An encounter with a God-fearing Christian

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

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

I spent a pleasant afternoon on a warm sunny day in southern California in the company of a God-fearing Christian who was concerned about what he perceived to be the evils of Islamic ideology. It was evident that he considered the religious movement as one that would threaten his world and existence.

That is hardly unusual as there are perhaps many with similar sentiments. In the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001 with the bombings of the World Trade Center towers in New York, many could have been forgiven for considering that such a threat was indeed credible.

Such sentiments were cemented when the President of the United States, at the time, George W. Bush declared a crusade against the perpetrators, invoking a disturbing scenario of an impending clash of civilizations. In creating the "good versus evil" and "you’re with us or against us" doctrine, Mr. Bush further solidified his stance when he used the term "Islamic fascists".

My companion that afternoon had done his research. He had read many books on the Hadith and Fiqh, and translations of the Holy Qur'an. His argument was that Islam is inherently violent and on a collision course with other religions. He quoted examples of verses or incidents in religious scripture to back his suspicions.

Eight years of Mr. Bush spouting in the same vein and a highly unpopular war in Iraq did not help foster closer understanding. Just the opposite was true. Muslims were quickly portrayed to be the bad guys in the Western media, who had sinister intentions against a peace-loving Western world. Every act of terrorism committed by some nut calling himself a soldier of Allah or a jihadist was considered a well-planned and deeply covert operation sanctioned by the more than 1.3 billion Muslims on the planet.

I tried to explain to him that the West faces no threat from Islam. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world, and not by force but by acceptance of its values and message, and it really is a religion of peace. Islam forbids forced conversions. More significantly, it is a religion that focuses on the individual and his salvation.

It is also a universal religion that ignores nationality, race, rank and color. To become a Muslim, one must believe in one God, acknowledge Muhammad as his Prophet, recognize the Holy Qur'an as the word of God, pray five times a day, provide for the poor through the payment of zakat and, if possible, make a journey once in a lifetime to Makkah to perform the grand pilgrimage or Haj. The God Muslims worship is the same God Christians and Jews worship.

Islam’s tolerance toward other faiths has been well documented. The oldest Christian communities in the world are all in Muslim countries. There have always been Christian and Jewish communities in the Muslim world. The disputes the West considers as clashes of ideologies in today’s Middle East are not religious; they are actually about secular matters, with the principle element being the unresolved Israeli occupation of Arab lands.

Why then were there not voices of opposition to the acts of terrorism, no public condemnation or outrage, my companion demanded? If the truth be told, there have been countless such acts of censure by various religious or government figures across the Muslim world. Media personnel across the Middle East have been relentlessly attacking such cowardly acts as well. Unfortunately, such words of condemnation do not grab the headlines. The demonization of Muslims is good for business. It sells a lot of print. There has to be a bad guy, with a multitude of other evil plotters lurking in the shadowy background.

I would not deny that terrorism exists. But it exists among Muslims, Christians and Jews. For the guilty Muslims, it is their 15-minute moment of fame as they hold their heads high proclaiming themselves to be jihadists and the Western media loves it. Their twisted and immoral acts dominate prime time TV or print space. But they do not and will not be representative of the billion plus peace-loving Muslims living in many countries of the world.

I suggested to my companion that the way to better understand Muslims and Islam is to reach out to them and not necessarily just in the United States. Go visit some of the Islamic countries, I said. The way to combat the fanaticism and improve inter-faith understanding is to extend the hand of friendship to ordinary Muslims. He would find that their primary concern is with their existence and making a living just as anyone else in other parts of the world. They are not spending their free moments engrossed in grand designs to destroy the West or other cultures and faiths. To slander and libel Muslims and Islam as such is grave injustice. It smacks of bigotry.

And to make up one’s mind on the basis of information garnered through translated versions of religious transcripts leaves one often at the mercy of the interpretation which can be deceptive.

It is best for one to witness with his eyes and mind what the other part of the world sees in him. Over a cup of coffee, that is what I recommended to my companion as a first step toward better understanding.

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

(Courtesy: Saudi Gazette)

Use media to spread the faith, says Indian preacher

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

By P.K. Abdul Ghafour

Jeddah: The Hyderabad-based Islamic Academy for Comparative Religion (IACR) has been working for the past 15 years to spread the message of Islam in India, removing misconceptions about the divine religion and bringing followers of different religious faiths closer to promote communal harmony.

IACR is also working to confront the massive campaign of missionaries in Andhra Pradesh to convert Muslims into Christianity, said Asifuddin Muhammed, president of IACR. “The missionaries have been exploiting poverty and economic difficulties of Muslim families,” he told Arab News.

He called upon all Muslim organizations in the state to set out a joint strategy to protect the Islamic faith. “Not only the poor, but also many educated and rich Muslims including doctors and engineers have been converted to Christianity,” he pointed out.

Muhammed, who holds MBA and LLB degrees, introduces himself as a student of comparative religion. He was inspired by the dawah works of Sheikh Ahmed Deedat and Dr. Zakir Naik. As a result of his organization’s work across Andra Pradesh, hundreds have embraced Islam. IACR has a special section for women.

“Muslims in India are facing a serious challenge from Christian missionaries,” he said, adding that the missionaries have been receiving full support from politicians. “In some remote districts of Andhra Pradesh, especially coastal areas, as many as 1,000 families are being converted every year. We have documented proof for that,” he said.

Missionaries have six TV channels in the state while Muslims do not have even a single one, Muhammed said, emphasizing the need for launching a television channel as early as possible for the propagation of Islam, with the support of Muslim businessmen and philanthropists.

IACR intends to hold a series of lectures and workshops in various districts after training some 700 preachers, each of them taking the message to at least 50 people in a year. “This will help 35,000 non-Muslims to receive the message of Islam every year,” he said.

“We’ll also establish a network to take care of Muslims all over the state. If any person needs any kind of help including money or medical aid we’ll provide them,” Muhammed said. More Islamic lectures are to be given in Telugu being the language spoken by the majority, especially in the remote areas of Andhra Pradesh.

“Qur’anic Arabic course is a unique program being held by our organization to teach Arabic as a language to schoolchildren as seriously as math and science,” Muhammed said. IACR has designed a set of books and trained several teachers for the purpose. “The nine-year course will help students understand the Qur’an and Hadith without any translation.”

IACR has published a book on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), compiling what has been stated by prominent dignitaries like Mahatma Gandhi, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Carlyle, Leo Tolstoy and Michael Hart about the last prophet.

The book quoted Gandhi as saying: “I wanted to know the best of life one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind…I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission.”

The organization intends to distribute copies of the book among media persons, politicians and other influential people as well as TV channels and newspapers to remove the misconceptions about Islam and its Prophet. “Many non-Muslims have responded favorably after reading the book, saying they never knew that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a multifaceted personality known for his kindness and tolerance.”

He pointed out that a substantial number of Muslims are not interested in listening to Islamic lectures, including Jumah sermons, a reason that makes them ignorant about their religion and easy prey to missionaries. “Other religions spread their message through films, TV serials, dramas and other attractive programs. We should also follow the same methods to make Islamic teachings more popular and appealing,” he explained.

According to IACR, there are many reasons for the growth of Christianity in the state: The support of prominent Christian politicians, negligence of Muslims toward their poor, Muslims are not well organized and lack good network and capable scholars. “We have lot of Muslim businessmen, professionals, engineers and doctors but we don’t have a vision to bring these resources together to make an impact and change our situation to the better,” the president said. “IACR is not associated with any Muslim groups and tries to bring together all Muslims together on the basis of Islamic principles,” he added.

Speaking about strategies to be followed for the propagation of Islam in the country, Muhammed said: “We have to address individual and regional concerns about our religion by removing their misconceptions, and change the general feeling that Indian Muslims are not patriotic. Some fascist forces try to create a fear psychosis among the Hindus about Muslims in order to provoke them to attack Muslims and we have deal with such situations in a reasonable and convincing manner.”

(Courtesy: Arab News)

Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance retains leading Islamic Finance Scholar

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

IMO News Service

One of South Africa’s leading Islamic finance scholars, Mufti Ismail Ebrahim Desai, joins Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance in Dubai as a Shariah Advisor. He is involved with approving Ethica’s Islamic finance training and certification, advising clients, and guiding professionals interested in finding Islamic banking jobs.

Mufti Ismail Ebrahim Desai, one of South Africa’s leading Islamic finance scholars, has joined Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance in Dubai as a Shariah Advisor. Mufti Desai joins Ethica’s Shariah team of Sheikh Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo, Mufti Zubair Usmani, and Sheikh Ashraf Muneeb. Ethica is the Islamic finance training and certification institute that helps professionals find Islamic banking jobs and launch careers in Islamic finance.

The highest accreditation in Islamic finance is a fatwa, or expert legal opinion, and Mufti Desai’s role will be to review Ethica’s training, certification, and advisory documentation to provide fatwas on its authenticity. Central to this review process will be to ensure that Ethica’s Islamic finance training and certification follows the industry’s most widely accepted and stringent standards, AAOIFI (Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions), the de facto standard in 90% of the world’s Islamic finance jurisdictions.

Mufti Desai said, “It gives me great pleasure to join Ethica, the industry’s most trusted name in Islamic finance certification. To be part of the approval process, to deliver Islamic finance training, and to ensure that professionals can turn to a reliable and standardized certification, is the very essence of what makes Islamic finance actually Islamic. Millions of South Africans – and millions more around the world – lack a basic understanding of Islamic finance and it is my hope to help bridge this knowledge gap with Ethica.”

“We are deeply grateful to have retained one of the industry’s leading scholars for Islamic finance training and certification. Mufti Desai brings extensive practical experience structuring sukuks, setting up funds, and monitoring stocks around the world. We look forward to having Ethica’s community of Islamic finance professionals benefit from his wide-ranging expertise,” said Ethica’s spokesperson.

Mufti Desai currently serves as Shariah Advisor to various Islamic financial institutions and educational institutes around the world including Ideal Ratings, Southern African Consultant, Infinity Consultants, Centre for Advanced Islamic Economics, and a number of Islamic investment firms and real estate funds. Mufti Ismail has developed various Shariah auditing, governance and risk management standards for Islamic financial institutions and has issued several hundred expert legal opinions (fatwas) with a special focus on Islamic finance and economics.

Uttar Pradesh may prove Narendra Modi’s Waterloo

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

By Mohammad Shahid Parvez

Lucknow: The late Vishwanath Pratap Singh resigned as UP Chief Minister owning responsibility for failure to contain dacoit menace following Behmai carnage in which 16 people were killed in February 1981 by bandit queen Phoolan Devi and later killing of his brother by dacoits. For this he earned the title of ‘Mr. Clean’ by the public and media, the image that in later years helped him to become the Prime Minster of India. But that was way back in 1982.

Times have changed since. Now another Chief Minister, who presided over the massacre of thousands of people of his state and who should have been behind the bars for his crimes is being projected as the most able administrator and the Bharatiya Janata Party, at the behest of RSS, the self-styled guardians of morality, is leaving no stone unturned to make him the Prime Minister of India. What a moral degeneration, what a fall!

It’s an irony that Narendra Modi who in 2002 failed to fulfill his obligations as Chief Minister of Gujarat and was reprimanded by no less a person than his own party’s Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for not following his ‘Raj dharma’ is the new icon of BJP replacing his one time mentor LK Advani. He has been entrusted the responsibility of leading the saffron party to power in the 2014 general elections with a hope that he will foist the Hindutva of Gujarat brand on the entire country and BJP would win. And for this mission he has planned to make UP, the state with largest number of Lok Sabha seats as his base--a dangerous proposition indeed!

For if this plan succeeds and Modi becomes Prime Minister,(possibility of which is remote) the Indian Nation would lose but in the contrary situation UP may prove Modi and his party’s Waterloo. If LK Advani’s protest resignation on his elevation (though withdrawn after Sangh’s intervention) and the break of NDA on the onset of his journey are any indication the second possibility is more likely. But riding on his ambition or rather over ambition backed by capitalist lobby and media hype Modi has set on a path where angels fear to tread. As in charge of the BJP’s campaign committee for the 2014 elections, he has earmarked UP to make the base of his dream victory realizing little that the ground realities in the state are quite different from those of Gujarat.

About one-third population of Gujarat comprises migrants from Pak province of Sind and adjoining areas who came and settled in Gujarat during partition. These migrants who were the victims of communal hatred of that era naturally developed a hatred for Pakistan and Muslims.

Besides Patels, though a backward caste appears to be influenced by the RSS ideology and as such is not quite friendly with Muslims. Modi exploited these social conditions and with government machinery at his disposal he could be able to create an atmosphere that made him the Hero of Hindutva. But apart from a small group of RSS followers Hindus in this state are secular who do not support Modi’s brand of Hindutva. It may be argued that Babri Masjid demolition took place in this state which saw the BJP graph going up. But even in the demolition participation of kar sevaks from Maharashtra and Gujarat and some other states was higher than those from UP. As for the success of BJP in the election in the aftermath of demolition several factors like the weakening of Congress and ambiguous policies of the parties, besides the demolition were responsible. But with that one exception BJP gradually declined in the state and even Atal-Advani duo failed to stop the dwindling fortunes of the party in the state. Now Amit Shah is harping on the same issues—Ayodhya and cow slaughter to polarize voters on communal lines that the BJP has tried earlier and failed. Shah gave an example of BJP’s dual face and became an object of ridicule on his very first visit to the state when talking to scribes he said that elements with criminal background would be kept away from elections. When a scribe asked about his own involvement in Ishrat Jahan case for which he was in jail and is out on bail, finding himself defenseless, he replied that there was only one case against him.

Caste-ridden politics of the state is another factor that may throw spanner in to the Modi’s progress. Almost every caste has a political leader of its own in the state who professes secularism and swears to keep the communal forces at bay. Thus Mulayam and Mayawati are the undisputed masters of their own castes and Modi with all his communal might may not be able to penetrate their forts. Then there are Muslim voters without whose support no party can even think of claiming victory in this caste-ridden state. They have come of the age from the days of post-demolition and are making their own strategy to thwart the Modi plan.

Uniting the faction ridden BJP with senior leaders suffering from exalted egos would be another and probably the biggest challenge for Modi and his lieutenant Amit Shah in the state. Internal bickering, a first hand experience of which Amit Shah, the in charge of UP party got in the form of a spat between party’s Gorakhpur MLA Radha Mohan Das Agarwal and the state general secretary Shiv Pratap Shukla during a meeting in his presence must have made him to ponder over the little chances that his master stands to repeat a Gujarat in UP. Then there are leaders in UP BJP who are no less in stature than Modi himself and leaders sympathetic to Advani who may make the task tough for him. Advani may have been silenced by the Sangh but he may not forget the insult meted out to him by the party that he nursed and brought to its top glory. Even the BJP president Raj Nath Singh who was instrumental in Modi‘s elevation, belongs to the state and has his own baiters in the state party ranks who may silently work to make the matters miserable for the Gujarat stalwart.

The much- hyped development in Modi’s Gujarat is more a myth than reality. Industrialists and upper sections of society have benefited at the cost of poor and downtrodden in Modi’s Gujarat.

It will be suffice to quote a recent study, Poverty Amidst Prosperity: Essays on the Trajectory of Development in Gujarat (Aakar Publication, forthcoming), by 10 independent researchers (including Atul Sud who writes in The Hindu dated 30 November 2012:

The survey “suggests that when it comes to Gujarat, we have not one but several things to worry about. Carefully reviewing the cardinal principles of the development experience in Gujarat through the analysis of data and information provided by official sources, the study tells us how goals like social equality, sustainable livelihoods, access to education and health, justice and peace have been abandoned in the race for growth in the high-speed lane.”

Thus by elevation of Modi at the cost of Advani and NDA as the most eligible candidate for the post of Prime Minister shows dearth of popular leaders in the BJP as also its bankruptcy on the front of policy and programmes for development. It proves beyond doubt that the saffron party has no agenda but Hindutva which is more dangerous for the nation than even terrorism.

The electorate has rejected this divisive policy of the saffron party in the past and this time by bringing Modi it has dug its grave.

[Mohammad Shahid Parvez is former News Editor, National Herald, Lucknow. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Uttar Pradesh). He can be contacted at mshahidparvez@gmail.com]

SPECIAL REPORT: Message from Modiland -- Don't wear religion on your sleeves! YOU are a MUSLIM!!

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

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: Little Flower English Medium School in Paldi in Ahmedabad forced a girl to stay away from class on Tuesday for covering her head with a scarf. This comes almost within a fortnight of the GLS Education Trust-run M K Higher Secondary School putting all Muslim students in one division of class IX on the opening day of the new session.

“I wear scarf as I am a follower of Islam. But the school is not allowing it, claiming it to be a burqa. They had given me time to think and decide whether I should wear the scarf. On Tuesday, the deadline got over and when I went to school wearing the scarf, I was not allowed to enter the class and forced to sit in the teachers’ staff room instead. They also called my parents to school,” said the girl, a student of class IX (identity withheld).

“I always used to wear a scarf and many Muslim girls also started wearing scarf after seeing me. But when the school authorities asked them not to wear it, they stopped. Only I continued,” she added.

The school authorities, however, had a different take on the issue. “We respect all religions as we have students from all religions studying in our school. But, at the same time, every institute has rules and regulations which should be respected. Students should come to school in full uniform. They have to abide by the school’s rules and regulations. We have even mentioned this in our school calendar book and parents have agreed by signing it,” said Yvonne Shah, the principal of Little Flower English Medium School.

“We have just asked the girl not to wear burqa to school and that she should come in uniform. We have also informed her father about this. We have also told her to wear burqa till she enters the school and wear it again once classes get over,” she added. However, the girl maintained that it was a hijab—a head scarf—not a burqa.

Shah further stated that while schools were in favour of uniformity and equality, the girl would be visibly separated from the rest of the class because of her burqa. “If we allow her, we will have to allow everybody,” she pointed out.

“I have not received any such complaint either from the school or from any parent,” said R I Patel, the district education officer for Ahmedabad.

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

Vice-President felicitates Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for economic growth in Madhya Pradesh

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Vice-President of India Dr. Hamid Ansari conferred to central Indian state Madhya Pradesh the “Change-over Economies Category” award in view of positive commercial activities in the state. The state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan received the award on behalf of the state.

The award was presented at Most Competitive State 2013 programme held by Hindustan Times’ business edition Mint with the cooperation of Institute for Competitiveness in New Delhi on Wednesday, an official spokesman said.

Speaking after receiving the award Chief Minister Chouhan reportedly said that once regarded as a sick state, Madhya Pradesh is country’s fastest growing state now. The State Government has chalked out its policies by setting its priorities for development. Madhya Pradesh’s growth rate was 10.2 per cent during 11th Five-Year Plan. Last year, state’s agriculture growth rate was 18.9 percent. This year, 13.33 percent increase has been registered. He said that only growth rate is not sufficient until benefits of development reach common people. Madhya Pradesh government has taken initiative to reach out fruits of to people who have been left behind in the race of development.

Chouhan informed that by next month, every village in Madhya Pradesh will start receiving 24X7 power supply. He informed that power generation capacity in the state will go up from present 10,600 MW to 20,000 MW by next year. He informed about river-link project. He said that efforts have been made in the state to extend benefits to last man in the last row of society. The state has contributed considerably in both urban and rural development in the country.

He said that such an atmosphere for development has been created in Madhya Pradesh that big industrial houses are coming to the state. In view of this, attention has been paid in Madhya Pradesh to development of skilled manpower.

Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Manish Tiwari, Delhi Chief Minister Mrs. Sheila Dixit, Haryana Chef Minister Bhupindar Singh Hudda, Andhra Pradesh Home Minister Mrs. Geeta Reddy, Maharashtra Forest Minister Padmrao Kadam, Goa Health Minister Shrikant Baraskar, senior officers of Bihar and Gujarat and other distinguished citizens were present on the occasion.

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

Stage set for Federation of Aligarh Alumni Association's XII Annual Convention on June 28-30 in Houston

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

IMO News Service

Houston (Texas): The XII Annual Convention of the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations (FAAA) will be held at The Crowne Plaza - Houston River Oaks in Houston, TX on June 28-30, 2013. The convention seeks to bring together a diverse cross-section of AMU Alumni, various alumni associations and well-wishers of AMU to discuss issues related to educational, literary and social needs of the community.

The theme of the 2013 convention is "New Generation Alumni & Aligarh Movement" and will be addressed by eminent personalities. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah (Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University) will be the Chief Guest and Hon. P. Harish, Consul General of India (Houston) will be the Guest of Honor on this occasion.

FAAA's conventions have become an annual reunion for AMU Alumni, their families and other like-minded people that constitute the Indian subcontinent Diaspora in North America. The program will include a series of highly focused sessions on educational and community building projects. The convention will provide a forum for AMU Alumni and well-wishers to get first-hand information on the progress of on-going projects at Aligarh Muslim University and participate in the discussions to prioritize future projects of the federation as we move forward.

The evening session consists of speech by Consul General, keynote address by the Vice Chancellor, and recognition award presentations. Ghazal singer Udayan Parikh would provide entertainment after the Banquet dinner.

"There is overwhelming enthusiasm for the convention among the Aligarh Alumni and well-wishers of AMU and we are expecting the representation of all most all the member associations" said Perwaiz Jafri, Chairman of the board of trustees of the federation and organizing committee. Dr. Tariq Haqqi, President of the federation reminded the delegates to pre-register before the convention especially for Saturday night banquet dinner as the tickets will likely be sold out.

The federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations, a non-profit, secular, non-partisan and non-political organization serving the educational, social, literary and cultural needs of the community, has launched a nationwide campaign to invite concerned individuals and organizations to its XII Annual convention in Houston.

PEOPLE: Have we forgotten Shibli Nomani?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 27 June 2013 | Posted in , , , ,

A Rememberance on Shibli Nomani's 156th birth anniversary
(June 4, 1857 - November 18, 1914)

By Kaleem Kawaja

“Yeh maana tum ko talwaron ki tezi aazmani haiy,
Humari gurdanon pur ho gaa is ka imtihaan kub tuk”
( We know you want to display your military might,
But for how long will it be at our cost.)
………..Shibli Nomnai in “Shahar-e- Aaashob-e-Islam” (The ruined city of Islam” )

In recent years whenever I have enquired from well educated north-Indian Muslims about Allama Shibli Nomani, they have told me that I should talk to someone from Azamgarh, because that is where he was from, and that is where the Shibli Academy and Shibli National College are located. So four years ago I traveled to Azamgarh, visited both institutions and Shibli’s grave there and talked to a few of Shibli’s descendents. What I discovered is that despite his awesome services and contribution in furthering the causes of the Indian nation, the culture and heritage of the Musalmans of South Asia and his yeoman services in spreading education in the community, the Qaum has relegated him as a remote figure in the pages of history. Further some people do grave injustice when they say that Shibli was a personality largely from Azamgarh and easten U.P.

The fact is that from the young age of 25 Shibli lived away from Azamgarh, serving in institutions all over the country and abroad and returned to live in Azamgarh only a couple of years before his untimely death at age 57 in 1914. It is injustice to Shibli that the Aligarh Muslim University, Nadvat ul Uloom and Osmania University where Shibli spent thirty-one years of his life have done little to retain his memory. Next only to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Shibli was a crusading pioneer in the Aligarh movement to spread modern education in the Muslim qaum that was badly ravaged by the 1957 war of independence. Indeed Shibli, who was a child of India’s first war of independence, was born on June 3, 1857 in Azamgarh.

Shibli completed his education in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Usul (Islamic principles), Hadith (traditions of prophet Mohammad), Munazra (comparative religious debate), Maqulat (rational science) and astronomy under illustrious scholars like Maulana Farooq Chiryakoti, Hakim Abdullah Jairajpuri and Maulana Irshad Hussain of Rampur. Shibli began his career by first working as a lawyer in Azamgarh and Jaunpur. But starting in 1878 Shibli was increasingly drawn to scholarship, comprising of learning and teaching. Thus he started writing discourses in ‘Awadh Panch’ and ‘Payam-e-yaar’, two contemporary newspapers of U.P. that talked of retaining the established values of the Muslim society.

At Aligarh College

In 1881 Shibli visited Aligarh to meet Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Subsequently as the then Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College , then also known as ‘Madrasat al uloom Musalman’ needed a teacher for Eastern languages, Shibli applied for the position. Shibli’s interview for that position by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan is an interesting anecdote. On the day of his interview Shibli was asked to seat himself in the college’s library. In the library Shibli found that the book-shelves were unlocked and a few chairs were placed; he proceeded to browse through the books. The whole day passed but Sir Syed never came. Instead he sent word to Shibli to come to the library the next day.

Again on the next day Shibli waited, browsing through books the entire day but again Sir Syed never came. Instead he again sent word to Shibli to come the next day. The same occurred on the third day. At the end of the third day, Sir Syed came to the library and told Shibli, “ Maulvi Shibli, the interview is over, go and start your teaching work”.

On February 1, 1883, at the young age of twentyfive Shibli was appointed Assistant professor of Arabic and Persian at a monthly salary of forty rupees. Two years later he was promoted as professor and his monthly salary increased to seventy rupees.

Thus began the father-son like partnership of Shibli Nomani with Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who was forty years older than Shibli, to develop the Anglo Mohammedan college to impart modern education to the Mussalmans of India. Shibli was immensely popular among the students at Aligarh; some of them being Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Mohammad Nazir, Sajjad Haider Yaldram, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar.

Soon Shibli became the first editor of the Urdu version of Aligarh Institute Gazette. He brought in distinguished writers of the period like Altaf Hussain Hali and Munshi Mohammad Zakaullah. In the events at the college, Shibli often spoke eloquently about the crestfallen position of Muslims and the importance of the Aligarh movement. To raise funds for the nascent college he will often participate in events along with Thomas Arnold, Kennedy, Smith, Anthony and Yusuf Vakil. At Aligarh he also established students’ societies like ‘Akhwan ul safa’ and ‘Lajinatul Adab’.

Shibli Steps Out

In 1892 Shibli took leave from the Aligarh College and left for a six month travel through various countries in the middleeast. In this travel Shibli visited Aden, Syria, Cyprus, Turkey, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Beirut and Cairo. He met luminaries like Saiyad Tahir, Maulana Ali Pasha, Sheikh Abduh, Sheikh Hamza Fathullah, Syed Raza Misri among others. In these countries he studied the system of education in a variety of madrasas and colleges and became familiar with the literature of those countries.

Upon his return from this travel Shibli introduced common boarding houses, common dining halls and uniform dress for students at the Aligarh school.

Also upon his return the British Indian government awarded Shibli with the honorific title of ‘Shams ul Ulema’. Shibli was also appointed a fellow of the then illustrious Allahabad University, member of the Bombay branch of Royal Asiatic Society, and he attended the Government Oriental conference in Shimla (1910), and the Coronation Durbar (1911) where he was introduced to King George V. In 1912 the Indian Government accepted many of Shibli’s recommendations for the reform of the syllabus in schools.

In Hyderabad and Turkey

In 1901 the Nizam of Hyderabad invited Shibli to Hyderabad to help set up the syllabus and systems at the new Oriental university that in time grew into the Osmania University. Shibli wrote the plan for the university entitled ‘Hyderabad ki mashraqi universirty’. In Hyderabad Shibli was appointed the secretary of Education and Arts at a monthly salary of five hundred rupees. In this position in Hyderabad, Shibli completed many works such as Al Ghazali (1902), Ibn al Kalam (1903), Sawaneh Maulana Rumi (1904). Also during his stay in Hyderabad he composed ‘Sher al Ajam’ and ‘Muwaznah Anis o Dabir’. In 1913 Shibli was invited by the Ottoman Sultan of Turkey to develop the text books for the proposed university at Madina.

Shbli departs Aligarh for Nadvat ul Uloom, Lucknow

Despite his long and dedicated service to the Aligarh College, in the late 1890s Shibli started getting uncomfortable with uncontrolled modernity at the college. In fact Sir Syed himself was uncomfortable with the growth of over-anglicized trends at the Aligarh College. It is said that Sir Syed’s appointment of his son Syed Mahmood, a highly anglicized person as his successor as the secretary of the Aligarh Education Society, in preference to several of his staunch colleagues like Maulvi Samiullah, Karamat Hussain, Shibli Nomani etal led to a situation where several of these luminaries left the Aligarh college ultimately. It is said that a fortnight before his death in 1898 a major quarrel occurred between Sir Syed and his son Syed Mahmood due to the later’s very anglicized lifestyle, that caused Sir Syed to move out of the house and start living with his friend Haji Ismail Khan, where he soon breathed his last.

In 1896 Shibli first expressed a desire to leave the Aligarh college but was persuaded by the principal of the college, Theodore Beck to stay. Finally after the death of Sir Syed Shibli Nomani resigned from the Aligarh college in 1899. It was in 1905 after return from Hyderabad that Shibli Nomani joined Nadvat ul Uloom at Lucknow as the secretary of the institution. As at other institutions, Shibli threw himself with all his zeal to build Nadva into a quality institution and introduced new subjects and curriculum. He also started the journal Al Nadva that revolutionized the thinking of Ulema and broadened their outlook. At Nadva some of Shibli’s distinguished students were: Saiyed Sulaiman Nadvi, Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi, Maulana Masud Nadvi – the same people who later gave concrete shape to Shibli’s dream of Dar ul Muannifin at Azamgarh.

It was during his decade long sojourn at Nadva that Shibli visited Bombay and the nearby princely state of Janjirah in 1907. That is where he wrote the classic ‘Sher al ajam’, the history of the Persian poetry, and his treatise on ‘Islam and tolerance’.

However some of his critics at Nadva opposed Shibli for the modern syllabus that he institutionalized there as too modern. In fact for some of his compositions in ‘al Kalam’ some of his opponents charged him even with apostasy, just as Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was similarly charged for his Aligarh College movement. It is an irony that at the Aligarh college some of Shibli’s critics considered him as too conservative, while at Nadva some of his critics considered him a radical. Finally in 1913 Shibli Nomani resigned and left from Nadva after a decade of dedicated service to the institution.

Shibli and Maulana Azad

It was during his stay in Bombay that Shibli Nomani met the then youthful Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who was then the editor of the Urdu journal ‘Lisan-ul-sidq’. Soon Shibli and Azad became close friends and colleagues and Azad spent some time at Nadva. Shibli invited Azad to join him in writing the magnum opus ‘Sirat ul Nabi’, considered Shibli Nomani’s landmark achievement, even though he did not live long enough to complete it. Such was Azad’s devotion to Shibli that after Shibli’s death when Syed Sulaiman Nadvi asked Azad if he will like to serve as a honorary fellow at the Dar ul Musannifin, Azad is reported to have said: “ I will willingly serve even as a porter”.

Shibli returns home to Dar ul Musannifin, Azamgarh

In 1913 at the age of fiftysix, after being away from his hometown of Azamgarh for thirtyone years, and having lived and worked all over India and having travelled abroad extensively, Shibli Nomani returned to settle down in Azamgarh. In Azamgarh he soon established Dar ul Musannifin (abode of writers) - that is today also known as Shibli Academy. In the short time before his death in November 1914, despite poor health Shibli did much to give a concrete shape to the new institution. It is a tribute to Shibli’s illustrious life and work that his students built his dream institution into a major center of learning and research related to Islam, Islamic civilization, Indo-Islamic culture and the Indian culture itself.

Shibli’s legacy

Shibli Nomani was a visionary and a restless soul who like Ibn-e-Batuta, travelled widely and lived in places remote from his home in pursuit of learning, spreading knowledge, building institutions and bringing about a revolution in the thinking of Ulema, learened scholars and ordinary Muslims. Shibli was one of the most ardent nationalists devoted to his nation and to freeing it from the yoke of colonialism. At the Aligarh college he dedicated himself to providing modern education to Muslims. His letters to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan from Istanbul, Cairo and other places show his deep concern that Muslims study sciences. He admitted the importance of Western learning but was not prepared to ignore oriental subjects or belittle the merit of Islamic sciences. He disagreed with those who wanted to emulate the western ethos so much that it could destroy the identity of Muslims.

Shibli’s spirit of national integration is demonstrated by the manner in which he established a school in 1883 in his hometown of Aligarh, and named it ‘National School’; it is now a large post-graduate college with an enrollment of about 9,000 students. He instructed that the students in this school speak English language by the time they reach Standard V. A century ago Shibli was of the opinion that much of the Muslim antipathy to Western learning arose because of their ignorance of European languages. He was not satisfied with mere writing, learning and attending conferences, but also believed in action. For example when in 1912 Burn, the chief secretary of United Provinces government initiated a move to introduce Urdu in Devnagri script, Shibli opposed it stoutly and fought for the preservation of Urdu in Nastaliq script. Also in 1912 he introduced a resolution in Delhi demanding withdrawl of books that created discord among Indians of diverse faiths from schools and colleges.

Shibli praised the Congress party for raising the demand of self-government. While Shibli believed that the Congress party may not best represent the interests of the Muslim community, at the same time he dismissed the claims of Muslim League as the exclusive representative of Muslims. He did not subscribe to the fears expressed by Muslim League that by virtue of their numerical superiority Hindus would overwhelm Muslims. Indeed men like Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar and Maulana Azad who were Shibli’s close younger colleagues and who were considerably influenced by Shibli may be viewed as his political successors.

Have we forgotten Shibli?

In the aftermath of Shibli Nomani’s death his favourite pupil including the renowned Syed Sulaiman Nadvi, dedicated themselves to nurturing and building on his legacy. Syed Sulaiman Nadvi completed Shibli’s unfinished ‘Seerat un Nabi’ and together with others built Dar ul Musannifin in Azamgarh into a most illustrious institution of learning, research and publications in the area of Islamic thought and civilization that it became in the next few decades.

However, after 1947 Shibli Nomani’s name has suffered neglect by people outside his close circle and outside the Muslim community of Eastern U.P. For instance the Muslim qaum has not given Shibli the all-India stature that others like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, Maulana Azad with whom he cam be easily ranked among the Muslim luminaries of the last 150 years. Aligarh Muslim University and Nadvat ul Uloom, Lucknow, the two institutions that he served for so long with so much untiring zeal and devotion and where he made so much contribution have not done much to perpetuate his memory.

It was only recently that Aligarh Muslim University built a students hostel in his name; but they did not name any of their better institutes, eg the library or one of the colleges after Shibli. Similarly Nadvat ul Uloom did not name any of its significant organs after him. Hardly any Muslim community university has named any major awards in Shibli’s name.

And hardly any alumni of AMU memorialize Shibli by organizing annual lectures in his memory. The unkindest cut is that when you enquire about Shibli from north Indian Muslims they indicate that he is a historical figure from eastern UP and Azamgarh. This despite the fact that Shibli spent 31 of his 57 years serving educational institutions of the Muslims all over India, away from his home base. Today we need to make up for lost time and take steps to give Shibli a place of pride among the all-India luminaries of the Muslim qaum of the last two centuries.

[Kaleem Kawaja is a community activist based at Washington DC. He can be contacted at kaleemkawaja@gmail.com]

Uttarakhand Calamity -- Where is Hindu charity?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

I am surprised by the conspiracy of silence of the so called custodians of Hindu faith who have not yet come up to extend moral, monetary and other forms support for the reconstruction of the disaster struck Uttarakhand, the bode of Hindu shrines and Hindu holy places.

In India there are stinking rich NGOs, Gurus, Swamis and super rich swamis who survive on their faith base identities. Why are they not coming forward and extending solace to their Dev Bhumi where Hindu pilgrims folk with impunity? Why they are hiding their coffers from those who have given it to them, at a time when they are begging for survival?

Where are the NRIs who are the main financers of Gujarat Chief Minister Nrander Modi’s Hindutva campaign not pooling in their hard earned money for the reconstruction of the Hindu pilgrimage places in Uttrakhand? Are they convinced that their money is for political purposes only and not religious charitable purposes of Hindutva campaign?

Where are the RSS cadre the nickerwals, who are running shakhs in many nook and corners of India, why they are not rushing to Uttrakhand to help the humanity at large? Where is their cultural ethos? Why is the Nagpur cabinet not issuing any diktat to their well-dressed cadres?

Where are Trishul wielding Shiv Saniks, why they are not attending to the call of Lord Shiva from holy land of Uttrakhand. Why not the Thackreys leading a padyatra from Maharastra to Uttrakhand to help the bhakts of Shiva seeking help at this moment of crisis?

Where are the Banjrag Dal activists, the live-wires of Hindutva campaign who gets mobilized in no time to cause Hindu fury, why are they having no time to respond to help the most sacred places of Hindus in India?

Last but not the least the BJP, whose clarion call Mandir whoin Baneyege, once ranted the air in their Ayodhya campaign, why they are silent when Kedarnath mandir is staring at their face for rebuilding.

Where are Mukthar Abbas Naqvis and Shanawaz Hussain, why are they not leading a chariot procesion of Hindu followers to rebuild Urrakhand. Why are they fretting and fuming at Nitish Kumar. Can’t they see any thing beyond Bihar. The hypocrisy of the so called custodians of the Hindu faith stands exposed.

Uttarakhand is facing the worst ever tragedies. The stories of human greed and abuse are trickling in and there is total absence of human kindness and compassion in this hour of crisis. As Indians we feel ashamed that we are not doing enough to help the victims of the tragedies.

Everyone is watching with abject apathy the relief and rescue work done by the government and our brave security forces that are rendering their yeomen services. They are criticizing the relief and rescue operations however; none is coming forward to chip in their resources for the survival of many Indians.

It’s time for Indian to do some introspection and start making sincere effort to mitigate the sufferings of the fellow Indians stranded in Uttrakhand. Leaving it to the government or blaming religious bodies of not doing enough will be skirting the problem and their responsibilities.

Peace, fortitude and unity is the need of the hour. The onus is on every Indian, who loves his country to wake up and stand up for the cause to build a new India.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]

AIMIM announces relief worth Rs 78.75 lakh for Uttarakhand victims

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

Hyderabad: All India Majlis-e-Ittehaadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has announced relief worth Rs 78.75 lakh for the victims of natural calamity that struck Uttarakhand State last week.

AIMIM President and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi in a press release said that the cloudburst and floods that ravaged Uttarakhand caused large-scale devastation and trauma to the local people as well as thousands of pilgrims who had converged from all over the country, including Andhra Pradesh.

Mr Owaisi said that AIMIM has contributed Rs 6 lakh to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) towards relief and rehabilitation for Uttarakhand flood victims. The demand draft towards the contribution was sent to the PMNRF.

Apart from the cash contribution, AIMIM has decided to distribute basic medicines worth Rs 20 lakh to the affected people in Uttarakhand. Relief kits comprising essential commodities, clothing and bedding would be distributed to the people in the affected areas. The 5,000 relief kits would cost around Rs 52.75 lakh.

The AIMIM is sending a large team comprising party corporators and workers led by former corporator Sunnam Raj Mohan for distributing medicines and food kits consisting of essential commodities and clothing to the affected people.

Each Relief Kit Contains:

S No.
5 Kg
1 Kg
2 Kg
1 Kg
Edible Oil
1 Kg
Red Chilli Powder
200 gms
Haldi Powder
200 gms
Ginger & Garlic Paste
250 gms
1 Kg
Milk Powder
1 Kg
200 gms
Colgate Powder
200 gms
Hair Oil
5 pouches
Washing Soap
2 Nos.
Bath Soap
2 Nos.
Cotton Kurta & Pyjama
1 Nos
Saree & Blouse
1 Nos.
2 Nos.
1 Nos.
Bed Sheet
1 Nos.

The AIMIM delegation comprises: 

1.   Mohammed Ghouse – Corporator, Charminar
2.   Bhanumati Narsing Rao – Corporator, Borabanda
3.   Mukarram – Corporator, Moghalpura
4.   Samad Bin Abdad – Corporator, Uppuguda
5.   Habeeb Zain Arif – Corporator, Shivrampally
6.   Mohammed Jani Miyan – Co-opted Member
7.   Zakir Baqri – Corporator, Murad Nagar
8.   Alampalli Pochaiah, former Mayor, Hyderabad
9.   Chinna Srisailam Yadav
10. Rajesh Agarwal
11. Muzaffar
12. GVJ Naidu
13. Naveen Yadav
14. Mukesh Kumar Agarwal
15. Praveen Navender
16. Rakesh Agarwal
17. Promod Jain
18. Krishna Yadav
19. Sundeep Solanki
20. Mallikarjun Yadav
21. Sai Venkati Yadav
22. Durga Singh – Ex-Corporator
23. Deepak Pandit
24. Natti Kumar
25. Ram Chander Madiga

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