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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Nehru in heaven?

Last year on my trip to India, I subscribed to the Indian Journal of Secularism. Yesterday, I received four issues of the journal. The journals will keep me busy for some time. While browsing through one of the issues (Volume 19. No. 1. April-June 2015), I came across a paper by Prof. Monirul Hussain titled ‘When Nehru Died: Excavating the Response of Muslim Minority Citizens in a Small Town of Assam.’   

While most of the paper describes the reaction of the people in North Lakhimpur (in Upper Assam) to Jawaharlal Nehru’s death in 1964, and especially the devastation stemming from fear that Prof. Hussain’s maternal grandfather experiences, towards the end, he narrates his own efforts to make sense of an event that obviously had a great personal and public impact.

Prof. Hussain narrates: “When we all went to bed at night I was very much disturbed. As a 12 year old child I was thinking of life after death. What would happen to Nehru in the aftermath of his death in the court of invisible Allah/God? 

Our Moulvi Sahib told us earlier that only Muslims will go to heaven. Next morning when our Moulvi Sahib came to teach us how to read the Holy Quran, I raised a question before him. The Moulvi had quite hard opinions about religion. I asked him whether Nehru is going to heaven or not? The Moulvi was somewhat embarrassed. He wanted to avoid the question I raised. He asked me to concentrate on reciting the Quran. However, I was not relenting I raised the question again. 

He paused for a while and said, “Nehru will go to heaven Insa Allah.” I reminded him that it was he who told me on an earlier occasion that only Muslims will go to heaven after death. He paused for a while again, and then asserted very firmly: “Don’t you know the Muslims all over India are praying for him hence Nehru will go to heaven Insa Allah.” 

As a 12-year-old child I was relieved that Nehru will go to heaven! Later in the day I saw the Moulvi Sahib attending the Sarba Dharma prayer along with the priests of all other religions at the local Gandhi Maidan.”

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