Often after the prayers at mosques, most of the Muslims in India participate in discussions on the world affairs and issues faced by Muslim community. These discussions take place in disorganized groups of ten to fifteen people and topics of discussions include liberation of Palestine, war crimes by Allied powers in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. These discussions have a huge influence on the mindsets of lower class Indian Muslims who don’t have access to Internet and English Media. On 13th February, after the Salat-al-Juma (afternoon prayers performed by Muslim on Friday), I saw a group of young and old men discussing something and they all had a cheer on their face. It was a surprise for me as I never seen such a broad cheer on their faces. Silently, I joined the group to know the discussion and the reason for their happiness. A middle aged man was sharing the content of Obama’s speech delivered on National Prayer breakfast which he had seen on Internet. Each person part of the group was cheering every single sentence of the speech. This was the first time in my life time I saw an American President commanding respect in the heart’s of these people.
I have seen the anger towards George Bush Sr., I have seen the anger towards Bill Clinton and I have seen the anger towards George Bush Jr. but when it comes to Barrack Obama there is a radical shift in the opinions. Even a common man thousands of miles away recognizes the sense of friendliness in his talks. On National Prayer breakfast, Obama called out the Golden rule – the love for fellow human beings irrespective of their religion and color. While what he spoke wasn’t something unknown to people but the manner in which it was conveyed had a profound impact on everyone who heard the speech. Quoting the verses directly from Bible, Torah and Hadith and expressing his trust in peace and dialogue is probably one of the finest speeches delivered by an American president since long time.
There is a difference between commanding respect and demanding respect – while waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq tried to demand respect, Obama’s way of expressing his ideas on world peace and prosperity has commanded respect not just for himself but for the fellow Americans. Inherently, everyone understands the concept of peace - the problem arises when power induces arrogance among presidents and leaders. With thousands dead in Palestine and chaotic situation in Pakistan with Taliban taking over the western province, every move of Obama will be scrutinized and talked. The coming days will be the testing grounds for Obama on his capability to negotiate and establish peace and fight against terrorism. And as far as Taliban is concerned, clearly the momentum is towards Obama. Muslim communities across the world are not in the favor of Taliban’s extremist rule and Obama is going to have their full support in fighting against Taliban. But for the benefit of the innocent people living in western areas of Pakistan, if Obama negotiates a deal with Taliban in establishing democracy and human rights - it will become one of the greatest revolutions that have taken place in modern times.
February 20 3:05 PM