‘Muslims of India’ FB page to document, celebrate community’s past and present

Inspired by ‘Humans of New York’, the two-week old FB page aims to have a diverse coverage of ‘human’ side of the lives of Muslims of India in all its shades and regions that could evolve into a kind of platform for “de-stereotyping exercise

By M Reyaz, TwoCircles.net,

New Delhi: “At a time when Indian Muslims are often dehumanized and rendered as a single, threatening monolithic stereotype, we want to celebrate and document the many different people who make up the community, who cannot be bound by a simple description, and are just living their lives as best as they can,” announces the description on the Facebook page of ‘Muslims of India’.

Started by a young publisher, the ‘Muslims of India’Facebook campaign is an “attempt to document and celebrate the past and present of Muslims of India.” It is inspired by ‘Humans of New York’ (HONY) project.

Muslims of India

Mazin Khan of Milli Gazette, a monthly focusing on Indian Muslims, started this page at the end of 2014. The two week old Facebook page has already attracted over 3000 followers. Realising that it is not easy to run such a page, The Milli Gazette’s Facebook page – that has over 122,679 followers – is being used to “rocket launch” it.

Although inspired by the Humans of New York, this campaign, rather than just posting about people, aims to “talk about history, monuments, culture, tehzeeb etc.” Although there are no rules yet, but it is clear, nothing political or sectarian/communal will be entertained but the aim is to keep it “simple”.

Mazin Khan, the brain behind the campaign, told TwoCircles.net in an interview that the simple aim of such a page is to “have a diverse coverage of ‘human’ side of the lives of Muslims of India” in all its shades and regions that could evolve into a kind of platform for “de-stereotyping exercise.” Excerpts from an interview with Mazin Khan:

‘Muslims of India’ seems an interesting idea. Please elaborate

This page is inspired by ‘Humans of New York’ (HONY) FB page. We say so, as there are so many pages which are inspired by HONY and we have seen them for a long time. But this idea of having a page to record and celebrate individuals in the Indian Muslim community came out of the blue. As soon as this idea dawned, Milli Gazette’s team immediately created this Facebook page. Then started the brainstorming on how the page should look.

When exactly did you start this FB page? How has been the response so far?

We created it on December 28, 2014. By December 29, the profile picture and cover photo was finalised and in the wee hours of December 30 we went live with our first post. The response has been great alhamdulillah. Three days have translated into more than 2500 likes and counting. It’s not easy to get followers, unless you are actor, singer, or cricketer!

We understand this response is possible because we used Milli Gazette’s Facebook page to rocket launch it. Still it is great to see an idea being liked by people. Our first post had Zakiya Jafri Saheba, wife of Ahsan Jafri, murdered in Gulbarg Society during Gujarat riots. She is an inspiration for us.

The page is inspired by ‘Humans of New York’ but in what ways will it be unique, or should I say, what will be the new thing you will do here?

We do follow what HONY does. But New York or USA is not India. We have only one policy as of now, to keep the page clean of politics. We don’t think we need to post about politics on a page meant to celebrate individuals. Things with social and moral messages will be shared. As happens with all ideas we too will, insha Allah, evolve as we grow, in numbers and in age. We will see what is working, what is not.

The Facebook Page of ‘Muslims of India’ is linked to ‘Muslim India’, the old Journal which was suspended in 2004. Are there any plans to revive it again?

Don’t ask about the fate of Muslim India Journal. It was suspended and restarted many times. Now it is suspended indefinitely and with no one approaching Syed Shahabuddin Saheb to take over it, it seems it will never again come out. Milli Gazette team brought it out during 2003 and 2004.

Pharos Media has had the domain www.muslimindia.net registered, we used it for the journal. Ever since we stopped publishing Muslim India, muslimindia.net has been sitting idle. Now, with this MOI Facebook page, we hope this domain will be brought to use. We will see later how to go about it.

Now that the page is launched, what do you plan to achieve and how do you plan to go about it?

We aim to have a diverse coverage of ‘human’ side of the lives of Muslims of India. All shades, all regions, insha Allah. Think of it as a kind of de-stereotyping exercise for the community. We would love to get entries from your readers too. Ask them to message us on Muslims of India.