will change his world view overnight nor a Muslim become sympathetic to the cause of the lathi-wielding khaki-clad RSS swayamsevak. But meeting and eating together can soften hearts.

It happened in the City of renowned Urdu poet late Jigar Muradabadi. Moradabad district has the highest Muslim population in the entire country save for Kerala's Mallappuram and West Bengal's Murshidabad with nearly 25 lakh (2.5 million) Muslims.

It was Ali Sikandar 'Jigar' Muradabadi who had written the immortal lines:

unka jo kaam hai, voh ahl-e-siyasat jaaneN
meraa paiGaam mohabbat hai, jahaaN tak poNhche