I was hopping from video to video and dawned on this video on IBN with Shabana Azmi. Every word she has said resonates with me. The link is at the end of my note. Ramzan is getting to me… I will be counting the next two hours to Iftaar and looks like every minute is an hour. I am planning to go to the Shia Masjid (Momin Center) for Iftaar on the 5th day of Ramadan.
I really put the label Muslim on me after 9/11, as she took it after Babri Masjid. Prior to that I did not call myself a Muslim like she did not, I was a cultural Muslim, I was rather an Atheist. Amazing words and incredible experience! I have written each one of those words in my write ups…
When she said to the politicians why do you consult the bearded…? I have written almost that in Huffington post, “The Ground Zero Mosque, nay, the Muslim community center in New York was a major turning point in adding the average American Muslim to the media mix of the public faces of Muslims who are not only moderates but also contribute to the overall peace, prosperity and security of America.” I was a product of that.
She also talks about digging in her heels for a forced identity on her and attributes the increasing Hijab wearing to that event. Hijab is something new to a lot of us from the early fifties. Hijabs are everywhere now. One of my Doctor friends came to visit us in Hospital when late wife was going through surgery for her cancer… the one thing he mentioned as both of us noticed Hijabi doctors walking around… where do they come from?
Shabana was truthful about her being a cultural Muslim, I am sure a few don’t like it to hear it, so was my case. A few Muslims did not like me for being truthful about my identity that I did not claim to be a Muslim, it was the 9/11 and study of Pluralism that really turned me around and claim my religious and spiritual identity as a Muslim.
She talks about Eid celebrations where to be a Muslim meant wearing Gharara, eating Biryani… on Birayani deal, way back I had sponsored her show with Farooque Shaikh and after the show she came to our home for dinner. She loved the Hyderabadi Kacchay gosht ki Biryani and double ka meetha that my late wife had cooked. Shabana said for the first time in some 20 years she got to eat delicious Biryani and she acknowledged over eating.
She wanted to go for a walk, she and I walked around the lake in front of my house…she was curious about how the city and school system worked – She could not believe those Cities, Schools and most organizations are supported by local taxes as opposed the Government. As we talked further I realized I had the socialist inklings once, but have moved to accept the responsible capitalistic economic system for growth and prosperity. It was a great conversation… The next day we had a fund raising dinner for her school in her home town.
Shabana Azmi reflects what an average Indian Muslim is all about; an active participant and contributor towards the society he or she lives in.
I hope you watch this video; it is one of the best analyses of the Muslim experience. I believe most of the Desi Muslims can relate with her. My dear friend Shariff (Sachar Report guy) and I grew up in Bangalore as main stream Indians and we rarely found ourselves to be any different than others. Fortunately we both know her. We were very integrated in the society and thank God I have never felt that I was not a main stream person in America either. Issues are faced by all, but rarely have I been identified as anything different other than the Pluralism I preach.
I did not mean to write this… I like Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar and their activism. They are the symbol of average integrated Muslims in the society and I am glad to be one as well.
# # #