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I’m going to organize this as matter-of-fact-ly as I can because I feel like that’s the best way to tackle this touchy subject. But I will probably fail and it will get personal. I’ve had my share of posts directly or tangentially discussing Hindu-Muslim tensions with the general sentiment of “Why can’t we all be friends? Why do Muslims think my people are backwards? Why am I saying ‘my people’? Idonlikeit. We’re all brown, guys, we’re more similar than you think. Whine, whine, sadface, whine.” Eff that noise.  

There are members of the Hindu right that couldn’t think of a better issue to rally behind and get all activist-y about than the Muslim presence in/influence on “their” Hindustan. A common response when some of these people are asked why they don’t like Muslims is “they don’t like us”. You’re shitting me.

1. The Muslims that invaded India, the Muslims that shaped post-Partition modern India, and the Muslims that continue to shape India are different people. Indian Muslims live in a country that is equally theirs, despite a Hindu majority, and they too care about their motherland; see: Abdul Kalam. I just about lost my shit when that rumor spread about Aamir Khan using the proceeds of Satyamev Jayate for Islamic institutions; the team is pretty goddamn transparent and I hate how little faith we have in humanity.

2. You can fight to preserve your heritage and history without trying to squash another’s; whether that courtesy was given to our ancestors is no longer relevant. You’re allowed to feel slighted. You’re not allowed to act petty.

3. You’re not allowed to reclaim Ayodhya when you don’t work hard enough to preserve what’s left of your history and culture.

4. Aside from this, there also seems to potentially be a serious inferiority complex at play, on a large scale? Martha Nussbaum takes a stab at the idea here:

In the Hindu-right version of history, a persistent theme is that of humiliated masculinity: Hindus have been subordinate for centuries, and their masculinity insulted, in part because they have not been aggressive and violent enough. 

Let’s ponder, guys (i.e. time to spew tangential thoughts). I don’t really care for the direction Nussbaum takes that thought, but I think it’s an interesting way to look at Hindu-Muslim dynamics. Islam is a religion born out of religious persecution, it engenders passion among the oppressed, it gives strength to those whose lives have been defined by their struggles. It provides a social, legal, and moral code whose scope is rather grand and intricate and particularly difficult to achieve because it’s not just based on the individual, but a community, a world. The God of the Muslims is one to be respected, and worshiped as transcendental and beyond our grasp.

The God of the Hindus is often considered one to be loved, and loved in different ways. As a mother, as a father, as a child, even as a friend. We portray the Lord Krishna as this lean, effeminate, flute-playing, easy-going dude that chills with the gopis but waxes poetic to his one true love, Radha. Nevertheless, any Hindu could tell you that’s not the nameless, faceless, transcendental yet imminent God that also pervades Hindu scripture.

But every time there was a push for orthodoxy, someone came out of the fold and decided that he would rub ashes on his body or eat meat and drink alcohol, because our suffering come from discrimination of good and bad, from distinguishing between you and me, because such Brahminical values were perhaps more arbitrary than necessary, because we are all part human, part animal, and part divine. Props. I may not dig your style, but you were onto something relevant and I respect that. The Creation Hymn in the Rig Veda is lovely in its ambiguity, but perhaps my comfort and appreciation for things open to interpretation is just a sign that God sorted me into the most appropriate house. 

But back to the point. We have one religion that encourages passion and pride in the one and only Truth, and another that says to do away with those very ideas because maybe we don’t know if we’re right, and that’s okay, because we get points for showing our work, not having the answers. No shit there’s conflict.

I was raised to cultivate love, compassion, a thirst for knowledge driven by rational thought, and respect for people of all walks of life because mine is NOT inherently or objectively better. To know one’s dharma is not as simple as reading the Gita or any other book and following rules; the onus is on the individual to discover that path and discover all that’s good within him and the universe. Not everyone’s flavor of Hinduism is an intellectual pursuit, or a display of love and affection for God. But that’s a good thing. If anything should be maintained, it’s diversity. We just need to go so far as to accept even those that do not accept us. For some, that is asking for too much, and I’ve finally come to a place where I do not give a shit. Those conflicts are not going anywhere. Why not work against things that we only have to look inwards to fight? We love blaming others, but we do not look within ourselves or the groups we identify with. It’s funny how there’s all of a sudden some united Hindu community when Muslims start to feel like a threat.

5. People from different states in India don’t even bond. There is no Indian, there is no Hindu. There’s Gujarati, there’s Punjabi, there’s Bengali, there’s Telugu. Fix THAT attitude. Dare you. And not by bonding over anti-Muslim sentiments…is that all you can think of? Maybe. That’s so goddamn sad.

6. If you have so much Hindu pride, call for a universal brotherhood, aim higher than other religious groups might, “be the bigger person”. Even if you espouse these ideals for the wrong reason at the outset, teach your kids tolerance and respect for all and don’t make your baggage hereditary. Well, recognize that it’s baggage first. Because it is.

7. Join the party of mixing up the castes, classes, races, and eradicate casteism/prejudice once and for all! I dream about the day when we’re all mutts and our names and appearances give no indication, real or imagined,  to others about who or what we are.

In the name of world peace and all those things we will not live to see and rejoice:

the Dalai Lama with Tibetan Muslims in prayer. how you not love this man? faith in humanity restored!

 

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