Mothering a Muslim by Nazia Erum is the most thought provoking and stimulating book I have ever read. Initial first impression about the book is that its anti Modi. It is when you widen your approach and read it with a detached perspective, then only the picture becomes clear and you decipher the message which the author is trying to convey.
After Election of 2014
Nazia Erum felt a change in air in India after the arrival of Narendra Modi on the national stage and the sudden rise of BJP in power at the center and other states. And she is not alone. There are many Muslim parents who have perceived it as well. She has interviewed many Muslim students and their parents and talked to school authorities and has dug out many incidents of bullying of Muslim children in schools by the fellow classmates. They had been called Pakistani and terrorist leaving a deep impression on the psyche of a young mind.
Islamophobia is not new
I have heard of similar incidents happening in the USA after the destruction of World Trade Centre on 11th September 2001 killing more than 2000 innocents. Islamophobia is not just in India. It is present, little or more, everywhere in the world and I strongly believe the atrocities of religious fanatics like the Taliban and similar jihadi groups are responsible for the increasing hatred towards the Muslim community. So why to zero on Modi and BJP. There are many other reasons.
Matter of Deep concern
But yes, I completely empathize and relate with her concern about communal bullying now entering in schools. This is a serious issue. We, as parents, certainly can’t do much about the hate speech of politicians, but can definitely curtail its venom spreading in our drawing rooms. I think everyone should read this book as a wake up call that extreme in any religion is always detrimental for a country. We have seen it happening it in countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan.
Insights of Muslim community
The book also gives, in the later chapters which I find very interesting and intriguing to read, an insight into the Muslim community and the author’s analysis. I have Muslim neighbors, but except for one none of them interact now I understand why.
Liberal Muslims are always in a dilemma whether to live according to conservative rules or embrace changes and go with the flow. Dilemma while selecting the name for their child which should be socially acceptable. And how Indian Muslims are adopting and practicing a more radical form of Islam after coming under the influence of Gulf and Middle East countries. According to the author, Indian Muslims were fairly liberal, but it is changes that are arriving in the country along with the bullying at schools might pollute the young minds and push them towards radicalism.
Islamophobia in India is not new. But when children are getting involved then it is an alarming issue.
But it is one side of the picture. There are also many cases of Hindu and Muslim harmony as well. I remember in Kolkata there is a Krishna temple and just opposite to it there is a mosque. And every temple goer also stops by Mosque to offer prayers. My family being one of them. So it’s not completely hopeless situation. India is a secular nation.