OPINION: Why Muslims are Backward in India?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 07 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed

The impact of British rule on Muslims was greater. It was an advantage to the Hindus, as they were interested to learn from them whatever would contribute to their advancement. They utilized the many opportunities that the British offered in all walks of life. By getting educated in western education and culture, they became reliable subjects in the eyes of the British, and by learning the English language, they were offered services in the Government.

The East India Company passed the Permanent Land Settlement Act (1793) whereby it created a new class of Hindu collaborators, called gomashtas, or zamindars, who overcharged Muslim peasants, even during hard times, such as famines. The Hindu revenue-collectors, turned overnight into landowners at the expense of the poor Muslim peasants.

The Muslims did not learn the English language, and thus denied themselves opportunities of material as well as intellectual progress. Material, because Government jobs were open only to English-knowing persons; intellectual, because the entire body of Western knowledge and learning was shut out from them.

Some historians attribute this Muslim backwardness to the fact that Muslims were not pre-disposed to absorb “alien ideas, methods and language of the new rulers”; thus, they failed “to grasp the opportunities available in the new structure of government”

To avoid coming under the influence of the new culture, they clung tenaciously to the fundamental teachings of Islam and most of them prevented their children from attending British-patronized educational institutions throughout the different Indian provinces.

Muslims fell into a sense of humiliation and grief at the loss of their power, and as a result, they developed bitter feelings towards the British. This bitterness resulted into the 1857 Revolt that shook the Company’s rule to its very foundations.

The Impact of the First Indian Revolt on Muslim Community

Both Muslims and freedom-loving Hindus did participate in the Great Revolt, and in spite of that, the British decided to revenge themselves on the Muslim community, as the latter were regarded as the bona fide fomenters and the most beneficiaries of the uprising.

This anti-Muslim feeling was well reflected in the harshness of British reprisals towards the Muslim community immediately after the Revolt was put down. Besides the expropriation of Muslim landowners, some contemporaries bear witness to many instances of barbaric acts of ruthless vengeance being inflicted indiscriminately by British soldiers, with the connivance of their superior officers, on ordinary Muslims “mass massacres, indiscriminate hangings, inhumane tortures and large scale confiscation of properties were some of the means adopted by the British for the purpose”. To add insult to injury, even Hindus, who had an active hand in the events of 1857, pointed an accusing finger at the Muslim community and joined hands with their new masters, namely the British, in their anti-Muslim campaign.

Since the early days when the East India Company imposed its dominion over the Subcontinent, the British had looked down on the Muslim community and saw Muslims as their bona fide adversaries.

The events of 1857 were an excuse for the British to get rid of the last vestiges of the Mughal Empire once and for all, as well as curb the Muslim influence in the Indian society. Muslims faced extreme discrimination in all spheres of day-to-day life, and particularly in Government employment. The post-Great Revolt period was probably the gloomiest period in the history of the Muslim community in the Indian Subcontinent.


During the 19th and 20th centuries, Christian missionaries and colonial rulers such as the British opened schools that were based on a Western educational model and offered courses in English, science and technology.

Muslims who continued to choose Madrasas over other schools found that they lacked the training needed for well-paid jobs. One drawback is, many Madrasas refused to integrate nonreligious subjects into their curricula. As a result, a dual system of schooling became the norm: one Islam-centered, the other Westernized.

Why do parents choose Madrasas?

There are thousands of madrasas in the Indian subcontinent, Arab countries and African Muslim countries. There are about 30,000 Madrasas in each country like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Most graduates from Madrasas find poorly paid jobs in Madrasas, mosques or shrines of saints, a few others in farming. Only 3 percent attain a higher level of socioeconomic development.

The majority of Muslim families want Madrasas to offer technical courses and vocational training. However, the religious leaders who could approve changes are “set against the modern education.”

Such Madrasas contribute to a vicious circle of poverty. Free government schools could serve as an alternative, but, perhaps due to their low quality of instruction, nearly three-quarters of Muslim families expressed the opinion that if they had the financial means to do so, they would choose fee-based, private, nonreligious schools. Greatest problem with Madrasas is they emphasize rote learning over critical thinking.

Attitude of Muslims towards Western Education

The Muslims hated the Western education during the period of British India. The reason is they had hatred of the British in their taste and culture so that they had to keep a distance from Western education. And this led the community to doom. The Muslims were very much stubborn in their religious belief, practice and worship. The majority of the Muslims were devoted to trade and commerce rather than to seek employment under any regime. The Muslim’s response towards the British can be divided into four categories:

1. One group of nobles sincerely considered friendship and alliance with the British indispensable for the continued existence of the Indian states and made it their policy to be friendly with the British.

2. Second group was highly impressed by the British and their culture that it sought to organize the affairs of State and the conditions of the society on British lines.

3. A third group was loyal neither to the state nor to the British Government and followed a policy which, in its view, best suited its own personal and selfish interests.

4. A fourth group which was totally opposed to British dominance and the British connection.

Muslims in Southern India showed positive response towards English and Western sciences, while the Muslims of Northern India, to some extent also Hindus, refused to accept Western learning.

The British then onwards were highly cautious regarding Muslims. After establishing their authority, the British began to destroy the financial strength of the Muslims.

As stated earlier in 1793, the British passed the land Act, which adversely influenced the economic condition of the Muslims. They changed the relationship with the landlords, especially with regard to the Muslims, and closed the door to their landlordism.

In 1868, the British government announced assistance for persons traveling to Europe for educational and scientific purposes. Majority of Muslims living in northern India believed social contacts with Englishmen to be objectionable for their moral and religious integrity. When Syed Ahmad Khan was elected an honorary Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of London in 1864 he decided to go to England himself to see the ways of the British in their homeland. After an extensive seventeen month stay in England, Ahmad Khan returned to his home land on 2nd October, 1870 full of ideas and aspirations to lead his community to be on par with modern developments. While he was in England, he visited the top universities such as Oxford and Cambridge and certain private schools, including Eton and Harrow. These would serve as models for his own Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College. After his return to India, Sir Syed started to put into action his educational strategies in a scientific manner. In 1920 the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College became Aligarh Muslim University, an institution that had a decisive impact on the course of Islamic polity in India as well as on the educational history of India.

The Muslim community has not recovered ever since the historic defeat of Indians in 1857 Rebellion against the British. Today they are facing hard social, educational and political conditions. Muslims in India have a poor human development status.

Sachar Committee has found that Muslims are not only the victims of poverty, but have come to accept inequality and discrimination as their inevitable fate. The glaring problem is the absence of committed and authentic Muslim leadership in pre and post independent India.

As stated above Muslims in India are divided on political lines and have little or no national leadership. They are marginalized in India’s civil services and public administration. The Muslim community is also utterly under-represented in the field of journalism. Moreover, Muslims in India have bleak entrepreneurial ambitions.

Political representation of the Muslims stands extremely low at six-to-eight per cent while their population in India is over 14 percent.

And religious organizations like Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadees Hind, Sunni Dawat-e-Islami, and others, are concerned with the way Islam should be practised by the community.

The top bureaucratic positions in the country namely the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) are frighteningly under-represented by Muslims. The estimated figure of Muslims in these services stands inexcusably low at two-three percent.

Majority of the Muslims are not even eligible for these posts as very few of them are university graduates. Surveys show that about five per cent of Muslims in the country have successfully completed university education.

There are very few Muslim journalists of national prominence. Few businessmen like Azim Premji of Wipro, Yusuf Hamied of Cipla, Shahid Balwa of DB Reality and a few others, are the few conspicuous Muslim names in the corporate world.

The road ahead

Education is a great solution to problems of poverty, sickness, and empowers the Muslim community. Universities like Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia, must be able to produce some of the preeminent professionals in different fields who would not only care for their individual well-being but would also show attentiveness for the community at large.

The religious leaders must pay attention to the need of the hour to reform the various education, social, and cultural institutions they run. Just religious education is not enough, but also modern and secular, must be stressed. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the well-educated and instrumental members of the community to push for these reforms. They should make sure there is a fall in dropout rates at all academic levels. The prosperous members of the community should institute scholarships and other aides to ensure that deserving and talented young students do not drop out from school or university due to financial problems. It is time for the community members to show astonishing unanimity with each other for their own prosperity and welfare.

[Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed is Immediate Past President of Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc., Louisville, KY, USA. He can be reached on his Phone: +1 502 423 1988 or email at islamicresearch@yahoo.com]

Bihar: An Insight into the Muslim population in Seemanchal Region

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

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Muslims are splintered in India and their diversity is synonymous with Indian. There is a Seemanchal region in the state of Bihar where there is significant but distinct Muslim population that begs attention. These Muslims are quite different from the general perception about the Muslims in India.

The Seemanchal region exists in Bihar that is close to the international border of Nepal and Bangladesh. It is a landlocked region comprising four districts; Purnea, Katihar, Kishanganj and Araria. The region is insulated from the rest of the state and the country. The distance between Seemanchal and state capital Patna is about 368 km while Assam is barely 300 kilometers.

In many ways, Seemanchal is different from the rest of Bihar and the country. The most obvious difference is the demographic profile of the region. The Muslim population in Seemanchal is 47% Muslim whereas Bihar’s state-wide average of Muslim populationis 17%. Of the 1.08 crore population in Seemanchal, there are 49 lakh Muslims in this region. The proportion of Muslims in the four districts of Seemanchal are; Kishanganj: 68 percent, Katihar: 44.5 percent, Araria: 43 percent, Purnea: 38.5 percent.

While in the rest of Bihar, Muslims are largely concentrated in the urban areas, in the Seemanchal region, Muslims population is concentrated in the rural areas. Seemanchal Muslims are poor peasants and their average landholdings are small.

The other distinct feature of the Seemanchal region is that here the Hindu population is much lower than that of the Muslims and the dominant caste of the Hindus are nearly absent here more particularly is the Yadav caste.

Linguistically Seemanchal is considered part of the greater Mithila region but the region is divided on three distinct linguist differences i.e. Surjapuri, Kulhaiya and Bengali languages. The Seemanchal region is peculiar due to Surjapuris, Kulhaiyas and Shershahbadis communities.

The Surjapuri community holds considerable influence in the Seemanchal region. According to George Grierson in the Linguistic Survey of India, Surjapuris have Koch origin and they speak a dialect similar to the Koch Bengali of Malda.

Shershahbadis are of Bengali origin but have a different history. They are said to be soldiers in the army of Sher Shah Suri. They settled initially in the Gaur region in Bengal but they were displaced by the Mughals and they settled in the Seemanchal region and started doing cultivation. They converted to Islam later and followed the ‘Ahle Hadis’ school of thought whose guiding principles are Quran and the tradition of the prophet. That’s how Shershahbadis differentiates themselves from the majority of Muslims in Seemanchal who follow syncretic traditions.

Kulhaiya are said to have come from Hadhramaut region of eastern Yemen. They were brought as soldiers and worked with the Faujdars of Purnea, who ruled the autonomous region headquarter at Purnea and the surrounding places. Kulhaiyas later became an agrarian community marrying the locals and settlers from other parts of the country. As a result of the diverse linguistic influences, Kulhaiya dialect is much more mixed than the other communities. Kulhaiya had to suffer a great deal during the British rule and were declared criminal tribes by the colonial rulers.

Kulhaiya and Shershahbadis come under Other Backward Caste category but Surjapuris do not have any such reservation. The political rivalries in the Seemanchal region are centered on these three categories. In terms of political representation, Kulhaiya fare better but now Surjapuris are gradually catching up. There is presence of Ansari caste in the Seemanchal region but they are politically underrepresented.

Seemanchal region is considered to be one of the most backward areas within Bihar. The average literacy rate of the four districts (Araria, Purnea, Kishanganj and Katihar) is 35 percent against Bihar’s average of 64%. The four districts grossly lack development.

In terms of general education the region is quite backward. Pothia is the most illiterate block not only in India but in the entire Asia. In Seemanchal there is huge shortage of schools and colleges. There are only two constituent colleges in Kishanganj for a 17 lakh population. There is only one teacher in Nehru College where two thousand students study. There are no medical or engineering colleges and there are no technical institutes. Purnea University, the only university, came into existence just two years ago in 2018.

The Seemanchal region is affected by floods every year. The devastation caused by floods is huge. Most of the year, floods submerge the area. Due to floods paddy crops usually get destroyed. Sometimes even the second or third crop also gets affected due to floods. It is common to see children wading through flooded fields to catch fish with bare hands to supplement their families’ income.

The Seemanchal region is home to more than one crore population but the health care facilities there are appalling. Just like lack of government schools and colleges, there is little public health care system in place. In the absence, qualified medical practitioners quacks are having a field’s day in the region.

In terms of infrastructural needs Seemanchal is the least developed region. The main roads vanish every few kilometers and interior roads in villages are merely dirt paths. Roads are full of potholes and the bus rides are bone rattling. The rail connectivity to the Seemanchal region is pathetic. The electrical connection is very poor in rural areas and no electrical equipment works here. The condition of electricity is better in the urban areas but power shortage is the major problem in the region. Then the problems of unemployment, illiteracy are rampant in the region. Seemanchal is home to one of the poorest Muslim region in India. Here the average per capita income is 10,000 as against the state average of 14,574.

The combined effect of language, geography, religion and poverty makes the Seemanchal region one of the most underdeveloped areas in the country. Many blame it on the politics of the region which does not address the developmental problems of the region and cater to the state and center centric politics. Out of 243 assembly seats in Bihar, Semmanchal region sent 27 legislatures to state assembly. These seats are divided among the dominant political formation of the state that cares little about the development needs of the Seemanchal region.

There is a growing consciousness among the locals now to get consolidated under one political formation to make any difference to the region. However, in the absence of their own political formation, outside elements politically divide them for votes. There is certainly a need for the wakeup call in the region and this alone may give a new impetus to the development of the Seemanchal region.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He hails from Bihar. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

iPORTAL Live, MDEC jointly launch Global Knowledge Platform for US$2 trillion Islamic Economy

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

IMO News Service

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and iPORTAL Live Sdn Bhd have launched a new Islamic Economy Knowledge Portal aimed at further enhancing the ease-of-access to information and knowledge of the Islamic Economy to users, as well as facilitate connection and encourage collaboration by industry users dispersed globally.

As the leading hub of Southeast Asia’s Islamic Digital economy, Malaysia has the resources and depth of knowledge that makes it the perfect location for iPORTAL to launch its platform.

Through its partnership with MDEC, iPORTAL Live will bring in global expertise and knowledge transfer in the area of Islamic Digital Economy into Malaysia. This will elevate Malaysia’s position as a global Islamic Digital Economy hub, and further strengthen the country as the Heart of Digital ASEAN.

The launch of the new knowledge portal comes amidst significant growth in the Islamic Digital Economy according to the latest State of Global Islamic Economy Report. It is estimated that Muslims spent US$2.02 trillion (RM8.18 trillion) in 2019 including the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, fashion, travel and media/recreation sectors, all of which are impacted by Islamic faith-inspired ethical consumption needs.

This spending reflects a 3.2% year-on-year growth from 2018. In addition, Islamic finance assets were estimated to have reached US$2.88 trillion (RM11.7 trillion) in 2019.

The issue is that while there is significant growth in the Islamic economy, the information and data for consumers, products, insights and research is dispersed globally. The challenge then is placing all this information in one place for easy access and reference.

iPORTAL Live aims to address this issue with the launch of its Islamic Digital Economy knowledge portal at www.iPORTAL.live. The portal is a global platform that will showcase the 10 sectors of the Islamic Economy all in one easy to access place. It will start the users’ journey with knowledge, under Academy, which will then continue to Entrepreneurship, Insights, Waqf Economy, Research, Marketplace and a Job Board.

The new portal will also provide digital pathways for inclusion and connectivity for all sectors. For example, through the portal, Islamic Financial services can connect to players of modest fashion or Muslim media for funding opportunities; the halal industry can connect with the Takaful industry for matters of insurance; or social impact startups can showcase their innovative suggestions for the Islamic economy verticals.

“Malaysia has been a pioneering leader in Islamic finance and remains the biggest Islamic finance market in Southeast Asia. Backed by our strong regulatory framework and an expanding Islamic finance ecosystem that includes Sukuk, Takaful and Syariah-compliant funds, Malaysia is on track to reach the central bank’s target of 40% share of total financing by the end of 2020. We believe the launch of iPORTAL's global Islamic Economy platform, will enable many more global stakeholders to learn and adopt from Malaysia's decades of experience and contribute towards the global growth of the Islamic digital industry,” says Saifuddin Abdullah, Malaysia’s Minister of Communications and Multimedia.

“Malaysia has been at the forefront of championing Islamic banking and finance for the last three decades. The Malaysian government, through MDEC, has started serious work to embed the Islamic digital economy in the grand design of the Malaysian blueprint of the digital economy. Through the launch of iPORTAL Live, the information will be readily available and accessible for the interested masses, contributing to the creation of an inclusive Fintech hub while firmly establishing Malaysia as the heart of digital ASEAN,” added Dr Rais Hussin Mohammed Ariff, MDEC’s chairman.

Dr Rushdi Siddiqui cofounder/CEO iPORTAL Live said, “The launch of iPORTAL Live could not have happened without the hard work of Malaysia, UAE, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, Pakistan, UK and others in raising the profile of the 10 sector US$3 trillion Islamic Economy. iPORTAL Live has 74 introductory courses, 50% are free. Meanwhile, on the verticals of the Islamic economy, it has more than 400 social impact startups, including women owned, from 12 countries that get updated monthly, it has Islamic banking regulations from 14 countries in one place with opportunity for public comment, it has Waqf research and projects from 8 countries, it has job board with 250 openings, it has 26 members on its advisory board and 27 partnerships, etc.”

Thus, iPORTAL Live is a B2C2B platform that is part Google (search on Islamic economy), part Amazon (content by third parties) and part Wikipedia (contribution to the Islamic economy). It’s about reducing friction and user journey for connecting to the global Islamic economy community with content, commerce and opportunity to collaborate.

“The Islamic Economy is open for business for all in the new normal, and iPORTAL Live is the digital meeting place for values aligned education, consumption, investment, funding and business,” adds Rushdi.

Has the time finally come for Muslim Americans to address racism in their own community?

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

By Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

As American battle with racism comes to a boil on the heels of yet another unarmed black man murdered by a white police officer, Muslim America has its own festering racial problem between Black American Muslims and converts to Islam, and between the larger Muslim American immigrant community. The question of Racism in Muslim America has never been fully unpacked as a national American Muslim conversation. Sure, it has been hinted at, pointed to, glossed over, generalized, and even headlined in articles here and there. Still, the issue has never been domestically unwrapped and laid bare so it could be subject to critical and compartmental examination. There never been any resolution, reckoning or healing.

One of the challenges facing American Muslims in dealing with racism in our mosques and in our own communities is that you cannot approach racism with a one-size fit for all method. Our own dealings with race and racism in the United states should have taught us that. Racism in Muslim America lives in the trappings of Islam and under cover of the masaajid (mosques). It is as delicate as it is insidious, it’s refined as much as it is profane. It is a wide topic that spans the globe in breadth and is as diverse in its manifestations as the rainbow of races, and colors of the peoples who inhabit the nations mosques. If America is an experiment, then Muslim America with two distinctly different civilizational trajectories; one Black and indigenous, and the other, recent (50 years or less) immigrants, is even more of an experiment.

Racism in Muslim America has its own historical evolution. It has cracks and crevices where it hides, masquerades and blends in with the scenery. It can act like a chameleon and go undetected until you look closely, or it can unabashedly bite you in the face. It will migrate from one institutional host to another institutional host. Sometimes you must hunt it down like a wild animal and corner it, and even then, it will fight you back. Racism does not back down easily except where there is taqwa (piety). It takes a certain amount of moral courage the likes of which we as Muslims I am afraid, are in short supply for now, to tackle racism in our ranks. We can only do it in my view, as a morally mature people, but tackle it we must, and tackle it we will if it be God’s will.

Racism in Muslim America may not look exactly like racism in America in general or racism in the Arab world or in Europe, or in Asia, Africa or anywhere else. Racism in Muslim in America has its own unique historical and civilizational nuance which is why it deserves more than just a casual, anecdotal glance. Racism in Muslim America is the proverbial elephant in the room, and that elephant is poised to let out a big fart that will stink from New York to Washington state, if we do not take the time and courage to meet it head on.

My first article about racism in Muslim America[i] was published in 2002, on the heels of 9/11. It was a taboo topic then, and admittedly I was very careful in the way I worded the topic, and here we are 18 years later, and the issue of racism in Muslim America sits on our door step, like unopened mail.

Racism Muslim America is a heartfelt letdown for Black American Muslim converts and their accompanying generations. While at the same time, marginally acknowledged by the American Muslim immigrant community. Within the Black American Muslim and convert community, the conversation about racism in Muslim America has been well under way, but relatively one-sided. Any Black American Muslim will tell you unequivocally that racism is alive and well in Muslim America, as well as any other Muslim who is willing to be honest and not bound by the chains of political correctness.

As the conversation about race again take center stage in the national news feed of the United States with the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis MN the opportunity has again presented itself for Muslim Americans to catch up with the rest of the country on the matter of race, racism and race relations within our domestic faith practice. If we don’t rise to the occasion, we threaten to undo years of carefully orchestrated public relations portrayal of American Muslims as a new an unblemished citizenry who are part of the American experiment.

American Muslims are an accepted part of American society. However, we are not the go-to community for moral leadership. The main deterrent to that is our failure as a general body, to openly address the issue of racism within our ranks. Black American Muslims are willing to have this conversation and have been having it amongst ourselves to the point of disgust, protest and revolt. Imams and leaders of the American Muslim immigrant community must be willing to reciprocate in a way that is past lip service photo-ops, and billboards. If we are to ever have hope in being an advanced civilization, we must be willing to engage in advanced conversation, no matter how painful.

[Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is an associate Imam and resident scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam, housed in the first building built originally as a Mosque in the State of Ohio. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, can be reached at: imamabulaith@yahoo.com]

Muslim-Friendly Social Media OOLi Network launched

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 05 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , , ,

IMO News Service

The need of Muslim Social Media is increasing. Popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have come under fire for sustained targeting of Muslims through hate-speech, misinformation (fake news) and spread of obscene graphic content. Recent headlines such as ‘Facebook Accused of Watching Users Through Cameras’, ‘Facebook Dealing with a Hate Speech Crisis’, ‘Social Media Graphic Video Circulates’ etc are not uncommon, and have been increasing of late. Even the calls for stricter measures to control the spread of graphic content and misinformation have also increased. As major networks come under fire, many are starting to ask the question “Is it all worth it?” Many Muslims are considering dropping major applications like Facebook, yet it would be hard to imagine a world without Social Media. So, what can one do?

Social media users have been clamoring for some time for the creation of safe networks and platforms which not only regulate obscene language and images, but also promote a community-based approach. This is exactly what inspired J. J. Muhammad Shakur, Founder of OOLi Network, to create an application that has a policy and mission to provide positive and beneficial content for the Muslim community.

Muslims, who have often been the target of much hate-speech on networks like Facebook and Twitter, can now have a safe environment to share, like and post messages and ideas. OOLi Network wants to provide this specific environment for a niche community. As mentioned on their website, “Islam is a unique bond that connects Muslims all around the world and that alone is an incentive to have a social network to share content in a more filtered environment, for a better Muslim experience.”

Those used to the Facebook or Instagram interface will immediately feel comfortable using OOLi Network and may even find some aspects more user-friendly. After signing up with a phone number, one can immediately tap into the OOLi community, made up almost entirely, but not exclusive of Muslims. “Although we had Muslims in mind, we invite other communities to check out our product,” Shakur says.

While still is its early stages, OOLi Network seems to show a lot of potential and has the appeal to attract many new users. Once more users join, it is quite evident that OOLi Network will be a major networking tool for Muslims globally. And the possibilities keep expanding. “We hope to one day include a fully operational online selling platform,” Shakur continues, “and we’ve recently added a community ‘Spaces’ to help organizations, masjids and communities in general make announcements and post to the public.”

With regular updates, OOLi Network seems to be listening to its users and is keen on providing a quality visual and user-friendly experience. OOLi Network can be downloaded on both Google Play and App Store so that in a few minutes, you too can be connected to a safe environment and growing Muslim Online Community.

OOLi Network is set to change how Muslims network with one another globally. Dedicated to providing Muslims with a unique yet easy-to-use platform with a seamless, clean, simple and user-friendly interface, OOLi Network is your Muslim-Friendly Social Media. Share. Create. Post!

SPECIAL REPORT: Islamophobia & Bollywood threaten India’s popularity in Afghanistan

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

By Arwin Rahi

According to a 2015 Gallup poll, India was the most loved country in Afghanistan, where the former’s approval rating was at 62%. Five years later, although India’s approval rating among Afghans is still high, there are indications that India’s popularity is declining. There are two main reasons for that: first, rising Islamophobia in India; second, vilification of Muslim historical figures by Bollywood.

Conquests and exchange of ideas before Islam

People from present-day Afghanistan and India have been interacting with each other for millennia. There had been periods of conquests and exchange of ideas between the two countries long before the appearance of Islam on the scene. Centuries before the Ghaznavids’ and Ghorids’ invasions of northern India, the Kushans and Hephthalites, who both were non-Muslim, had expanded their reign from Afghanistan into northern India.

Prior to the Kushans and Hephthalites, the Mauryan Empire had extended its reach—in the opposite direction—from its capital at Pataliputra, in present-day Bihar. It was under the Mauryan Empire that Buddhism, from India, was brought to Afghanistan, and via Afghanistan to China. More than a millennium later, Islam would be introduced into much of northern India from and through Afghanistan.

Because of their minority status and shared religious and cultural ties, Indian Muslims had maintained a strong relationship with Afghanistan until India’s independence. Over the last 42 years of conflict in Afghanistan, India has always sided with internationally recognized Afghan governments, which has significantly contributed to India’s popularity in Afghanistan.

Islamophobia is a threat to Indo-Afghan relations

Notwithstanding India’s popularity, Afghans are starting to become concerned about the rise of Islamophobia in India. Incidents of Muslims’ being lynched in India on mere suspicion of eating or carrying beef are condemned in Afghanistan. It’s hard for Afghans not to express their sentiments when their fellow Muslims are subjected to violence and extra-judicial killings.

In the aftermath of the violence against Muslims in Delhi in February 2020, Afghan protestors took to the streets in several cities such as Kabul, Herat, and Bamiyan in support of Indian Muslims. Protestors in Herat set the Indian flag ablaze. Perhaps it was the first time that the Indian flag was being burned in an anti-India protest in Afghanistan. Similarly, protestors in Bamiyan province set fire to, and stepped on, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s posters.

While it’s true that Indian Muslims are India’s citizens, it’s also true that Indian Muslims share a common religion with the majority of Afghans. From Afghans’ perspective, being concerned about Indian Muslims is not an interference in India’s internal matters. The historical and religious connections between Afghans and Indian Muslims are too strong to ignore.

Moreover, India, too, shows concerns for Afghanistan’s Hindus and Sikhs, hence the Citizenship Amendment Act. No Afghan has ever objected to India’s interest in the affairs of Afghan Hindus and Sikhs. If Indian Sikhs and Hindus can be sympathetic toward Afghan Hindus and Sikhs, then Afghan Muslims too can be sympathetic toward Indian Muslims.

Bollywood’s vilification of Muslims harms Indo-Afghan relations

Afghans enjoy watching Bollywood movies. However, any attempt by Bollywood to rewrite history in black and white, pitching Hindus against Muslims, will complicate India’s relations with Afghanistan. For example, movies such as Padmaavat, Kesari, and Panipat, where Muslims are portrayed as a bunch of savage marauders, angered viewers in Afghanistan.

The movie Panipat, which depicts Ahmad Shah Durrani—who’s regarded as the father of modern Afghanistan—as a balding devilish figure, sparked outrage amongst Afghans from all walks of life. The movie even prompted the Afghan government to share its concerns with both the Indian government and the movie director.

Extremists depict the 1761 Third Battle of Panipat as a clash between Muslims and Hindus, which is untrue. First, in the Maratha camp, there was a Muslim contingent of ten thousand men, led by a Pashtun Muslim general named Ibrahim Khan Gardi, who also commanded the Marathas’ left wing against the Afghans. Second, the Rajput Hindu rulers of Jaipur and Marwar sought Ahmad Shah Durrani’s assistance against the Marathas,[2] who were encroaching on the Rajput territory. If it were up to Bollywood to judge the Rajputs, they’d be declared traitors.

Bollywood script writers and directors need to keep in mind that before the Westphalian concept of nation-state, whereby countries have demarcated borders, was imported from Europe, people in our region used to live under empires, kingdoms, and dynasties. Before the era of nation-states, borders were not fixed; they shifted depending on a ruler’s might. It is in this context alone that we can understand the earlier history of South Asia.

The way forward

Over the last 40 years of conflict in Afghanistan, a segment of the Afghan society has embraced religious extremism. Driven by fanaticism, these Afghans can exploit even minor events in India to derail Indo-Afghan relations. The general expectation in Afghanistan is that Indians won’t give these extremists the opportunity to derail Indo-Afghan relations.

As part of its foreign and security policy, India considers it a priority to have close relations with Afghanistan, where since 2001 India has invested billions of dollars. The investment, in addition to being helpful to Afghans, has paid India off. At present, Afghans love India more than any other foreign country. Because of India’s positive image, before the Covid-19 outbreak, every month thousands of Afghans used to travel to India for medical treatment and tourism.

Cordial Indo-Afghan relations are a win-win for both countries: Afghanistan needs India’s economic assistance, and India—as a rising power—needs Afghanistan’s location to project its soft power. Afghanistan’s vast untapped mineral resources can also saturate India’s growing demand for raw materials such as iron ore and lithium. However, Islamophobia and Bollywood’s negative depiction of Muslims can spoil both India’s reputation in Afghanistan as well as Indo-Afghan relations.

[Arwin Rahi is a former adviser to the Parwan governor in Afghanistan. He has an M.A. in Politics and Security Studies from the OSCE Academy, and an M.A. in International Affairs from the Bush School of Government & Public Service. He’s written for Forbes, the National Interest, the Diplomat, BBC Persian, among others. He can be reached at rahiarwim@gmail.com]

Shams and OMNES Media unveil an Influencers Platform with huge opportunities

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

OMNES Influencers aims to connect businesses with influencers who could promote their products and deliver results within given budget and time

IMO News Service

Dubai, UAE: Shams Media Services, a subsidiary of Sharjah Media City (Shams), and OMNES Media, an integrated media and communications solutions company, have launched OMNES Influencers platform in its Beta Edition to help users explore and benefit from an ever-expanding online market, which is witnessing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 32%.

“The global influencer platform market, which is expected to grow from $6 billion in 2020 to $24.1 billion by 2025, offers tremendous opportunities to influencers and customers alike. OMNES Influencers is designed to introduce a new generation of influencers to the social media world,” said H.E. Dr. Khalid Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams).

“Such a platform will definitely contribute to reshaping the communication industry and positively impact multiple business sectors,” he said, stressing that various factors, such as the customers’ shift towards video-based content across the social media space and an increase in the adoption of ad-blocking software are likely to enhance the adoption of influencer marketing.

In three months, over 2,100 influencers have registered on OMNESInfluencers.com, which also offers necessary licenses and training programs to make the influencers’ professional journey more pleasant and smooth. OMNES Influencers boasts influencers from over 115 nationalities with the UAE ranking first followed by India and Morocco.

OMNES Influencers platform also hosts an open digital marketplace, enabling business sectors to interact directly with influencers locally and internationally. The platform recommends influencers to businesses based on their campaign requirements, using artificial intelligence and an advanced search engine.

“At OMNES Influencers, we help businesses connect with the right type of influencers who could promote their brands and deliver results within given budget and timeframe,” said Fahed Aldeeb, CEO of OMNES Media.

“Interestingly, in the past few years, advertisers have begun steering away from paying big bucks for major celebrity endorsements, opting instead to utilize so-called micro-influencers,” he pointed out.

“It’s a trend that is growing at a rapid pace. A recent report showed that over half of the marketers surveyed plan to increase their influencer budgets, and a vast majority of these budgets going towards micro-influencers,” Aldeeb highlighted.

“Even those with fewer than 5,000 followers are seen as smart investments,” he said, inviting influencers to register at OMNESInfluencers.com to enhance their presence, popularity and chance to earn a decent regular income.

About OMNES Influencers

OMNES Influencers is the next big marketing platform that enables brands to capitalise on social connections and promote individual-centric conversations and endorsements.

OMNES Influencers, a joint venture between OMNES Media and Shams Media Services LLC (A Sharjah Media City subsidiary), is an independent Influencer management organisation that harnesses the power of individual influencers, enabling them to connect, network and partner with society, brands and the world at large.

Designed to become the hub of Influencer marketing, OMNES Influencers is built around three pillars of Influencer Marketing: Creating Influencers, Developing Influencers and Promoting Influencers.

OPINION: French Secularism in Crisis

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

By L. Ali Khan

French Muslims are in the process of reconciling with the Fifth Republic of France, established with the 1958 Constitution, which declares France to be a secular state. In the past thirty years, secular issues have fractured social order as Muslim women, born and raised in France, wish to wear the hijab (headscarf) in schools and the niqab (full-face veil) in public places. Starting in the late 1980s, women began to challenge the French laws against Islamic clothing in the European Court of Human Rights.

Just like some nations, some individuals resort to violence to assert the values they hold dear. Disrespecting the Prophet of Islam is inherently intolerable for Muslims. In 2015, two Muslim brothers entered the Paris office of the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, which published the Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons, and killed 12 people and injured 11. In 2020, a teenage Muslim beheaded a French teacher who shared the Prophet’s cartoons with his students. This heartless violence sparked protests across France.

President Emmanuel Macron contends that the violence demonstrates that “Islam is in crisis”, a statement that diverted the focus from flaws in individuals to flaws in Islam. Finding faults in a religion rather than the perpetrators of crimes frequently backfires. Muslims across the world condemned Macron’s statement. However, because of religion-related violence, the French resolve to protect secularism has strengthened.

French secularists would argue that a cartoonist living in a secular state has an inalienable right to offend more than a billion Muslims by disgracing their Prophet, and it is irrelevant whether the cartoonist is a white male (thus, rejecting the accusations of white supremacy or lingering colonialism discounting Muslim beliefs). French laws do not subordinate religious sensitivities to free speech; they downgrade religion in favor of secularism that supposedly invigorates “the soul of France.” This distinction is critical for understanding the French case against religion in general and Islam in particular.

Philosophically and legally, states may adopt one of the two types of secularism (an opaque word for the separation of church and state), secular neutralism or secular prejudicialism. In the West, the separation thesis arose as a counterweight to the claims of the Roman Catholic Church that the state ought to submit to the Church. After struggling for centuries, the European state separated from the church in its raison d’etre, social objectives, and legislative supremacy. Historically, France has been the most formidable advocate of rejecting the authority of religion over the state.

Secular Neutralism

Secular neutralism assumes that religion is an authentic social reality worth protecting and that religions are diverse and even mutually incompatible as people subscribe to different denominations and creeds. Thus, a secular state would respect all religions but should not identify with any religion or denomination. Likewise, a secular state should not adopt the laws of any one religion and impose them on all people. The state laws may coincide with the laws of a religion but the rationale for adopting them is not religious. The principle of secular neutrality may vary from state to state, as some systems are stricter in separation than others.

The United States Constitution incorporates secular neutralism. The First Amendment lays out the separation thesis in the following words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The constitutional law over the decades has been highly protective of religious practices, undoing state restrictions placed on the free exercise of diverse faiths, including Islam, a relatively new religion of a significant population in the United States.

Secular Prejudicialism

Secular prejudicialism is anti-religion, a view rooted in Godlessness, spiritual cynicism, and a Marxist view of history and sociology. It posits that religion is an unscientific social construct, and the secular state must do everything in its power to enlighten the people away from an unhealthy addiction of religiosity.

Even if a state did not historically struggle to separate from any religion, it may adopt secular prejudicialism as a core legal principle. As a rational entity, such a state repudiates the divine frame of values emanating from religion. Furthermore, the state may proactively oppose the demands of religion on individual and social behavior that contravene state laws and policies.

The Soviet Union advocated secular prejudicialism, though the successive Soviet Constitutions continued to pay lip service to the right to religion. The 1977 Soviet Constitution states: “Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed freedom of conscience, that is, the right to profess or not to profess any religion, and to conduct religious worship or atheistic propaganda. . . In the USSR, the church is separated from the state, and the school from the church.” The permission to conduct atheistic propaganda reaffirmed secular prejudicialism and was consistent with the Marxist view of religion as an unscientific social construct that confuses class struggle.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia repudiated secular prejudicialism and the associated theory that religion is a barrier to development. The 1993 constitution protects the freedom of religion and Article 29 bans propaganda that incites religious hatred or hostility.

French Secularism (Le concept de laïcité en France)

France adopts a more complex form of secularism that tilts toward secular prejudicialism but not completely. For centuries, France struggled with the Roman Catholic Church. In the Schism of 1378, France installed its own Pope in Avignon, as a competitor to the Pope in Rome. In 1804, Napoleon invited the Roman Pope for his coronation but placed the crown on his head with his own hands, while the invited Pope stared at the rude Emperor. Humiliating the Pope in a public ceremony was designed to elevate the state over the church.

In 1757, France built its Pantheon in Paris to parallel the Pantheon in Rome. For decades, the Paris Pantheon alternated between being a Christian shrine and a secular crypt, thus vacillating between religion and secularism. Eventually, the secular Pantheon triumphed over the Christian shrine, as the French began to entomb famous intellectuals, including Victor Hugo (1802-1855), Emile Zola (1940-1902), Marie Curie (1867-1934), and others.

In 1905, France passed a non-recognition law to prohibit the Republic from recognizing, paying stipends, or subsidizing any “culte.” The 1905 Act does not use the word secularism (laïcité). The law enacts a financial separation of “des cultes” from the state and introduces the concept of non-recognition of any religion. Yet the 1905 Act stops short of advocating that “the cults” inhibit social development, even though by the early 20th century the Marxist critique of religion had penetrated the French intellectual culture.

The current Constitution of the Fifth Republic (1958) does use the word secular in its text and lays out the secular principle in the following words: “France shall be an indivisible, secular (laïque), democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs.” Note that while the 1905 Act does not recognize any religion, the 1958 Constitution respects all beliefs. This change is a shift away from judicial prejudicialism if it were the subtext of the 1905 Act.

On its face, the 1958 Constitution seems to embrace secular neutralism. The clause that France shall respect all beliefs appears to be an acceptance of religious pluralism, though in 1958 the demographics of France were predominantly Catholic. France has never been a Godless state. In practice, however, French politicians and intellectuals consider religion as a negative force that hinders equality, liberty, and fraternity, the three maxims of the French self-concept.

In the past fifty years, the influx of Muslim immigrants and their children in millions has dramatically changed the demographics of France. Now, Islam is the second-largest religion in France. Most Muslims in France are Arabs from the French colonies in North Africa and the Middle East. Some are Turks. Racially, culturally, and religiously, the French Muslims constitute a distinct population. Given their commitment to Islam, the French Muslims do not accept secular prejudicialism, as they view Islam as a positive force for human development. Thus, the French secularism confronts an existential threat.

Battle Over Islamic Veils

The battle between French secularism and Islam is waged regarding the rights of women. The West erroneously believed that Muslim women would leave the “oppressive” Islamic way and welcome the liberties that Western women enjoy. However, Muslim women born and raised in Europe began to adopt the conservative values of Islam, including praying, fasting, not drinking alcohol, and wearing conservative clothing, including hijab and niqab, hiding their faces and bodies.

The surprised Western political and intellectual elites dubbed the Muslim women’s behavior as political Islamism, a pejorative term.

As noted above, Muslim women began to challenge legal restrictions on Islamic veils, in domestic courts as well as in the European Court of Human Rights. Several human rights organizations sided with Muslim women. The proponents of the veils asserted the right to religion, privacy, personal expression, and woman’s choice whereas the opponents identified the veils with Islamic radicalism, a challenge to secularism, and an affront to the principle of “living together.”

A decade ago, a few European countries, including France, banned Islamic veils as contrary to secularism, gender equality, and open communication in public places. National high courts reacted to the ban differently. The Belgian Constitutional Court upheld the ban on face concealment, while the Spanish Supreme Court held that law cannot presuppose that women wearing Islamic veils “did so under duress.” The Netherlands Council of State ruled that “a general ban on wearing clothing that covered the face did not meet a pressing social need and was not therefore, necessary in a democratic society.”

While crafting the anti-veil legislation, the French lawmakers relied on a report that had argued that the full-face concealment is incompatible with secularism, it is “an infringement of the principle of liberty, because it was a symbol of a form of subservience and, by its very existence, negated both the principle of gender equality and that of the equal dignity of human beings… the full-face veil represented a denial of fraternity, constituting the negation of contact with others and a flagrant infringement of the French principle of living together (le “vivre ensemble”).”

The law of 11 October 2010, passed in the National Assembly with an overwhelming majority (335 votes in favor, one against, and three abstentions) imposed a fine and required reeducation through “a citizenship course” of Muslim women who insist on wearing the full veil in public places (note that the West also criticizes China for placing Uighurs in “reeducation camps”). The French Constitutional Council upheld the law, stating that “women who concealed their face, voluntarily or otherwise, were placed in a situation of exclusion and inferiority.” However, the Constitutional Court did not elaborate that who in France would exclude and inferiorize Muslim women wearing Islamic veils.

In case of S.A.S. v. France, a young Muslim woman in her 20s, born and raised in France, who wished to voluntarily wear the full-face veil in public places challenged the law of 11 October 2010. After exhausting all domestic remedies, she appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. She was willing to show her face at airports and other security-sensitive places. She only wished to exercise the choice of wearing a niqab in public places where there is no security threat.

The (unnamed) Muslim woman lost the case but what is most intriguing are the secularism arguments that France made to defend its legislation and that the Grand Chamber consisting of 17 judges could not fully endorse.

In examining the French contentions of secularism and the associated gender equality, the Grand Chamber observed that a blanket ban on full-face veiling would force Muslim women to stay home, not acquire education or other skills available in public sectors. Thus, the ban, instead of liberating Muslim women, forces them to shun the marketplace of financial and educational opportunities. The law is self-defeating, a point that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Commissioner of Human Rights for the Council of Europe had made in their findings, and that the Grand Chamber cited copiously.

The Grand Chamber also took notice of Islamophobic comments that the French parliamentarians made during the legislation. Yet, the Chamber upheld the French law under “the margin of appreciation,” that is, “in matters of general policy, on which opinions within a democratic society may reasonably differ widely, the role of the domestic policy-maker should be given special weight.”

Secularism, though part of some constitutions, is not a universal value, a point I explain at length in A Theory of Universal Democracy. No regional or global human rights treaty incorporates secularism as a fundamental value, but all treaties and national constitutions protect the free exercise of religion. In most legal systems, the protection of religion is a value superior to the protection of abstract secularism.

Unfortunately, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights avoided an opportunity to rule consistent with its unassailable critique of French law (women are tired of being told what to wear).

Living Together (le Vivre Ensemble)

The concept of living together is an indisputably elegant principle that all social systems, not just secular France, champion as the foundation of society. There are many ways for a population to live together. Even the caste system builds on the principle of living together.

The French concept of living together forces religious minorities to assimilate into senescent secularism. The imposition of an abstract concept of secularism shortchanges the fine detail of social life, a point that the two women Justices, Angelika Nussberger from Germany and Helena Jäderblom from Sweden, highlighted in their dissenting opinion in S.A.S. v. France.

In common law countries, such as England, Canada, the United States, and in many other legal systems, the principle of living together does not force Muslim women to relinquish their Islamic clothing to claim equal citizenship. The U.S. public schools furnish prayer rooms for Muslim students and extend respect to female students wearing Islamic clothing. Some non-Muslim American women wear hijab to show sisterhood solidarity. Even face- concealment in public places is permitted provided there is no security threat.

Living together in a homogeneous society is easier than living together in a nation of diverse communities. France must recognize that it is no longer a homogeneous society if it ever were. The five million Muslims have changed historical France forever unless France expels them en mass. Concepts must evolve to catch up with reality, France knows it better than many nations.

If living together is indeed a French value, the French laws must respect the core beliefs of nearly five million Muslims and the second-largest religion in the country. In any event, the principle of living together would not allow an individual, a newspaper, or a teacher to engage in unnecessary and intentional behavior that inflicts pain and emotional suffering on a significant part of the population. Moreover, inflammatory conduct such as publishing the Prophet’s cartoons invites violence and social disharmony.

France cannot arbitrarily oscillate between individual freedom and the principle of living together, in each case targeting Muslims. Defending individual artistry of making fun of the Prophet of Islam but punishing individual style of wearing Muslim clothing demonstrates that the French secularists swallow contradictions quite well.

François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire), buried in the Paris Pantheon, remarked: “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” Voltaire, invoking his chronic sense of absurdity, would be smirking at the new social harmony in France as hardcore French secularists and Muslim women in public places conceal their faces (noses, mouths, and eyes) to protect themselves from Covid-19.

[L. Ali Khan is the founder of Legal Scholar Academy and an Emeritus Professor of Law at the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas. He has written numerous scholarly articles and commentaries on international law. He can be reached at legal.scholar.academy@gmail.com]

Lulu Group's Silicon Central in Dubai set to transform shopping into an experience

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

IMO News Service

Dubai, UAE: The shopping mall and management division of Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group International, Line Investments & Property LLC (LIP) boasts an impressive portfolio of malls through the Gulf and India. Moreover, with a strategic vision for future growth and development across the GCC, LIP reiterates its position as a renowned industry leader in offering the right kind of support to make any brand a sure-fire winner as it introduces its retail project in Silicon Oasis.

LIP’s latest development is Silicon Central in Dubai, a three-level retail and leisure destination that will provide an enhanced shopping experience to its neighbouring communities.

With a total of 220 stores in 81,500m2, Silicon Central will include a 9,000m2 hypermarket and a 7,800m2 department store, alongside a 35,500m2 array of retail shops and services that will offer a broad mix of brands tailored to ensure shoppers' complete satisfaction.

Adding to the unique shopping experience, a diverse range of dining options will comprise of 24 casual restaurants and cafes as well as 21 food court units, making it the perfect place to catch up with friends and families in an enjoyable atmosphere or to enjoy a quick snack on the run.

A wide range of entertainment options are also on offer, including a 12-screen cinema, a 6,800m2 Family Entertainment Centre, incorporating a 2,000m2 New Generation Entertainment Centre for both kids and grownups to stay active, plus a 2,500m2 gym to keep the community in shape. It’s all about convenience and accessibility, with nothing forgotten, including 3,500 car parking spaces.

With such a broad range of options, Silicon Central is set to be the destination of choice for families and entertainment seekers throughout its immediate catchment area, which takes in a population of 500,000 people, and further afield.

LIP’s success and commitment to excellence have not gone unnoticed either, with the organisation picking up five awards at the Retail Congress MENA Awards 2019.

Salim MA, Director, Lulu Group International 

Held in the Ritz Carlton, DIFC, the Awards Ceremony honoured the most outstanding achievers in the shopping mall industry in the MENA region. LIP took part in the event together with entries from Mall of Um Al Quwain, Al Wahda Mall, Mushrif Mall, and Khalidiyah Mall, winning one gold and four silver awards in the following categories:

Design & Development
Mall of Um Al Quwain (Gold)

Net Operating Income (NOI) Enhancement
Al Wahda for Celebrity Visit (Silver)

Traditional Marketing: Cause-Related Marketing
Al Wahda Mall for Operation Smile (Silver)

Traditional Marketing: Digital/Social Media
Khalidiyah Mall for Enhanced Website (Silver)

Traditional Marketing: Sales Promotion
Mushrif Mall for Talentology 2019 (Silver)

The winners of the Retail Congress MENA Awards 2019 were selected by a jury of regional and international industry experts in retail.

Mr. Salim MA, Director Lulu Group International said, “Our vision is to enhance the retail experience for our customers and partners and receiving awards for all the malls that took part is a testimony that the Line Investments & Property team is committed to excellence in the new age initiatives and community events they bring to the malls.”

With unparalleled expertise stretching across every conceivable specialist field of endeavour, including location-sourcing, design, development, management and marketing, LIP is fully committed to being the preferred investment and property management company in the retail and real estate sector of the regions it operates in. It currently offers 360-degree retail solutions in 23 malls in six countries, with several further properties planned for the future in new cities and markets.

Sharjah Technology Park Launches Angel Investors Network

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

IMO News Service

The Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park) has launched the Sharjah Angel Investors Network (SAIN) to support and Innovation ecosystem and knowledge economy in the region. This initiative will contribute to making the UAE economy an open global laboratory for testing new concepts of advanced future technology and a global platform for innovation and entrepreneurship.

SAIN will convert high-net worth individuals into angel investors who will provide capital for business start-ups. SRTI Park will provide the angel investors with a training programme to introduce the elements of angel investment and how to diversify risks, negotiate the terms of deals and deal with entrepreneurs, and in the next stage, investors will learn how to pursue deals and how to support emerging companies.

Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park, said: “We are super excited with the launching of Sharjah Angels Investors Network. Our network of Sharjah angels will boost access to investors and funds for companies and partners based at SRTI Park. In past two weeks, we have cemented our relationship with various strategic regional and local funds to facilitate start ups and innovative SMEs access to funds.”

The angel investors will provide support to entrepreneurs in the field of emerging technology. The network will assist company owners in receiving investments and negotiating the terms of each deal by joining the business accelerator, preparing their financial statements and preparing to present their ideas to angel investors.

The announcement of SAIN came during a special forum organised by SRTI and attended by a number of major investors and business leaders in various innovative and technical sectors in the country.

Al Mahmoudi said SAIN will link modern technology and innovation companies with the financial, business and investor community in Sharjah. It will also enhance the emirate’s competitiveness and support the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, in making the emirate a capital for innovation and hub for modern technologies.

Tamil Nadu polls: Muslim DMK allies in Catch 22 situation as Owaisi invited for Jan 6 conference

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 03 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

By Danish Ahmad Khan

It seems that AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi’s political fortunes are on the rise ever since his party won 5 seats in the 2020 Bihar assembly elections. The AIMIM superemo who was considered to be a rabid rabble rouser and political pariah till recently, is now finding many takers and his communal brand of politics finding greater acceptability among the secular parties than before.

After all, what would one say when a formidable regional party like DMK is getting jittery even as vulnerable Muslims continue to fall for Owaisi’s Machiavellian politics which has only so far benefited the Hindu ruling right wing BJP at the Centre under Narendra Modi’s leadership. A report published recently in the widely read magazine ‘The Week’ said that political parties are bracing up for the state assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and an unnerved DMK has even invited Asaduddin Owaisi to attend the party’s conference being held at the YMCA ground in Chennai on January 6. The party’s decision to lay the red carpet for Owaisi has clearly upset its Muslim allies, and they are finding themselves in a Catch 22 situation.

D. Masthan, DMK minorities welfare wing secretary, has however said that Owaisi hasn’t been invited for the conference despite the raging controversy on social media with a video of Masthan, along with a few other Muslim representatives of the DMK minority wing, and AIMIM’s state president Vakkil Ahamed going viral. The Week reported that Masthan and Ahamed had recently visited Hyderabad for inviting Owaisi for the conference in Chennai. Even the viral video showed Owaisi talking over phone about DMK’s invitation in the presence of Masthan and others.

Masthan however issued a statement strongly refuting any such invitation to Owaisi. The statement said: “We have not invited Owaisi for the meeting. We have not extended invitation to any Muslim parties, which are not part of our alliance.”

The Muslim parties in Tamil Nadu have not taken kindly to Owaisi party’s rise in the Bihar elections and strongly criticized him for splitting the opposition votes. They have even accused Owaisi of being a BJP agent and call him the “B Team” of the BJP.

Owaisi’s entry into the Tamil Nadu politics is being seen as yet another orchestrated move by the Hindutva agents to divide and spread chaos amongst the Muslims in the state. Tamil-speaking Muslims are strongly opposing Owaisi, while Urdu-speaking Muslims have hinted that they are going to stand by Owaisi’s AIMIM. This has pitted Muslim alliance partners of DMK against the Dravidian party itself. The move is being seen as an attempt to bring down the morale of the Muslim cadres in the DMK as well as of other Muslim parties in the alliance.

DMK had earlier allied with a state Muslim political outfit IUML during past elections. The IUML is generally not considered to be a fundamentalist party by majority Hindus of the state as it has happily embraced the Dravidian ideologies. Owaisi’s party AIMIM on the other hand doesn’t have a base in Tamil Nadu and is largely considered to a party of Urdu heartland Hyderabad with a patently fundamentalist streak.

So far, Muslims in Tamil Nadu are religiously polarized. However, with the entry of Owaisi in the state polls fray, a political polarization of Muslims is looming large. It is feared that a division of Muslim votes in favour of Owaisi is going to be detrimental to their own interests. It’s true that Asaduddin Owaisi’s party AIMIM has been successfully winning elections in Hyderabad, but hasn’t been able to extend its reach in other parts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and win seats in several Muslim-dominated constituencies in these Telugu speaking states or do something worthwhile for the welfare of Muslims in his own state. The time has now come for Tamil Nadu Muslims to stay united and not fall prey to the likes of communal politician like Owaisi.

[Danish Ahmad Khan is Founder-Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached at indianmuslimobserver@gmail.com]

OPINION: India Farm Laws, Minorities and the hidden agenda

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

By Er. Shaik Abdul Sattar

With the introduction and passing of the Farm bills in the month of September 2020, India for sure is going back in an age of ignorance and exploitation. Where farmers were extorted by the landlords and local money lenders with compounding interest on their hand loans borrowed due to famines, rains and wretchedness. The plight of the farmers has been well documented in movies like Do Beegha Zameen and Mother India.

The APMC markets (Mandis) were introduced to tackle this exploitation and take off the middleman, to bring the produce from farm to the market and being sold directly to the customer. With a benchmark prices set on those commodities being sold, ensuring that the farmer sells his produce at the set price without any variation an
d thus gaining the profits, and ensuring that the prices are not too heavy for the customers.

The Bills will prohibit the state governments to collect market fee and cess, which invariably would make these markets redundant. As the famers will not go to the markets to sell the goods and neither does the state governments would get any income from these markets. Now the monopoly would be with the corporates and the third parties to buy the produce from the farmers at horrendously low prices than the (Minimum support price) MSP and sell it at inflated prices in the market.

The Punjab state government knows these bills are not in favour of the minorities of this country, and it is to target another section of the minorities who have a strong grip in the agricultural aspect of this country. The Kashmiris were attacked earlier by abrogation of the article 370 and taking off its special status which would allow people from across India to buy land in Kashmir and which is what the ruling party is propagating to people in Hyderabad, when they were rallying in the municipal elections, marketing Hindus to buy and invest their money on lands in Kashmir.

Why are the farmers only from Punjab and Haryana are protesting the farm bills and why not it’s the case with the farmers from the other states of India? The simple answer to this is; Punjab is the one of the largest producers of essential food crops and commodities and it was the first state to oppose the farm bill when it was passed in the parliament. It was also one of the few states which outrightly said in the parliament that, they are not going to impose the NRC/CAB bills when they were introduced.

Now the radar has shifted to another minority section of this country the Sikhs from the Muslims, who have traditionally been the farming community. One thing is for assured that; this government knows the formula for winning the elections. which is through money and power, and it is setting up its crony corporate players in the Indian markets, who can make sure that they rule with their wealthy empire, absolute power and authority in a majoritarian democracy.

The farmers from other states should understand this con setup, by the government and come in support of the farmers of Punjab and need to stand as one. When the voices of the farmers can echo from all corners of India, then the state governments will come into action and can pressurize the party at the centre to take back these dubious bills.

[The views expressed by the writer Er. Shaik Abdul Sattar are his own, and doesn’t construe the policy of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached at sas_beck@hotmail.co.uk]

Islamic Economics gives directions on how to prevent pandemics and regulate their socioeconomic impact: Dr. Javed Jamil

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

“Islam provides the answers by promoting only healthy economics and discarding the dangerous economics, in terms of effect on health and social justice, and also giving directions how to contain epidemics. It also ensures that the wealth does not remain in the hands of a few, but is more equitably distributed; and the governments are in a healthy economic position to meet the demands in times of crises. Islamic experts and Muslim countries and organizations need to highlight the extraordinary results if Islam’s socioeconomic and heath-friendly propositions are applied in the world.”

By Our Special Correspondent

Renowned thinker and writer, Dr. Javed Jamil, currently Chair in Islamic Studies and Research, Yenepoya (deemed to be) University, Mangalore, has emphasized that the commercialisation of the substances and practices prohibited in Islam is the major cause behind the rise of various pandemics, and Islamic Economics provides the way out of their socioeconomic impact. He has expressed these opinions in his research paper published in the January 2021 edition of KAU Journal of Islamic Economics published by King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, the top ranking University of Saudi Arabia. He was invited to be a part of an international panel to discuss the role of Islamic Economics in avoiding and countering the impact of the Covid-19 like situations in the world. Started in 1983, the Journal of King Abdulaziz University – Islamic Economics has the honour to be the first professional journal in the field of Islamic economics. It is listed by some of the most prestigious indexing services providers on the subject of economics like Scopus, SSRN, EconLit, and RePEc.

In the paper titled, “Economic Fundamentalism Facilitator of Pandemics and their Economic Consequences: The Way Out in Islam”, Dr. Jamil, known for his work in “Apllied Islamics” has shown that most of the major killers in the last 100-120 years, including Swine Flu, Spanish Flu, HIV/AIDS, HPV/Carcinoma Cervix, Hepatitis-B, Rabies, etc and now Covid-19, the association with Islamic positions is proven beyond doubt by the facts and figures available in the realm of medical sciences. Pork, sexual malpractices including promiscuity, prostitution and homosexuality, presence of dogs in the domestic areas and eating of prohibited wild animals like bats and pangolins, have all been the major reasons behind the rise of these pandemics, which have killed more than 200 million people in the last century. The role of alcohol in the rise of HIV/AIDS and other Sex Transmitted diseases is also well-documented. Dr. Jamil has shown that circumcision plays an extremely important role in prevention of HIV/AIDS and HPV, which is associated with hundreds of thousands of deaths of women due to Cancer Cervix, which is relatively rare in the wives/partners of circumcised men. He has argued that, if despite huge mortality and morbidity associated with these practices, they are allowed and popularised, it is because of the fact that all of them are big markets.

Dr. Jamil has argued that if Prophetic Hadith on the epidemics had been followed and none had been allowed to enter and leave Wuhan, when Corona epidemic broke there, the world would have largely been saved. He has also opined that the disease spread fast due to drinking habits of the people, night life and the role of certain powers in holding Economics above Health. He has argued that, in contrast to Islam, which gives priority to the survival and healthiness of life, the modern international systems are dominated by the economic interests at the cost of health and family and social peace. Lambasting the current economic philosophy of “economic fundamentalism” he says that Market forces are busy in commercializing dangerous practices in the name of freedom of choice, which is leading to many health issues. They first commercialise the problems and then they commercialise solutions, he argues. The Islamic economic philosophy is based on the supremacy of peace, which is a comprehensive state covering individuals, family and society; human peace, health, security, and welfare are the guiding factors, and no matter how strong the economic reasons are, any activity that threatens health and comprehensive peace cannot be permitted.

The concluding remarks of the paper are worth reproducing:

“In conclusion, the following points need to be highlighted:

First, the Covid-19 outbreak had its origins in the market of wild animals, many of which prove to have a biological structure suitable for transmission of viruses to humans, which then have the propensity to lead to human-to-human transmission.

Second, it started spreading from the place of origin to the rest of the world, because nothing was done at the right time to stop trafficking of the people from and to the place of its origin.

Third, it hit the economy particularly hard because the world economy had a huge share for the entertainment industry, which crashed due to social distancing and lockdown measures.

Fourth, it hit the people hard, because in most of the countries, except for the few elite, the masses are poor as well as the governments. Huge economic inequality in countries like India led to huge disasters.

In short, if in today’s world, the major portions of the economy had been in the sectors, which pose no threat to health or social justice, the situation would not have been as bad as it has turned out to be. If this continues, the future will bring bigger disasters.”

He adds: “Islam provides the answers by promoting only healthy economics and discarding the dangerous economics, in terms of effect on health and social justice, and also giving directions how to contain epidemics. It also ensures that the wealth does not remain in the hands of a few, but is more equitably distributed; and the governments are in a healthy economic position to meet the demands in times of crises. Islamic experts and Muslim countries and organizations need to highlight the extraordinary results if Islam’s socioeconomic and heath-friendly propositions are applied in the world.”

Dr. Jamil has also called upon the Islamic world, especially rich Muslim countries including the OPEC countries, “to play a role in the availability of vaccination to the poor in their countries as well as in other countries.” He also stressed that “Islamic countries need to invest more and more in scientific research.”

Dr. Javed Jamil has also argued that the current reach of Islamic Economics has become limited to Financing and Banking. It has become “an abysmal failure in influencing in any way the direction of the globalization, which revolves around the commercialization of not only human strengths, but also of human weaknesses.” So, while Islamic finance is to be promoted, other important measures related to economics should not be lost sight of, and there needs to be more work on the generation of wealth within the Islamic trio of Rights, Duties and Prohibitions, establishment of taxation system based on Zakah, Ushr and Khums and campaign against the Economics of Prohibited Substances and practices. He has also proposed a new definition of Islamic Economics:

“Islamic economics refers to the establishment of a world order where people, individuals or groups, are free to earn their livelihood through rightful use of the provisions of God and their abilities, natural or acquired, without the violations of the true goal of Comprehensive Peace that Qur’an envisages, that is within the boundaries of the three-dimensional system of Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Fundamental Prohibitions, and the establishment of a system that ensures comfortable living for each and every human being, including those who are in a disadvantageous position, temporarily or permanently, due to some reason.”

Dr. Jamil has also presented a detailed Islamic Holistic regime of hygiene as part of Dynamic Paradigm of Health based on Islam. The whole paper can be read here.

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