By Soroor Ahmed
The jumbo-sized Rabri Devi cabinet in Bihar has nine Muslim ministers against two under her predecessor, Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadav. But the overall size of the cabinet too has increased three-fold. The new cabinet has 74 ministers while the earlier had 25.
Former cabinet ministers, Ilyas Hussain and Abdul Bari Siddiqui have been retained. The seven freshly inducted are Shakeel Ahmed Khan, Prof. Lutfur Rahman, Abdul Malik, Javed Eqbal Ansari, Mansoor Alam, Saba Ahmed and Sarfraz Alam.
MLC Shakeel Ahmed Khan shot into fame as the lawyer of Mr. Laloo Yadav in the fodder scam. He hails from Gaya and has been practising law in Patna High Court for the last two decades. He was with the CPI till Babri Masjid demolition. He lost three consecutive elections from Gaya seat on CPI ticket.
Prof. Lutfur Rahman, MLA from Nathnagar in Bhagalpur suburbs, is a noted Urdu writer. He was manhandled during the infamous riots in Bhagalpur by Police, allegedly at the hands of the District Magistrate Mr. Arun Jah. He holds the Minorities Welfare portfolio.
Javed Iqbal Ansari, the state minister in Lutfur Rahman’s ministry, hails from Banka district. He came to prominence after the split in Janata Dal and was appointed chief of the youth wing of RJD. However he hails from a prominent Congress family from Jamshedpur.
Jail Minister Saba Ahmed represents Tundi constituency under Dhanbad district. He is brother of BPCC Chief Sarfraz Ahmed and has been inducted into the cabinet for the first time. New Information Minister Abdul Malik represents Arrah seat and managed a Muslim minority college prior to becoming MLA.
Sarfraz Alam, new minister of state for revenue and land reforms, is the son of a former Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Taslimuddin. Son succeeded the father after Taslimuddin became an MP from Kishenganj. He won the Jokihat assembly seat.
Even the state minister for Information is a Muslim, Mr. Mansoor Alam, MLA from Barari seat under Katihar district. He joined the Janata Dal after winning the seat on SP ticket.
Mr. Ilyas Hussain is the most senior Muslim minister. But it was Abdul Bari Siddiqui who was tipped to be Laloo’s successor following his resignation. Siddiqui was an associate of former CM in the Jayaprakash Narain’s movement in the 70s. Siddiqui married Jaiprakash Narain’s niece. He represents Bahera seat and has been a minister since 1995. Mr. Ilyas Hussain, the Minister for Road Construction since 1990, represents Dehri-on-Sone. Though his reputation is good for work in his constituency, it received a beating when his name surfaced in the so-called Bitumen scam.
By Prof. Dr. Mumtaz Ali Khan
India which is the largest democratic country in the world has the second largest population of Muslims, accounting for 1.2 billion. India is also unique from another angle. It is a multistructured society with religious pluralism and cultural dualism. Secularism is the most significant characteristic of this society. When India was partitioned and Pakistan emerged as an Independent free nation, the social situation was tense. The makers of the Indian Constitution had full liberty and authority to shape the nature and destiny of the country. India could have been either a theocratic state or a secular state. Muslims who remained in India had no option but to be contented with whatever was given to them.
But it did not happen this way for two reasons, namely (1) Not all Muslims of India supported the Two-Nation Theory. A large number of Muslims opted to stay back. There were many patriotic and loyal Muslim leaders who were prepared to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the country. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Mohammed Ali and Shaukat Ali. Dr. Zakir Husain and a host of other Muslim intellectuals took active part in Independence movement and fought for united India.
But there are some individuals and groups opposed to Muslim cause. They spread wrong information that Muslims of India are not loyal to the country and they hold Pakistan very dear to them. Sometimes Muslim development becomes slow and scuttled. Discrimination is practised. Job opportunities are restricted. Properties of individuals as well as institutions are not safe. Prayer grounds are challenged and obstructed. Common civil code is used as an instrument to create fear and terror in the minds of Muslims. TADA cases are mishandled with malafied intentions with detention of the accused pending for long without speedy trial.
These are some glaring instances that pollute the otherwise healthy and beneficial socio-cultural environment since independence. But Muslims of India enjoy protection against evil doers under the provisions of the constitutions of India. Muslims as a dominant minority group have certain definite privileges or rights which can not be taken away even by the Government. The State Policy has generally been to the advantage of Muslims. Though there was terrible pressure on the Government to introduce Common Civil Code, the Government has categorically announced to the world that Common Civil Code will not be introduced. The State has established National Minority Commission at the Centre and State Minority Commission in states. Besides this, Minority Development Corporation, Wakf Development Corporation, etc have also been set up. The National Backward Classes Commission and state level Minority Commission have been set up. Muslim are also now made eligible for reservation benefit. There are many more programmes of the State which are a pointer to the world that secular India has taken care of Muslim interest so far as developmental dimensions are concerned. Besides these socio-economic programmes, significant support has been given to Muslims by offering top positions to them. Dr. Zakir Husain and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed were made presidents of India. There were a Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court and High Court from among Muslims. Justice Hidayatulla Baig, Justice Ahmedi and Justice Beevi Fatima are some note worthy names. Muslim Governors were there in the past and are also now in some states. We had Muslim Chief Ministers. Even now we have Dr. Farooq Abdulla as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. The State has recognized some eminent Muslim educationists and assigned them good positions such as Vice-chancellors. There are Muslim captains of Indian hockey and cricket teams.
But inspite of all this, there is a feeling that not much has been done for the full development of Muslims. If this statement is true, Muslims are also partly responsible for this. There are many factors that account for this position. Muslim leadership is generally held to be indifferent, inefficient, ineffective and uncommitted. Research studies bear ample testimony to prove this point. Self centered leaders have smashed the golden opportunities for the Muslim cause. Religious leadership is also equally responsible. The elite is alienated and intellectuals are least concerned.
Added to this is the self-factor. Muslims in general are slow, lethargic, passive, pessimistic and least interested in development. They are not hardworking and do not keep futurity. Parents do not want to sacrifice anything for the prosperity of the younger generation. They are more known for poverty of culture rather than poverty per-se. Generally they are neither open to blue-prints of the State nor-Islam for development.
Child-labour is rampant in Muslim society. Parents’ criminal attitude is exposed when they force the children to drop out of the school and take up work in all sorts of workshops which pollute the mind of the children. Their character is damaged. Development of their personality is retarded. Girl child is the worst victim of the negligence of the parents.
Youths are generally deviants. They have neither education nor employment. As a result of this, they become victims of social compulsions and resort to criminal activities. There is none to guide them and motivate them for doing something worthwhile for their welfare as well as the welfare of the community and the state. Thus, youth power is either lost or misdirected.
Muslim women suffer from several handicaps. They are generally forced to remain uneducated or made to discontinue after upper primary standard. They are just confined to the four walls of the house and prevented from acquiring knowledge about development. Most of these women do small jobs for income generation, but in the process lose health. Large number of children, irregular income of the husband and excess of dependency on others have wrecked the capabilities of women for development.
In this social context, some people say, “what has independence brought us?. How can we rejoice in this golden year of independence ?”. In other words, for many of them, independence refers to improved economic conditions. It is a pity that the capable among the educated Muslims have failed in their duty to help the cause of Muslims in several ways in cluding cretion of an awareness in them of India’s struggle for independence and the role of Muslims in it. They should also create awareness among Muslims about the various development programs and how Muslim can take advantage of this. They should be prepared for the future.
Muslims have a duty cast on them in the true spirit of Islam to participate in this golden jubilee celebration. Otherwise, they become guilty of non-participation and suspects in the eyes of those who are bent upon propagating that Muslims are not loyal to the land. It is hoped that various Muslim socio-cultural organizations take the lead and seize the golden opportunity of celebrating the Golden Jubilee year of Independence.
By Nigar Ataulla
Open any newspaper, you will find little ads about people who will tell you about your future --- “ The professional fortune tellers”. There are the sophisticated ones who hire posh hotel rooms from where they do this business and you will get to see the extreme of this right on the streets under a tree with a pack of cards and the parrot, whose main duty is to pick a card from a pile of cards.
Because of the sacrilege and heresy involved in fortune telling, Islam has taken a very strong stance against it. Islam opposes any form of association with those who practise fortune-telling, except to advise them to give up their forbidden practices.
The Prophet (Pbuh) laid down principles which clearly forbade any form of visitation of fortune tellers.
Safiyyah reported from Hafsah (wife of the Prophet) that the Prophet (Pbuh) said, “The Salaah of whoever approaches a fortune teller and asks him about anything will not be accepted for 40 days and nights.” This prohibition is further supported by Mu’aawiyah Ibn al-Hakam as Salamee’s Hadeeth in which he said, “O Messenger of Allah, verily there are some people among us who visit Oracles”. The Prophet (Pbuh) replied, “Do not go to them.”
Such a severe punishment has been assigned for only visitation because it is the first step to belief in fortune telling. The individual who approached a fortune teller is still obliged to make his compulsory Salaah during the 40 days even though he gets no reward from his prayers. If he abandons the Salaah altogether, he has committed another major sin.
The Islamic ruling with regard to anyone who visits a fortune teller believing that he knows the unseen and the future is that of Kufr (disbelief). Abu Hurayrah and al-Hasan both reported from the Prophet (Pbuh) that he said, “whosoever approaches a fortune teller and believes what he says, has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammad”. Such a belief assigns to creation some of Allah’s attributes with regard to the knowledge of the unseen and the future. Consequently, it destroys Tawheed al Asmaa was sifaat and represents a form of Shirk in this aspect of Tawheed.
The ruling of Kufr includes, those who read the books, writings, predictions based on Zodiac signs in newspapers, listen to predictions of the fortune tellers on the radio, or watch them on TV.
Allah clearly states in the Qur’an that no one knows the unseen besides Him. Not even the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). Allah said: “With Him are the keys to the unseen and none knows it except Him alone “.
Then he told the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh): “Say I have no power to bring good to myself nor avert harm but it is only as Allah wills. If it were that I knew the unseen, I would have multiplied the good and no evil would have touched me”.
Allah has said: “say none in the heavens nor the earth knows the unseen except Allah”.
Therefore, all the various methods used around the world by oracles, fortune tellers, palm reading, I ching, fortune cookies, zodiacal signs, biorhythm computer programmes, are forbidden to Muslims. Muslims must take utmost care in dealing with individuals who in one way and another claim knowledge of the future or the unseen.
Allah has stated in no uncertain terms that He alone knows the future. “ Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah alone. It is He who sends down the rain and knows the contents of the wombs. No one knows what he will earn tomorrow nor in which land he will die, but Allah is all knowing and aware.”
By D.A. Sait.
Whenever the Mahatma fasted it had always been for the sake of truth and self-purification. There never had been any suggestion of personal gain. But what passes for fasting (known as ‘hunger strike’ in today’s political parlance) must make Mahatma Gandhi turn in his grave. Today the so-called hunger-strike has become a gimmick, a weapon of blackmail in the hands of political mischief-mongers. And if the person who is on this fasting spree is a political bigwig then he always gets his way with the government bending over backwards and begging the fasting worthy with tears in its (the government’s) eyes to try a little orange juice. But why orange juice? Why not lemon or mango juice or even some little known Asiatic poison to put the poor devil out of his misery?
Today’s hunger-strike, unlike the fasts of the Gandhian times, is a carefully organised racket. If what you are aiming at is to make the government wilt the projected hunger-strike has got to be put into the hands of a specialist called the ‘Fixer’, whose job it is to call in his corps of goons known as ‘Assistant Fixers’ to arrange the various aspects of the fast and make it a success. The first thing he has to do of course is to finalise the terms of the agreement with the would be hunger-striker’s party sponsoring the fast. In other words, ‘What is in it for me?’ has to be answered to his entire satisfaction before he will let a single stone be hurled at a passing bus or a car be burnt. He has no political affiliations. The Congress, the Left, the Right or the Middle front all are grist to his mill.
“How much?” asks the party boss of the Fixer.
“Twenty-five thousand rupees,” answers the Fixer.
“You must remember this is going to be an indefinite fast, and I shall have my work out till it is called off.”
“I do the fasting,” protests the would be hunger-striker, “and you collar twentyfive thousand?”
“But everybody is going to eat out of your hand after the fasting is over.”
“After the fasting! That’s rich! What if I kick the bucket in the meanwhile for want of nourishment?”
“Regular nourishment will be provided to you after twelve every night when the world is peacefully asleep.”
“Well, that’s something, at any rate. But what happens when the doctors pounce on me to check my pulse rate and so on?”
“That’s another part of my job. I square the doctors and they report you as extremely weak and about to stop over to the other side of the veil. Then things begin to hot up.”
“How do you mean?” says the candidate for hunger-strike.
“Your hordes of supporters, all hired by me at Rs.100 per day,
go about blocking the railway tracks, stoning buses and government buildings, burning cars and the lot. Bonuses are paid to those ‘miscreants’ who stone more buses and cars than the quota prescribed for each. Conversely those found wanting will find themselves with a cut in their pay packets.”
“My God, you Fixers do live! And then?”
“You kick like a mule when they try to move you to a hospital. Your faithful supporters form a ring round you to foil any such move. At last, the government or the particular department concerned, announces the appointment of a committee to go into your demands and the P.M. or the C.M. or the department boss hands you a glass of orange juice, the prescribed remedy for all forms of ‘fastingitis’. Cameras click, hands clap, as you are led, supported by your fans (though, left to yourself, you could win the hundred meters dash, and no questions asked, thanks to the many surreptitious lunches under your belt) into a waiting van.”
“Then lead me to my fasting berth!” cries the excited would-be hunger-striker.