Special Reports

Poor community’s 5-star Eid Milans

New Delhi: While the country's political leadership, from the President of the Republic down to the street netas, found it politically incorrect this year to hold Iftar parties, leaders of India's poor, hungry and marginalised Muslim community went out of their way squandering their meagre resources on 5-Star Eid Milan parties in a show of strength, popularity and proximity to the powers that be. Muslim leaders rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty from the Vice-President to ministers, MPs, ambassadors, journalists and political leaders of all shades.

The lead was taken by Jamiat Ulama-e Hind (JUH-Arshad group) which held its Eid Milan on 11 July at the capital's posh Ashoka Hotel's Banquet Hall. Personalised invitation cards were hand-delivered.

Maulana Arshad Madani, President of JUH, greeted over 1,000 guests including Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Rahul Gandhi, top Congress, CPIM and RLD leaders and many religious and community dignitaries. In his welcome speech, Maulana Arshad Madni reminded the audience of JUH’s struggle and sacrifices for the country's independence and lamented that communalism is running riot in the country in a way it was never seen before. He announced JUH’s determination to safeguard the Ganga-Jamuni (composite) culture and to reject the communal ideology.

Never to be outdone by the other group, JUH’s Mahmood Madni group held its Eid Milan party in the upscale ITC Mauriya Hotel in the diplomatic enclave on 13 July. This Eid Milan party too was attended by the Vice President Hamid Ansari and others but the star attraction was the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with the National Security Adviser Ajit Doval in tow. Also present was the newly inducted state minister for foreign affairs, MJ Akbar, whose body language betrayed he was not comfortable. It all showed Mahmood Madni’s proximity to the current rulers. A press release by the group described the party as a “gathering of leaders of ruling and opposition parties, high commissioners, foreign diplomats and a bunch of social and religious leaders in a high voltage Eid Milan reception...”

JUH General Secretary, Maulana Mahmood Madani, while welcoming the guests, said that although Eid Milan was an occasion to share our jubilation with each other, the current national and international scenario compelled us to share some concerns about the growing menace of terrorism that needs urgent response. “Killing innocent persons and spreading anarchy is against Islam. Jamiat, representing the true spirit of Islam, cannot tolerate any kind of terrorism and barbarism,” he said. Committing oppression in the name of Islam is a double crime which cannot be condoned, Maulana Madani added while naming ISIS which he described as “inflicting massive harm upon Islam and Muslim ummah, worst ever within the fourteen centuries of Islamic history.” Maulana Madani expressed his resolve that he and his organization will never allow ISIS to get its foothold in India and will launch all possible struggles against it.

Ambassadors of Bangladesh and Iran as well as representatives of various embassies attended the function. Even the leader of the Bahais in India, Dr A K Merchant, was an honoured guest. Leaders of various parties, including Aam Admi Party, attended the function.

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind chose a slightly less costly venue, Delhi’s India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) which was supposed to meet such needs of the Muslim community but over the years has become out of the reach of ordinary Muslims and community organisations. JIH Eid Milan party was held on 14 July. Addressing the gathering, JIH chief Maulana Jalaluddin Umri said, “Islam says very clearly that there is no compulsion in religion. Religion is a matter of heart and conscience; hence compulsion has no role in it but one must state the truth and express one’s position very clearly and leave it to the people to accept or reject it”.

Maulana Umari said, “We know that our country has been the abode of various religions since time immemorial. Perhaps no other country is as diverse as is ours in terms of religion, language and culture. Friends, we know that a large part of our history, we have lived together in spite of our differences in religious outlook. We have been talking to each other, sorting out our differences and on the whole we have been living peacefully. Even today a large part of our population believes in equal rights for all the citizens and our constitution has also adopted the same position that all citizens are equal irrespective of religion, economic status and any other factor. But this principled position that all citizens are equal irrespective of religion, economic status and any other factor is being strongly attacked today by various quarters. This trend is very dangerous as it postulates that minorities are unreliable and that they are not an asset but a burden for the nation. To be specific, Muslims are often the target. Any terrorist activity that takes place in the country is invariably blamed on Muslims without any proof, without any evidence and without any proper investigation. This is a violation of the human rights given to people in our constitution. Friends, we must realize that if you keep such a large segment of our society dissatisfied, then this country cannot progress in any part of life. You know that minor issues are being magnified and baseless allegations against Muslims  and minorities are made and some people are taking the law in their own hands. On the whole, the government is silent, not responding and is not fulfilling its responsibilities. As far as Islam is concerned, its position is very clear. Islam wants mischief and disorder to be eliminated from the face of this earth. Spreading this kind of mischief, disorder and disruption is not the characteristic of believers rather it is the characteristic of the hypocrites who do not really believe in any religion, but only pretend to do so. Islam says clearly that it is the hypocrites who spread disruption on Earth while Islam stands for the reformation of the human society. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind wants to present Islam to the country. It is doing its best to present Islam as a guidance to all the people of this country in all walks of life. Friends, I greet you on this happy occasion and confess that the prevailing circumstances have compelled me to talk about the current challenges facing our country. We must share each other in happiness and I pray to the Almighty that our get together may prove beneficial for us, our country and humanity”.

A press release of JIH described the event as a “gathering of religious heads, diplomats, social workers and the media on the occasion of an EID MILAN get together at a glittering function in the Indian Islamic Cultural Center, New Delhi.” But the political and diplomatic glitter was missing here. Some of the prominent guests included Maulana Arshad Madni of JUH, Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan of Ittehad-e Millat Council (who attend all the three Eid Milans), Yahya Bukhari (brother of the Shahi Imam Ahmad Bukhari), Swami Agnivesh, Mushawarat President Navaid Hamid, Father M.D. Thomas and IICC  president Siraj Qureshi.

All the three Eid Milan parties ended with dinner which at Asoka and Mauriya costs per person at least Rs 1500 while it costs over Rs 1000 at the IICC. An inaccurate guess is that our prime Muslim organisations wasted away at least Rs 50 lakh of their meagre resources on these three functions. Happy Eid Milan!

PS. This writer chose to skip the two JUH functions, while, for good measure, he was not invited to the JIH function.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 August 2016 on page no. 13

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