Tuesday, 19 October, 2021
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Minorities and Communal Harmony

Noore Alam Siddiqui

Minorities and Communal Harmony
Noore Alam Siddiqui

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The word, ‘minority’ is one of the most pronounced words in today's world. This word has become very much odd hearing and it arises a sense of deprivation, oppression, discrimination, helplessness, scaredness and beyond. People are usually classified as a minority in terms of religious belief, race, color, ethnicity, ideology and so on. But a significant portion of the majority of people can not treat them as a part of mainstream society.

Minorities, especially based on religious belief and ethnicity, always feel unsecured, helpless, and above all suffering inferiority complexes. Despite the prevalence of communal harmony in the society, the minority people, by nature, feel themselves as more vulnerable, helpless and unsecured. This is also very much true that such kind of feeling is created not for the derogatory attitude of the majority population towards the minorities but for some greedy and culprit people in the society who always try to achieve some gains in the troubled water keeping the minorities under various psychological pressure or even by attacking them physically and damaging their properties. This is just for engulfing the properties of minorities by various means. Here those people in most cases, are not motivated by any religious thoughts, beliefs, ideology, and teachings, but by greed.

In most of the countries of the world, minorities are treated badly, inhumanly. They pass their life through deprivation, oppression, discrimination, helplessness, scaredness. Rulers, local political and religious dishonest influential leaders put continuous psychological pressure on them and make them blackmailed in various ways.

In our subcontinent throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the long reputation of communal harmony was damaged severely. During the British colonial rule, they took up the policy of divide and rule very much successfully thereby promoting violence between Hindus and Muslims. The inequality, injustice and discrimination against the Muslims made the communal harmony very much vulnerable. The classes and division in the society were created especially after the decision of the Permanent Settlement of Bengal in 1793 which was an agreement between the East India Company and Bengali landlords. Under this Permanent Settlement, the British ruler favored the Hindu landlords most and that was the beginning of wealth and class-based discrimination in the society especially between Hindu and Muslim.

As a result, we have witnessed dozens of big riots between the Hindus and Muslims in this subcontinent during British rule. The most brutal riots took place during the partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947 when hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Muslims were killed due to riots, ethnic cleansing and cross-border migration. The British looters left this region as an empty basket establishing communal unrest making millions of people bound to leave their motherland, properties destitute. As a long-term consequence, we have also witnessed several cruel communal riots in India, especially in West Bengal. The dark legacy of that communal unrest is still existing. Hindus and Muslims have lost their mutual respect, belief. In today's India, the ruling BJP and their extremist wing, RSS, who strongly believe in Hindu nationalism, are patronizing religious fanaticism, communal intolerance and oppression on the Muslim minorities in various ways. With the passes of time, they are becoming desperate and cruel.

But we, the people of Bangladesh are very much proud and lucky that we all with different religious beliefs are living in peace and harmony for hundreds of years. Except for some small-scale communal riots in the past we all are living together in peace and harmony. There have always been some culprits in society for disrupting communal harmony. But against the strength of the majority attitude, the culprits cannot execute their ill intention or motive. Compared to the neighboring county, India- people of Bangladesh with different religious and ethnic backgrounds are living in full of solidarity, mutual respect.

During the period of Bengal and Mughal Sultanate, the communal harmony in this subcontinent was very much satisfactory, inspiring and exemplary. There was very little or no discrimination between Hindu and Muslims as there was no existence of a divide and rule policy. Though the Muslim rulers came from Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle east they came here not to rule but to live here until death. They came here, got married to the local people, became relatives of the local people, made strong bondage with the local people. They had no intention of smuggling wealth and resources from the locality and passing it to their native country. Sultan Alauddin Hussain Shah, during the late 15th century, patronized Hindus in various ways and arranged to translated Ramayana and Mahabharata in Bangla for the first time for making those scripts available and understandable especially to the ordinary and lower-caste Hindus.

On the other hand, the East India Company was just a business entity at first and during their 200 years of rule in this region was the history of looting, oppression, cruelty, unfair business and many more. So, all of their unfair activities were not possible upholding communal harmony and keeping aside the so-called divide and rule policy.

Being the rational human being, as a member of the privileged majority, we must maintain a much better relationship with the minorities so that they have no chance to feel insecure and helplessness. As Muslims, we must abide by the Islamic teachings regarding the responsibilities to the neighbors regardless of religious belief, ethnicity, color, race and so on. Like all other worldly matters, Islam has given very much clear and precise instructions about the treatment, behavior and attitude towards the non-Muslim neighbors as Islam has strongly prohibited any type of discrimination based on religious belief, race, or color. Above all, no people with logical conscience, proper education can oppress people with another religious belief, ethnicity, lower cast, color, or race.

We should always keep in mind that all of us are human beings and have been created by a single creator. According to Islam all human beings are born on Islam and remain Muslim until they become adults or matured. But they become non-Muslim because of the teaching and motivation of their parents, surrounding environment, companion and other family members. Moreover, becoming a believer is not so tough or does not require more time. Moreover, any person could change his or her belief, ideology religious identity at any time and this is the freedom of choice. So, all of us should be humane at first.

Those people who are minorities in a country or a society may be considered very unfortunate in this present world. So those who are fortunate enough for being majorities should be very much cautious and strict for upholding the rights of minorities who are our beloved neighbors, friends, classmates, or companion. Both the majorities and minorities should be mutually respectful to the religious belief of each other. In this case, the majorities have more responsibilities and they must take initiatives pioneering communal harmony, tolerance, compassion and creating, upholding an overall peaceful environment in the society.

 

The writer is a banker and freelance writer