Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Preparing for the next world - Stand up for injustice

No one is permanent in this world. We all have to pack our bags to step into the next life which awaits all of us. And to prepare for our journey thereafter, we need to have good 'aamaal' (deeds). These deeds are important apart from the 'farz' (compulsory) acts.

Good 'aamaal' also means speaking out and standing up for injustice. And there is injustice all around us. Just yesterday I was discussing religion and spiritually with my non Muslim friend . I happened to mention how I grew up amongst non Muslims, mainly Marathis, and how I saw an overall change after the 1993 riots. There was a strong resentment against Muslims then. And it still remains. Though much of it has died down. It still remains. I said that a Muslim woman in 'hijaab' (burqha) is still looked at with doubt. The moment they see one, people start grumbling in a Ladies compartment and start all sorts of complaints. If sighted in a First Class compartment, it is assumed that she doesn't have a first class pass. Everyone starts pouncing on her. I said that today's educated woman wears a 'hijaab' not because she is forced to, but because she feels safe and secure and chooses to wear it. She might be highly qualified and an executive and can still wear a burqha. My friend explained that everyone tries to take advantage of a weak person. Thats how society is. If the same lady walks in with a poise, then probably people will respect her thinking that she is some Arab Sheikh's wife and will look upto her. Maybe my friend is right to some extent.

But that cannot explain the point blank range at which police fired at Muslims when the riots took place in 1993. We stayed in Mumbai Central (quarters) then. And I've seen through my own eyes dead bodies being carried on 'haath-gaadis'. It was curfew time then and just happened to have a peek through the window. After that the military had to be called in coz people had lost trust in the police. I was in college that time.

The riots ended but the hatred didn't subside much. After that I have seen many soft whispers against Muslim community. And every time a Muslim has to give proof of being an Indian. I asked my friend why it was so? For many things we found answers within our society and for many things we thought the need to change things ourselves. We needed to spread awareness and also set example for the next generation. Only the youth can make a change. According to my friend, youth is divided into two types - 18 to 25 years and 25 to 35 years. The 18-25 years group learns from the 25-35 years group and we have to set a good example for them.

Where do children inherit hatred from? Their own parents and family. They learn what they're taught. I remember having two good friends in my colony as school kids- Meenal and Anita. We became very close to each other. Even played together daily and went to each others houses. Suddenly one fine day, both of them refused to recognise us. It was really shocking as well as insulting. And the change was overnight. Maybe their parents told them not to befriend Muslims. Or they picked it up from their peer group somewhere. But after that, they never spoke to us (my sis and me) even once and formed a separate group of Marathi friends. A frienship of many months broke overnight due to hatred.

People may wonder why I am writing this and what compelled me to do so! My talk with my friend, whom I met after a long time made me realise that I have many thought processes hidden within me. I only share the 'safe' and conservative thoughts and hide the 'controversial' ones within me. Recently too, I had a mail debate with my group and realised that a controversial topic can result in hatred even within friends. The topic was regarding biases against communities, regions etc. Many suggested me to take up the matter with civic authorities. But such matters can only be removed with awareness. What can civic authorities do in this?

My friend compelled me to write/ speak/ create awareness wherever I felt things were not right. 'If not now, when?' Medha Patkar is fighting a lonely battle and so is Anna Hazare. So why are we not taking up causes and issues which we feel about? Why do we wait for others? Our long conversation over dupper (early dinner with supper) was very enlightening, though I still agree to disagree with my friend regarding some issues of spirituality and self proclaimed 'gurus'.

The enlightening talk with my friend and the recent bombing in Mecca masjid and subsequent firing at Muslims who were even trying to help the injured, compelled me to speak up. I will take up several causes close to my heart, inshallah, if time permits

Of course, there are a lot of misconceptions about Muslims, which need to be removed. Misconceptions arise out of ignorance. And to make others aware, we need to be aware ourselves. The other day, in the train, I shouted at a Muslim female because I knew she was wrong and was arguing without reason. I, who never shouts or screams at others even in the crowded Virar train, had to shout because I felt that the woman was spoiling the image of the Muslim community. When I spoke, I put the dispute to rest. People were surprised, then quiet. Its easy to have pointless arguments and go on and on. But when you speak, you should speak to the point and with knowledge.

Spreading awareness for knowledge and peace is part of the process for good 'aamaal'. I need to prepare for my next journey. And I know that I am not immortal. No one is! So make a difference while you can! Each of us together can make a change in society. And as Malishka from 'Red FM' would have said it -'Bajate Raho!'


Mohd said...

spread this url to everybody u know


PRASHANT said...

I have a mixed reaction to this url.
I understand that you might have seen lot of muslims being killed in the past.I have also heard that lot of hindu's have been burnt& killed too.All this are matters of the past.Instead of trying to find answers for whats gone by,why not take a initiative in laying the foundation of a new generation.Glamourise the society of your vision& it will definitely come true.

Shagufta said...

Mohd, thanx for visiting my site and appreciating it

Shagufta said...

Prashant, the post is not only about killings. It's about biases. Its about the effects of the past in today's world. Even recently I had to firmly ask a colleague not to comment about any religion without knowing anything about it. And finally he agreed. Its not meant to condemn any religion as such. (I have 90% non muslim friends. And all of them secular). It's about creating awareness. Sometimes even Muslims project themselves in the negative, ending up misunderstood. This post is only a beginning. Inshallah (meaning- If Allah wills)