Philippines to observe February 1 as National Hijab Day every year

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 27 January 2021 | Posted in , , , ,

IMO News Service

Manila: Philippines has decided to give Muslim women due honor by observing National Hijab Day every year. The move comes at a time when Islamophobia has become a worldwide phenomenon.

A hijab is a veil worn by Muslim women in several countries across the world. It is used to cover the head and chest to ward off male gaze when the women are among men outside their immediate family.

Philippines’ House of Representatives voted unanimously on January 26 approving a bill to declare February 1 as National Hijab Day every year.

The House Bill No. 8249 was unanimously approved after a total of 203 members of House of Representatives voted in favour of it. There were neither abstentions nor negative votes, SunStar Philippines reported.

Representatives Ansaruddin Abdul Malik Adiong and Amihilda Sangcopan jointly sponsored the bill in the House. The measure is aimed at promoting understanding towards the Muslim traditions of wearing a hijab, and removing the misconception of hijab being a symbol of oppression and terrorism.

The non-Muslim women will also be able to experience wearing the hijab, and stop discriminating against hijabis. The bill is also aimed at protecting the right of Muslim women to practice their religion in the country, and specifically promoting appreciation of diversity, promoting understanding of wearing a hijab as an act of modesty and dignity, and promoting tolerance and acceptance of other lifestyles.

According to the government, the private sector, schools and government institutions will be encouraged to observe National Hijab Day on February 1 every year.

Turkish Airlines gets “Diamond” status in the health and safety review conducted by APEX and SimpliFlying

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

IMO News Service

Istanbul: As the airline that flies to the most international destinations in the world, Turkish Airlines also managed to become one of the busiest airlines during the pandemic period that has been plaguing the globe since last year. With its extra guidelines for safe travel and comprehensive hygiene precautions due to pandemic, the flag carrier airline has been awarded the highest “Diamond” status by APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association) Health Safety powered by SimpliFlying. 

Analyzed in three categories named Gold, Platinum and Diamond according to the hygiene precautions and preventative measures taken by airlines in the face of the ongoing pandemic, the online audit was conducted with 10 categories and 75 touchpoints in mind as the answers about the health and hygiene precautions were entered with concrete indicators by the participants. Reviewed alongside other airlines, Turkish Airlines achieved the Diamond status which symbolizes the highest health and safety level, thus maintaining its unparalleled service approach and quality in these extraordinary times. 

Meticulously implementing comprehensive precautions and newly developed changes since the start of the pandemic in order to continue providing a healthy and safe travel experience for its passengers, Turkish Airlines achieved the Diamond status with numerous criteria such as touch-free check-in process, implementation of social distancing, temperature measuring at entrances, Covid-19 test service at the airport, extra hygiene precautions, in-flight social distancing, hygiene expert cabin crews appointed in flights and hygiene kits offered to passengers.

As the pandemic and its effects are still present around the globe, the precautions may differ from time to time due to rapidly changing conditions. But since the fight against the pandemic requires continuity and commitment, the precautions and measures taken by the airlines in the report will be reviewed every three months to check on the continuity of their statuses.

On the results, Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, M. İlker Aycı stated: “We continue to meticulously implement the comprehensive hygiene precautions in order to ensure that our passengers can travel in health and safety during the pandemic. We provided comfort and reassurance for our passengers with our Hygiene Expert cabin crews appointed in our flights and hygiene kits offered to all of our passengers, along with all the precautions taken in airports and in our aircrafts. We are glad that our guidelines for safe travel have achieved the highest “Diamond” status. We will continue to work selflessly to provide the best possible travel experience for our passengers.”

In his statement on the matter APEX CEO Dr. Joe Leader said: “Turkish Airlines consistently has provided incredible passengers experience now topped by Diamond level certified, hospital-grade health safety for its customers. From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic forward, Turkish Airlines has demonstrated a step-by-step customer health safety plan as expansive as its 127 country route-map. APEX applauds the incredible commitment and diligence by Turkish Airlines for passenger safety worldwide.”

Rise of Islamophobia Across the World

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

By Peace Olanipekun

In recent years, Islamophobia has been spreading across the world, stretching from eastern countries like China to western countries such as Europe and the United States. In China, the government has been detaining more than a million Muslims since 2017. They are held in what the government calls “re-education” camps. A large portion of this group is Uyghurs, an ethnic group mainly from China’s northwestern region called Xinjiang. Chinese authorities initially denied these camps’ presence until later when they described them as vocational training and re-education initiatives aimed at reducing poverty and counter-terrorism threats. According to satellite images obtained by the Australian Strategic Policy institute, 380 of these detention centers ranged from low-security re-education camps to reinforced prisons. Despite this, Chinese officials continue to argue that the camps fulfill two purposes: to teach Mandarin and Chinese law and work skills while actively working to prevent extremist ideas, thereby stopping terrorist activities.

The Chinese government substantiates these claims with the fact that Xinjiang has not experienced a terrorist attack since December 2016, a fact that they attribute heavily to the camps for preventing violence. Despite these numerous claims by officials to assuage the calls for these camps to be closed, they refuse to allow journalists, human rights groups or diplomats independent access to the camps and visitors to the regions where camps are located face heavy surveillance. While China continues what many has called a cultural genocide, it is essential to hold their government officials accountable for the numerous individuals held captive. Still, we must also remember that this is not an isolated case but rather a growing concern as the rest of the world implements and grows in Islamophobic ideals.

Islamophobia is nothing new in the United States following the rapid incline after the tragic 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. In a recent survey performed by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 62% of Muslims within the U.S. and 68% of Muslim women experienced some form of religious discrimination in 2019. The Pew Research Center also released a poll revealing 82% of U.S. adults believed and agreed that Muslims within the country were subjected to at least some form of prejudice. This statistic is an overwhelming amount of individuals and does not even take into account the 56% of people who believed that Muslims faced a high amount of discrimination within the country. This is not a phenomenon isolated to only the United States within North America; however as Statistics Canada discovered that hate crimes against those of the Islamic faith grew by 253% from 2012 to 2015 in Canada.

There is a long and detailed history of policies within the Canadian sphere that promotes Islamophobia and limits the right of specifically Muslim women to freely and openly take part in their religion, a significant violation of the Canadian Rights and Freedoms. One of the most prominent cases that continue to be debated to this day is Quebec’s Bill 94, which banned the niqab from public and civic spaces, which only contributed to the insane amount of Islamophobia that continues to rise in Quebec. It is essential to note the contribution media has on this noticeable rise. When reporting on domestic terrorism within countries, there is a visible difference in the approach the media takes when the suspect is Islamic. When someone commits domestic terrorism, not of the Islamic faith, it does not receive the same amount of attention as one that is.

In June, the Constitutional Court of Belgium ruled that banning religious symbols, including hijabs, in higher education establishments does not violate the freedom of religion or right to education. This is a slap in the face to Muslim women who wear the hijab and niqab, especially when one considers the background of universities and higher education in general. The first university in the world was founded in 895 CE in what is now known as Morocco by Fatima bint Muhammad Al-Fihriya Al-Qurashiya or as she is more commonly known as Fatima al-Fihri. Fatima was a proud Muslim woman who founded the university of Al Qarawiynn, which still to this day remains the oldest operational education institution. Despite the numerous protests that have been and continue to happen in Belgium protesting the new ruling by the Constitutional Court of Belgium, there has been minimal media attention given to these protesters, especially from some of the biggest worldwide news stations.

Belgium is far from the only country within Europe that is facing problems of Islamophobia. A prominent country that has arisen in recent years concerning religious discrimination issues in France has the largest population of Muslims in Western Europe. France is a staunch secularist country that it claims is a state of neutrality in religion areas, supporting neither the absence nor existence of religion, also emphasizing a strong separation of religion and the state as a whole. However, it is important to understand that the legal definition of secularism within France calls for the neutrality of the state and not enforced neutrality on individuals and this is where the reality strays from the perceived ideal. In 2004, France banned the wearing of any conspicuous religious symbols or clothing, a law which while applying to all religions specifically affected Muslim communities in a much more prominent way.

Islamophobia is an issue that we can simply attribute to one country alone or one section of the world. This is a prominent problem being faced by Muslims of all races, gender, cultural backgrounds and free of territorial claim, it is a worldwide problem that can never truly be solved without addressing the differing discriminations being faced by Muslims all around the world. We need to dismantle the discriminatory stereotype that is often pushed by world leaders due to terrorism and extremist groups who account for a very small percentage of the Islam community and who often twist and distort the ideals and pillars of the religion.

(Courtesy: OWP)

Cambodia to establish Department of Halal Affairs

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

IMO News Service

Cambodia is ready to welcome Muslim tourists in a big way. The government has announced it will be soon establishing the Department of Halal Affairs under the purview of the Ministry of Commerce’s General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention (CCF), The Phnom Penh Post reported.

A meeting was conducted by Cambodian Halal Steering Committee (CHSC) on January 21 for discussing the draft sub-decree No. 160 dated July 29, 2016 which established the committee, informed CHSC deputy chairman Osman Hassan.

The meeting, which was chaired by Council of Ministers secretary of state Tekreth Samrach, focused on establishing the halal affairs department after revising some of the articles in the sub-decree. Also, the composition of the CHSC will be fine-tuned after amending the sub-decree.

The halal affairs department will immediately become operational as soon as the sub-decree is implemented. The judicial police officers will be inspecting the legal data and enforcing halal labeling laws at all enterprises.

The Halal Affairs Department will be enforce stricter management of halal products and small and medium-sized enterprises will be inspected for properly putting halal labels according to Cambodian technical standards.

The government’s move has been welcomed by the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA). A statement by CATA said, “The management of halal products, especially food, will play an important role in attracting Muslim tourists to Cambodia down the line.”

The commerce ministry has so far registered and issued certificates for 666 halal products in Cambodia.

First-of-its-kind Gym for Women opens in a Hyderabad Mosque

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

IMO News Service

There is a growing need for fitness and healthy well being of Muslim women in India. A mosque in Telangana’s capital Hyderabad realized the health concerns of women and recently set up a wellness center, including a gymnasium in its complex. The mosque Masjid-e-Mustafa is situated in Wadi-e-Mahmood, a slum area in Rajendranagar mandal, in the southern state’s capital city. 

This is the first-of-its-kind initiative taken by a mosque in the state. The gym for women, which has an expert trainer, is being funded by US-based NGO called Support for Education and Economic Development (SEED). 

The purpose of the gym is to effectively curb the growing cases of non-communicable diseases in women residing in the slum areas. A professional woman trainer will be conducting two sessions daily and help women to achieve fitness.

The wellness centre will be operated with the help of Hyderabad-based NGO Helping Hand Foundation (HHF) in coordination with the mosque committee. The HHF had last year collaborated with the mosque to open a community healthcare centre for helping women and children living in the slums. Mujtaba Hasan Askari, HHF managing trustee, while talking to mediapersons said, “The key components of the NCD programme at the mosque clinic-cum-gym are risk assessment, counselling on diet and exercise and screening for renal, liver and eye issues. Trained and professional counsellors are part of the clinic.”

A recent study conducted on Hyderabad slum-dwellers said that 52 percent women are at risk of cardiometabolic syndrome and about 30 percent women are suffering from the polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD). Among other health problems include diabetes, hypertension, thyroid and obesity.

India’s ex chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi’s new book debunking Muslim population myth to be launched in February

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 18 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

IMO News Service

India’s former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi has sought to debunk the bogus Muslim population myth often raised by right-wing Hindutva protagonists through his new book "The Population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India". The book analyses India’s demographics from a religious perspective, and will be launched in February.

Published by HarperCollins India, the book provides a detailed perspective on the rate of Muslim growth in India after in-depth study of population data, and national and international reports.

The book has extensively discussed on how the majoritarian fears of a demographic skew are being stoked by often using these myths. Mr. Quraishi has also used facts for demolishing these myths and demonstrating how a planned population is in the interest of all communities.

The book, which will hit the stands, focuses on how the Quran and the Hadith have shown how Islam might have been one of the first religions in the world for actually advocating smaller families, and how several Islamic countries have population policies in place.

"Indians have been fed for decades the propaganda that Muslims produce too many children in order to overtake the Hindus, that this is how Muslims plan to capture political power," argued Quraishi in his book and added, "Derogatory slogans aimed at Muslims 'hum paanch, hamare pachchees' or 'hum chaar, hamare chalees' - have been voiced repeatedly at the top political level to strengthen this narrative. On the other hand, many Muslims also tend to believe that Islam is against family planning."

Quraishi was India’s 17th Chief Election Commissioner. He joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1971. He is credited with introducing several electoral reforms, including creating of a voter education division, expenditure monitoring division, the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management, and launched the National Voters Day.

Turkish Airlines launches “TK Extra Care” in collaboration with Dr. Oz

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

IMO News Service

Istanbul: Turkish Airlines has launched a new hygiene programme “TK Extra Care”, which highlights new protective hygiene measures, in collaboration with the global carrier’s ambassador Dr. Mehmet Oz, the producer and host of the world-renowned “The Dr. Oz Show.”

The announcement of the new animated in-flight video comes at a time when health and safety is a top consideration on travelers’ checklists. Inspired by the airline’s ongoing dedication to its passengers’ well-being, the three-minute video follows Dr. Oz through the travel experience passengers should expect when flying with the global airline today. From the moment Dr. Oz checks-in for his flight to when he arrives at his destination, viewers will not only be reminded of the airline’s hygiene protocols necessary for a safe flying experience, but will have full assurance that Turkey’s flag carrier is enforcing a higher level of protection for every stage of the journey that goes above and beyond industry standards.

Turkish Airlines puts passenger hygiene at the forefront, protecting its guests at each stage of the journey. In the three-minute animated video, Dr. Oz shows that from checking-in online and carrying only personal items in the cabin, passenger contact is reduced. Viewers learn that upon entering the airport, all passengers must wear a mask and are provided with hand disinfectant and body temperature screenings throughout the terminal. The video also highlights that Turkish Airlines has taken extra safety steps to ensure peace of mind, such as disinfecting luggage with a UV system and boarding passengers in smaller groups from the back of the plane to the front. Hygiene Experts are present on each flight to maintain a high health and safety level, while each passenger will receive a hygiene kit upon boarding.

Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, M. İlker Aycı commented on the video’s debut; “There is no question that travelers around the world are facing an immense need for enforced safety measures and peace of mind while traveling. At Turkish Airlines, the hygiene standards for our passengers are our top priority and we offer the highest standards. These extra safety precautions have been introduced following the authorized committees’ evaluations and approvals. With the release of ‘TK Extra Care’, we are hopeful that viewers will recognize Turkish Airlines’ hard work and dedication in keeping both passengers and crews safe, and we are pleased to have Dr. Oz share our message with the world.”

In June, with the resumption of services, Turkish Airlines announced new ‘Guidelines for Safe Travel,’ as well as two new in-flight services to protect the health of its guests. The airline continues to distribute “Hygiene Kits,” containing a face mask, disinfectant and antiseptic tissue to its guests, while “Hygiene Expert” cabin crews are appointed to flights to enforce all on-board hygiene and social distancing measures for the healthy travel of passengers.

Dr. Oz has been sharing his expertise with Turkish Airlines’ passengers since 2017, when the airline launched its “Fly Good Feel Good” project, created to provide an even more comfortable and healthy travel experience to its passengers.

Equity Markets – Best Investment Option for Muslims

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

By Imtiaz Merchant

Muslims should take advantage of the boom witnessed in the Indian Equity markets and they should not get left behind in the economic growth that is being witnessed throughout the country and likely continue for years to come. India is one of the fastest growing nations in the world with the GDP growing over 7 % for 2017-18 and expected to grow above 8 to 10 in 2021 onwards.

To be part of the main stream of the economy and get equal investment opportunity, Equity stock markets (The Islamic way) provides the most cost-effective investment solution for the Muslims. Equity markets have proved that they are not only the most cost effective, transparent, liquid and conducive to small and big size investors as a means of investment, nonetheless history has also proved that it outperforms and gives better returns than all other asset classes where return on investments as the parameter considered. In the long term a developing economy, equity (stock) market always goes up and up. though volatility is not ruled, so considering the inherent benefits Muslims must invest in the Equity Market.

On the onset Investment in equity markets is Islamically permissible since it is based on Musharaka (Partnership) principle where the profit is earned with the risk of loss, where in profit and losses are shared (PLS). With Ulema’s (Islamic scholar) guidance and approval it is now possible to invest in regulated Equity markets, of course with some stipulated conditions, and in fact Investment in equity markets the Islamic way is probably the best and only option available for the Muslims in a regulated environment. The government body SEBI being liberal about shariah based investment makes more sense to invest in equity markets after having been approved by the Islamic Scholar.

Now we investigate the inherent advantage investments in equities the Shariah way have over other forms of structured investments.

Fixed Interest (Riba) Based Investments (Banks)

Fixed interest (Riba) based investments like the Saving Bank deposit, Bank FDR; Postal savings, Debentures, Bonds etc. are strictly prohibited in Islam. Allah says in the Holy Quran,‘O those who believe, do not eat Riba (usury or interest) multiplied many times. And fear Allah, so that you may be successful.’ (Holy Quran Al-Imran verse 130). Islam since inception has discouraged interest based fixed saving and withholding wealth, but it has encouraged Business& Investments. ‘Profit should be earned only with the risk of losses’, in equity investment the profit and loss are shared in proportion to the investments made. Thus, investment in equity market is in accordance to the Quran and Hadeeth injunctions.

Investment in Real Estate

Investment in Real Estate / Properties, although permissible in Islam but it has many disadvantages over equities. First, Equity Market is well regulated by SEBI and Real Estate market is not regulated by any institutions, unit size is concern, it is not possible for every individual to buy property since the investment involved is huge, whereas one can invest in equity for an amount as low as Rs. One thousand and there is no upper limit. Secondly, property is subject to a lot of legal paper work and one has to go through a very cumbersome procedure to acquire properties. However, it is very easy to buy and sell shares by becoming the member of SEBI registered broker. Thus buying and selling shares is as easy as snapping your fingers. There is often a threat of encroachment of the property which involves costly litigation. Equity shares have a big advantage here since the stocks purchased get directly deposited in the investor's D-mat account where it is in the safe custody and one can sell them whenever he desires to sell. Further If returns on investments is considered as a parameter than historically it’s proved that returns earned in equity investments is superior to all the asset classes including the real estate over a long term. The Real Estate has given an annualized return of 8 to 9 percent whereas equity has given a yield of 12 to 15 percent. Finally One can make partial withdrawals from equities and get the sale proceeds in maximum three days (T+2),whereas it is not possible to get part withdrawals in the real estate, one has to sell the entire property and the payment proceeds sometimes takes months. Hence Equity market has immense liquidity to take immediate Exit whenever he or she decides and that is far too easier and faster than Real Estate.

Investments in Conventional Mutual Funds

Investments in Conventional Mutual Funds is not permissible from the view point that these mutual funds are not mandate to follow Shariah norms thus they even invest in stocks of prohibited businesses like Liquor, Banks, Hotels, Entertainment, Cinema, Casino etc. that is strictly prohibited in Islam, hence profit earned from these mutual funds is impure and tainted. They invest in Debt & derivatives instrument too which is not allowed under the Shariah laws. And moreover, since about 45 percent of the Market Capitalization is Shariah Non- Compliant, presumably almost 40 to 45 percent returns earned is not Halal, hence this option too is not shariah compatible for Investments. However, Muslims can invest in Authentic Shariah- Compliant Mutual fund / Shariah compliant PMS, approved and monitored by reputed Shariah Scholars and fund manage by people who have faith in shariah.

Big Advantage

One more point that goes in the favor of equity Investment is the Capital gains tax. The long-term capital gains tax is just 5 % that too if the gains are above 1 Lac i.e. if the investment is held for more than one year. And the short-term investments for less than a year, investors is obliged pay only 15 % percent tax on its gains on booked profit after subtracting losses. Muslims must take advantage of this benefit and invest in equities that would help them create wealth in the long term in the Shariah way. The only concerning part in the equities investment is the market risk and volatility. The performance of the company, industry and economy is never static and varies from time to time and since the market is a result of mass psychology it goes up or down on fear and hope based on the underlying fundamentals. Andin order to overcome this and to optimize Halal return on investments, one needs to take guidance from Shariah based Equity Research advisors and Fund managers who can guide and advise the prospective investors based on their Risk Profile and Risk Appetite. If this part is taken care of diligently, then equity investment certainly is the best Investment option for Muslims.

Role of Shariah Scholar

Islam makes ‘Lawful Earning’ (Halal) mandatory, and in Islam, the spiritual and secular aspects are one and the same. This implies that Islam emphasizes the need to make a living by means that are permissible under it. After many years of debate and discussions and looking into the need for Muslims to Invest in equity markets as an alternate to Bank and Insurance, Islamic scholars have permitted Muslims to invest in equity markets with certain strict stipulated conditions. With the advent of computer technology and with so much of information available, now it is possible to screen the companies on Shariah norms and do the purging as well.

Imtiaz Merchant
Shariah scholars have imposed investment restriction and conditions and only upon fulfilling these conditions Muslims can invest in equity markets the Halal way.

The conditions laid down are as follows:

  • Restriction based on the type of Securities: Investment should only be done in Shariah compliant stocks as defined. A security trading in derivatives and day trading in stocks is strictly not permitted. Short selling is prohibited. Securities should only be sold after having its complete possession.
  • Restriction on Business Activity: No investment shall be made in stocks of the companies whose business activity is Prohibited (Haram)
  • Conventional interest-based banks and other financial institutions like banks, NBFC, Insurance companies, stock brokers, Securities traders etc.
  • Alcoholic beverages like wine and other liquor related products and services.
  • Pork and non-Halal food products
  • Entertainment includes film production companies, cinema, Cable TV, music etc.
  • Restriction based on financial ratios: Apart from the above restriction, Islamic scholars from different part of the world have set certain financial criteria based on the need and essentiality. In India Islamic Investment &Finance Board (IIFB) and independent Shariah Board comprising of eminent scholars have approved the following financial criteria:
  • Interest bearing debt of the companies should not exceed 33 percent of its twelve months’ average market capitalization.
  • Cash plus interest bearing securities of the companies should not exceed 33 percent of its twelve months’ average market capitalization.
  • Trade receivable and other debtors of the companies to its twelve months’ average market capitalization should not exceed 33 percent.
  • Interest Income plus prohibited activity (impure) income of the companies to the company’s total income should not exceed 5 percent. (subject to cleansing)
  • Shariah Screening Process: Shariah screenings conducted for all the listed equities as prescribed and mandated by Shariah scholars. This process is done every quarter. Those stocks that successfully pass the Shariah screening norms are thus called Shariah complaint universe. This process is done under the supervision and audit of Shariah committee of Aalims and muftis.
  • Purification of Impure Income (purging): The income thus derived from trading and investments in shares do have some portion of impure or prohibited income. This income can be in form of interest received by the companies or some prohibited activity carried on by the company that earns impure or tainted income which needs to be cleansed or purged. This is a compulsory process. The impure income consequently cleansed should be given as charity (Without expecting Sawaab).

In conclusion we can confidently and vividly say that Equity investment the Islamic way is the Best option or alternate available to Muslims to park their saving. The investment in the company is well regulated by SEBI and approved by Shariah scholar, it is liquid enough to withdraw as and when, transparent, safe in D-mat A/c, lower Taxes, least cumbersome as compare to other asset classes and above all superior returns in the long term, the equity investment in the listed companies are almost coefficient of the economic growth.

No lending or borrowing, just investing. And truly an ethical and socially responsible way of Wealth Creation.

Note: The above text is the property of Pragmatic Wealth Management Pvt. Ltd. The above content cannot be used or reproduced without the consent and permission from Pragmatic Wealth Management Pvt. Ltd. in written.

[Imtiaz Merchant is Managing Director of Pragmatic Wealth Management Pvt. Ltd. He is Editor of Islami Tijara Magazine and Owner of Brand Adaaf Advisory Services. He can be reached at merchant@pragmaticwealth.net]

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

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | 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.

Islamophobia rising in Germany causing concern among Muslims

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

IMO News Service

The Turkish-Muslim community in Germany is worried and greatly concerned about the increasing Islamophobic hate crimes in the country, Anadolu Agency reported recently.

The news agency quoted Kemal Ergun, president of the Turkish-Muslim association IGMG, as saying that a number of mosques have been targeted, vandalized and faced arson incidents in recent months. "At least 122 mosques were targeted in such attacks last year. Dozens of mosques received multiple bomb threats by neo-Nazis or other extremist groups. These incidents have sparked worries among the Muslim community in the country. We call on the police authorities to conduct more effective investigations and arrest the perpetrators of these attacks," said Ergun.

The rise of anti-Muslim prejudice has led to increased hostility and discrimination with each passing day. The headscarves-wearing Muslim women are particularly targeted, verbally harassed and physically assaulted on the streets.

So far 632 Islamophobic crimes have been reported from January to November 2020, the news agency said citing police records. These crimes included damage to property, physical assaults, disruption of religious practice, threatening letters and insults. However, the real figures are said to be much higher as many victims avoid filing criminal complaints with the police due to biased attitude of the law enforcement authorities.

Germany has a population of over 80 million, and is home to Western Europe’s second-largest Muslim population after France. There are nearly 4.7 million Muslims in the country, with 3 million being of Turkish origin.

Pakistan’s Entertainment Industry Is Finally Confronting Its Sexual Harassment Problem

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

By Neha Maqsood

The blurring of personal boundaries has long been accepted as an integral part of art, but cases like Meesha Shafi’s and others are challenging that perception.

It goes without saying that acting is an inherently odd profession. You are put in a room with a group of people you’ve never met before but are now expected to be completely vulnerable with. Actors, writers, directors, and producers face a quiet responsibility to nurture an intimate working relationship to allow for greater creative breakthrough. Artists also spend a large proportion of their time separated from the outside world. These blurred personal boundaries enable the perpetuation of the existing systems of exploitation within the acting industry.

Ahmed Majeed Agloria, a Pakistani method artist who trained at Lee Strasberg, explains how the notion of a set or stage becoming an “alternate reality or another dimension without consequences leads to the blurring of lines, a phenomenon particularly taken advantage of in patriarchal countries like India or Pakistan.”

When I was 17, I was cast in a play in Karachi at the Arts Council. During one of our night shows, I had fumbled my stage direction and exited the stage from where I wasn’t supposed to. As I quickly shuffled off, the director grabbed a chunk of my hair and yanked me back roughly. Unable to express nor understand what had just happened, I went straight home after the show finished and wept.

For many other Pakistani-Muslim women, choosing to step into the media industry also means that they become subjects that viewers can simultaneously objectify and impose questions of morality upon. This makes it further complicated for these women to find redressal.

Shahana Jan, a Pakistani-American actor and content creator, spoke about how even when certain advances and moments made her feel uncomfortable, she’d “often have to shrug it off and act like it didn’t happen.”

“In my mind, I would hear people say, ‘Well, she’s in the media – why’d she put herself in that position in the first place?’”

The burden of maintaining a professional and cordial working relationship thus falls onto the women. A female makeup artist who wished to remain anonymous revealed the measures she takes to protect herself within the industry – from avoiding being “overfriendly” to never giving out her number and refusing to mingle with the crew after rehearsals – the latter being a space where she believes things become murky.

Actress Hina Altaf recently spoke out about how closeness on film sets is exploited. On the talk show, To Be Honest, she said her co-star Faisal Rehman would use intimate scenes to become “too romantic” with her. “For instance, if you hold a finger in a scene, this man will just grab your arm.”

Jan explains how cultures that enable such behavior occur are created at the top. “Many producers were involved in creating an environment that wasn’t just predatory and unsafe for young women but also fostered traits of toxic masculinity in young men – validating certain behaviours to make us feel that this was okay and that if we said anything, we were overreacting.”

Unfortunately, very few film, theatre, advertisement studios, and production houses within Pakistan have an operational Human Resource department or a governing body equipped to handle misconduct allegations. Due to the immense ramifications of filing misconduct allegations – losing out on critical job opportunities or getting boycotted by the industry – women are extremely unlikely to report their harassers. And if they do come forward with their stories, they find themselves inadvertently becoming centres of speculation, upon whom moral investigations are conducted. Oftentimes, to sustain one’s livelihood and pursue the work one’s passionate about, many actors are forced to collaborate with their abusers and harassers.

In October 2017, the #MeToo movement that called out the widespread gender discrimination and sexual harassment within the Hollywood entertainment industry also made its way to Pakistan. It provided a platform for media artists to come forward with their stories. Unfortunately, the stories of those who worked behind the camera – production assistants, makeup artists, grips – were not brought to the forefront despite the crew forming perhaps the most essential part of any production.

The most prominent of these stories was that of singer Meesha Shafi, who alleged sexual harassment against fellow singer Ali Zafar. Following her statement, a handful of Pakistani women came forward sharing similar incidents of Zafar’s inappropriate behavior. However, as Shafi went public with her claim, she faced immense backlash and was shamed incessantly on social media. It worked to only further highlight the misogynistic attitudes still ubiquitous among the masses and the social and emotional cost of coming forward with such statements.

Sajeer Shaikh, an editor at the digital publication, Mangobaaz, explained that terms like “harassment and sexual assault are new to our (Pakistan’s) vocabulary which makes it difficult to articulate what’s happening.” Unfortunately, in Pakistan where tradition and honour heavily prevail, many continue to question the veracity of sexual harassment allegations.

During productions, the cast and crew are thrown together and told that they’re one big happy family and that everything goes. But perhaps that is a flawed way of looking at things. Roles, job descriptions, and boundaries should be more clearly defined – the job of the director should remain principally to direct and the actor to deliver accordingly. Those overseeing the production, from casting directors and producers to stage managers and financiers, must ensure greater accountability and consequences for misdemeanour on set. Before any production is given the green light, harassment policies must be outlined to the entire crew and made clear that such behaviour would not be tolerated in order to ensure that every person feels protected.

Acting is a fabulous profession that manages to stop the flurry of the world around you, albeit for a minute. But in order to preserve that wondrous and surreal feeling more often for female actors, the dynamics and structures within the world of acting need to be thoroughly reformed.

(Courtesy: Swaddle)

Turkish Airlines launches 3-day sale offer with 40 percent discount for international flights

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

IMO News Service

Turkish Airlines has launched a 3-day 40 percent discount campaign for its customers who want to discover the world again putting their COVID-19 fears behind. Passengers taking advantage of the exclusive prices will be able to discover the most beautiful cities around the globe with the flexible ticket options at advantageous prices of Turkish Airlines.

The customers who want to take advantage of the campaign will have to purchase their tickets between January 13 and 15, 2021, which is valid with all ticket types of the flag carrier’s international flights for travel between April 1 and December 31, 2021. The offer comes free date change option. The refunds and cancellations will however be subject to the rules of the fare classes.

Flights to/from Ercan Airport and Chinese Mainland (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi’an) are not included in this campaign.

More detailed information can be found at the www.turkishairlines.com website.

India from 2020 Crisis to Crisis in 2021

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

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

India has moved into 2021 with the following crisis. Indians are looking at the government for its solution. Government’s stoic silence on all these issues speaks to its inability to set things right.

Economic Peril: What started from demonetization to ill-planned GST to prolonged lockdown, Indian economy has taken one hit after another.

Assertion of majoritarianism: Under the Modi rule there is huge assertion of right wing Hindutva forces. The secular aspects of the constitution have suffered serious blows and minorities particularly Muslims, have been feeling insecure.

Democratic Space is shrinking: There is an increasing feeling of the narrowing of democratic space which is a huge worry for the people of the country.

Assertion of social movements: Indians are witnessing assertion of social movements this in view of the significant problems and issues facing the people. There was a CAA protest earlier and now farmers protest. There are other issues of social reform and environment protection that are waiting for expressions.

Farmers Protest: It raises some wider concerns of food security, ecologically, protective and sustainable farming. It’s part of a larger agrarian crisis.

Agrarian Crisis: India’s farm economy is in turmoil Suicides, debt burden, falling prices of produce are part of agrarian crisis. An estimated 26 crore people work in the agriculture sector. This is to say that about 55-57percent of the population is dependent on the farm sector.

Political Arrogance: It is from PM Modi downwards, all those holding the reins of governance are full of arrogance. Politicians consistently misuse their position and members of bureaucracy are at their worst.

Unemployment: One in three formally trained youth in India is unemployed. Pandemics have hugely contributed to unemployment. The 1990s employment bubble has burst and Indian youth are back to 1970s syndrome.

Rising crime against women: Extreme cases against women are reported from all over the country. The country had recorded 3,78,236 cases of crimes against women on Sep 30, 2020. It was 62.4 per cent in 2019, up from the 58.8 percent figure of 2018. Rape of women is a continuing theme. 87 Rape cases are reported each day.

Media Menace:
Misinformation, hate speech and false propaganda has become part and parcel of Indian media discourse. The government of the day and the courts are presiding over the prostitution of the pen, that’s going on with impunity.

Pending Justice: Justice delayed is justice denied. Bureaucratic sloth coupled with slow settlement of cases in courts is a scourge in this country. Many Kafkaesque trials are going on in India.

Poor Police system: India has a ratio of 138 police personnel per lakh of population. Less than 25 percent of Indians do not trust the police. The distrust is due to the inhuman way of police treatment with the people.

Water Crisis: While the government is busy building a new Parliament, India is facing the worst water crisis. The NITI Aayog has warned that the demand for drinking water will outstrip supply by 2030 if preventive steps are not taken. Experts predict that 21 big cities will run out of groundwater by 2030.

Monsoon Fury: Floods are synonymous with monsoon. It’s the same story every year: thousands evacuated, hundreds dead, livelihoods lost, villages and settlements washed away, houses submerged etc. In the end authorities are blamed for doing nothing.

Corruption: The most widely spread endemic in India is corruption, which is ignored even though it was touted as the second freedom struggle in 2014 general elections.

Basic Sanitation: Sanitation is yet another problem, one of the biggest, in India. There are about 700 million people who have no access to basic toilets at home.

Healthcare System: India is world’s most populous country but it grossly lacks in providing proper healthcare facilities to its entire population. It was thought that pandemics could be made the reason to augment the health infrastructure but that never happened.

Poverty: The population of India living below the poverty line has declined over the years but poverty has not been eliminated from the country. It is said that one in five Indians lives in extreme poverty.

Pollution: Pollution and other environmental issues that are the other challenges before India but little attention is given to face the situation.

Infrastructure: India is lacking in infrastructure development, towards better roads, affordable housing and services like water, sanitation, primary healthcare, etc.

India has taken giant strides in the last few decades. But this does not mean to forget issues, which continue to pose hurdles in the progress of the nation. These social, political and economic issues are to be taken seriously to improve the prevailing condition of our society. With the proliferation of information and technology, more awareness is spreading among the masses. As Indians we should really work hard to eradicate these problems from their very roots. Blaming the government and others will remain counterproductive.

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

OPINION: Why Muslims are Backward in India?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | 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.

Strategi Advisors Startup Studio initiated to meet current market needs

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

Innovating and Scaling in the Age of Uncertainty drives the need for a dynamic Startup Studio

IMO News Service

Dubai, UAE: To bring together innovative and forward-thinking visionaries to build an entrepreneurship ecosystem in the UAE that engages not only entrepreneurs but also decision makers and encourages startups to aim higher in terms of visibility and impact on the global stage, Strategi Advisors initiates their startup arm, the Strategi Startup Studio.

With an abundance in Risk Capital in the UAE and startup scalability being the new heaven for investments diversification, Investors at all levels like HNI, family offices, shares and crowd-funding see great potential in technology especially post COVID-19 but need guidance in paring up with an innovator with similar passion and vision.

Mana Sultan Al Suwaidi, Founder of Strategi Startup Studio said, “The need for an evolving Startup Studio was evident way before COVID-19 but the recent crises strongly drive a larger force towards technology infrastructure and efficiency in all areas of business. We believe that successful businesses emerge when great ideas and entrepreneurs come together in a creative and nurturing environment to bring new concepts to life.”

Strategi Startup Studio conceives, launches and scales local and international startups bringing innovative ventures to the city. Supported by Strategi Advisors that already has dedicated experts on board to cultivate a world class tech driven ecosystem, stakeholders can benefit from the team’s local know how, get clarity and be inspired to transform their businesses with the best global talent and capital.

Mana adds, “We hope to build ventures with success stories for unicorns created in the UAE making local, regional and international impact. Experts from Strategi Advisors will represent, support, and protect the growth of the startup business community with world-class expertise in every discipline required to build a market-leading company. Our objective is to collaborate with the most experienced and trusted partners to give direction to high growth startup entrepreneurs by listening, reflecting and guiding them.”

Offering requirements of a conducive Tech Ecosystem with capital, talent, Infrastructure, market potential and supportive regulations, Strategi Startup Studio aims to make Dubai a thriving global startup hub by working in synergy with the local government, incubators and accelerators.

According to Mana, UAE is ready to create its own hub for building businesses and the young generation is ready for this. Coming from a pedigree of Emiratis keen on cultivating the vision and framework of leadership, entrepreneurship and "glocalization”, Mana and his peers aspire to demonstrate an advanced level of ecosystem development, characterized by cross-border venture building capabilities.

In the last four months, Strategi Startup Studio has been in investment discussions with a sovereign fund in Abu Dhabi and other regional venture capital investors to invest USD50 millions for exchange of equity in startups in the next five years.

To investors, UAE’s strategic positioning as a vibrant hub for trade, finance, media, tourism, hospitality, talent and technology offers great potential for investment opportunities across multiple sectors as 60% of humanity exists within a 5-hour flying radius of UAE (China, India, Europe, Russia and North Africa).

While neighbouring countries are competing as conventional economies, UAE is evolving into a knowledge economy offering the perfect platform to connect startups, investors and enablers with relevant resources, accessibility and opportunities and Strategi Startup Studio is the first step towards building an ecosystem that rivals entrepreneurial hubs like the Silicon Valley.

Today more than ever companies need a forward-thinking strategy with new set of tools and frameworks to navigate through uncertainty and stay relevant. Strategi Startup Studio aims to do just that and guide businesses to think and act differently as well as gain leverage as ecosystems gain relevance to impact economies in a meaningful way.

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