By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
30 March 2020
The Quran calls the Muslim community the best one because they are supposed to be ideal persons in the society. They demonstrate good behaviour, tell people what is good and what is bad; they follow discipline, obey the laws of the country and follow the instructions of their religious leaders in matters of faith. They seek the welfare of the whole society and in times of trials and tribulations, they help the people in distress.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the inherent indiscipline and their lack of civic sense, particularly of the middle-class Muslim community. Such indiscipline has already been demonstrated on Shab-e-Barat when Muslim youth race with each other on motorcycles on the roads at night defying traffic rules and risking their own lives and those of others. The same indiscipline and lack of Civic sense and scant respect for the law and for the appeals of religious authorities has again come to the fore during the lockdown triggered by the fear of Covid-19.
The government of India has implemented 21-day lockdown in order to contain the spread of the pandemic. Only essential services have been permitted. People have been asked to observe social distancing and have been instructed to stay indoors. They have been allowed to come out of their homes only to buy essential commodities and medicines because the virus spreads very fast through contact.
The religious leaders of Muslims have also realized the gravity of the situation and have unanimously suspended collective prayers in mosques asking Muslims to offer prayers at home. They have also advised Muslims to stay at home and observe social distancing.
Unfortunately, it has been painfully observed that Muslims living in middle class localities and bustee areas have ignored the lockdown rules as well as appeals of the ulema and social activists. They have not taken the epidemic seriously and have been roaming around in the locality uselessly or assembling in the streets for gossips. In other words, there is business as usual in these localities.
As for Kolkata, in the Muslim majority areas like Matiabruz, Topsia, Taltala etc youth are seen playing cricket in deserted streets, or moving around on bikes or simply standing on the road in groups. All the appeals of the police and ulema have fallen on deaf ears.
In other districts like Hooghly, the situation is almost the same in Muslim areas and bustee areas. In Chapdani, Telnipara, Angus etc people are seen loitering in streets. The police sometimes have to use force to disperse them. When they see the police van coming, they withdraw to their homes but as soon as the police disappear, they come out of their homes, grinning and joking.
The scenario is not different in other towns and cities of India. For example, in the Okhla area of New Delhi, where the women of Shaheen Bagh earned the reputation for discipline and observance of law, the youth in the area have disappointed the local administration with their ignorance of the threat posed by the virus and disobedience of lockdown rules so much so that a senior police official of Okhla had to issue a special appeal to the people of Jamia Nagar, Shaheen Bagh, Okhla and Friends Colony to stay indoors during the lockdown. This is a matter of shame for the residents of a Muslim locality.
The behaviour of Muslims of neighbouring Pakistan is equally disappointing. The country is under a 14-day lockdown as the pandemic has affected more than 1400 people and about 15 people are dead. Still, the Muslims, particularly, the Middle-Class Muslims have ignored the appeals of the administration and religious leaders to stay indoors. Therefore, Dr Tahirul Qadri had to issue an appeal to the Muslims to stay at home for their own safety and health and also asked the government to enforce the lockdown if it wants to contain the epidemic soon. "Otherwise, the lockdown will serve no purpose", he said.
This shows the irresponsible behaviour of the general Muslims particularly in the Sub-continent in the face of a serious global threat like Covid-19. With this lack of sense of social responsibility, defeating the pandemic seems difficult.
S. Arshad is a regular columnist for NewAgeIslam.com