Nobody ever gets any kind of rights there no matter how long they have lived there

Everybody everywhere has a particular ethnicity and an identity.  Its importance totally depends on the context in which you find yourself.  For example, an Indian independence leader, Mohammad Ali, was asked if he was an Indian first or a Muslim first.  His answer: It depends.  In a secular context, he is an Indian first, and secondarily a Muslim. But, obviously, in a mosque, he is Muslim first.  

In America, few people are unaware of their cultural identity, which encompasses their ethnicity, religion or lack of it, education level, geographical location,  and country of origin, etc.

America and Canada are the only countries in the world that welcome immigrants into their social fabric.  Until recently Germany did not allow citizenship to those born to immigrant parents or grandparents.  France forces its immigrants to adopt French culture and values or remain outside the fold forever.  Until recently, i.e., post-9/11, England would not accept immigrants and their children into British society. Immigrants had many political rights,  but not regarded as equal citizens.  It is the influence of American way of life that is changing the British society, as it grapples with multiculturalism.

Muslim countries, without exception, are uncivilized in this respect.  Among the worst violators of simple, human decency  is Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries. Nobody ever gets any kind of rights there no matter how long they have lived there. It is truly the home of Islamo-fascism, which means cultural and social supremacism.  What is worse, the Saudis and the Gulfies are intimidated by white skin and Western passports.  They know that their entire way of life is borrowed or purchased from the West, without their ever having made any contribution to world civilization other than Islam, which they either disregarded or distorted throughout history. 

Pakistan, founded on a highly doubtful and controversial proposition, remains as divided socially and politically as ever.  Ethnicity is at the heart of political divisions there. The competition for power and other and political resources  is among the Punjabis, who are 60 percent of the population, and the Sindhis and mohajirs or immigrants from India. In Karachi, to establish one’s residency in the city, you are required to disclose not only where your father was born, but also where your grandfather was born, so they can establish your ethnicity.

India, being a self-proclaimed pluralist society, has its share of problems in ensuring equal rights for everyone, but it has been making steady progress in this regard over the past many decades.  It has strong institutions of civil society that are always ready to defend the underprivileged and the politically weak sections of society.

For the more enlightened among us, modesty in dress code is obligatory, but burqa, scarf/hijab or niqab is not our way.  

One of the reasons why immigrants  from India found it much easier to integrate themselves into the American society than many other nationalities is the pluralist and democratic traditions of modern India, where, like in the US, everybody is in a minority of some sort.

In the Khalidi clan, we have preferred to identify ourselves as Indian-Muslim Americans because we cherish our history, our language, our literature, our music and our food – our culture, in short.  Unfortunately, in one area, religion and religious traditions, Muslims of India have tended to abandon some aspects of religious practices.  While the abandonment of the peeri-muridi and reverence of dead holy men makes sense, the adoption of Saudi-Gulfi customs is what is so unenlightened and dumb.  This kind of aping of the Gulf Arabs customs is most clearly evident in the way hijab is observed. What is worse is the niqab worn by many South Asian Muslims, more so by the Gulf-returned Pakistanis and Indians than those who never lived in those backward places.

For the more enlightened among us, modesty in dress code is obligatory, but burqa, scarf/hijab and niqab is not our way.

Like many other immigrant groups, we have tended to simplify the names given to newborn babies, so they are spared the hassle most of us have faced in getting non-Muslims to pronounce our names correctly.  But one thing we don’t do is to use Christian names, the way some many Iranians, Koreans, the Chinese, the Vietnamese and the Filipinos do.  The Arabs also keep their Muslim names.

Quite aside from ethnic matters, the more enlightened and culturally sophisticated (evolved?) people all over the world regard themselves as world citizens, who care about struggles for justice everywhere.  They are informed about national and international politics,  have some familiarity and taste for the literatures of other countries and societies, and enjoy listening to a wide variety of music.

To speak of “our culture” is to speak in terms of generalities and ideas that are very tenuous. That is because customs are always in a flux everywhere.  They keep changing their forms,  although some essential features may persist.  Weddings and festivals are occasions when customs and traditions are most on display.  But the way they are displayed or observed varies in the details from family to family and from region to region.  

The Arabs and the Iranians have adopted the European tradition of clothing the bride in a white dress, but not the people of the Indian Subcontinent, whether at home or overseas.  The Indian Muslim or Pakistani bride usually wears an elaborate, red dress. The grooms generally wear some variation of a sherwani, or long coat, with some kind of headgear, often a turban.  But grooms in proper suits is not uncommon.

While male guests at weddings usually wear a formal suit, women always wear lots of jewelry and bright traditional dresses that have changed little over the centuries, again a sharp contrast to the Arabs and Iranians who wear Western outfits.

By Admin

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