A root problem needs a root answer

Girls outside a school in IndiaEducation comes in many forms when experience is your teacher. I recall the day when I was part of a delegation to some muscular regional satrap. There was only one point on our agenda: the extent, quality and depth of education among minorities, with a stress on how to do far more for the Muslim girl child. A worthy cause brought together a worthy lot: an assortment of editors, educationists, NGO heads, marginal do-gooders. We sat in the room adjacent to the satrap’s office with beatific smiles on our faces. After the compulsory wait, we entered his sanctum in a solemn file.
Continue reading “A root problem needs a root answer”

A petty feudal at Jama Masjid

Imam Bukhari

WHEN ignorance marries bluster you get a functioning blunderbuss. Every scattershot gun should come with a safety catch, but human behaviour so often becomes vulnerable to the ego of a weak mind.

Muslims claim, with justified pride, that the age of jahilya, or ignorance, ended when the message of Islam came to the Prophet Muhammad in the desert city of Mecca. Regrettably, jihalat still lingers in parts of the Muslim world. It has found a temporary sanctuary in Delhi’s Jama Masjid, the iconic symbol of Indian Islam.

If the bluster of its Imam, Syed Ahmad Bukhari, were nothing more than self-inflicted wounds, it would not matter so much. But Bukhari gets media space, thanks to his position, and thereby affects the wider perception of Indian Muslims. When he claims that he will not invite India’s Prime Minister to his 19-year-old son Shaban Bukhari’s so-called investiture ceremony, but would like Pakistan’s leader to be present, Ahmad Bukhari is guilty of many varieties of stupidity. Indian Muslims relate to their country’s leaders, not to those of a foreign nation. But this is an appropriate moment to ask another question. Continue reading “A petty feudal at Jama Masjid”

“Sufism is Not an Innovation but a Classical Tradition of Islam”

Sadia Delvi
Sadia Dehlvi

SADIA DEHLVI is an Indian author and activist. Her most recent book is ‘The Sufi Courtyard: Dargahs of Delhi’. Her first book was ‘Sufism: The Heart of Islam’. In a telephonic interview with Inam Abidi Amrohvi, Muslims Today, Sadia speaks on Sufism, women’s rights and Indian Muslims in general.

How satisfied are you with the progress of Indian Muslims during the last 20 years or so?

Well that’s a very tough question because lot has happened during the last two decades, and I think Muslims have progressed a lot.

When I was growing up, I remember, there was hardly a Muslim middle-class. Just after the partition when we had the landed elites and the poor, you never came across Muslims who were doctors, lawyers, engineers, young politicians, etc. I distinctly remember, I had gone to boarding school in Shimla and I was the only Muslim girl there.

When I look now, I see that things have changed a lot for the better. Today, you see a whole new generation of Indian Muslims who are educated and empowered in the true sense. They are engaged in sports, film industry, media, legal, arts and medical profession. So there has been a tremendous growth during the last twenty years, undoubtedly. But, on the other hand it’s not good enough. We should have progressed much further and become a bigger part of India’s growth story. A lot needs to be done at the grassroot level. You know there are many issues at stake. I find that there is a tremendous thirst for knowledge, to work and be financially independent, in the poor people I work with in the Muslim community, especially amongst the women. So there is a tremendous change in their mental attitudes which is a good sign. They want to progress and are looking for opportunities. Unfortunately the opportunities are not enough. Continue reading ““Sufism is Not an Innovation but a Classical Tradition of Islam””

“There’s nothing called a homogeneous Indian Muslim politically”

MJ AKBAR is a prolific Indian author and journalist. His most recent book is ‘Tinderbox: The past and future of Pakistan’. In an exclusive interview with Inam Abidi Amrohvi, Muslims Today, Akbar speaks on issues that plague the Indian Muslims.

M J Akbar
M J Akbar

Education has been the bane of Indian Muslims. Has the situation improved both in terms of the infrastructure and mindset?

Yes, and I feel education begins with the mindset. I noticed this in the 1990s, after the high tension of the Babri Masjid episode. I think there was a very strong sense, within the Muslim community of India, of having being let down by politicians who created a hype which led to a high spurt of emotionalism. The community in particular felt abandoned mainly after the Congress government promised to protect the mosque and then quietly went to sleep on the day of the demolition.

I feel there come crisis points in the lives of people which wakes them up. There was a crisis point for example, in 1991, when the economy was hit in India. Similarly, the mosque demolition, too, made Indian Muslims realise that the future lay not in the politics of manipulation (what we have seen being done by those who seek Muslim votes) but in the basics, which is education, from education the economic empowerment. Education is the primary means of economic empowerment. The opportunity base in India is huge.

One of the more important things I see in all the investments of the community, is the education of the girl child. We are already seeing the change in rising literacy levels and the economic opportunities created as a consequence of these investments of the last 20 years.

There is a lot of related infrastructure development all over the country. Education is the biggest growth industry in India. Continue reading ““There’s nothing called a homogeneous Indian Muslim politically””

Time to Vote for Good Governance

Politics is a strange world. Sworn enemies suddenly become friends in the name of seat sharing, and those holding membership for years suddenly realise that they have ideological differences with the party.

While in school we read about people like Nehru and Azad. The kind of passion and vision they had for their country. One reason could be their own involvement in the freedom struggle. For them it was country first.

As we close in to celebrate our 67th Independence Day, a lot has changed, including the politics in India. There is more polarisation than ever. The three Cs (Communalism, Castesism & Corruption) have changed the political landscape in India. It’s in this changed atmosphere that Indian Muslims are finding it difficult to raise awareness about genuine issues that affect them. Continue reading “Time to Vote for Good Governance”

A pioneering educational initiative for the Muslim minority

GUWAHATI. The American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) will hold its 22nd International Convention on Education and Gala Award Program on Dec 28-29, 2013 in Guwahati in association with Markazul Ma’arif (a voluntary social-welfare NGO) and Ajmal Foundation.

Muslim toppers from each state will be honored at the convention.

In addition, the convention will also feature sessions on various aspects of education and these will be addressed by experts in the field. A special session will be dedicated on the challenges and prospects facing Muslim education in the North East. Another session will focus on educating the girl child.

AFMI is a philanthropic, service based and issue-orientated organisation formed by Muslim Americans of Indian origin in 1989. It strives to work towards the educational and economic upliftment of Indian Muslims by seeking cooperation among American and Indian relief and educational organisations.

The organisation which strives to achieve 100 per cent literacy among Indian Muslims has already built and adopted schools in many villages, and also provides prizes and scholarship to needy and deserving students.

Other than education AFMI has also built hospitals, conducted medical camps, provided relief and rehabilitation during epidemics and calamities.

“Madrasas have to take right decisions to keep up with the current times.”

PROFESSOR Waseem Akhtar is the Vice Chancellor of Integral University in Lucknow, UP. In an exclusive interview with Muslims Today, Prof. Akhtar speaks at length on how education can transform minorities.

MT: Please tell us about your journey so far.

Prof. Waseem Akhtar
Prof. Waseem Akhtar

WA: I remember as a child often diving into my world of dreams. Sometime I swam, sometime I drowned and at times even flew. In real life too wherever I worked, be it in India or the Middle East, I always strived for innovation. By the grace of God my efforts were appreciated.

Years back while working as a Principal in a school I wanted to bring about some major changes, but couldn’t, because of certain limitations. The thought stayed with me and I bought a 25000 sq mt of land to build a school of my own vision. We started in a hut with four students and two teachers, including me. Dreams started shaping up fast, first came the high school, and then followed a polytechnic, an engineering college, a pharmacy college, a management college and other professional offerings. Continue reading ““Madrasas have to take right decisions to keep up with the current times.””

Books on Sir Syed released

ALIGARH. Two books, “Afkar-i-Sir Syed Ki Asri Maanwiyat” and “Ihya-e-Islam Ki Aalami Jidd-o-Jehd Aur Maujooda Challenges”, authored by Dr. Tauqueer Alam Falahi of Department of Theology were released by the Vice Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University, Lt. General (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah and former Pro-Chancellor, Nawab Ibne Saeed Khan of Chhatari earlier this month.

Appreciating the work of Dr. Falahi, the VC said that his books have covered a large spectrum of issues and challenges faced by the Muslim community in the world. He said that the biggest problems before the community are lack of proper education and ignorance of women to their rights. He said that Dr. Falahi has categorically analysed these issues and provided solutions in the light of historical and cultural development of the community. Continue reading “Books on Sir Syed released”

Muslim conference on the 12th Plan

Muslim Conference on the 12th Plan
Muslim Conference on the 12th Plan

Lucknow. A national conference, “Unpacking the 12th Plan”, was held on the 17th of March. The conference was an effort to understand as to why goverment initiated welfare schemes do not reach out to the masses, and to find a way out so that the objectives of the schemes are truly realised. It was presided over by Dr Maulana Saeed-ur-Rehman Azmi Nadvi. Also present on the occassion were  Salman Khurshid, External Affairs Minister, Pallam Raju, Minister for HRD,  and Mrs Sayeda Hameed, Member of Planning Commission. Continue reading “Muslim conference on the 12th Plan”

Central computing facility for Wakf records inaugurated

NEW Delhi. K Rahman Khan, the Union Minister of Minority Affairs (MoMA) & Chairman, Central Wakf Council, inaugurated the Central Computing Facility (CCF) on Friday. The facility will help digitalise information on about 400,000 acre of Wakf properties.

Khan highlighted the emerging role of the Central Wakf Council in the light of the proposed amendment in the Wakf Act 1995, which provide for greater role of Wakf Institutions in protecting and developing the Wakf properties at various places. He said that Wakf assets are public properties and public is entitled to know and access the details. Computerisation of the records and management of data of Wakf properties spread across various states in an efficient and transparent manner will be very helpful in this, the minister added.