Few days are better than Rakhi to talk about the bond, or whomever it may be. Not only does this day signify the delicate yet strong bond between brothers and sisters, it also has a deep historical connection with Hindu-Muslim unity.
Some see it as a religious tradition, some, as a secular, cultural event. There are many Muslims who celebrate the symbolic and otherwise aspect of it with all zeal and enthusiasm while others tend to stay away on religious guidelines, as they understand them. However, every single Muslim celebrates graciously the values and the emotions attached to it. So the answer to the question “Do Muslims celebrate Rakhi” is that every Muslim does. Just that some do it with the tying of Rakhi and others without it.
However, before we talk about Rakhi in the context of Muslims, let’s know about Rakhi. The symbolism of Rakhi is the tying of the Rakhi thread on the wrist as a form of ritual protection. Generally, it is by sisters to brothers, but it is also tied by individuals to their benefactors.
Rakhi has a lot of legends and historical events attached to it. There’s a legend of the fight between Indra and demon king Bali before which Indra’s wife tied Rakhi on his hand for his protection, which he won. There’s also a legend which says Vishnu’s wife, Goddess Lakshmi, not liking his staying in Bali’s palace, tied a Rakhi on Bali’s hand making him a brother to her and asking that he, taking back his request to Vishnu to stay in his palace, lets Vishnu go. Bali complied with it.
In history, we find the Alexander the Great and King Porus part which reads that Alexander’s wife sent Rakhi to King Porus requesting that he keeps from harming her husband, which he did. Probably the most popular is when Rabindranath Tagore asked the Indians during Bengal Partition to tie Rakhis on each other’s hands to signify Hindu-Muslim unity.
Now let’s come back to Rakhi in the context of Muslims. There have been popular cases of Muslims upholding the dignity of Rakhi. Rani Karnavati sent Rakhi to Emperor Humayun asking for protection and he did accept the responsibility and went for her protection. There’s the example of Rani Laxmi Bai sending Rakhi to Nawab of the dominion of Banda Ali Bahadur, asking for protection from the British.
As I’ve already mentioned, Muslims celebrate Rakhi both with and without Rakhi. The same way Eid namaz is different from sewain, tying of Rakhi is different from the promises that come with it. Some Hindus may love to pray, others will respect the prayers and enjoy the sewain. Both the groups try to celebrate this lovely message according to their own interpretation of their religion, and both are right in that regard.
In my opinion, whichever way you celebrate it, the most important thing is upholding the values, the dignity, the message this festival contains which is the message of love. Of unity. Of brotherhood. Of protection. Of an unbreakable, ever-strong bond. I say let each day come with the message of Rakhi, and let each day keep strengthening the Hindu-Muslim bond, let each day give the message of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb.