Mere thought of visiting a Muslim majority area used to elicit apprehension in me. I am a Hindu by birth, but I would rather call myself agnostic. Being born as Hindu and brought up in a Hindu society had its effect on me. I do respect all religions but there used to be certain trace of doubt toward Muslim, perhaps media had some role in that owing to Hindu Muslim rift. Its not that I never interacted with any person born Muslim, if fact few of my friends are Muslim, but the interaction was limited to one to one, in class, in hostel and likes. I have never been to a place surrounded by mostly Muslims, till we decided to visit charminar one night during ramzan. I had been to charminar earlier also but that was in broad day light.
Prejudiced and apprehensive, like many other Hindus, that we were, reached the charminar area at around 11 pm in the night. The rational behind the daring move (perhaps I can term it that way) was we could be assured of their moderate behavior owing to the fact these are holy days of ramzan. And to our utter disbelieve the whole area was bustling with activities, chaotic traffic, a large no of people, male, female and children doing their rounds of ramzan shopping. Shops, road side eateries all doing brisk business at that unmanly hour of day. Initially I was feeling insecure, conscious of all my activities fearing a wrong move can create a havoc, perhaps exaggerated but that’s how theoretical ideas and belief differs from first hand experience.
Adjacent to Charminar there is Mecca musjid, still apprehensive I decided to go inside that. Few meters inside the courtyard a small boy asked me to take my footwear in hand before I venture further. I freely walked around in the courtyard and till the inner court of the musjid. Slowly but surely I was getting over my apprehensions. Outside the musjid a fruit vendor mentioned that during holy days of ramzan this market place remains open round the clock. Later we interacted with some other vendors and involved in a light hearted banter with few local boys. By the time we decided to push off after spending around an hour there I was at ease and all apprehensions were gone for good. Now there wasn’t any difference in my theoretical belief and practical idea vis-à-vis Muslim community.
I do believe that all religions, Islam included, teach tolerance towards other, spread of goodwill and all other good things. It is perhaps misunderstanding and misrepresentation of traditions and culture which is leading to create this kind of popular intellectual belief.