Infinity Consultants promotes Islamic Finance Awareness at leading Business Schools in India

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 30 March 2013 | Posted in , , , , ,

IMO News Service

Bangalore: Infinity Consultants is actively pursuing Islamic finance training and development in India through its exclusive partnership with Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance, a leading global provider of Islamic finance education.

Even though Islamic finance is one of fastest growing segments of global finance and the largest alternative financial system in the world today, the absence of a formal Islamic banking industry in India has led to limited awareness among Indians on the scope and opportunities available in the industry.

As part of its commitment to build Islamic finance awareness, Infinity recently launched a campus-talk initiative titled “Opportunities in Islamic Banking and Finance.” Saif Ahmed, Managing Partner at Infinity and a former Islamic banker and Wall Street investment banker, delivered talks at some of the leading business schools across the country.

Saif addressed hundreds of students in over 15 institutions across India and received tremendous feedback from the students as well as the faculty.

Drawing on his experience as a former Islamic banker, Saif stressed on the underlying ethical nature of Islamic financial products during his talks and offered many practical insights on how to prepare for a career in this industry.

Several institutions have expressed an intention to include an Islamic finance elective in their curriculum. To schedule a talk at any school or university, Infinity Consultants can be contacted through email at ethica@infinity-consult.com.

The talks delivered by Saif Ahmed at some of the leading business schools in India has been lauded and received great support.

Harsh Saxena, MBA Student at Symbiosis School of Banking Management, Pune, said, "The talk by Saif Ahmed was an eye-opener for all the students and showed us a brand new career path and an opportunity that we were not aware of."

Ramesh P. A., DGM, Corporate Relations, Indian Business School (IBS), Bangalore, remarked, "This is definitely an eye opener to the world of Islamic banking and the opportunities that exist in this field."

According to Managing Committee, Finnacle Investments Club, Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Ghaziabad, the excellent presentation given by Saif Ahmed gave everyone a good idea about the intricate differences between traditional and Islamic finance, and that this could not have been accomplished with such simplicity from any other source.

“In his lecture, Mr. Saif enlightened the audience by explaining the key attributes of financial instruments offered by Islamic financial institutions. He elaborated the differences between a Shari’a compliant product and conventional financial in a very lucid manner. The Department of Business Administration is extremely thankful to Mr. Saif for coming to the Department. We hope that we can organize a joint program with Infinity in the near future,” said Dr. Asif Akhtar, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Business Administration, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh.

P S Nayak, Sr. Corporate Relations Officer Alliance Business School, Bangalore, said, “It was a pleasure to have you with us at our campus for an interactive session with our MBA Students. The discussion was well-received and deeply appreciated by our students. We hope to have more such occasions and take our relationship to the next level of engagement.”

Faisal Nazir, MBA Student, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, said, “I was very fortunate to attend your lecture since it was very inspiring and motivating for me.”

Dr. Khalid Falahi, Assistant Professor, Crescent Business School (BS Abdur Rahman University), Chennai, said, “Mr. Saif’s presentation covered all the key areas and gave our students the direction and motivation needed to plan a career in Islamic banking. We look forward to involving Infinity Consultants in developing our Islamic Banking options going forward.”

Infinity Consultants (www.infinity-consult.com) is a Shari’a-compliant advisory firm based out of Bangalore, India focused on developing Islamic finance in India and on providing corporate finance and investment advisory to clients in India and the Middle East. Infinity is also pioneering several Islamic finance initiatives in India as part of its mission to introduce an ethical alternative to the conventional interest-based financial system and is also at the forefront of providing world class Islamic finance education and training in India through its partnership with Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance, Dubai.

Winner of “Best Islamic Finance Qualification” at the 2011 Global Islamic Finance Awards, Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance is chosen by more professionals and students for Islamic finance certification than any other organization in the world. With over 20,000 paying users in 44 countries, the Dubai-based institute is accredited by leading scholars and serves banks, universities, and professionals across over 100 organizations.

Contact Infinity and learn more about Ethica’s training programs in India, call +91-80-6547-3517 or e-mail at ethica@infinity-consult.com

SPECIAL REPORT: Despite making strides in education, Muslims refuse to forget or forgive unless justice meted out to riots victims

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: Muslims of Gujarat are perhaps the most 'talked about' lot in the sub continent. Reasons have been tragic. Most of the times it is about the 2002 that they witnessed survived or lost their near and dear ones.

But, there was another very precious thing that they found suddenly slipping out of their hands. Perhaps it was the pride and dignity with which they were living with.

Loss was irreparable but not impossible, while there were few hands and brains which worked for their destruction and deaths but many more many lakhs of times more were the kind hearts and soft and sensitive hands and pens which not only wrote and spoke for them in their own way not through NGOs alone but there were many who did their bit, irrespective of what religion they belonged to.

Perhaps that is what confirms again and again how much division is tried how much hatred one tries to develop between the two communities their ties are very strong.

Gujarat in the past 11 years after 2002 has moved forward, Muslims can’t forget and forgive unless and until they get complete justice. Whatever, after it many slow and steady changes are taking place in the land of Mahatma.

Muslims have shaken themselves, Muslim girls are studying by and large everywhere in Gujarat, they are coming out and they are ready to equip themselves to lace and learn new skills. In fact, this is the right time when NGOs of international repute and all those sincere efforts from everywhere must come to this land and pick up Muslim women from different strata of the society and decorate them with various useful skills and train them to get themselves educated and empowered and inspire thousands of others. So that the next generations living here are more aware of their rights and duties both and be part of the mainstream and can never be taken for a ride by their own community leaders with vested interest and others.
In a latest gesture, Muslim families from different corners of Gujarat have shown a surprising picture wherein Gujarat saw eight medals in different fields of education going to Muslim students- six girls and two boys. Surprisingly three of them are in Sanskrit.
It speaks a lot.

The 61st convocation of the Gujarat University in fact saw maximum number so far of Muslim students excelling in their streams and winning gold medals.Thus, this year 211 medals were given to 118 students for excelling in different areas. Out of the 118 students, 8 Muslims students were rewarded with 15 gold medals for scaling the summit in their respective streams. There is a substantial increase in the number as last year only 3 medals were given to Muslim students.New light is kindled with such encouraging results’ news coming from students belonging to humble family backgrounds with strong and committed ideas and dreams.

Muslims are fast realising in this enterprising land of Ila Bhatt that it is time to look around and get oneself equipped with education and empowerment.Sheikh Tayab Khan, 23-year-old, who completed BA, has won two gold medals and 5 scholarships in Sanskrit. Sheikh hails from a small village near Devgadh Baria. He says he was attracted towards the language since his school days.

At present, Khan is pursuing BEd from Godhra and lives in a small house at Savllivad.His father is a businessman and brother is a principal at primary school. He says that he is not averse to the language as it is a beautiful and wants to become teacher in the subject. He also practices yoga and is particularly fond of Dhanurasana, Hasta Padasana and others.Yasmin Banu daughter of Waheeda and Nisar Kothari is a 24-year-old girl, who completed BA in Sanskrit has got a gold medal. She studied at Adivasi Arts & Commerce College, located at Santrampur. She teaches at a primary school in the area and says that she wants to become a teacher and preach the language. She also wants to do MA in Sanskrit. She hails from a humble background and her father is a fruit seller. She says education only can free an individual from bondage and make life easy. Time is changing now and women form her community are coming forward.

Shagufta Khan, 21 is a daughter of a retired IAS officer. She bagged all the three medals in Economics, which is considered a tough subject by many. She was a student of St. Xaviers College, Ahmedabad.

Shagufta insists that the violence against women should not be tolerated but women must find themselves equal and education is the only and the best way to become empowered and equipped.Shireen Qureshi is a bio-sciences student who scored 70 percent aggregate marks in B.Sc (Botany) has decided to pursue MSC and then do research in botany. She says if woman of the house is educated it means the future generation has a safe future. And seeing the current times, education is the only way forwardShamima Patel Banu, 22-year-old, who got three gold medals in home science stream, could inspire many. She comes from humble background and her father, who works as a feeder in AMTS, is the one who encouraged her and said that she could continue studying till she wanted. Even her younger sister Hazara Banu is in third year of BA (English). "It is very rare that women from our society are encouraged to venture out and study. But, my father always stood by my side and encouraged me," she says. Now, she is preparing for IAS examination.

Defying stereotypes, a Muslim boy and girl have bagged all three medals instituted for the BA course in the ancient Indian language by the Gujarat University, reports ‘The Indian Express’.Two of the medals for Sanskrit were won by Taiyab Sheikh, a student of Y S Arts and Commerce College in Devgadh Baria in Panchmahals district. The third went to Yasminbanu Kothari of the Adiwasi Arts and Commerce College in Santrampur in the interior of the state's tribal belt.Sheikh got 75.5 per cent marks and Kothari 68.5 per cent.

The medals were awarded at the convocation Tuesday. Sheikh, 23, who is now studying for a B.Ed. degree in a Godhra college, said he was inspired to learn Sanskrit after hearing stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharat told by his teachers in primary school in his village of Tokarwa.He said he wants to be a post-graduate in Sanskrit and pursue teaching it as a career. Sheikh enrolled himself for a BA degree with Sanskrit as his main subject as he failed to get a teaching job in a primary school after doing a teachers training course.

His elder brother is a head master in a government primary school and there was no opposition in the family to him studying Sanskrit. "My parents, who are farmers and not educated, only wanted me to perform well," Sheikh said.Kothari said she developed a liking for Sanskrit when she was in class 12. The daughter of a fruit-seller who studied up to class 12, she too said she did not face any opposition to her choice of the language. "In fact, my father and his friend Rafiq Sheikh, a college teacher, encouraged me to study it," she said.

Yasmeeni teaches at a primary school in Santrampur and like Sheikh, she too wants to do an MA in Sanskrit and work as a teacher."A language does not belong to any community. Anyone can learn any language provided he or she has interest in it," said J R Machchi, Sheikh's Sanskrit teacher."Muslim boys and girls diversifying into other educational fields is a good sign," added J S Bandukwala, a retired Physics professor from M S University who runs Zidni Ilma Trust, which promotes professional and technical education among poor Muslim students.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

Brig. Ali hails SSAF on completing a decade of fruitful service

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: In India there are two Taj Mahals, one is there at Agra & the other being at Aligarh. The one at Agra was built by Moghul emperor Shahjahan in memory of his beloved wife and the one at Aligarh was built by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan to improve the educational backwardness of the Muslim community, while the former one is the symbol of past and latter one is the insignia of our future.

The above views were expressed by Prof. Saud Alam Qasmi, Dean Faculty of Theology, AMU & member All India Muslim Personal Law Board, (AIMPLB), while delivering the keynote address at a symposium on ‘Sir Syed’s View on Residential life of University’ cum Certificate Distribution Ceremony. The programme was organized by Sir Syed Awareness Forum, (SSAF), at Aligarh Muslim University, (AMU), Aligarh.

Continuing Prof. Qasmi said that the students should know that how they have to talk and behave. Their conduct should be adorable. He urged the members of the forum that the motto of their lives should be ‘Qurbani’ (sacrifice) and not the ‘Biryani’ (luxuries ). At the same time he requested the Pro-Vice Chancellor to take concrete steps in ensuring that the forum is allowed to conduct similar programs in various halls of residences, so that the students can be made aware about Sir Syed’s teachings.

Delivering the presidential address Prof. Zakia Siddiqui, former Principal, Women’s College, AMU, said that it is a matter of great satisfaction that the Forum under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Shakeel Samadni has organized such a wonderful program. She congratulated Dr. Samdani for organizing program on the life of Sir Syed for the first time in the history of Aligarh exhibition. She prayed to the Almighty for the success of Dr. Samdani’s noble endeavours and requested everybody to support him in carrying out the mission of Sir Syed. She also urged Dr. Samdani that the forum should distribute some booklets containing information on the life and works of Sir Syed, Sheikh Abdullah and Begum Nawab Sultan Jahan of Bhopal, the First Chancellor of AMU, to the Students when they take their admissions from the next session which was duly endorsed by Dr. Samdani.

Speaking at the function, Brig. (Rtd.) Syed Ahmad Ali, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, AMU, said that it is through values a man can built his character and can distinguish between good and bad . Since 1970’s & 80s the erosion of values started and it has continued till date. He said that the whole life of Sir Syed was an example of values. In his whole life time he nurtured and preserved the human values and his life is a living example of this.

Brig. Ali said that the charter of objectives on which the Forum is working are very important from the view of preserving the composite culture of our country. He said that the spirit of tolerance will strengthen the social fabric of India and Sir Syed was an ardent advocate of this philosophy.

Expressing his happiness about the activities of forum, Brig Ali said that he is happy to know that the forum is entering tenth year of its formation and throughout it has tried to create awareness about the vision and mission of Sir Syed. He asked the members of the forum to revive the age old traditions of A.M.U. by wearing Sherwani and learning the ‘Tarana’ by heart. He also expressed his happiness that AMU has got 9th rank among Indian higher educational institutes by the prestigious Times Magazine, UK and called upon the Aligarians to work hard and put AMU on first rank.

President of the Forum, Dr. Shakeel Samdani said that it has been 10 years, when the Forum was established and since then it is creating new milestones one after another. The credit of organizing a program on the life of Sir Syed for the very first time at Aligarh exhibition also goes to the forum. He said that Sir Syed always gave preference to “Tahzeeb” over “Taleem” (education), as without education a person can survive but without culture nothing will be left. Dr. Samdani said that the forum is fully committed to its charter of objectives and will leave no stone unturned in accomplishing them.

Dr. Samdani appreciated the efforts of the Pro-Vice Chancellor in ensuring transparency in the universities administrative matters. He added that the forum will always stand behind the University administration for the cause of University in particular and ‘Millat’ in general.

Prof. Asmat Beg, Director , Residential Coaching Academy, AMU said that we should try to promote our culture and should preserve it, as it through this only our uniqueness can be maintained. He also emphasized on adding ‘values’ to our culture.

Dr. Javed Akhtar, Director Finance, ACN Group of Institutions, said that he will bear all the expenses of the publication of the booklets proposed by Prof. Zakia, provided the Forum should take up this task. He also congratulated Dr. Shakeel Samdani for having organized such a successful program.

IP Singh ‘Josh’, Additional District Judge, Aligarh, Prof. Zakaria Siddiqui, former Dean, Faculty of Law, AMU, Prof. NAK Durrani, ex-Media Advisor, AMU & Chairman, Department. of Mass. Communication; Prof. Humayun Murad, ex-Proctor & Controller, AMU; Dr. Abdur Raheem K, Chairman, D/o Museology, AMU distributed the certificate to the participants.

Earlier, welcoming the guests, secretary of the Forum, Mansoor Ilah said that the seed sown by Dr. Shakeel Samdani way back in 2004 has now become a fruitful tree and he promises that he and his team will strive for nothing less than best for the accomplishment of the charter of objectives of the forum and assured the Pro-Vice Chancellor that the forum will always be supporting the University Administration for the cause of community.

Programme In-charge Dr. Jarrar Rizvi proposed a vote of thanks. Sara Samdani and Sumaiya recited hamd & naat respectively. The program was alternatively conducted by Fawaz Shaheen, Anam Rais, Zubeda, Nazish Fatima Gulnaz, and Sameera Khan.
Zulfeqar-uz-zaman Sherwani, Anwar Ali Advocate, Editor, Light of India, fortnightly (Hindi), Kr. Naseem Shahid, president, Regional Urdu Teachers Association, Nizamuddin, Founder Madrasa Muskan, poetess Rubina Khanam, Haider Ali Advocate, AMU Court member Hashim Chowdhary, Cabinet member Shoeb Ali, Suraj Singh, Affan Ahmad, Abdul Nasar Kazim, Anurag, Abdullah Khan, Ahmar, Arshad, Manjeet, Prateek, Samreen, Afreen, Yashfeen, Umair Siddiqui, Tariq, Subhan, Tariq Umar, Tanveer, Tayyab Ansari, Hiba Khan, Mohammad Sarfaraz, Indu, Qamr-e-Alam Advocate, Ateeq Ansari, Mustafa Muqeet, Subhan, Umama Zehra etc. played a significant role in organizing the program. Besides this mementos were presented to forum members Mahreen Shafi, Abdul Nasar Kazim, Afreen Khan, Arsahad Ali Khan for their valuable contributions towards the forum.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

HWF and Society for Students Welfare jointly conduct 2-day workshop on "Research and Statistics in Social Science"

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , ,

IMO News Service

The Human Welfare Foundation and Society for Students Welfare jointly conducted a two-day workshop on "Research and Statistics in Social Science" with the objective of facilitating research scholars and promoting postgraduate in social science research.

The workshop was held at the sprawling campus of Markaz Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, New Delhi on 26th and 27th March 2013. Research scholars and aspirants from various universities attended the program.

The program started with inaugural words of Ejaz Ahmed Aslam , Editor, Radiance Views-weekly. "There is high increase in population during the last century all over the world. But, it is only through knowledge that human being can become the leader of the society and world. Research in social science is the basic requirement for any attempt to make any change in the society," said Mr. Aslam in his inaugural address.

Noufal PK, presided over the inaugural function. Resource person Sameer Babu , Jamia Millia Islamia, conducted class and software training. Mr. Luthufi, coordinated the program. Certificates were presented to the participants by Rafeek Ahamed, Treasurer of Human Welfare Foundation.in the valedictory session.

Church has betrayed with the faith of converted Christians, says PCLM President R. L. Francis

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

IMO News Service

New Delhi: While observing Good Friday, the ‘Poor Christian Liberation Movement’ has demanded for compensation because of the betrayal with converted Christians. Christian leader R.L. Francis said that instead of development of converted Christians and equality under the church system, it is fighting for the tag of scheduled caste from the government whereas there is no place for casteism in Christianity.

"Even those nuns and priests are victim of discrimination and exploitation who talk about rights of converted Christians. Indian church has completely shunned Jesus Christ and is indulged to fulfill its imperialistic ambitions. The decision of second Vatican Council and Canon Law has not been implemented," alleged Mr. Francis.

According to R.L. Francis, Converted Christians are major part of total Christian population in the country and eighty percent of them come from dalit and tribal community. However, the number of Catholic Dalit Bishops is just four out of 168. Out of 13000 diocese priest, 14000 religious priest, 5000 Brothers and more than 100000 nuns, only handful of them are Dalits. They, too, are marginalized in church system.

Mr. Francis said that the church is indulging in accumulating huge property and misutilised the freedom given by Indian constitution. But, there is no system to monitor such things. However, in western countries there are laws that control such activities. There must be some regulation to check these things.

"The Church has largest land-holding after Government of India and many such properties are in posh colonies. They control 22 percent educational system and 30 percent of health system,and despite that poor Christians are dying and our church leaders are busy fighting for religious freedom and to get special status for their institutions," said Mr. Francis.

PCLM President R.L. Francis remarked that Dalit Christians have been left far behind than Hindu Dalits. The Hindu society had provided Hindu Dalits the opportunity to grow, whereas the Church has only remained busy in building its empire.

Poor Christian Liberation Movement has urged Pope Francis and Supreme Council of Vatican and World Council of Churches (WCC) to ensure that the fund which is being spent for evangelization should be spent on the welfare of Dalit Christians. The power to elect Bishops should rest with Christians. The power of churches should be transferred to Christians and fund obtained from church institutions should be spent on the welfare of Dalit Christians.

AIMPLB demands 25 lakh compensation to terrorist-tagged Muslim youths declared innocent by courts

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Pervez Bari

Ujjain: The 23rd conference of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, (AIMPLB), has called upon the Government of India and the state governments to take initiatives for redressing the grievances of Indian Muslims of interference in their Islamic family laws known as Muslim personal laws or Shariah.

The personal laws of Muslims are the integral part of their religion and belief and any tampering with these laws is interference in the religion. It is clear violation of fundamental rights to profess, practice and propagate their religion which is guaranteed in Indian Constitution. It is our constitutional right to live in the country with full freedom of religion, the AIMPLB said.
The three-day AIMPLB conference concluded here in Jamia Arabia Siraj-ul-Uloom, the venue of the convention, on the outskirts of historic city Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday while adopting a seven point resolution by voice vote.

The AIMPLB has demanded a minimum compensation of Rs.25 lakh to be paid to Muslim youths tagged as terrorists, who after being incarcerated in jails in prime of their youth were allegedly tortured physically and mentally at the hands of security agencies, were honourably released by courts of law in the absence of any evidence found against them.

It also demanded that many other Muslim youths who are languishing in prisons in different states for many years without any charge-sheet filed against them and without any incriminating evidence against them must be released forthwith. In other such cases charge-sheet be filed without any further delay and the trials should be conducted in fast track courts.

Another resolution expressed concern that in Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP), ruled Madhya Pradesh Hindutva agenda is being imposed in educational institution to influence the young minds of children of minorities namely Muslims and Christians who study there. As per the Hindu ideology and mythology school-going children are being espoused to perform Surya Namaskar, recite Bhojan Mantar before taking mid-day meals, sing Vandematram where mother earth has been glorified as god, and excerpts’ of Hindu religious book Bhagvad Geeta have been incorporated in school syllabi. All these acts in a secular country is against the spirit of Indian Constitution and the government of the day has no right to propagate any particular religion compulsorily or voluntarily. Moreover, Muslims are not idol worshipers but worship only one God called Allah and as such AIMPLB demanded a complete ban on such activities forthwith.

Briefing news persons at the conclusion of conference Adv. Abdur Rahim Qureshi, Assistant general secretary and spokesman of AIMPLB, said: “In our country we feel that the stability of present democratic and cultural polarity structure is at stake and it is imperative and duty of every citizen and every community and group living in India to inculcate the sentiments of truly upholding the principles of secular character of the state’s cultural plurality and duty towards country.”

“For this it is necessary that every group and community should feel that those things which are dearer to their lives are safe, preserved and protected. The first and foremost thing in this regard is religion. As far as Muslims are concerned they feel and there is reason for this feeling that there is interference from the state and its organs in the matter of religion”, he added.
Adv. Qureshi said the AIMPLB while appreciating the announcement of the Union Minister for minorities’ Affairs K. Rahman Khan that Waqf Bill 2010 would be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament has demanded its early introduction for proper supervision, protection and preservation of the Waqf properties spread all over India. It also demanded introduction of a Bill for empowering the Waqf Boards to evict encroachments and those who have Waqf properties under their possession. The Board also demanded return of Waqf properties which are under illegal possession of Union and state governments or at lest legalising their possession by taking them on lease from the Waqf Boards.

He said AIMPLB was very critical of the Direct Taxes Code Bill as it is harmful to the places of worship and religious trust of all religious communities including Muslims. The Board has demanded the exemptions and concessions as provided in the present Income Tax Act should be incorporated in the Direct Tax Code Bill. The Board called upon Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Parsees to stand up against the Direct Tax Code Bill and support and raise their voice along AIMPLB to amend it. The Direct Taxes Code is a bid by the government to impose tax on Masjids, temples, churches and gurdawaras, and charitable trusts or organizations which are working for any religious community. These religious places should be exempted for Income Tax and Wealth Tax, he added.

Meanwhile, “Ujjain Declaration” was released at the concluding session of the conference where among other things it said that in the present era the protection and safety of women against sexual assault has become a top priority for which only legal sword and enhancement of punishment against the perpetrators of these crimes are being demanded. However, no effort is being made neither to change the mind set of the menfolk by inculcating moral values in them nor the causes which causes these crimes is being looked into. One of the major cause is consumption of alcohol which propels to commit such crimes and as such there is no move to impose prohibition forthwith or slowly and gradually.

The “Ujjain Declaration” urged Muslims to be a practicing Muslim following the Shariah laws in letter and spirit to influence others by their characters and practical examples of exemplary behaviour even in adverse situations. Muslims should not get demoralised but stand united to face the challenges posed by the adversaries.

Later, in the evening after Maghrib prayers a mammoth public meeting was held here in Nanakheda Stadium which was overflowing with scull caps as Muslims from in and around Ujjain started thronging the venue from afternoon. They came in hordes in buses, jeeps, cars, tractors etc. and the whole area gave festive look. It was sea of humanity and according to one estimate more than 50,000 people including children converged on to the stadium to listen to Maulana Syed Mohammad Rabey Hasani Nadwi president of the AIMPLB, and other Ulema and intellectuals of the community to refresh their Emaan. Union Minister for Minorities' Affairs K. Rahman Khan specially flew in to Indore and drove to Ujjain about 50-60 kms away to address the public meeting. The stadium reverberated time and again with “Naray-e-Takbeer” in-between the emotional speeches of the speakers.

Addressing the milling crowd of Muslims Maulana Rabey said that India is a democratic and secular country. Its constitution guarantees right to religion and one has the right to practice one's religion. Few people are trying to alter democratic and secular nature of our country which is unacceptable. He termed intrusion in Shariat as unconstitutional and against the secular fabric of the country, he added.

Till the filing of this report others who addressed the massive gathering of Muslims included Union Minister K Rahman Khan, Maulana Arshad Madani of Deoband Islamic seminary, Rashee Farhangi (Lucknow), Maulana Anees-ur-Rahman Qasmi of Imarat Shariah (Patna), Maulana Salman Alhasni Nadwi of Nadwatul Ulama (Lucknow), Prof. Mateen Qadri, general secretary Tameer-e-Millat (Hyderabad), Arif Masood (Bhopal) etc.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Syed Mohammad Rabey Hasani Nadwi unanimously re-elected AIMPLB president for 5th consequetive time

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Pervez Bari

Ujjain: As speculated noted Muslim cleric of national and international repute Maulana Syed Mohammad Rabey Hasani Nadwi has been unanimously re-elected president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, (AIMPLB), an apex body of Muslims, for the fifth time on Saturday in its 23rd annual conference which is being held here in Jamia Arabia Siraj-ul-Uloom at the outskirts of historical town Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh.

Maulana Rabey, Rector of the Nadwatul Ulema, a famous Islamic university in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow, will head the AIMPLB, which was formed four decades ago to protect the “Shariah” or the Islamic laws. This will be his fourth consecutive term. He was first elected in April 2002 following the death of Qazi Mujahid-ul-Islam Qasmi in Hyderabad.

Maulana Rabey later picked his team for the fifth term wherein he nominated his old panel which included Maulana Syed Nizamuddin as general secretary of AIMPLB, Adv. Abdurrahim Qureshi as Asstt. general secretary, Maulana Syed Wali Rahmani as secretary and other office-bearers of the outgoing team. A 40-member executive body was unanimously elected wherein all the members who had completed their three year term were re-elected. A few new members of the executive committee were elected in place of those who had passed away in last three years. The highlight of the executive Committee election was that for the first time representation from Madhya Pradesh was given when Congress leader Arif Masood of Bhopal was elected.

Later, Maulana Rabey will nominate 10 members to the Executive Committee of AIMPLB to make it 50-member body. There was no contest for any post and also for the executive body.
Meanwhile, eight members which included Maulana Abul Qasim of Islamic seminary at Deoband, P. Rafeeq Ahmad of Chennai, Habeeb Bandvi (UP) etc. were elected unanimously among the 102 Asasi Arakeen (founder members) category in place of those who have left for their heavenly abode. Vacancies arise due to resignation or death of any founder member.
Six members were elected to the Meeqati (periodical member for 3 years) category. They are: Maulana Saeed-ur-Rahman Azmi Nadwi, Principal Nadwatul Ulema; Peerzadah Sheikh (Andhra Pradesh); Mateen Qadri (Hyderabad) Zaheer Qazi (Maharashtra); Hafiz Qari Mohammad Taqui (Ujjain, MP); Prof. Haleem Khan (Indore, MP).

It may be recalled here that Qazi Mujahidul Islam Qasmi’s death had created a void leading to speculation that there would be a contest for the board’s top post. But the then 201 member general council elected Maulana Rabey without contest on the second day of the 16th session of the board in Hyderabad. Maulana Rabey is the fourth president of the board, which represents Islamic scholars of all schools of thought and prominent Muslim leaders. The board has had only three presidents so far. Qari Muhammad Tayyab Qasmi was the first president. Islamic scholar Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi succeeded him in the late 1980s and continued in the post till his death on December 31st, 1999. Thereafter, Qazi Mujahid-ul-Islam Qasmi was unanimously elected AIMPLB president till his death.

It may be mentioned here that Maulana Syed Mohammad Rabey Hasani Nadwi was born on October 1, 1929 at Takia Kalan, Raebareli in the family of Syed Rasheed Ahmad Hasani and Ummatul Azeez. Mohtarmah Ummatul Azeez was sister of Maulana Syed Abul Ahasan Ali Nadvi alias Ali Mian Nadvi. He completed his primary education from his family maktab at Raebareli, Passed Fazilat from Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow in 1958. He spend year 1957 at Darul Uloom, Deoband for one year and the year 1950-51 in Hijaz in for education and Dawah.

Maulana Rabey is nephew of former President Hazrat Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi @ Ali Mian (Rahamatullah Aley). He was appointed as assistant teacher at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema after completing studies in 1949. He remained at Hijaz (K.S.A.) I from 1950-1951 for further studies and research. In 1952 he was appointed Assistant Professor at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow. He was appointed the Head of Arabic Department at Nadwa in 1955. He was appointed the Dean, Faculty of Arabic of Nadwa in 1970. He was conferred award by Indian Council Uttar Pradesh for his contribution in the field of Arabic language. He was also conferred Presidential Award for his contribution in the field of Arabic language in the same year. In 1993 he was appointed Muhtamim (Vice Chancellor) of Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema. In 1999 he was appointed Naib Nazim (Chancellor) of the Nadwa and in 2000, after death of Hazrat Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (Rahamatullah Aley); he was elected as Nazim (Rector) of Nadwa.

He has travelled to Japan, Morocco, Malaysia, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Uzbekistan, Turkey, South Africa and many other Arab, European and African countries. He has published 15 books in Arabic and 12 books in Urdu besides having many unpublished works. He is acclaimed for his scholarship.

Maulana Rabey is also Vice President of the Aalami Rabita Adab-e-Islami, Riyadh (K.S.A.); President, Majlis-e-Tehqiqat-o-Nashariyat Islam, Lucknow; President, Majlis-e-Sahafat-o-Nashariyat, Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow; President, Deeni Taleemi Council, Uttar Pradesh; President, Dar-e-Arfat, Raebareli; Founder Member, Rabita Aalam-e-Islami, Makka Mukarrmah; Member, Darul Musannffin, Azamgarh; Trustee, Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies, Oxford University, UK; Patron, Payam-e-Insaniyat and Patron, Islamic Fiqh Academy (India).

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

‘The money that I earn is being spent in this country’

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

Expatriates living in the Kingdom have every reason to feel uncertain nowadays. With new laws and directives being issued concerning the conditions of employment and residency for the guest worker, they can be excused for a bit of lightheadedness.

It is also understandable that the Kingdom, considering the turbulent events taking place regionally, is exercising greater efforts to address a rising issue of concern, and that is the unemployment of its nationals. Laws that seek to promote the employment of Saudis are quickly being passed to address this area of national concern.

But the application of such laws and directives is often misconstrued or misinterpreted by those charged with applying the rules. Take the story of A.N., an expatriate who relates his ordeal with one organ of our government while he seeks a humanitarian resolution.

He writes: “I’m a 37-year-old Pakistani national. I was in my mother’s lap when I landed in Saudi Arabia. According to my mother, I was only six months old at that time. My father was already working for a reputable local company. This basically means that I have been in the Kingdom for the last 37 years and my father has served the country for almost 40 years.

“Recently my father retired at the age of 62. And here starts our ordeal! I’m the eldest of his children and the only one in the Kingdom. According to our tradition, we all live in the same dwelling, which is an apartment large enough for my parents and my wife and three kids.

“What an honor it is for a son to be around his parents in their elderly age whereby he can serve them; and what a relief and pleasure for elderly parents to be surrounded by grandchildren and a caring daughter-in-law.

“When my father retired, I started the process of transferring him under my sponsorship. It should have been a straightforward and simple procedure, and a lot of my friends have done something similar. I went to the Passport Department with my father with a complete set of documents and to our shock, I was met with this response: ‘This is not allowed’!

“Recovering from our initial shock, I asked: ‘What do you mean by that –Not allowed….there must be a way?’ The officer simply shrugged and then we were asked to leave.

“So ever since then, I have been trying to figure out what to do and how to resolve this issue. Below are some points for the decision makers to consider after which I rest my case.

My parents are both 63 and moving toward their ‘final destination’. Believe me they know that and think about it all the time. The last thing they want is to worry about their ‘Iqama’.

We live in a large apartment and accordingly pay a handsome rent, meaning the money that I earn is being spent within the country.

Since I have two extra mouths to feed, it means more groceries, again meaning that the money that I earn is staying within the country.

They are both 63 years of age, and of course I shall be making sure that they have the best medical insurance coverage. Meaning once again that the money that I earn is staying within the country.

They will be traveling to Pakistan at least once a year to see their elderly brothers and sisters. I will be purchasing their airfare on the national airline. Meaning, the money that I earn is staying within the country.

They will be spending weeks and weeks in Makkah and Madinah. Meaning the money that I earn is staying within the country.

“I swear that not a single penny of the Saudi government has ever been ‘wasted’ on a non-Saudi like me. All the financial investments ever made on my behalf were by my parents, and much of it was on our education. They made sure that my brother, sister and I got the best within their means. In fact, they often did things beyond their means at great self-sacrifice just for our future and comfort.

“Finally, I often wonder whether my old folks are going insane. My younger brother Faisal was born in Jeddah (1978) and if memory serves me right he was actually named after the late King Faisal. Well, he is a US citizen now and pleading with his parents to join him in America. And guess what? They are reluctant; they don’t want to leave their home in the Kingdom. Stupid, isn’t it! Have a good day. — A confused person.”

Why does A.N. or many in a similar situation get treated in this manner? Is this our way of thanking those who have served in the development of this country? His parents will have absolutely no impact on our unemployment dilemma, and neither will they be draining the government of valuable resources.

So why then does the Passport Department dismiss this man’s application so callously? Have we lost touch with our sense of compassion and morality?

[The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena.]

(Courtesy: Saudi Gazette)

India urged to adopt interest-free banking system

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Muhsinah Abdul Gafoor

Jeddah: The Keralite community of Jeddah proudly released the book “Islamic Banking” written by KTM Kutty during a function at Red Sea Palace Hotel here recently. The book is first of its kind to be released in the Malayalam language. Prof. Muhammed Azmi Omar, director general of Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) at the Islamic Development Bank, released the book by handing it to Alungal Muhammed, CMD of Abeer Medical Group. The program was organized by the Islamic Dawah Council in Jeddah.

Prof. Omar gave an informative presentation on the fundamental principles of Islamic banking and called upon the Indian government to make use of the system to boost its economy and exterminate poverty from the country. He talked about transparency in contracts of Islamic banking where everything is explicitly spelled out, and the presence of a third party to ensure Shariah compliancy of Islamic banks and its dealings.

He expounded the need to avoid using the word ‘Islamic’ while introducing interest-free banking systems in a country like India where anything relating to Islam is sensitive. He also gave an overview of the status of Islamic banking around the globe. Although India has the largest number of Muslims, it is difficult to establish an Islamic bank in the country because of the monetary policies of Reserve Bank of India that necessitate any company that lends money to name the interest rate of the institution. He concluded his presentation by reminding the audience that the current status of Islamic banks is in no way perfect because the process of perfecting the system is still an ongoing one.

The book was reviewed by A.M. Sajith of Malayalam News. He was of the opinion that the book was a must read for all Malayalees who wish to understand the fundamentals of Islamic banking. The book gives a very good introduction to the topic.

Muhammed of Al-Abeer gave a felicitation speech praising the effort of the author and encouraged the audience to take further steps in making interest-free banking a norm in our community. Sulaiman Faisi, a mentor of IDC, urged the participants to read the book at least three times so that they understand the concepts thoroughly. “Every Muslim should understand the concepts of the Islamic monetary system.

He also shared the beauty of the zakat system of Islam and explained how zakat would boost a country’s economy. He seconded the view of Prof. Umer saying that the word Islamic should be removed from Islamic banking to be welcomed in countries like India. “The Qur’an is meant for all human beings, so is the monetary system in Islam. So it is not confined to Muslims,” he added.

The author, Kutty shared his experiences in writing the book. The program was attended by representatives from different cultural organizations, the IDB and the media. Muneer welcomed the gathering while Nasser gave a vote of thanks.

(Courtesy: Arab News)

Pakistan: Sectarian Divides

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By Ram Puniyani

South Asia has been in the grip of sectarian violence since fairly long. During last three decades and more particularly during the last decade this violence has been intensifying in degree and spread. It was sad news to hear that the Christian Community of Joseph Colony, Badami Bagh Lahore was the victim of one such violence recently (March 2013). In this violence 178 houses of the low-income community, as well as shops and three churches were looted and burnt to ashes. The local Pastor was attacked and the father of Savan Masih, the youth falsely accused of blasphemy, was beaten up and subsequently arrested.

In Pakistan both non Muslims and some Muslim sects have been harassed on religious grounds. As such the major victims of such violence are the sects of Islam, Shias and Ahmadis. The Ahmadis has been declared as non Muslims through an act of Parliament. As such Shias, Barelvis, Sufis, Ahmadis, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus are the religious minorities who have facing the wrath of dominant communal forces in Pakistan. At the time of Partition, creation of Pakistan, the percentage of religious minorities was close to 23% and gradually it declined. The foundation of communal violence was very much there in the social thinking which regarded Pakistan as a Muslim state. Non Muslim minorities and some sets of Islam has been the victim of this violence. This violence picked up for the worse, during Zia ul Haq regime, when the Khakis and beard-cap came into a firm embrace, an alliance, which mutually boosted the power of both these groups.

In the decade of 1980s the other factor which contributed to the rise in divisive thinking was the setting up of Madrassas, richly funded by United States for its goal of control over oil resources, for countering the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. With these Madrassas, the US-Saudi support strengthened the Salafi, Wahabi version of Islam and this not only targeted the non Muslims but also the Shias and Ahmadis, the former being a substantial in number.

This targeting of intra Islam minorities also had some external support in the region, the Sunni factions being promoted and funded by Saudis and Shias by Iran. The Christian and Hindus were easy enough targets for these forces. In later decades this violence at social level came to be supplemented by the terrorist violence from sections of Al Qaeda...

The large number of Christians there belongs to scavenger castes. Not only they are looked down upon, and most of the times the aim of violence is to dispose them of their lands. This is a very vulnerable social group. The blasphemy law has come in handy for attacking these communities. One recalls the case of Asea Bibi, who is in jail for her alleged remarks against Prophet Mohammad. She has been sentenced to death. Her appeal is pending in the Punjab High Court. When Salmaan Taseer, the former Governor of Punjab, spoke about reformation of the blasphemy laws of Pakistan, he was killed by a member of his own security guard.

Every sectarian force develops its own tools and pretexts for attacking the minorities. Asea had fetched some water from a well, and a Muslim crowd chided her for “polluting” the water since she was a “dirty (low caste) Christian”. The twist of arguments led to her death sentence. Similarly in Aug. 2012, Rimsah Masih, the young, mentally challenged 14 year old girl was arrested for burning the pages from the Koran.

And now this mob of Muslims, which was coming out from the Masjid, broke into and destroyed the belongings of several Christian homes, because, as alleged by the one Muslim man who had a argument with one Christian man, the Christian had blasphemed against Islam. Quick mob justice, punish the community for the alleged work of one!

The pretexts notwithstanding the pattern are similar. The Muslim communal groups have been on the rise since the Zia regime. The degree of intensity of their boldness can be gauzed from the fact that they openly take the credit for such violent acts. This to some extent shows their clout and acceptability in the system.

The trajectory of communal forces in three major countries of South Asia has been parallel but very distinctive. In India the Hindu communalism, vitiated the peace and the regular targets were the non Hindus, Christian and Muslims. In between Sikhs were also subjected to massive violence. The increase in anti Dalit violence during this period cannot be visibly linked up with the anti Muslim and Anti Christian violence. Still the study of history of this violence tells us that the intensification of anti minority violence in early 1980s began with violence against dalits in 1981 and 1986. In Bangla Desh and Pakistan the non Muslims are targeted and differing sects of Muslims are also subject to this violence. In Pakistan, it seems the minority sects of Muslim and Christian and Hindus seem to be sailing in the same boat.

It will be infesting to note that unlike the perceptions prevailing here that all Muslims are anti Hindus and supporting violence what came to be noticed in recent anti minority violence was that the condemnation of these attacks against religious minorities by the secular groups in Pakistan. The case in point is the recent anti Christian violence in Lahore, the people to condemn this have been the activists from Forum for Secular Pakistan, articulating the wish for a secular state in Pakistan and upholding the secular values in that country. To condemn this attack in Lahore the Jamia community in Delhi organized a candle vigil and Khudai Khidmatgars issued strong statements condemning the violence against Christians n Pakistan, Many other groups have also added to the voices against such an insane act of violence.

While condemning one type of violence, the criticism dished forward is ‘why you criticize only this communalism’? As such the comments and criticism of democratic elements are directed against the acts which take place irrespective of the religion of offenders and victims. The secular groups and commentators who raise their voices against violence are dubbed as being against being this or that religion, being one sided and what not? The real issue is to be against all sort of targeting of religious minorities and intra religion groups. We seem to be in a downward phase of history where the communal elements are getting more powerful through the dastardly violence against the vulnerable groups, more often poor of the community, but not necessarily so.

[Ram Puniyani is based in Mumbai and is a strong advocate of human rights. He can be contacted at ram.puniyani@gmail.com]

Is Pakistan a failed state?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

As the country that was once referred to by Joe Biden during the 2008 US presidential campaign as a "dangerous" state, Pakistan has been fighting back against such undeserved allegations.

In the foreign media, the portrayal of Pakistan has been anything but pleasant. There is plenty to buttress the feeling that the country is indeed sinking into a deeper mess. Critics cite in particular the violence and other nefarious activities of extremist militant groups. They quote statistics that indicate that extremism and terrorist violence appear to be increasing overall, rather than declining.

Some critics charge that these extremist groups "are gaining more power and freedom to operate". They argue that in the face of the Zardari administration’s apparent unwillingness to clamp down hard on these militant groups, the extremists have become louder and bolder. They also contend that provincial governments have failed to crack down on these subversive groups, particularly in Punjab province, since the political parties are "dependent on the voting bloc of sectarian extremists", making it political suicide to consider such an attack against these fringe elements.

There are also allegations that the government has failed to address the demands of the people of Baluchistan who feel that not only have they been marginalized in Pakistan’s development process, but that they have also been victimized by continuous repression and economic denial. The fact that the provincial feudal lords are behind the misery of most of their people and have been freely operating in tyranny within their domain has spurred calls by the downtrodden people of the province for breaking away from Pakistan and forming a new country.

But one must understand that it was not all started by Pakistan. Back in 2001 when US President George W. Bush drew his infamous line in the sand with his "you’re either with us or against us", Pakistan was sucked into a spiraling vortex from which it is still suffering today. As the then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf recalled, after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks on America, he was told by Richard Armitage, the US deputy secretary of state, to support Washington or his country would be “bombed back to the Stone Age”, a credible threat that prompted his "sleeping with the devil".

Mr. Musharraf stated in his autobiography In the Line of Fire, “I felt very frustrated by Armitage’s remarks. It goes against the grain of a soldier not to be able to tell anyone giving him an ultimatum to go forth and multiply, or words to that effect.” Following their uneasy partnership to facilitate Mr. Bush’s adventure into Afghanistan, Pakistan became the battleground for extremist groups such as the Afghani Taliban who not only ventured across the border to create mayhem, but also began successfully recruiting like-minded individuals from within Pakistan to their brand of ideology.

The country’s sovereignty took a hit when civilians began to be counted as innocent victims of bombs released by drones or NATO led aircraft.

Although NATO commanders at the time categorically and emphatically stated that they would not support US military intrusion into Pakistan, and would not take part in a proposed US strategy of conducting raids into Pakistan from Afghanistan against "suspected" Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, the reality of events following that 2008 claim was otherwise.

Sectarian violence increased, undoubtedly fed by the extremism of ideology which rejected all faiths and beliefs, except for the warped and twisted version these militants were following. The economy and the country’s infrastructure took a heavy hit as resources were diverted to fight this growing menace. The province of Sindh became a battleground for various political groups who were not beneath resorting to violence to promote their ideals. The city of Karachi has often been featured in headlines or video clips because of bombings or sectarian fueled killings.

But the people of Pakistan are a resilient lot. Notwithstanding the great challenges facing them, they have demonstrated their survival skills in the political arena. Political parties or NGO groups have been formed by concerned Pakistanis in recent years to counter what ails Pakistan. One such group was a coalition made up of representatives from groups as varied as the Pakistani Defense of Human Rights, the Good Governance Forum, the Pakistani Christian Study Center and the Ex-Servicemen Society representing retired military servicemen.

Imran Khan, the popular ex-cricketer, is another individual who feels for his country. He began his foray into politics when he founded the Tehreek-e-Insaaf party back in 1998, and is currently running for political leadership to eliminate what he perceives as corruption of elected officials and the threat to national sovereignty by foreign aid. It is democracy in action in a country so quickly maligned as being lawless.

Nowhere else was democracy so aptly demonstrated than last Saturday when the government stepped down at the end of its five-year term, and set the stage for elections due to be held in the middle of May. Several parties are in the contest, jockeying for leadership. The elections could very well usher in moderates who are committed in word and deed to clamp down on extremist groups without regard for political consequences.

Pakistan must not be dismissed as a failed state. On the contrary, it is proving that it is alive and is on the road to getting better. We wish the people of Pakistan well on their journey.

[The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena.]

(Courtersy: Saudi Gazette)

Disciple of Dr. Akhter Hameed Khan Murdered

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

A Tribute to Parveen Rehman

By Nasim Yousaf

The death of Miss Parveen Rehman is a great loss for us all. She was carrying forward Dr. Akhter Hameed Khan’s mission to improve the lives of the underprivileged and neglected. It hurts me to hear that her life has been taken away by heartless people.

It was around 12pm on March 13, 2013, when I heard on a Pakistani television channel that Miss Parveen Rehman, Director of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) (founded by the legendary Dr. Akhter Hameed Khan) had been assassinated by unidentified gunmen. She was killed while returning home after briefing foreign visitors at the OPP (Samaa TV, March 13, 2012). Sadly, Pakistan is under the strong grip of a “rule of terror.”

Ms. Rehman was born in Bangladesh (previously East Pakistan) in 1957. She moved to Pakistan with her family at a young age. She obtained her degree in Architecture in 1981 from Dawood Engineering College, Karachi. Thereafter, in 1983, she joined the OPP. The Orangi Pilot Project is a pioneering institution in the areas of microfinance, rural and urban development, and education. It was established in Karachi in 1980 by Dr. Akhter Hameed Khan, who successfully built the organization into a replicable model that achieved worldwide acclaim and recognition. Over the years, Ms. Rehman worked closely with Dr. Khan and acquired a wealth of knowledge in housing, sanitation, health and microcredit, among other areas. During her career at OPP, she met a large number of visitors from around the world, including students, journalists, government officials, community developers, and members of non-governmental organizations. Following Dr. Khan’s death, Ms. Rehman successfully ran the operation of the OPP and upheld its strong reputation throughout the world. Based on her work at OPP, Ms. Rehman could have easily pursued much more lucrative opportunities. But it is a true testament to her character that she preferred to continue working with the OPP and the people of Orangi Town.

Ms. Rehman was a soft-spoken and humble woman, who dedicated her life to uplifting the poor. In a documentary on the OPP entitled “Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) - A role model for realizing your Social Responsibility” (available on YouTube), Ms. Rehman spoke of some of the guiding principles of the OPP, which also reflect the way she lived her life:

“See with respect what people are doing…observe with your own knowledge what they are doing…learn from what the people are doing with a lot of humility…teach with gentleness, do not be in a hurry.”

It is a tragedy for the entire Pakistani nation when a true humanitarian and public servant like Ms. Rehman can be murdered simply because of her work on behalf of the impoverished. Ms. Rehman’s services for OPP and the people of Orangi Town shall always be remembered. She was laid to rest on March 14, 2013 at Mohammad Shah graveyard in Karachi. She left behind her mother, two brothers and a sister.

May God rest her soul in eternal peace and provide her family the strength to bear this tragic loss.

[Nasim Yousaf is a scholar and historian and author of many books and articles. His book “Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan - Pioneer of Microcredit & Guru of Rural Development” has recently been published in the US. His current projects include a book on world famous personalities in microfinance and poverty alleviation. He can be contacted at infoahkhan@yahoo.com]

Palestinians deserve justice, not apathy

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 28 March 2013 | Posted in , , ,

The Obama-Kerry team must remember that the occupation, the dispossession, and international law are the fundamental foundation of a two-state solution

By Adel Safty

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to U.S. Embassy staff in Doha, Qatar on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, before heading back to Washington after his first official visit overseas as secretary.

John Kerry, the former presidential candidate and the veteran chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has just returned from his first trip to Europe and the Middle East as secretary of state.

At the press conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Kerry gave the impression that the Middle East did not figure prominently in his discussion with Hague. In his opening statement Hague said: “Top of our agenda was the Middle East, including the importance we both attach to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…”

When Kerry spoke, he touched on trade, Syria, Iran and only at the end he spoke about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And as if to make sure Israeli leaders understood the underlying message that “the president was coming [to Israel] in a listening, not a dictating, mode.” Kerry said “I want to consult and the president wants to listen.”

But consulting and listening does not mean they cannot propose ideas and explore alternatives. In fact both US President Barack Obama and Kerry are quite anxious to achieve a breakthrough agreement and, at least the president may have already developed a set of Obama’s perimeters, likely largely similar to the Clinton perimeters. There are numerous good reasons for this low profile in public, high profile in substance interpretation.

First, the paralysing effect that the Israel lobby exercises over publicly elected officers is removed. Obama no longer has to worry about losing the crucial support of the American Jewish community if he dares to be assertive In pursuit of a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has been reelected with a comfortable majority. No longer worried about re-election, he has his gaze on his place in history.

Secondly, the new approach of low public profile has the merit of not threatening Israeli leaders who, in a confrontational environment, would be more reluctant to make any concessions lest they be accused of compromising Israel’s security.

During Obama’s first term, he learned this reality the hard way on at least two occasions. First when he publicly demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu places a complete freeze on all colony-building activities in the Occupied Territories. This was not only an American demand, it was also an Israeli obligation contracted under the roadmap — the basic peace plan the Quartet (US, Russia, European Union and the United Nations) have endorsed and have trying unsuccessfully to move forward.

Netanyahu publicly and defiantly refused.

The second clash between Obama and Netanyahu occurred when Obama suggested that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators should use the 1967 lines as a point of departure. Netanyahu right there and then looked at his host and rejected the idea lecturing Obama at the White House: Mr. President these lines are not defensible. Publicly humiliated twice, Obama dropped his pursuit of peace in the Middle East and switched to election mode. His speech at the UN General Assembly in September 2010 was an unabashed defence of Israel.

Thirdly, Obama worked hard to correct the misperception that he is not a friend of Israel. Earlier last year he addressed the powerful Israel lobby known as the American-Israel Political Action Committee (Aipac) and delivered a staunchly pro-Israel speech. After going through a long list of pro-Israel actions undertake by his administration, he assured his audience: “When the chips are down, I have got Israel’s back.”

During the latest Israeli assault on the Palestinian people in Gaza, Obama seems to have gone beyond the call of duty in providing Israel with apparently unprecedented level of military, economic, and diplomatic support. This earned him unprecedented praise from the Israelis and especially from Netanyahu. More recently Denis Ross, the perpetual envoy to the Middle East of several administrations and arch Zionist himself, said that “what the president has done for Israel in the security area is without precedent”.

This seems to have rehabilitated Obama in the eyes of some of his Zionist critics. At any rate, it earned him political capital that he can bring to bear in his latest attempt at bringing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a close.

As for Kerry, his credentials as a staunch supporter of Israel have been long established through his position as the veteran Chairman of the Foreign Relations committee and as a presidential candidate in 2004.

At the TV programme Meet the Press, Kerry was asked whether he supported Bush breaking with American policy when he said that Israel could keep some of the land occupied in the 1967 war and that the Palestinian refugees could not go back to their 1948 homes, Kerry said yes. (NBC News’ Meet the Press, April 18, 2004).

At the same programme, Kerry was asked whether he supported Israeli policy of assassinating Palestinian leaders (Israel had just assassinated Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rantisi). Again Kerry supported Israel’s action and sought to justify it.

In other words, while American leaders are forever condemning Palestinian violence, they are forever justifying Israeli violence. And this in violation of international law and UN Security Council resolution 242 which reiterates the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territories by force.

And herein lies the principle reason for the litany of failures that characterise American peace mediation in the Middle East. It suffers from an irremediable contradiction: Claiming to be honest brokers when they are so inarguably and totally promoting the position and defending the interests of one of the parties.

If that remain the chief characteristic of the peace process, then there is no escaping the banalities and platitude of the suggestions and proposals put forward by the American mediators.

In a recent article in the New York Times Review Denis Ross reminded us why he holds the record of failed peace missions. His latest proposal for reviving the peace process contains such banalities as asking the Israelis to be ready to compensate settlers who agree to relocate to Israel. No mention of the occupation, no mention of the dispossession; no mention of international law. No wonder he came to be known as Israel’s lawyer in Washington.

The occupation, the dispossession, and international law are not ornamental accessory to the peace process; they are its fundamental foundation.

If Obama and Kerry, who are going to Israel later this month, fail to recognise that reality, they would be abandoning the peace process to an ignominious death from its own contradictions.

[Adel Safty is distinguished professor adjunct at the Siberian Academy of Public Administration, Russia. His new book, Might Over Right, is endorsed by Noam Chomsky.]

(Courtesy: Gulf News)

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