As the “dialogue” is becoming a catchword in political lexicon in New Delhi, it needs more push to make it happen. Home Minister Rajnath Singh may well be appreciated for reiterating the central government’s desire to hold talks with ‘all stakeholders’ in Kashmir but he added an element of ambiguity to it when he, in Srinagar on Thursday, avoided inviting separatist leaders for direct talks with central leadership. He rather asked them to talk to government-appointed representative. “As far as the dialogue is concerned, Government of India has appointed a special representative. They have appointed the special representative so that he talks to all stakeholders. We have not sent the special representative on a picnic. He has come 11 times,” he said. It is perhaps known to everyone that when central government appointed special representative to hold talks in Kashmir, the separatist leadership did not seem to be enthused by the move. None of the separatist leaders has so far met him or shown his inclination to meet him. But, last week, when Rajnath Singh as home minister made the offer of talks, the separatist leadership was swift to response. They did not reject it in the very first place but showed willingness to be part of dialogue, though with a rider seeking some clarity on the offer. What was appreciable was that no conditions were put from any side. While home minister did not put the usual condition of ‘dialogue within Indian constitution”, the separatist leadership—which is operating under the name of joint resistance leadership (JRL)—too avoided to put the condition of accepting the Kashmir as international dispute. That made sense for many a keen followers of the Kashmir issue believe that dialogue was likely to happen. It was expected that Rajnath Singh on his Srinagar visit to go for more push for dialogue. However, that did not happen. Home Minister sounded customary when he said that special representative was there to talk to. He perhaps has ignored the core thing in the issue. Syed Ali Geelani, who is the most ardent voice in the separatist camp, has, in the past, refused to talk even when offer was made directly from the Prime Minister’s Office. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, have earlier held talks at Prime Minister’s level—first with deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and then with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. At a time when they are ready for talks again, to ask them seek appointment with Dineshwar Sharma and talk to him is not only an affront but also denying them any space. That is likely to make them rethink their response. There is strong feeling in the separatists’ camp that New Delhi lacked the will and sincerity in resolving the problems through dialogue. Given their past experience, they are of the opinion that government of India uses dialogue as a means to buy time. Sooner the situation returns to normal, the dialogue process collapses. Academically speaking dialogue is the most honourable and the only civilized way to resolve disputes. But a cursory look at New Delhi’s philosophy 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. New Delhi does not see Kashmir beyond an administrative issue. It is a historical reality that India has never conceded Kashmir as an issue. It rather acknowledges—issues in Kashmir. But this mindset has worked neither in the past nor would it work in future. It is high time that New Delhi accepted its shortcomings in Kashmir and addressed the issue or issues with quite sincerity and strong will. Separatist in Kashmir too have to accept the subtleties involved in the issue and go for dialogue without subjecting it to conditions.
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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