The initiative by Indian Muslims under the banner of Muslim Rashtriya Manch to discuss and resolve the issues of discord with Hindus is a model for Muslims world over to live with cohesion and coexistence
What started as a humble effort in December 2002 to bring the Muslims into mainstream of national life has now turned into a mass movement encouraging Muslims to contribute their might in making India a world leader. The initiative has attracted people’s attention across the world.
During the freedom movement, the Congress continued to pamper the Muslims to achieve Hindu-Muslim unity as pre-requisite to gain freedom. At the same time some leaders were spewing venom of hatred against them widening the gap between the two communities. While, Congress’ policy of appeasement resulted in vivisection of our ‘Madar-e-Vatan’, the ‘Hate Muslim’ policy further expanded the already existing gap between the two ‘brothers’.
There was a third opinion but that did not have any takers then in both the communities. They believed that the Indian Muslims share same ancestors, culture, traditions, language and customs with their Hindu brethrens. Only they have changed their way of worship some time ago due to certain historical and social compulsions. But changing way of worship did not make them give up their past and detach them completely from their ancestral history and heritage. True, India was under the Muslim rule for over 800 years. But those rulers were all foreign invaders and ruled over the indigenous Muslims too as they governed the Hindus.
The Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) is the first organisation to impress upon the Muslims that they belong to this country as much as the Hindus and they should shed their separate ‘minority’ character and join the mainstream as ‘one nation-one people’. On the ‘Id-Milan’ programme held in December 2002, the then RSS Sarsanghachalak the late KS Sudarshan posed before the Islamic scholars, “Islam means security and peace, but today Islam is associated with violence, terror and fundamentalism. Is it not the responsibility of all of us to project the right face of Islam by tearing away this naqab of terror, violence and fundamentalism?” Shri Sudarshan’s posers set the process in motion and after the initial forays into the Muslim community under various names; the MRM firmly put its foot down and soon became the only organisation ‘of the Muslims, by the Muslims and for the Muslims’.
Sudarshanji continued to attend the MRM meetings and guide the activists, but he chose Shri Indresh Kumar, a senior RSS functionary, who has been working among the Muslims during his tenure as Pracharak in Jammu & Kashmir, to carry forward and give definite shape to this nascent movement. Since then, Shri Indresh Kumar has successfully guided the MRM and Indian Muslims through many trials and turbulences so much so that they consider him as their messiah! Today, the MRM has spread its network in over 325 districts of 25 states and union territories across India and have member strength between 10-20 lakh. It concentrates on women, education, intellectuals, media, service, Ulemas, cow protection, and youth and has formed cells to work among these sections.
The first big programme the MRM undertook was celebrating 150th anniversary of 1857 War of Independence in 2007-08. With this the MRM started a new initiative to pray for the martyrs on the occasion of ‘Shab-e-Barat’ while praying for the peace for our ancestors laid to rest in the mortuaries. The MRM took a definite stand on Amarnath Agitation in J &K and took out a yatra from Hazrat Nizamuddin (Delhi) to Hajrat Bal (Srinagar) in 2009. Similarly, it took another initiative to resolve the vexed issue of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. In 2009, a dialogue under the MRM banner was held in New Delhi where nearly 200 Islamic scholars, clergy participated. The meeting continued in a most cordial atmosphere and concluded that the issue could be resolved on the basis of truth.
India is the worst sufferer of the mindless violence in the name of jihad. To raise its voice against it the MRM organised ‘Tiranga Yatra’, the first of its kind, in Mumbai in 2009 in which Muslims from all over the country participated and denounced terrorism in the name of religion. Recently, it has set up ‘Anti-terrorism Youth Awareness Forum’ to awaken the youths about the dangers of terrorism and desist them from joining terror outfits like ISIS or ISI. Two meetings of this forum have been held so far and a national convention is in the pipeline.
The initiative by Shri Indresh Kumar to unite the Hindus and Muslims through an alternative way has received international recognition. He was recently honoured with the most coveted “Global Peace Leader Award-2016” at an International Seminar held at Swamy Vivekananda Subharti University, Meerut, on Buddhist Perspective on Peace. He was also felicitated with the Global Peace Ambassador Award at the same Seminar.
To rid the country of violence and terrorism, the MRM conducted a unique campaign—‘Chant of Aayat-e-Karima’—which too maybe first in the history of India and Indian Muslims. Under the campaign, Muslims all over the country chanted the holy verse of Quran for 23 lakh times making it another world record. When the interlocutors’ committee recommended autonomy to J&K, the MRM opposed it and launched a nationwide agitation under the banner ‘Hum Hindustani-Jammu-Kashmir Hindustan Ka’ in 2010. On December 18, 2010, over 10,000 Muslims from all over the country participated in a dharna at Jantar-Mantar, New Delhi, demanding scrapping of the Article 370. The MRM did not stop at that. It launched a signature campaign and collected signatures of over 8.5 lakh Muslims from all over the country. A memorandum with all these signatures was submitted to the President Pranab Mukherjee. The President was surprised to know that these many Muslims are opposed to Article 370 and gave their consent for its immediate scrapping.
In order to promote education among Muslim children the MRM started a campaign under the slogan “Aadhi Roti Khaayenge-Bachhon ko Padhayenge”. It has set up “Shahid Ashfaq Ullah National Memorial Trust” to help deserving Muslim children to pursue their education further. It also conducted a campaign to plant Tulsi sapling in home. Responding to the appeal the MRM activists planted thousands of Tulsi saplings in Muslim households.
Normally, Muslims are seen with suspicion when it comes to cow slaughter. For it the MRM undertook a signature campaign amongst Muslims and obtained signatures of 10.5 lakh Muslims in support of banning the cow slaughter. Its cow protection cell challenged the Maharashtra Government Order of slaughtering 12,000 bulls on the occasion of Id in 2014 and succeeded in saving the lives of those animals. Recently, it organised ‘Muslim Gopalak Sammelan’ at Mewat in Haryana where over 10,000 Muslims participated. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Shri Indresh Kumar were also present.
State and status of women in Muslim society is another concern of MRM. It has set up a Women’s Cell under Reshma Hussain and Shahnaz Afzal to go into various aspects of this issue. The MRM believes Islam’s dictum that ‘heaven lies at the feet of mother’, therefore, honouring womanhood should be accorded priority. Since the first ever Muslim women’s convention in 2004 till the last one held at Ajmer in 2015 December, the MRM has been vigorously advocating ‘save girl child’ drive, honouring women, saying goodbye to domestic violence and giving importance to women’s education. The Ajmer convention was attended by 7,500 Muslim women drawn from Manipur in the East to Gujarat in the West and J&K in the north to Tamil Nadu in the South.
Celebrating Rakshabandhan is a novel programme started by MRM a couple of years ago. It has a historical and traditional significance. MRM transformed this event into a national festival for cementing brotherhood, and ushering in an era of peace. The first programme held in Jaipur in 2014, saw huge response from the Muslim eves and men. This has now become a permanent feature of MRM’s multi-dimensional activities.
Its Ulema Cell organised a national convention of Ulemas in Lucknow where over 1,500 Ulemas, Moulvis, Muftis and Imams took the oath to rid India of riots, hatred, violence and terror and make India a land of peace, brotherhood, progress and prosperity. Muslim clergy of all hues, who seldom share a common programme , joined this unique event promising ‘acche din’ for India.
Similarly, to spread the fragrance of peace in entire world, the MRM organised first International Roza Iftar Party in 2015 in Delhi. All the envoys and ambassadors of Islamic nations living in Delhi participated. This year the second International Roza Iftar Party will be held on July 2 in Delhi for which invitation has been extended to almost all the Muslim envoys and ambassadors including those of Pakistan. The event has brought the MRM in national discourse once again.
These activities show their effect on the Muslim psyche endorsing the fact that with proper approach positive transformation could be brought in to bring Muslims in the mainstream. n