IN THE locality I was born one can hardly find another Muslim family. After completing my primary education from Gajraula, I left for Meerut where for the first time I was forced to believe that I am a Muslim. It was the time that I felt the heat of communalism around me.
Probably in my generation, I am the last and lucky enough to taste the fruits of Ganga-Jamuni tahzeeb, which my ancestors had sown and nurtured. My father admitted me to a school run by Catholic Christians. With temple in my neighborhood and a Gurudwara nearby it was a perfect place to learn the lessons of communal harmony which my father always favoured. He was well versed in Quranic scriptures as well in Ramcharitmanas and was usually invited for participation in Akhandpath. Encounter with co-religionists only occurred at Eid or during Muharram when we visited our native place. Some of my classmates were Muslims, hailing from Amroha, a town nearby. I don’t remember any debate or discussion regarding my religious identity during those days.
With our arrival in Meerut, I was forced to discuss my identity for the first time. So deep rooted was the communalism in the area that even the children of secondary level talked in the context of Hindu-Muslim separatism. Those harsh comments and questions still stir my mind. Although majority their still believed in harmony but the handful of communal agents had polluted the entire environment. Otherwise, there is no reason for a child in an age of fantasies, talking about the most awkward issue.
It was like going to hell, when I discovered that my town is also changing nature with the changing wind. Sometime later I found that a low intensity communal virus had found a refuge in my locality. These were the days of Ram-Mandir movement. Frequently, my stand on Babri Masjid was probed. Thanks to my mother who provided me the moral and ethical support in those days, otherwise such people had forced me to accept the new religion, which may have been inhuman according to my family.
Usually I try to ask Allah about the fate of such people and for what reason they are not being punished.
It’s alright that they may find a political refuge but where is divine justice? I am a proud Indian Muslim and never compromise with my ideology. But it is really hard to be from minority these days. It may dishearten some but it is true. I still believe that majority of people are good but their silence has created a vacuum that poisonous communalism has filled. This majority is the real culprit. Why these people remain silent before the handful of people and allow them to take charge of our free will?
Memories of my childhood still bring happiness to me and a hope too that someday will come when people may find refuge in those old peaceful days. These types of conditions have always existed. We have faced the tragedy of partition for the same reasons. If we can’t learn from our past let heaven decide our fate. We as a nation have no right survive with such inhuman nature. To sustain we need peaceful co-existence and for self immolation just a step ahead towards destiny.