I read with interest the article "Indian Muslims: Colouring of Local Culture" by Mr. F.A.A. Rahmancy in the February 23 - March 1 issue of One Nation Chronicle. His attempt to bring the similarities of Hindus and Muslims in literature, music, customs, and habits etc. into focus is , of course, laudable. But I feel that certain remarks like Mughal kings had court dancers (many of them were Muslims) and they performed Indian dances, are like saying that we can see people of different religious groups drinking and dining happily in a bar and in no other way good.
India is a multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-cultural and also multi- religious country. It is like a beautiful garden of different flowers. It is not a country of one culture. Its beauty lies in its unity and diversity.
The Dravidians say that their culture is different from that of the Aryans and North Indians. but the Hindus and Muslims of Tamil Nadu are living like brothers. Their language is the same- Tamil. The contribution of Muslims to the enrichment of the Tamil language is significant. Even in the 17th century there had been Muslim Tamil poets like Omer Pulavar and Mastan Saheb. Their works "Seera Puranam" and "Gunangudi Mastan padagal" are unforgettable and popular. There have been many Muslim poets and writers in Tamil. Late Maulvi Abdul Hamid Baqavi has translated the holy Quran into Tamil and his work is the most popular one. His son, A.K.A Abdus Samad, M.P is a great Tamil scholar, the power of whose pen and tongue is well known in the Tamil world.
Ka. Mu. Sharif who was closely connected with the Tamil film industry as a song writer till some 15 years ago is now a highly religious person.He has written many books on Islam and Tamil literature. He is an erudite Tamil scholar respected by Hindus and Muslims alike.
Another person popular for his new trends in Tamil poetry is Kaviko Abdur Rahman, Professor of Tamil in Islamiah College, Vaniyambadi. His new style of Tamil poetry "Puthuk Kavithai" is so attractive and sweet that even the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Mr.M. Karunanidhi, himself a great Tamil scholar, is one of his admirers. Thus the list of Tamil poets and writers goes on. The mother tongue of more than 75% of Muslims inTamil Nadu is Tamil, although about 25% speak Urdu.
Rehmancy's contention that Muslims in Tamil Nadu do not wear Kurta-pyjama is wrong. This dress has been in vogue in North Arcot, Madras and some other places of Tamil Nadu for several decades. I have been seeing it from my boyhood. He further says " an old devout Muslim of Rae Bareli recited the Ramayana with respect and devotion". Even today in Tamil Nadu the former judge of the Madras High Court, Mr. M.M. Ismail, is invited to deliver lectures in different places on the Ramayana. His knowledge of this epic is very deep and his oratory in Tamil excellent.He also heads an association, which propagates the Ramayana. Mr. Ismail is also blessed with a good knowledge of Islam. He gives lectures on Islam also.
It is also a fact that in Tamil Nadu meetings are held frequently to discuss which of the two books - Ramayana and Mahabharata - is more obscene. Thus India is a democratically free country where exchange of views on different subjects freely takes place.
I feel that Indian Muslims should give up some evil practices like dowry, which they have picked up from their Hindu brethren.
As regards Rehmany's comment that " a uniform civil code, ending Muslim personal law, will be possible slowly with persuasion, let me say that Muslims will not give up their shariat. There were many objections to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act. Now it has proved to be better than Sec.125 Cr. P.C. The judgements delivered under this Act have been more beneficial to women. Why is it that the national press including One Nation Chronicle does not discuss which of the two propvisions - the Muslim Women Act and Sec. 125 Cr. P.C. - is in the interest of divorced women? Our strong belief based on reason is that the Shariat laws which are so reasonable will always remain in force. In fact there should be an attempt to make Muslim Personal Law more Islamic.
I hope that One Nation Chronicle, which has eminent personalities like Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi among its main backers, will do its best to gain a special status as a just and impartial organ of secular India.
(VMK in One Nation Chronicle dated March 30 - April 5, 1990)