This Diwali, I appeal to the Indians to shed their ill-will towards Pakistanis and vice-versa; it has not done any good to anyone but has given grave heartaches. Let’s free ourselves from the influence of politicians who rejoice in creating ill-will between people, and let’s pray that our politicians clean up their hearts and live a serene life and let others live in peace and harmony
MIKE GHOUSE | Special to Caravan Daily
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Adams Center Mosque in Sterling, VA – a suburb of Washington, D.C held an interfaith gathering to celebrate Veterans Day, Diwali, the 50thAnniversary of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) and for a motivational talk by Dr. Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
The American Muslims congratulate Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Muslims and others around the world on the happy occasion of Diwali. Diwali Mubarak! Diwali ki Shubh Kamnayein – Happy returns of the day.
A few years ago, at the White House Diwali celebrations, to the surprise of some 300 Hindu leaders gathered from around the United States, a Muslim leader was invited to address the Diwali function, and they found Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed’s message very inspiring. No wonder he received a roaring applause. It was apparent that the gathering had found a true interfaith leader.
Dr. Syeed is the National Director of the office for Interfaith and Community alliances for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). As a man dedicated to building harmony and good relationship among the faith communities, he quoted the Quran, “Minaz Zulumati Ilan Noor (from Darkness to Light).’ The broader meaning is ‘to ease from difficulties,” that is indeed the essence of Diwali, the wining of goodness over evil and seeking God’s guidance to take us from darkness to the light.
A few years ago, Jyoti Bhatia, former President of the Dallas-Ft.Worth Hindu Temple, and Nishi Bhatia, President of the Dallas Hindi Association asked me to speak about Diwali at a dinner gathering to a group of people from different faiths and cultures. I cherished the opportunity, and loved talking about Diwali, as its essence reflects the ideals of pluralism, and symbolizes hope and positive energy, victory of good over evil; a new beginning. Diwali indeed is all about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
The Diwali Celebration is a part of the epic Ramayana, and the Ram Lila (enactment of the story on stage) which are played out all night long in towns across India. I grew up watching it in front of my house, and my friends played different roles in the show. Indeed, one of my former relatives played Hanuman’s role.
It was a challenge for me to tell the story of Ramayana to a group of people who knew nothing about it, and in 30 minutes! Thank God, it turned out to be a successful program. The audience was informed that the story would be narrated through slides and along with the names of key persons, the story would be reiterated, and at the end they would be asked for feedback. The Bhatias and I felt amazing joy when each one of them answered the questions from the story. Eureka, they got it!
Although Diwali is a Hindu tradition, people of all faiths participate in its celebrations – Hindus, Jains, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and others.
Appeal to the Indians and Pakistanis
This Diwali, I appeal to the Indians to shed their ill-will towards Pakistanis and vice-versa; it has not done any good to anyone but has given grave heartaches. Let’s free ourselves from the influence of politicians who rejoice in creating ill-will between people, and let’s pray that our politicians clean up their hearts and live a serene life and let others live in peace and harmony.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assured his fellow countrymen who are Hindus that he will stand by them against injustice, and added, “Every community living here whether Hindu, Muslim or Parsi, belongs to me and I belong to them. I am the prime minister of all communities, he said, while addressing a ceremony to mark the Hindu religious festival of Diwali. He continued, “It’s my duty to help and facilitate you. If you are in distress, I will stand with you. Even if a Muslim commits an injustice, I will stand with the victim.” Meanwhile, the PM announced the construction of Bhagat Kunwar Ram Medical Complex in Hyderabad and the Guru Nanak Gurdwara.” – The Tribune.com
There is a saying in Urdu/Hindi language, “Der aayed, durust aayed” – that is, “Even if you are late, I am glad you made it right.
It is a good start. Someone has to be the first, and now I hope and pray that Narendra Modi starts wishing fellow Indians who are not of his faith on their happy occasions. It can be his first goodwill step.
If Modi and Sharif take the right steps, more people will follow them and good has to come in the end, and the darkness has to end.
A few Muslims do bad things, just as a few Hindus, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikh, Jain and others do.
The teachings of Quran and Bhagvad Gita must be honored in the truest sense; of course, some will misinterpret both texts. Any interpretation of the holy books that causes one to be biased towards fellow beings cannot be right – cannot be divine words. We should quit making a villain out of God. Indeed, Dr. Rajmohan Gandhi’s message to the congregation at the Mosque was to struggle (Jihad) against bias, if you found you are biased towards others, conquer the evil within yourself, be a winner, be the Ram.
Nawaz Sharif invoked the words of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – “If one of you is unjust to a fellow being, on the Day of Judgment, I will stand up against you and support those whom you were unjust towards.” That is the Islamic teaching. God in the Quran repeatedly says in so many different words that Justice and Mercy are the two pillars of a good society. You have to throw away the lenses of ill-will to see the beauty in each holy book. Bhagwad Gita, Granth Saheb and other holy books offer the same sane advice.
My appeal to all of you is to drop the bias against the other. If you hate someone, hate what that individual did to you, and not the parents, siblings, community, townspeople, or fellow religionists. Try this today; cherish the serene pleasantness you feel inside of you… that is your real heaven!
May this Diwali take us all from the darkness to the light, Amen!
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