People are scared of Muslims. I find mostly people making radically outrageous statements but if you dig deeper the fact is that they carry a lot of fear in their hearts. I will narrate two stories here to show that the fear of Muslims is absolutely baseless.
Story #1: A Social Experiment
A couple of years ago, just to prove my point, I went to Zakir Nagar, a Muslim dominated area but I didn’t just go there at any random moment, I chose a desired time, the afternoon namaz (prayer) on a Friday. I wanted to prove to my friends that there is no reason to be scared of Muslims. On my motorbike I tied two small bhagwa flags on the front shockers and started riding into the Muslim dominated area towards Zakir Nagar. It was very crowded as people were going towards the mosque to offer their afternoon prayers and there was hardly any place to step the foot. But in a line the bikes were moving ahead slowly. I also followed. Obviously, I was the eye catcher since everybody was dressed in white with white skull caps except me, who was in his jeans and t-shirt with two bhagwa flags.
People were looking at me but no one frowned or said a word.
Once I passed the crowd of Muslim men, I stopped at a restaurant, parked my bike on the side of the road right along the entrance and went in. To my astonishment, I was greeted with warmth and a smile. I checked the menu and finally settled for a plate of chicken biryani. Not only was the biryani delicious, the hospitality was supreme. Everyone talked to me nice and easy without showing any sign on malice whatsoever. I paid my bills and left.
It didn’t go as I had anticipated. I was hoping I would get some funny stares or behaviour of people towards me would not be nice, but nothing of that sort happened. I crossed the road and walked up to a pan shop and asked him to make a meetha pan for me. The panwadi was a jovial Muslim guy with clean shaven face and red lips from eating pan. We talked for about 15 minutes before I bid farewell. I decided to turn back and face the crowd of Muslim men that was going to offer their prayers and see if I face any negative response. I kept moving towards Jamia, reached the road and headed to my next destination, home.
Once I was out, I pulled the sticks and threw them on the side and headed home.
I didn’t once feel any sort of fear for I was in the Muslim dominated area or surrounded by so many Muslims. As always, I wasn’t rude to anybody. I gave respect and that’s what I got in return. And much more! All the while on my way back home I kept wondering why are people scared of Muslims?
Story #2: A Walk With My Student
A few months ago, just before the board exams, my 12th class student had to make a project on Khwaja Aulia Dargah in Nizamuddin. He made the project but the teacher didn’t take the submission as she wanted a proof that he had in fact visited the place and got information himself and not just copied. She said there needs to be a picture of him as a proof that he really went there.
Well, who else to ask but your most favourite English teacher, he asked me to take him there. We went there on my every loving motorbike. Parked it where I usually do to avoid paying the parking, we headed towards the dargah. After the busy market place, we reached a narrow lane. On both sides of this narrow passage were small kiosks selling what you need for the offerings and prayer, decorated with plates and flowers and other things required once you reach the dargah.
A Walk To Remember: The Fear Of Muslims Made My Student Tremble Like A Dry Leaf
Almost every shopkeeper would call you and ask you to leave your shoes at their shop. They do that so that they could initiate a dialogue so that you buy the offerings from their shop. He was feeling a bit scared and kept asking me if he should remove his shoes there. I told him there was nothing to be scared of and he needs to relax. We just kept walking. Almost every shopkeeper was calling us to keep our shoes there. They kept saying that we were not allowed to take our shoes any further. By now my poor student was shaking like a leaf. I told him to keep walking and not worry as they were harmless and just looking for a customer. Finally, we reached the end where we deposited the shoes and went in.
He first went inside and prayed and also offered money on the dargah as his mother had asked him to do.
After we came out from the dargah, we walked around and took pictures with him in them that worked for his exhibits in the project.
We were done there and started to leave. First we went to collect our shoes. I started talking to the guy who kept our shoes. He told me a lot about how the system worked there and how his relative had brought him there to work. He hailed from somewhere in U.P. I tipped him and we moved on. Going back through the narrow lane, I asked my student if he was still scared, he told me that he was. I decided that I had to do something about it so I stopped by a shop and started looking for a men’s scarf. I liked the black and white checked and I decided to buy it. The shopkeeper was a humble man and as a gesture of hospitality, he put some rose perfume (itr) on our wrists.
After that pleasant experience, my student told me that his fear had gone down quite a bit.
We then went towards Karims and started showing him the market. We came across a shop where they sold leather jackets. There were two young boys, maybe a couple years older than my student managing the shop. We stepped in and I asked if they sold leather gloves. They answered in affirmative and I got a good pair pretty cheap. I sat inside the shop and talked to those kids for some 15 minutes. Before we left for home, we came across a perfume shop and now I had perfume on my mind so I decided to buy one for me. I liked the essence of “Oudh” (Oud) and got a small veil since it is very expensive perfume.
Finally we left for home!
These are just two examples but I have lived in Muslim areas and the only thing that bothers me is that I always put on weight whenever I lived near a Muslim area. The Mughlai Cuisines and specially biryani makes me never want to stop eating.
When I posted these stories on a group on Facebook, I got many wonderful comments and I would like to share some with you:
Kirty Kochar I taught in a Muslim Institution for thirty years and shared very good vibes with my students . They loved me so much so my perspective has always been positive . When you harbor prejudices towards a community ,you will only see the negative side.
Vijay Tonse Beautiful stories and I have also had many similar experiences as I was running a business in Bangalore for many years ( 1982 to 1993 ) where the majority of my suppliers were Muslims and I had to travel daily to Muslim majority areas. I never felt uncomfortable with them and they never felt uncomfortable with me.
Later, in the first three years of my stay in the USA ( 1993 onwards ), I built up a team of 20 marketing persons who marketed Sears Credit Cards in the Greater Washington Dc Area. 12 of them were Pakistanis, of which 6 were actually employees of the Pakistan Embassy in the Greater Washington DC Area, trying to earn some extra money in their spare time. I had only one Indian working with me and the rest of my staff were Americans. None of the Pakistanis were uncomfortable with me and I was not at all uncomfortable with them and they were also very hospitable towards me.
Shrirang Chitnis Well, we hostellers used to visit madanpura in Mumbai for ramzan iftaar right after 93 bomb blasts.. everyone, Hindus and Muslims were all having a great time just 3 months after bomb blasts.
Most people are crazy to believe this shit.
Anwesha Dutta Md. Ali Road in Mumbai is frequented by Hindus more than Muslims during Eid, for the mouthwatering kababs and nihari.
Amarnath Kulkarni I was in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, when Babari Masjid incidence happened in 1992. I was in a Muslim locality and was guarded like precious jewels by the people around me. They fed me, accommodated me and did not accept a single rupee from me for all this.
If there is a God, He is personified by such people.
Stanley Symon I stay in Muslim and Hindu dominated area, except two families my whole neighbors are Muslims.Last year my uncle suddenly fell sick, he was unable to walk and talk, we were confused to take further steps. That time our neighbour stepped in. All my neighbors lifted him and made him so sit on a chair. They all carried him till the car. The neighbor brought his new car and drove us to the hospital, he also informed our relatives, stayed with us till night 3.am, and he dropped me back to home….
Sameerulla Fazluddin All my friends they are Hindus I don’t want to mention this but iam helpless. Anyway , most of my friends they reach out mosque with us and wait outside similarly we go temple take prasad offer puja and I wait inside temple for them and even church Gurdwara etc we southern India never shy or fear . All friends committed towards building friendship.
They come on occasion Eids community functions and they like shik kabbabs biryani sweet etc same we visit all festivals marriage function community functions of my Hindu and Christians friends. Also though we admire and mutual understanding respect each other
And one more thing , between us we don’t talk or share political idealogy iam a Congress person and they vote bjp but in the end we share common platform , Jai Hind
Shibli Fatmi As a child, we were scared of bhoot, churail and dogs and not human beings. For us religion and caste were no factor. I lived like that till 1992. For the first time in my life i had real fear of fanatic Hindu. My entire family consisting of my mother, and family of my brother and sister was living in a locality where there care only few Muslims. I was anxious about them. In the middle of night i use to go to post office, make STD call and use to sigh relief when someone picked up the phone. Two nights were spent like this. Then Lalu Yadav dropped at our place in the night. He sensed danger to the life of our family. He asked three of his security personnel to stay at our place till the replacement comes. Police was instructed to keep a small post at our house and mobile police van to constantly be vigilant.
The fear has not yet gone out fully. I therefore started hating the fascist fellows. Muslim fascist and Hindu fascist.
That is how the fear came in my life.
It is worth mentioning here that the city in which i lived had massive communal riot. I was unmarried at that time and i lived comfortably in the house of my Hindu friends.
When Sikh riot took place after death of Mrs Gandhi, i rushed to my only Sikh friend’s house and requested them to move to my place till sanity returns. He refused to vacate his house and shift to my place because his old sick parents will not like it. but we were only a phone call away to reach his place in no time.
I therefore leave no opportunity to criticise the monsters of hatred. I don’t spare those Muslims who see everything with the prism.
Janet Prem 30 years ago when we were fresh employees we were a trio that were always together-partners in crime and unquestioning support system. I am a Christian. Of the other two one was a Muslim and one a Brahmin. We worked together aye together bunked office to go to the movies, cried over each others burdens, took up cudgels with each other’s slouches. It came naturally and until colleagues joked about us being the female version of Amar Akbar Antony.
We hadn’t realised our different backgrounds. Neither did those who joked do so with any under current. We have remained like this and when one of us ended life’s journey we mourned as we would a sister born with us. Life broke our trio but at every turn we miss her who went ahead. Ask our families and they will tell you we weren’t at friends who stick closer than siblings. Nothing has changed for us but the younger generation that works with us now can barely comprehend our togetherness.
There are more people trying to highlight our differences to us than there were those who joked about us in the past. That is what the BJP-RSS combine has done to our country- damaged the social fabric that richly co-existed without being conscious of religious or caste issues. That is what I find hard to forgive the present dispensation.
Avinash Nebhani The best thing I like in a Muslim area is that it is alive and brimming with people even at 3am at night and I have seen women shopping without any worries of being hounded or teased!
Priya Jay I grew up in a Muslim dominated district in TN.. but studied in Salasian christian convent school. Still am Hindu. None converted me nor threat me! #India I grew up was different to what it is now!
Mojahid Akhtar Till 2017April8 I have never felt that i am living in a hindu dominated area of Bhadrak ,Odisa where communal roit took place e.ven in the year 1991.However after 2017 my perception has been changed and now i am feeling insecure in my area because in 2017 a communal roit took place and the goons from out side area came to our area and dismantle a mosque,looted shops ,even they pelted stones to our house,but to our utter dismay not a single hindus of our area protested them.This is my only regret.