A Bunch Of Rioters Who Killed His Son Couldn’t Diminish A Father’s Faith in The Idea Of India
Asansol's Moulana Imdadul Rashidi thinks it is our responsibility to spread love and maintain peace in this country as our forefathers made many sacrifices.
In the age of jingoistic nationalism, as middle class citizens tweet from their plush apartments, Moulana Imdadul Rashidi is an example of what it means to be a true Indian patriot. His life is not just an embodiment of national pride but an expression of love, tolerance and inclusion, upon which the idea of India rests.
In March 2018, after a violent mob killed his 16-year-old son in Asansol, Rashidi gave a speech reminding the assembled crowd that India is above hatred. The riots ended, and precious lives were saved as a result of this one powerful speech.
It has been more than a year since Rashidi— the imam of Nurani Mosque in the Bengal town —lost his son Sibtullah. When riots broke out in the town, Sibtullah went missing. Rashidi registered a missing person’s report at the local police station. Later, his body was recovered. As per reports, he lost his way and entered a Hindu locality. He couldn’t survive the brutal attack of rioters and lost his life on the streets.
In the last one year, Rashidi met several journalists, thinkers, authors and artists from across the world in his small room. To each one of them, he says that India stands apart from the entire world due to the multicultural atmosphere that exists in the country and it was his responsibility to protect this culture against hatred when his son was brutally killed in Asansol.
On a hot summer afternoon, Rashidi sits with a few others on the first floor of the mosque. When asked what does he think about the incident after a year, he replies, “The Ganga Jamuna tehzeeb is our identity. India is unique. It stands apart as an example in the entire world. Our Constitution has given everyone the right to practice different religions and speak different languages. You can strictly follow your religion and stay peacefully in this country. This is the protection given by our laws.”
Further, he explains, “If there’s no thirst, how will you realise the value of water? Similarly, scorching heat makes us realise the importance of shadow and day makes us realise the importance of the night. Also, without hatred, we won’t be able to realise the importance of love. Moreover, the strength of love can truly be experienced when it exists in an atmosphere filled with hatred.”
It was hate which killed his son, Rashidi points out, adding that he defeated the hate with love.
“Everyone knows what had happened here. There was an attempt to spread communal hatred. But, I sent a message of love, and the message reached the hearts of the people. I consider all the love that was showered on me my sar ka taaj (crown on my head),” he says with a smile.
He has no remorse, no regret and does not even a single word against the miscreants who killed his son.
The Banga Bhushan Award winner makes it clear that his message will always remain the same: hatred can never win against love. He even underlines that the citizens of the country should keep their love for each other intact and remember that elections come every five years and it should not change their feelings towards the country.
“We want this country to progress, the strength of this country is being destroyed by using its energy in petty fights,” he says.
Rashidi makes an important point saying that our ancestors have made so many sacrifices for the independence of the country. Pointing fingers at hate mongers, he asserts that the ones who didn’t sacrifice will be ready to sell this country, but those who understand the basic structure of this country will not waste the efforts of their ancestors.
On Babul Supriyo
When asked if he was unhappy with local BJP MP Babul Supriyo for not taking any adequate measure after the riots broke out last year, he says, “I had said that you (Babul Supriyo) belong to the world of music and music is the other name for love. Asansol is very lucky to have two ministers: state (Labour Minister Malay Ghatak) and Central minister (Babul Supriyo). When two ministers couldn’t come together to join the hearts of two communities, it was very unfortunate. This is what I had said last year too.”
Although several politicians met Rashidi, BJP leaders avoided visiting his family.
“It is their problem. We have lost (our son)… And many people came to stand with us and support us if they (BJP) didn’t come; I didn’t lose anything.”
On Muslims being asked to go to Pakistan
Rashidi bemoans that anybody can say anything standing in his own house, but it won’t serve any “good purpose”.
“The ones who don’t realise what they should be talking about or what they are saying should understand that they are not becoming badda (important) by saying all that. We decided to stay in India and rejected Pakistan. This is the truth. Nobody can change this fact. Today when I meet people belonging to Hindu communities they tell me that they will not let these stains (incidents like his son’s murder) appear again,” he says.
It is people like Rashid that make India strong. The idea of India is alive.