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Hijab Vs. Education of Muslim Girls:
Onus Again is on Ulema to guide nothing is compromised.
Sir,
Though, recent happenings and debates on Hijab just sparked in the small town of Udupi, becoming a national level debate, are never to be mistaken as an accidental isolated incident being blown up. It is a larger conspiracy to distract the entire community and keep it busy dwelling on an issue that would keep it away from the path of solid education, which is the only way to keep them empowered and relevant in the country. Each of these issues raised from time to time systematically serves two purposes. One to polarise Indian cosmopolitan society and isolate Muslims as an untouchable tribe from majority Hindu brothers and sisters. Secondly, divert and distract Muslims into something that will stop their education and community-building progress. My point is proved when the Muslim girls skipped their exams and returned home, preferring the Hijab of a particular style over the exam. That could have been managed with dupatta on the head also tactfully. My greater fear is if our innocent and poor parents who courageously were sending their girls to schools and colleges as first-generation learners fall prey to the emotional speeches of our learned leaders and Ulema and discontinue their studies. There can not be a bigger disaster for the community and future generations if that happens. There is a great responsibility on Ulema, the community leaders, to sink on one resolve that Muslim women shall not discontinue or compromise on their education and path to their empowerment and of their prodigy, come what may. Please do not forget the Hadith of taking the middle path in times of crisis and Hikmath(tact and strategy) to keep your honour and still march ahead, without taking any step that takes you back in time. After all, you should realize that the section of extremist majority intends to distract you with one issue after another and keep you emotionally charged all the time for you don’t concentrate on your educational progression. If our leaders and Ulema easily fall prey to this and instead of collectively finding an intelligent compromising middle path solution to protect our girls from discontinuing education, take an uncompromising position, disaster to the community is ensured by depriving them of education. After all, we all want our daughters to be doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors, teachers, scientists, and administrators and make our community relevant in the country, not the congregation of illiterate women. Whatever the court’s decision, my appeal to parents and Muslim girls is to take the middle path and never discontinue schools and colleges. I would even urge the community to now send more girls with a vengeance to schools and professional colleges if we have to be relevant in the country and benefit from the country’s future prosperity and development.

Prof Jalees Ahmed Khan Tareen (Padma Shri) Former VC to Kashmir university, Pondicherry University and BSA university

“Interfaith Dialogue and Religious Tolerance”
Sir,
“Interfaith dialogue and Religious Tolerance” is a topic that has become pertinent and addressed by Tahsin Ahmed in the IV Feb 2022 issue.
As pointed out by the writer, many “interfaith dialogue events” are organized at both local and global levels. The idea of these interfaith dialogues is to bring an understanding among followers of different faiths and put forth the common ground to promote peace and harmony.
In this regard, Western countries are much more ahead of Eastern countries.
Why? For the simple reason that Western society is much more open-minded, they give themselves a chance to know and learn what they don’t know.
The law and justice in these countries are not as much prejudiced.
Open dialogues unveil the shrouds and curtains of assumed secrecy.
Coming to India, as the author points out, by the passing of time, the dividing lines between Hindus and Muslims are getting ever thicker and wider.
After independence, India was mainly and mostly was ruled by democratically elected secular political parties. In the past few years, right-wingers have taken over the country’s reins. Every election is being contested strictly based on “suppress the minority and appease the majority, not on social issues but religious bigotry and it is working well with the masses.
From the above observations, it is clear that an open-minded and educated society is the key for interfaith dialogues to be successful. Secondly, dialogues in limited captive intellectuals in the auditorium will not have that mass effect compared to brainwashed people in political rallies.
History has witnessed how the dictators and autocratic rulers came to power and carried out atrocities with such evil and cruelty.
India being thickly populated and a vast majority being poorly literate, immersed deep into blind faith can easily be manipulated by political leaders. Suppose the political leaders with extreme discriminative and biased ideology and salutation of Hitler come in power through the democratic process and treat one particular minority as the arch-enemy. Where would the room be for any dialogue? At every step, minorities are targeted over their eating habits, clothes they wear, Eid they celebrate, and thousands of places of worship are claimed as temples then; where will be the room for dialogue?
My argument is interfaith dialogue is possible in an educated and open society, not in the environment where so-called national leaders promote animosity.
Your observation of the WhatsApp group is partially true. Human beings are social animals, and they like to find and prefer to mingle with their own kind. This can be based on religion, sect, language, geographical location, etc. They could relate to some common bonds.
You are right that there are no constructive dialogues in the mixed groups. On the contrary, they are used to spreading hate messages and biased political views without considering that they could be hurtful to other group members.
The suggestions made by the author in “The way forward” are all valid and must be put into practice wherever and whenever we can, especially in good causes and in times of need.
Unfortunately, there is another side to how many segregated communities have been formed where people find themselves and their families safe and protected. Denial dealing with real estate, whether for rental or purchase, has become a common occurrence, and this has become a pan India problem, including cosmopolitan places.
In most countries, the majority gets aggressive and the minority suppressive. When the ruling political party from the majority with a skewed philosophy creates a vitriolic and vitiated atmosphere, it becomes tough for the minority, lagging in education and struggling for daily survival. When the communities of minorities are neglected by the municipalities and discrimination is faced at every level, it becomes challenging. Everything being privatized is also a conspiracy. No laws of minority quota will be applicable in these firms and companies.
The author has suggested an attempt to bring harmony and understanding to the world we live in, but it will be an uphill task.
The first place where we have to start is to learn to use our vote wisely. There is a need to find and form our leadership to represent minorities in Assemblies and Parliament.
The environment has become so venomous that being friendly with Cobra doesn’t mean that you are safe from its bite. The only way to be safe is to defang the serpent politically. Politics is the source of both extreme evilness and atrocities. At the same time, it is also the source of reform and the community’s respect. Politicians should understand that in unity, we stand, and divided we fall. As rightly pointed out in the article, the nation’s prosperity is in the unity among its citizens.

Qazi Minhaj Azher
USA…..
Sir,
Your February 2022 issue of IV carried an excellent article on “Interfaith Dialogue and Religious Tolerance” written by Mr. Syed Tahsin Ahmed. This article has been written after good research, and as is usual with this author’s writings, it is thoughtful. The author points out the basic tendencies among the various religions in not mingling with one another and having self-created boundaries. This impedes the intermingling of different religious groups. It is indeed challenging to overcome all such taboos. Despite centuries of living together in this country, such distancing remains. We need to work to integrate our society. The recommendations given by the author for mitigating the problems within the Muslim community deserve serious consideration congratulation to the author and IV for such a brilliant article.
Iqbal Ahmed,
Bangalore …..

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