Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

August 2004 - Rajab 1425 H
Volume 17-08 No : 212
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Missing Emotional Bricks
From the Saudi Grapevine

Missing Emotional Bricks

While the Christian managed SOS villages across the country produce able officers,
Muslim orphanages continue to churn out mentally sick, diffident individuals.

By Maqbool Ahmed Siraj

Bangalore’s century old Muslim orphanage, Yateemkhana Ahleislam re-elected the 19-member executive body in the second fortnight of June 2004. Congrats to all the old faces (with exception of a couple of new-comers) who have managed to come back!

Thanks to the new Waqf law, elections for waqf bodies are fought and won with induction of enormous money, energy and guile. Yateemkhana election was no exception. For weeks together, Urdu dailies in Bangalore carried columns upon column of advertisements. One of our readers has sent us a pile of advertisement clippings appearing in a daily, questioning if this is what the democratic functioning of a waqf body means. In his reckoning, only a single daily carried 596 col-cm of advertisement, all awash with photographs of the worthy challengers. To be honest, the candidates have avoided advertising their own candidature. It is all a handiwork of their ‘well-wishers’. Even at Rs. 100 a column-cm, the space should have cost them a fortune. But then democracy has a price and it must be paid by either candidates or ‘their well-wishers’.

It seems the prime real estate of the 102-year old orphanage, sandwiched as it is between the picturesque Ulsoor Lake and the tree-lined Dickenson Road, has of late attracted the attention of the cartel of businessmen who have come to dominate all the social and educational institutions in Bangalore. They are being helped by the process of elections. First a formidable cartel makes a tight combine and launches an advertisement blitz against the hapless rivals. They win hands down with rivals kissing the dust. Some aspects of the election process are worrisome and negate the democratic spirit. But then my current worry is not about the system. I have noticed good many physical changes in the said orphanage, for the better of course, in the living conditions. Dormitories do not smell of urine any more. Much care is being lavished on hygiene with urea-encrusted toilets having been replaced with sparkling sanitaryware. Yet what has not changed a bit is the attitude towards the orphans, who remain what they were. They are herded in and out of dormitories at both ends of the day like a flock of sheep by the abusive wardens who behave more like people paid to keep guard at a fortress, nay a prison. Kids are still straitjacketed in uniforms. They all go to the same school. No one ever bothers to ask for their individual tastes in matters of dress, let alone telling them tales, singing lullabies at bed time and sharing some moments with them at swings, see-saws and around the trees and parks, elements that provide emotional bricks in human architecture. Doctors do inspect their physical health. But there is no one to look into their interiors. Psychological well-being is taken for granted if parameters of physical health are found to be sound. Virtually nothing is done to explore their inner creative potential. No wonder then why while the Christian managed SOS villages across the country produce able officers, administrators and planners, Muslim orphanages continue to churn out mentally sick, diffident individuals. They still pride themselves on numerical strength rather than quality of their products. No one in the Orphanage in question has heeded to suggestion from a group of well-meaning Muslims to appoint psychological counsellors and matrons holding degrees in Master of Social Work to ensure healthy upbringing of these unfortunate kids. I wish there could be a few individuals who could look into the innards of these hapless kids well beyond their physical state and initiate some proactive measures to turn it into a nursery of human beings, not just orphans. Are the people who matter listening?

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From the Saudi Grapevine

Middle East is a region where you need not turn the left knob in bathroom for well over nine months. Right knob does all. High temperatures ensure that your heating bill is kept low. Back from another visit to Saudi Arabia, first ever during summer, I wonder what it would be like performing a pilgrimage during summer. Well, June with 45 degree Celsius, I am told, is chillier than August and September. But thanks to divine gift of oil wealth, virtually all Saudi homes provide the cozy comfort of sleeping in wintry bedrooms. Mosques are often chilled well below the human endurance level. The nip in one of those snug Corniche mosques in Jeddah where my friend Dr. Noor drove me one evening, was particularly biting. That is just luxury. As for Saudi profligacy, enough stories abound. One of my Arab journalist friends informed me that Saudis still import cars at the rate of 1.5 lakh units annually, for a population of merely 10 million. All prime pieces of real estates around two Harams in Makkah and Madinah are being built up into fashionable bazaars, reportedly by princes and princelings. Changes around the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah simply take away one’s breath. Old oriental style bazaar is out. A new Manhattan has cropped up with artificial date palms all aglow at nights. I guess a few plastic dolls of camels too would adore the show cases in future. Garments as displayed by mannequins in the shiny exteriors barely measure up to standards of modesty Muslim women are supposed to maintain even inside homes. Gold souks hum with activity at the dead of night. Mountains of food leftovers rot at the street corners. But expatriates complain that crunch of the declining oil wealth is particularly felt by them. Contract workers in Jeddah Municipal Corporation are not paid salaries, paltry as they are, for months together. Government hospitals no longer provide free medical facilities nor do they dispense medicine as was the case earlier. Cab drivers, 90 per cent of whom are Pakistanis, complain that their daily toil does not fetch them more than 60 to 70 Saudi Riyals after parting with the mandatory 120 Riyals for the Saudi owners of the vehicles. Democracy and transparency is still a far-fetched dream for Saudis despite all the rantings to the effect from big brother George Bush.

The Majlis Al-Shoora formed a few years ago, is no longer heard. People have therefore only vague ideas about changes in and source of laws and regulations. There have been several pronouncements about allowing pilgrim visa holders to visit the entire country. But it remains a distant dream. No one knows who and how to authorise the travel beyond holy cities. New visa regulations make the umrah pilgrims a captive in the hands of muallims. The hush-hush atmosphere gives rooms for several myths to survive and gather a ring of credibility. Most expats believe that the Government sources do not confirm the temperature when it soars above 50 degree Celsius, for ILO regulations prohibit manual labour (all of whom are from poor South Asia) in such torrid conditions. Grapevine has it that popular ‘Danube’ supermarket chain stores is owned by exiled former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharief. But no one knows for sure. Zamzam well is no longer to be seen in the Mataf area of the Holy Haram at Makkah. It has been removed and the Mataf (area of circumambulation) has been expanded. Certainly a welcome move. But a pilgrim curious about history of holy sites, has no way to know as to where exists the mouth of the well under current plan. However, there is no dearth of supply of the sacred water. But there was some silver lining. Several journalists and poets who were prohibited from writing earlier, are back at the desk at various newspapers. Some relief this! n

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News Community Roundup Editorial Readers Comments Men, Missions and Machines What's New Trends Insights Community Initiative Issues
Children's Corner Quran Speaks to You Hadith Religion Question Hour : Dr. Zakir Naik Our Dialogue Back to The Past Quran and Science Women in Islam Living Islam Just for the Young Reflections Journey to Islam Sould Talk Matrimonial Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us


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