Shankar-Azan syncretic message lives on as Hindu leaders visit Islamic gathering in Assam

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 18-02-2024
Members of Srimanta Sankardeva Sangha (wearing dhoti) at the Islamic gathering
Members of Srimanta Sankardeva Sangha (wearing dhoti) at the Islamic gathering


Ariful Islam / Rangia

The 17th century Sufi saint Azan Pir, often referred to as Azan Fakir, who spread Islam in Assam, had composed his zikir (Assamese Muslims devotional song) – Mur monot bhed bhaab nai O Allah/ Mur monot bhed bhaab nai O Allah/ Hindu ki Musalman, ekei Allahor farman mur monot eketi bhaab (I have no difference in my mind, O Allah/ I have no difference in my mind, O Allah/ Hindu or Muslim, all are sent by Allah and I believe in it).

The zikir still holds relevance to Assamese society. The latest example is the Iztema (Islamic congregational convention) right after the 93rd convention of the Srimanta Sankardeva Sangha in lower Assam’s Rangia in Kamrup district which reflected the zikir’s verses in letter and spirit.

The Rangia Iztema

Close on the heels of the conclusion of the 93rd Rangia convention of Srimanta Sankardeva Sangha with the message of peace and harmony, the Rangia Iztema has seen an unparalleled example of religious unity, harmony, and brotherhood among different communities and faiths. The Srimanta Sankardeva Sangha is an organisation promoting and propagating the ideologies of 15th-16th century Neo-Vaishnavite saint and reformer Srimanta Sankardeva.

Three elderly members of the Srimanta Shankardeva Sangha -- Hirendra Nath, Bipin Nath, and Jagdish Nath -- paid a visit to the three-day Iztema held at Kachari Solmari locality in Rangia where lakhs of Muslims participated and took stock of its progress. The elderly devotees were welcomed by local Muslims to the Iztema’s site.

"There has been an atmosphere of unity and harmony prevailing in Assam since the days of Azan Fakir and Srimanta Sankardeva. Our neighbouring Hajo area is a vibrant example of harmony and peaceful coexistence. (The Hajo locality in Kamrup district is one of the celebrated harmonious and peaceful places of coexistence of Hindus and Muslims.) Politicians and vicious circles often try to break our unity and harmony. We must all work together to resist those elements. Whether we are Hindus or Muslims, we should stand together and maintain our unity and harmony," Jagdish Nath told Awaz–the Voice.

Members of Srimanta Sankardeva Sangha being shown around the venue of the Iztema

"It can never be wrong to learn about other religions or to show respect towards other religions," his companion Hirendra Nath said, adding that he had faced questions from various people as to why he should attend the Muslim convention despite being associated with the Srimanta Sankardeva Sangha. He said, “we should all come out of such narrow-mindedness”.

On the other hand, Bipin Nath, the third devotee member of the Sangha who came to know about Iztema, said: "We are all the same people. There is no difference between us. You follow the Quran, just as we speak about Bhagavat Gita. The essence of all religious texts is the same. So we all need to stay together and take the society forward."

Before the three, office bearers of Srimanta Sankardeva Sangha also took stock of the preparation for the Islamic conference, held in Rangia from February 13 to 15. It was reciprocal to many local Muslims extending a helping hand in preparation for the Shankardeva Sangha Convention a few days earlier.

A Muslim helping an eldely member of Shankar Srimanta Sankardeva Sangha move around the venue of the Iztema

In yet another example of the harmonious coexistence of the Sankar-Azan culture of Assam, the Nij Borigog Kumarpata Jame Masjid Committee offered voluntary service to prepare the venue for the Sankardeva Sangha convention a couple of days ago. Every functionary of the mosque committee worked voluntarily with the Hindus in clearing and levelling the vast paddy field for the convention.

In addition, most of the 1,000 bigha of land in Hatikhala Pathar where the Sankardeva Sangha convention was held, is owned by Muslims. It is noteworthy that they have voluntarily offered the land for the convention of the Sankardeva Sangha and have helped to make the conclave a grand success, which was indeed a befitting and timely reply to those who want to create conflict and divide the society.

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"As residents, we have been hearing for some time that a Muslim religious congregation will be held here. So, today the three of us came to see the atmosphere. Although we follow different religions, everything is the same. If we can continue to work in peace and harmony, society will move in the right direction," said Hirendra Nath, who came to Kachari Solmari Pathar in Rangia to learn about the Iztema.