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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

of false gods and goddesses

This is in response to the slogan raised in a mosque:

Jaey Hind

India's Muslims hope to avoid backlash

AP News

Dec 08, 2008 14:39 EST

The cleric stood before dozens of bearded men who had gathered on a crowded Mumbai street corner to honor the 171 people killed by Islamic militants.

"Many innocents were killed by these terrorists," said Ibrahim Tani, president of the Muslim Council of India. "Those who were martyred are our family."

The men raised their fists in the air and cried out: "Long live mother India!"

The speech was part of an aggressive campaign by Mumbai's Muslims to show their solidarity with India's Hindu majority in the wake of last month's attacks.

Muslim groups have held community meetings and peace marches, brought tea and cookies to hospitalized victims, and organized blood drives. Leaders have asked people to tone down festivities for the Muslim holiday of Eid, and the city's largest Muslim graveyard refused to bury the nine slain gunmen.

India has a history of Hindu-Muslim tensions that at times erupt into violence. Mumbai itself was the scene of riots in 1992-93 that claimed at least 900 lives.

Soon after, a terrorist attack in Mumbai killed more than 250 people — an attack the government says was masterminded by Muslim gangster Dawood Ibrahim. He was one of 20 suspects that India asked Pakistan to hand over last week. Pakistan denies that Ibrahim is in its country.

More recently, Hindu mobs killed 1,000 Muslims in the state of Gujarat in 2002 after Muslims were accused of burning a train car full of Hindus. Who set the train on fire has never been established.

"Whatever happens in India, everyone is pointing at Muslims," said Parvez Khan, who runs a shoe shop on Muhammad Ali Road, a heavily Muslim neighborhood in Mumbai. "Even if Mother Nature does anything, we are blamed. So far, everyone is blaming Pakistani Muslims, not Indian Muslims."

He fears that distinction could easily blur. "When you go to sleep and get up the next day, it's always a new thing," he said.

A few doors down is a bakery where police gunned down five Muslim workers in the 1992-93 riots.

"Times are bad. The whole world is in chaos now," said a man sitting at a table outside, drinking sweet milky coffee. He would not give his name for fear of stoking tensions. "We really want peace and harmony now. You pray for that," he said.

So far, right-wing Hindu groups, which have targeted Muslims and other minorities in the past, have directed their ire abroad over the attacks.

"Pakistan is responsible, definitely. Internal security we are not concerned about at all," said Shishir Shinde, a spokesman for the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, an offshoot of the Shiv Sena, a Hindu fundamentalist group.

Neelam Gorhe, a spokeswoman for the Shiv Sena, said India's own Muslims were victims of the terror attacks. "There is going to be a united reaction to the terrorists," she said. "People who died were also Muslim. Why should there be a reaction against Muslims?"

The government's early fingering of Pakistanis as the likely culprits has helped take the heat off India's Muslims, said Arzu, the newspaper editor.

"Had there been some confusion as far as the identity was concerned, things might have been different," he said.

Arzu added that he has seen a list of the dead and about a quarter were Muslims.

Across from him sat Sayyed Mazhar, his left hand bound in a bright blue cast. Mazhar said he was shot outside Mumbai's main train station on the first night of the attack. His friend, he said, was shot in the thigh. He held up a wad of bloodied 100 rupee notes with a bullet hole at the center pulled from his friend's pocket.

"The anguish is ours, too," Arzu said.


A few miles to the south, thousands of protesters thronged outside the burned-out Taj Mahal hotel, setting up candlelight shrines and calling angrily for political change and war with Pakistan.

One man held a sign that read: "Terrorism doesn't have a religion ... Or does it?"

I too hope that a backlash is avoided.

I hope that there is peace and justice on this earth, because peace means that we can do Dawah, and then more people will come to Islam.

I too, and generations of my family before me, from both paternal and maternal sides, were born and are buried in India, Delhi to be precise, although we do not turn the graves into permanent places like tombs etc. The graveyards are turned over after 40 years, to make space for new burials.

I too, have a great deal of love for my land, my country, my people.

But this is where I stop.

From time immemorial the land where one is born, or where one has been nourished, has been referred and revered as Motherland. Just as one would not want to hear any abusive comment against his mother, one does not like to hear anything against one's Homeland/ Motherland/ Fatherland.

In time, this took the form of a goddess - just like Nature is a goddess to some, their countries, especially if the land has had a name from a distant past, is a goddess to them.

Bharat Mata is such a goddess.

My country, my nation, my sect, right or wrong, are such goddesses.

Muslims have succumbed to pressures and fallen to such goddesses.

Our countries, our nations, our ethnicities, our tribes, all these are for identification alone.

Unfortunately, familial or tribal affinity was a rallying cry soon after the Prophet's (saw) death. Then ethnicity, sect, became goddesses to some of us. We were divided according to Arab, non-Arab. Hanafi, Shafiee, etc. When the Sunnis came together, the shia/Sunni divide remained.

In the First World War, the Ottoman Empire, was broken up by internal nationalities seeking independence. We became Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Hindis, Habashis, and what not. Our ethnicities became our new goddesses. Our lands became our new gods.

A very powerful group of Ulema, whose hatred for the occupying power Britain, made them come so close to idol-worshipping Hindus that jeay Hind, or jeay Bharat Mata became a slogan for them.

The age of nationalism dawned upon us in the twentieth century. Further divisions along ethnicity have now overtaken us.

May Allah protect us from worshipping any false god or goddess.