Call for all citizens to wear black bands for “at least a week”; Muslims must go beyond “pointless protests”, says lawyer

Muslims, wearing black bands on their arms in protest against the recent lynching incident on board a train, offer Eid prayers at village Khandawli in Faridabad on Monday. (PTI Photo)

The systematic and ongoing targeting of Muslims, including three incidents of lynching in the last week and one killing by a policeman in Jharkhand, triggered a wave of protests in the social media. Flooded with hashtags like #StopKillingMuslims, #BlackEid, #StopLynchingMuslims and #EidWithBlackArmBand, the campaign called upon Muslims to wear black bands on their arms on Eid Day to protest against what looks like an unrelenting ‘Lynch in India’ menace.

Heeding the call, the brothers of 15-year-old Hafiz Junaid who was murdered by a lynch mob in the outskirts of Delhi last Friday and others from his village Khandawli in Faridabad, Haryana wore black bands on Eid. So did a large number of Muslims elsewhere.

Also read: On Eid ul Fitr, a Poem for the Late 15-Year-Old Hafiz Junaid.

The Indian Express reports: "As Muslims across Mewat observed a ‘black Eid’ to protest the violence against their community members, 23-year-old Irshad joined them with a black band on his arm. Irshad is the son of cattle farmer Pehlu Khan, who was lynched by a mob of alleged cow protection vigilantes in April. Almost two months after his father succumbed to his injuries, Irshad is disappointed that some of the accused are still free. Eid festivities in this region, populated by Meo Muslims, were dampened by the memory of that incident. “Tyauhar ki itni khushi nahi hai jitna in baaton ka gham hai (The joy of the festival has been dampened by the sorrow caused by these incidents),” said Irshad.

The proposed protest was backed by top officials from the Darul Uloom, Nadva, All India Muslim Majlis Mushawarat; Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Jamiatul Ulema Hind, Jamiatul Ulema and prominent Muslims, including retired judges and civil servants, from across India.

Now, documentary film-maker and activist Anand Patwardhan has called upon all citizens to wear black badges for “at least a week”. “By itself the black ribbon is just a piece of cloth… [but] it is also a way to awaken the sleeping who think everything is fine”, reads Patwardhan’s message on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Khurshid Alam, a lawyer from Kolkota urges Indian Muslims to go beyond “pointless protests”.

We reproduce below his article first published on Two Circles:

Amidst blaring Bollywood numbers doing a surgical strike through my windows, I am trying to pen down my thoughts on the proposed Black Band Protest against mob-lynching of people in general and Muslims in particular. Agreed, protest is vital to democracy but is there any point in protesting just for the sake of it?

Among those who would be protesting with their black bands on Eid, there will be such anti-socials who extort money from people to decorate the streets with stolen electricity and make the lives of their neighbours hell with loud music for all the three days of Eid and there will also be those good Muslims who choose to remain silent on every social issue of the locality but they will be very content with their Black Band Protest because they believe – “Kuch nahi karne se achcha kam se kam patti lagakar protest zahir to kiya!” (protesting with black bands on arms is better than not doing anything at all).

Quran says, “Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good , enjoining Al-Ma‘roof and forbidding Al-Munkar (all that is bad). And it is they who are the successful.” Our protests lack spirit because we are selective and if not self-centric then at least community-centric or caste-centric or region-centric or ideology-centric. We do not invite to all that is good and neither forbid all that is bad. A life of a Communist or a Sanghi or a Hindu or a Dalit or any human being is as precious as that of a Muslim. In theory, there is no caste system in Islam but in practice there are places where upper caste Muslims don’t hesitate to ruin the lives of low caste Muslims and they cry foul when non-Muslims mistreat them.

Just because some Pratapgarhi or any visionless leader has appealed to Muslims to sport black bands on Eid Day, emotional fools that we are rush to such gimicks. What about the sanctity of Eid? It is human nature to adopt the easy way out. Sporting black band is one of those easy way out. Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is obligatory upon all the Ummah, men and women, each according to his or her circumstances.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; and if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart [by feeling that it is wrong] – and that is the weakest of faith.” Why are we satisfied and content with the weakest display of our faith? Let’s not forget that good is the enemy of great. Ghalib has aptly said, “Haq to yeh hai ke haq ada na hua.” (the Truths is that we did not fulfill the rights).

We are in one of the best democracies of the world. Our democracy gives us the options like filing of PILs, complaint to NHRC or SHRCs, representation to the Executives, getting politically conscious of our rights and holding our elected representatives accountable for their breach of duties. Let’s ask ourselves that have we ever tried to change any evil by our actions first or we have limited ourselves to coffee table discussions and black band protests only! In spite of various cases and allegations of corruption in the Judiciary, it is still dispensing justice to the people of India. Why don’t the Muslim organizations include in their long term plans to encourage and support the entry of right minded youth in the Judiciary and Administration of the country? We need much more likes of Zakat Foundation of India.

These pointless protests will not lead us anywhere. The regime which has leased reign of terror will not be moved by our black bands. It has taken them more than 60 years of hardcore preparation to occupy the throne of Delhi and our able leadership should have the vision to prepare such efficient roadmaps to sail us through. In order to follow the teaching of our beloved Prophet to exhibit the highest level of faith, we need to empower ourselves likewise. Black band or No band, Eid Mubarak to all.

Sheikh Khurshid Alam is a Kolkata-based advocate.

This article was first published on Two Circles.




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