A human chain for peace in the North-East

ON the call of Mission Bhartiyam, a social outfit, people formed a human chain today at India Gate in solidarity with people of North-East and victims of riots and violence.

Program coordinator Shekhar Jain said, “We are really hurt by the recent ongoing violence and we have come forward to show that we are against all such violence and riots.” He added, “This human chain is a way to show that our unity and solidarity will rise come what may.” \

Pankaj Pathak from Mission Bhartiyam said, “Although some organisations and individuals went to Assam to help with relief efforts, we thought it will be good if we can all gather to show our unity.”

Ansaar Ahmed from NCHRO (National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations), who joined the human chain, thought it as a time of national emergency. “Our society is in danger and people must know that they are humans first, not Bodos, Hindus or Muslims.”

Large number of students joined the initiative to convey their feeling of brotherhood.  Common people present, also joined hands to show their solidarity for the cause.

Members carried many posters, pinned up on their chest, condemning the violence. One such poster read, “Na Bodo na Muslamaan, sabse pehle hai insaan.” (Neither Bodo nor Muslim, first comes the human being)

Mission Bhartiyam condemned the violence in Assam and also the difficulties North-Eastern people faced in other states because of some rumours.

Muslims and the Indian state since 1947

I COULD not resist the desire to write on this subject after the violence at Azad maidan on August 11, 2012, in Mumbai, and the competitive politics this event led to among rightist and identity seeking political parties in Maharashtra.

Now is the most appropriate time to analyse why certain sections of Muslims indulged in violence. What motivated them and why they directed their anger against state institutions and media?

First and foremost, I condemn the violence in the most strongest terms. Now comes the question, as to why it happened. On the surface it appears that certain sections of Muslims are unhappy with state institutions in the way they handled Bodo-Muslim clashes in Assam. Thousands of Muslim homes were burned by Bodo militants in order to drive them away. Many innocent people died in the clashes and government of Assam was lax in taking action against culprits.

In Burma, too, there was a massacre of Muslims and the government of India stood silent. Continue reading “Muslims and the Indian state since 1947”

Mir Anees deserves better

   “Teri har mouj-e-nafas rooh-ul-ameeN ki jaaN hai
     tu meri urdu zubaaN ka bolta Qur’an hai”

     Every breath of yours is the life of Gabrielle
     You are the speaking Qur’an of the urdu language

These are the words of the great urdu poet Josh Maliahabadi for Mir Babar Ali Anees.

The picture on the left is of a lane in old Lucknow dedicated to Mir Anees. Times have certainly changed!

“The poetic qualities and merits of Anees are not matched by any other poet,”

said Allama Shibli Nomani.

Picture on the right is of the haveli of Mir Anees, which is part of the Heritage Walk.

Election campaigns have not spared even this one!

Nasim Zaidi is the new Election Commissioner

FORMER Civil Aviation Secretary, Dr Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi, has been appointed as an Election Commissioner in the Election Commission of India. He fills the vacancy caused by the promotion of V. S. Sampath as Chief Election Commissioner. Sampath succeeded Dr S. Y. Quraishi.

Zaidi, a 1976 batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, retired as Civil Aviation Secretary on July 31. He had earlier worked as Director General of Civil Aviation, represented India in the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and also served earlier as Commissioner of Bareilly Development Authority.

A Masters in Public Administration from Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Zaidi has been a Mason Fellow for Public Policy at Harvard Institute for International Development. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Finance from Indian Institute of Finance.

Literacy initiative bearing fruits

THE Lucknow Guidance and Counselling Centre (LGCC) set up by the Aaghaz Foundation, a community-driven organisation working to eradicate illiteracy among Indian Muslim, in 2011 is showing encouraging results.

After the success of seven students who cleared a key banking exam, underprivileged Muslim students counselled/coached at LGCC are finding their footings in other fields too. These are some latest success stories –

1) Aiunul Hasan has been selected for a lucrative job at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)  in Gurgaon.

2) Kalbe Ali has ranked 448 in UPSEE (competitive exam for management and technical course), and has got a seat at Galgotia College of Engineering and Technology, Greater Noida. The college is among top 10 colleges of UP and has an exceptional placement record.

3) Farwa Naqvi has been selected for B.Sc. Agriculture at Aligarh Muslim University. Initially, her parents wanted her to join a relatively lesser known college in Rae Bareilly. But after a counselling session with the centre changed their mind.

4) Bhupendra Kumar has been selected in JNU All India competitive exam for M.Sc. Biotechnology. He was allotted a seat at Allahabad University but has instead chosen Banaras Hindu University to pursue M.Sc. Biochemistry.

Besides, around 35 second batch students preparing for various competitive exams, dozens of poor Muslim students visit LGCC daily for counselling.

Aaghaz Foundation is likely to announce a course for armed and defence forces too, starting next month.

Lord Hameed makes Lucknow proud

LORD Khalid Hameed who hails from Lucknow, India, has been felicitated with ‘Freedom of the city of London’ honour. He was rewarded for his contributions to medicine and inter-faith activities. He is currently Chairman of Alfa Hospital Group and London International Hospital.

Lord Hameed chairs the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council. He is a board member of both the British Muslim Research Centre, and the Ethnic Minorities Foundation. Dr Hameed supports various charities and was awarded the Sternberg Award for 2005 for his contribution to further Christian – Muslim – Jewish relations. He is involved with interreligious matters and lectures on this subject.

He was appointed by the Queen as the first Asian High Sheriff of Greater London for the year 2006-2007. This office is 1000 years old and is the second oldest office in the country after the monarchy. He was also named British Asian of the year 2007.

Acknowledging his efforts the Government of India conferred Lord Hameed with the Padma Bhushan in 2009.

Islamic Calligraphy: In search of a lifeline

THE art of Islamic calligraphy finds its roots in early Islam. Part of its popularity lay in the way Quran stresses the importance of written word. In Surah 96 (verse 3 to 4), God is described as one Who “taught man with the pen”. The Surah 68 starts with the oath, “And by the Pen”. There are several other Suras talking about writing, viz., Surah 96 (verse 3 to 4), Surah 82 (verse 10), Surah 50 (verse 16). Naturally, the best style of writings were developed for God. As Arabic became the language of all Muslims in Arabia and elsewhere, it gave birth to beautiful new forms of Arabic script.

Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law and the fourth Caliph of Islam, Ali ibn Abi Talib is considered to be the first master of calligraphy. He developed a Kufic script where the tops of alifs were twin-horned. [1] The Kufic in general is an angular script found on tombstones and coins.

The sacred nature of calligraphy ensured that in Islamic architecture inscriptions became an important means of decoration. Continue reading “Islamic Calligraphy: In search of a lifeline”