Hindu’ana Rasm or a Radical Mindset…

A recent personal encounter triggered a thought process which made it absolutely important to document, and perhaps ease being a Muslim, especially in Pakistan.

A friend shared a small story about a “dholki” where friends and family had gotten together to sing and dance and celebrate an upcoming wedding of a dear one. During the festivities, a member of the gathering, who was quite uncomfortable to begin with, got up and qualified the event as a “Hindu’ana Rasm” which obviously was followed by anything and everything starting from whispers to looks to outrage. It is said with a degree of certainty that almost all of us have heard this at some point in time in our lives. Some even qualify certain activities, demeanor, etc., as “not being our culture”.

We take the first argument where the qualification is that of “Hindu’ana Rasm”. The term itself is quite oxymoronic. “Hindu’ana” referring to religion, while “Rasm” relating to culture. The term itself reflects on the utter confusion that exists. “Religion” is a set of beliefs while “Rasm-o-Riwaj (Culture)” primarily reflect on a locality, a social set-up or an accepted norm. While it is agreed that quite often religious beliefs of a community may impact its culture or social norms, the latter, however, relates more to the historic lifestyles of a particular area. Hence, it can be safely interpreted from the argument that the way things are done relate more to the ways they have always been done rather than the same being dictated by religion. A “Rasm” can be Asian, American, etc., but cannot be Hindu, Muslim or Jewish. Hence we have Muslim brides in the South Asia wearing red while in Afirca, they wear white. Hopefully we won’t qualify wearing of a white dress by a bride as a “Christian Rasm”.

Coming to the second argument where certain ways of doing things are qualified as “not our culture”. This is relatively easier. Where exactly did we come from? Did we migrate like the Americans who never had their own culture, which resulted in them being very open and adaptive to all cultures of the world? Have we not always been a part of this soil? Indeed we have a very strong and deep-rooted history. Our culture is that of the Indian sub-continent or what eventually became of it when people from different parts of the world inhabited this area. How can we then simply sever ourselves and claim to have a different culture since there is now a border. The fact remains that the border has not always been there. People, indeed have always been here, doing things in a certain way. The ways have evolved as the time passed till they became socially acceptable norms.

It is also mentioned that over time, it has been learnt that “names” too have religions. Quite humorously, John is a “Christian” name, Ali a “Muslim” and Vijay a “Hindu”. Let us settle for English, Arabic and Hindi, instead of Christian, Muslim and Hindu. These are words of a language having meanings. Vijay means victorious so why can a Muslim not be named “Vijay”. Names may often have religious connotations, yet each name carries a meaning. To what extent will we go out of our ways to create differences?

The world has gone through much torment. Each community may have uniqueness while at some level, that community may be a part of a country, a continent and must co-exist in order to prosper and flourish. Let us enjoy our uniqueness, celebrate our similarities and enjoy our differences and move towards a higher level of peaceful co-existence.


About baahirezaman

A banker by profession and a human by nature. I have views, opinions, observations about anything and everything with the remotest and slightest effect on human life, even a single one.

14 thoughts on “Hindu’ana Rasm or a Radical Mindset…

  1. Peaceful co-existence is the key with Love for All, Hatred for None.

  2. K says:

    spot on regarding the difference between culture and religion. Pakistanis need to understand we have a subcontinent culture……every Muslim nations/communities around the world have their own culture…the Arabs, the Africans, the Indonesian, even the minority Japanese muslims!

  3. ahkath says:

    Reblogged this on AHKath's Blog and commented:
    A mind boggling write up by Ali Rahman. A must read.

  4. Arabic cultures too celebrate weddings with song and dance, but leaving that aside for a moment; anyone who is so narrow minded and bigoted that they would fail to appreciate the great richness of our shared South Asian culture( and sadly there are ever increasing numbers of these folks) has fallen victim to the mullahs who tell them that their Muslim identity must adhere to a misguided vision of Arab Islam that exists largely in the mullah’s own head. The tragedy of Partition is that it created a crack in the rich fabric of our shared culture and allowed these pernicious creatures to flourish like weeds. Not so long ago it was the norm for cultured people in North India, both Hindu and Muslim to greet each other with the common “Adaab” Now even an innocent term like “Khuda Hafiz ” is under siege by these ignorant fanatics, apparently “Khuda” is too ambiguous an appellation for them. Never mind that ” Allah” simply means “God” in Arabic and Coptic christian hymns are full of references to Allah or that no comparable expression to Khuda Hafiz exists in Arabic. The fanatics are loud and persistent whereas the liberals have largely allowed themselves to be bullied into silence. I applaud anyone who takes a stand to defend our common humanity.

    • baahirezaman says:

      Sophia, I couldn’t agree with you more. My point is, as has been said many times, it is the silence of the majority that kills. It is us. We are at fault as we let ourselves fall prey to the whims of a handful who taint religions and very conveniently overlook the higher purpose in life. “Apnay man mein doob ke pa ja suragh e zindagi. Tu agar mera nahin banta na ban, apna to ban”. I wish you all the best and just know somewhere within my soul that one day, things will change as I feel the voice of the commoners is becoming louder by every passing moment.

      Aadaab 🙂

  5. amitjulka says:

    Hit the nail on its head!
    Amit (according to wikipedia, my name has meanings in arabic, sanskrit and hebrew. probably the reason why i decided to become an agnostic!)

    • baahirezaman says:

      Amit, I thank you for taking time out and reading my post. Indeed, this may be a voice of many. Key is to keep on talking, engaging in dialogue, both at home and across borders, communities, etc. Perhaps quoting Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi will not be out of context here “Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the mystery, unique and not to be judged.” How beautiful and simple is that, yet we have fallen in love with unnecessary complications. If they don’t exist, we create them. All the best Amit. Thanking you once again adn sending you prayers.

  6. Khaleel says:

    My name is Khaleel, it means a friend. So what am i supposed to do? Be friends with everyone!

    • baahirezaman says:

      Thank you very much Mr. Khaleel. Well, with regards to what you mention, indeed that would be a very kind gesture. Everyone can use a friend :). However, I would like to clarify that this was not what was intended. All that was intended was if Khaleel means friend, why cant people of religions other than Islam use this as a name. Hope I was able to explain, if not, please do revert. Kind regards.

  7. Dr. Jawed says:

    a very well written article. I am all for peaceful co-existence; infact my ancestors were from Hindustan and i would love to visit it some day… I have always been confused about one point though; we all know that Islam is the complete WAY of living, what we practice in our day-to-day lives.. then how can we separate culture and religion; and how can one not influence the other? WHY should one not influence the other? shouldn’t our actions portray our religion? why did we need a border anyway, a separate identity, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan?

    • baahirezaman says:

      Dr. Jawed, thank you very much for taking time out and reading the article. Your words of appreciation are well received. I have had the oppotunity of living in many countries and I have watched practicing Muslims adopt different ways of expression. One such instance is what I have quoted in the article where the brides wear red in our part of the world while elsewhere they wear white. In the US, I spent almost 8 years living in Dallas, TX., where one could not even imagine that women would not attend the eid prayers while here in Pakistan, it is not that common to do so. The idea presented in my article is very simple. And that is, to promote various common aspects while one does not have to lose his/her identity. In my personal capacity, I just believe that religion is being used to constantly emphasize on the differences while the core of it is promotion of co-existence and tolerance. I agree to a certain extent that religion and culture can note be totally mutually exclusive and religion may reflect on the ways. However, as mentioned, religion is a set of beliefs while expressing upon the same is culture. I am not sure about your exposure of various parts of the world but if you have had the opportunity, you will agree that the same religious belief is expressed in many different ways all over the world. I pray I was able to explain to your satisfaction. This is a reflection of my thought process. Thank you once again.

    • rax says:

      If you really think about it, the confusion is created by using our differences to divide and not to celeberate diversity. more directly, yes! surely Islam is a way of life but what does that mean; it means, peace, forgiving, kindness focus on the greater good — the problem started when Muslims (some muslims) decided that being a judge for other’s way of life is the way of islam. So, we started to decide who is infidel; who should and will go to hell and how its our job to exercise judgement and execute punishments and decide what is appropriate for people to do.
      Only if we could remember that the Islamic belief portrays the biggest sin is “shirk” meaning associating someone else with equal power or authority as Allah; Last I checked; being the ultimate judge is His job – not ours and by doing that we inadvertently commit this sin.

  8. Ali says:

    Xcellent write up.. wanted to share an episode. I was sitting with a group when ancestors of each others were discussed. Out of 9-10 people every one related themselves with either the Arab origin, Afghani descent or some Islamic background. Upon my turn I declared that my ancestors were Hindus, they were shocked and inquired how come my surname is SIDDIQUI. I responded that seeing Qasim chopping heads they converted to stay safe and than looked up a big name so as to get some favors hence the surname. They would not believe it and that is the truth as passed on by generations. Now if all came from outside than where are the people of this soil ? In Pakistan it looks like all are from outside.

  9. rax says:

    Thanx Ali for bringing these issue to forefront; interestingly my two children are Aarij Anthony rahman and Kinza faith Rahman; and some of my own family doubts that it is acceptable for muslims!!!
    hopefully people will begin to celebrate cultural differences; in fact one of the profound “Islamic” principles is cultural assimilation instead of creating your own little sand box where no one else can play

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