“Hatred always signifies the triumph of imagination over reality. The danger of hatred lies in the kind of intellectual and moral vacuum it tends to create and maintain among individuals and societies.” Leonidas Donskis

===> 15 years ago on December 6th, 1992, the world witnessed with horror the demolition of Babri mosque, and the killings that ensued continue to haunt politicians and non-politicians alike until today.

Scores of innocent civilians and children were killed within those 3 gruesome days…

Most who died were Muslims.

The civilized world, both secular and religious, have ceaselessly discussed and argued since then regarding the causes that can lead societies to stoop so low….

Hindus contend that a temple believed to be the birthplace of their God “Rama” was destroyed by the Muslim emperor Babar hundreds of years ago and instead built a mosque at that site. To date, no such theory has been proven. However, Hindu fanatics and ideologues believing in that part of history found it necessary to start planning the mosque’s destruction many years before the actual incident. On December 6, 1992, they broke through whatever security barricades were in place and succeeded in their plans to destroy the Babri mosque.

Until today, the case drags on to validate the findings of those who seem determined to prove their point and then to use that finding as a stepping stone to fuel and revive efforts to rebuild the temple…

Gleaning from history, this can only mean more trouble…

Thinkers and journalists on the other hand have been questioning whether India with 80% of its Hindu population should be classified as a secular or a religious state…

One wonders at times whether people have been asking the wrong questions and seeking the wrong answers.

After all, what does the killing of civilians has to do with a state being secular or religious? Does the existence of a religious state justify the killings of civilians and destruction by huge mobs of people? For that matter, does any religion permit such acts?

One also wonders why finding whether there was temple at that site more important than finding the perpetrators of that unrest and mayhem that led to the killings of so many? Is that more important for a state’s existence in the civilized world?

It has taken years and years to hold only a few of the many perpetrators accountable for those acts of violence.

The fact is that whether a temple existed at that site or not was really not the reason why so many people continued to being killed for days after the incident that left Babri mosque in rubbles of stone.

The reason for that gloomy day and many that came before and after that incident was the existence of plain old “hatred”.

It’s nothing but hatred that has festered within the minds and hearts of a sect of those citizens who proudly call it “Bharat” or “India”.

Clearly, such hatred does have its roots in historical events and one can not simply ignore those events. However, for a country to move on beyond these religious divides, it needs to address the causes that until today keep Hindus and Muslims at edge in many parts of India. The source of that hatred seems to have evolved over the years from realities of the past and religious differences to people’s own imaginative theories. And when unchecked, such imaginations can rise to very dangerous levels. Leonidas Donskis in his book “Forms of Hatred: The Troubled Imagination in Modern Philosophy and Literature” states that, when hatred starts “fighting the imagined monsters and evils….the more intense it becomes, and the more disconnected from that world its haters become.”

He continues on to write that “Hatred always signifies the triumph of imagination over reality. The danger of hatred lies in the kind of intellectual and moral vacuum it tends to create and maintain among individuals and societies.”

Islamic teachings do not allow this kind of a hatred.

On the other hand, Islam not only discourages such hatred, but rather encourages peace, harmony and forgiveness…

For those who may point to certain Muslims who have shown behavior unbecoming a Muslim, all we can say is that their behavior is un-Islamic…

Simply put, Islam does not preach hatred…

The last prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him) lived his entire life as a tolerant, peace loving, and merciful human being. The world knows of the prophet when he visited the sick Jew lady even though she not only hated him but out of her sheer hatred used to throw filth and trash at him.

On his triumphant return to Makkah after many years when he was forced to leave Makkah, Prophet Muhammad not only offered immediate shelter to children, women and old people, but also provided protection to everyone who would not fight his people and would seek protection in the house of one of the prominent Quraysh leaders, Sufiyan.

Hind, wife of a renowned Quraysh leader, had not only killed Hamzah who was the prophet’s beloved Uncle but had mutilated his body by cutting his chest. When she quietly came to the Prophet and accepted Islam, the prophet did not say anything to her. Overly impressed by his behavior she said, “O Messenger of Allah, no tent was more deserted in my eyes than yours; but today no tent is lovelier to me than yours.”

And examples are plenty of him and others who follow him until today.

If Muslims and Hindus expect to live in harmony in the same country, they have to start addressing the feelings of hatred. Taking steps to get to know each other in a civilized manner more than cursing each other’s Gods would be a start.

The bottomline is that when people know you, they are less likely to hurt you. The following statement quoted in New York Times about a Hindu woman in 1992 during the clashes that ensued Babri mosque destruction explains this point very succinctly.

“These were not people that we hated,” said Geeta Goswami, a 26-year-old Hindu who on Tuesday cradled her son in her arms as rocks thrown by Muslims crashed against the crate planks of her home. “We want peace. These were people that we just never talked to. They were in their homes and we were in ours.”

Surely, a food for thought for all minorities living in with the majority in any country.

So, while India may have many priorities to advance itself in the nations of the world, it must manage its future risk by working to curb the hatred that until today continues to live in the hearts of so many. More importantly, Indians should discourage all politicians that fuel the fire of that hatred that in turn can set them back in the quest to become a civilized society of the world. For any comments and ideas to help minorities live peacefully in any country.