Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Jamadiul-Akhir / Rajab 1423 H
September 2002
Volume 15-09 No:189

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Community Roundup


Mumbai Bomb Blast Trial Ends
Does a headscarf violate school norms?
Indian Company to build Sky Bus in Saudi Arabia
Secular groups win a belated victory
Dr. Mumtaz Ahmed Khan takes over as Chairman of Amanath Bank
Hope in Hyderabad
Mumbai Serial Grooms
Foundation Stone for Karnataka Hajj House
Muslim Welfare Organisation honours top rankers
All that glitters is from Zain and Raza Jewellers
WAMY loses Dr. Johani
PEOPLE


Mumbai Bomb Blast Trial Ends

Judge Pramod Kode will have to read nearly 30,000 pages, before pronouncing the judgement.

By M. Hanif Lakdawala

Mumbai: The marathon, seven-year-long bomb blasts trial has ended. All the advocates involved in the case have finished making their oral arguments before Judge Pramod Kode of the special Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act in the court. They will now file their written submissions within a few days. A total of 122 accused were tried and as many as 19 lawyers appeared for the prosecution and defence. The bomb blasts trial, which started on June 6, 1995 in the special TADA Court, completed its final stage of arguments on August 23. On August 8, the arguments completed a year, a record in the history of the Indian legal system. The prosecution started its arguments on August 9, 2001. It is estimated that the final verdict will take at least eight more months and that the judgement will run into thousands of pages, considering the huge amount of evidence brought on record from both sides. So far, the prosecution has examined as many as 684 witnesses and the defence examined one, a handwriting expert. Evidence on record in the case runs into 13,000 pages.

There are 4,000 pages of exhibits before the court. Statements of the accused have been recorded on 9,000 pages. As if oral arguments, which went on for a year, were not enough, the Prosecution has filed written arguments of 1,000 pages, whereas the defence has filed 3,000 pages. Judge Pramod Kode will have to read nearly 30,000 pages, before pronouncing the judgement. The blasts trial includes 52 cases, registered in various police stations in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad. "Each case of circumstantial evidence takes three to four months to get over. Given this, the blasts trial is getting over early," said public prosecutor, A S Kulaye. Apart from evidence on paper, the prosecution has also produced more than 32,000 bullets, AK-56 rifles, AK-47 rifles, revolvers, pistols, hand grenades, detadetotors, cut tree branches and various samples of earth where explosives were destroyed, as evidence. Sources at the Central Bureau of Investigation said, "We will ask for one month to prepare our submissions on legal points raised by the defence during their arguments." On the other hand, advocate Subhash Kanse said, "Prosecution has asked for 15 days since they have to read over 3,000 pages of written submission filed by defence. It seems the judgement will not start before October."

On March 12, 1993, 13 blasts took place in the city. It killed 257 people, injured 713 and damaged property worth Rs 25 crore. Police had charge-sheeted 189 persons in connection with the blasts. The CBI, which took over the investigation, added four more to the list of accused after the charge-sheet was filed on November 4, 1993.

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Does a headscarf violate school norms?

Recently, the Bombay High Court has held that not allowing a Muslim girl student to wear a headscarf in school does not violate her fundamental rights or religious tenets, evoking mixed reactions from Muslims in Mumbai

By M. Hanif Lakdawala

In the back-drop of Gujarat, communalism it seems has increased in India. But that may not be always true. The masses from the different communities have also realised that understanding and respecting the religious feelings of others is necessary in a plural society such as India.

Recently, the Bombay High Court has held that not allowing a Muslim girl student to wear a headscarf in school does not violate her fundamental rights or religious tenets. The division bench of Justice R M Lodha and Justice Dilip Bhosale passed the order on a petition filed by a standard VI student of Bharat Education Society's Kartika High School, Kurla (West), who began wearing a scarf from June 2001 onwards which was not in keeping with the school's uniform code, and was warned by her principal that she would not be allowed to attend class from November 28, 2001, if she continued to wear one.

Unlike in the past, the Muslims of Mumbai not only refused to get provoked by the judgement as certain vested interests wanted to project it as an anti-Islamic judgement, but also criticised Petitioner Hussain Syed for making an issue of a non issue.

Abida's petition (filed through her father Hussain Syed) said the Quran provides that a female child over nine years should cover her head with a scarf. She said the scarf does not violate the dress code or the discipline of the school. Abida approached the high court saying the principal's action was violative of her fundamental right to practise Islam under Article 25 (freedom of conscience and profession, practising and propagation of religion) of the Constitution.

In their August 2, 2002 judgement, the judges said they found no merit in this submission. The Bench said, Article 25 is subject to restrictions imposed by the State on grounds of public order, morality and health, regulation of non-religious activity among others. Besides, there does not seem to be an established practice nor an obligatory act enjoined by Islam that girls studying in all girls school must wear a headscarf, the judges said. Advocates K P Ravi and Suresh Kumar Panicker appeared for the school in defence. Abida's counsel Nusrat Shah relied on Chapter 24-64 of the Quran ,Verse 31 to explain her contention regarding a dress code for women.

The judges said, "A girl not wearing the headscarf or head covering in an exclusive girl's section cannot be said to be in any manner acting inconsistently with the aforesaid version 31 or violating any injunction provided by the Quran.'' The bench further observed,''the essence of Muslim religion or Islam cannot be said to have been interfered with by directing the petitioner not to wear a headscarf in the school.''

Abida had filed a petition earlier and withdrawn it on February 11, 2002. The bench said it was against public policy to permit a litigant to approach the court again and again once a matter has been withdrawn unconditionally. The judges dismissed Nusrat Shah's contention that so long as infraction of fundamental rights continues, the petitioner can approach a court again and again.

The judges said once a litigant comes to court complaining of infraction of fundamental rights, the process must be taken to its logical end. Dismissing the petition, the Bench noted that after November 28, 2001, Abida has been attending school regularly without wearing the headscarf.

Aslam Gazi, president of Jamaat-e-Islami, Mumbai criticising the petitioner Hussain said that there are more serious issues which needs parents attention rather than making an issue out of a non-issue. "If Hussain is very particular about his daughter-wearing scarf inside the school, he must admit his daughter in the school which gives such permission. It is ridiculous imposing one's hard-line attitude on the school management and harassing them by taking the issue to the court", he said.

I. A. Syed of Muslim Intellectual Forum opines that such issues bring a bad name to the community. Why do we Muslims always forget that we live in a plural society and we must respect the feelings of others. It is high time we must accept the reality that being a Muslim does not give us licence to disrespect the norms, customs and traditions of other communities and institutions", he said. Mobin Shaikh, a lecturer of Islamic studies feels that the problem with the community is that it has reduced Islam to the level of rituals and certain practises. Shaina N.C. a leading fashion designer said, "I have been following this case. My sympathies lie with the girl's right to practice her religion. She was not trying to make a fashion statement or defy authority. Instead she was simply adhering to a norm followed by her community". "In a country like ours, which is home to so many religious communities, we have to bend rules to accommodate different sensibilities. When the Royal Canadian Mounted police and the Indian army can allow Sikhs to wear turbans, other institutions too can make an exception in their rules. Aren't we outraged when gymkhanas or discos frowned upon people not donning 'proper' attire", asked Shaina. Eminent author Vrinda Nabar, while commenting on the issue said, "Our country being a secular democracy has to cater to a number of religious sensibilities. "However,when President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam can depart from tradition and do away with the formal dress code for the Independence Day function, keeping in mind the climatic conditions in New Delhi, institutions too should bear in mind the dignity and sentiments of different communities" she added.

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Indian Company to build Sky Bus in Saudi Arabia

New Delhi: The Konkan Railways is studying a proposal to set up a 'Sky Bus Service' between Makkah and Madinah, the two most important pilgrim cities in Saudi Arabia. The Konkan Railways has been approached by the Government of Saudi Arabia to study the possibility of joining the two cities with Sky Bus, which will enhance the mobility of pilgrims and minimise hazards. Sky Bus travels is suspended from overhead rails and carries passengers in boxes which are 6'4" high and 8'4" wide. It can travel 100 km per hour. It can be remote operated and does not cost more than 15 paise per passenger per km. Though India still does not have Sky Bus, Konkan Railways is working on a project in Kerala. In case the proposals are accepted, the work is likely to begin in Saudi Arabia next year. Makkah and Madinah are nearly 400 km apart.

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Secular groups win a belated victory

By A Staff Writer

Mumbai: Secular groups won a belated victory recently when the police admitted that there was nothing objectionable in the two films against communalism, which they had seized before they could be screened. The films, by Gauhar Raza, were about to be shown to the students, last month, when a posse of policemen barged in and picked up the activists who had organised the screening. While one of the films, 'Evil stalks the land', is about the Gujarat carnage and interviews of those in the refugee camps in Ahmedabad, the other film, 'In Dark Times', shows the parallels between philosopy of the Nazis and that of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

At that time, zonal deputy police commissioner Dhananjay Kamlakar had defended his decision, saying that the screening could create communal tension. Activists of the pro-BJP Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), had complained to the police about it. Now Kamlakar said "We have found nothing objectionable in the films.'' "The earlier argument of the police that the screening would have led to a law and order problem was illogical,'' said lawyer Mihir Desai of the India Centre for Human Rights.

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Dr. Mumtaz Ahmed Khan takes over as
Chairman of Amanath Bank

Bangalore: Dr. Mumtaz Ahmed Khan has been elected as the new Chairman of the Amanath Co-operative (Scheduled) Bank. The change at the top came on August 17 meeting of the Board of Directors of the bank in the city. Outgoing chairman K. Rahman Khan, MP pleaded that 'he be allowed to demit the post which he had held for many years as his political pre-occupations were too demanding on his time'. He then proposed the name of Dr. Mumtaz Ahmed Khan which was unanimously accepted by the Directors. The Board placed on record its appreciation of services rendered by Rahman Khan. The change-over has come about amidst serious charges of embezzlement in the bank funds and outstanding loans against leading businessmen in the Bangalore creating some rumpus in the city. Though bank promptly scotched rumours, the general manager Asadullah was asked to proceed on leave by the Management. The bank has denied any scams and announced new plans for expansion. Amanath Co-operative Bank observed the silver jubilee last year when it received a scheduled status. Its deposits are said to be around Rs. 500 crore.

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Hope in Hyderabad

With an aim to provide a bright future to the kids of the Gujarat carnage victims,
MESCO is all set to give these children their due rights

By A Staff Writer

Hyderabad: Smiles have disappeared from the innocent faces of kids after being witness to the madness, the mayhem, the killings of their near and dear ones and the devastation they and their families were subjected to. Like many other children of their age, they also dreamt of growing up in their home and making it big in life. But fate shattered their dreams and landed them in this city, far from their home in Gujarat. The horrific events that took place before their eyes left them traumatised. The memories of the devastation still haunt the young minds as they are preparing to rebuild their lives here. Eleven-year-old Nazim of Ahmedabad had dreamt of becoming a doctor, but he was unaware of what the fate had in store.

The anti-Muslim riots, that rocked Gujarat, cut short his dreams. His father, a tailor, the sole earning member for the family, was shot dead by the police when he went to retrieve some household goods from the house of an aunt that was torched by rioters. Faisal, 12, has a similar story. His father too was killed in police firing while returning home from a mosque. Each of the 41 children from Gujarat adopted by a non-governmental educational institute here has a horrific story to tell. Some of them were left orphans by the violence in Gujarat. Some of these children, in the age group of eight to 12 years, had to discontinue education as riots devastated the economy of their families. "They burnt down our shoe shop at Jamalpur. They did not spare even my school. We were forced to shift to Kalupur," reminisces Nawaz. The violence destroyed everything for seven-year-old Sheikh Imran. "My father ran a transport business, but today he is pulling a cycle rickshaw," Imran says.

The children now want to keep the horrific memories behind and start life afresh. "Though it is not an easy task, but we are helping them to make a new beginning. They are talented children and if the young minds are moulded properly they can fulfill their dreams," said M. A. Sattar Khan of Muslims Educational Social and Cultural Organisation (MESCO), an NGO, which has adopted these traumatised children. Living in relief camps amidst pathetic conditions, the children had no hopes of going back to schools in Ahmedabad. But now, enrolled at MESCO's residential school, they are beginning to smile again, and determined to excel to give a better life to their families. "I will become a doctor to help those in misery," says Nazim. K. A. Sattar Khan, founding member of MESCO, said his organisation would adopt another batch of 45 children and would bring them to Hyderabad shortly. Majority of them have lost their parents in the riots. "We will arrange for their education from primary to post-graduation level," he said.

He said the first batch of children were brought from relief camps of Shah Alam, Bapunagar and Darya Gunbad in Ahmedabad. MESCO had also donated Rs. 500,000 for the inmates of these camps.

MESCO has plans to open two residential schools in Gujarat to help the riot-affected children continue their studies. The schools will come up at Vasada in Surendernagar district, 90 km from Ahmedabad and at Mehmoodabad in Kheda district.

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Mumbai Serial Grooms

By A Staff Writer

Mumbai: Shabana Shaikh thought her life would take a turn for the better when she married Ghazi Mohammed Mahfooz in 1996. But it took only a year - and a conversation she overheard in their Mira Road residence - for her to realise that she could not have been more mistaken. One evening, her husband had invited two Arab men to their house, where Shabana heard him say he would sedate her and ''give her'' to them for two days. Just 17 then, Shabana was to realise she was wife No 3 among 16 others who Mahfooz had married in a decade.

Not just accepting their fate and blaming destiny, these brave Muslim women decided to teach Ghazi a lesson. Three of his wives, including Shabana, have filed complaints in three police stations across Mumbai, with the Kurla metropolitan magistrate's court issuing a non-bailable arrest warrant. While Shabana has lodged a complaint under Sections 498 (dowry), 323 (physical harm), 504 (using abusive language) and 506 (threatening), of the IPC, with the Mira Road police, two other wives have lodged complaints with the police in Govandi. Roshani, Shabana, Sophiya, Fehmida, Senin Delai... the list of Mahfooz's victims is long.

Shabana said her background check on her husband, corroborated by the police shows Mahfooz was in the marriage business for money. Using a group of women to scour the slums and middle-class localities, he would pick on young, innocent women and lure them with the promise of an easy life. If they chanced upon his earlier marriages, he would explain them away by claiming his previous wives were unable to bear children. Mahfooz would then offer his wife to Arab men for money. Says an outraged Shabana: "Even the Shariat does not permit a man to marry more than four times and that too, only under certain circumstances.''

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Foundation Stone for
Karnataka Hajj House

Bangalore: Hajees from Karnataka can look forward to a more comfortable stay before embarking on their Hajj journey, according to Minister for Hajj Affairs, R. Roshan Baig. The Karnataka Hajj House will come up on the sprawling Khuddus Saheb Eidgah Maidan in the city soon. The facilities provided to the Hajees will match world-class standards.

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Muslim Welfare Organisation
honours top rankers

Top Rankers HonouredThiruvananthapuram: The top Muslim student rankers of SSLC/ CBSE ICSE examinations in Kerala were presented with awards by the Muslim Welfare Organisation in the State. Minister for Education Nalakath Soopy who distributed the awards called for better opportunities for Muslim candidates to cope with the competition. Local administration minister Cherkalam Abdullah presided over the function. Shamla Ahammed (IAS) and Dr. P. A. Mohammed Kunju, Head of the department of Paediatric neurology, Trivandrum Medical College were also felicitated at the function. M. Vijaya Kumar, former Speaker of the Assembly, C.T. Ahammed Ali, M.L.A, Channankara, M. P. Kunju, K. R.Jyothilal IAS, and Kayamkulam Yoonus spoke on the occasion.

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All that glitters is from
Zain and Raza Jewellers

Bangalore: Jewels of India, India's finest exhibition cum sale of Gold, Diamonds, Gems and Jewellery will be held in the city between September 13-17, 2002. Two top Muslim jewellers, Zain Jewellers Pvt Ltd, Hanan Gems and Jewels and Raza Jewels will showcase their birthstones from Burma and Bangkok. Branded diamond jewellery from Regalia, sister concern of Raza Jewels are available at Stall No-46 of the Exhibition. Zain Jewellers and the sister concern Hanan Gems and Jewellery will display 916 KDM jewellery, precious and semi-precious gems, exclusive diamond jewellery in Stall No 56. Do not miss the Muslim jewellery on display.

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WAMY loses Dr. Johani

There is an Arabic adage which says: " The death of a scholar is the death of a world".

This fits well to describe the void left by the death of Dr. Maneh bin Hammad al Johani who joined the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) in 1983 as the Asst Secretary General and was later elected as Secretary General in 1987. Dr. Johani died on August 4, 2002, in Riyadh during a car accident. He was driving to King Khalid International Airport on his way to Jeddah to attend a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Azeez. Born in 1942 in Hejaz in Saudi Arabia, Dr. Johani completed his M A and Ph D in English from Indiana University, Bloomington, USA and taught English at King Saud University, Riyadh between 1975-1995.

He was appointed a member of the Saudi Shoura Council in 1997 and was the Founding Trustee of the International Council for Islamic Information (ICII) UK launched in 1993 and was later elected Chairman of its Board of Trustees in 1996. He was Chairman, Board of Trustees Institute of Islamic Information and Education, Chicago, ILL. USA since 1990. He authored and translated a number of pamphlets in English and Arabic. His series of pamphlets on various aspects of Islam were translated in more than 30 world languages.

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PEOPLE

Awarded

Dr. N.A.Karim

Dr. N. A. Karim, former Pro-Vice -Chancellor of the University of Kerala and veteran social worker has been conferred with the first T. A. Majeed Foundation Award instituted in the memory of late minister T. A. Majeed. The award was presented by K. Sankara Narayana, miniter for Finance at Varkala. Dr. Karim is associated with national and international NGOs and spearheading the cause of quality education to the masses.

Elected

Ashraf Choudhary became the first Muslim Member of Parliament in New Zealand. India-born Ashraf was sworn in on August 26 at Wellington after being elected with 119 others for the Parliament. He has been elected on the New Labour Party Ticket. He became the first New Zealand MP to take oath on the Holy Quran. Though criticised for not taking the oath on the Bible by rival legislators from New Zealand First Party, Ashraf rejected the allegation saying Jewish Prime Minister Julius Vogel had taken the oath on Torah.

Felicitated

Lord Adam Hafijee Patel who was nominated to the House of Lords has been felicitated by the Indian Muslim Federation (IMF) in Woodford Green Essex. Lord Patel, 62, is a Gujarati Indian by descent and had his education in India. Indian High Commissioner Ronen Sen and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also participated. Lord Patel has suggested that all Indians- Hindus, Muslims and Christians should form an umbrella organisation.

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News| Community Roundup | View from the Other Side | Editorial| Readers Comments| Investigation|
Muslim Perspectives| Book Review| Children's Corner| Quran Speaks to You| Hadith|
Our Dialogue| Religion| Back to Past| Opinion| Living Islam| From Darkness to Light | Matrimonial|
Jobs| Archives| Feedback| Subscription| Links| Calendar|

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