We, Indian Muslims are proud to be citizens of this great country. We have been an architect of this land all through centuries since the days of dynastic rule. Whether it was the construction of a world-class network of transport facilities like the Grand Trunk Road linking major cities, founding new cities of the highest standards for that age, huge monumental structures to attract the world, development of living standards, and maintaining cordial relationships between groups belonging to various religions, languages, castes, and cultures, we pioneered justice and maintained the system. With the passage of years, decades, and turn of events, the foreign forces got attracted to it and slowly took over the reign of rule. We were the first to challenge and fight for the country’s independence valiantly. Even our clergymen took to the streets and fought, thousands laid down their lives. Colonel Balwan Singh Nagial, a third-generation Indian Army officer who retired in 2019 wrote in Times of India (April 23, 2022), thus: “Muslim leadership contributed enormously to divergent phases of the Indian struggle for independence. They (Muslims) played a larger-than-life role and made significant sacrifices in this struggle for independence. From the last Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar to nawabs, princes, landlords of all sizes, clergy, ulema, and ordinary people, they all stood for the cause took on enormous challenges, and made supreme sacrifices. When the INC was formed in 1885, the Muslims responded enthusiastically and supported all its efforts throughout the freedom struggle until India became free.
India will forever be the cherished home of its Muslim citizens. We gave the independent India Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Education Minister, Dr. Rafi Ahmed Qidwai, Dr. Zakir Hussain (an Educationist and Vice President), and numerous figures as servants to the country in the form of politicians, officers, industrialists, entrepreneurs, researchers, technocrats, etc. in every field.
Our very recent contribution to the nation’s public service has been the world-famous Scientist/ Technocrat and President Dr. A.P.J. Kalam. He set the highest, unbelievable standard of honesty, transparency, and clean image in public life. A glimpse into the life he spent in the Rashtrapati Bhavan as President gives shocking information. The same is as under:
Mr. P M Nair, (retired IAS officer, then Secretary to Dr. Abdul Kalam, the President writes in his book “Kalam Effect” that Dr. Kalam used to receive costly gifts whenever he went abroad (as it is part of custom & and protocol) used to ask the gifts to be photographed and then cataloged and handed over to the archives. Afterward, he never even looked at them. He did not take even a pencil from the gifts received when he left Rashtrapathi Bhavan. It was a regular practice for every President to host an Iftar party, a routine. Upon being reminded about it Dr. Kalam asked Mr. Nair why he should host a party to people who are already well-fed. Instead, he estimated and donated Rs.22 lac the cost to a few selected orphanages in the form of food, dresses, and blankets besides a cheque for Rs.1. lakh from his personal funds. Though himself a devout Muslim, he never organized Iftar parties in the President’s house at public expense. Once Dr. Kalam invited 50 of his relatives to come to Delhi and they all stayed in Rashtrapathi Bhavan. He organized a bus for them to go around the city which was paid for by him. No official car was used. Their lodging and food bill, which came to Rs.2 lakhs, was paid by him as per his instructions. Dr. Kalam’s elder brother stayed with him in his room for the entire week as Dr. Kalam wanted his brother to stay with him. When they left, Dr. Kalam wanted to pay rent for that room too. Imagine the President of a country paying rent for the room in which he is staying. This was anyway not agreed to by the staff who thought the honesty was getting too much to handle. When he was to leave Rashtrapathi Bhavan at the end of his tenure, every staff member went and met him and paid their respects. Mr. Nair went to him alone as his wife couldn’t as she was confined to bed due to a fracture. Upon noticing her absence and knowing the reason, Dr. Kalam visited his house and chatted with her for some time. The following property was left behind by Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam: 16 doctorates, 1 website, 1 Twitter account, 1 email id, 2500 books, 1 Padmashri, 1 Padma Bhushan, 1 Bharat Ratna, 1 flat (which he has donated), 6 pants & 4 shirts (DRDO uniforms), 3 suits (1 western, 2 Indian). He didn’t have any Car, jewelry, stocks, TV, AC, land, or any bank balance. He had even donated the last 8 years’ pension towards the development of his village. He was a real patriot and a true Indian Muslim. We are proud of him.
Our character-building efforts continued even through the present 21st century in the country with unique results as records vouch. For example, the city of Kayalapattanam (in Tamil Nadu) with 100% Muslim population. There is no Police Station, no cinema and no crime in the city because there had been no crime there for decades.
The present-day situation in the country may appear to be disheartening and disappointing for some. The irresponsible attitude towards Muslims by some extremist groups in the country belonging to a certain ideology should be viewed as a momentary period. Their efforts to demoralize, degrade, and deny civil rights are synonymous with their declared intentions. A great majority of countrymen still believe, and practice true Hinduism as had been for centuries in the past. True Hindus do not endorse hatred, support arson, and distrust. A long history of peaceful co-existence of Muslims and Hindus for centuries with mutual respect, rejoicing especially on festivals, and long socio-economic ties in every nook and corner of the country is its evidence. Our country has been an example of ‘Unity in diversity’ for the world for a long time. Nobody from either community can imagine survival without another. The bond has been and will surely be as strong as Steel. The ever-increasing social evils like Corruption, nepotism, frauds, woman-bashing, and vandalism like termites in the country have made the life of the common man miserable. The decline in values like increased greediness, widespread dishonesty, revenge, vindictiveness, and non-adherence to the law need to be challenged and controlled. The ‘PLEDGE’ we used to read in our textbooks once on first page is long missing both from the book and in practice.
We the Indian Muslims, whether a common man, clergy, intellectual, and technocrat, worker or even those with any political group should realize that notwithstanding the company or area, we have a responsibility towards the country and are duty-bound to work for our own community. We need to understand today’s challenging scenario and strengthen its unity. We are the inheritors of a great legacy and not followers of the ilk of this day. We Muslims should remember that we are ordained by the Almighty Allah to be united, behold his Commands; make efforts to spread virtuous deeds, and work to eradicate evils. The entire country is looking forward to the honesty.
As the phrase rightly goes, ‘Service to humanity is service to God’. Our population in the country according to the 2011 census stands at about 200 million which constitutes 15%. We need to contain our extravagant lifestyle, especially in matters of functions and festivals.
We should stop depending on politicians, and their promises and focus on a self, collective effort. We need to move forward together in the fields of education, and employment opportunities generating plans through mutual cooperation. For this purpose and as in the days of our Prophet, we should make our area Masjid a center for gathering, deliberation, planning, guidance, and service as per law. Experts and experience in relevant fields can be roped in for the purpose and the available resources can be put to work.