Towards the 30th Milestone
This issue of the Islamic Voice marks the entry of this tiny tabloid into the 30th year of its existence. The first issue of the journal had hit the stands on January 1, 1987. It is only the grace of Allah subhanahu wa taala that Islamic Voice has come thus far. We do not seek elsewhere for help and inspiration other than Him and His vast reservoir of beneficence to continue our journey further.
Going by the general apathy that Muslims exhibit towards media, the period of our survival certainly appears longer than imagined at its beginning. And given the advances in the general media, we find ourselves still a very tiny voice which hardly ever makes any difference. In 1987, when Islamic Voice started its journey, the media scene was placid. Print still ruled the roost. The TV channels were few and far between. Social media was even beyond the horizons of conceivability. The team behind this journal was young and had no clear vision of where it headed. Computers were a rarity and printing and publishing were not the options for the brash, young entrepreneurs. News was hard to come by. Photographs were still harder to get. However, the traditional Dak (postal) system was much efficient and one could expect the magazine to be in hands by the 5th or the 6th of the month.
Twenty nine years later, we find left far behind our mainstream contemporaries. Media now works 24 x 7 what with TV channels beaming the news all around the day. What you hear is also accessible on the Internet and comments and reactions flow simultaneously. Media is today interactive. Everyone has broadcasting facility what with Facebook and Twitter empowering every person to air his or her part of the news and commentaries. But it has also made our task of selection of really hard news very arduous. A lot of garbage is heaped into the mailboxes every hour of the day. Besides recycled material adds to our woes.
We had the young generation of Muslims in our mind as our audience when we began. They were growing unaware of Islam and the culture due to distance created by English (and regional language) medium education. We provided a lot of stock information. But today the time has changed all that. The Internet offering hundreds of such websites has ended that gap. We too slowly deviated from that beaten track and began to focus on critical examination of the formulaic Islam and Sharia.
For the last 15 years, our foremost concern had been to present an Islam that fulfils the urges of the time and appeals to the rational-minded, modern educated youth. We have grown firm in belief that if Muslims were to be vital participants in the peace, progress and prosperity of the people and nations of the world, they need to shun the fossilized mindset and give up the old and orthodox fixations. There is a need to understand the world in its diversity and entirety. The journal has therefore advocated overhauling and modernization of madrassa curriculum; reformation in Muslim Personal Law; empowerment of women and enhancement of their participation in social affairs of the community; eschewing glorification of the past to the extent of developing a negative attitude towards the present; bringing about a shift from rites and rituals to attainment of knowledge and practicing of values; respecting pluralism; introspection rather than preaching; increasing their self-worth through creativity rather than taking pride in the past; et al.
The journal has scrupulously avoided giving publicity to or being the mouthpiece of any particular ideology, party, jamaat or leader and has attempted highlighting issues with reference to values—democratic, ethical and Islamic—without prejudice to anyone. Clamouring brigades, rhetoricians and rabble-rousers have long been disappointed with us, while those with any creditable and tangible contribution to the humanity have found in the journal a friend in need.
The three decades of our existence coincided with severely difficult times for Islam and Muslim all across the world. There was no moment of relief from fears being fomented and phobias being fanned from several quarters. Aware of them all, we have continued to counsel patience and been consistent in telling the community that it had been too simplistic in its approach to issues of livelihood, governance, civil liberties, human rights, professional excellence, quality education and practicing of values.
We proceed towards the 30th milestone with no iota of jubilation. Ours had been a tough struggle against stagnated thought process, clerical stranglehold on the community and forces of darkness masquerading under the garb of salvation. We are not unaware of our limited reach, unappealing layout and compulsion of a masthead burdened with the baggage of misunderstanding. We cherish to stay the course of ‘Love for all and hate for none’ in future too. All this with the hope that some day the community would heed to the voices of sanity and sagacity!