Saturday, March 2, 2024

“Kindly, Vacate my mosques which have been occupied”: Imam who faced Gurgaon’s Hindutva mob

“Kindly, Vacate my mosques which have been occupied”: Imam Haji Shahzad Khan who faced Gurgaon’s Hindutva mob. Photo: Abdul Momin

“When I was going for the namaz, they tried to attack me. But we don’t fear anything as we have complete faith in Allah. There is nothing more powerful than the Iman (faith in Allah). It was with the blessing of Allah that we don’t fear anything,” says Haji Shahzad Khan, the imam who faced the Hindutva mob while making his way to the namaz site in Gurgaon last Friday.

On Friday, locals, and members of Hindutva groups yet again attempted to disrupt the Muslims’ prayer by holding intimidating protests at the site where Muslims gathered to offer namaz at sector 37 in Gurgaon. Videos have gone viral which shows that Hindutva activists are jeering and chanting slogans to frighten the worshippers in the presence of the police.

In one of the videos, a Hindutva leader can be seen stopping Khan saying  “Namaz nahi hogi yahan.” In response, Khan, who is the chairman of Gurgaon Muslim Ekta Manch, gracefully faced him without reacting to the intimidation. Khan can also be seen leading the namaz while the mob is trying to make havoc.

Around 15 Muslims offered Friday prayers amid shouts of anti-Muslim slogans and Hindutva war cries.

He also prayed for Hindu-Muslim unity after the namaz.

Maktoob talked to Khan to know his reactions with regard to the intimidation he went through while offering prayer.

Khan, who is involved in the business of property construction, came to Gurgaon for job purposes from Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor in 1977. Since then, he has been living in the city. He has dedicated his life also to social services for the last 30 years. Khan believes that most Gurgaon people are peace-loving. There is only 1 or 2 percent who are trying to disrupt the communal harmony in the city, Khan says to Maktoob.

Talking about his experiences of leading prayer amid a threatening mob, he said “When I was offering prayer, we had not an iota of the feeling of fear in our minds. We offered the namaz with complete submission to Allah aiming to discharge our religious responsibility. In the last juma, we had not offered juma prayer due to disruption but this time, we offered juma prayer along with Khutba.”

Khan informed that he had to lead the namaz because the imam, who was designed for this job, was forced to flee due to intimidation. He used to come from Delhi. Not only the Imam but many people were also forced to keep away from their namaz.

Khan also said that a Muslim Rashtriya Manch leader has spread rumors that Muslims are offering namaz at those places without permission. He condemned his attempts to spread misinformation about the namaz. Muslim Rashtriya Manch is a wing of Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

“The fact is that earlier, Muslims used to offer namaz at 100 sites.  The administration had designated 37 sites for Juma namaz. The 37 sites were designated after the disruption of the namaz in 2018. After continuous disruption this year, these places were reduced to 20 sites. Now, Muslims are not being allowed to offer their namaz peacefully at these sites too,” he said.

The Hindu rightwing, who has been disrupting prayer, claimed that these namaz create troubles in the area. But Khan said that he told the administration that Muslims would stop offering prayer at the site if minor trouble is created through their prayer.

“They are inciting people by citing troubles due to namaz. We never offer namaz on the road. We told the administration and the Hindu brothers that if even the path of one bike is obstructed thorugh our namaz, we would stop offering namaz at that place….Our Islam does not teach us that we trouble others for our namaz. The Islamic law prohibited us from this,” says Khan.

He reminded the local Hindus who disrupt the namaz that they do many of their religious activities on the roads. “Never did Muslim go to object their religious activities. But they always oppose the peaceful prayer of Muslims,” he said.

“We don’t even bother with these objections. Kindly, vacate my mosques which have been occupied in Gurgaon. We would offer our prayer there,” urges Khan.

According to Khan, due to these namaz disruptions, there is an atmosphere of fear among the Muslim community in Gurgaon. Many are also thinking of fleeing from Gurgaon.

Khan asked the administration to ensure the security of Muslims.   

Waquar Hasan
Waquar Hasan
Waquar Hasan is freelance journalist based in New Delhi.
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