Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Muslims get temple reconstructed after it was razed in road widening: Communal Harmony Project-51



Muslims in a town in West Bengal, raised money to build a temple that had come in way of road widening.

They also purchased the land for relocating the temple and then helped reconstruct the Kali temple for the Hindu community.

This is another of the umpteen beautiful stories about harmony we get to know from the ground, far away from the discord that is visible on social media or the hate on TV channels.

The cleric, Nasiruddin, a Maulvi, was present when the temple was reconstructed. This happened in Basapura in Nanoor, which is 160 kms from Kolkata (Calcutta), mentions Koushik Dutta, in his report in Hindustan Times.

“I have inaugurated mosques and madrasas. But this is the first time I have inaugurated a Hindu temple. It’s a different feeling altogether,” Mandal said, in the report published on October 29, 2019. Out of Rs 10 lakh that was collected, nearly 7 lakh was contributed by Muslims, temple puja committee's Sunil Saha was quoted in the report.

“The temple was demolished for widening a road that was an urgent need of the locals. The temple was about 30 years old and devotees regularly came here,” Nikhil Bhattacharya, a resident said.


“If local Muslims did not help us, organising the puja and rebuilding the temple would not have been possible. So we invited Nasiruddin Mandal to inaugurate the temple on Sunday evening,” said Saha further in the report.

The report also mentions incidents like how Mohammad Faruq, a 58-year-old resident of Dubrajpur area in Birbhum district, donated land for setting up a crematorium for Hindus. The land that he gave had a market value of about Rs 10 lakh.

And also the incident when a Muharram committee of Kharagpur town in West Midnapore district decided not to organise Tajia, and instead, gave the money to a Hindu cancer patient for his treatment in the year 2017.

In the same year, when no drum beater turned up to perform at a Tajia in Muharram in Suvur village of Bhatar area of East Burdwan district, the dhakis at the Durga Puja in the village replaced them.
In another incident in November 2017, a group of Muslims came forward to fund the wedding of a Hindu woman in Khanpur village of Malda district, when her family could not afford it.

Clearly, it's all so common but this doesn't get to headlines and TV channels keep raising the communal temperature, creating an image as if the communities are always fighting or at logger-heads. Photo courtesy [Pexels.com]

[Harmony exists all around us but is often ignored. Instead, stories of hate, discord and communalism get spread easily.

There are a million examples in our daily lives across India but they don't get promoted, hence, news of hate and discord gets heard more. Let's change it, now. This is a small attempt to change it through Communal Harmony Project]

For reading similar reports on this blog, Click the link HERE and also find out more about Communal Harmony Project]

#Communalharmony #Communalharmonyproject #India

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Facing hatred, Muslims spread love, take teachings of Prophet Muhammad to millions on Twitter: Lessons from Prophet's Life



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

When a few misguided souls tried to spread hate by targeting Islam and Prophet Muhammad, Muslims responded with teachings of the Holy Prophet.

Innumerable Muslims responded on Twitter with love and kindness. They began sharing the teachings of the Prophet.

Within a few hours, Twitter was witnessing #ProphetofCompassion and #ProphetMuhammad trending on Twitter.

Tens of thousands of people were writing and millions saw it on their timeline. People who had little idea about teachings of Islam came to know about. That Prophet Muhammad was not just a messenger for Muslims, but for entire humanity.

[UPDATE: Again on Eid Miladun Nabi on November 10, again #KnowMuhammad was the top trend on Twitter in India with over 51,000 tweets till 10 pm.]

That how he abolished slavery, usury, ended apartheid, infanticide, discrimination of caste, colour, creed and gender and the message of Islam spread across the world. That no one was superior on the basis of birth and came up with right of inheritance and divorce for women.

Even providing legal contractual framework for marriages and divorces. Highest standards of justice, irrespective of faith of citizen. Protection to non-Muslims in Islamic societies. And we know apartheid and slavery remained legal in 'modern era' in the West till recently.

Prophet's sayings like, 'One must pay the worker his wages before his sweat dries' and how he treated adversaries, his worst enemies with kindness and mercy, reached those people who had little interaction with Muslims or Islam.

Muslims didn't choose harsh words to respond to provocative tweets that had started in the morning in India. Twitter hadn't even put a check on those tweets. But Muslims responded in a totally different manner.

The Prophet's quotes, his sayings, quotes from hadith and incidents of his life were narrated in tweets. In a tweet, I mentioned how Islam stresses on:

Justice. Equality. Kindness. Modesty. Charity.

Against discrimination of any form. Stand against oppression. Shun arrogance. Value of learning. Avoiding harsh language, hurting people. Teachings we grew up with & they must guide our lives.

Such focus on character, values. Even doing charity not looking at person in eye, lest we get sense of false pride. That even if you buy something for a poor man or servant, choose for him what you choose best (for yourself).

That's the way forward. We need to do more to ensure that Islamic values are reflected in our life. Rather than nitpicking and judging others, we must set example by imbibing the values and teachings in our lives.

Twitter users mentioned examples from Prophet's life like how a woman who used to throw garbage at him daily and when day she didn't throw it, the Prophet went to enquire about her health. This act of compassion overwhelmed her and changed the woman's life.

People said that how Hazrat Bilal was made the first muezzin, status to someone from black community when it was unthinkable, as apartheid continued till recent years and blacks face racial discrimination in US, West even today.

Not just Muslims, Hindus, Christians and people from other communities too cited examples of Prophet's teachings. Jagrati Sablok tweeted:

"A person asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) : Who is Most Deserving of Respect? He said: Your Mother. Person then asked: Who next? Your Mother, Prophet replied Again the person asked: Who next? Prophet said: Your Mother"

Some of the most tweets mentioning Islamic teachings and Prophet's sayings that were widely circulated on social media, are being mentioned here:

* The strongest among you is the one who controls his anger
* Do not waste water even if you were at a running stream
* Do not do evil to those who do evil to you, deal with them with forgiveness and kindness
* He is not a believer whose stomach is full while his neighbour goes hungry
* The best of you are those who are best to their women
* I and the one who looks after an orphan will be together like this in the next world.
* Feed the hungry, visit the sick, set free the captives
* A Muslim is the one that others are protected from his hand and tongue
* The best of houses is the house where an orphan gets love and kindness
* When you speak, speak with justice, even if it is against someone close to you
* Lucky is the woman whose first child is a daughter
* Be content and you will be the richest
* The best of you are those who are best to their women 
* An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab. A white has no superiority over a black (or vice versa) except by piety and good action.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

How religious processions can bring Hindus and Muslims closer, a tradition from Mandideep: Communal Harmony Project-50


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

A large number of Muslims welcomed the Vijayadashami procession in Mandideep, the satellite township near Bhopal.

At two different places, Muslims welcomed the Hindu community members who participated in the procession.

They garlanded the Hindu brethren, welcomed them, threw rose petals at the procession and also shared sweets.
But this is not the first such instance. It has been a tradition in Mandideep.

For, at least, thirty years, local Muslims have been garlanding and welcoming the procession in the 'Vijayadashami Juloos', mentions journalist Ateek Ahmad. In fact, such gestures go a long way towards strengthening bonds among communities at the local level.

At the Station Road, lot of Muslims led by Iqbal Ali and Salman Bhai welcomed the procession and garlanded the people. Later, Akhtar Ali, Ramzan Khan and many others too felicitated the prominent members of the Hindu community including the priests.

These traditions over a period of few yrs become strong and people start taking pride in 'our city's tradition', helps solve law-and-order issues too. Those doing it get respect, recognition too. In Bhopal too, Hindus and Muslims have welcomed each others' procession, historically.

[Harmony exists all around us but is often ignored. Instead, stories of hate, discord and communalism get spread easily.

There are a million examples in our daily lives across India but they don't get promoted, hence, news of hate and discord gets heard more. Let's change it, now. This is a small attempt to change it through Communal Harmony Project]

For reading similar reports on this blog, Click the link HERE and also find out more about Communal Harmony Project]

#Communalharmony #Communalharmonyproject #India

[Photo courtesy: Nai Dunia newspaper]

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Qasbahs of Awadh: The uniqueness of Lucknow, strength of its culture, bonding with its satellite towns


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Lucknow's connect with its satellite towns is a unique cultural and social aspect.

These qasbahs or the towns have a historical bonding with the city and the culture of Lucknow was considered incomplete without them.

Malihabad, Kakori, Mohan, Nagraam, Juggaur, Satrikh, Bijnaur*, Mahmudabad, Dariyabad, Haidargarh, Rudauli, Safipur, even up to Dewa-Barabanki [*another Bijnaur, not West UP].

These are the most famous ones. They were always considered an extension of Lucknow and Lakhnawi culture. No other city I know has such a bonding or connect with towns around it. Neither Bhopal, nor Hyderabad or other major cities I personally know.

People in these towns had unique relations, apart from locals' sense of kinship, marriages, a strong cultural bond with Lucknow. And so were Lucknow people attached to these towns. This is the DIFFERENCE when it comes to Lucknow (Awadh) and other cities.

This combined feeling of a common culture and shared heritage, helped Lucknow. Even after the onslaught after 1947, when culturally Lucknow saw major changes, a lot ended but a lot survived. That's due to these towns too.

Qasbah or Kasba is a place that is much bigger than village, it is a bit urban but not as big as city. These historic qasbahs now mostly have population in the range of around 15,000-50,000, life has urban elements, while also retaining a rural charm & leisurely life.

No other city has such qasbahs around it. These qasbahs produced eminent personalities, litterateurs, writers and people who achieved prominence in diverse fields. When I wrote the names on Twitter, many others came up with names of the Qasbahs that haven't been mentioned.

Sandila is slightly far, isn't it! But it has strong cultural links with Lucknow. In fact, it is a phenomenon outside Awadh (Oudh) too. Towns like Bilgram, Khairabad, Masauli, Nehtaur, Safipur are other examples in UP, to name a few.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Muslims extend helping hand, join Hindu neighbours in preparation for Dussehra: Communal Harmony Project-49


This is a photograph of local Muslims extending helping hand to Hindu neighbours, ahead of Dussehra.

This picture is from Bhopal. In Karod locality, the Dussehra Maidan is being readied for the festival.

The Muslims decided that they would join their neighbours in clearing the ground and in the preparations for the festival.

Just one of the innumerable such examples that we see in our daily lives in India.

Shouldn't we feel this is the real and normal India. Why not carry these photographs, share them and show them to people who feel that there is another India where just hate, abuse and lynchings happen!

It is all in our mind. If we make a resolve that we will spread positive narrative and circulate good news along with encouraging people to share such stories, perhaps, things can change a lot. So do share positive stories.

[Harmony exists all around us but is often ignored. Instead, stories of hate, discord and communalism get spread easily.

There are a million examples in our daily lives across India but they don't get promoted, hence, news of hate and discord gets heard more. Let's change it, now. Photos courtesy Mr Shafi Khan.

This is a small attempt to change it through Communal Harmony Project]

For reading similar reports on this blog, Click the link HERE and also find out more about Communal Harmony Project]

#Communalharmony #Communalharmonyproject #India

Multi-edition Urdu papers now printing in remote corners of country: Urdu newspapers in Gangtok,Guwahati



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Once it was unthinkable that an Urdu daily would be published from a city in a state like Sikkim.

But today Urdu papers are being published from Gangtok (Sikkim) and Guwahati (Assam).

Taasir is a newspaper that is published from ten cities that include Patna, Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Ranchi, Howrah, Bangalore and even down South, Chennai.

This is a new trend as multi-edition Urdu newspapers are now publishing from cities that were not considered 'Urdu cities'. Roznama Sahara has nine editions and the other major newspaper is Inquilab that has even more editions.

Inquilab focuses more on UP and Bihar. Apart from Delhi and Mumbai, its editions are in Lucknow, Varanasi, Meerut, Aligarh, Bareilli, Gorakhpur, Allahabad and Kanpur in UP. The other editions include Patna, Muzaffarpur and Bhagalpur. In all, it has 13 editions.

It is an interesting aspect that major Urdu papers are now getting published from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. That not just Allahabad, Banaras, Aligarh and Gorakhpur or Meerut, but Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur and Saharanpur have Urdu paper(s), is quite heartening.

Sahara has nine editions that include Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Patna, Gorakhpur and Kanpur.

Earlier, In Dinon was probably the first paper that was published from many big and small cities across the country.

Today, it has these editions--It is now published from New Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, Saharanpur, Patna, Mumbai and Bangalore.

There are umpteen papers in states and are published from different sets of cities. For example, Saeban is published from Delhi and the two major state capitals, Patna and Bhopal.

Qaumi Muqaam is published from Allahabad, Chitrakoot, Mirzapur, Raipur and Lucknow. Urdu Action from Burhanpur and Bhopal. Similarly, there are several papers with editions in Jharkhand-Bihar and West Bengal, the Eastern part of India.

And, papers that are published from different cities in Karnataka apart from Hyderabad like Salar and Siasat. Salar is published from Bengaluru, Hubli and Kalaburgi (Gulbarga). Siasat too has an edition in Bangalore.

However, reaching cities down South and North East is important. The papers also need to publish from Western part of the country, particularly, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Konkan belt, though Mumbai is a big centre.

[Shams Ur Rehman Alavi, is a journalist for more than two decades. He had started his career with National Mail in the nineties. Later, he worked as Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, also as an Assistant Editor with DB Post, subsequently Metro Editor with Absolute India, Contributing Editor with The Huffington Post. He has written for First Post, The Wire, Newsd & several other major publications.]