Migration: A Prophetic Trait

SOROOR AHMED agues that Raj Thackeray and his likes should be told to behave. They must learn the lesson that migration has always led to progress and development.

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SOROOR AHMED agues that Raj Thackeray and his likes should be told to behave. They must learn the lesson that migration has always led to progress and development.

There is something prophetic about migration. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) migrated to Medinah to establish the first Islamic State. Most Prophets were migrants: be it Ibrahim or Musa. The former arrived at Makkah to build Baitullah while the latter, born in the land of Pharaoh, confronted and subsequently destroyed the so-called mighty Egyptian empire. He travelled to the desert of Sinai and whole of Palestine. The story of Prophet Noah’s Ark is known throughout and Prophet Jesus Christ’s donkey-ride is documented in history. Prophet Yunus was swallowed by fish only to be coughed out later. Prophet Lut migrated along with Prophet Ibrahim.
None of the Prophets sat idle in the land of their birth but travelled and struggled to preach. No, they did not travel for livelihood or education or to conquer, but to spread the message of Allah. All of them struggled against the heavy odds and stood solidly against the powers that be and against the old and tyrannical order.
Apart from Prophets, we have history of great men and women travelling for one or the other – mostly worldly – objective. In Hindi we often talk about Janmabhoomi and Karmabhoomi. But the likes of Raj Thackerays want this phenomenon to stop. They fail to understand that the wheels of migration can never be reversed. Even if the entire Maharashtra is encircled with a Himalayan-size snow-capped lofty mountain, people will go there. This has happened not only today, but even thousands of years ago.
The silk route to China – encircled by huge mountains and deserts – was developed several thousand years ago. Humanity has braved the desert storms to criss-cross the entire sandy West Asia and North Africa. Ibn Batuta and Mahmud Shams (Chinese name Zheng He) confronted the tumultuous seas and oceans to explore the world. This was followed by the European sea-farers.
The Raj Thackerays need to be convinced that migrants have always excelled over the local population be it in the field of employment, education or business. Since they arrive at the new place they get disconnected with the old, antiquated and rigid norms and customs of their respective places. There is no social luggage with them to carry forward and their only motto is to establish themselves in the new homeland. Therefore, they strive harder than those living there for long.
The history of migrants needs to be analysed in proper perspective. The latest the migrant the more developed he would be. So if Indians and Chinese are making waves in the United States, it is simply because they are the latest to migrate to this land of opportunity. Before them the Jews had that distinction. The one aspect about the material success of Jews throughout the history is that they could do this because they have always been expelled from one Christian country to another. Thus as refugees or migrants they had to repeatedly work harder and assert for their survival – and thus they excelled.
In Pakistan the Muhajirs dominated the first two decades of that country’s history. Muhajirs means ‘migrants’ and not ‘refugees’ as the Indian media – most of them deliberately – wrongly translate. Muhajirs were initially not the discriminated lot; in fact they were the ones who formed the ruling elite, at least till the creation of Bangladesh. Consciously or unconsciously, they always boasted of their elevated Islamic status though their migration can never be equated with the one of the Muhajirs of 1428 years ago – that is those who travelled from Makkah to Medinah.
Be it the two continents of the western hemisphere – North and South Americas – Australia or Africa one thing is clear: every new wave of migrants often performs better than its predecessors. So the Third World migrants, especially from India or China, are doing much better than the progeny of Italians, Irish or British people who migrated about a century or two ago to the same land. Thus once those migrants get ensconced they become soft and luxurious-minded.
The Thackerays and the likes of them in the world need to learn something from the history of the migrants – be it internal, cross-border or across the oceans. Instead of throwing them out and deriding their culture, rituals or festivals they need to be accommodated. The world is too big and everyone has a right to reside at or migrate to wherever he wants.