Hurting the Heart of Harmony

Dr Suresh Mathew Dr Suresh Mathew
21 Jun 2021

Yes, the land of harmony is slipping into a terrain of bitterness. Christians and Muslims are engaged in a war of words over issues that cropped up with a vengeance in the recent past. The major issues that made Christians see red are: Love Jihad wherein Christian girls are being ‘tricked into’ marrying Muslim boys; the decree by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan making Hagia Sophia a mosque; the 80:20 scholarship issue which gives disproportionate benefits to Muslim students; objection to the Constitutional amendment providing 10 per cent reservation to the economically weaker sections in the general category. 

These issues do ruffle the feathers of the Christians as they have a bearing on the community, its beliefs and fortunes. But are they grave enough to cause an existential threat to the religion and the community? Should they be allowed to ruin the age-old communal amity in the God’s own country? Aren’t there enough forums to settle them, sitting across a table? When these issues came out in the open, the war of words picked up momentum with provocative pronouncements from both sides. It only helped to widen the wedge between the two communities. Though some of the Muslim leaders walked an extra mile meeting members of the Christian hierarchy, it does not seem to have borne fruit. 

Christians believe that political Islam and hardcore elements are cementing their hold among Muslims and there is a coordinated effort to mount an unprecedented attack against Christianity and its founder. Agitated Christian community, at least sections among it, is unleashing counter attacks thereby vitiating communal harmony. This tit-for-tat approach will only embolden the hardliners among both sides. Here Christians have a major role in dousing the raging fire of communal hatred. Love for own religion should not become a channel for injecting hatred for the other as seen in the spiteful speeches and postings on social media. Instead of adopting a belligerent approach to the other community, Christians should take the path shown by their leader. It is the path of Christian values of love, patience and compassion which knows no boundaries. 

It is equally important to not lose sight of the alleged role of the Sangh Parivar in escalating disharmony between Christians and Muslims. Reports suggest that many ‘venomous’ posts appearing in the name of Christians are done by some hidden hands with vested interests. One should not turn a blind eye to the professed stand of Hindutva ideologues that Christians and Muslims can live in this country only as second class citizens. By fighting among themselves, both communities would be doing the Sangh Parivar a favour by speeding up the process of converting India into a Hindu Rashtra. The climate of antagonism, if allowed to escalate further, would leave the heart of harmony bleeding.

What then is the solution to this spiraling wave of communal acrimony? The path was shown 800 years ago by Saint Francis of Assisi who reached the door of the Sultan of Egypt for negotiation at a time when the crusaders were waiting to cross the Nile in their bid to capture Jerusalem. It was to extend a hand of friendship at a time the two religions were at daggers drawn. A similar path was shown by Pope Francis when he followed the footprints of his namesake and travelled to the Arabian Peninsula to shake hands with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif University.

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