De-radicalisation, the Khan’s way
February 7, 2016
Photo: Faisal Khan of Khudai Khidmatgar has lunch with others.
When 40-year-old Faisal Khan, a devout Muslim, decided to revive an organisation, that had been active in the pre-Independence days in the field of social reform, about five years back, he had something different in mind. It was serving the humanity through propagating the message of peace and love and bringing together the Hindus and Muslims in the country.
Of course the cause, howsoever noble it may be, could be the motto of hundreds of social organisations active in the country. What makes Faisal stand apart is the way he strives to achieve this unity. It is his interpretation of Islam and Hinduism that silences the hardliners. Khan, who has an in-depth knowledge of the Quran as well as Hindu religious books, extensively quotes the Prophet and the Hindu scriptures to make his point.
Khan in 2011 revived “Khudai Khidmatgar”, a social organisation, which was founded by Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, popularly known as Frontier Gandhi and was active before the Independence and partition.
Gaffar Khan had also been active in the struggle for freedom with Mahatma Gandhi during the British regime. What prompted Faisal Khan, who is not related to Gaffar Khan, to revive the organisation was his concern over rising extremism among the Muslim youth owing to “faulty interpretation” of Islam. “Islam is a religion of peace and love…it never advocates killing of the innocents,” he says.
Faisal said there was an acute shortage of organisations where the entire society gets reflected. “I know about secular organisations where there is no Muslim representation and similarly there are social organisations where there is no representation of the Hindus. These organisations cannot claim to be social organisations in the true sense. They may be religious or caste-based,” he added.
“Prophet says…the best person is who benefits others….even the concept of satyagraha has been explained by the Prophet,” Faisal said while speaking to Deccan Herald. “There is a need to understand Islam in a proper way…we should use the teachings of the Prophet to spread this message among the Muslim youths….we should counter the radical thoughts through Prophet’s message,” he says.
Khan says that it must be told to the Muslims that Islam meant “faith, love and protection”. For Faisal there was no particular brand of Islam. For the radicals among the Hindus, Faisal has quotes from the life and teachings of Lord Rama.
Faisal appears to be sore with the Muslim activists and the organisations, which claim to be working for the community. “They have always portrayed the Muslims as victims. This will not work and the Muslims will not be benefited by this,” he remarks.
“Unfortunately the Muslim activists, who claim to be champions of the Muslim cause, have limited themselves to the religious issues…..of course there are religious issues concerning the Muslims but they too, being part of society, have to be made part of any voice against the social and other problems confronting the country,” Khan said.
Khudai Khidmatgar has both Hindu and Muslim volunteers and workers. “We have a 60: 40 ratio of Muslims and Hindus and we take up issues concerning social, cultural, political and other fields and jointly raise our voice,” he said.
“We took up the issue of illegal constructions on the ponds and other issues concerning the common people in Kannauj district in UP. We also held meetings in UP’s communally sensitive Muzaffarnagar district after it witnessed large-scale clashes following which a large number of Muslims fled from their homes in the villages,” he added.
“The problems that confront the nation are of concern to both Hindus and Muslims and so they should come together to find a solution. This is what our organisation seeks to do and this is what will make India a truly secular nation,” Khan says. Khudai Khidmatgar had also been involved in relief activities in Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry during the recent floods.
Faisal, a post graduate in sociology and a graduate in law from Aligarh Muslim University, realises the radicalisation of the Muslim youths was a dangerous sign and needed to be confronted forthwith but with love. “The government of India has also acknowledged that we are working toward de-radicalising of the Muslim youths,” he said.
Faisal strongly believes that the de-radicalisation could be achieved through making them aware of the true meaning of Islam. “If the Muslim youths become active in social fields then they will not have any fear…they will not feel alienated and feel that they too are very much of society…social activism must be popularised with the Muslim youths,” he added.
“In our country even social service has turned into a profession like any other….this is not the way to serve society,” he remarks.
“Hum sabke hain…Rub sabke hain..Sab hamare hain,’’ (we belong to all…the God belongs to all and all belong to us) says Faisal, who was also associated with some other social organisations, when asked about his religious views. Khudai Khidmatgar has also started a helpline through which it counsels the youths on different issues. “We want to propagate the ideals of the Frontier Gandhi,” he says.
Faisal understands very well that the task ahead of him is not easy. “It is difficult but not unachievable,” he says.