Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Jamadiul-Awwal / Jamadiul-Akhir 1423 H
August 2002
Volume 15-08 No:188

News | Community Roundup | Editorial | Comments | Investigation | Muslim Perspectives | Men, Machines and Methods |
Community Development | Children's Corner | Quran Speaks to You | Hadith | Our Dialogue | Religion | Miscellany | Opinion | Living Islam | From Darkness to Light | Matrimonial | Jobs | Archives | Feedback | Subscription | Links | Calendar | Contact Us

Community Roundup


" Gujarat should not be repeated elsewhere," say Activists
Gujarat is today a sick society
Open House
Pride of India
Breaking the Ice
Hanifa Memon granted permanent bail
Relief material for Gujarat victims gathers dust at ports
Schemes from NMDFC for Muslim NGOs
Plants and Peace
Gujarat kids take refuge in God's Own Country
Modest Uniform for Girls
Island of peace


" Gujarat should not be repeated elsewhere,"
say Activists

For the first time, Art school students, theatre personalities, Leftist organisations and NGOs
converged together to chalk out measures for the rehabilitation of the victims of Gujarat violence

By M. Hanif Lakdawala

Mumbai: In the backdrop of the Gujarat carnage, a need was felt to organise a National Convention to discuss and analyse the situation and formulate a strategy so that Gujarat is not repeated elsewhere. For the first time in the recent past, Muslim and Leftist organisations came together and in coordination with the trade unions and NGOs organised the National Convention for Peace, Secularism and Democracy in Mumbai.

The main focus of the convention was to form a broad based network of those organisation who believe in secularism and democracy and come up with a concrete programme for peace and communal harmony. Alyque Padamsee, theatre personality and communications advisor on social affairs to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu opines that, "in Gujarat, it's more of a pogrom to kick certain Indians, who may not be of a certain religion, out of the state which is clearly a violation of the Constitution. We need a plan of action. Sadruddin Jhaveri, who deals actively with social matters in Hyderabad, asked me whether Naidu would be willing to grant 30 acres of land for rehabilitation of the Gujarat victims. Jhaveri is ready to pump in money to build houses and help dislocated people start their own businesses and enterprises. I will write to Naidu about the proposal soon. I also suggest that we have a fund-raiser event where we rope in movie stars to raise funds for those affected in Gujarat".

Mahesh Bhatt, a leading filmmaker whose mother was a Muslim and father Hindu, said the violence is a reminder that religious intolerance in India runs deep. "Whenever you have deluded yourself that you have been freed of the religious biases your forefathers lived with, the poison that flowed in their veins, comes a fierce reminder like this,"

Bhatt said. "The Indian mind is still shackled to its religious prejudices. Incidents like these just mirror the real soul of India. The only solution to the communal problem is that the common man has to stick his neck out. We must stand up and say enough is enough and do whatever we can to build the bridge between the two communities", he added. Some of the resolutions of the convention included dismissing the Narendra Modi government immediately, punishing those guilty for the carnage as well as the torching of the Sabarmati Express and a sustained and combined effort from both, civil society and the State, to bring back the victims into mainstream society.

More than 17 non-governmental organisations participated in it with delegates from all over the country as well as Gujarat. Earlier, the convention had been postponed from June 1 to July 13 because police permission to hold it in Goregaon did not come through. The two-day national convention was again almost hijacked by the police. This time, the bone of contention was a poster exhibition on the Gujarat carnage, which the Bharatiya Janata Party found objectionable.

As part of the convention, the Satyashodhak Vidyarthi Sangathana had organised a poster exhibition 'Gujarat Carnage 2002' painted by the students of J J School of Art inaugurated at the Press Club earlier this month. But following a letter from the BJP to the Mumbai Police terming the posters objectionable and threatening to demonstrate at the convention, the police cordoned off the area on the evening of June 12, the day before the scheduled start of the meet. "None of the organisers were allowed to go inside. Only after visiting DCP Mohan Rathod of Zone IV and agreeing to drop the exhibition, were we allowed to hold the convention,'' says Jatin Desai, a convenor of the convention. Earlier, the paintings had already been exhibited, in a programme organised by the Satyashodhak Vidyarthi Sanghatana at the Press Club. The exhibits were displayed for three days in the club's compound, opposite Azad Maidan Police Station and then at Sophia College, Breach Candy, without anyone taking offence.

"It is ridiculous that a rath yatra is permitted in Ahmedabad, but a discussion on the Gujarat violence here is perceived as a source of potential trouble,'' remarked Feroze Mithiborwala, one of the organisers. However, the exhibition was not held. "A democratic state is supposed to support democratic movements and clamp down on fascist forces. Here, the state is treating us on par with fascist organisations,'' said Jatin Desai who is also convenor of the Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy.

Students of the J J School of Art, whose exhibition of paintings were not allowed to be exhibited at the National Convention on Peace, Secularism and Democracy, have defended their art by saying they felt it was the best way to convey the complex factors at work behind the violence Gujarat has seen in the last five months.

The controversial artwork depicts the Manuvadi-Brahmanical system as the root cause of communal hatred. One drawing shows a priest offering a person from the minority community as a sacrifice to the havan of casteism.

Another drawing shows the two facets of the saffron flag. One is its original form: the colour of Sant Tukaram and the Varkari sect, who preached equality and direct communication with God and who are still followed by the Maharashtrian masses. Their followers are shown on their annual pilgrimage to Pandharpur. On the other side are uniformed men holding swords and tridents and also holding the same saffron flag. The viewer is asked: 'Whose Ram bhakta are you?'.

Top

Gujarat is today a sick society

The Gujarat carnage in February this year which was a conspiracy against the Muslims has left thousands of them homeless. It takes tremendous courage to accept the reality that your dream house has been reduced to ashes by a mindless mob of rioters. Dr. J. Saleh Bandukwala, who witnessed his house in Baroda go up in flames after the saffron mob targeted his home, has made 'building peace' a mission of his life now and was in Bangalore recently. In an exclusive interview with Islamic Voice, Bandukwala shared those tense moments when the saffron rioters went on a rampage reducing his home to ashes.

Mr Bandokwala My parents belonged to the Dawoodi Bohra community and I migrated to Mumbai for education. I later travelled abroad for my Ph. D in Physics at the University of Oklahoma and was there from 1967 to 1972. It was during one of those meetings in a church where a group of human rights activists were talking about peace missions that a nun came to me and advised me that India required people like me to work on communal harmony. This really stirred my soul. I packed my bags and returned to Baroda, my hometown and joined the Baroda University as a faculty member. I have been teaching here for the past 30 years. I have been very active in community development here. It was on February 26, this year that I was invited to speak on the occasion of Savarkas's birthday celebrations in Baroda. I really spoke my mind out. On February 27, the unfortunate Godhra incident occurred. On February 28, my car was burnt down. This was followed by the second attack on my house. My son lives abroad and it was just me and my daughter who were at home. My wife passed away succumbing to cancer recently. Watching the tense situation, I moved to a friend's house, but my daughter insisted on staying at home. The rioters barged into my house, they spared my daughter, probably they knew that she was shortly to be married to a Hindu boy. In 15 minutes, they set fire to my house, the entire furniture and everything else and what is left today is but the ramshackle frame of the house. My house was built by a noted architect and it was one of the best designed homes in Baroda. I am now totally heart-broken, not just because I lost my house but also as till today even five months after the carnage, people in Gujarat do not seem to have any sense of shame or sorrow. Ask any of those affiliated to the saffron band, they reply "Muslims deserved this"! What hurts me is the fact that the mobs sponsored by the Bajrang Dal , the RSS and the VHP went around burning houses, raping women and destroying property of Muslims in the "name of Ram." Gujarat is today a sick society.

(As told to Nigar Ataulla)

Top

Open House

The Jinnah House in Mumbai, the pre-Partition residence of Mohammed Ali Jinnah,
will soon be thrown open to the public.

By A Staff Writer

Jinnah House in Mumbai Jinnah House, the pre-Partition residence of Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, which is lying locked for almost two decades, will soon be thrown open to the public if the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) permits. Spread over an area of 1,694 sq. metres, with the surrounding garden occupying another 4,358 sq. metres, it would be converted into a cultural centre including setting up of a library, an art gallery and a concert hall with a capacity to seat 150 people on the premises, if the proposal from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) is accepted.

The ICCR, which is currently the caretaker of the sprawling bungalow at Malabar Hill, has sought the PMO’s permission to convert the property into a cultural centre and is expecting a nod within the next two-three months. Regional director of ICCR, T .D’ Souza said, “as soon as we get the clearance, we will seek services of artists from the J J School of Art for landscaping and designing the new project.”

The impressive edifice at Mount Pleasant Road is lying vacant since 1982, ever since it ceased to be the residence of the then British Deputy High Commissioner. The historic monument remained under the care of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) till it was handed over to the ICCR in February 1997. There have been vain attempts in the past to utilise the prime property. In 1977, when the Janata government proposed renting it to Pakistan for setting up its consulate in Mumbai, there was a huge public uproar against the move. The plan was then dropped. Subsequently, in 1988, the CPWD planned to construct a high-rise building for senior Central government employees. The plan was abandoned after strong protests from urban heritage activists.

Top

Pride of India

Not many would know, but the Khuda Bakhsh Library in Patna has the largest collection of manuscripts
in the sub-continent with over 18,000 manuscripts, 1,80,000 printed books and over 2,000 original paintings belonging to the Mughal and Rajput era.

Khuda Bakhsh Khan
Khuda Bakhsh (1842-1908)

By Andalib Akhter

Amid the hustle bustle of the historical city of Patna, exists a beautiful building possessing a vast treasure of knowledge. People from different parts of the world, particularly, the scholars spend their time here to enlighten themselves through the vast stock of books and manuscripts, it preserves with dexterity.

Khuda Bakhsh Khan Library This is the grand ‘Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library’ of Patna. In fact, this library has been devotedly maintaining invaluable books and manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Urdu, Hindi and English for more than a century. It is not just the vast variety of the collection- its antiquity makes this library an internationally recognised research powerhouse for students of Asian history and Islamic studies. Though, Aligarh Muslim University’s Maulana Azad library, Salar Jung library, Hyderabad and Raza Library Rampur in Uttar Pradesh are other major libraries that have a good stock of books on Islamic history, but the Khuda Bakhsh Library stands apart from others by its rare manuscripts on philosophy, society and the sciences, preserved from the records of medieval history.

It has the largest collection of original manuscripts- about 21,000 and the oldest are more than 1,000 years old and include illustrated botanical guides dating back to the sixth century.

Among the glorious collection, the library possesses is the Tarikh-e-Kandani-e- Timuriaya, a history of the Timur dynasty, commissioned by Akbar, enlivened by 114 paintings, copies of the memoirs of Jahangir, the Jahangirnama, authenticated with the signature of King George V. A unique copy of Dewan-e-Hafiz Shirazi bearing the autographs and personal writings of Humayan and Jahangir. Illustrated translations of the Hindu epics and the Bhagwad Gita in elegant calligraphy produced for the Mughal emperor are the other hallmarks of this oriental library.

An illustrious son of Bihar, an advocate by profession and a bibliophile by taste, Khuda Bakhsh Khan, established this unique treasure-house of book and antiques in 1891. He first established a “Public Library” out of his family collection of manuscripts. He further added a number of manuscripts through his own resource and by a Deed of Trust, donated his entire collection to the public in the same year. That Library, now has the richest collections of manuscripts in the sub-continent with over 18,000 manuscripts, 1,80,000 printed books and over 2,000 original paintings of the Mughal, Rajput, Iranian and Turkish era.

Painting from past kept in Khuda Bakhsh Khan Library The Library also has a sizeable number of original letters of eminent persons written during their lifetime. A Board headed by the Governor of Bihar currently manages the library. In 1969, by an Act of Parliament, it was declared to be an Institution of national importance and the Government of India took over its control the same year. Acquisition of manuscripts and books through purchase, exchange and gifts is a continuing feature of the Library. It has a scheme of acquiring copies of rare manuscripts available from other collections. So far, collections of Aligarh, Rampur, Bhagalpur, Maher, Asiatic Societies (Calcutta) have been covered. The British Collection of India Office and Cambridge have also been covered by acquiring microfilms of the choicest manuscripts.

The Library is engaged in the preservation and dissemination of knowledge along with the acquisition of valuable national heritage in the form of manuscripts in particular and books in general. With the help of trained hands and binding, the manuscripts and rare books are being given a new and lasting life through chemical treatment and lamination. This is being done in the preservation laboratory as per the modern techniques.

The Kashmir University, Gulbarga University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Magadh University, Bihar University and Santiniketan have recognised it as their Research Centre.

Khuda Bakhsh Library is not simply a bookroom. In fact it is a hub of multi-dimensional activities. It caters to intellectuals and scholars, promotes research, advocates communal harmony and also serves the public. In the last 50 years, it has organised about 200 lectures, talks, group discussions and debates. International seminars have been organised on manuscript literature on Tibb (Unani Medicine), Tasawwuf (Islamic Mysticism), Quranic Sciences, Medieval Indian history followed by the seminars on Urdu and on lndo-Uzbek relations. Besides, symposia on Reservation for Muslims, it also arranges national and international film shows representing Indian art and culture.

The Library encourages scholars and provides them all research facilities including free accommodation. It also awards ten research fellowships - three senior and seven junior for a period of two years and helps them to do Ph.D. / D.Litt.

The catalogues published so far by the library contain rich information about the manuscripts and are highly valued in the academic world. So far, 36 volumes of the catalogue have been brought out. All the 36 volumes with a new serial order have been reprinted with an index to each volume. Moreover, the hand-list of manuscripts in Arabic (3 vols), Persian (3 vols) and Urdu (1 vol) were also prepared and printed. The Library facilitates exchange of scholars with other countries and takes steps for sharing its resources with other libraries either in India or outside to enrich its collection.

The library recently brought out a series of Khuda Bakhsh lectures in a book titled Secularism in India. The membership of this library is open to anyone interested, though initially a six-month temporary membership is granted to see if the member has genuine interest and handles the books with care.

Email : khudabakhsh@kblibrary.org

Top

Breaking the Ice

By A Staff Writer

New Delhi: At a time when the nation is passing through difficult times of communal hatred and enmity, the initiative of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to bring the representatives of the Hindu and Muslim communities to the negotiating table at its headquarters here was an extraordinary effort in the direction of creating amity between the two communities. Though the NCM could not achieve much in its mission, it succeeded in “breaking the ice,” even as the very mention of the contentious issue saw the two communities revert to their known positions. The NCM feels that there is no better way of spreading goodwill among communities except through dialogue.

“Efficacy of dialogue whenever social tension arises has been established and needs to be taken up as required” says a NCM member. The message from the meeting is loud and clear : “irritants and hate campaigns among communities have to be shunned. This is a nation building exercise beyond narrow socio- political consideration.” In fact, the meeting of the “elders” of the Hindus and Muslims was called by NCM to shun communalism.

Top

Hanifa Memon granted permanent bail

By A Staff Writer

Mumbai:Seventy-year-old Hanifa Memon, accused in the 1993 bomb blast case and mother of absconding and accused Tiger Memon, was recently given permanent bail by a special court in Mumbai on medical grounds. Designated judge P. D. Kode, released her on a personal bond of Rs. Five lakh with one or two sureties of the same amount. She executed the bond, but sought time to produce sureties.

Hanifa came to the court on a wheel-chair as she is unable to walk due to ill-health. Her lawyer Subhash Kanse told the court that Hanifa suffers from hypertension, angina pain, peptic diseases, arthiritis and diabetes. Hanifa was given interim bail since November 20, 1997 and it has been extended from time to time. Defence lawyer argued that Hanifa should be given permanent bail as the other accused- Hamid Birya, Liyakat Ali, Yusuf Memon, had got similar facility. Besides, the Supreme Court had released on bail co-accused Raheen Memon and Rubina Memon on compassionate grounds as they had children to take care of. “The same benefit

should also be extended to Hanifa”, lawyer Kanse argued. CBI lawyer A. S. Kulaye objected to Hanifa getting permanent bail. He said, interim bail since a long time was taking shape of a permanent bail. The CBI urged that Hanifa should be taken into custody and be treated in a government hospital. Hanifa was charged with helping conspirators execute the bomb blasts in Mumbai. Her flat at Al-Husseini building in Mahim here was allegedly used by the conspirators. Hanifa was arrested on August 25, 1994 and spent 39 months in jail before securing interim bail.

Top

Relief material for Gujarat victims
gathers dust at ports

By A Staff Writer

Mumbai: Relief material valued at $650,000 sent by Canada-based non-resident Indians for the Gujarat riot victims has been lying at Kandla port since May 25, embroiled in bureaucratic and political problems. Gujarat-based relief workers said that the government of Gujarat had been vacillating about issuing a registration certificate to the NGO to which the shipment was addressed.The shipment had been sent by Human Concern International (HCI), a 22-year-old human rights group based in Canada. The consignment contains medical supplies, household items, clothes and footwear for the riot victims. The shipment is addressed to the Hajiani Fatima Education and Medical Trust, Sangawadi, at Mundhra taluk in Kutch. According to HCI executive director Kaleem Akhtar, the group has now roped in the Bombay Patel Welfare Society (BPWS) to help it salvage the shipment. BPWS president Mohammed Fansiwala said, “the Customs department has been raising query after query.” By contrast, after the Gujarat earthquake, relief shipments were exempted from import duty and did not require either valuation certificates or RBI clearance.

Top

Schemes from NMDFC for Muslim NGOs

Yameen Farouqui Bangalore: The National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) set up in 1994 for the economic development of notified minorities-Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Parsis provides concessional finance for self-employment activities to the minorities whose annual family income is below Rs. 22,000. Recently Dr Yameen Akhtar M Farooqui, Director of NMDFC- was in Bangalore for an interaction with the Muslim NGOs in Karnataka to highlight the grants for NGOs. Organised by the Iqra Welfare Trust, the objective was to create awareness of the loans and schemes provided by NMDFC for community development. NGOs can get in touch with: Dr Yameen Farooqui, NMDFC, 1,Taimoor Nagar, Opp-D-996, New Friends Colony, New Delhi-110065. Ph: 6326051/52/53/54/56/57/58/59. Fax:6325651

Top

Plants and Peace

Bhiwandi has found a unique way to nurture communal harmony

By M. Hanif Lakdawala

Bhiwandi has found a unique way to nurture peace and communal harmony. That is by planting tree saplings. Recently, both Hindu and Muslim residents of Khadipar in Bhiwandi showed that there is indeed no disharmony between the two communities and there was no better way to express this than by planting saplings at the site where violence among “misguided’’ members of the communities had left seven people injured, and shops and establishments torched, last month. Members of both communities also vowed to nurture both plants and peace in the locality.

Through peace meetings initiated by the police and involving prominent members of both communities, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Dyaneshwar Phadtare suggested that residents plant a symbol of harmony by jointly planting saplings. “The tree is a symbol of peace and growth. Bhiwandi being an industrial township needs peace to sustain its growth. When the saplings grow into trees, they will shelter the youth who lose their way,’’ said Phadtare. Bhiwandi is the perfect example of the two major community doing business together in perfect harmony. The loom is owned by Hindus and is run by Muslims and both communities have their respectable share among the workforce who man the power looms. It is a symbiotic life, where inter-dependence is indispensable.

Another fine example of nurturing communal harmony in Bhiwandi is the unique tradition. Here Hindus attend the final rites of their Muslim neighbours while Muslims attend the funeral procession of Hindus. Both communities then pray that the departed soul rest in peace.

Top

Gujarat kids take refuge in God's Own Country

By A Staff Writer

Children at Shihabul Uloom Residential School

Uppala (Kasargode district-Kerala): It was a fresh lease of life for 41 children who arrived from the violence-hit state of Gujarat last fortnight here. They will study and stay at the Shihabul Uloom Residential School in Uppala. The children range from 8 to 16 years and were sent by the Gujarat Sarvajanik Welfare Trust. The children arrived here escorted by Md. Kasam Vohra and four other colleagues from the Trust which has taken up relief and rehabilitation work in several districts around Ahmedabad. It had also adopted five villages in Kutch district after the earthquake on January 26, 2001. Five children are from Visnagar where several inmates of a Muslim hostel were killed by marauding hordes of rioters. Some other students are from Lunawada in Panchmahal district and three are from Mehsana. Another 31 children have been adopted by a residential school in Hyderabad. The Shihabul Uloom Residential School is located close to Mangalore and is run by Shaikh Abdullah, a  chartered accountant from Mangalore.

Top


Modest Uniform for Girls

Lucknow : The Uttar Pradesh Minorities Commission has advised the minority (Muslim) educational institutions to introduce salwar-kameez uniform for girls studying from 8th standard to 12th standard from the new academic session. The Commission issued this directive after representations were made by several Muslim schools and colleges, parents and the students who expressed their discomfiture in skirt-jacket uniform for grown-up girls.

Top

Island of peace

Ahmedabad: The Mangal Parekh Street in this city which turned into an inferno following the Godhra train burning tragedy, remained totally peaceful during all these months of turbulence. The 60 Muslim families in this street which is also known as M P Khancha remained safe and were protected by the Hindu residents. The violence failed to have any impact. Muslim women continued to stir out of homes normally, nor any Muslim was hurt by anyone. A resident, Basheer Bootwala said the area was inhabited some 300 years ago and only few Muslims shifted to the place.

Top

News | Community Roundup | Editorial | Comments | Investigation | Muslim Perspectives | Men, Machines and Methods |
Community Development | Children's Corner | Quran Speaks to You | Hadith | Our Dialogue | Religion | Miscellany | Opinion | Living Islam | From Darkness to Light | Matrimonial | Jobs | Archives | Feedback | Subscription | Links | Calendar | Contact Us

Al-Nasr Exports   
Preserve Flowers