I am an Indian Muslim. However, neither my nationality nor
my religion is chosen by me. No one asked me, no one took my approval. Just
based on my birth in a Muslim Indian family, I was tagged with this label. I
was given a Muslim name and for everyone in my country, my name is enough for
my religious identity. During riots, no non-Muslim mob will ask my ideology or
my faith. My name is enough to kill me.
When I was in secondary school, I realise that different
religions have different morals, eating habits and even Gods. In my class of 60
students only 5 students were Muslims. However, to your surprise none out of
five were friend together even though we come from same community. I had three
best friends, all of them were Hindu. Being a Muslim is not easy though. My
friends seldom embarrass me for my eating habits enquiring about what is in my
tiffin. They were suspicious that I might have meat in my lunch box! Thanks to
my mom, she was smart enough to give me only bread and vegetables.
When I compare that time to present time, I feel those were
golden days. My parents and parents of my friends never taught us to stay away
from someone because of religious differences. I used to visit my non-Muslim
friend’s home and they visited my home. I never feel scared. No such thought
ever came to my mind.
When Babri Mosque was demolished, I and my friends had a
consensus that on disputed land government should build a hospital or school so
that everyone will be benefited.
Slowly but steadily things changed across the north India. Communal
forces succeeded in spreading communal poison across many states especially UP,
MP, Maharashtra and Gujarat. RSS and BJP finally started gaining success in
convincing Hindus that they are indeed in danger because of Muslims who are in
minority. Inspired by Nazi ideology, they portray Muslims as culprit of every
problem in India, whether it is over population or terrorism. However, fortunately,
thanks to globalization and information technology, intellectuals are still
against such ideology. Unfortunately, in democracy, only heads count not
intellectual ability. Whether you are an illiterate or a graduate you can caste
only one vote.
I do not want to pretend like I am victim. Certainly I am
not. Even today, my constitution gives me more rights as a citizen of India
then in anywhere in the world. I am free to speak and I am free to follow any
faith or abandon it. I am happy to be Indian. Indeed, I feel indebted of my
country. My country gave me an identity when I travel abroad. I am proud to be
Indian. I know many countries where constitution is heavily influence by one
religion and for others there is no space. Other people have to live as a
second grade people. Sometimes even citizens belonging to the majority feel
suffocated because of heavy dose of religion in constitution.
In my opinion, there should be a separation between religion
and state. Religion is a private affair, whereas government is for public work.
Let me give you an example. When you pray to god or give charity, you give it
for your own rewards which you receive in your afterlife. However, if someone asks
you to build a road or a mobile tower, you will be reluctant. If a religious
person has to choose between making a school or a Mosque, surely he will choose
to build a mosque. Because, mosque will fetch him more rewards in afterlife.
People already have enough motivation for religious deeds.
But for secular things we need a government who can develop infrastructure,
make policies without discrimination based on religion and caste and colour,
open more school for scientific education, secure the national borders and to
provide employment etc.
Coming back to Indian Muslims, ironically, Muslims are nomore important for any political party. Even in past, no political party didenough for them. Congress and other so called secular parties use them as avote bank. In last 50 years, even Muslim leaders fail to do anything forMuslims. Indian Muslims are living in very funny situation. On one hand theyhave to give proof of their patriotism and on other hand they have to balance their religious identity.