(Written on the request of a Dawah group)
Meenakshipuram is a village of around 360 houses, then in 1981 , some 5 kms away from Thirunelveli city , popularly known as Nellai , in Tamil Nadu. The hamlet consisted of people from lower caste known as ” Pallar ” ( meaning : low lying people )
The other community living nearby was “Dewar” / “Thevar ” ( meaning ; pure from cosmos, aristocrat or king ). They are supposed to be forward /higher caste. You can see untouchability to the extent that not only their hamlets are located apart but even in tea shops you can see ” Two tumbler system ” existing even to date; meaning even tea glass used by Dewars are not supposed to be touched by Pallars. In those days ” use and throw ” glasses did not had their existence.
One evening a gentleman from lower one was on his way back to home from work, he saw a group of people witnessing a one sided fight . A boy of around 10-12 years of upper caste was beating a man of around 40 years of a lower caste. No one could dare to poke his nose in between and hold on the pure hand to stop fight. Some police men were sitting nearby but as silent spectators. It was such a disgusting “norm ” of villages to witness these type of issues day in day out and accepted it as their fate and a normal thing. The gentleman, an accountant in auditors office, could not swallow this indignity. He thought for himself that enough is enough and now I should do something to come out of this predicament. An idea flashed in his mind , that how deep a shock it would be to the arrogants if we embrace Islam en mass and that alone would provide us dignity as human beings. I inquired , interrupting him that where from you got this idea ?, he said that I remember , long back my late father use to say this, but I never thought of this seriously till that incident occurred.
He said , ” I took this issue seriously and started reading about Islam , when I got convinced I said that until I don’t get the whole of my community on board I would not declare my faith “
Then he started meeting the elders and the youth of his community and took efforts till it dawned upon them that only Islam would give them the self respect to hold their heads high as any other human being. ( M. N. Roy wrote long back in his book ” Historical role of Islam ” that Islam made inroads in India not through sword but through its teachings of social justice ). Hence after a consistent efforts of six months the whole Pallar community decided to bury the past , off load the baggages of caste system and create a new history. Hence a new heroic feet was accomplished and decided to embrace Islam. That blessed day , 19th October 1981 , around 1000 people took bath , dressed well , assembled at one place and took a rally and marched up till a mosque in Thirunelveli and embraced Islam collectively. (May Allah reward those noble souls , some of them may be alive and some would have reached Him. )
” Isha’at Islam sabai ” an organisation related to Muslim League was lead by a reputed leader , know by his nick name ” Medai Mudalali ” ( اسٹیج والے سرکار ). He was instrumental in taking care of the whole movement there after. Muslim league beat the drum and soon the issue was high lighted in the media and spread like jungle fire. Then rest of things that followed was the beginning of communal politics in India. Many collectors ( DM ) were rushed there , they offered lands , loans , pucca houses etc. Later Mr.Vajpayee Mr.Advani and prof Murli Manohar Joshi and other birds of same feathers flocking together landed on to the village , held padyatras, mass contacts , and many more programmes with two objectives.
1. To stop the “fire ” spreading to neighbour villages.
2. To persuade them back to their fold.
New Muslim expressed their faith and firmly stood like a rock against such schemes to lure them back. When this did not work , threats loomed large over the village.
An interesting anecdote was that in a public programme Mr. Advani pleaded them to come back to their old religion. An elderly woman stood up and said ” We will come back provided my daughter becomes your daughter-in-law. !!! There was a huge applause !!!
Then this movement caught momentum and spread across many villages , may be around 50. Today they have Masjid and maktab in every village . From Meenakshi puram alone 10-12 children became Moulvis and Huffaz. I would like to share an interesting episode which still lingers in my heart. I was with Moulana Kausar Yezdani sb ( RA ) . We offered mughrib salah in the village masjid , the prayer was lead by a young moulvi of around 20 years old and his Qirat was so melodious and so moving that it ran through our spines and our souls felt the cool. Moulana appreciated and said to the boy that I will give you 95 marks for your qirat. The boy replied ; ” hazrat my elder brother had been gifted with so beautiful qirat recitation that sometimes back an Arab visited our village and he got so much impressed that he took him away along to his country as Imam , see how Allah is bountiful to us that there was a day when we used to graze and ate pigs and today we lead prayers to Arabs !!! MashaAllah “