Loyalty and the Indian Muslims – By Seema Maheshwari
A letter to INDIA ABROAD, November 27, 2009
I believe Major Nidal Hasan’s murderous rampage at Fort Hood , Texas , arose from his divided loyalties.
Was he an American soldier or a Muslim? Obviously, he felt the two positions were mutually exclusive.
Muslims in India have dealt with that issue for decades. Some consider themselves Indians first, whereas homegrown Muslim terrorists speak for themselves.
My father’s family was faced with the loyalty dilemma in 1947. My father, Brigadier Mohammed Ghufran, and his elder brother, Brigadier Mohammed Usman, were in the Indian Army during Partition.
The newly formed Pakistani government wanted all the Indian-Muslim officers to move to the newly created State. Brigadier Usman was offered the ultimate prize, to be the chief of Pakistan ’s army. My uncle refused. He and his family were Indians first, even if he would now be fighting his friends and fellow Muslims. A prize of Rs. 50,000 was put on his head. July 3, 1948, he was killed while leading a battle in Naushera. Many now know him as Naushera Ka Sher (the tiger of Naushera).
Even though my father and the rest of the family were devastated by his death, no one ever questioned the decision. The pride and loyalty instilled in me as a child, for being Indian, with roots which can be traced back hundreds of years, is as strong now after migrating from India 38 years ago, as they were when I as a child would have watch the Republic Day parades. For that I am eternally grateful.
After all, had the decision to move to Pakistan been made 62 years ago, not only would I not be writing this letter about Indian pride but I certainly would not be having the married surname of Maheshwari.
REPLY: INDIA ABROAD, December 4, 2009 – By InterfaithShaadi.org
I am really moved by a letter about loyalty and the Indian Muslim (November 27) from a proud Indian Muslim, Seema Maheshwari.
The sacrifice by her family for India should be well recognized. She has wonderfully articulated some of issues, saying, ‘Some Muslims consider themselves Indians first, whereas homegrown Muslim terrorists speak for themselves.’ She also pointed out that if her family had migrated to Pakistan , she would not bear the married surname of Maheshwari.
Now we, Muslims and Hindus, having moved to America , are facing a different challenge, this time not due to communal divisions but due to interfaith marriages within our next generation. Our research shows that 38 percent of Hindus and 45 percent of Muslims marry outside their faiths, and these include many Hindu-Muslim marriages. It remains to be seen how loyalties to their religion and to their spouses are sorted out. Are these loyalties mutually exclusive?
Taking Seema Maheshwari as a role model, rather than Major Nidal Hasan, I hope interfaith couples and their families keep intolerance to each other’s faith and conversion practices out of their new relationships.
Admin: Readers may be proud to know of Seema’s Muslim family for their immense contributions for India’s Independence and to Bollywood. Some of her relatives include Khwaja Gulam Abbas (gave up life in Panipat during 1857 independence movement), film director Padma Shri K. A. Abbas, Mahavir Chakra awardee Brigadier Mohammad Osman, dad Brigadier Mohammed Ghufran, Neelima Azeem, Shahid Kapoor, etc.