Shades Of The Old Punjab : Punjabis rebuilding mosques destroyed during Punjab

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Singh, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    [​IMG]


    Safe Custody Joga Singh with a maulvi outside the mosque in Sarwarpur that his brother Sajjan helped reconstruct

    ===

    Although a few years old, but relevant in these trying times


    Across rural Punjab, Sikhs and Hindus are helping restore mosques destroyed during Partition


    Around 200 mosques across Punjab have been repaired, rebuilt or built from scratch with the help of Sikhs and Hindus in the last 10 years

    Many destroyed during Partition riots are now being restored by village communities

    In some cases, the Jamaat-e-Islami is involved, but most are unorganised village-level efforts

    It’s a reassertion, after decades, of Punjab’s unique religious and cultural synthesis

    ==

    The Ghuman family of Sarwarpur, near Ludhiana, cannot understand what the fuss is about. Ever since Sajjan Singh Ghuman, an NRI Sikh living in England, rebuilt a mosque in his native village that was damaged during Partition, the shrine, as well as his family back home, have attracted the curiosity of outsiders. “We never imagined we would be on a Punjabi TV channel just because my elder brother rebuilt this small mosque for the poor Muslim families of our village. For him, it was just a gesture towards restoring the collective heritage of our village,” says Sajjan’s brother, Joga Singh, who manages the family’s lands in Sarwarpur. Sure. But what Joga and his family, or even the TV channel, do not know is that the sentiment that inspired his brother’s act is being manifested in scores of villages across Punjab, with Sikhs and Hindus joining hands to either rebuild old and damaged mosques or build new ones. Odd? Perhaps. But Punjab, as admirers of its unique religious synthesis say, has always defied stereotypes to do its own thing.

    That spirit comes through clearly in the actions of a group of school and college boys from 600-year-old Ajitwal village near Moga. During Partition, when Muslims fled Ajitwal, just as they fled in waves from other parts of Punjab, an ancient village mosque was vandalised. As years passed, someone encroached on its grounds and the place became a village dumping ground. A neem tree on its compound became a hang-out for the village youth. One day, a bunch of boys decided to clear the muck. Within days, the entire village—now made up of Hindus and Sikhs—joined them. Says 20-year-old Laddi: “We were never short of money or material. Anyone who passed this way would contribute in cash or kind. Someone brought five bags of cement, another donated bricks and so on....” This, when there were no permanent Muslim families left in the village. But, once repaired, the mosque began to be used. A few Muslim migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, labourers and petty tradespeople, began praying here. A maulvi from a neighbouring village now comes to conduct Friday namaaz. To the delight of 80-year-old Nachattar Kaur, who was born and brought up here, the sound of the azaan (call to prayer) is being heard again, after decades. “We have always believed in this shrine,” she says. “It is a house of God. God bless these boys for restoring the oldest relic of our village.”

    In Malerkotla, the headquarters of the state unit of Jamaat-e-Islami (Hind), publisher and Jamaat member Ramzan Sayeed, who has also translated the Quran into Punjabi, observes, “It is only in Punjab that Sikhs and Hindus are helping to build masjids with tractors, labour and money.” That this should happen at a time when Islamists are being reviled and resisted across the world makes it remarkable; and that it should be happening in a land where the soil is soaked with the blood of Partition, and stories of murder, rape and looting have been passed down the generations, renders it especially significant.

    In the months after Partition, some 50,000 mosques across present-day Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh were destroyed, burnt or converted into temples and gurudwaras—homes, even. Today, Muslims comprise just 1.5 per cent of Punjab’s population, mostly migrant labour from UP and Bihar and some Gujjar families from Jammu and Kashmir who have settled here, in addition to small pockets of Muslims, such as those belonging to Malerkotla, who did not go to Pakistan in 1947.

    However, in the last decade or so, the Jamaat has managed, with extraordinary village-level support, including money and materials, to free and revive about 120 mosques. Scores of others, like the one at Ajitwal, have been revived or rebuilt purely by villagers themselves. Jamaat president Arshad Ali told Outlook, “We consciously involve Sikhs and Hindus whenever we help build a new mosque or repair an old one; and every time, the community’s response is overwhelming.” He reels off the names of scores of villages where this has happened. One of them, Diwa Gandwan in Fatehgarh Sahib, has only 17 Muslim families, most of them poor labourers. Mohammed Jameel, a farm labourer who lives in the village, told Outlook, “We never imagined we could have a masjid of our own, but we do now. It would not have been possible without the help of the Sikh landlords here, who filled up the low-lying area by bringing us earth in their tractor trollies.” The first brick of the mosque was laid by a Sikh priest from Fatehgarh Sahib, who also donated money.

    Arshad Ali contrasts this attitude with the one that prevailed when he began working for the Jamaat in Punjab some 30 years ago: “We used to face opposition whenever we tried to assert ourselves. But all that has changed now. Our effort to construct masjids is helping foster religious brotherhood in Punjab.” Hassan Mohammed, the imam of the Jama Masjid at Mandi Gobindgarh, recalls that last year, when he tried to mobilise Muslims of Jhampur village to rebuild their village mosque, they were afraid of even the suggestion. He then approached the sarpanch, a Jat Sikh, who immediately got a few boys to clear the overgrown area. Other villagers chipped in with contributions in cash and kind and, soon, what was once a crumbling ruin became a vibrant place of worship. Such stories abound in rural Punjab today.

    There are no clear-cut answers for why this is happening. It helps, clearly, that Muslims are only a tiny, largely poor, community here, no threat to anyone, and that sympathy for the underdog is a distinctive Punjabi—especially Jat Sikh—trait. But that’s only a partial explanation, as is the other obvious one—that this is a manifestation of collective guilt over the atrocities committed by Sikhs and Hindus against Muslims during Partition.

    Guilt could be a factor, acknowledges Sikh historian and writer Prof Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, “There is no doubt,” he says, “that the atrocities of Partition are a blot on the history of the Sikhs. We, as a martial race, are not supposed to attack the weak and unarmed, but it happened, and ever since then, there has been remorse.” He recalls how a few years before his death, Gurcharan Singh Tohra, long-time president of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), confessed that he too had killed a Muslim during the Partition riots and felt haunted by his act. Possibly to atone for the act, Tohra constructed a mosque in his native village and laid its first brick with his own hands.

    On the other hand, much of the present effort to revive mosques is coming from a generation that does not have the blood of Partition on its hands; one that has witnessed and endured, rather, the violent Sikh separatism during the ’80s. That’s why Pramod Kumar, director of the Chandigarh-based Institute of Development and Communications, feels this is “the collective reassertion of Punjab’s unique cultural synthesis” and “an attempt to build a secular Punjabi identity, as opposed to a communal identity or religious one”.

    But predictably, radical Sikh scholar, Prof Gurtej Singh, takes a different line: “This is an instinctive manifestation of the Sikh’s disillusionment with a Hindu-dominated Indian state that has done all it can to obliterate Sikh identity. During Partition, we were made to believe that Muslims were our enemies and we massacred them in large numbers. We have now realised that not Muslims, but Hindu-dominated parties like the BJP are the real threat to our identity.” Pointing out that Sikhs and Muslims have gradually come to value each other, he relates an anecdote about Shia Muslims recently discovering how Sikhs protected one of their shrines in Samana in Punjab, and how they are returning the gesture by helping Sikhs build gurudwaras in the Gulf. He also lauds Pakistan for enacting a Sikh Marriage Act which he helped draft, whereas India is yet to do so. “These things,” he says, “accumulate in the popular psyche, and manifest themselves in various ways”.

    [​IMG]

    But try telling 67-year-old Kesar Singh or 24-year-old Kamal Vohra that this is only a story of Sikh-Muslim bhaichara. Kesar, a Jat Sikh farmer from Ratia, some 15 km from Dhuri, a Hindu-dominated town in Sangrur district, and Kamal, a Hindu whose family migrated from Sialkot in Pakistan, have slogged shoulder to shoulder for days to rebuild Dhuri’s lone mosque. Kesar admits to a special bond with the mosque, which he visits every week, along with 20 other Sikhs of Ratia, for Friday namaaz. “The old imam has been my friend for the last 50 years and I enjoy his liberal interpretation of the Quran,” says he. But when the old mosque was demolished to make a bigger structure, it wasn’t just Sikhs but the entire Hindu mohalla that helped dig the foundations. Hindus and Sikhs from nearby villages, too, contributed with hefty donations. As always, Punjab never fails to surprise.

    Shades Of The Old Punjab | Chander Suta Dogra
     
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  3. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Lets hope karthic sri doesn't see this

    :denied:
     
  4. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

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    I would like to see the same in pakistani Punjab too.....atleast in Multan's Prahalad Temple an Ancient temple dedicated to Aditya and Narsingh!! However, nothing can be expected from religion of peace where they are in majority!

     
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  5. ashdoc

    ashdoc Senior Member Senior Member

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    no he hasn't seen this but i have .

    and why are the mosques being constructed ?? as per my knowledge most muslims in punjab fled to pakistan during partition and there not too many muslims in punjab anyway .

    anyway these punjabi muslims are the heart of pakistan and all its anti-indianism and should not be given concessions .

    and across the border we dont see a similar large heartedness of rebuilding hindu or sikh temples destroyed during partition , do we ?? then why the stupid magnanimity ?? why indeed ??
     
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  6. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Because we are not mirror image of pakistan.
     
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  7. EzioAltaïr

    EzioAltaïr Regular Member

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    Hmm... A neighbour who we wanna beat in all fields does something bad, do we need to fall to his level?
     
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  8. chase

    chase Tihar Jail Banned

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    This is useless!

    When will our people get out of their emotional 'respect all' hypnosis and see the reality.
    During the partition the same people who have lived with each other for generations were slaying each other .This is what an exclusive ideology like the 'religion of peace' can brainwash people to do!
    Even still,our naive indians are unable to see this .The problem is that indians see other religions from a 'dharmic' viewpoint.That is they think that as all religions are equal and whatever be the interreligious contradictions they can be solved by mutual dialogue .Now here we make mistake,we are seeing islam through a 'dharmic' viewpoint but before doing this we should do a critical analysis of the other's viewpoint .Islam by its nature is very exclusive and when it is at it's powerful best(that is when they are in majority) will not accept any difference in viewpoint .So either you accept their religion or get killed or at the worst spend your life like a dhimmi (like hindus have done for 1000 years).

    This is where the west is better then us.The islamic immigration into europe and US has caused a lot of concern there and now they are rising up to it.
    I see better awareness of islamic-tacticts in westerners.Hence i consider them well equipped to hit the 'religion of peace'.
    They are employing an ideological warfare against islam.They use modern philosophy and human rights to criticize islam because they can do but we don't because of 2 reasons:
    1) we are stupid enough to get hypnotized by this chameleons like the sardar in above pic
    2) we refrain from criticizing abusrd islamic practises because we fear that we may be criticized back for the absurdity in our own religion.
    This shows our lack of understanding of our dharmic religions and our poor performance in reforming our religion to modern times.

    Is this intellectual sluggishness in indians because our social system is too authoritative leaving us non-thinking non-innovative creatures?
    Are we going to get fooled in this fake bhaichara and suffer the consequences when we have become a minority and would we curse ourselves for not taking initiatives when we could have?

    I sometimes take a lot of pride in indian culture and i feel very fortunate to have been born in india but when i see the stupidity and naivety of my people in almost every field then i start having my doubts.The questions that arise in me is that 'If this is the kind of thinking which our culture produces then is our culture worth preserving?'
    I am sure you guys must had the same question when you see the inaptitude of our peoples in almost every serious issue.Our self declared hindu warriors are only good at razing pubs or vandalizing painting events.
    This attitude shows the un-creative approach of the protectors of dharma.Koenraad elst has also recognized that hindutvaadis are weak in ideological warfare.They abstain from criticizing the 'religion of peace' but they only know how to physically disrupt secularists thus making a mockery of themselves.

    What we need is an intellectual war.For that we need intellectual warriors.We either get into this fake bhaichara and sedate ourselves into believing that all is well or either we get into physical vandilization like the shiv sena /rss.

    Getting out of this emotional fake romanticsm is the starting step.We need to stop cover our eyes and see the reality,See Assam,See mumbai,See pakistan,Remeber partition! Why indians keep on forgetting these things.

    Recognition of the problem is the first step.
     
  9. EzioAltaïr

    EzioAltaïr Regular Member

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    So according to you, Islam is the problem? And all other religions are saints?
     
  10. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    +1
    This says a lot about the generosity of the Sikhs. However, this kind of inclusiveness can be felt IMO only Dharmic faiths. Islam as well as Christianity look upon other faiths as false while acknowledging the three Abrahaimic faiths. Islam or Xtianity in any country is a ticking time bomb for other faiths. While Christianity is engufling other faiths through proselytisation, Islam is doin that through demographics. The late Muammar Gaddafi exulted that Europe will be conquered by Islam without fighting a war as the Muslim population grows. I do believe it will come true. African illegals arrive in boatloads in Southern Europe landing at Italy, Greece and Spain. There is no way Europe can stem the tide of people from poor, over populated countries without giving up their liberal outlook. African illegals are to Europe what Bangladeshi illegals to India - cannot be kept away and cannot be sent back.
     
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  11. ashdoc

    ashdoc Senior Member Senior Member

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    all this vegetarian food is making us weaklings :rolleyes:
     
  12. SADAKHUSH

    SADAKHUSH Senior Member Senior Member

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    Please do not generalise all other religion. What you have to do is look back at the historical facts than question others. If you find one single peaceful decade in the history of Arab countries than give us the link as well. In the past they use to venture out of their region and nowadays the violence at home has no end at this moment.
     
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  13. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    I am always amazed by fellow Punjabis. You can't get better enemies or friends than them.

    Punjabis suffered the worst persecution possible under Islamic rule and yet when they formed their empire they didn't seek vengeance.
    Punjabis then suffered the most during partition of India, and today they are rebuilding dilapidated, destroyed mosques.
     
  14. A chauhan

    A chauhan "अहिंसा परमो धर्मः धर्म हिंसा तथैव च: l" Senior Member

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    Yesterday a tv news channels were showing a survey report on hatred or sympthy with Pakistan, shockingly Punjab, Hariyana and Delhi were on top with 60%+ sympathy with Pak ! :shocked: ! What I know is Delhi and Amritsar are easiest targets and it's hard for Delhi to avoid nuke attack in case of war with Pakistan.
     
  15. ani82v

    ani82v Senior Member Senior Member

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    Similar to driving without helmet! :laugh:
     
  16. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    I am saying from day one makine south indian PM (non-congreess/non-cpm) and all problems with pakistan would be solved
     
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  17. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    And shockingly when it comes to defence of India these states are the biggest contributors :shocked: !

    I can relate to this seeming dichotomy very well.
     
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  18. ani82v

    ani82v Senior Member Senior Member

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    I think we had one south Indian PM. HD Devegoda. :lol::taunt:

    [​IMG]
     
  19. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    /\/\/\
    Worst Prime Minister ever.
     
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  20. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    PV Narasimha Rao too was South Indian.
     
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  21. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    Hoping for a Gujarati PM though.
     

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