Abdulla Umer | Caravan Daily
WANT to ascertain development around you? Get up early in the morning and just look around your neighbourhood, you will get a feel of the development – or lack of it – as the case might be by just taking a stroll down the street. The development that a person, community or a city can boast of can be determined by the morning routine.
One day, during my recent visit to India, after morning prayers, I embarked on a bike ride around the city. Since it was peak summer, the best time for outings was early mornings. And the mornings are the times for me to connect to my childhood. Such morning outings during the stay in my hometown give me a sense of nostalgia.
This is the time when one can not only see but also feel the city of his/her origin in its pristine glory. The sight of people venturing out of their homes and hearths to enjoy the serene experience of the dawn – chirping birds, jogging youngsters along the roads and streets and jaywalking elders in the parks – when life gradually hurtling towards full bloom.
The rhythmic tring… tring… emanating from the bicycle of the paperboy upon every bundled newspaper thrown in the apartments, milkmen hurrying to deliver milk on time, vegetable vendors setting out for the day’s work, municipal woman workers sweeping the streets and my most favourite tiffin vendour serving freshly cooked idli-vada to his customers are the things I miss the most.
However, this time around, I could not stop noticing sluggishness in my Muslim neighbourhood. Maybe most were still asleep and others simply procrastinating on their daily routine while the rest in the world was already buzzing with activity preparing for the day’s challenges and grab opportunities that come their way.
Make no mistake about my intention from the narrative. I was happy to see all these activities for these are signs of developing people and developing communities. However, what pained me the most was the stark contrast that I found within my own community. If any activity that pleased me the most, it was old people sitting at chai shop probably reminiscing the proverbial good old days.
But here I would like to share my views about the state of Muslims in India. Being a Muslim I feel the pain, the predicament and above all the frustration of the most oppressed community in this country.
What is of concern is that the youth of my oppressed community still does not realise what has hit them, what is in store for them. They are living in a total hallucination.
Late-night gatherings and the virtual world of social media have most of our youth cut off from the real world; hence the morning hangovers. Drugged by the Internet addiction nothing moves them. Such is the morning hangovers that most of them need to be either dragged out of their beds relentlessly or pity the indifferent parents who let them in their vegetative state. It’s very frustrating when you have to drill some sense into their heads but fail to do so after a great deal of effort. You might feel like telling them, “You are bloody jobless… Wake up or else you will be homeless soon… and the cycle of “Unemployment… Poverty… Illiteracy” will continue.
Despite so much happening around – fake media, hate-mongering, religious and political jingoism – none of the so-called Muslim organisations/parties feel accountable to our Muslims youth, who are in desperate need of leadership, inspiration, and unity that would certainly lead to most needed political representation. Political representation is the only way interests of a minority can be protected.
However, the leadership that we bank upon to do our bidding does not stand up to the task. Recent elections are enough to expose our leaders when they fought with each other like wild dogs fighting over crumbs and the stronger among them got away with a major share of the pie. A vast majority of our leaders are given to sycophancy in the quest of power and pelf. If some honorary positions are thrown at them, they can even mortgage the interests of the community to grab them. Bidding for the community or bargaining for its representation is the last thing on their mind.
The second-largest community in the country, whose contribution to India’s freedom struggle second to none, is perpetually being asked to prove its loyalty. And the so-called Muslim parties and organisations, like Majlis, Jamaat-e-Islami or Sunnatul Jamat busy themselves in organising rallies to tom-tom about the “gains” they have made are in effect counting chickens before the eggs are hatched. The reality is that they want the community to remain under a delusion.
God knows when these “well-wishers” of the community will realise that the interests of Muslims lie in the core values of Indian culture, democracy and pluralism, and not cultural supremacy. The fissiparous tendencies these worthies advocate will lead to further alienating them. In this context, the question each leader should be asking to himself is what’s his role in safeguarding these values while maintaining his separate religious identity.
The problems we Muslims are facing in India are aplenty, but these are not ours alone. The issues the community is confronting are, in fact, posing a grave existential crisis for the nation itself. Pluralism being fundamental to the philosophy of today’s nation-states, no country can claim to be truly a nation unless the benefits of coexistence under the umbrella of democracy reach the last man in the line. It’s time we all understood things in the right perspective.
Abdulla Umer Khan is from Karimnagar, Telangana and is presently working in Dubai and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org