This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ashraf Nehal. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Being A Muslim In The Land Of Ram Is What My Identity Rests On, And I Am Proud Of It

More from Ashraf Nehal

Born as a Muslim, my mark of honor for Islam has always been high and will continue to be. That’s my identity and I doubt where I would have been without it. But being born as a follower of Islam in the land of Hindus is the strength of my identity. Yes, it is my strength and I fear the loss of this strength.

This identity first emerged when I was an infant in the lap of a nurse named Geeta and I believe this was planned for me by my Almighty Allah. Not only did He ensure I was a follower of the Holy Quran but also ensured that I accept the holiness of the Bhagavad Gita. This part of me remained untouched as I grew up in accordance to my secular values as opposed to the extremist’s notion of ‘sickular.’

Educated in a missionary school for nine years of my life, I was better versed in Biblical hymns than my Islamic prayers but that did not change the Islam I followed. I continued my bonding with Islam. I learnt to offer namaz a little late but on my own personal will and with the support of parents. The love I possess for Islam today has come to be naturally, and I bet it would have not been this loyal if it had been forced upon me.

Citing the example above, what I discovered is that I do not need to forsake Islam in order to honour Hinduism. But my initial experiences were different, like when I didn’t fast for a day or two during Ramadan and my weakness over the grip of Urdu and Arabic language would have me labelled, “Arre ye to Hindu hai, isse kya puchna!” (Don’t ask him, he’s as good as a Hindu!)

Photo provided by author.

When I look back, I realise it may have been my Hindu pals who asked me about my culture, my religion, my food who pushed me to be a staunch Muslim – possibly so I could bring biryani for them.

I was mainly motivated to be a Muslim by them. I still remember when I once failed to answer why we celebrate Eid-ul-Adha and I was mocked grievously by my teacher, as if I didn’t know what the answer to 2-1 is!

Personally, I have never felt my non-Muslim surroundings attempt to poison me regarding Islam and if they did, I believed it was my faith that was to be questioned not the community.

My identity is that of a Muslim but I cannot deny that it has been equally shaped as that of a Hindu. Not as a practitioner, but definitely as someone who respects it. While I was born a Muslim, and educated in a Christian organization, the acceptance of Hinduism came to me very easily.

Acceptance in the form of my father’s colleagues’ Holi celebration where I was eager to join. Acceptance in our Eid celebration where my non-Muslim friends came home and added more sweetness in the sewaiya. I can guarantee that both festivals have lesser joy without the other.

To my satisfaction, I have many a time heard many of my non-Muslim friends say “InshaAllah” and “MashaAllah” with full faith. Do they become Muslims by just saying so?

In return, let them be satisfied by me just saying “Jai Shri Ram.” I will remain a Muslim even after saying this. I will not magically transform into a traitor and neither will I serve any political purpose.

All I want to achieve is peace. Peace where my biryani and your mithai merges. Peace where my “Allahu Akbar” and your “Jai Shri Ram” don’t hurt or create fear but are accepted as a token of unity we aim to forge.

Yes, my green can merge with your saffron and create a space where only love is allowed. Let the hate wash away with my wudoo and your snaan. My soul has been transformed into a better human by following beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and I have also become a better version of a follower of Islam in Ram’s land by learning from his life.

Let the blood within me be a follower of Islam and the air I breathe be an honour to Hinduism. Let me move out of my boundaries and bring an end to this hatred and convert it to love.

Huge love to Lord Ram,
From a Muslim follower.

This article was first published here

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.
You must be to comment.
  1. Priya Bhasker

    The words are really very captivating and mesmerizing .Your writing let me imagine the beauty of life of a Muslim in India. Wonderful… Keep it up.?

More from Ashraf Nehal

Similar Posts

By dr.afshan afreen

By Diya Sharan

By Niti Kumar

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below