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Interfaith Dialogue ( 11 Feb 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Mosques Can Be a Very Good Place to Remove Misconceptions of Islam

By Shakeel Shamsi

11 February 2019

(Translated from Urdu By New Age Islam Edit Bureau)

In 2015, Muslims in Britain took a significant initiative, opening the doors of about 20 mosques for non-Muslims and launching a campaign for ‘#visit my mosque’. Through this campaign, British Muslims attempted to remove doubts that were created against Islam in the hearts of non-Muslims. As a result of this campaign, not only did the non-Muslims visit the mosques but they also had access to Islamic literature available in the mosques. Impressed by this campaign, some of the educated Muslims in India have started the same campaign and opened the doors of some mosques of Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, and Ahmadabad for non-Muslims.

Obviously it will cause double advantages. Firstly, non-Muslims will come to know about Muslim beliefs and their modes of worship. Secondly, it will develop mutual unity and tolerance.

Muslims have been living in India for more than a thousand years, but a large number of non-Muslims here have very little information about Islam and Muslims. Whatever little information they have is based on misunderstanding.

For example, the famous poet Kabir Das made a couplet (Doha) about Azan, “Kankar-Pathar Jodi Ke Masjid Lai Chunai / Ta Chadhi Mulla Baang De Kya Bahira Hua Khudai?” translation “A mosque is built with stones and pebbles / A cleric from there, calls; Is God hard of hearing?” This Doha is taught in schools and many Muslims term it the best criticism, while this Doha is the result of misunderstanding and lack of information. If Kabir Das had known that Azan is not meant for calling Allah but for calling the Muslims living around the mosques, he would never have made such a couplet.

Let me tell you another incident in this case. When I was the news producer in Doordarshan, one of my Brahman colleagues, very close one, asked me why you, the Muslims, called ‘Allah, Akbar the king’ during Azan. When I replied that it was not the king Akbar meant in Azan and that Allahu Akbar simply meant ‘Allah is the Greatest’, he felt embarrassed.  

There are many misconceptions as such in the hearts of non-Muslim brothers owing to lack of knowledge about Muslim beliefs. It is therefore the responsibility of every Muslim to remove their misconceptions. Our mosques can be a very good place for that matter.

Unfortunately our situation is just the opposite. Notice boards are displayed outside numerous mosques to stop non-Muslims’ entry. Not to speak of non-Muslims, such boards are also hung to prevent Deobandis, Wahhabis, Shias, Suleh Kulli and Ahle-Hadith from entering the mosques.

Tradition of writing the name of Maslak (school of thought) on the notice boards outside mosques of different schools of thought (Masalik) has been very common. It is thus a very difficult task to take such an initiative that would invite non-Muslims to enter the mosques. We, however, believe and suggest that today’s educated and far-sighted Muslims start taking interest in this work and do a great service to Islam by removing misconceptions of non-Muslims.

In our country a deep and pre-planned conspiracy is being hatched to incite hatred in the hearts of Hindus against Muslims. Ignoring millions of welfare tasks done by Muslims, the people affiliated with Sangh Parivar are presenting Muslims as destructive. They are trying to influence the people with the idea that Muslims came to India to merely break the temples. Hindus are being misguided to believe that Muslims were not but invaders. At this tumultuous time, it is our responsibility to tell them that when Babar attacked India, one million Muslims ready to die for the sake of protecting the country were the part of Ibrahim Lodi’s army and that those who fought the soldiers of Timur and Nader Shah, and as such, sacrificed for this country were Muslims.

Inquilab, New Delhi February 4, 2019

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