I am with Jeyamohan on his views on Wahabism.
I consider Sufi-Islam as more suited to our multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-ethnic society than the most puritanical interpretation that Wahabists espouse.
As a society, we have been an all-encompassing and inclusive society when it came to acceptance of religious and cultural values. I have seen Hindus take their crying babies to mosques and dargas for the mystics in those places to smear them with ash or tie some sacred talismans to the children’s arms. I have also been a part of some muslim marriages where friends were kind enough to prepare vegetarian meals for veggies like me in Neyveli.
The ‘Sandal-paste’ functions at the holy dargas of the late noble souls of Islam (Nagoor, Ajmer et al ), are all the Indian versions of Islam that act as a confluence of multiple beliefs and cultures. More non-Muslims take part in those festivals that are celebrated with great piety.
The Hazrat-bal shrine in Jammu and Kashmir is a revered site for people of all religions. Do the Wahabists want to stop that practice too?
The muslim women that I knew wore white purdahs that were no different from the kind of saree that my widowed grand mother wore until her death. As as child, I had often mistook many such elderly muslim ladies to be my grand mom and had walked behind them calling them ‘Pithi’ ( child lingo for ‘Paatti’ in Tamil). But today the white dress is almost extinct. That, in itself, is a grand transformation for me and makes me think of earlier days.
Mohamad Rafi gave us as much pleasure due to his music as T.M.Soundarrajan did. We have never discriminated one against the other. A.R. Rahman is seen only as an artist. Who can forget the contributions of the legendary Dr.Kalam towards nation building? If Wahabist ideals are to be followed, then Dr. Kalam has to be despised for his ability play the veena and Mohamad Rafi for his songs. This would be the most stupid thing to happen to us.
If Karukurichchi Arunachalam was adored for his Nadaswaram skills, so was Sheik Chinna Moulana for his mellifluous rendering of the different kirtanas through his Nadaswaram.
In my book ‘Pazhayia Kanakku’ I had spoken about an elderly muslim lady from Therazhundhur. She, according to me, was the embodiment of Islam who stood by the religion’s values of compassion, justice and humility. Any other interpretation of the religion, to suit foreign vested interests, that seeks to destroy the cultural amity and religious tolerance in our multi-cultural context, should not be allowed.
For me, the late Mr.Ajees, my Dad’s classmate who set up stalls for water distribution during the summer chariot festival in Therazhundhur, was a more pious muslim and a compassionate person than those Saudi funded political associations like Popular Front and Tawheed Jamat that seek to divide the society. For me, the voices of people like the late Mr.Ajees represent Islam .
The unity and integrity of the nation and society are very fragile entities. They need to be safeguarded at any cost. Any force seeking to cause touble – whether the Right, the Left or any other dispensation – needs to be shown its rightful place, in prison, in line with the legal tenets of the country.
As a nationalist and a global citizen, I am horrified when I learn about a conference on ‘Shirk’ that seeks to destroy ‘dargas’ and other structures. It is a pity that such amorous alliances which show a clearly dangerous and devious attitude are allowed in a multi-cultural democracy.
Nagoor Dargah, The Hazrat Bal Shrine and Ajmer Shrine are important places not only from a religious point of view but also from cultural and historical points of view. They are as much part of our civilization as they are part of a religious path. They are our treasures and should be treated as such. Radicals who seek to cause harm to such shrines have no place in our civilized society.
I abhor the paid-Wahabists who proclaim their unitary and tunneled vision as much as I abhor the narrow interpretation of our cultural values and systems.
In our current troubled times due to the rise of ISIS and other radical groups, it is the duty of right thinking citizens to take a stand against religious segregation and balkanization and further division of the society.
For those of you wanting to react in a knee-jerk fashion, stop. Read ‘Hatred’s Kingdom’ once to know about Wahabism. Then talk.