Muslims should Counter the Divisive ‘Love Jihad’ Campaign with Friendship Towards Secular Hindus: Kaleem Kawaja

This is a guest post by KALEEM KAWAJA

Abhee sub kuch nahin mita shaayad
Hindu-Muslim main pyaar baaqi hai
Ek Bhaayee kaa ek Bhaayee pur
Pyar ka kuch udhaar baaqi hai … 

Jawaid Badauni.

unnamed

Since the past one year, especially after the parliamentary elections were looming close, extremist RSS elements have become all the more aggressive all over the country, especially in the north, east and west. They have taken pains to circulate false news stories about Muslims in general, and Muslim youth in particular, as somehow prone to violence ,and conniving to entrap Hindu girls in romantic relationships with the sole object of securing their conversion to Islam. Regional vernacular newspapers have carried fabricated stories about Muslim youth turning to terrorism and planning bomb blasts in many Indian cities.

Since the past one year, especially after the parliamentary elections were looming close, extremist RSS elements have become all the more aggressive all over the country, especially in the north, east and west. They have taken pains to circulate false news stories about Muslims in general, and Muslim youth in particular, as somehow prone to violence ,and conniving to entrap Hindu girls in romantic relationships with the sole object of securing their conversion to Islam. Regional vernacular newspapers have carried fabricated stories about Muslim youth turning to terrorism and planning bomb blasts in many Indian cities.

Since the past one year, especially after the parliamentary elections were looming close, extremist RSS elements have become all the more aggressive all over the country, especially in the north, east and west. They have taken pains to circulate false news stories about Muslims in general, and Muslim youth in particular, as somehow prone to violence ,and conniving to entrap Hindu girls in romantic relationships with the sole object of securing their conversion to Islam. Regional vernacular newspapers have carried fabricated stories about Muslim youth turning to terrorism and planning bomb blasts in many Indian cities.

Then came the now-familiar stories of young Muslim men carrying out a systematic and pre-planned “Love Jihad” campaign. Countless posters showing a young bearded Muslim man on a motorcycle carrying a Hindu girl on the back seat, have been circulated in about a dozen states and on internet and social media like Facebook and Twitter . The posters claim that Muslim youth roam around colleges, shopping centers, parks etc. with their eyes on innocent Hindu girls, enticing them with romantic posturing, songs and gestures. Then they allegedly persuade the girls to marry them against the wishes of their parents and thus ‘force’ them to convert.

Hard-core extremist Hindu activists whose numbers are very small have used the above tactics to create much tension between Hindus and Muslims throughout the country. In the states of UP, Bihar, Assam, Karnatak and Maharashtra they were successful in raising sectarian tensions to such a high pitch that communal riots broke out in many cities like Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Saharanpur, Barpet. All these districts have large Muslim populations that have lived in peace and harmony for centuries with Hindus. For couple of centuries the Hindu – Jat and Muslim subcommunities in western UP have had a history of friendly relations. But these nefarious campaigns called “beti bahu bachao”, “love Jihad” and communal riots have sowed so much distrust between these communities that it may take a long time to recover from.

The objective of these extremist BJP elements is very clear. They want to divide the Hindu and Muslim communities vertically to the point that they become each others’ enemies. Somewhat like in 1947 when India was partitioned and when mistrust between the two communities reached an all-time high. Polarization of the two communities can reach a level that India may end up as a theocratic country, even.

This situation may be driving some Muslims towards depression, despair, or anger; they may even feel that they should move away from Hindus or build their own Muslim groups to secure political and social protection . However, the fact remains that despite such attempts by a few nefarious extremist elements, most Hindus remain secular and treat Muslim Indians as their fellow citizens. Countless Hindus and Muslims rub shoulders in schools, colleges, offices, factories, farms, places of work and places of entertainment like melas, sporting events etc. and grow up together everywhere in the country. And they have the same dreams and worries and aspirations to improve their lot.

The above illustration and Jawaid Badauni’s very touching couplet, describe that recently in a town in UP, a Hindu by the name Ganga Ram paid all expenses to send his friend Hayat Mohammad to Mecca for Hajj pilgrimage. Such is the deep trust and friendship — between Muslims and Hindus — in that town. This is true for Muslims and Hindus in very large parts of India.

Indeed as the election itself showed, BJP received only 31% of the Hindu vote, which demonstrates that about 69% of Hindus did not buy the massive RSS publicity campaign to separate Muslims from Hindus. In the coming months the best strategy for Muslims should be to keep their heads cool and their tempers in check when faced with extreme provocation and instigation. Keep cool in the face of hurtful “Love Jihad” and “terrorist” labels being thrown at them by the trouble-mongers.

Instead of getting angry or desperate or loosing their temper Muslims should demonstrate more friendship and harmony towards the secular Hindus who are at least 69% of the Hindu population. Muslim young men should show more respect towards Hindu girls and women. Keep in check the hot-heads in the Muslim community and calm them down. And do not alienate secular Hindus. Instead of playing a blame-game in the Muslim media and Urdu media, let us preach interfaith harmony, while not overlooking religion-based hate crimes and police brutality. Muslims should utilize the Constitution and laws and courts of India and the justice system more actively for their protection. Secular Hindus are likely to respond with warmth because after all they are the same people as Muslims, born into the same indigenous “Gunga-Jamuna” composite culture.

A small number of Hindus who are government officials or policemen or politicians may harbor prejudice against Muslims but Muslims should learn how to manage and neutralize them within the framework of the laws of the nation and its democratic structure. The one-thousand years of coexistence of Muslims and Hindus, the long common struggle for freedom from the colonists, the deeply common culture, traditions and heritage of Hindustan harken Muslims to accept this challenge to neutralize the nefarious provocateurs and dividers tactfully.

Look at the Bollywood movies,  our music, our art , food, culture, the soulful bards of yore whose traditions of peaceful coexistence flow though the veins of both Muslims and Hindus alike. In these trying times India’s Muslims should take the initiative to bring back communal harmony between the communities. Together we are the inheritors of Jawaharlal Nehru’s stirring dream of a tryst with destiny. That tryst continues and entails much struggle both from without and within.

Zahar milta rahaa, Zahar pitay rahay
Roz murtay rahay, Roz jitay rahay
Jub bhee dil aur dimaag pur koi dhakka lagaa
Goya zindagee ka ek dareecha kihulaa
Zindagi hamain aazmaati rahee
Aur hum bhee usay aazmaatay rahay
Goya hum bhi kisee saaz kay taar hain
Chot khaatay rahay, Gungunaatay rahay...

Rahi Masoom Raza

(Translation:

Every day they gave me poison and every day I drank it
I have been dying every day, and I have been living every day.
Every time they brutalized my mind and my heart
It was like I got a new window on life.
Life kept on evaluating me through hard tests
And I also kept on evaluating it.
As if I am the string of a musical harp
I keep on suffering wounds and I keep on singing.)

Kaleem Kawaja is a senior aerospace engineer with NASA in Washington DC, and a community activist in the Indian-American community in US.  He is also the founder and executive director of the Association of Indian Muslims of America, Washington DC.

2 thoughts on “Muslims should Counter the Divisive ‘Love Jihad’ Campaign with Friendship Towards Secular Hindus: Kaleem Kawaja”

  1. I think even in those 31% Hindus most voted because of the development agenda of Modi, not the religious fanaticism of RSS.

  2. The common Indian man is much more thoughtful and faithful to be easily moved by nefarious and deceitful newspapers. Sensational moneymaking media owned by bania don’t own India and they will be put in their places by the educated intelligentsia.
    The strength is through diversity. The best thing to happen is the coexistence of Muslims and Hindus for centuries. The British tried to exploit the divisions for political and economic expediency.
    Are we going to fall for the same folly?

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