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Future Leaders felicitated by AMP with National Talent Search (NTS) 2020 Awards

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 13 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , ,

Fidha (Kerala) from IIT Dharwad in the Senior Category and Adnan Shamshi (Delhi) of Jamila Millia Islamia in Junior Category tops the Exam at National Level

IMO News Service

Mumbai: Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP), a pan-India NGO working for more than a Decade, in the domains of Education, Employment Assistance & Economic Empowerment awarded the winners of AMP National Talent Search Exam- 2020 for College going students yesterday.

Chief Guest Lt. General (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah, Former Vice Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University commended AMP for holding these unique exams and for rewarding the winners. He said “These students who participated in the exams are the future leaders of the country as they tested themselves for their skills and knowledge and will learn from their failures on the path to success.” He addressed the students on the basic characteristics of leadership and congratulated all participants.

Aamir Edresy, President of Association of Muslim Professionals and the brain behind the initiative said, “The National Talent Search Awards (NTS) are just a beginning in the long road to help students achieve their full potential. In the coming days we will help all these Students with all the initiative of AMP”. He further announced that “AMP will launch a unique mobile App specially for these students soon, through which we will provide all information pertaining to Higher Education as well as AMP Projects & Activities which will help them in completing their education and get on to the path of Professional & Personal success.”


Mohammed Lateef Khan, Founder Trustee and Chairman of MS Education Academy and a sponsor for the event, appreciated AMP for taking the lead in organizing the Talent Search Exam nationally and bringing all students together on one platform. He said the #COVID-19 pandemic made it possible that he could address students from so many cities simultaneously today, which was unthinkable before. Thus this pandemic while bringing in problems has also thrown open doors for many new possibilities.

While hosting the event, Prof. Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Project Lead – NTS 2020 and a Mentor & Trainer for last 20 years, said “The winners of this NTS exam have shown that it doesn’t matter what the background is but the students’ hardwork which matters.” He gave example of Miss Asna Fatema, the 2nd prize winner (Rs. 20,000) in the Junior category, who studied in Urdu Girls High School & Junior College, in Buldhana district of Maharshtra.

Razak Shaikh, Head – AMP Projects and the driver of the NTS exam project, said that AMP is like a funnel for gathering talent. He said the main aim of the NTS – 2020 was to make students think of competing on a National level and not be contented of excelling at the city or the state level. He further said that in the next year’s edition, AMP would be looking at a participation of at least 1 lakh student in each category.

The awards and prizes were announced by Miss Sufi Qureshi, Mr. Syed Furqan and Mr. Farook Siddiqui. The Awards were given for the top 10 winners of the exams in both the categories, with the top 3 winners, who were felicitated personally by AMP members in their respective cities. There were Cash Prizes for the first 3 Toppers in each category.

The following are the top 3 winners of the NTS-2020 awards in both the categories:

For Junior College Students (XI & XII):

1st Rank (Rs. 30,000) – Adnan Shamsi of Syed Abid Husain Sr. Sec College, Jamia, Delhi

2nd Rank (Rs. 20,000) - Asna Fatema Syed Rizwan of Urdu Girls High School & Science Junior College, Malkapur, Buldhana, Maharashtra

3rd Rank (Rs. 10,000) Varun Varshney of Saiyyid Hamid School, AMU, Aligarh, UP

For Senior/Degree College Students (Undergrads):

1st Rank - Fidha of Mallapuram, Kearala, studying at IIT Dharwad

2nd Rank - Sohil Ayub Luhar studying at K J Somaiya Institute, Mumbai, Maharashtra

3rd Rank - Alveena Khan of Government Medical College, Kota Rajasthan

There was no participation fee for the NTS 2020 exam and it was open for the students from all over the Country to mentally challenge themselves and know where they stand for the forthcoming competitive exams.

The other top scorers received special certificate along with Cash Prize of Rs 2000 each and all participants were awarded an E-Certificate. The participants will also be given access to AMP’s various projects and activities like higher education scholarships, employability training programmes, skill training programmes, campus placement job fairs & job drives, mentorship and guidance through TheIndiaMentors.com, fresher’s jobs through AmpowerJobs.com, and many other similar programmes.

About AMP

Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) is a Platform for all Muslim professionals and volunteers to share their knowledge, intellect, experience and skills for the overall development of the Society at large. AMP will shortly be completing 13 years of existence, working in domains of Education & Economic Empowerment. We have inspired and convened Professionals from all walks of life and in the process uplifted several thousand people from the underprivileged sections of the society.

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.

Madrasas

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]

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!

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]

OPINION: Indian Muslims have only THREE political choices to make

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

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Muslims in India are at the horns of dilemma. In the given circumstances Muslims have three broad political choices; vote for Secular parties, vote for Hindutva or vote for Muslim first. In the adult franchise and secret ballot, each voter is free to exercise its mandate. Nonetheless, Muslims have to choose from these three options and each has its own narrative built around it to entice the Muslim voters.

Vote for secular parties

There are many who argue that Muslims have no other option but to vote for the secular parties even if it means no betterment for them. The argument runs that voting for a communal party will polarize the Hindu votes and this will give the RSS- BJP a permanent majority in India. It will solidify BJP’s base permanently in the democratic system of governance in India. Those having such an opinion want Muslims to vote for the secular parties as it alone can provide them the shield (suraksha kabaj) against the onslaught of the RSS-BJP combine.

Those arguing for voting the secular parties’ seem to be convinced that all is well for Muslims in India. Even it means; lynching of the Muslims by cow vigilantes, Asifa rape and murder, assault on the Muslim personal law, SC judgment on the Babari Masjid, robbing of Muslim majority status to J&K, vilification of Tabligi Jamaat members and Muslims, shaving of a Muslim’s beard in railway station, making the Muslim drink cow urine in public view, cutting a Muslims hand that had Allah tattoo, conversion law, and Citizenship laws etc. They feel there are non-issues having any implication on the Muslims of India.

Those arguing for voting the secular parties’ tooth and nail oppose the political party that’s ask to vote for Muslim first political parties. The backers of vote for secular parties tell that Muslims will be doing political hara-kiri, if they choose the communal path of politics. To them secular parties are the best bet for the Muslims in India.

Vote for Hindutva

There are some Muslims who like to argue to vote for the Hindutva party. This is to buy peace if Muslims want to live peacefully in India. They are of the view that Muslims should willingly accept the ideology of Hindutva and vote the BJP- RSS combine and permanently get rid of communal polarization in India.

The vote for Hindutva protagonists feel that Muslims interests will be best served by merging their identity with the Hindutva ideology that sees every Indian as a Hindu. In order to trade for peace, Muslims only have to change their name, dress habits, food habits, culture, language, etc. This would satisfy the invincible Hindutva bandwagon who may refrain from constant vilification, subjugation, humiliation of Muslims in this country. The argument runs, if this happens so, there will be no more communal riots in the country and Muslims will get liberated from the current siege mentality. The argument further runs that under the Hindutva rule Muslims will see a new dawn for the community and will get thumbs up.

Muslims First

Those who argue for Muslim first political strategy come up with the fact that Muslims with a population of 200 million are about 14% but have only 27 seats in the current Parliament that has of 543 members. The ratio of Muslim representation in the state assemblies is even more embarrassing. These Muslim representatives cannot talk about their community issues. The interest of their political parties runs contrary to Muslim issues and they do not allow their Muslim leaders to voice their community interests because they belong to a secular party.


According to Muslim first political strategists; Muslims consistent support to the Congress and other caste based parties has brought them down to the level described in the 2005 Sachar Committee report. Since then Muslims condition has worsened and not improved even a bit though they are voting the secular political parties. The protagonists of Muslims First argue that Muslims have been tricked into supporting “pseudo secular” parties with the allurement that these parties will protect them and make their condition conducive for their betterment. But did that really happen? The Muslim first protagonists argue.

They explain that the so called secular parties seek Muslim support not to defeat the BJP but to enlarge their power base and end up doing nothing for the Muslims. What worse situations can Muslim face that is created by the BJP rule in India?

The solution that Muslim first apologists dish out that suppose if these 27 Muslim MPs may have belonged to one political party that espouses Muslims first, it certainly may have made some difference on the national scene.

Therefore Indian Muslims are on the horns of dilemma, caught between these three different shades of political choices. If they vote for the secular political parties there is hardly going to be any change. If they vote for Hindutva, thumhari dastan bhi na hogi dastano mein (their story will not be in the stories). If they vote for Muslim first political party, they have to make a choice between rock and the hard surface.

This is a very tough choice for the Indian Muslims to make. They are caught in a tussle between majoritarian Hindutva politics and minority identity politics. The majoritarian Hindutva politics pursued by the current regime is hegemonic in nature, wrapped in the toxic ideology of Hindutva that preaches racial supremacy of the Hindus.

In contrast, the Muslim minority identity politics is the desire for their proportional representation in the mainstream democratic politics. The minority identity politics is a quest towards social justice, equality and democratic way of life. The ultimate destination for minority identity politics is their amalgamation into the larger liberal secular polity with more democratic representation.

The problem with the minority identity politics is they fail to understand the shift that India has taken since 214. The BJP’s majoritarian politics is implementing its supremacist ideology in the country. That is to say everyone who has to live in India should imitate the Hindu way of life, like one nation-one network, kind of slogan.

This is a brand new republic where there is no place to accommodate “Eshwar- Allah tero naam,” kind of diversity in India anymore. The Hindutva politics has moved far from its own ‘Jai Sea Ram’ to ‘Jai Shree Ram.’.

This is a brand new republic where the main target is to subsume the Muslim religious identity within the Hindutva umbrella. The other objective is to flatten the federal humps of India categorized in the linguistic, cultural and other specificities. The Hinduvta politics aspires to establish the supremacy of the Hindi – Hindu – Hindustan identity over all these identities of India. Any resistance to this can be tamed in a muscular way as done to J&K, with one ‘vidhan’ one ‘nishan’ argument.

The problem is with Muslim politics as it is ignorant to deal with the current political situation in India. Some think that voting the secular party will maintain their status quo. Others think that voting for the BJP alone can ensure their safety and protection in the country. However, those pursuing Muslim first strategy say that Muslims should come out from their ivory towers. Its minority identity politics that alone can safeguard their interest in the country. Their separate identity alone can defeat the forces inimical to them. United we stand, divided we fall goes the argument.

This is a sanguine story that is unfolding in India. There cannot be a photo finish to this story. Let the democracy with its entire vicissitudes give its verdict on this tale of India.

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

Asaduddin Owaisi and Kamal Hassan may jointly contest Tamil Nadu polls

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 02 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Chennai: All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMM) headed by Asaduddin Owaisi's and Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) headed by Kamal Hassan are joining hands in the upcoming polls in Tamil Nadu to be held in April or May 2021.

TS Vakeel Ahmed Tamil Nadu State President - All India Majlis-e-Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen said this reporter that AIMM is likely to contest in 25 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu. “The party is likely to have conferences in Trichy and Chennai in January to finalize the electoral plan,” Vakeel Ahmed said from Hyderabad where he has gone to consult party’s president and MP Asaduddin Owaisi.

Mr Ahmad said, regarding AIMM joining hands with MNM of Kamala Hassan, ‘MP Saab’ is holding a meeting with party office bearers of Tamil Nadu in Hyderabad.


Kamala Hassan has already announced that he will contest state assembly elections slated to happen in 2021 He told to make an announcement later about the constituency from which his party will be contesting.

It may be recalled that last year, Owaisi and Hassan were on the same page when the AIMM chief had backed Hassan's statement that Nathuram Godse should be called the ‘first’ terrorist of independent India.

Tamil Nadu has about 6 per cent Muslim population and in few constituencies they have dominant presence. Muslims can make their electoral presence felt if they combine with Dalit and other backward caste group in Tamil. So far Muslims have voted either for their own political parties or the Dravadian parties or the Congress. They never got any importance by siding with all these political formations. Now, in the new political matrix, Muslim feels they may get better deal in any coalition political arrangement in the state.

TS Vakeel Ahmed said, he is in talks all the Muslim parties in Tamil Nadu with the plan to unite them under one common platform. There six main Muslim political parties Tamil Nadu. Indian Union Muslim League, All India Muslim League, Indian National League, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi, Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamaath.

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

The Madrasa Education in India: Ailment and Reform

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

By Javeed Mirza

At a zoom webinar organized on 29th December 2020, a participant quoted an author who mentioned that out of the 130 outstanding personalities of the period around 1000 AD, the Madrasa education had produced more than a hundred of the luminaries. The former Indian president Dr Rajendra Prasad, the reformist leader Raja Rammohan Roy and noted writer Munshi Premchand were Madrasa products. One can laud the Madrasa system that had produced such talented gems. For many centuries Education remained a scarce commodity and was the domain of a small minority of well-to-do. The Muslim Renaissance from 800 AD to 1300 AD had spouted high development of Science, Literature and Mathematics. The West used this learning as a springboard to attain its own greater height. The Muslim Renaissance died with the decay set in by its Feudal setup that preferred ignorance to learning, as it was a better means of controlling the subdued subjects it ruled. What had developed 200 years back lurks in today’s curriculum of the Madrasa. The Madrasa education today is hackneyed, obsolete and unproductive. It demands an overhaul.

The Indian education system, a product of British educational legacy, initiated with the intent to develop willing clerks for the continuation of the British Raj, is itself in need of massive reforms. Its public (govt.) school system is beset with poor quality; its administration is flawed and rampant with corruption and nepotism. The societal evils of caste, class and religious discrimination permeate its working. A whole marginalized section of school dropouts, Adult illiteracy, co-exist with lack of girl’s education, of slum children’s education and absence of special education for the handicapped. The Madrasa education is one such marginalized education composed of the children of have-nots. Amidst the poverty that the parents face in the upbringing of their children and the absence of good quality education as well as religious discrimination in the public school system, the Madrasa offers a way out where in students get free education and, in most cases, free boarding. The Madrasa has shielded the students from becoming vagabonds and instilled in most students a sense of ethics and morality, traits that are rapidly dying and in severe shortage. But this is no answer to the students’ need for sustenance, progress and for societal advancement.

The Indian institutional set up has paid lip service to the educational needs of its massive poor. It has allotted low funds (3% GDP while western countries allocate 7%) and has skewed the funds in favor of prioritized sectors… the IIT’s, IIM’s, Central Universities and Research centers where the Indian privileged attend and shore up the system. The struggle by the SC leader Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and his supporters produced Reservation for the Dalit and the Tribal. This has enabled a small section of the underprivileged to step out of the blighted alley and join the mainstream. It is a silver lining but one that is dwarfed by the many underprivileged that see no light at the end of the tunnel. Massive unemployment rules for those who were able to get education. Poor quality of learning, absence of needed skills training, poor planning, abuse and diversification of national wealth and resources for personal gain, have hobbled the system. Madrasa reform is part and parcel of the total system overhaul that is needed.


The Madrasa establishment exists. There is a vested interest by those running the system to nurture and keep it going. It serves to preserve their fiefdom and provides them with community funding and bestows honor. This is however at the cost of the lives of the Madrasa youth as there is no directional path for them to grow except to subserve the system and eke out a low-paid living with limited opportunities like Imam, deputy imam, muezzin or as an Arabic tutor for the children of the well to do. The Indian establishment, while decrying the Madrasa establishment, is also happy to see its preservation as it forsakes the community betterment and can be conveniently manipulated by taking its leadership under its belt through coercion or co-option. It was the educated mainstream Muslim youth that spearheaded the anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) movement.

The Basic ailments

a) Revision of curriculum and syllabus. There is a huge development of thought by Islamic scholars in the last few decades that can be incorporated in the syllabus and make it current. It can seek scholarship from noted institutions and enter academic relationships with them. Modern technology allows global connection. This needs to be availed and new thoughts encouraged.

b) Pedagogy is a key element of learning. Rote learning and the absence of reasoning and questioning are the opposite of the critical thinking. The latter is a pre-requisite for the problem-solving skills necessary for success in society.

c) Non-integration with modern education: The secular education promoted by the govt. allows students to continue higher education and climb the ladder. Madrasa education is cut off from the mainstream education and puts fetters on further growth of the student. Modern education, composed of pure sciences and social sciences, technology, Math, languages other than Arabic/Urdu is essential learning for all citizens. This should not be underestimated or underplayed. The Madrasa students are barred from pursuing higher studies and obtaining admission in skills learning institutions like the ITI or Polytechnic, as they do not meet the minimum threshold of passing the Xth standard.

d) Isolation from National integration: Like all religious based organizations, the Madrasa student’s interaction is primarily within his/her community and minimal interaction with non-Muslims. This fosters a disconnect with other communities and this in turn builds a wall of separateness that has the potential to build phobia and ill will.

e) Separation of gender-based education. Muslim girls’ total isolation in the Madrasa system is non-productive and staggers girls mental and social development. Girls have equal rights and equal capabilities and their Right to full learning and development of their potential should be respected and supported.

Reform

The issues outlined above need reform. Some suggestions are:

a) Madrasa Education must incorporate simultaneous learning of the Religious and the Secular. This can be done by dividing the Madrasa learning into two components and having one stream taught in the morning and another in the evening. This practice is being adopted by Muslim religious schools in the USA. The Jewish religious schools provide regular education for most of the day and have two hours daily allocated for religious education plus one day a week.

This approach will meet both the secular and religious learning requirements and equip the student with dual learning and enable higher education. If equal time cannot be allocated to secular education, then a couple of hours each day need to be allocated so there is a regular continuity of secular education. If all subjects cannot be taught, then essential subjects like English, Math and Computer skills should be taught as a starting point.

b) Most Madrasa students are from poor backgrounds. Economic sustenance is a primary need. Maximum skills-based training needs to be provided within the Madrasas with an objective of making the student ready to fill in jobs related to market based skills requirement.

c) Modern education tools must be used for building large scale education. MOOC (Massive Openware Online Courses like www.edx.org) and Free apps like www.khanacademy.org and Kolibri (www.learningequality.org) need to be incorporated in learning. Online skills-based training also exists, and it should be availed. The pandemic has further shown the relevance of developing online learning. Failing this, both the Madrasa and regular education had collapsed.

d) A Madrasa reform board needs to be established of Madrasa establishment and non-Madrasa reform seekers that will work out the details. Reform of Syllabus, curriculum and adoption of Pedagogy that is most current, innovative and productive, needs to be devised.

Conclusion

Even though Madrasa education is availed by around 4% of the Muslim youth, it has high significance. It involves the lives of millions of youths, their families, and their effect on interaction in the community. The propagation of Islam by the Madrasa educated Imams, having no understanding of the modern working of the society and the capitalist system, will be a hotchpotch of false understanding and imagined truths, leading to a distortion of Islam. The wastage of the talents of this huge turnover of a million or so Madrasa students each year is a blight on our society and its willingness to accept the students become alms-seekers instead of productive citizens. The concentrated memorization of 900 pages of the Quran that the Madrasa’s hafiz student does, has the potential to unleash high productive gains, if properly educated and gainfully employed.

Educational reforms, if not implemented, will limit the community and national growth. It will continue the community’s downslide that is seen for the past many decades and has been chronicled by bodies like the Sachar committee. This is not the end but the beginning. Social reforms are needed. Struggle for economic and political empowerment is needed. Educational reforms can initiate and build the crescendo for all reforms and prosperity.

[Javeed Mirza is a Social activist, Researcher and Writer. He can be contacted at javeed.mirza@gmail.com]

Communal rage in secular India

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

By Mohammad Wajihuddin

As the blighted 2020 is behind us and we welcome the New Year, my thoughts are with my own elder brother at a hospital bed recovering as he is from a massive heart attack. I am announcing it here only to seek blessings from friends for his fast recovery. However, this essay is not about my personal pain. It is about the enormous pain our country is being forced to endure.

It is the raging fires of communalism which give me the sinking feeling. Since the country is glued to the farmers’ agitation at Delhi’s borders, communal clashes in villages of Madhya Pradesh have not received the prominence they deserve in the national media. Whatever little reports trickle in are disturbing.

And this is happening in the name of building a massive temple for Lord Ram in Ayodhya. Reports say that groups of boys are touring villages collecting chanda or contributions for the grand temple. Nothing wrong with that. In a free country an individual or groups have all the rights to collect funds for places of worship they want to build. I have seen and met multiple sofra (agents) collecting funds in a big city like Mumbai for mosques in remote villages of Bihar. In Bihar I have also seen and met young Hindu boys stopping public and private vehicles to get chanda for puja of different deities or to construct temples. I have willingly given whatever little I could to their coffers. It was never a big issue.

But here the issue is different. These groups of chanda collectors reportedly roam the villages and insist on raising provocative slogans, especially when they pass by mosques or mausoleums. This has resulted in clashes. Videos of hooligans planting flags of a particular hue atop minarets and chanting communal slogans are floating on social media networks. These portend ill for the country. The combustible situation is harmful to communal harmony and national integration. This chanda campaign will only widen the gulf between the two communities.


The world knows that, once out of the court settlement to the Babri Mosque-Ram Janambhoomi dispute didn’t materialize, Muslims said they would abide by the Supreme Court order. The order came and it gave the disputed land to Hindus to build a temple for Ram and awarded five acres of land in Ayodhya to the Muslims for a mosque. Though many Muslim leaders said they were not happy with the decision as the court itself conceded that there is no credible proof that the mosque was built after demolishing a temple, the Muslim masses accepted it. The country remained completely peaceful in the aftermath of the decision. We thought it was a closure to one of the longest-running feuds in the country.

I personally hoped this temple in Ayodhya would exemplify what the poet Allama Iqbal in his poem Naya Shivala (New Temple) dreamed of. In this famous poem, Iqbal vocalises the spirit of India. The poet paints a happy picture when he says: Shakti bhi shanti bhi bhagton ke geet mein hai/Dharti ke basiyon ki mukti preet mein hai. The poet reiterates that both power and peace are in praise of the creator and our salvation lies in peace and love. He urges the countrymen to build such a tall temple that touches the sky but also symbolizes peace, prosperity, love and harmony.

Unfortunately, there are elements who want to keep the communal pot boiling. For them permission to build Ram Temple in Ayodhya is a license to mock and humiliate others. To them social discord is the only vehicle to endear themselves to those holding the levers of power.

It was not like this. At least the villages were not so communally divided. We took pride in the bhaichara, the friendly atmosphere in our villages. In my teenage I remember non-Muslim women brining their infants to the gates of the village mosque at the time of evening namaz. As the worshippers exited after the prayers, these women put their kids in front of the devout Muslims to bless them. The Muslims, freshly out of the mosque, would chant some sacred verses and blow them over the face of small children. A belief had it that the blowing of sacred chants would ward the kids off evil eyes or illnesses. That India seems to have died.

Similarly, we would wait for the prasad or sweets that would come to our house from my father’s Hindu friends’ houses on occasions of Saraswati Puja or Chchath Puja. Saraswati Puja which used to be held at educational institutions as Saraswati is believed to be the goddess of education are now being held at gullies and mohallas. The visarjan or immersion of the idols is increasingly becoming a source of discord and conflicts. A section among the devotees of idols insist on choosing routes of the processions only to inflame communal tension. Maintaining peace during immersion of idols is a big challenge for the administration.

Why is it so? It is so because religion has been hijacked. Religion’s soul has been hollowed out and what we are left with are rituals. Competitive communalism force people to focus more on rituals than on the soul of the religion. So, the focus is not on worship and prayers but on building massive and opulent places of worship and selecting routes of procession that can create trouble.

A poet articulated the pain that God feels at ornamentation of the houses made in his name. The poet’s couplet goes: Main na khush wa bezaar hoon mar mar ke silon se/Mere liye mitti ka haram aur bana de (I am unhappy and uncomfortable with marble pillars/Build me a house of mud and soil). Does God need lavishly decorated dwellings? If you believe God is the creator of the universe, why does he need an opulent house for himself amidst pervasive poverty. A mosque, temple, church or gurudwara is just a facility to assemble and remember the creator. Building a massive structure and calling it a place of worship is nothing but mere assertion of the devotees’ so-called love for their God. I am afraid if God wants his subjects to take the begging bowls to prospective donors for a house for himself.

God will certainly disapprove of the bands of young boys creating ruckus outside places of worship of other faiths in the name of collecting funds for Him. This is against the spirit of religion. This communal rage is nothing but weaponizing religion and killing the country’s secular soul. This is an ungodly act. This is madness.

Let us stop this madness as we enter 2021.

[Mohammad Wajihuddin is a prolific writer and a Mumbai-based journalist associated with a leading newspaper.]

SPECIAL REPORT: Indian religious leaders strongly protest against South Korean government hounding of Shincheonji Church despite cooperation to contain COVID-19 spread

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 09 August 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , , , ,

By Danish Ahmad Khan

The government of South Korea is pursuing a discriminatory policy towards Shincheonji Church while accusing it of COVID-19 spread. The church authorities have alleged that this is nothing but a witch-hunt against the church despite its voluntary cooperation, including the largest blood plasma donation in the world. The government alleged that Shincheonji Church is responsible for the spread of COVID-19.

On March 26, former Seoul Metropolitan Mayor Park Won-soon revoked his permission to establish "the New Heaven and New Earth, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony", which was registered in Seoul. Furthermore, on June 22, the city of Daegu, where the largest number COVID-19 cases were confirmed, filed a civil suit worth 100 billion won against Shincheonji Church. All the steps were taken by the government holding Shincheonji Church responsible for the spread of COVID-19 in South Korea.

On February 17, after the 31st patient was found infected in Shincheonji Church in Daegu, more than 5,000 church members tested positive for COVID-19. At the request of the government, the church provided a list of Korean and overseas church members. During a press conference the church also promised to cooperate with any request from the government. As soon as the first confirmed case in the church was found, Shincheonji Church shut down all of its buildings and facilities across the country for quarantine. It also switched all of its meetings to online.

In July, most of the church members recovered from COVID-19. Despite several voluntary cooperation including the largest blood plasma donation in the world, the government's discriminatory policy towards Shincheonji Church and the social conflict of fake news in the Korean media have resulted in more than 6,000 cases of religious discrimination and human rights violations against the church in just a few months, including forced resignation, domestic violence, compulsory conversion education, and breach and leak of personal information. With the prolonged COVID-19 crisis, members of Shincheonji Church are at war against another virus called "discrimination."

A recent statement issued by the families of the deceased and victims of COVID-19 stated: "The damage and deaths of Koreans reflect the failure of initial response by the government to contain the virus." It also states that the Minister of Justice, Choo Mi-ae “allowed COVID-19 patients from China to enter Korea, leading to a widespread outbreak of the virus across the country, which resulted in the deaths of the Korean people.” It also stated that the minister is trying to cover up her responsibility for the damage by “giving direct orders to prosecutors for raid and arrests against Shincheonji Church”.

Indian religious leaders condemn South Korean govt

Religious leaders in India have also come out strongly in support of Shincheonji Church and urged that the South Korean government should not handle the current pandemic situation with prejudice just because Shincheonji Church is a minority religious group.

Dr. Homi B. Dhalla, Founder President of World Zarathushti Cultural Foundation, said, “In February 2020, the South Korean government had permitted religious organizations to conduct gatherings as well as to hold religious services. At the same time, a number of tourists from China had also entered South Korea. It is now a known fact, globally, that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in China in October 2019. Therefore, it is crystal clear that the infection was brought into South Korea by these tourists. The citizens of South Korea have rightly blamed the government for permitting these tourists to enter the country. Under these circumstances, I would sincerely urge South Korean government to stop harassing Chairman Man Hee Lee and members of the Shincheonji Church.”

Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq, President of World Organisation of Religions and Knowledge, cited a similar case that happened in India in his condemnation letter to Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea. He said, “Politicians around the world are searching for scapegoats to hide their faults. Often, they need to create an enemy to mobilize the support. More often they portray enemy is minority religion or ethnic of the country to win the support of the majority community.” 

“In India, the earliest infected people by covid-19 belonged to a Muslim religious sect called Tablighi Jamaat numbering about 80, and the social media started an organized campaign spreading rumors through morphed images and edited video clips that Muslims were intentionally spreading the disease.” he added. Surprised at knowing that discrimination to the Shincheonji Church has been imposed by the South Korea government, he urged, “Let the Democratic Party of Korea be truly democratic by taking steps to stop the persecution of religious groups and let all people enjoy religious freedom.”

Dr. Chand Kanwar Bhardwaj, General Secretary of Sawan Adhyatmic Satsang Society of India, said, “Regardless of the church's unintentional role in spreading the virus, we cannot put the blame of an entire country on a single organisation. The entire world is reeling through COVID-19 and Shincheonji Church, including its members, is also a victim of it. Treating them with contempt and charging legal proceedings against their organization and their faith, just because they are a minority religious group is a clear violation of constitutional rights.”

“Aren't the governments elected by the citizens to protect their rights? Discrimination in any form shouldn't be acceptable. This is high time for the world governments to come together and protect each individual and provide facilities on humanitarian grounds rather than blaming and targeting an individual or an organization. A Democratic Government should stand by its principal and act accordingly. If the Lawmakers don't follow the laws they made, then what shall we expect from the public?” asks Md. Irshad Ahmad, President of Minorities Forum for Deepening Democracy.

Gautam Patil, the state vice president of The Buddhist Society of India, said, “South Korea's strategy to control the coronavirus outbreak has heralded an exemplary response which the whole world has witnessed today. However, it is saddening to know that the country is exploiting human rights in regards to religious discriminations. An organization or a religious group cannot be blamed as the spreader of the virus. The use of religion in politics always leads to violation, exploitation, and discriminations among the minority which solely affects the human rights of the citizens.”

Ramchandra Das, Secretary of International Goudiya Vedanta Trust, pointed out in his letter sent on July 15th that the treatment by the government towards Shincheonji Church is clearly religious discrimination. “In terms of the peace of religion, we all believe in the same God and need to be in harmony and balance. We shouldn't be biased by looking at one side. In fact, to be honest, the church members are victims of COVID-19 and not perpetrators,” he said in his letter.

Center for Studies on New Religions and HRWF jointly hold webinar

There is also a view that a close relationship between the conservative and fundamentalist churches and the South Korean government had influence on the unusual repression of the government against Shincheonji Church. On July 20, a webinar titled “COVID-19 and Religious Freedom: Scapegoating Shincheonji in South Korea” was hosted by the Center for Studies on New Religions and HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers.  The new Christian movement by Shincheonji has become a target of “persecution from fundamentalist protestants” because of its successful religious expansion “from the conservative and fundamentalist protestants who see Shincheonji as competitors and want to destroy it," said Massimo Introvigne as an Italian sociologist of religion who studied Shincheonji before and after the COVID-19 pandemic and published the first account of the religious group in English.

Prior to the COVID-19 incident, two members of Shincheonji Church lost their lives by coercive conversion program operated by Christian Council of Korea. According to the Coalition for Victims of coercive conversion, the number of victims of this deprogramming is 1,507, and they have been exposed to assault, kidnapping, confinement, and forced leave from their work and schools. A voice of criticism for the coercive conversion program was also raised. Speaking about the discrimination towards Shincheonji Church by the Christian Council of Korea, Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq, President of World Organisation of Religions and Knowledge, also mentioned, “I fail to understand why the Christian Council of Korea opposes it tooth and nail when there are more than 25,000 registered denominations among the Protestants and every one of them at some point of time was a new entrant.”

“Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right of all people. In contrast, the act of the forced conversion of religion is the greatest violation of this right. The act of the forced conversion of religion has nothing to do with religion at all,” said Dr. Kamini Gogri, Head of Research on Ancient Scriptures, Eikam Resonance Foundation said. “We request to stop the violations of right and the atrocities committed by mainstream Christian churches to violate the same,” she added.

Recovered COVID-19 patients from Shincheonji Church donate $83 billion worth of Plasma for Vaccine development

The world should appreciate the $83 billion worth of Plasma donation for vaccine development by the 4,000 recovered COVID-19 patients from Shincheonji Church. Despite continuous discrimination, more than 4,000 members of Shincheonji Church showed their willingness for plasma donation for the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. The recovered patients voluntarily decided to donate their plasma and even refused to receive any monetary expenses including transportation charges. Starting from 17 July, 500 church members completed their donation. More members are waiting for their turn.

Dr. Avtar Singh Sethi, Advisor of The Kalgidhar Trust/Society, said, “The 4,000 infected members of Shincheonji Church voluntarily donated plasma after recovering from the virus. Their contribution to fighting the pandemic should be appreciated. At these times of crisis, let us all come together and fight the pandemic of COVID-19. I condemn the scapegoating of Shincheonji Church, and I urge the government to stop blaming any section of the society for spreading the virus, and to respect religious freedom,”

Rev Dr, C S Gabriel, the president of Christhava Nallenna Iyakkam says, “Although there is hatred towards them, I appreciate the sincere efforts made through the blood plasma donation by Shincheonji Church members, who were cured of the virus. This is alarming as it threatens other minorities in the country and globally too amid the pandemic. The infected ones are those who need to be protected, not blamed, and discriminated against.”

Religious persecution and stigmatizing must stop in the name COVID-19

The world is in a grave crisis now as it continues to battle Coronavirus pandemic. Fatalities continue to mount with several thousands having already lost their lives and many being affected by the disease. Millions of jobs have already been lost and the world economy is in dire straits. Whether it’s the United States, India or South Korea, the governments have miserably failed to effectively contain COVID-19 spread and lessen fatalities. According to reports, racism of the worst kind was on display in the USA. Black people were specifically targeted and allowed to die mercilessly due to the pandemic. In India, the largest Muslim minority group has been constantly under attack. The Coronavirus pandemic brought even more miseries for Indian Muslims as a religious sect Tablighi Jamaat was systemically targeted and its followers hounded while being accused of spreading the disease. And, the community’s stigmatization continues even today. What happened lately in South Korea by targeting Shincheonji Church is even more depressing and deplorable. Such anti-people behavior can only be expected from the governments who continue to fail to deliver. It’s high time that the world governments should stop religious persecution and stigmatization in the name of fighting COVID-19 pandemic.

[Danish Ahmad Khan is Founder-Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached on his Mobile # 9990179721 or at indianmuslimobserver@gmail.com]

Ram Temple foundation: A Jolt to Indian Culture

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

By V.K. Tripathi

On August 5, 2020, another nail was hammered on the chest of Indian culture when the Prime Minister laid the foundation of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. 

Next day (9 AM to 3 PM) I was walking through the streets of Seelampur, Jafrabad, Maujpur and Kardampuri in NE Delhi, giving fliers “Reach Out to Masses on Truth, Nonviolence and National Issues” to people and talking to them. Communal violence had taken place here on February 23-24, 2020. As I began, “Take this soul awakening flier. It says two things: Don’t fight among yourselves, fight the unjust laws/ movies of the state. Fight with truth and nonviolence,” people opened their hearts. Muslims said, “Very true. We have been living together but the government is breaking us.” They expressed their sorrow, their livelihood worries with not an iota of ill will. Their love overwhelmed me. Nitin, a motor mechanic, said, “You are speaking my heart. I don’t like hatred. Government is not doing good. By force it is building a temple and asking people to burst crackers.”  Vijay, a van driver, said, “Fliers won’t do. A year has passed, look at the conditions of people of J&K. This government will not allow people to live in peace.” This prompted me to talk in detail. I saw the real India, the India I had seen in villages. Similar was my experience on August 5 (the first day of our 11 day campaign) in Ajmeri Gate, Sitaram Bazar, Daryaganj area where in 1992 a group of six girls from Delhi University and I had met some hard headed communal traders. This time, while disbursing 1300 fliers in two days, joined by Ajay Sahay and Dr. Md. Inam, no one expressed joy over ceremony in Ayodhya. 

Indian culture has been a culture of living together. Our masses lived on honest earnings, truth, cooperation and respect for individuality/ freedom of each other. People followed different religions and practices with the same focus, Bhakti (dissolution of self). To the elite, however, religion and shrines have been an instrument of show off and assertion of superiority. They didn’t allow those who built them to enter. They turned them to propagate caste oppression and later religious hatred. 

The entire Ram temple movement has been a movement of the sectarian elite – the sections of market forces, officers, sadhus and NRIs. It has nothing to do with the masses. In fact it has been an onslaught on the culture and unity of the masses and democratic polity. It lowered the stature of Lord Ram, who is synonym to Almighty, Brahm and Allah, and reduced it to a figure of an angry archer, contrary to Lord Ram’s ‘karuna ke saagar’ image. It raised a storm of frenzy, not against Babur, but the working class masses –the weavers, farmers, artisans etc. It targeted a mosque where masses had offered namaaz of Ram for 400 years and pooja of Ram for 90 years. The shrine did not deter the multitude of Hindus and Muslims of Awadh to sacrifice their lives together in the first ‘War of Independence, 1857’ against the British imperialism. Bahadurshah Zafar, the last descendent of Babur, was the national figure of uprising, who was tortured and whose family was eliminated.

After the Supreme Court nod to build a temple over there, we urged the Prime Minister, to follow three principles. A) Shrine should inspire people to sublime their ego (a central goal of all religions and spirituality), hence must be simple, not daunting. B) It must detach itself from perpetrators of hatred and violence, the organs that built the movement. C) It must allow and welcome people of all faiths and castes to say their prayers in their own ways, commensurate with the spirit of Lord Ram (Ram sab ke hain, sab Ram ke hain). In Ram Charit Manas, Ram asks sage Valmiki to suggest a place in the forest where he could build a hut and live. The sage says. “Juinke kapat dambh nahin maaya, Tinke hraday basahu Raghuraaya” (live in the hearts of those who are free from cunningness, pride and me-others divide). Or else, the shrine would lose its inherent dignity and reinforce the imperialist polity. We did not receive any response. 

On August 5, Anuj Tripathi, Dr. Rohtash Singh, Dr. Inam, Sandeep, Dr. Rakhi Tripathi, VK Tripathi and over a hundred others (who sent their tweets) observed Fast for Unity, to awaken conscience of people to preserve secular democratic character of the state. Besides blot on Ayodhya, we were also pained by the suppression of democratic rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir that began on same date a year ago. The government fractured the unity of the nation by creating an euphoria against peace loving Kashmiri masses in the rest of India. 

Our flier brings out Gandhi’s goal of freedom movement – to change the imperialist character of the state and make it democratic, subservient to people and accountable. We talk of six issues, (1) Shutting down of economic activities of crores of people in one stroke of lockdown, (2) Democratic rights of people of J&K, (3) Citizenship Amendment Act, (4) Farmers’ woes and market, (5) Ram temple (6) Regimentation and Privatization of Educational institutions. Prof. Jagmohan Singh is preparing to distribute fliers in Ludhiana, Mr. Md. Sajjad in Muzaffarpur and Prof. Anil Sadgopal in Bhopal. Some friends have done it in New York. Many friends sent the fliers to their networks on net. 

[V.K. Tripathi is associated with Sadbhav Mission. He can be contacted on his Mobile # 9717309263 or email at tripathivipin@yahoo.co.in]

Inciting Hate: The social media powder keg

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 30 June 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

By Suhail Ahmad

A recent study by US think tank Pew Research Center revealed that 93 percent Muslims view Hindus favourably, but only 65 percent Hindus view Muslims positively.

The survey titled ‘Attitudes Toward Diversity in 11 Emerging Economies’ may not be conclusive and updated enough, especially as it was conducted between September and October 2018, preceding many important developments which may have a direct bearing on the study findings. However, it’s still relevant and merits an objective assessment.

The survey results beg the question- why don’t the 35 percent Hindus view Muslims in positive light and what about the seven percent Muslims holding unfavorable viewpoint of Hindus? This may be subject of a separate survey, but one can still look into the possible reasons.

One of the reasons, infact, can be discerned from another important finding of the survey about the degree or frequency of interaction. Seventy per cent of Muslims frequently or occasionally interact with Hindus in India, while only 56 per cent Hindus interact with their Muslims counterparts.
As the study points out people who interact more with other religious groups tend to have more favorable opinions of them.

Of the Hindus who said they interacted with people outside their own faith — 71 per cent had a favourable view of Muslims. As opposed to this, just 56 per cent of Hindus, who reported infrequent contact with people of other religions, viewed Muslims favourably.

Let’s now focus on the Hindus who don’t have much interaction with Muslims.  Their beliefs and perceptions are largely shaped by mainstream media and social media and there lies our possible answer about the trust deficit. Social media, in particular, has proven to be a powerful influence on public perception.

A piece by Claire Teitelman (April 19, 2019) in Journal of International Affairs of Columbia University explored the role of platforms like WhatsApp and Twitter in sparking communal hatred and subsequent violence in India.

Before social media, television was the media of the masses. Claire contends that without revenue-generating streams of traditional media like TV, social media companies have had to be more aggressive with advertising, “which includes the development of targeted ads that meets your preferences and prejudices”.

She also quotes Guillaume Chaslot, an artificial intelligence (AI) researcher. “If the AI favors engagement, like on Facebook and YouTube, it will incentivize divisive content, because divisive content is very efficient to keep people online. The longer you retain people online, the more advertisements they see and the more opportunities you have to profit, which is what matters to social media-companies, like any commercial enterprise. The aim of social media algorithms is to keep people angry, engaged, and online.”

India has emerged as the fastest-growing market for Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and YouTube so much so that for many social media has become an indispensible part of life. While the utility of these platforms cannot be denied, the prospect of their misuse remains pretty high. The speed and ease with which rumors spread on social media is frightening. There is a large gullible section of population with poor internet literacy - those who can’t differentiate between fact and rumour.

Claire refers to two incidents- the “Dadri Mob Lynching” in 2015 and the “Kathua Rape Case” in 2018. In both these incidents, protesters were riled-up by viral messages, photos, and videos on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

Many of the videos were based on alleged cow slaughter or cow meat storage and consumption by Muslims. In an interview with news portal Scroll, the sister of one of the accused Dadri perpetrators claimed that she – and possibly her brother – had been inundated with messages and videos about cow slaughter on WhatsApp. No wonder, hoax WhatsApp messages led to more than a dozen lynchings in 2018 alone.

The Kathua incident that involved the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a young Muslim girl was distorted through social media, contending that the girl hadn't been raped and false claims flooded WhatsApp, including an autopsy report purporting to disprove rape as well as proof claiming the innocent had been framed.

Social media has played a role in accentuating sectarian tensions. It magnifies the communal tensions by rapidly creating national crises out of local disturbances. As Claire argues, “Both the Kathua and Dadri episodes would have remained local events, but social media amplified and polarized them.” The resulting ‘Us’ against ‘Them’ mindset serves the parties who thrive on divisive politics very well.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no end to the social media hatemongering. If the hate and propaganda machinery is not reined in, we may see widening of the gulf between people from different faiths and spike in communal violence. We are sitting on the social media powder keg. Unless defused, it’s just waiting to blow up. 

(Courtesy: The Rising Kashmir)

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