National Conference patriarch and former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah’s caution to Hurriyat Conference not to fall in New Deli’s dialogue trap ‘unless New Delhi has a proposal for the resolution of the issue’ cannot be dismissed as a fit of maverick. The institution of dialogue is the most discredited institution in India. 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. It perhaps this fact Farooq Abdullah wanted to bring home when he said “Don’t talk for the sake of talks. I don’t think they (BJP) are ready to give you (separatist) anything. Inki (the center) neyattheeknahihai. Yeah inko nao mein utaarkar zaleel karna chahtayhai. (They are not sincere in their intentions. They want to drag them to table only to discredit them),”. But where Farooq Abdullah seems to have stumbled and stammered is his call for autonomy. “They didn’t give us autonomy, which was passed by the state assembly and is within the ambit of constitution, what will they offer to you (separatists)?” he said. Whether autonomy is a solution to the issue of Kashmir, and would the people, who suffered enormously, both, in men and material, in their fight for ‘freedom’, accept it or not, is a separate debate. But the very question is whether National Conference (NC) was serious ever in its demand for autonomy. Restoration of autonomy to the state is as old a slogan as the post-53 NC. In an academic and intellectual debate NC’s point might have some takers. But politically, the NC has lost all its moral right to make such demand in 1975 when the party’s godfather Shaikh Mohammad Abdullah compromised on the state’s political character and accepted power as it existed on the day. The only concession Abdullah got from Indira Gandhi was that a constitutional committee would be formed to review case by case application of central laws and parliamentary resolutions to the State. Shaikh Abdullah constituted a committee of three members headed by the then Law Minister Devidas Thakur to examine the constitutionality and legality of all central rules applied to the State ever since 1953. The Committee however found only two out of 192 items had some constitutional flaw while the rest 190 items were constitutionally perfect. The two items that stood excluded pertained to very minor and insignificant matters related to sale tax on some items. Even as Shaikh Abdullah did not accept the report and constituted another committee but the matter was never touched on and never raised by his government later. Nor did his progenies Dr Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah or Ghulam Mohammad Shah ever raised the issue. Had the NC leadership been sincere in their demand for pre-53 status to the state, the eruption of militancy had provided them a great chance to barter it with New Delhi. Government of India was desperate to ink a deal with any political party in Kashmir to get the state back on peace rails. Then Prime Minister Narsimha Rao in 1996 promised ‘anything short of Azadi’. “Sky is the limit”, he was reported to have said. But the NC leadership again faulted here and they accepted power against the wishes of common people without making any political or constitutional bargaining with government of India. The most humiliating moment for the party came in 2000 when its resolution on autonomy was summarily dismissed by then BJP-led government. The resolution was passed by the state legislature in a specially convened session in June that year. Dr Farooq Abdullah, as L K Advani has written in his autobiography, was asked to choice between autonomy and his son’s seat in the union ministry. Omar Abdullah was minister of state in the union government then. Farooq Abdullah opted for the continuation of his son as minister instead of insisting on autonomy as noted by Advani in his autobiography. Given the NC’s history of compromises on its political agenda it sounds quite bizarre when its leaders talk of autonomy. Farooq Abdullah has only but made mockery of himself when he advances advisory to Hurriyat leaders on talks with New Delhi. Abdullah knows it well that his party was never serious in demanding autonomy. They raise the slogan of autonomy only to bargain power with the centre. The NC never talks of autonomy when in power. That is sufficiently known to the people of the state and the men and managers in New Delhi as well. It is sheer political hypocrisy to demand a thing one does not believe in.
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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