Hindu Muslim unity

(L-r): Dr. Maqbool Haq, chairman of the board of directors at Indian Muslims Association of Greater Houston; Ramesh Bhutada, chief guest and vice president of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA; and Amil Nooruddin Yamani, leader of the Bohra community of Kingwood and Woodlands, are seen at the Eid Milan celebration in Houston, Texas. (Quaid Tinwala/SMB Films and Images)

A perfect example of Hindu-Muslim unity was seen recently in Houston, Texas, when the Indian Muslims Association of Greater Houston invited Ramesh Bhutada, advisor to the Hindus of Greater Houston and vice president of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, USA, as the chief guest for their annual Eid Milan celebration.

In what turned out to be the evening’s highlight, Bhutada’s simple yet powerful speech on Hindu-Muslim unity was met with a long standing ovation from everyone in the room, including Consul General of India Dr. Anupam Ray, who was among the first to rise and applaud.

Bhutada, an Indian American Houston-based industrialist, began his address by wishing Eid Mubarak to all the members of the association and commended the nonprofit organization for their mission of fostering amity across cultures, communities and religions.

Bhutada deliberately reiterated his introduction as a leader of the HSS and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an organization that inspires him, because, he explained, he “wanted to have an open dialogue.” The RSS and HSS, he emphasized, are primarily involved in character building of the youth so that its members can become proud citizens of the country they live in.

He assured the gathering that “the RSS and the HSS would like communal harmony and unity amongst all religions.”

He continued, “We all have historical baggage – let’s acknowledge that, but we cannot look backwards. We have to look forward and that is the only way we can lead a peaceful life in this world.”

How powerful is looking forward? To explain this, among other examples, Bhutada alluded to Consul General Ray. In 1947, Ray’s father had to flee East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and in 1971, religious violence forced his maternal grandparents to leave Bangladesh, too. But Ray, who held an Iftaar dinner a few weeks ago, chose not to let these incidents dictate his life, he said. The only way, Bhutada said, we can win the hearts of people is by love and peace, cooperation and unity.

Bhutada briefly touched on his support of the Kalam Center, an NGO started by a young Muslim man, Arshad Sheikh, in the old city of Charminar, Hyderabad. Bhutada did this on a friend’s recommendation and he has been funding their programs for the past four years. Today, the center provides vocational training to 500 young Muslim boys and girls for ages eight and up, and 70 percent of the beneficiaries are girls. Bhutada urged the gathering to support these “poor children” and give them a chance in “becoming proud citizens of India.”

The past president of IMAGH, Latafath Hussain, said in a statement: “While we had no doubt that his presence and speech will add charchand to our Eid Milan, even we were overwhelmed when 500+ guests gave a standing ovation to his speech. He delivered it from the heart and the message of not looking back but forward was appreciated by all.”

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