1952 MANDYA, KARNATAKA, INDIA — The Chief Minister of Karnataka (then Mysore state) Sri. Kengal Hanumanthiah called on a Mayor’s meeting in the Town of Mandaya, and I am delighted that I have that souvenir book of all Mayors in Karnataka – here is a page from Yelahanka. My father was the Deputy Mayor at that time.
Later on, he became the Mayor of the Town of Yelahanka. Its population in 1952 was about 20,000 – of which Muslims were a meager 150, yet he was very popular among all the people. He remained on the council through the late ’50s. I remember going to the council meetings with him and running around the meeting table. One distinct thing I remember was the map of the town of Yelahanka. Since then, I have developed a fascination for Maps. I can draw plans of most places, including Bangalore and Yelahanka.
Mohamed Abdul Rahman, when he spoke, people listened. The town has remained free from Hindu Muslim conflicts, he and Mayor Ramas Swamy quell the possible conflict when Ganesha Statute was passing by the Mosque and a few people wanted to create a conflict. My father was the Amin of the town, and the entire town called him Mamu.
Everyone came to seek his advice on marital relations to property disputes and everything else. He always made time for everyone.
He broke many traditions, including having the Dalits in our home, eat with us, and my mother would make tea for them, and we all used the same glasses. Most of his Brahmin and Muslim friends were angry at him for treating them with dignity. That was the time when Dalits (untouchable was the word used then) people were not allowed in anyone’s home. As a teen, I followed my Dad’s example and fought with many people to get equal access to the Dalits at the tap on the street corner for water or the well on the Yelahanka Kere (lake).
The most humiliating thing I have witnessed was to see Dalits waiting until all others took the water from the tap. On top of it, when they were through, the upper caste people would wash that tap like there was no end to washing. Even the President of India, who is a Dalit, must have felt the humiliation when the temple was washed and cleansed several times after his visit.
If I had remained in Texas, I would have run for the Mayor of Carrollton and would most certainly have been elected. The transition from the president of the largest homeowner’s association and commissioner-at-large at the City would have made it easy. Two former Mayors had urged me to run. I had dropped all desires to be in politics and have chosen to do what gives me the most pleasure; Human rights, Freedom, Pluralism in Religion, politics, society, and workplace.
I am finding myself copying my father subconsciously, and thanks to my Father and Mother, who are role models for me. They considered everyone in the town to be their family, and I feel the same about fellow humans with a bias towards none.
Amin was the title bestowed by Jews, Christians, and Pagans to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – he was trustworthy, told the truth, stood up for justice for every human and they felt safe around him. My father followed him in practice and looks like I am treading the same path.
Do you agree that is what a Muslim was meant to be, the Amin who embraces the entire universe like the creator, and Mercy to entire humankind like the Prophet?
Dr. Mike Ghouse is the founder and president of the Center for Pluralism. He is a speaker, thinker, author, community consultant, pluralist, activist, newsmaker, and an interfaith wedding officiant. Mike is deeply committed to Free speech, Human Rights, and Pluralism in Religion, Politics, Societies, and the workplace. He has dedicated his life to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions to the media and the policymakers. The book information is at www.AmericanMuslimAgenda.com and his info at www.TheGhousediary.com.