Muslims From Malerkotla Donate Wheat For 'Langar' at Golden Temple, Win the Heart Of Sikh Community
Rasheeduddin Khaja | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, JULY 30—At a time when vested interests are hell-bent on tearing apart the social fabric of the nation, Sikh-Muslim bonhomie in Punjab has reinforced faith in communal amity. This has come to light after Muslim families of Malerkotla contributed 330 quintal wheat to the Golden temple in Amritsar.
For the temple authorities who were finding it hard to run the community kitchen in Harminder Saheb due to depleting ration, the donation came as a welcome relief. The gesture that has set an example of communal harmony and drew world attention is the result of the relentless efforts of an organisation called Sikh Muslim Sanjha Foundation (SMSF).
Members of SMSF went on door-to-door campaign to collect wheat for 22 days for its success. The response to their call was overwhelming with every house they visited donated wheat. However, Dr Naseer Akhtar, president of the foundation was not content with the achievement. Speaking to media, he had said, “Given that lakhs of devotees visit the Gurdwara every day, our contribution is very small. We want to contribute as much as we can to help the authorities in running the community kitchen.
In an exclusive interview over phone with India Tomorrow, Dr Naseer Akhtar called the donation a small gesture towards the larger goal they have set for interfaith partnership. “Every community is a partner to a humanitarian cause,” he asserted.
This is not the first time Malerkotla came into limelight for communal harmony. According to local SP, Manjit Singh Brar, the town has always set an example of communal harmony for country.
The interfaith relationship in the town has not been the same. Dr Akhtar recalls how children were taught enmity between the two communities. This turnaround did not come about overnight, but has been achieved through Dr Akhtar’s dedicated endeavour over one-and-a-half decade.
Mobilisation of people in the path of love in times of hatred has not been a cakewalk, says Dr Akhtar. He and his team faced a lot of resistance from both sides of religious divide.He and his team faced a lot of resistance from both sides of religious divide, especially the anti-social elements who were out to discredit them. But he and his associates stood ground and did not deviate from the path of love and harmony.
A medical practitioner, Dr Nasir Akhtar left his profession to dedicate himself to the cause of bringing the two communities together. He undertook elaborate research to dig out 300-year history of Sikh-Muslim friendship, visited many gurudwaras and held meetings with the Sikh clergy to convince them about the amicable relationship between the two religions. He holds the British responsible for setting the two religious communities against each other in the pursuit of their divide-and-rule policy.
During his interactions with the clergy of the two communities, Dr Akhtar cited texts from both religions to prove that universal brotherhood has a special sanction. He has strong conviction that what he was doing has a sanction from both religions. He would quote copiously from the Holy Quran and Gurugranth Saheb to prove his point.
Eventually, all his efforts paid off and his work was not only recognised by Sikh clergy but was also welcomed by his own community. The high point of success of his mission came when the Akal Takht, the highest religious seat of Sikh faith, recognised the humanitarian services of the foundation.
Now that his mission has achieved success, he started receiving rave reviews from all quarters for what they perceive as a new chapter being added to the inter-community relationship in the state. He fondly quoted a Jathedar who, during a langar (community feast) at Anandpur Saheb, told him, “Brother Nasir, you have bought us over.”