Millions of Muslims across India have decided to temper or even cancel festivities on their most cherished week of holy yearly celebrations, the Eid, in protest of crimes committed in the name of Islam by the criminals who murdered so many in Mumbai.
They wore black ribbons, carried placards of peace, sent out emails and SMSes reiterating harmony, and put up banners saluting those who died in the 26/11 terrorist attack. From Chennai’s Thousand Lights Mosque to Delhi’s Jama Masjid, from Khwaza Banda Nawaz dargah in Gulbarga, to the mosques of Mumbai – Bakr-Eid celebrations were subdued, in a symbolic declaration of Muslim protest against terrorism.
“At every dargah, prayers were said for the grieving families in Mumbai. In Ajmer Sharief, Kaliyar Sharief (Uttarakhand) and Barabanki’s Deva Sharief, the community came together burying their differences to focus on one thing: communal harmony. By showing our unity, we have spoilt the terrorists’ Bakr-Eid,” said Qari Mohd Miya Mazhari, editor, Secular Qayadat.
The festival of sacrifice also became a platform of protest both for celebrities as well as ordinary citizens.
In Mumbai, cerebral star Aamir Khan wore a black band on his arm. So did ‘Jab We Met’ director Imtiaz Ali, lyricist Javed Akhtar and his actor-director son, Farhan Akhtar. A news agency reported that other Bollywood biggies such as Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan too preferred to stay away from the festivities.
Some Muslims even avoided festival purchases such as new clothes. The trustee of Mumbai’s Khar Jama Masjid, Zafar Iqbal, sent 500 emails and 250 SMSes reaffirming Islam’s peaceful tenets.
This is an act of solidarity with the victims, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, and Christian alike. And this despite the fact that the prejudice and structural injustice that Indian Muslims experience is widespread and systemic. I have always sensed from my readings and studies that Indian Islam, the religion of one of the largest Muslim communities in the world, has always articulated a deeply ethical form of Islam. It historically has been a model to the world of a minority community asserting its identity and simultaneously arguing for a strongly nonviolent ethic of religiosity.
Why does the world ignore millions of good simple people when they stand up for nonviolence but keep everyone riveted when 10-20 criminals hijack a city? More importantly why is the hijacking a ‘Muslim event’ but not the peaceful protests and statements of solidarity with Hindu victims of millions of people? We cannot have a deep understanding of the problems facing humanity if this prejudice against peaceful expressions of religion goes on in the media. I know that ‘if it bleeds it leads in the media’, but the lack of attention to the majority who are peaceful is creating at least as much bleeding as the acts of terrorism.
The three Abrahamic religions share a story of Abraham saving his son from sacrifice, and this Muslim holiday celebrates the survival of this son. I say what I am about to say in protest against the haters in our midst: I am grateful that Abraham saved this son so that a great culture, civilization and religion could be born, a culture and civilization of the Arab and Muslim world. And I refuse to join the haters in my midst who look at these sad brainwashed criminals of the Mumbai attack and say ‘they are the flower of Islam’. They are no more the flower of Islam than Timothy Mcveigh and his Christian Identity Movement, or the Ku Klux Klan and their burning Christian crosses, are the flower of Christianity, nor the rampaging settler youth with their Jewish earlocks flowing in the wind are the flower of the Torah. They are the stain on the Torah scroll. Crime is crime, and we must honor the millions of Indian Muslims today who are surrendering their holiday spirit in solidarity with the innocent. What a wonderful model and challenge to the rest of humanity.© Marc Gopin