The question put on Quora a few months ago was very simple:
“As an Indian Muslim, what kind of discriminations did you ever face?”
It was raised in the wake of certain media-reported incidents such as difficulties for Muslims in finding a rented house or a regular job. The question assumed that Muslims in India find it difficult to lead an easy life.
One man, Syed Naser, decided to answer the question on the day India celebrates its Independence Day.
He began with a satirical response:
I have faced discrimination a lot of times:
I hope I have answered the question.
- During Ramazan my friends discriminate between themselves and me and say “You go home, we will manage the work”
- One Ramazan evening, a non-Muslim friend discriminated between his house and mine and said “We will finish the project work at your house, after all it’s Ramazan and I don’t want to miss the delicacies prepared at your home!!!”
- Whenever I have a party with my alcohol consuming friends, if they are bringing the stuff, they discriminate against me and bring soft drinks for me.
- Whenever we plan for an outing in which we would like to eat non-veg, I experience the discrimination my friends do with the restaurants and we go to only those restaurants where we are sure I will get halaal food.
- During my job, every Friday I experience the discrimination between me and my non-Muslim friends and I am permitted to go for Friday prayers and they sit and work for that half an hour.
- During hangouts, I am discriminated against and am expected to narrate some Urdu shayari, if the mood gets created for it.
- I face discrimination whenever I go home. While coming back, I am expected to bring a lot of biryani, no one else faces this compulsion. It’s clear discrimination.
- Everyday, when I used to offer my afternoon prayer beside my table at my workplace, my friends used to discriminate me and they used to leave the room, so that I don’t get disturbed for those five minutes with their lunchtime chatter.
Then continued in a straightforward manner:
Anyways to answer it straight I would say “I don’t remember if I was discriminated against ever anywhere. I got the job without facing problem, I got the promotion purely based on my talent, I resigned without facing much issue. I could progress in my career without feeling that I missed this opportunity just because of my faith.”
He gives a very rational reason why Muslims may have found it difficult to get a rented home:
A few Muslim friends of mine did tell me the slight issue they faced while getting a house for rent in a new city, and this, I guess, is more to do with the repulsion of owners towards non-vegetarianism rather than repulsion towards Muslims. It’s part of their religion to avoid “maas-machli” (meat-fish) and may be they want to keep the house they own, free of meat. Just ignore such persons and move on. After all, you were not planning to marry that landlord’s daughter.
He even gives a proper name to what everyone calls ‘discrimination’:
If you think you faced discrimination in India, I would rather call it, Baader Meinhoff phenomenon. Baader-Meinhoff is the phenomenon where one happens to come across some obscure piece of information—often an unfamiliar word or name—and soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly.
He posits an argument as to why some may be having problems:
May be you are getting conscious about your faith and that is making you believe that you are being frisked more at the airport or have been stopped by the traffic cop because of your skull cap. Just ignore these feelings and move on. India has ample opportunities to prove yourself.
He then reminds all of us why our country is great:
From civil services examinations to jobs in software industry, there are ample and transparent ways in which you can prove yourself. Focus on those rather than imagining that the lady sitting at metro was looking at you repeatedly because of your beard. Answer and address genuine concerns of your non-muslim friends which they usually ask out of curiosity rather than xenophobia. Keep a smile on your face, it is a curve that makes many things straight. Believe in your religion and its power to heal and spread goodness. You will have wonderful time!!!! Happy Independence Day by the way. Proud and happy to be Indian. Jai Hind…..
In times such as these when India is arguing over immeasurable things such as ‘tolerance levels’ instead of price levels, Syed Naser’s response to an inflammatory question is something all Indians must remember.