Published On:04 October 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

IndianMuslimObserver.com awarded for excellence in community journalism

By Manzar Imam

Our Special Correspondent

Danish Ahmad Khan, Founder-Editor receiving award
Delhi-based NGO Universal Knowledge Trust recently gave an award to the emerging News Portal ‘IndianMuslimObserver.com’ for excellence in community journalism through the use of Information Technology at a seminar on “Inclusive Education of Minority Girls: Issues and Opportunities” held on October 2, 2011 at Mughal Banquette Hall, Abul Fazl Enclave, Jamia Nagar, Okhla, New Delhi. Danish Ahmad Khan, Founder-Editor of IndianMulimObserver.com, received the award. The award was in the form of a memento and citation in appreciation of his extraordinary community service through the increasingly popular news portal.

Besides Universal Knowledge Trust, the seminar was co-sponsored by National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI), National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), All India Federation for Women’s Empowerment through Education (AIFWEE), An-Noor Women’s Welfare Organisation and Jamia Cooperative Bank Ltd.

From a blog to a full-fledged website now, IndianMuslimObserver.com was founded in March 2009. Within a short span it has become one of India’s largest hit websites for Muslim news. The News portal is presently being seen in 180 countries across the world and already has 147,396 pageviews. A popular Indian newspaper Indian Express also carried a story acknowledging the role being played by IndianMuslimObserver.com and other other news portals being run by Indian Muslims. The article ‘Click on the 'Muslim' story’ written by renowned columnist and journalist Irena Akbar extensively highlighted the initiatives being taken by Muslims in the online world, particularly in the field of journalism.

Talking to this Correspondent, Danish Ahmad Khan said that the need to start this widely-acclaimed community news portal arose because mainstream media largely tends to kill positive news about Indian Muslims, prominently highlights negative news or simply ignores important news and publish or broadcast them only after sustained public pressure. The purpose of IndianMuslimObserver.com is to highlight positive and left out news by the mainstream media and emerge as a hub for Muslim News from India as well as around the world.
 “I along with two of my other associates recently formed a registered company ‘Gracewell Oak Media and Social Services Pvt. Ltd.’ to carry out the smooth operations of IndianMuslimObserver.com and some other related ventures in a professional manner. Funds have started chipping in, though in trickles, in the form of advertisements, such as those from Zakat Foundation of India and Association of Indian Muslims of America, Washington, DC. But more funds are urgently required for smooth functioning of the News Portal,” said IMO Founder-Editor.
Besides running of the news portal IndianMuslimObserver.com, Danish Ahmad Khan devotes his time in trying to help in the running of ‘The Gaya Muslim Orphanage’, an institution founded by his paternal grandfather Enayeth Khan in October 1917 at Cherki, which is 18 km from Gaya district headquarters in the state of Bihar.

Seminar on Minority Girls' Education

Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi
The seminar on “Inclusive Education of Minority Girls: Issues and Opportunities” organized by Universal Knowledge Trust (UKT) was quite enlightening and attended by a large number of people.

As the theme suggests, speakers dwelt upon the practical aspects of raising literacy rate especially among minority girl students from its present poor percentage. The common misconception held about Islam’s narrow view of female education was removed by learned speakers and field practioners with examples from Islamic texts and history of Islam.

One of the prominent speakers was noted Muslim scholar and Member of Parliament, Maulana Mohammad Asrarul Haque Qasmi. Speaking on this occasion, he said that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had spent 9 years on educating her wife Ayesha (RA). He said that the first person who memorized the Quran was not a man but a woman and it was none other that the prophet’s wife Ayesha.

The MP said that Muslims were a vibrant nation and they did not need to be reminded of the value of education. All they needed was better infrastructure. He said that Islam gave women right to education fifteen hundred years ago whereas in Britain the right to primary education was given to women in as late as early 20th century. He said that Islam’s ideology was connected with practicality. It is therefore that education in Islam is not just a right but a duty and the key to empowerment. “Information, coordination, cooperation and initiative on priority basis should be the key terms for success especially in charting the map of women’s education,” said Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi.

Maulana Qasmi also stressed the need for community-based infrastructure and said, “We cannot take forward our entire community only with government’s infrastructure.” He exhorted to take initiatives as nothing happens without doing.
And educated mother, observed Maulana Qasmi, even if she does not do a professional job, would at least be able to give free coaching to her children.

Chairman of National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI), Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui said that every path of development of Muslims passed through education. He said that no excuse could be offered by people to say that they could not give education to their children because of poverty. Poverty and economic conditions cannot prevent one from achieving anything if there is passion for it, said he.
Justice Siddiqui lamented that despite being world’s largest community, it was very unfortunate that Muslims could not establish a single university that could be counted among the 100 top universities of the world.

Instead of delivering lengthy lectures on the virtue of education, there is need to find practical solutions for the problems of girls’ education, said Dr. Haleema Sadia, head of the primary wing of Hamdard Public School. She asked to stop celebrating the present status of poor literacy of Muslims and urged to think about ways to change it. She also asked to stop misinterpreting Quranic verses and said that they were wrong who said that ulama were against women’s education. She called it a distortion of Islam.

Stressing to prioritise education over everything else, Dr. Sadia asked women to stop celebrating rituals. She cited her own example how her madrasa education never stopped her from acquiring contemporary education and maintain hijab, which she termed as her right. She suggested that every Muslim must try to change at least one person’s life through education, else only rhetoric would bring no change.

Dr. Shabistan Ghaffar, chairperson, All India Federation for Women’s Empowerment, Abdul Rashid Agwan, Director of Centre for Advancement of Voluntary Efforts, Shahabuddin Yakub, senior production head of Zee Salam, Mirza Qamrul Hasan Beg, Director, Jamia Cooperative Bank, Dr. K.P. Wasnik, Director, Vocational Education, National Institute of Open Schooling, and Dr. Shoaib Raza Khana shared their experiences in their respective fields and informed about the alternate opportunities of learning. Awards in the form of mementos and citations were given to 10 people in recognition of their community services. Some engineering students were given scholarships. The programme ended with a vote of thanks by UKT trustee, Advocate Farid Khan Burney.

[Manzar Imam, a Delhi-based Journalist, is Special Correspondent of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached at manzarkhalil@gmail.com]

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