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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Book About Muslims - American Muslim Agenda

If you are a conservative, then grudgingly you'll see the value in what this book offers, and if you are on the left, you want more of it, and if you are moderate, you will dance with joy.

HOSTING A BOOK TALK


The book is about building a cohesive America where each one of us feels secure about our faith, race, ethnicity, culture, sexual and political orientation. Who does not want to live a tension free life at home, workplace, and in the public space? 

The "American Muslim Agenda” serves a two-fold purpose. On the one hand, it separates the chaff from the grain for fellow Americans to see Muslims for who they are and not how the media projects them. On the other hand, it challenges Muslims to restore Islam to its original purpose; that is to create cohesive societies, in our case, a coherent America, where each one of the 323 Million Americans feels proud of his or her uniqueness. 

The book presents many success stories to keep the reader bemused. I am pleased to submit three versions of the blurbs on the book talk. The format can be 10 minutes or 20 minutes presentation with room for Q&A. We want our esteemed guests to go home fully satisfied with all the questions they have had about Islam and Muslims. 

Our conservative friends would grudgingly acknowledge the pathway laid out in the book, while the moderates will dance with joy. If your vision of America is in tune with the book, together as Americans, we can contribute towards the greatness of our nation.



Would this book bring a change? 


Would this bring a change among Muslims towards others and others towards Muslims? Indeed, this book lays out a clear agenda to foster harmony among fellow Americans. It is akin to planting a seed and nurturing to give the beneficence to the next generation.

Some of the reservations we have about Muslims is based on what we have heard from our parents, friends, teachers, pastors, and TV. It is time for us to learn first-hand about them and remove the misunderstandings and live freely. 

It is one of the bold books written about Muslims, and it highlights the sources of extremism and how to cure it.

Unfortunately, some of the Muslim scholars from the past have reduced Islam to a religion of rituals and obedience. This book brings clarity to Muslims and fellow humans and separates the chaff from the wheat for you.

What is the overall theme of your book?


The overall theme of the book is to open people's hearts and minds towards each other. I believe that the ultimate ‘unexpressed’ purpose of humans is to live freely and be comfortable with one's culture, race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, and individuality.

Why do you think that this book will appeal to readers?

It will appeal to Muslims and Non-Muslims alike, as they have never seen the pristine, pluralistic Islam. Moreover, for the first time in Islamic history, the essence of Islam is explained. Also, for the first time, the book explains twelve values directly from the Quran that contributes towards building cohesive societies with no privileges to one over the other. It is human nature to get along with fellow beings, and this book will resonate with them and pave the path for them to see the light at the end of the tunnel.


TEN TAKE AWAY POINTS FROM THE BOOK

1. The American Muslim Agenda challenges Muslims to think and restore Islam to its original purpose – i.e., to create a cohesive America, where each one of the 323 Million Americans feels secure with his or her faith, race, ethnicity culture, sexual and political orientation. 


2. The American Muslim Agenda paves the way for Muslims to own their mistakes, and remedy them. It corrects how fellow Americans perceive Muslims.


3. Islam is not about imposing (Sharia) your ideas or governing others. Islam is about living your life and letting others live theirs with freedom. That is the original Islam. Islam is about freedom and firmly stands for free will.

4. The essence and purpose of Islam from a humanity’s (Aalameen) perspective for the first time.

5. Never before in Islamic history, twelve values of Islam that contribute to creating secure, orderly and cohesive societies have been articulated. Verses from the Quran fully back each value. Thus, the book becomes a reference manual to teach and learn about Islam.

6. The best way to combat Islamophobia is through education, engagement, and dialogue. There are many success stories narrated including dealing with Fox News, Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney and the supposedly most of the Islamaphobes.

7. This book is the product of twenty years of research and interviews with the right, left, and the moderate fellow humans from many faiths including 150 interviews at Fox News and its many right-leaning guests.

8. Can a Muslim become President of the United States? What does it take, there is a full chapter on the topic?

9. In the end, it is learning to respect the otherness of the other and accepting the God given the uniqueness of each one of the 323 million Americans.

10. There is a whole lot more, and it is all in the book.

Talk Version 1.0

Title of the talk: Muslims making America the Greatest nation on earth.

Americans Muslims are committed to building a cohesive America, an inclusive America where each one of the 323 Million Americans feel secure about his/her faith, race, ethnicity, culture, sexual and political orientation.

When you are free from apprehensions, and connect with fellow workers, the workplace becomes a joy to be. You will give 100% of your heart and mind to your work, and your family benefits from having a whole of you, thus creating a little heaven for yourselves.

Dr. Mike Ghouse, author, public speaker, pluralist, interfaith wedding officiant, and the president of the Center for Pluralism in Washington, DC., will discuss how Muslim efforts in building a cohesive America are working.

He points out that we are Americans, we are free and brave people and must jettison our apprehensions about each other to live freely. Mike advises that if you are a conservative, then grudgingly you'll see a value in what this book offers, and if you are on the left, you want more of it, and the moderates will dance with joy.

He points out that we are Americans, we are free, and the brave people, and must jettison our apprehensions about each other to live freely. How do we accomplish that? It is by knowing each other.

America has always led the world in science, medicine, math, agriculture, automation, information technology, exploration and all the advancements of the human race, and it is time for us to lead the world in building a cohesive nation. The book offers concrete solutions to Americans to make America a great and powerful model nation of inclusion for Americans to enjoy living their lives productively and purposefully, and the world to look up to us to emulate.

We have to assure each other and every American without exception that we are committed to each other's security, prosperity, and peace. Our goal is to reach out to every American who has not been reached before, particularly those who do not understand us. As American Muslims, we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in our constitution.

Mike will share a few incredible success stories of dealing with our friends on the right and answer questions about Muslim efforts.

The book “American Muslim Agenda” will become a reference manual to knowledge seekers and teachers of Islam, and those who want to see one nation, one people and one America. For Muslims, it is backed up with verses from the Quran. You can order this book from Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Google, and other book stores. See the talking points at http://www.AmericanMuslimAgenda.com and Mike’s profile appended at https://www.linkedin.com/inmikeghouse.

Talk Version 2:0

Title of the talk: Muslims making America the Greatest nation on earth
Americans Muslims are committed to building a cohesive America, an inclusive America where each one of the 323 Million Americans feel secure about his/her faith, race, ethnicity, culture, sexual and political orientation.

When you are free from apprehensions, and connect with fellow workers, the workplace becomes a joy to be. You will give 100% of your heart and mind to your work, and your family benefits from having a whole of you with them creating a little heaven for yourselves.

Dr. Mike Ghouse, author, public speaker, pluralist, interfaith wedding officiant, and the President of the Center for Pluralism in Washington, DC., will discuss how Muslim effort is ongoing in building a cohesive America, where each one of the 323 Million Americans feel secure about his/her faith, race, ethnicity, culture, sexual and political orientations.

He points out that we are Americans, we are free and brave people and must jettison our apprehensions about each other to live freely. Mike advises that if you are a conservative, then grudgingly you'll see a value in what this book offers, and if you are on the left, you want more of it, and the moderates will dance with joy.

The book paves the way for Muslims to own their mistakes, remedy them, and correct how fellow Americans perceive Muslims. Mike argues that Islam is not about imposing your ideas or governing others. Instead, Islam is about living your life and letting others live theirs with freedom. It is a bold challenge to Muslims. He shows a narration from humanity's (Aalameen) perspective of the essence and purpose of Islam for the first time in history.

Mike articulates, for the first time in Islamic history, twelve values of Islam that contribute to creating secure, orderly and cohesive societies. He concludes that the best way to combat Islamophobia (and other phobias) is through education, engagement, and dialogue. Mike lays out a clear agenda to foster harmony among fellow Americans. It is akin to planting a seed and nurturing to give the beneficence to the next generation.

Mike believes when Muslims become one with all and defend American values with their souls, they will become part of the American story, and everyone’s language will automatically shift from us vs. them to us, the one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. As American Muslims, we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in our constitution.

This book will become a reference manual to teachers of Islam and knowledge seekers about Islam, as it is backed up verses from the Quran. You can order his book from Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Google, and other book stores. See the talking points at http://www.AmericanMuslimAgenda.com and Mike’s profile appended at https://www.linkedin.com/inmikeghouse.

BOOK - Version 3.0

The American Muslim Agenda is a primer, a blueprint, and a road map for Americans in general and Muslims in particular.

A Muslim is someone who is a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer, following the formula for peaceful societies practiced by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and guided by the Quran.

As a community, American Muslims have not developed any concrete plans to extricate themselves out of the chaotic situations, hostility and incessant Islamophobic rhetoric we face. Each time a terrorist acts out, we start praying and wishing that the terrorist not be a Muslim. We are Americans, and we can do better than that.

There is only one America, and all of us are fully integrated parts of that nation. We need to learn to engage with those who are opposed to us, and reassure them that we are all in this together. Mike will share some success stories.

When we start defending America and the American values we are in! We become an integral part of American Fabric. That is the clear objective articulated in this book.
The book is available at Amazon, Kindle, Google, Xlibris, Barnes & Nobles, and other book stores. The softcover is priced at $19.99, and the hardcover is $29.99. It is also available as an eBook.

The American Muslim Agenda will be in the hands of lawmakers, presidential candidates, media persons, lobbyists, think tanks, educators, interfaith activists, CEO, and fellow Americans. The book is about building a cohesive America where each one of us can live securely with our faith, race, ethnicity, and culture.

As American Muslims, we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in our constitution.

Mike is a public speaker, author, interfaith wedding officiant, a newsmaker and the executive director of the Center for Pluralism in Washington, DC. More about him at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeghouse/

Email to: SpeakerMikeGhouse@gmail.com or text (214) 325-1916

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Will BJP turn India upside down?

6 Things That May Happen If The BJP Comes Back to Power

If we thought the last five years were bad, we haven’t seen anything yet.

The possibility of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retaining power following the Lok Sabha election is legitimately frightening for a large section of India’s population as the last five years have seen, among other things, a rise in violence against Muslims and Dalits, crackdown on dissent and civil liberties, high unemploymentpoor economic growth and anti-farmer and anti-worker policies.
To add to these fears, BJP leaders have been dropping hints about the saffron party’s plans on what the next years may look like for the Indian democracy. Based on it, here is a list of 5 things that are likely to happen if the party comes back to power.
1. No more elections, obviously. 
Don’t say BJP MP from Unnao Sakshi Maharaj didn’t warn us. While addressing a gathering of party workers last month, he proudly proclaimed that 2019 election would be the last election of the Indian democracy if Prime Minister Modi wins.
According to the saffron-clad so-called monk, there is an awakening in the country and that “Hindu jag gaya hai (Hindus have awaken)”. He added, “After this (2019) election, there will not be an election in 2024.”
Before you disregard his words as ramblings of a ‘motormouth’, remember that party president Amit Shah had also said that the BJP would be in power for the next 50 years. “We have not come to power for 5-10 years, but at least 50 years. We should move forward with a conviction that in 40-50 years we have to bring major changes in the country through the medium of power,” he had said.
2. Goodbye to the Constitution of India (as you know it), you had a good run
Pankaja Munde, a BJP minister in Maharashtra and the party’s Lok Sabha candidate from Beed, said while addressing a poll rally this week, “This is not a Zilla Parishad, but a Lok Sabha election. Mahamanav Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar wrote the Constitution. We have to change the Constitution, bring new Bills and make some changes.”
constitution of India(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
If anyone has doubts about what kind of changes she might be referring to, remember that the BJP’s ideological mothership, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, wants India to be a ‘Hindu rashtra’. This blatant disregard for constitutional values finds a friend in BJP’s loud proclamations of Hindu nationalism.
Union Minister for Skill Development Ananth Kumar Hegde has also hinted at dropping the word ‘secular’  from the constitution, “Some people say the Constitution says secular and you must accept it. We will respect the Constitution, but the Constitution has changed several times and it will change in the future too. We are here to change the Constitution and we’ll change it.”
3. Demonetisation Redux
PM Modi demonetised Rs 500 and 1000 notes on November 8, 2016, and the Indian public forced to stand for long hours outside banks and ATMs was the least terrible consequence of it. Reports have suggested that the policy destroyed India’s informal economy, put millions out of a job and resulted in the death of around 100 people.
demonetisationPeople waiting in queue to exchange the demonetised notes
The decision was taken even though the RBI had expressly said that it would do nothing to eradicate black money. And it didn’t since 99.3% of the demonetised notes entered the banking system.
However, the government refuses to acknowledge that the policy has been a failure. There have been allegations that after demonetisation, BJP chief Amit Shah oversaw a large money laundering racket involving top government officials, where black money was exchanged for a commission.
What exactly was the purpose of demonetisation? No one really knows. Earlier this month, Union Minister Suresh Prabhu reiterated that the measure was taken to eradicate black money. “This (demonetisation) was one measure aimed at taking care of black money. I am not going to tell you whether we need one more (round of it),” he said.
If the BJP does implement the policy again, it will come as a shock but not as a surprise.
4. Say hello to legalised child marriage
The ruling party has time and again expressed their desire to restore the worst practices of the Indian society.
BJP leader Gopal Parmar, who was an MLA in Madhya Pradesh before the 2018 assembly election, had referred to the law against child marriage as the ‘18-year disease‘ that causes ‘love jihad’, because the agency and health of young girls can be sacrificed for bigotry.
“Earlier, the elders of the family used to fix marriages in the childhood, and those relations used to last longer,” the erstwhile BJP MLA had said, adding that “Since the government started this ‘18-year disease’, many girls have started eloping as the fever of love jihad has gripped them.”
While he may no longer be a lawmaker, there is another BJP MLA who was elected to office after she promised that she will not let the police take action against child marriages.
While campaigning in Rajasthan’s Pali, now BJP MLA Shobha Chauhan had said, “In your area, when younger girls are getting married, the police arrives. It is very fortunate for all of you that both political and organisational power is with us. If it is at my level, I will take care of it and if it is at the level above mine, then I will get it done from those above me. Hereon, if there is a such an event (child marriage), the police won’t come to your house. I promise this to you.”
Chauhan may have won from the Pali seat but girls and women lost.
5. Dividing citizens into separate classes
One of the amazing thing about the Indian constitution is that it promises us the right to equality irrespective of gender, language, caste and religion. The state is not allowed to discriminate among the citizens based on any such differences. However, it appears that the BJP is not really a fan of this feature.
Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, addressing a rally in Pilibhit, told people —Muslims— that she is going to win this election, with or without their votes. She carefully added that in the event that they do not vote for her, she will not give them jobs (lol because everyone else got so many jobs under the Modi govt) and will not work for her.
Maneka GandhiUnion Minister Maneka Gandhi (Photo: Facebook)
In another rally, she further told people, in detail,  how villages will be categorisedaccording to the share of people that voted for the BJP. ‘A’ grade for villages from where 80% of the votes are cast for the BJP; B category villages where 60% of the vote share goes to the BJP; C category for villages where 50% votes go to the BJP; and D category for the rest.
Moreover, she said that development work in these villages will be prioritised in A villages, followed by B,C and D respectively.
6. Ethnic cleansing (or genocide)
This is not a bogeyman. The BJP government at the centre brought in the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that is prima facie discriminatory against Muslims and other religions. It seeks to provide citizenship to  “illegal migrants” from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction only. The bill, thankfully, did not pass in the Rajya Sabha. Right now, the definition of “illegal migrants” in the Citizenship Act, 1955 does not discriminate against Muslims.
The implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, as it has been pointed out, inherently discriminates against linguistic, religious and ethnic minorities. Around 40 lakh people were left out of the first NRC draft, many of whom have lived in Assam for generations but don’t have official documents dating back to 1971 to prove their citizenship.
Amit Shah has referred to these people —mostly ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities — as ‘infiltrators’ and ‘termites’, following in the footsteps of one Adolf Hitler who referred to Jewish people as ‘cockroaches’ before he went ahead and killed at least 6 million jews and launched a war that killed many more people.
Recently, Amit Shah said that after coming back to power, they will implement NRC in the entire country. to remove “every single infiltrator” except Buddhas, Hindus and Sikhs.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

How middle class Muslim millennials navigate through Narendra Modi’s India



How middle class Muslim millennials navigate through Narendra Modi’s India


Last year marked 25 years since the Mumbai riots of December 1992-January 1993, which erupted after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. A new generation has grown up since then, who witnessed the violence as children. Does that experience still haunt them? Are they bitter, or have they put that childhood memory behind them?
Jyoti Punwani spoke to a few of that generation and was surprised by their responses.
While a few victims refused to talk about their trauma, others explained why their experience of the riots did not mar their attitude towards those of another faith. 

Shivaji Khairnar 37 Auto showroom employee
Shyam Nagar, Jogeshwari
He experienced tear gas and burning missiles when he was 11; helped barricade his area against `the enemy’; heard the word ``shaheed’’ used for the two Hindus who were killed in police firing in his area; and also listened to the fiery speeches of politicians after the Radhabai Chawl incident, wherein six Hindus living not far from him were burnt alive. Overnight, playing with Muslim friends stopped.
But said Shivaji, who runs an NGO in Jogeshwari called Janta Jagruti Manch, even as school children, he and his Hindu friends felt what had happened was wrong. A few years later, he attended night college in Malvani, a Muslim area, and had no trouble making friends with Muslim classmates.
In 2012, when his father was seriously ill, he fasted on the 27th day of Ramzan on the advice of a Muslim friend, hoping that his father would recover. His prayers were answered and he continues to keep that one roza, breaking it in the company of Muslims in his office. A Muslim senior whom he refers to as ``Aadil Sir, my godfather’’, taught him the ropes of his profession.
Two years back, Shivaji invited Sajid Shaikh, who also runs an NGO in Jogeshwari, to welcome the Shyam Nagar Sarvajanik Ganpati on its 25th anniversary. As the police did the aarti, Hindu and Muslim youth stood side by side. The same year, his NGO gave its Women’s Day award to Munira Shaikh, who looks after stray dogs in Jogeshwari. ``She told me she sees (the god) Vitthal in every stray,’’ he recounted.
 Shivaji believes that ``individuals may do wrong, not an entire community.’’ He ascribes his ``positive thinking’’ to his grandfather, an abhang singer of the Warkari sect, and to his mother, who didn’t allow the riots to affect her friendship with her Muslim co-workers in her workplace. ``I’m lucky, we’ve had no politicians in our house,’’ he smiled.
***
Abdullah Qasim 37
Teacher, Islamic school, Byculla
As a 12-year-old, Abdullah was witness to the raid led by then Joint Commissioner of Police R D Tyagi on the Suleman Usman Bakery on Mohammed Ali Road and the adjacent madarsa. He was a student at the madarsa and his father a teacher. He saw his fellow students and a teacher being beaten by `commandos’ who broke open their door. He heard gun shots outside the room but didn’t know that his father had been shot. He only saw his father’s dead body a few days later.
``Had my father been alive, I would have achieved something,’’ said Abdullah. ``He used to ask me what I want to become. Without him, I just grew up anyhow.’’
Overnight, the 12-year-old felt his family’s protective cocoon dissipate.  ``My grandfather in the village turned invalid hearing about his death, and never got up from bed till he died eight years later. My mother had to look after him, and I had to look after my siblings. It was the madarsa staff that became my family.’’
In 2001, when he was just 20, Abdullah became an intervenor in court when the policemen accused of murder in the Suleman Usman Bakery raid applied for bail. He opposed their bail applications. He lost. Now, the middle-aged family man refuses to intervene in the ongoing case against the same policemen, saying it’s not worth the tension. ``How can this case take so long? Isn’t it a deliberate ploy to mock us? How can policemen charged with murder continue in their jobs, when an army man (Lt Col Purohit, accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case) can be jailed for nine years?’’ he asked in anguish.
Abdullah recalled his father’s Hindu neighbours in Ghatkopar expressing regret at the death of a ``changla manus’’. Unfortunately he found that their children looked upon people like him – maulanas with beards - with suspicion. When he requested them to store his belongings in their house, they asked: ``Sure there’s no bomb in there?’’
Abdullah continues to feel angry at the way his father was killed, but said he: ``What can I do? I can’t take revenge against just anyone, against innocents. That’s not what Islam teaches. My revenge against those who killed my father should have happened with the help of the government, through the courts.’’
Abdullah has lost faith in the State, the judiciary and the police who he feels, are trained  to act against Muslims. Yet, he cannot forget the one `commando’ from the raid who told his colleagues to stop beating the madarsa students and allowed the latter to drink water.  
**
Shanul Syed 36
Interior decorator, All India Majlis-e-IttehuduI Muslimeen member
Santacruz

Before the riots, 11-year-old Shanul used to go with his friends to participate in RSS drills held every evening in the maidan near their Santacruz colony. ``We saw them as people we could exercise with,’’ he shrugs, ``not different from us.’’
The violence made him realize ``we were different,’’ said this grandnephew of the Communist freedom fighter and poet Maulana Hasrat Mohani, who grew up with stories of the freedom struggle.
Shanul saw an immediate ghettoization after the riots. Muslim homes, including those of his relatives, in the predominantly Hindu colony near his house, were taken over by Hindus, and Hindus in his predominantly Muslim colony moved out.
``We heard elders discussing that we had been targeted because we were Muslims. Parents started telling us to be careful when we went to `their’ area, and our daily visits to each other’s homes became weekly visits.
``Then, three years after the riots, a huge Sunni Ijtema was held in Bandra. We all bunked school to attend it. It influenced us a lot; we couldn’t stop discussing our Muslim identity. By then, the Tableeghi Jamaat had become active in our area, just as the Bajrang Dal had in the Hindu area.’’
Shanul did make new Hindu friends in college, but it was not quite the same as in childhood. However, though he sends his children to an Islamic school, Shanul lives in a mixed colony and expressed happiness that his children’s best friends are Hindus. Mixed living spaces are the best, he said, where each community learns about the other’s culture, instead of the ``thousands of mini Indias and Pakistans we have across Mumbai, which are so vulnerable to communal propaganda.’’
Congress MP Sunil Dutt’s frequent visits to his locality form a vital part of Shanul’s memory of the riots. ``Thanks to him, we were not attacked. After his death, no leader has played this role.’’   
**
Aadil Khan 36
Process Head in a call centre
Goregaon
Every evening, they would switch off the lights and pile up furniture against their door. But after their home in Kandivili was stoned, Aadil Khan’s father decided to shift the family to Aadil’s grandmother’s home near Bombay Central. Theirs was one of only two Muslim homes in the Kandivili colony, and Aadil remembers his father’s neighbours persuading him to stay on. They were bank officers like his father was. When they saw he had made up his mind to leave, these Hindu neighbours dropped Aadil’s family to Bombay Central in two cars. 
The Khans returned after the riots were over and continued staying there till his father retired.
Today, Aadil lives in Hindu-dominated Goregaon, and returns greetings of ``Jai Ramji Ki’’ with the same words. He started visiting temples with his Hindu friends as a teenager. His elder brother’s wife is a practising Hindu.
``My father taught me: `Be a good human being’ and that’s what I tell my office team of 150 persons, most of them Hindus,’’ said Aadil.
Aadil voted for the BJP in 2014 both in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections because he felt Modi was ``good for the country’’. The frequent lynchings by cow vigilantes reminded him of a frightening experience he had faced in 2008, soon after the 26/11 terror attack. He and his four friends, who included one Hindu, were beaten by villagers and police in Uran who thought they were terrorists. The five bike-borne youngsters had been taking photographs of what turned out to be naval property. The police were called; and the five were finally let off late at night.
Despite this experience, Aadil said he did not feel afraid, even today. ``Why should I? This is my country. My nationality is Indian, I have an Indian passport.’’ He wished though, that politicians would propagate that Hindus and Muslims are one, instead of spewing poison ``like Subramaniam Swamy and Asaduddin Owaisi do on TV.’’ He also wished a hospital or school would be built on the disputed site in Ayodhya.

Mahesh Padval 39

Businessman, Shiv Sena vice president Consumer cell
Jogeshwari 
From the time he was in Std VIII, this Shiv Sainik has never missed a Bal Thackeray speech in Shivaji Park. Mahesh Padval was 14 when the riots took place, and saw his best friend flee Radhabai Chawl and later settle elsewhere. But he continues to live in his old Prem Nagar home. There, his Muslim neighbour not only ties a rakhi on his wrist every year, but also a thread for good luck on every Muharram. ``On Bakri Eid, I hold the goat while my neighbour slaughters it,’’ said this ardent Shiv Sainik.
Education changed Jogeshwari, said Mahesh. ``Muslims realized that if they wanted good jobs, they would have to educate their children. Today, our children go to the same school. My children take sheer korma to school on Eid, and Muslim children come dressed as Krishna on Janmashtami.’’
Like a true Shiv Sainik, Mahesh described the party’s role in the 92-93 riots as ``defensive’’. But on further discussion of that time, he confessed that the Shiv Sena did go ``too far’’ in its ``retaliation’’. 
But he was sure those days won’t ever come back. This year, he said proudly, his party put up a 19-year-old female Muslim medical student as a candidate for the municipal elections. 28 out of 40 Shiv Sena ward pramukhs in Jogeshwari are Muslim, he pointed out.
Most importantly however, said he:  ``our children won’t let us riot’’.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf 46
Journalist
Mahim
It was 1989, and L K Advani’s rath yatra was to pass through Hazaribag (then in Bihar, now in Jharkhand). Syed Firdaus Ashraf remembered laughing when his relatives there spoke about their fear of violence during the yatra. ``I was 18 and as a Bombayite, I thought talk about Hindu-Muslim riots was nonsense. Thanks to my father (journalist Syed Feroze Ashraf) and his Leftist friends, religion was never a topic at home. I used to relax every evening in the temple near my house in Malad with my Hindu friends.’’
But after his uncles’ home down their lane was attacked, the Ashrafs fled to the Muslim colony of Millat Nagar In Andheri, escorted by a Hindu and a Christian neighbour. Firdaus still remembers the sight of burning shops all along that journey from Malad to Andheri.
``In school, I had felt singled out in Std VI when the life of Shivaji was being taught. Some classmates passed comments that made me feel uneasy as a Muslim. But then, a Muslim rowdy joined the school and silenced those boys. But after January 15, 1993, I knew no one would come and protect me. I knew my carefree days were over,’’ he recalled.
The Ashrafs shifted to a Muslim area in Jogeshwari and today, Firdaus lives in Mahim, in a Muslim pocket. It gives him a feeling of security, he said. So, he felt ``safe’’ despite the tension in the air the day Bal Thackeray died in 2012. Earlier, too, when Shiv Sainiks went on a rampage after Meenatai Thackeray’s bust was vandalized in 2006, Firdaus wasn’t scared in his neighbourhood.  
But Firdaus has seen a change in the Shiv Sena. ``I have personally witnessed Shiv Sainiks going out of their way to help Muslims in need,’’ he said. For him, the bigger fear today, is of ``looking Muslim and being caught carrying meat – any meat.’’
Firdaus also expressed frustration with the increasing tendency to immediately label people. ``I’m an Indian but whatever I say, people turn around and say: `You are saying that because you are a Muslim.’’’
While the riots convinced him that India is ``essentially a Hindu country’’, and that Muslims cannot ``take on the State’’, he retains faith in two institutions: the judiciary and the media.
Firdaus could never go back to his childhood home. Did that sadden him? ``Could the Kashmiri Pandits go back to theirs?” he asked in reply.   
EOM