GURUGRAM: Mohammad Yameen, a worker employed with an auto manufacturer in Manesar, recalls offering Friday namaz in Tau Devi Lal Park, Manesar, a month and a half ago. He and the other faithful had found their motorcycles damaged when they returned from prayers. A week later, their prayer mats were thrown away, as objections to public prayers reached a crescendo. Eventually, they stopped praying in the park.
On Sunday, Yameen joined over 200 people for a ‘Sanjha Iftar’ in Gurugram, organised to reaffirm that such incid-ents can’t break the thread of social harmony in our cities that easily.
“Today’s , where people from different religions came together to have a meal, is a slap on the face of those who were trying to divide this city on communal lines,” said Yameen. He was joined by people from all religions and walks of life. The inter-faith Iftar, hosted by Gurugram Nagrik Ekta Manch (GNEM), saw activists, doctors, Sikh and community leaders and representatives of political parties attending, along with city’s Muslims.
Among them, there was one person who was welcomed with the biggest applause and gratitude — Delhi’s — whose son Ankit (23) was murdered by the family of his Muslim girlfriend. Yashpal had also hosted an inter-faith Iftar last week in Delhi.
“We need to ask ourselves why we hate each other, and how we can end this cycle of communalism and casteism,” said Yashpal, whose thoughts were echoed by many others, who said incidents like disruption of namaz in Gurugram need to be stopped as they are not just destroying communities, but our Constitution as well.
“The atmosphere in the country is worrying. We need to understand attempts to disrupt aren’t destroying a religion or community, but our nation and our Constitution,” said Shabnam Hashmi, a human rights activist.
As men, women and kids broke their fast with dates, they spoke of the need to bring back the times when people irrespective of their faith had each other’s back, specifically in Gurugram, which has people from all religions. While Muslims explained the significance of the month of Ramzan and of fasting, people from other communities assured them of never-ending support in these difficult times. “Gurugram has a rich history of communal unity. For instance, men from both communities in the area fought for freedom in the 1857 War of Independence. We need to revisit this past to understand why peace and harmony are essential to Gurugram,” said Rahul Roy, filmmaker and member of GNEM.
A few kilometres away, another interfaith Iftar was hosted by 10 Muslim women, spearheaded by author Nazia Erum, who has written the book “Mothering a Muslim”. This is not the first inter-faith Iftar she has arranged, but with many Hindus helping out this time, she said this was the most satisfying Iftar yet.
“The idea was to get people from all communities together over a meal and get to know each other, send out a message of peace and harmony through these conversations,” said Gul Ali, one of the hosts.
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