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Movement to bring Hindus, Muslims closer: Badshah Khan's Khudai Khidmatgars march ahead

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Shams Ur Rehman Alavi & Imran Khan

BHOPAL: A national movement to bring Hindus, Muslims and different religious communities closer, is spreading fast across the country.

Khudai Khidmatgar, the organisation set up by legendary freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, which was revived in India a few years ago, is now drawing people in all corners of the country.

The organisation now has its presence in 120 districts in India, clearly suggesting that the mission is on forward march.

Faisal Khan, who along with Khudai Khidmatgar convenors Gurmukh Singh, Anandi Amma and Anurag Shukla, apart from hundreds of other volunteers, work on the ground to bring communities closer by serving others, which paves way for shedding biases and misconceptions regarding other communities.

"Any social organisation or group should mirror the society and must have men, women from all sections. We keep this in mind. There is no diktat from the top in Khudai Khidmatgar, rather, all the people take decisions together", he says.

"We decommunalise, which is a sort of detoxification, getting people rid of their biases. For example, I go to temples and gurudwaras, with my friends. And when I go to madarsas, my Hindu and Sikh friends are there".

During a visit to Bhopal recently, Dr Kush Kumar Singh, who is associated with Khudai Khidmatgar, narrated his own experiences. He also tells how the reaction of his acquaintances was when he first decided to stay in a Muslim locality in Delhi.

Faisal Khan says that Muslims should be more on the ground, working among people, be social activists and work for positive change in society, apart from taking role of social leadership. He has hundreds of stories, inspiring tales and anecdotes of communal harmony at the tip of his tongue.

"In 1969, when Ahmedabad was in the grip of communal violence, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan had arrived and he straight went to Gujarat. He visited Somnath temple, met the priest and made an appeal to people. And, the riot stopped", he says. "In Delhi, there was such a huge reception at Ramlila Maidan for him", Khan says.

Khudai Khidmatgars now plan to embark on a journey to Bangladesh, spreading the message of peace and brotherhood. The message would be that if even one Hindu lives in fear in Bangladesh, it is a matter of shame for Muslims in Bangladesh.

"Just like Hindus as majority have greater responsibility to lead and ensure well-being of minorities, Muslims in Bangladesh must ensure that no Hindu should feel unsafe there", he says.

The Yatra that aims at a peaceful and prosperous South Asia, will start later this year. Its motto is 'Hate-free, Hunger-free South Asia'. He says that the religions provide support to people and our aim is to work for building a humanitarian society. Also, he opines that people who are close to their societies can do much more in spreading awareness. 

He makes an important point: "In some organisations, people get distanced from their own faiths. That's bad because if a person's link to his people is severed, his acceptability will also go down."

"People who are linked and have strength on the ground, can do wonders, as they are in a position to tell others about issues, sort of discords and lead others to harmony".

"Islamic teachings are about humanity, to ensure that no one in your neighbourhood sleeps on an empty stomach, to save and ensure well-being of fellow people. Isn't this what we call Right to Food, Right to Water, Rights of neighbours, which were talked about centuries ago. But why our clergy doesn't talk about it ?", he says.

Khudai Khidmatagar volunteers take pledge of Khidmat (service). Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who was known as Badshah Khan and Frontier Gandhi, had set up Khudai Khidmatgar (Servants of God) or the Red Shirts.