Not Fear, but Dialogue is the Way Forward
Dara Shikoh 

 It is high time that Muslims give a positive and encouraging response to community outreach


Raamish Siddiqui  

On August 11, a symposium was organised in New Delhi on Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh. The symposium witnessed various academicians, historians and people from all walks of life. The objective of the symposium was to highlight the contribution of Dara Shikoh to unite and develop a common language for progress of the nation. A scholar and a spiritual leader, Dara Shikoh understood that the fate of Indian people is bound together with one another and each would progress by enabling the ground for another.
As a session moderator, I had the privilege of being a part of the august gathering. While addressing the gathering on the relevance of Dara Shikoh and his contributions to religious harmony, RSS Sahsarkaryavah Dr Krishna Gopal raised the question as to why Muslims hold a perception of being “afraid” in India despite vastly outnumbering all other minorities like Parsis, Jains and Jews by a significant number. Unlike Muslims, all these minorities feel safe in India. This remark should trigger introspection in the minds of a community that harbours the idea of being under siege. The idea of being under siege can lead a community to the path of peril. It creates an atmosphere of distrust and prevents communities from freely interacting and learning. Such an atmosphere is detrimental to communities to work together and join hands to contribute towards the positive progress of the nation. The start of this unity lies in respecting and accepting traditions of each other.
Dr Krishna Gopal’s motive was to encourage the need to find a solution to such a perception before it withers away the very fabric of unity upon which the foundation of our nation rests. But it is unfortunate that how some leaders misrepresent this idea and use it to exploit the sentiments of the community. Rather than investing time in analysing the situation and looking for ways of dealing with this harmful perception. The entire community is in need of introspection and at various levels, be it individual, community or society level.
It is the leadership of a community that defines if it is able to positively utilise the opportunities that are presented. In influencing the minds of the community, they steer them to the path of ruin or progress, as the case may be. Unfortunately, the Muslim leadership over the last few decades has been driven by the leaders who have used the community as a vote-bank. It is for this reason that they have created and nurtured a pseudo-ideological divide between the people by bracketing them in “we” and “they” culture instead of simply “We”.
The Muslim leaders, all of whom had political ambitions, twisted the concept of nation based on homeland to give it a religious hue; with the sole aim of undertaking divisive politics. While the correct concept of nationhood shapes a society for advancement, a wrong concept of nationhood takes it to regression. A simple example we all experience is at the immigration office. A traveller is not granted immigration clearance on the basis of his community but on the basis of his nationality.
It is ironical that religions do not speak of divisiveness. The Bible refers to the world as the family of Adam. The Upanishad refers to the world as a family ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.’ The Quran addresses its readers as “O Mankind!” and not “O Muslims!”
The Quran alludes to this in the following verse: God created mankind and made them into nations and tribes so that they can know one another. (49:13)
God wants people to know each other but the present-day Muslims act contrary to the Qura’nic teaching. It is high time that Muslims take a U-turn and give a positive and encouraging response to community outreach. It is only a healthy dialogue that can take away the darkness stemming out of the current state of misunderstanding and misconceptions. Only when we shall shun our biases and unite as one nation, will we truly become a force to reckon with!
(The writer is author of ‘The True Face of Islam’)