The hope for a dialogue on Kashmir, generated after home minister Rajnath Singh’s recent to Kashmiri separatist leadership and Pakistan, appears to have died before it could take off. The din of dialogue that had taken over the usual offensive narrative in media and government circles is now little heard. In fairness of things, the separatist leadership that is now more known as joint resistance leadership (JRL) showed a matured though measured response to the offer. The JRL, instead of rejecting the offer or putting conditions, showed willingness to talk to the central government but sought some clarifications with regard to the offer. The most positive thing in separatist leaders’ response is that Syed Ali Geelani is on board with Mirwaiz and Yasin Malik, the other two leaders in the JRL. Syed Ali Geelani had been staunch critic of any bilateral dialogue with government of India, and he would reject such offer even at the drop of the hat. Not many people had expected separatist leadership reacting so positively on the offer. As it appeared that Geelani too is ready to join the dialogue band-wagon, central government has held back on the offer of dialogue. There is no word since either from the home ministry or from the PMO. That gives one the impression that New Delhi is still dogged with its self-defined dogma of dialogue.
Academically speaking dialogue is the most honourable and the only civilized way to resolve disputes. But a cursory look at New Delhi’s philosophy and politics of dialogue would reveal that institution of dialogue in India is the most corrupt and discredited creation. India has never used dialogue as a means to resolve issues. It rather used it as a means to corrupt people, buy time and loyalties and make those who refuse to fall in line irrelevant. A Hurriyat leader, who was part of Mirwaiz-led team that held two meetings with Dr Manmohan Singh, said that Singh, though politely, but squarely rejected every demand of Hurriyat leaders made during talks. Hurriyat leaders’ refusal to talk to Sharma could be the outcome of this history of dialogue. One is not sure where it all would stop but the most positive thing about it is that central government has realized the importance of dialogue. It is, indeed, a major departure of the Modi government from its existing “bring-them-on-kneels” policy. Pacifists have, of late, been demanding for a political approach to the Kashmir imbroglio but the Modi-led sarkar showed little interest to oblige them. It rather went up with a whole hog military approach to settle things in Kashmir. But the more pressure did they apply, the more reaction it created. More than 100 persons have died and over 15,000 wounded (all of them common civilians) in government forces’ actions to quell the peoples’ uprising provoked by the killing of HizbulMujhaideen commander BurhanWani in July 2016. The political leadership of separatist hues also got to be hauled under jackboots of police power. They were accused of getting funds from Pakistan to create trouble in Kashmir. Their cases of alleged involvement in money laundering were handed over to National Investigating Agency (NIA). The NIA arrested and questioned many of them. Many second-rung Hurriyat activists and a top businessman besides prominent leader Shabir Ahmad Shah have been lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail on the allegations of money laundering. There had been calls from the votaries of dialogue for blending military approach with the political one, which central government was not willing to accept. Rajnath Singh’s offer in this context was a surprise package. JRL response was even more surprising. It is quite an apt opportunity for turning this ‘surprise’ into ‘hope’. The responsibility lies on New Delhi more. Instead of remaining discreetly silent, central government take advantage of the situation and make dialogue not just to happen but to succeed as well.
The spirit of Eid-ul-Fitre
Eid Al-Fitr is the most important festival in the Islamic calendar. The day does not mark any historical event but it provides the Muslim for an occasion to offer thanks to Allah for having given them the strength and the will to observe fast during the holy month of Ramadan. It is also an occasion for prayers when the Muslims gather in large congregations, standing shoulder to shoulder, to demonstrate the equality and equity which is the inherent feature of Islamic society all over the world. But the greatest significance of this day of rejoicing lies in the fact that on this day every Muslim is enjoined to give the needy food at the rate of the prescribed weight per every member of his household, including servants and guests who were sheltered under his roof the preceding evening.
Eid Al-Fitr then serves a three-fold purpose: It places upon every Muslim the obligation to remember Allah (SWT) and offer Him thanks; it affords him an opportunity of spiritual stock-taking in that he can now ponder over the strength of his will or the weakness of his character, as the case may be, which manifested itself during the preceding month (Ramadan); it also is the day for the haves to share a portion of what they have with the have-nots. And, for those persons who disobeyed this command of Allah (SWT) this is the day of an end to the month-long pangs of conscience, inner struggle and continuous realization of the feebleness of their character. No more will they have to argue, without much conviction, against fasting. No more will they have to think up an excuse every morning for not fasting. Almost everyone realizes the spiritual, social, scientific and medical benefits which are derived from fasting. But so far as a Muslim, a true believer, is concerned, it should be sufficient that fasting is prescribed in the Holy Book of Allah (Glorious Qur’an), and as such is the command of Allah (SWT). Should one seek to justify Allah’s commands? The measure of a man’s love for his Creator is his unquestioned obedience to the commands of the Creator. When for whole month a Muslim has obeyed Allah (SWT), unquestioningly, without complaint, without regret, and when he has spent his time in prayers, in humility and in charity, should one wonder, if at the end of this period, the Creator may Himself turn to such creature of His and say: “It is now for thee to ask for Me to give.” Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, is the period when man is subjected to a supreme test. Without compulsion, without coercion, the Muslims throughout the world obey Allah; and every day from dawn to sunset abstains not only from sensual pleasures but even from the necessities of life like food and drink. Some do this in shivering cold, some in burning heat, some do it where days are short and others where days are interminably long. They all fast, regardless of the colour or their social position. Having done this, for one whole month, today on this auspicious day of Eid Al-Fitr, every Muslim should be ready to face the year that lies ahead with renewed strength, greater understanding and universal goodwill. He has fasted to acquire piety, discipline and self-control. Now the habit of unquestioning obedience to Allah is cultivated in his heart and mind. He is now trained to accept the commands of Allah, in the remaining eleven months of the year, with the same unwavering loyalty. He has emerged from the month of Ramadan with a new personality and a stronger character, confident of his ability to subordinate his desire to his will, his emotion to his intellect.
Essence of Eid
The celebration of Eid ul-Fitr culminates a month of fasting wherein the faithful have spent their time praying and beseeching God for forgiveness and mercy. For many, Ramadan was not just an abstention from food and drink. Rather, it was an exercise in patience and discipline. Eid is the celebration for those who fasted and obeyed God’s rules and teachings. It is for those who spent the month of Ramadan in complete devotion to Allah. Eid is a time when the entire Muslim community comes together to share in each others joy and blessings and also to lessen the burden of those who may be suffering.
It is preceded by people shopping and looking around for gifts for their near and dear ones. It is a time when the bright lights from homes and shops illuminates our life. We use see this day and the following days to spread happiness and social harmony by visiting our friends and relatives.
Gifts are exchanged during Eid by young and old alike. We also visit the elderly and the sick. Eid is a time where all kinds or festivities prevail. Many of us gormandize to make up for “lost food” during the month of Ramadan.
However, with all the going around we some time forget our lesser privileged brethren. We forget that there are many out there who have nothing to celebrate. There are those among our brothers and sisters for whom Eid day is just another ordinary day. There are those who open their cupboards on Eid day and find them bare. There are those who in hospitals who will go through a bleak and lonely day with no one visiting them. Friendless, deprived of company, they will have no one to offer solace or comfort. Let us therefore see to it that our deprived brethren welcome the day of Eid with warmth and hope.
As we buy gifts and clothes for our children, let us earmark a special sum for those who cannot afford to buy. Also we should instill in our children a sense of compassion so that when they buy something they will also think of their unfortunate brethren. Let us teach them the art of giving.
We cannot divest ourselves from the misery of others. We cannot shrug it off saying that it does not concern us. To do this would be an injustice to humanity. The Quran (5:8) tells us … Be just: that is next to piety.
Many of us donate money to charity and fulfill our religious duty. However, if we actually meet the recipients of our charity the perception of charity changes. There is a feeling of belonging when the recipient and giver meet.
Islamic ideology teaches us to be kind and compassionate. Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that “I and the provider of the orphan will be together.” And what greater prize is there for anyone of us than to be around our beloved prophet. All we need for that is compassion, sincerity and a feeling of brotherhood and understanding. And that will decide the quality of our life on earth and the hereafter.
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