There comes a moment in the lives of men when bold statements have to be made, and even seemingly shallow symbolism resorted to, in order to rid sick minds of warped beliefs.
The senseless, inhumane tragedy of November 26 has provided just such an opportunity to Indian Muslims.
Sick to their back teeth for their unstinted loyalty to India being unfairly and unceasingly questioned, Muslims have finally chosen to demonstrate that their patriotism is second to none.
Hitherto content with disregarding the nudge-nudge, wink-wink cynicism of holier-than-thou zealots masquerading as nationalists, Indian Muslims last week decided to take the bigoted doubting of their patriotism head-on.
Through unabashed acts of symbolism across the length and breadth of the country, members of the Muslim community demonstrated their loyalty in a manner that dealt a resounding slap in the face of self-styled custodians of loyalty, whose own depraved mindsets disqualify them from being called true and worthy Indians, not to mention good human beings.
Consider the following: Simi Garewal, a silly "B" grade actor, struggling to regain some of her fame (notoriety?) acquired from infamously appearing nude in a Hollywood movie in the last millennium, last week breathed inflammable witch-like venom upon downtrodden, but loyal Muslim residents of Mumbai jhopadpattis on NDTV, ignorant, in her ivory-tower existence, of the difference between Islamic and Pakistani flags. Makes one wonder if she knows that the saffron standard is a Hindu flag and not an Indian one.
HUM SAATH SAATH HAIN: Muslims yesterday observed Bakri Eid with simplicity, wearing black arm bands at prayers as a mark of respect for victims of the terror attacks. PIC/KAZIM SHAIKH
About the same time, a reportedly "irate" airline passenger was giving a hapless airhostess a severe public tongue-lashing on a flight, her only "sin" being that she was born a Muslim.
The ass conveniently chose to ignore the fact that a large percentage of those butchered in the Mumbai carnage were Muslims. He was also oblivious of the fact that Islam denounces all acts of terrorism as cardinal sin and that the customary Islamic greeting "as salaam alaikum" means "peace be upon you".
While the Barbara Walters wannabe was betraying her jahalat (ignorance) beneath her faux "my deah" sophistication, the idiotic airline passenger was obviously unaware of the tremendous contribution made by Indian Muslims in fighting for his own country's freedom and preserving and enriching it for unworthy wretches like himself.
At the risk of sounding immodest, I feel obliged to recount the words of my late freedom-fighter father, Abdul Hamid Ansari, who is quoted by his biographer Javed Jamaluddin, as saying (in effect): "If there is one Muslim left in India, it will be Abdul Hamid" in response to his Pakistani friends' requests that he, too, migrate to Pakistan.
One would like to know how the "Indian-ness" credentials of the above-mentioned TV host or the fanatical airline flyer are in any way superior to those of the miserable slum dwellers or the poor airhostess. In my view, the two nitwits are lesser human beings by comparison.
The high-flyer is extremely lucky the airline crew and passengers let him get away with his asinine invective.
The pseudo-sophisticated lady must consider herself fortunate she is now not singing the Jailhouse Rock for her despicable, incendiary remark that had the potential of not only grossly misleading the uneducated, but also causing serious disaffection among our people.
Following a stout, but dignified rebuttal by Imamuddin Siddique, a member of the audience (he says he rescued three people from the Taj), Garewal is said to have later offered a devious lame duck apology to Barkha Dutt, presenter of the TV show We The People, but, to use an expression that's the flavour of the month: It's too little, too late.
The damage has been done in impressionable minds at a time when the need of the hour is unity and solidarity, not condemnable friction and animosity, bordering on hate.
Meanwhile, what were the Muslims doing at this time of monumental national mourning?
According to the Times of India, scholars and imams (the latter not the most enlightened religious leaders of a rudderless community mired in obscurantism) were spreading the message of peace, and channelising the "anger" among Muslim youth into "positive energy".
The Muslim clergy decreed that the terrorists murdered during the massacre would not be offered burial space in India.
Large peace rallies were held in 12 cities, including Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Indore and Faizabad simultaneously, last Sunday, in which lakhs of Muslim men, women and children from all walks of life and far-flung areas took part. They denounced terror strikes and the portrayal of a "distorted image of Muslims in the name of Islam".
While expressing their solidarity with the nation, the peace marchers made it clear that "Killers of innocents are enemies of Islam", "Islam denounces terrorists", "Do not spread terrorism in the land" and "Enemies of India are enemies of Muslims".
Galvanised into positive action, Muslims across the country observed Eid yesterday with simplicity, wearing black arm bands (distributed in Mumbai by MiD DAY's sister publication INQUILAB) at prayers as a mark of respect for the deceased of all communities.
Prayers were said yesterday for peace and harmony, and the health and prosperity of Indians of ALL faiths and persuasion.
Muslim clerics decreed that cows not be slaughtered as a mark of respect for their Hindu brothers (in any event, cow slaughter should be banned once and for all).
The Urdu press all over India, which caters largely to the Muslim community, has been unremittingly scathing in its criticism of the Pakistani dispensation its government and the accursed ISI or its undeniable hand in the Mumbai blasts.
What more do Muslims have to do convince the bigots in our country of their Indian-ness?
What more do they have to do to convince our grab-power-at-all-cost politicians that everybody's larger interest lies in a united India and that the politics of communalism can only boomerang on all of us Indians?
When will our fanatical politicians (on both sides) and religious leaders realise that communal violence only results in reaction not only from within, but also from outside our borders?
Fearful that they will now have to "prove their innocence", many Muslims are now wondering how much longer they, suspect as they are in the eyes of their Indian brethren and despised by their Pakistani co-religionists, will have to endure the stigma of disloyalty.
When will the realisation sink in that terrorism knows no religion and that Islamic terrorism is as abhorrent as Hindu or Christian or Sikh terrorism?
How much longer must Indian Muslims continue to live in India as children of a lesser God, suffer discrimination in all matters that add up to the Good Life?
The two-nation theory has bred a hydra-headed monster, which feeds for sustenance on jingoism born out of religious hatred. It continues to keep both India and Pakistan in a state of perpetual war thanks to selfish, unscrupulous politicians who exploit religion for personal and party gain.
That being the case, the least we Indians can do against the common enemy is to scrupulously fight vote bank politics, which leads to divisiveness in the name of religion (which the rath yatra with all its professed good intent, unfortunately brought about).
Divisiveness in the name of religion has been the bane of our polity. It is paramount that we, the people, remain united and not allow our politicians to play the communal card to exploit us in their nefarious, power-grabbing political games.
As the well-worn expression goes: They who refuse to learn from the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them.