By D.A. Sait
I was in bed in a two-bed ward of the South Tower Hospital, the nearest nursing home to my residence in 8th Block, Jayanagar. As I lay gazing at the ceiling, my mind far away, who of all people should walk in but Akbar, that long-lost nephew of mine who had been more than a son to me once but had been estranged and kept away from me. He now stood looking down at me. I lay staring at him with unbelieving eyes. My mind took a giant leap backwards in time to a period four decades ago.
Graduated from the Maharaja’s College at Kochi, my home town, and being at a loose end and a bachelor I had become rather attached to Akbar, my elder brother’s second son. That day is still green in my memory when little Akbar disappeared from the Arabic madrassa one evening and I had gone scouring the neighbourhood for him. Failing to run him to earth and frantic with worry I returned home all in, and who should greet me, grinning from ear to ear, but little Akbar.
“Why did you run away from the Madrassa before I came to pick you up?” I fumed. I thrashed him. He cried. And, hugging him, I cried, too.
Ten years later, when my wife was posted to Nanjangud as lecturer in Physics in the Government Junior College there we took the boy under our wing. My wife had to work day and night over the boy’s Pre-University course to make him earn a high first class to be eligible for a seat in an engineering college. We heaved a sigh of relief when finally he was offered a seat at the Suratkal Engineering College in Mangalore. But Akbar would not go so far way from us. When he was adamant I had to thrash him to make him go for his own good. He cried. I cried, too. Thus we became separated.
Four years later he came back, a Mechanical Engineer with distinction. Soon after this I helped him set up a factory of his own. Success after success greeted his efforts. He was rolling in money now and, by and by, he drifted away from us. He married, then he built his own house, a palatial affair, to which he never once invited us. In other words success had gone to his head, and my wife and I became just the backdrop on the canvas of his life. Then my wife was hospitalised with a cardiac problem. All our relatives flocked to her side but Akbar. And that was when I decided to close our hearts to him, to forget him. ‘Ingratitude, more venomous than a serpent’s tooth...’ said King Lear, and I knew now how the king felt.
And here he was now, Akbar, here, in this nursing home, smiling down at me, his mouth working, and the tears trickling down his lined face, and all my pent-up anger evaporated, as though wiped off with a sponge, and left in its place an overwhelming love for this long-lost son. Then the tears came, to his eyes and mine. He threw himself on the bed and held me tight, his arms round me. “Chacha!” he choked. The lost sheep, like the one in the parable, had returned to the fold.
By Hasan Mansur
The euphoria roused by the Indian nuclear blasts of May 1998 has slowly abated with the parallel mindless response from the other side of the border and the universal disapproval it encountered. The mainstream media that thrilled to the events, announcing that 90% of Indians have acclaimed these blasts, has taken a hold over itself and is making an agonizing reappraisal in the cold light of reason. Yet the dying euphoria has oxygen administered to it by former bureaucrats, army men and scientists, not to speak of the journals of the RSS. Despite the nose-dive taken by the rupee and the tremors felt in the stock markets, brave noises are heard from the Sangh Parivar circles that there is a resurgence and Bharat has woken up and the 20th century will subscribe to the Hindutva theology and the age of Western science and technology is about to end. This jingoism is the very stuff born out of militarisation of civil society that has gone on since the seventies.
The jingoism in Pakistan spearheaded by the Jamat-e-Islami gloating over the nuclear blasts there and hailing them as the Islamic bomb has its counter part in India which proclaims the bomb as Hindu. The view of the RSS that Hindutva has been empowered at last is borne out in the words of one of its activists (vide Organiser dated 21/6/98) “.. only the powerful were permitted to lead the world. Possession of nuclear weapons is the touchstone of being powerful. This is the conviction of RSS”.
History is being rewritten by the saffron band; Gandhiji is not spared either but choice abusive epithets are reserved for Pandit Nehru. According to its version, none of the leaders of the Indian National Congress (perhaps excepting Sardar Patel) is worthy of reverence; even Jinnah is quoted to revile Gandhiji. The RSS which never dared to oppose the British colonial rule and actually abetted it through inaction while thousands of Indian men and women, among them many Muslims, has grown shamelessly brazen to insult the memory of all those who laid down their lives in the struggle for independence.
It’s time to examine the symbolic meaning of nuclear bomb in the hands of the political outfit of the Sangh Parivar, the BJP. The RSS is acclaiming this as the Hindu bomb and it has cause to do so. This weapon is not as much aimed at Pakistan as against sections of its own people. The majority of Indians, more than 60% of them is below the poverty line and poverty is the worst violation of the fundamental right to live with dignity, thus denying people education, employment, shelter and health. The nuclear weapon is one more violation that impinges on this fundamental right. It is evident from the media, vide Kanwar Sandus report in the Indian Express dated 24/5/98, that Sikhs are not elated over the bomb because Punjab would be the frontline state bearing the brunt of a nuclear holocaust. The National Council of Churches in India has condemned these tests as “ill considered and unwarranted”, an escalation of nuclear threat in the Sub-continent and it does not want India to be a hegemonic power. As for the Dalits who have been fighting for political, social and economic equality to end thousands of years of “graded inequality”, many of their organisations are opposed to this bomb. Muslims know too well that they are open to slander and blackmail of the RSS “Those who oppose the bomb are anti-national” and hence they are passive and reticent; but this silence is certainly not approval of the diabolic weapon. All in all, the silent majority in India wants to live in peace and does not relish the prospect of instant vaporisation as it happened to 70,000 in Hiroshima and 50,000 in Nagasaki.
It is salutary to remind the people of India the mindset of the Sangh Parivar whose BJP rules the Centre. Golwalkar, the RSS supremo, reverentially called “Guruji” by his followers, had this to say about the minorities, Muslims in particular, “In Hindustan exists and must need exist the ancient Hindu nation.... So long, however, as they (Muslims and other non-Hindus) maintain their social, religious and cultural differences, they cannot but be foreigners... There are only two courses open to foreign elements, either to merge themselves in the national race and adopt its culture, or to live at the sweet will of the national race.... The non-Hindu peoples in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion.... in one word they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment not even citizen’s rights.... in this country Hindus alone are the nation and the Muslims and others, if not actually anti-national, are at least outside the body of the Nation”. Though the BJP claims that Golwalkar retracted this outburst, there is no convincing evidence of this.
On the other hand, journals and leaders of the RSS pour out this venom week after week. To realise that the nuclear weapon is in the hands of such leadership which has come to power on a minority vote, supported by fractious allies, is a frightening prospect. In their untrammelled jingoism, they may as well embark on a nuclear adventure and reduce the sub-continent to a nuclear desert. On the other side of the border are fanatics too, baying for vendetta against India; the nuclear bomb in their hands is equally hazardous. This nuclear frenzy on both sides of the border must be halted by the peoples living in the sub-continent. The harsh truth is, it is neither a Hindu bomb nor an Islamic bomb. On this side, it is the Manu bomb out to stamp out dissent and restore the hegemony of the upper castes over the other backward classes, Dalits, tribals and minorities, the elitist stranglehold over the poor. In other words, it is a class as well as a cast bomb. In Pakistan, it is a class bomb of the affluent rising mercantile community in tandem with the feudal landlords, out to suppress their own poor. Nationalism on both sides is a subterfuge to serve their own narrow interests.
The task of the peoples of India and Pakistan is to oppose and combat the murderous nuclear policies of their respective governments and promote confidence building measures between these countries. Together they must strive for Asian solidarity and expose their own ruling classes who are in reality surrogates of the exploitative new economic regime manipulated by the World Bank, WTO and IMF. They must strive to take the sub-continent out of the hegemonic zone of imperial powers. Muslims must be in the vanguard of this campaign, making common cause with the OBCs, Dalits, tribal and other minorities. Otherwise, “its noise (nuclear blasts) as music covers the jack-boots of a coming totalitarian era”.
By S.M. Hussain Hashmi
The British Empire h ad firmly established its stranglehold on the Indian sub-continent by the 19th century and was expanding rapidly in terms of political and business interests.
This development had an adverse effect on the Indian political forces. Their influence began to decline gradually. The Indian rulers who managed to survive, drawing sustenance from British support, became indifferent to the needs of the people. The unfavourable circumstances that they found themselves in affected development in all spheres of life. Every community suffered the vagaries of the time.
But even in this worst of times some brave-hearted intellectuals among the Muslim community were preparing to bring about the much needed reforms within the community.
These enterprising intellectuals encouraged the spread of education. The ‘Darul-Uloom’ which was established at Deoband (Shahranpur district) in Uttar Pradesh in 1867 achieved worldwide fame quite soon. Apart from Indians there were students who came from distant places like West Asia, Iran and Afghanistan to join this centre of Islamic learning.
‘Darul-Uloom’ provided other enthusiastic individuals to set up such centres of learning. In Lucknow one such institution was set up. The ‘Nadwa-ul-Uleema School’ was instituted in 1894 for the promotion of Islamic education, religion and even political education was imparted. The curriculum also laid stress on the aspect of social reforms.
Apart from this institution, research work on Hadith was carried out at the madrassa of Shah Waliullah in Delhi. Several institutions of religious education or Madrassas were set up in India during the last part of the 19th century. ‘Mazharul Uloom’ of Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh is noted in this regard.
Moradabad, Banaras, Patna, Calcutta, Darbhanga, Hyderabad, Madras and at other places in India also noticed similar development on the theological front. Madrassas became the centre of a new Islamic consciousness.
Interestingly, prior to the birth of the Madrassas, one institution namely the Delhi College, was already founded in 1792. It was a very modern centre of learning. Though it had Urdu as the medium of instruction, the college had courses in Western science. It also needs mention that the college was modelled on the English system of education. The college was engaged in translating popular books by western scholars on science and social sciences from English into Urdu.
Though the work done by these religious institutions of Deoband, Farangi Mahal and Nadwa-tul-Ulema are praise-worthy, it was Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who sought to revitalize the Muslims by spreading Western ideas in them by arranging a modern and westernized form of education. Thus, he effected a revolution in the attitude of the Muslims towards modern education.
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was of the view that reforms within the community can only be brought about by taking up the Western form of education. But this did not mean that he promoted the English language at the cost of Urdu. In fact, he was so concerned about the promotion of Urdu that he laid much stress on the necessity of translating valuable books from English into Urdu. Thus, he established a “Translation Society” at Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh in 1862. The society later became the ‘Scientific Society of Aligarh’ in 1866 and encouraged the study of Western life, culture and letters.
He also founded the Modern School at Ghazipur in the year 1864. By virtue of his strong formative influence of English education, the educational, political and economic conditions of a section of the Indian Muslims changed. It was a change from a conservative way of life to one that can be termed modern.
After a few years in 1841 he entered the Judicial Service of the British as a judge of the ‘small causes court.’
Sir Syed Ahmad was well aware of the fall out of the revolution of 1857. Convinced about the futility of the revolt he remained loyal to the British during the Indian revolt (1857-58). To the British he rendered his loyal services and when the revolt reached Bijnore in Rohilkhand in May 1857, the British residents owed their lives to his courage and tact. He was knighted in 1868 and became a member of the Legislative Council of India and also of the Education Commission.
As a staunch admirer of English education, he decided to travel to London, with his son Syed Mahmood in April 1869, where he spent his time in the library of the British Museum and Cambridge University. At the Cambridge library he glanced through the curriculum of university and on his return from England gave a practical shape to his Western influence. He established an educational institution for the Indians, particularly for the Muslims, in line with the centres of Western education. He believed such institutes would help to open out for the beneficiaries a window to the Western world.
Amongst various welfare work of Sir Syed the establishment of Madrassa-tul-Uloom in 1875 at Aligarh remains the most significant. The madrassa, which was also known as “Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College” (MAO), later became the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 1920.
Once commenting on the institution one of India’s former Presidents, Dr. Zakir Husain, said: This institution has a very important place in the reconstruction of Indian national life pattern.”
The reformist zeal of Sir Syed led to the setting up of similar educational centres in Karachi, Bombay and Hyderabad.
The primary objective of these institutions was to educate the Muslim community, but the doors of these colleges were also open to the non-Muslims. Students had the choice of studying oriental languages.
This is worth-mentioning that amongst the first badge of graduates of MAO, a non-Muslim student, Ishwari Prasad was the first recipient of a Bachelors degree from one of these colleges.
During the period of 1877-78 the faculty had revered famous academicians like Theodore Beck, Syed Karamat Husain , Jadu Nath Chakravarti, Zaiuddin Ahmad, Abbas Husain, Sheo Shanker, Tripathi, Lal Brij Nath. Moulvi Shibli Nomani and Moulvi Nazir Ahmad.
Despite Sir Syed Ahmad’s pioneering effort in the realm of education he had to face criticisms from orthodox Muslims. He had to fight his way through the narrow mindedness of his co-religionists.
Even then, in the midst of such hostile surroundings, MAO college achieved success in imparting modern education and by virtue of being an intellectual and cultural centre it created and became a centre of attraction in the entire sub-continent.
Sir Syed, prior to establishing this college, tried to bring about educational and social reform for the betterment of Indian people exploiting the medium of journals. “The Aligarh Institute Gazette” was published to popularise the aims and objectives of the “Scientific Society”. Later on, he started another journal “Tahzibul Akhlaq”, in December 1870, to push through his agenda of social reforms.
The urge for an intellectual development of the Muslims made Sir Syed attempt different options and use them as weapons to usher in an over all reform. W.C Smith rightly said: “Sir Syed had a keen desire for the total upliftment of the Muslim community. Thus, he realised that Western education and science were the only source through which the downtrodden Indians, specially the Muslims, could get all round success in their life.”
By Yoginder Sikand
According to all reliable sources, Muslims rank among the least-educated communities of India. Many factors, both historical as well as contemporary, taken together have made for the dismal state of education among Indian Muslims. What is most worrying is that little attention seems to be given to this matter of pressing concern by both the governmental authorities as well as by the Muslim leadership, especially in Northern India where the majority of the Indian Muslims live.
From time to time, generally just before an election, one reads in the newspapers about politicians making various grand promises for the betterment of the educational conditions of the Muslims. Special Urdu universities seem to have now become the favourite slogan for many vote-seekers. More often than not, when, if at all, they turn their attention to the educational plight of the community, Muslim leaders, too, follow in the same train and pass grand proposals for the setting up of equally grand specialised Muslim institutions for advanced learning.
One cannot dispute the desperate need for more and better higher, university education for educationally-backward groups such as the Muslims. However, what is often forgotten in the heat and dust thrown up in the great verbal enthusiasm for more Urdu or Muslim universities and colleges is that they can serve but little purpose if the very foundations on which they must necessarily stand-primary, secondary and high school education-themselves remain fragile, weak and neglected. Reason would demand, then, that financial and other resources be first directed at building up this foundation of mass basic education among Muslims if higher institutes are later to go on to prove successful. In the absence of this, setting up an Urdu university here and a Muslim college there will only serve a limited number of students, generally from better-off families, rather than the community in general and the marginalised and poor in particular.
Some time ago I was involved in a research project in vestigating people’s attitudes to education in selected villages in the district of Alwar in Rajasthan. This area has a large Muslim population, mostly peasants with an abysmally low-level of literacy. Most Muslim parents I spoke to felt that it was pointless sending their sons to school beyond the primary stage because being poor Muslims, they believed it was impossible for their children to go on to get a petty government job, a villager’s passport to worldly success. They may have been right. However, what this lament so strikingly suggests is the need to carefully integrate vocational skills with education, so that it begins to make good economic sense for poor Muslims to educate their children. Alwar has a number of Muslim artisan groups known for their fine skills, such as lac bangle-makers, weavers and metal-workers. An innovative, low-cost primary educational scheme for Muslim children could combine literacy and general education with the imparting of such skills to the children. Local Muslim craftsmen parents of the children could serve as instructors in these skills, so there would be no need for extra expenditure on additional teachers. This would also make educational projects a community-based venture, in which community elders, too, could share their many valuable skills with the young. In order to make this a profitable venture, such training could be supplemented with instruction on newer methods of production, designing, financing and marketing. The last mentioned is particularly important in doing away with the ubiquitous middle-man.
Innovative projects like this call for the generation of a strong spirit of community activism in the form of non-government agencies and voluntary organisations. While this does not mean that the government is thereby absolved of its responsibilities for community development, it does suggest the desperate need for ordinary people to themselves do whatever little they can for their own betterment. In the course of my travels that have taken me, quite literally, throughout the length and breadth of India, I have been struck by the almost total absence of such efforts among Muslim groups. One wonders now many development projects have been spawned for Muslim upliftment by the dozens of Muslim students who pass out every year from the departments of Social Work of the Jamia Millia Islamia and the Aligarh Muslim Universities. Since these institutes were established with the original purpose of working for the progress of the Muslim community, the question of what the Social Work Departments of these institutes have actually so far done in this direction cannot be left unasked.
Besides the cultivation of this spirit of community activism for mass Muslim educational advancement linked to vocational training, there is also a pressing need for more reflection and debate on current practices and understanding of community provision. Such things are slow to change, even after the pressing need for change becomes clearly visible. Thus, for instance, some years ago, during a visit to the great Dar-ul Uloom at Deoband, I discovered that while the Madrassa did have some provision for the vocational training for its many thousand students, these were limited simply to the now little-profitable trades of book-binding, watch-repairing and calligraphy. While these crafts may have served a valuable function in the past, I would imagine that there does seem to be a pressing need for considering the introduction of other crafts and skills more in tune with present-day realities and demands.
Certain issues central to this programme of mass community education probably need more debate among scholars of Muslim law. I remember having visited a school run by a maulvi in a village in Mewat, Haryana some years ago. The maulvi was a passionate advocate of comprehensive education, stressing the need for Muslim children to study both what are traditionally known as the deeni (religious) as well as the duniyavi (worldly) disciplines. Indeed, he was of the opinion himself that since Islam was an all-embracing system, covering both a Muslim’s relation with God as well as all social affairs, the deen-duniya distinction itself was misleading, because, he stressed, both aspects came under the domain of the deen. Now, this view was not shared by the Muslim villagers where he had his school, however. Since in the maulvi’s school ‘duniyavi’ disciplines were also being taught, most villagers were reluctant to contribute money and other assistance to the school, because they apparently believed that this would not be a source of divine reward (sawab) for them. Consequently, although the maulvi was running the school while being seriously strapped for funds for its further development, they did not think the school worthy of charity, sadqa. Now, this raises important issues relating to Islamic law, which call for a greater debate and clarification on the part of those who are trained in the discipline. This is something that does not seem to have received the attention it deserves.
Related to this is the question of what uses Zakat funds meant for the poor can be best put to. While the general practice has been to simply give it as charity, does Muslim law allow for it to be used for development projects meant for the poor instead? I recall a young Muslim community activist whom I once met in Doda in Kashmir who was in-charge of a local voluntary Zakat collection body. Moving away from simple charity, this body was using the Zakat that it had collected in running educational and vocational training schemes for the poor, so that they could stand on their own feet in future. Scholars of Muslim law, I should think, need to debate issues such as this to evolve methods and mechanisms that can best be employed for channelising community funds such as Zakat.
Finally, what this appeal for community-based activism for educational advancement calls for is the very pressing need for greater research. Research needs to be done on existing Muslim welfare bodies and on their past achievements and present programmes, on governmental as well as non-government sources of funding, on the laws regulating the formation and functioning of the various different kinds of development organisations, on the efforts being made among other groups both in India and abroad in the field of mass education, as well as on recent developments in educational theories, models and techniques and their applicability to the Indian Muslim situation.
Dr. Shukur Ahmed
The wealth given to Muslim brethren by Almighty Allah is a sort of trust to be spent in virtuous ways. It is not meant to be spent in lavish manner, whatever may be the occasion, whether it is on marriage or on any other ceremony. Allah declares in the holy Qur’an - “Who believe in the Unseen Are steadfast in prayer, And spend out of what we have provided.” (2:3)
Moulana Abdullah Yusuf Ali, in his edition of the Qur’an explains the above verse saying -’We have to use all (belongings) in humility and moderation. But we must also give out of everyone of them something that contribute to the well being of others’. He further adds, ‘We are to be neither ascetic nor luxurious, sybarites, neither selfish misers, nor thoughtless prodigals.
In another chapter Qur’an clearly says : “Oh ye who believe Eat not up your property, Amongst yourselves in vanity.” (4:29)
Commenting on this verse, Moulana Abdullah Yusuf Ali says, “All property you hold is in trust, whether it is in your name or belongs to the community, or the people over whom you have control, to waste is wrong. Yet in one more verse it is directly revealed -”Waste not, by excess For Allah loveth not the wasters.” (6:141)
Contrary to these commandments our brethren are wasting wealth like anything willingly or unwillingly, specially during the course of celebrating the marriages. For those who are born with silver spoons in their mouths, this waste is not felt at all, but for poor and middle class Muslims celebrating marriage has become a nightmare, specially for the parents of brides. It is an excellent idea to solemnise the marriage in Mosques and nowhere else. By this we will be fulfilling the obligation of the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (Pbuh). According to Islam, Nikah is an Ibadath. We are not expected to add or delete anything extra in Ibadath and so also Nikah. Several traditions and customs which have been existing in the Indian subcontinent have nothing to do with the true Islamic spirit. They should be nipped in the bud at the earliest. It appears that the Saudi Arabian Muslims too spend extravagantly on marriages. A news item appeared in “The Arab News”, (an English daily, published from Jeddah) a decade ago that the then ruler of that country, who was also the custodian of the two holy Mosques, King Fahd appealed to his countrymen to reduce the marriage expenses. As stated earlier strictly speaking marriage is a very simple ceremony. Prophet of Islam (Pbuh) has declared that Babarkath Nikah is that which is done with least expenditure.
It has become a tradition in the city of Bangalore that the bridegrooms party has a right to choose a wedding hall of it’s choice. Naturally, that party chooses the best with all good facilities. The bride’s parents have to spend a huge amount on this. Moreover they have to spend a lot on decoration, flower arrangement, etc. Added to these, the bride’s parents have to spend considerable amount on the services of what is known as Madavat who acts as a middleman. Above all parents of the girl have to meet the expenses of the feast arranged for the kith and kin of the bridegroom who visit them to have a glimpse of the girl to be married. It is no exaggeration to say that they are to be treated as Shahi Mehmans. The Muslims of a town, of Guntakal in Andhra Pradesh, have taken a good decision to serve only vegetarian meals after Nikah, but investigations revealed that the bridegroom’s parents have not hesitated to demand a very huge amount in the form of what is popularly known as dowry and parents of the bride have already paid it. In Andhra Pradesh, paying of amount to bridegroom’s parents in such a manner is the highest in the whole of South India. Besides all these Bride’s parents have to spend another huge amount on articles to be gifted to her by way of Jejez.
The following measures need to be taken to promote simple marriages:-
1. The Nikah should be solemnised in Mosques and no where else.
2. An enclosure for the ladies may be made separately in the Mosque or they can be accommodated in the bride’s house only, during the course of Nikah.
3. On the eve of Nikah, dinner and other customs may be totally put an end to, as these have no significance from religious point of view.
4. Dinner after Nikah may be abandoned, as it is not a must from religious angle. Instead, as a sort of goodwill a cup of tea or glass of sharbat may be served to the invitees.
5. In case, Madavat’s services are required, they should make it a point not to charge exorbitantly. The community may compel them to serve freely as kar-e-khair, or accept a gift amount that is given willingly.
6. A committee consists of Ulemas and a few dedicated persons of the locality may be formed to monitor the affairs of the marriage with minimum of expenditure. In this regard, Muslim brethren of Ahmedabad city in Gujrat may be emulated, where, it is learnt authoritatively, that the entire community comes to the rescue of the bride’s parents, if the demands from the bridegroom’s side is more.
7. The Qazi and their assistants should also co-operate. They shall refrain from solemnising the Nikah in places other than Mosques.
8. Sub-committees of enthusiastic members of the community also may be formed separately of men and women. If these committees hear any complaint regarding any marriage being celebrated with pomp and show with lavish dinners, they may meet the concerned people, educate them to refrain from these ostentatious displays.
9. All sorts of presentations must scrupulously be banned.
10. Inspite of these, if any person is seen going against these norms he may be totally boycotted in the entire locality to make him realise his mistake.
11. The registers of marriages maintained in the Mosques should not be lent outside at any cost.
12. Many of our brethren are ignorant of the Islamic tenets relating to marriages, hence they should be taught earlier itself as to how an Islamic marriage is to be conducted.
13. Ladies too have to play their own role to nip this obnoxious system in the bud. They are the persons who go for extravaganza and depiction of all sorts of grandeur. They should refrain from wearing the costliest possible dresses and ornaments. The reason being that ladies who come from lower strata of society borrow and beg from their kith and kin or the neighbours to compete with the ladies coming from the rich families.
Conclusion : There is a popular saying that “Old habits die hard,” similarly old customs and traditions die harder. A beginning may be made in every locality os that the bride’s parents spend the least and the bridegroom pays the mehr and hosts a Valima dinner. The parents of the bride may present certain necessary articles to the newly married couple.
By Prof. Dr. Mumtaz Ali Khan
Language is one of the means of symbolic communication. But it does not stop at this. It is the heart and soul of the community which speaks a particular language. Often language need not be associated with religion and caste. There is no monopoly of a particular language by a particular community.
Arabic is not the sole monopoly of Muslims. Neither is Urdu. There are millions of Muslims in India who do not speak Urdu. The mother tongue of some Muslims is other than Urdu.
However, in practice Urdu has been associated with Muslims in India. Its emotional bondage is very strong. People are prepared to create havoc if the status of Urdu is slighted even by oversight. Urdu has been declared as second official language in some states in India. It is also true that some non-Urdu or anti-Urdu groups have protested and held violent demonstrations, sometimes resulting in communal disturbances.
So far as the government of India is concerned, it has been giving due recognition and encouragement to the growth and popularity of Urdu language. Of course, many states have also been doing this. Urdu is spoken by many non-Muslims. There have been many champions and authors among non-Muslims. The name of Munshi Premchand stands upper most. In cities like Hyderabad and Lucknow, Urdu is generally spoken by non-Muslims too in their daily conversation. In states like Karnataka, Urdu is understood and also spoken by a large number of rural as well as Urban non-Muslims. In such areas where Hindus live in Muslim dominated areas, Hindus speak Urdu fluently.
Thus, Urdu is one language that has the force of social and cultural integration. When Mushaeras are held, a sizeable number of audience consists of elite Hindus and Sikhs. There is oneness among all people, irrespective of religious background, in the auditorium.
But it is also true that sometimes Linguistic fanatics create social tensions and conflicts between Urdu speaking and non-Urdu speaking people. They try to marginalize the popularity of Urdu. They try to relegate the status of Urdu to a very insignificant place. But Urdu is one of the official languages enshrined in the constitution of India. No body can obliterate it. On the other hand, successive governments have created Urdu Academies and honoured Urdu poets and writers by giving state and National awards.
But this great language is almost killed by Muslims themselves. There is a widening gap in the standard of Urdu spoken by the highly enriched Urdu speakers and the almost semi-literate listeners. Not mindful of the presence of such listeners, Urdu speakers adopt a very high standard of Urdu, poetic style while presenting talk in prose culture. Poor audience will hardly understand and receive the message, except nodding their heads and clapping their hands. Do these great speakers realize that they are addressing the mute listeners? They should abandon this unrealistic approach and come down to meet the standard of their listeners.
Urdu news covered by T.V. or Radio is the best mass medium through which millions of people including the illiterates can be contacted and educated. Relay of news would create awareness, open gateways of knowledge and also confidence among the listeners. But what should be the standard of Urdu? What we hear daily is the news reader or announcer picking up the most sophisticated and flowery words. It produces musical enchantment, but has very little to do with the masses. Should Urdu news be for the elite of the society? No, it should not be. Therefore, it is imperative that the standard of Urdu has to be diluted to meet the requirements of the common man. It is only then that Urdu as a language of the masses can have enduring impact on them.
It is also observed as a social worker, that the boys and girls who have had either regional language or English as the medium of instruction in school have lost the opportunity of learning Urdu. Children are made to take English medium for its glamour and greater advantage, regional language as the first or second language and Hindi. Where is room for Urdu? Thus, children are losing opportunities to learn Urdu.
I have started a model scheme. Muslim boys and girls who do not know Urdu are being taught it through non-formal education method, daily for one hour. Similarly, Hindu children are also encouraged to learn Urdu under the non-formal education scheme. To set an example, I am also learning Urdu, though I have crossed sixty years of age. I thought I should learn Urdu where I ask others to learn Urdu.
What is further desired is that attempts should be made to evolve a reasonable standard of Urdu for all classes of people. Neither should it be too high nor too low. Neither should it be too flowery nor rustic Deccani. NGO’s can play a vital role with the help of the State and Urdu Academy..
By Mr. M. Hanif Lakadawala
In the past, the Islamic World has successfully dealt with the external Ideological challenges. 21st century heralds the challenge to its culture and economy as never seen before. Globalisation, fuelled by the rapid and revolutionary developments in the information technology has threatened to subjugate the Islamic world.
Globalisation is clearly the current stage of the centuries- old expansion process of the capitalist system. The driving forces behind the mercantilism, capitalism were greed, the search for easy riches, the pillage, the slave trade, violence, oppression, colonialism, and imperialism.
As the centuries went by this process had several phases. First mercantilism, then the first industrial revolution, also moved by new innovations, by new inventions and the current phase of globalisation, which has ushered in profit-making as its ideology. It is a system that has scant regard for the civic state or political systems. It leaves the government to take care of such irritants as social welfare. It probes the individual’s most selfish desires and urges him to fulfil those desires, no matter what the rest of his state, community, family do.
These are totally in contrast with the teachings of Islam, which emphasizes moral values and rights of man over man. Islam does not allow hegemony of one state over another.
The present challenge faced by the Islamic World is the hegemony of the Western World in the name of globalisation. The current threat is on two frontiers, economy and culture. On the one hand western countries with their monopoly in Trans National Companies (TNC’s) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and their total control over multilateral trade organisations are in the process of having total control over the economics of the Islamic and third world.
On the other hand the Western countries have total control over the electronic media. This control allows them to propagate the western culture without any resistance.
The world investment report 1997 (WIR 97) states that top 50 TNCs headquarters in developing countries had total foreign assets of $79 billion in 1996, growing by 280 percent from 1995 to 1996. The sales of the World’s top six TNC’s, at $ 716 billion, exceed the combined GDP of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Merrill Lynch has also estimated that worldwide, nearly five million rich individuals, each with more than $ 500,000 in financial assets, control a staggering $ 16,700 billion.
According to the studies done by Institute for policy studies, “The top 200: The Rise of Global Corporate Power” shows that 51 of the 100 largest economies in the World are corporations. The output of General Motors Corporation is bigger than most of the countries. The annual sales of Wal-Mart Inc. Exceed the gross domestic products of 158 nations. The study points out the TNC’s are already creating worldwide webs of production, consumption and finance while bringing economic benefits to only a third of 5.6 billion people.
Foreign Director Investment (FDI) flows rose by 10 per cent to $ 349 billion in 1996, greater than the volume of the world trade according to the WIR 97. In the US, the fund managers who are said to be commanding over $ 4200 billions of invertible funds are ever in search of more profitable investment opportunities both within and outside the country.
Corporate capital is on its way to becoming omnipotent and omnipresent aided by the multilateral trade organisations such as GATT, TRIM, WTO, etc. Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) is the latest in the series of carefully planned legal and institutional changes, to legitimatise and institutionalise corporate dominance.
The near total control of western countries over electronic media allows them to promote western culture. The scale and reach of the Television is bringing about a homogeneity in culture. The Vividness and memorability of the television image, is regarded as having the power to ‘seize hold of the mind’ in a potentially pathological way. The information provided by television comes so fast that there is no scope for doing any critical analysis to assimilate the information.
Akbar S.Ahmed in “Post-modernism and Islam” writes, because of the power and aggressiveness of the western media and its anti Islamic posture, Muslims appear’s to have lost the capacity to represent themselves, even to express what they see and know as the reality of their lives. In this media game Muslims, weak and impotent, it appears, cannot win. Their frustration thus finds expression in anger and in violence”.
Media is thus one of the most important weapons in the arsenal of any country. This is the paramount lesson of our times. IT is a lesson the experts from Mcluhan to comolli and Narboni have been pointing out to us for sometime. Yet not a single Muslim country has a significant presence in the electronic media to challenge the eastern view point and its anti Islamic propaganda by the western media.
No doubt Globalisation presents a challenge and threat to the Islamic world in more than one way. But it also provides them with an opportunity. The technological advancement has conquered the hidden forces of matter, unveiling new secrets of nature and discovering unknown frontiers. The modern ‘get-rich-quick’ age has created a spiritual vacuum. While the psychological and spiritual needs of the masses remain unfulfilled, science, technology, psychology, sociology or politics can never fill the spiritual vacuum.
Only religion can satisfy the spiritual needs. In the 21st century, when the global ideology would be ‘profit’, the welfare activities, rights of the poor and weak, morality, sincerity, truthfulness, justice and difference between the right and the wrong would take the backseat.
Only Islam with its unadulterated and universal message would then be a ray of hope for the masses; for it alone would inspire them to fight back for their legitimate rights and struggle to establish a just and fair order in the society.
In his greed, today mankind is exploiting the technological advancement for self aggrandisement. Man is using the scientific marvels as a prostitute, without moral, social and ethical obligations and uncaring of the consequences. Islam is the only source which can inspire man to use the scientific and technological discoveries as a legally wedded wife, giving all the legitimate rights and owning the responsibilities of the consequences.
In the 21st century, Islam and only Islam would be able to provide the suffering humanity with clues and guidance to many of its complex and self created problems. The future belongs to Islam. But the prerequisite is that the followers of Islam, sincerely justify themselves as true representatives of Islam.
By Tahir Khurshid Raina
A few days back I had a chance of going through a recently published book by Late Mr. Justice B.L. Hansaria titled “Does India need a new constitution?”. The author has very vehemently tried to pinpoint the failures of the constitution (in his opinion) and the parliamentary form of government in India and has seriously felt a need of change in the constitution which suits a Presidential form of Government. Infact for the last one decade this issue has been very much in debate and the present political development with abysmally poor impact on the development of the country has again placed the topic at the top of the issues very much in discussion of decision and opinion makers of the nation.
In fact the prevailing political system of India is utterly messy and crying for rescue from getting worse. This situation has very highly attracted the attention of many political pundits and intellectuals who are continuously suggesting different reforms for curbing this lopsided and dismal political situation of the country. However, a particular section of them is finding the panacea for the ailment only in the change of system of political governance and the constitution. Will the change in constitution actually bring the desired change, a change which would wipe every tear from every eye: a change which brings doom to the politics of greed, glamour and glitter and a change which in totality takes the nation forwards peace, progress and prosperity?
At this juncture I recollect the most famous and guiding statement of Dr. Ambedkar in which he sounded a word of caution and wisdom. He said. “I feel, however good a constitution may be, it is sure to turn bad because who are called to work it happen to be a bad lot. However bad a constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot. The working of the constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the constitution. The constitution can provide only the organs of the state such as the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The factor on which the working of those organs of state depends are the people and the political parties they will set up as their instruments to carry out their wishes and their policies. Who can say how the people of India and their parties will behave?”.
Thus the lesson that one can easily draw from the foregoing lines is, it is the people at large of this country who have to blame for the present political mess and not the constitution as such. The founding fathers of the constitution have not thrown anything frivolous or superficial on the people. They were men of acumen with lots of experience and vision at their disposal. Whatever we inherit from them we are supposed to welcome. However, it does not mean that in this world of transition we should keep things unchanged. What exactly I like to pinpoint is that no doubt we need reform in our political system but it will absolutely be a wild-goose chase if a change in our own approach and character will not come. The root cause of the problem is “every one thinks to change the world but no one thinks to change himself.”
What has, therefore, to be changed is not the system but the operators of the system and that will certainly be true when, from the most basic unit of the society i.e. from the family, character building process starts cropping up. Thus from an individual to a collective level this process has to be started in the entire length and breadth of the country.
To let you understand my view point more easily and accurately I will stretch my discussion to include some more interesting facts- why the frustrations as we witness in this country we cannot see in other countries who are even having the same political system as ours. Or even in those countries who faced more brutalities than us in the past and just in the limited span elevated themselves to the most prominent position in the world. The in depth study of their wonderful development reveals that it has become possible not because of the system only but of untiring efforts of every individual.
Once an Indian industrialist, probably in 1965, went to West Germany. There he got a chance of visiting a factory. He remained observing for sometime the ongoing work of the factory and its various products. Then he intended to meet a worker of that factory who was very busy in his work. Even after repeated attempts of the Indian Industrialist the worker never for a second got attracted towards him. At last a bell rang which meant that now there was a lunch break. All the workers of the factory stopped their work and at once moved towards the dinning hall. At this very moment that particular worker came and met the Indian industrialist. What he said to him is the most appealing part of the whole episode which influenced me to quote it here. He queried the industrialist, ‘Do you people in your country, talk with the workers when they are busy in their respective work’. ‘If I had given any response to your attempts during my work, I would have caused great loss to the company which means a loss to the whole country. We are coming here to serve the country the best way can and not to cause any loss to it.
This is the level of character of the people which have made their countries great.
We in the last fifty years borrowed many things of such countries but failed to bring one thing that is the source of their success which I have tried to highlight in the foregoing paragraphs.
The Twenty-first century sun is about to rise fully in the world and if the people of India do really wish to see the things to happen of their choice in its broad light they have to understand one gospel reality: “A diseased person has a prospective chance of getting well by his own efforts. He cannot borrow health from other healthy persons.”
By Soroor Ahmed
He deals in coal, is usually clothed in dark dresses and has a fairly brown complexion. Yet he set a bright and shining example for the Muslims of his home town, Sasaram, in West Bihar.
His friends and relatives address him as Banke Babu. The very name gives an idea about his not so high stock and genealogy. He can hardly be counted among the tribe of lettered persons. However, by his deeds he has confirmed that one does not need a degree or high lineage to do something constructive.
Sasaram is a relatively small, but historically very significant town situated on the Grand Trunk Road near the border of Uttar Pradesh. It is here that the famous Afghan Emperor Sher Shah died. The mausoleum built in his memory is the star attraction of the town. The town is known for producing many buzurg (religious scholars) and their descendants can still be found living in the lanes and bylanes.
Yet when it came to raising the boundary wall around a big graveyard situated in the town where many of the legends are buried, none save Banke Babu came forward.
Graveyards often become a bone of contention in India as many of them are situated centrally. In this period of spiralling land prices encroachment cannot be ruled out. And with a temple already coming up within the precincts of Sher Shah Mausoleum in the town a few years back, the threat of grabbing the graveyard land was all the more imminent.
Banke Babu evolved his own method of fencing the graveyard. He invested some money on furnishing a makhbara (tomb) on the Grand Trunk Road. Till sometime back it was a neglected site. This spruced up makhbara gradually started attracting the attention of many truck-drivers and highway users who are often superstitious, be it Muslim, Hindu or Sikh. For them donating or throwing money for chaddar while passing through that route is a pious act.
Gradually, the money collected in this way grew enough to take up any ambitious project. Since the amount required for chaddar and upkeep of that tomb is not much, he used the surplus amount collected this way for erecting the boundary wall around the graveyard.