Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Shawwal / Dhu'l-Qa'dah 1423 H
January 2003
Volume 16-01 No : 193
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Muslim Perspectives


In Search of Paradise
Knowledge is Power!


In Search of Paradise

Gripped with fear of living in the Valley, Muslim Kashmiris are migrating to Mumbai in thousands,
hoping for a better life. But the city has nothing to offer them except a life of begging,
discovers Mohammed Hanif Lakdawala

Kashmiri BeggersIn Muslim-dominated localities throughout Ramadan, the streets outside mosques were lined with beggars including Kashmiris awaiting the largesse of the community. Sadly, many of the Kashmiris in Mumbai, find themselves in a position where perhaps they have no alternative but to beg as they find it futile and risky to search for employment in a militant-ridden state.

Many Kashmiris who beg for a living, said that staying in Kashmir would mean death.

Sayyed Ahmad Khalid, who has been coming to Mumbai for the last 10 years during Ramadan said: “We live under the shadow of fear. What would you say about a city where no one is allowed to go out after 6.00 pm?” Khalid said his only son has been missing for 10 years. “My son was 15 when he went missing. We had high expectations of him. But he joined some outfit. Today, me and my two daughters beg in different parts of Maharashtra,” says Khalid.

Another Kashmiri, Mohammed Taha, who is 30 years old, lost a leg in a firing while he was returning from his shop. Taha said: “I didn’t know how to react. I had my own shop and one-day militants just destroyed it. I had no option, but to leave Kashmir.” Shabana Bibi said she had heard Mumbai was the land of opportunities. When asked why maximum number of Kashmiris prefer to come to Mumbai, 40-year-old Shabana Bibi said: “In fact, we heard that Mumbai is the land of opportunities and therefore we come to Mumbai. Unfortunately, I could not get any job and there was no option before me and therefore for food and shelter I started begging.” “We don’t like begging,” said 70-year-old Shaukat Khan. “We are not professional beggars. I had a respectable business in the Valley. We came here to work. But people don’t understand our problems. Is there any other option before us?” Nineteen-year-old Mohammed Anwar has come to Mumbai for the first time this year. He said: “As soon as we turn 16 or 17, we are approached by one outfit or the other. If someone refuses, he is killed. The police does not work on our complaints. Do we turn traitors then? This is my country. I was forced to leave Kashmir. I had to quit studies after my school finals.”

Shabana Bibi is sad she had to leave her ancestral home. “Kashmir was heaven. I long to go back.” Shabana Usman, 27,approached both Muslim and non-Muslim establishments and businessmen for a job, but to no avail. Most of the prospective employees were afraid to employ a Kashmiri fearing police harassment. “The jobs which were offered to me were neither related to my qualification nor remunerations at par with the hard work involved”, said Usman. Iqbal Qasam, a transport contractor in the past had employed Kashmiris, but had to relent and sacked them because of the formalities involved in informing police though not officially. He had been under constant police observation due to the Kashmiri employees. “Though both the Kashmiris I employed were efficient and hard working, I had to ask them to go as I did not want any legal complications in the future”, he says. Blue Star Security Agency, though employs couple of Kashmiris, is not very keen to employ more Kashmiris. Shezad Khan, owner of Blue Star said, “though we do not have any discriminatory policy against the Kashmiris and also are willing to fulfill legal formalities, most of our clients are hesitant to employ them as they fear about their links with the militants or the police inquiries”.

It is a hard time for Kashmiris who have lived in one of the most beautiful places in the world to seek shelter in the filthy slums of Mumbai. Ironically, with the politicians too busy serving their own interest and playing sectarian politics, the agony of these Kashmiris may be a prolonged affair.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) directs us to have mercy on others so that Allah will have mercy on you.
The community can extend help to these poor Muslim Kashmiris as a service
for which they will be rewarded by the Creator

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Knowledge is Power!

We moan the passing of what we look fondly back as the "Islamic Golden Age". Though we may not be able to recreate it, we can atleast try to emulate it in various ways!

Opinion

By Khaled Al Maeena

When Arabs ruled Spain and Sicily, scholars from all over Europe flocked to both places. They came, hungry for knowledge and eager to learn Arabic which they knew would open many new doors for them. For in Arabic at that time, much of the knowledge and learning of the ancient world had been preserved. The early Arab rulers in Damascus and Baghdad had commissioned translations from Latin and Greek into Arabic; their purpose was to enlighten themselves, their people and, with the knowledge gained, to enrich their civilization. They evidently took Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, at his word and sought knowledge wherever it was, even in so distant a place as China. And the European scholars who flocked to Spain and Sicily had the same aim as the Arabs: To acquire knowledge and take it home with them to improve the lives of their fellow countrymen and increase the general store of knowledge.

For a variety of reasons, over the following centuries, Arabic yielded its place in Europe to Latin and Latin in turn was partially overtaken by French. Today, however, there is no question at all about what the international language is. Whether we Saudis like it or not, whether we learn it or not, whether we admit it or not, English is today’s international language. It is useless and pointless to discuss the reasons. This is the present reality; this is the actual fact and the only thing left for us to do is learn English.

Do we need to rehearse the reasons for doing so? To begin with, the vast and overwhelming majority of books, articles and research papers dealing with science, technology and medicine are written in English. And the writers and researchers are by no means all native English speakers. They recognize, however, that the widest dissemination and the greatest currency will come from their using English to publicize their findings and discoveries. Most of the Internet is in English; of course there are many websites in other languages but which of them is serious competition for the English ones? There is no doubt that the dominance of English works to the advantage of America and the West and that they promote English as much as they can. Unfortunately, it is from this same English-speaking world that some of the most vicious attacks on our religion, culture and traditions are made - in English of course. How can we evaluate these attacks - let alone respond to them - if we cannot even understand what the attackers are saying and writing?

We have been told that by learning English we stand to lose our own language and cultural traditions. Can any of those who promote this idea cite even one instance of people losing their language and traditions by learning English - or learning any other language? By learning English - or any other language - we open the door to different ideas, different ways of thinking and different ways of living. That, after all, is what education is about - or should be about. Perhaps, on the other hand, that is exactly what some of our people fear and dread.

We moan the passing of what we look fondly back on as an “Islamic Golden Age” and indeed we should regret its end and study the reasons for its decline. Though we may not be able to recreate it, we could certainly emulate it in various ways. An important one would be to strive for that age’s tolerance, intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness when it comes to education and learning.

The writer is Editor-in-Chief,
Arab News

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