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The Madrasa Education in India: Ailment and Reform

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

By Javeed Mirza

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

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

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


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

The Basic ailments

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

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

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

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

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

Reform

The issues outlined above need reform. Some suggestions are:

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Communal rage in secular India

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

By Mohammad Wajihuddin

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us stop this madness as we enter 2021.

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

Why Female Genital Mutilation Endangers and Circumcision Protects

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

By Rabbi Allen Maller

When Mariya Taher moved to Massachusetts five years ago, she was shocked to find out the state had no legislation in place against female genital mutilation and cutting. Taher launched a petition, which got more than 400,000 signatures, urging the state to ban the practice.

On August 7, 2020 the the petition was victorious. After seven years of advocacy by survivors and activists in the state, Massachusetts is now one of 39 states in the U.S. that has criminalized female genital mutilation and cutting.

“It’s giving us validation that this is not something that can be sanctioned by culture or religion, that it is a human rights violation,” said Taher, who co-founded Sahiyo, a non-profit focused on ending the practice globally, particularly among the small Indian Muslim Dawoodi Bohra sect in which she and many other girls were cut at 7 years old.

Bradley Jones, Jr., who sponsored the legislation in the state House of Representatives, hailed the Governor’s signing of the law as “a great victory protecting some of our most vulnerable residents.”


Female genital mutilation or cutting, also known as FGM refers to the removal of the external female genitalia, in part or in total, as well as any other deliberate injury to genitalia for non-medical reasons.

FGM, although wide spread in limited geographic areas, is opposed by the majority of Muslim scholars (ulema). Of the four schools of Sha'aria only the Shafii school of law, declares FGM wajib, or obligatory. In contrast, the other three Sunni schools, plus the Shia schools, consider FGM sunnah- recommended but not required.

World Health Organization says female genital cutting, unlike male circumcision, has no health benefits for girls or women. The procedure can cause severe bleeding, problems urinating and infections, while increasing the risk of complications in childbirth and newborn deaths.

Thus, FGM is not circumcision: it is female genital mutilation, and calling it circumcision is a slander of both Islam and Judaism. It is important that Muslims and Jews make this distinction clear to the general public.

Christianity, Islam and Judaism all teach that circumcision was practiced by Prophet Abraham, who is revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims to this day. Christians do not believe circumcision is still a required observance.

But, even during Medieval times, Christian governments never prohibited ritual circumcision for Jews and Muslims living under their rule. Equally, Jews and Muslims never tried to force Christians to circumcise their children.

Only pagan governments like the Greeks and the Romans, or anti-religious secular governments like Communist Russia, have forbidden ritual circumcision of males. These governments are led by people who believe that their own humanistic, rational philosophy is on a much higher level than what has been taught by traditional religions, which they do not believe in.

Many European secularists regard circumcision of minors by Muslims and Jews, as a cruel violation of children’s rights. A similar debate is occurring across northern Europe about the issue of ritual slaughter of animals, which devout Jews and Muslims require be performed on conscious animals.

This is part of a larger dilemma facing left-wing parties in Europe, which often struggle to balance their stated commitment to minority rights, with a pushy, self-righteous, secularist agenda that is perceived as intolerant by most members of religious groups.

It is totally false to compare the custom of female genital mutilation to the religious practice of male circumcision.

First, while there are great medical benefits from removal of the foreskin of a male, especially in reducing the spread of HIV; there is no medical benefit to a female from the removal of her clitoris and labia.

In Africa, Jewish and Muslim men have much lower rates of AIDS than uncircumcised Christian men.

Second, there is no evidence that female genital mutilation promotes chastity and preserves a woman's virtue. Having a considerate, loving and faithful husband does much more to promote a woman's virtue than female genital mutilation.


Third, male circumcision is a religious requirement; female genital mutilation is only a tribal custom, originating in sub Sahara Africa; which is now being spread by Muslim religious extremists to Asia and the West as part of a reaction against the rising rate of girls going to high school and woman going to work outside the home.

Evidence that female genital mutilation is a only a custom comes from the fact that in rural Egypt even Coptic Christians mutilate their daughters genitals..

Finally, and most important, male circumcision is derived from the God inspired practice of Prophet Abraham and Prophet Muhammad. “Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet said to her: ‘Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.’” (Abu Dawud 41:5251)

And God said to Prophet Abraham (Genesis 17:7): “I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you...

(8-12) “And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God. And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.

“You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old,” (Genesis 17: 7-12a)

And Allah ordered Prophet Muhammad to follow the religion of Abraham/Ibrahim saying (Qur'an 16:123): "Then We inspired you: 'Follow the religion of Ibrahim, the upright in Faith'." And part of the religion of Ibrahim is, as is evident from the verses cited above, to practice circumcision.

Prophet Abraham was an old man when he circumcised himself, thus becoming a good example that one is never to old to do God's will. As a Hadith says: Prophet Muhammad said: "Prophet Ibrahim circumcised himself when he was eighty years old and he circumcised himself with an axe." (Related by Bukhari, Muslim & Ahmad.)

Abraham's first born son Ishmael, was a young boy when he was circumcised, so Muslims do not have to circumcise their son's on an exact date. A Hadith states: When Ibn Abbas was asked "How old were you when the Prophet Muhammad died?" He replied, "At that time I had been circumcised. At that time people did not circumcise boys till they attained the age of puberty (Baligh)." (Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad himself selected the 7th day after birth to circumcise his own grandsons: Abdullah Ibn Jabir and Aisha both said: "The Prophet performed the Aqiqah of al-Hasan and al-Hussein (the prophets grandsons) circumcising them on the 7th. Day." (Related in al-Bayhaq & Tabarani)

Thus, for Jews circumcision is a sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham and his sons Ishmael and Isaac and their descendants for all future generations.

For Muslims it is a sign of their close connection to Abraham which is also celebrated each year at the annual Hajj ceremonies.

For both Muslims and Jews circumcision is a sign that one who submits to God's commandments and covenant cannot expect a life without some pain and suffering. But when endured for the right reasons pain and suffering always lead eventually to great spiritual benefits. Female genital mutilation is the exact opposite of circumcision both medically and religiously.

[Allen S. Maller is an ordained Reform Rabbi who retired in 2006 after 39 years as the Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California. See his website www.rabbimaller.com to know more. Rabbi Maller blogs in the Times of Israel. His book ‘Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms: A Reform Rabbi's Reflections on the Profound Connectedness of Islam and Judaism’ (31 articles previously published by Islamic websites) is for sale ($15) on Amazon. He can be contacted at malleraj@aol.com]

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

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

By Danish Ahmad Khan

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

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

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

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

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

Indian religious leaders condemn South Korean govt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Center for Studies on New Religions and HRWF jointly hold webinar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ram Temple foundation: A Jolt to Indian Culture

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

By V.K. Tripathi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MANUU pays tribute to the doyen of Urdu Journalism Khan Lateef Mohd. Khan

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

IMO News Service 

Hyderabad: Prof. S M Rahmatullah, Vice Chancellor in charge, Maulana Azad National Urdu University has expressed his deep sorrow over the demise of Mr. Khan Lateef Mohammad Khan, Editor-in-Chief, Munsif Daily, Hyderabad. In his condolence message, he paid glowing tribute to his pioneering contribution in promoting Urdu journalism, describing him as a trend-setting editor. Through the revival of Urdu daily Munsif in late 1997 he gave a new direction to Urdu journalism, said Prof. Rahmatullah.

Prof. Siddiqui Mohammad Mahmood, Registrar in-charge, in his condolence statement, mentioned the close association of Mr Khan with Urdu University. Mr. Khan Lateef Khan visited MANUU on its foundation day in 2006 as a chief guest and also delivered a lecture. Describing him as the doyen of Urdu journalism Prof. Siddiqui reminded that he had instituted Khan Lateef Khan Gold Medal for the toppers of the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism of MANUU to encourage the professional Urdu journalists. His support to MANUU specially in its formative years was enormous.

Prof. Rahmatullah and Prof. Mahmood Siddiqui conveyed their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members and staff of Munsif daily newspaper.

Obituary - Sadia Dehelvi dreamt for Indian Muslim Youth Movement

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

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

I am awestruck seeing the obituary coverage of Sadia Dehalvi, a Delhi socialite in the media. Her multifaceted personality is brought out in all the media reports that points how important Sadia Appa was in the Delhi social circle.

Reading about Sadia Appa my memory compelled me to unburden my thoughts with an obit on her sitting here in Chennai where I am currently based.  I knew Sadia Dehalvi in the year 1985 - 86 when I was 22 years and now I am 58.

We were a bunch of AMU students who had come to Delhi with the ambition to crack the Civil Services exam. We discovered India Islamic Cultural Center (IICC) on the Lodi Road that provided us free accommodation and a library to pursue our civil services dream.

Every weekend there was a pep talk by some “big gun” organized at the IIICC for us the civil services aspirants under the meet the celebrity programme.  

It was in one of those meetings Madam Sadia Dehalvi had come to give a talk on socially relevant issues in India. I was floored by Sadia Appa’s grace, elegance, élan and sophistication of her personality.  She seems to be a well-read person and talked to us quite knowledgeable on several social issues. Her vibrancy and enthusiasm in engaging us in conversation made us demand her again and again and soon she became a regular visitor to the IICC.  

It was in one such meeting, we had engaged Sadia Appa in a discussion on the Muslim problems in India. I found she had some original thoughts on this issue. She hailed said educational reformers in the country and showered praises on them for uplifting the community from ignorance.

She then came to her original idea and said the primary goal should be social activism to transform the community. She told us that only social activism can take the community forward. Such activism has to be done at an All India level and should be in parallel to the administrative structure of the country.

She wanted the Muslim community to organize into Self Help Groups at the Panchayat- Blocks – Subdivision and districts levels all over country just like how the administrative division exists in the country.     

What she meant was Muslims should form an advocacy group and even coined the term IMYM or Indian Muslim Youth Movement. She said Muslims should not look towards the government for the development of community development but they should organize themselves under a strong platform that they can help, guide and prepare the community to stand up on its feet.

Sadia Appa’s ideas touch an emotional chord among many of us and generated lot of positive energy for such a futuristic vision for the uplifting of the marginalized Muslim community.

The idea of IMYM was very refreshing. It was beyond Madrasas and minority institutions or even technical learning schools. It was a call for a new social movement that was unheard and un-talked in India.  Many of us present there were impressed by her fresh thinking towards addressing the Muslim problems in the country. Her thought to organize the Muslim community under an umbrella organization was a grand vision for the development of the community.

Unfortunately her idea of IMYM could never take off. This was because there was a need for many dedicated persons resources and other such organizational requirements to take it forward and to be made into a movement.

I moved to JNU for my civil services mission and lost contact with Sadia Delvi. Nonetheless, I followed her in the media and it appeared to me that she too had other things to do and she remained busy in them.

Now when everyone is talking about her, I thought I may also enrich my reader a different personality of Sadia Dehalvi. I knew Sadia Appa was not taken seriously because her life style did not match someone who can be accepted for the development of the Muslim community.

It was such a rejection that the vision of IMYM went into oblivion. It was also because such an idea came from a lady who did not look like a female version of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, (beard and cap).

This is not to denigrate anyone’s contribution to the progress of the community but to underline the point that Muslim women too can take up the role of the leadership of the community. I am writing this because I cherish those memories of Sadia Dehalvi. Having come to know her from close quarters, I can say with some conviction that she was a faithful Muslim.

Her concern for the development of the Muslim community was no less than Muslim clergy and narrow, parochial and patriarchy rooted types of Muslims in India.

When I heard the news of the passing away of Sadia Appa, a stream of thoughts jogged down my memory lane. I felt compelled to unburden myself to narrate this anecdote that can have a transformative impact on the Muslim community. A change that is what is needed in the Muslim community and that was the vision of Sadia Appa. She wanted this to happen through IMYM.

Through this obituary note I like to say I am proud to have met such a visionary personality in my lifetime. I end this; Sadia Appa rest in peace, it was nice knowing you and I joined many others in a silent prayer saying 'Rest in Peace' Appa. RIP…

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

Kuwait expatriate body Indian Social Forum organizes Blood Donation Camp

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

IMO News Service

Kuwait City: Indian Social Forum organised Blood Donation Camp in association with Central Blood Bank Kuwait on Friday, 7th August 2020. The camp was organised by ISF to support the high demand of blood in the context of COVID-19. 

All arrangements to maintain COVID-19 protocol were made in the camp including segregation of donors as branch wise batches along with strict safety measures of participants.

The members of ISF also donated blood to many patients during the lockdown period. Hundreds of people donated blood in the camp. The camp organised in Blood Bank, Jabriya, was successfully managed by Dr. Asma Rafat and leaders of ISF, including Aslam, Vice President; Sayyid Bukhari Thangal, Secretary; and prominent officials such as Moideen Koya, Khaleel, Aseem, Mohammed Sha, Shihab, and Naushad.

The Indian Social Forum also expressed deep appreciation and gratitude to the doctors, staff and management of blood bank, forum’s members and donors.

Simplify Life at Home with RoboVac G10 Hybrid

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

IMO News Service

Cleaning is made effortless as Anker Innovations introduces the new eufy Robovac G10 Hybrid that takes on dust-busting around your home with multiple cleaning modes, moping and auto-clean scheduling.

Faraz Mehdi, Regional Sales Head at Anker Innovations MEA said, “The new intelligent super slim Robovac G10 Hybrid is a quiet, self-charging robotic vacuum cleaner that cleans hard floors and carpets a lot easier and delivers the most powerful clean with the latest sweep and mop technology. It offers twice the efficiency of standard robotic cleaners.”

The intelligent RoboVac G10 Hybrid operates quietly and comes with Smart Dynamic Navigation, cleaning report cards, Wi-Fi, voice control and 2-in-1 sweep and mop for a sparkling clean. The self-charging RoboVac may be ultra-slim, but it’s packed with a 3-point cleaning system consisting of a suction inlet, rolling-brush and side-brush.

This lean cleaning Machine boasts 2000Pa of superior suction power clearing dirt, dust, and crumbs. The Super-Slim 2.85” body effortlessly glides under furniture and into hard to reach areas.

Users can give instructions by voice or using your phone via the EufyHome app, Siri, Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. Post sales, eufy also provides 12 Months Warranty, friendly and easy-to-reach support. It is available in all leading electronic stores and amazon.ae.

Eufy as a brand has a wide range of appliances like Robotic Vacuum Cleaners, Cordless Handstick Vacuum Cleaner, Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaners, Smart Scale etc.

About eufy

eufy is a smart home brand by Anker Innovations, founded in 2016 with the objective of bringing the latest smart home technology to households across the country at attainable prices. Establishing itself as a leader in robovacs, hand held vacuum cleaners, baby monitors, and reliable smart home security products, eufy meets the growing demand in innovative smart home products and reliable security solutions that offers privacy and makes life easier and safer. Find more about eufy at www.eufylife.com.

About Anker Innovations

Anker Innovations is a global leader in charging technology and a developer of unique and innovative consumer products in audio, home automation, home entertainment and more. This innovation is being led by its five key brands: Anker, Eufy, Nebula, ROAV and Soundcore. More information about Anker Innovations, its brands and products can be found at anker.com. Representing these brands, Anker Innovations in Dubai, U.A.E, is behind the sales of the range of premium products and gadgets in the UAE, KuwaitOmanBahrainQatarIraq and other GCC countries and African countries.

UAE opens up for business amid COVID-19 precautions

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 02 July 2020 | Posted in , , ,

The end of movement restrictions and the national disinfection programme in the UAE is the culmination of months of relentless efforts by the government, crisis management authorities and frontline health care workers in close cooperation with public institutions, businesses and the general public to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Thanks to their sustained and well-coordinated efforts, the UAE has successfully reopened almost all major facets of its economy ahead of most other countries with similar number of cases.

People can now watch a movie at the cinemas, go to a park or a long-drive in their family car, catch up on some retail shopping at malls with children in tow, enjoy their favourite meal at a restaurant and visit tourist hot spots around the country.

Businesses can once again welcome back customers to their premises; schools can prepare for students to return possibly in September, and the country can get ready to welcome the first post-Covid tourists in a couple of weeks.

While citizens and residents across the UAE will surely cherish the return of free movement, it does not mean we go back to the careless practices of pre-pandemic days. In Abu Dhabi, for instance, an entry ban in force due to its sterilisation drive will continue.

Adhere to precautions

Around the UAE, everyone must adhere to stringent Covid-19 precautions — including social distancing and wearing masks, and violators will face the full force of penalties.

The underlying message for everyone is very simple: even though movement restrictions have been lifted, the Covid-19 outbreak is still here and new cases continue to be reported every day. It’s vital to resume economic activities in the country, but we must always remember that the virulent virus is still lurking around us.

Therefore, whatever you do in the coming days and weeks, be responsible. For yourself, your family, friends, colleagues at work and the society that you inhabit.

It’s equally important that we don’t delude ourselves about the future: the road back to normality will be long and challenging, and people and businesses will each respond to it in their own ways as necessary, with one common thread: we must all proceed with caution, empathy and understanding.

The strategies deployed by the UAE in fighting the pandemic have shown us how to handle those challenges, and the new normal that we return to today is the successful result of adopting those measures.

With the UAE announcing the world’s first phase III clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine in cooperation with Chinese pharma giant CNBG, the future is also full of hope.

The UAE’s global and national role in fighting the pandemic offers vital lessons in leadership during a crisis. With the reopening of the country, the responsibility is now on all of us to continue to fulfil that role and work together for a safe and secure future, while remembering that it’s only the movement restrictions that have gone — not the virus.

(Courtesy: Gulf News)

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