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 Restoring Childhood

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Join date : 2011-06-29

PostSubject: Restoring Childhood   Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:24 pm

Restoring Childhood

A Muslim woman activist rescues kids from workshops and returns them their lost childhood in Bangalore - Mohammad Javed

Nadeem, 13 years, led a miserable life. He was working in one of the many factories in Bismillah Nagar locality of Bangalore, where child labour is rampant. His job involved working on the lathe machine from 9 am to 11 pm. He drew a measly salary of Rs 50 a week and Rs 2 every evening towards daily allowance. The daily drudgery had bleached his childhood. Yet he would have no complaints against the painstaking schedule had he been spared of the employer’s torture and hail of abuses at every small mistake he made. “Hardly a day passed without my employer beating me”, says a horrified Nadeem showing wound marks all over his body.
Things were no different for Nizam, 12. Son of a vegetable vendor and his housemaid wife, he worked in a factory in the same area. The two could hardly pay any attention towards the kid they had sired. Pressed into employment at an early age, the parents only knew their economic worth in contributing to the family’s income.

Mrs. Benazir Baig

It was five years ago when hope dawned on Nadeem, Nizam and scores of such kids from Bismillah Nagar and its environs when the crusader within Mrs. Benazir Baig thought of salvaging the kids from their accursed childhood. Their innocent quest for water, deprived as they were from basic necessities of drinking water and urinals, had often led these kids to her doors in slimy clothes. Initially, Baig persuaded them to join evening classes and kindled in them a pining for learning and having a childhood as normal as most others of their age would have.

Number grew and so did Baig’s canvas of social work. Today Benazir runs a school where 70 children (50 boys and 20 girls) who till recently were referred to as child labourers are her students. Named as Excellent School, the school offers training in various vocations apart from education. It also has the affiliation of National Open School (NOS) for high school. But unfortunately only classes from first to seventh standard are run here because of the fewer number of students that they have been able to admit.

Shaista, now studying in fifth standard at Excellent school, is proving her talents. Her father lost his livelihood following eviction from a footpath after he could not meet the hafta demand of the policemen. Shaista’s studies became a casualty. Her grandfather now looks after the house expenditure and it was last year that Shaista was persuaded by Benazir to join the school. Ten year old Subramanyam worked as an apprentice in a tailor shop. He was paid only Rs. 2 per day. His father works as a mason and it makes it difficult for him to afford his children’s education. He has three kids. Subramanyam is now studying in third standard in Benazir’s school. Hajira, a fourth standard student is daughter of a lorry driver father and mother who makes beedis. Till last year she too was assisting her mother. The workload hardly ever allowed her time to play. Her plight was pathetic. Two years ago, Benazir spotted her and after convincing her parents, got Hajira enrolled in the school.

Clearly, all children are much older for the classes they are attending. Yet what is important is that Benazir is imparting them education which they would have otherwise missed. And they are unanimous that they have to learn spoken English, a status symbol among kids in cosmopolitan Bangalore.

Daughter of an Air Force officer, Benazir says that only after her father was transferred from Agra to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bangalore, did she get exposure to such harsh realities of society. “In Agra, we were staying in the quarters provided by the Air force where we lived like frogs in the well, smug with the satisfaction that the world outside would be as rosy as theirs. Initially, after coming to Bangalore, I taught Hindi at Al-Ameen High School. But the small factory right opposite my house opened my eyes. I was pained to see the exploited youth and lost innocence of the Muslim kids. Hence I decided to dedicate my life for the upliftment of these children”, explains Benazir recalling her early days of struggle against the workshop owners and the hours spent in persuading the parents.

Today, Excellent School is being looked upon with much pride and honour by the residents of the locality. Stripped of child workers and condescending parents, the workshop owners have quit the area. What brought about the change? Baig helped by her family, took upon herself the task of educating the mothers and in the process, endowed them with skills that could bring them at least as much as their kids were earning.

Benazir believes that child labour owes its existence to more causes than one. Muslim men lead a careless life and are economically irresponsible. Not only that, their earnings are insufficient, they also spend carelessly, worrying not a bit about education of the kids. Moreover, desertion of wives is more common than divorce. A large number of Muslim men go for second marriage with or without the knowledge of the first wife. Together these factors give rise to many social evils of which child labour is just one.

Benazir puts forth this explanation before proudly adding that 15 women are now learning various skills at the school. Tailoring and artificial flower making are the major skills that these women are being trained in. “After we enroll a child, things become easier for us to associate the whole family with the institute”, says Benazir. “Our aim is to give basic education required to lead a life to the downtrodden of the society”, she adds. While she is striving to convert the school into a full-fledged one, she says that her immediate goal is to free the children from the innumerable unregistered small factories in the area.

However, limited resources have been the bane of the project. Infrastructure is poor. The school is run in a small, three-room, tin-roofed building in the narrow lanes of Bismillah Nagar. “We have to change the buildings every year as building owners raise the rents,” says Benazir.

“We are badly in need of our own premises. I look forward to responsible citizens helping us in obtaining a building of our own”. However some philanthropists have begun helping her with donation for school bags and uniforms. She says, “Earlier, we were going in search of child labourers. Now the mothers come to us with kids in tow.”

(Excellent School, Raza Manzil, 19/ 25, 4th main, Bismillahnagar, Bangalore, Tel: 6685637)
Success Stories are Few
Karnataka Muslim Schools Survey

Three months ago, the Islamic Voice requested the Muslim-managed schools to send their SSLC Board examination results for the current year. Only a few schools responded on their own. However, we got the results collected by sending our own representatives to Muslim schools in Bangalore and Hubli. Presented below is a summary of the performance. We hope more schools would respond to our request next year. --- Editor
By A Staff Writer

The best way to gauge the efforts towards human resource development (HRD) of a community is to look into the performance of schools managed by the community. Muslims present a sad picture in this context. First, they run very few schools. Second, the whole approach of the schools is listless. Third the Muslim elite consider it below their dignity to send their own children to Muslim managed schools. These children go to Christian missionary schools or those of other communities.

Among Karnataka’s 50 million people, Muslims account for 12 per cent or nearly 60 lakh. The state minorities commission covered nearly 59 lakh Muslims in its survey five years ago. It is estimated that Muslims run nearly 400 high schools in the state. In this survey we have carried the SSLC (10th standard Board) examination results for the year 1999. Since only a few schools from outside Bangalore responded to our request, we mainly base this study on the results of Bangalore’s Muslim high schools. It may be borne in mind that nearly 22 per cent of the students in the Christian missionary schools in Bangalore are Muslims. While currently we do not possess information as to how many schools are managed by missionaries, it is evident that all good, and high performing schools in Bangalore are run by missionaries. And they are in large numbers, may be around 200 or so. By next year we would gather the statistics and present them for a fuller picture.

Bangalore has a population of 8 to 9 lakhs. Muslims here run nearly 30 high schools. However some of them are not recognised as minority- managed schools and the composition of students also does not reflect their minority character. Some of them are on par with missionary high schools in terms of standards and performance. The results available with us are from 15 high schools from Bangalore. These schools sent 1391 students to the SSLC Board examinations this year. Of these 247 or 15 per cent secured first class, 269 or 19 per cent passed in second class while 323 or 23 per cent failed in the examinations. Thus 43 per cent are understood to have secured third class.

In Karnataka’s context, it can be said that all third class students stand hardly any chance of proceeding to higher studies while there is absolutely no chance of getting professional education. Most of them would be drop outs. With the highest number of engineering and medical colleges and institutes of other professional courses, normally any student securing a high second class in Karnataka gains admission in a professional college through common entrance test. Viewed from this angle, one can understand the dynamics of education and employment in Karnataka. But low educational attainments are likely to deny the fruits of this liberal policy to Muslims who are running three medical colleges, nearly half a dozen dental and engineering colleges, and a similar number of pharmacy, management, hotel and catering management institutes, over two dozen of degree and educational training colleges.

As can be gleaned from the results, the Jame Ul Uloom English High School run by the Jamia Masjid and Muslim Charitable Fund Trust in the basement of the impressive Jamia Masjid of Bangalore has achieved the best results this years with almost 99 per cent passes. And 63 per cent of the students from the school secured first class. New Generation High School of Basavanagudi has, performed creditably by securing cent per cent passes though sent only 18 students for the exams. The school, however, carries a lot of promise. Imamia English High School run by the Shia community, has sent the largest contingent of students for the Board examination and has both boys and girls and Muslim and non-Muslims in both categories. The school’s performance of 94 per cent passes is appreciable. The Crescent High School of Basavanagudi which admits students from the most depressed sections of Muslims has over the years improved its rating. 80 per cent passes is credit worthy. These are a few success stories.

One unmistakable impression is that the Quwwathul Islam High School which was the leading school in 80s and used to score 98 per cent passes and over 90 percent first classes, has regressed. With only 19 per cent first classes and 43 per cent failures, this school is indeed very low on performance. No specific reason for this performance has been shown by the management. One wishes the school regains its past glory. Its neighbour, Najamussehar Girls High School for girls, too has dipped in performance. According to its headmistress, the students from homes where studies are not a priority with parents find admission in this school. Indeed the school’s infrastructure is very poor and needs to be attended to by the elite Muslims who live in the vicinity of this school. With only six teachers in the school, the plight of the students may well be understood. The plight of the BMES High School is worth attention. The headmistress, Syeda Farida Banu, states that the high school admits students from Government Urdu schools and most of these students do not even know the alphabets of Urdu and English. She draws a poignant picture of the lack of motivation among students and total apathetic attitude of the parents towards the studies. Needless to say that if the school has produced three first classes and 32 per cent total passes despite total lack of infrastructure, it must be congratulated. We wish we could have reproduced the letter. The location of boys and girls high schools run by the Central Muslim Association (CMA) among the lower middle class Muslim is evident from the performance of these schools. It can however, be improved upon as the organisation is of long standing and may not lack infrastructure in case it has the will to organise its resources. It is indeed a sad commentary on Bangalore Muslims that the CMA schools show such lacklustre performance.

We will not comment on the performance of Muslim high schools in other parts of Karnataka as we have received few responses. They are just being reproduced with the hope that more results would flow in the years to come. But let us remind ourselves that our destiny lies in educating the Muslim masses. Basic education and health should be the community’s priority.

Awareness about opportunities and assertiveness in political field directly stems from the educational level of a group. Failing in this, one can write off the community.
Name of the School Appeared I class II class III class Failures Pass% %
Quwwathul Islam High School, Benson Town, Bangalore -560046. 218 43 67 65 43 81% 19%
Al-Ameen Girls High School D.G.Halli 05 nil 05 nil nil 100% nil
C M A High School A S Char St, Bangalore -53, 141 12 14 55 60 57% 8.5%
Quwwathul Islam Girls High School K.G. Halli, Bangalore -45 14 5 5 3 01 93% 35%
B E T Sufia Girls High School, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore-29 92 22 26 26 18 80% 24%
Al-Ameen High School Near Lal Bagh, Bangalore-27 84 21 28 28 07 91% 25%
C M A Girls High School, Sultanpet, Bangalore-53 138 12 33 38 45 67% 9%
Najmussahar Girls High School Benson Town, Bangalore-45 44 01 05 05 32 25% 02%
New Generation School (Boys & Girls)Basavanagudi, Bangalore-4 18 11 04 03 nil 100% 61%
B M E S High School Byrasandra, Bangalore-11, 59 03 04 12 40 32% 5%
Govt. Urdu High School (Boys & Girls) Jayanagar 1st Block, Bangalore-11, 16 01 05 02 06 50% 6%
Imamia English High School (Boys & Girls) Richmond Rd, Blr -25. 222 44 98 66 14 94% 20%
Crescent High School Basavanagudi, Bangalore -4, 80 12 24 13 17 61% 15%
Islamic Madrasa Niswan High School (Girls), Cockburn Road, Bangalore-1. 170 03 22 33 112 34% 2%
Jame Ul Uloom English High School SJP Road, Bangalore-2, 90 57 29 03 01 99% 63%
Zikra High School (for Girls) Anwarpeth St, Basavakalyan, Bidar dist. 42 01 05 19 17 59% 2%
Shams English High School (Boys & Girls) Basti Road, Bhatkal 27 07 04 08 08 70% 30%
Hilal High School (Boys & Girls) Gargeshwari-571110, 65 24 16 08 17 74% 36%
Islamia Arabic College (Boys) Mansoora, Hassan 28 08 09 09 02 93% 29%
Al-Ameen Pre-University College (Boys & Girls) Azam Nagar, Belgaum 64 09 21 26 07 89% 14%
Anglo-Urdu Boys High School Ghantikere, Hubli 222 13 27 48 134 40% 6%
Anglo-Urdu Girls High School Koulpeth, Hubli 521 26 50 103 342 34% 5%
Hazrath Syed Fatehshah Wali Girls High School Old Hubli, Hubli 57 09 13 14 21 63% 15%
Govt. Urdu High School Baharwada, Hubli 31 01 02 09 19 3% 35%

'We turned cities upside down'
Harun Yahya

We have witnessed a big earthquake in Istanbul, Izmit, Adapazari, and some other regions of Turkey. Thousands died, thousands got injured, thousands were left homeless, causing millions of dollars of loss for the Turkish economy. This was unexpected, unexpected by anyone. Everybody was sleeping at 3.00 am in the morning, and we all woke up with a great shock, everyone asked each other “what is happening?”. Thousands left their homes with the fear of death, and waited in the streets (Have you not considered those who went forth from their homes, for fear of death, and they were thousands... - Surah Al-Baqara, 243).

This is not for ‘nothing’. We take this as a warning from our Rab (Lord). We know that the previous nations also were faced with the wrath of Allah.

Then the (mighty) Blast overtook them before morning,

And We turned (the cities) upside down, and rained down on them brimstones hard as baked clay. Behold! In this there are the Signs for those who examine. And surely the cities are on a road that still abides. Most surely there is a sign in this for the believers. (Hijr, 73-77)

May Allah accept our tawba, may Allah forgive our sins.

We pray Allah that we get closer to our Rab. Our love for Allah becomes stronger, and fear of Allah becomes deeper. May Allah accept our deeds, and our prayer. May Allah save us from the effect of the ongoing earthquakes.

When Earth is shaken with her (final) earthquake

And the earth throws up her burdens (from within),

And man says (distressed): ‘What is the matter with her?’-

On that day she shall tell her news, Because your Lord had inspired her.

On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out, to be shown the deeds that they (had done).

Then anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good will see it! And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil, will see it. (Al-Zalzala -the Earthquake-, 1-Cool

The earthquake which caused thousands to die, and thousands waiting to get cured in the hospitals happened on the 8th of August 1999 at 03.00 am by local time, as we all know.

* The 99th Surah of the Qur’an is “Al-Zalzala” (the Earthquake) which is very meaningful as we are in 1999.

* Surah Al-Zalzala is composed of 8 verses in total, and this points to August which is the 8th month of the year.

* In the first ayat, the number of letters of the words “Earth is shaken with her earthquake”, gives 17 and the earthquake took place on August 17.

* In Surah Al-Zalzala, in the 3rd ayat, it is stated that “ says: ‘What is the matter with her?’. This ayat points at the 3rd hour of the early morning. And in the very same ayat, it is said that men ask “what is happening?”. In fact, at the very first moment when the earthquake started, the first thing thousands of people said was, “what is happening?”. Everybody who witnessed the earthquake knows this.

* In the fourth verse of Surah Al-Zalzala, it is stated, “On that day she shall tell her news.” The day earthquake happened, on August 17, all international media agents gave prominence to this event in the first place, and throughout the whole day both the local and foreign media agents gave news about this disaster. And also among the public, the earthquake was the first and major topic on which they talked. The expression “On that day she shall tell her news” points out to this.

* In the 5th verse of the same Surah, it is stated, “Because your Lord had inspired her”. And on that day the earth rocked with the inspiration of Allah. The crack in the fault is only the apparent “cause” of this earthquake. It is certainly not possible for this fault to get active without the will of Allah. This is totally similar to the case of a stone which causes the glass to get broken. There is the stone, and there is the glass. But only a force may throw the stone at the glass. And this is the Power, and the Inspiration, and the Will of Allah.

* The expression in Surah Al-Zalzala, the numerical value (abcad) for the sentence “On that day she shall tell her news, because your Lord had inspired her” gives 1999. This is really remarkable because it gives the date for this big earthquake.

* In Surat Al-Zalzala, ayat 7 it is stated; “Then anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good will see it!”, and in ayat 8 it is stated; “And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil, will see it.” In Arabic, the word referred is “miskal” which means “measure”. And it is really remarkable that the measure of the earthquake was 7.8.
Is marriage a bliss or curse?
Prof. Dr. Mumtaz Ali Khan

There are several hundreds of thousands of cases of victimized young married girls. I try to provide two case studies in brief to drive home the points-

Zakia is a graduate and a good-looking girl, around 25 years. Her husband has been working in a Gulf country for a couple of years. She is in her parents' home. The husband sends money every month to his parents. Zakia gets nothing from her husband. Her young kid is taken care of by the grand parents. Her in-law's are in a place far away from her house. She lived with the in-laws for a few years after marriage. But, what was the treatment she received there? Scolding, insult and humiliation. One day her sister-in-law's husband graciously suggested that she be set ablaze with kerosene. Zakia started trembling. She informed her parents. Mother went all the way to her in-law's place, studied the conditions, got satisfied and brought back the daughter with her child. The so-called husband knows only to serve his mother and sisters with his petrol dollars. His cruelty knows no bounds. He happily neglects wife and child. Perhaps he would get married to another woman and live in comfort. What about Zakia? She has just taken up a teaching job and survives. She does not want to depend upon parents and a married brother forever. One should meet Zakia and make to unfold her miserable life.

The second case relates to Asma who is also a graduate. She was working in a NGO, earning a reasonably good salary. She is a very charming and gentle girl. She got engaged to a person working in a Gulf country. She had high hopes. But she was ditched after marriage. Her mother-in-law is a dictator. Asma cannot even open the almirah without the permission of her mother-in-law. If she has to visit her parents it must be just for two hours every Saturday. She has absolutely no liberty even in small matters. One day she put on her own jewellery and went to her mother's house. The Mother-in-law had accompanied her. When Asma removed her burkah, the mother-in-law saw the jewellery worn by the daughter-in-law. Back in her house, she questioned Asma as to how she took the jewellery without her permission. Asma replied that after all it was a piece of jewellery that she had got from her mother. Then the mother-in-law informed the son and raised the bogey of insult to her. The noble son told his wife over the phone that she could stay back in her mother's house until further orders. Poor Asma is not sure of the consequences, She sheds tears, fearing the worst.

Marriage is a major social institution well accepted all over the world. It establishes durable relationship between a man and woman as husband and wife. Human society has witnessed several changes in the personal relationship between man and woman and it has now presented to mankind the present system of relationship as recognized by the society. Islam has laid particular stress on the need, relevance and significance of relationship between man and woman tied together through the institution of marriage. Blessed are the couples who become husband and wife through this institution.

The contemporary society in general has been witnessing several changes in the inter-personal relationship between husband and wife. The impact of the evils of the modern society which is highly corrupted and has lost control over social and ethical values, has ultimately ruined the Muslim society too.

The great advantages of faithful and concerned relationship between husband and wife are being lost and the result is that the very edifice of family is shaking. The invasion of corrupted values and practices has led to creation of terror in the minds of the young unmarried girls who are mute spectators to what is happening to their sisters, cousins and friends after marriage. Marriage has become a nightmare and is considered to be a necessary evil up to a point and beyond that a curse. Wife-beating, dowry harassment and harassment by the mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law besides some male members of the family are crushing the ethos of Islamic ways of life after marriage. Rights and duties of all the members of the family are well laid down and guarded in Islam. But in a society which is degenerating fast and where the beauty of Islamic message for a blissful family circle is fast disappearing, what remains is nothing but the wreckage of the demolished system. How to solve the problem and who has to bell the cat remain almost outside the reach of ordinary mortals. Dark clouds with thunder and lightning are hovering over the heads of people with imminent chances of Heavens falling on earth.

When we hear the heart-rending stories of married girls (not a generalization!) We tremble and fumble. The mind refuses to believe. The Heart refuses to beat. Eyes become dim and wet and the whole human system becomes numb. Then, what about the victims of the tragedy? Who is there to rescue the young, educated hapless girls who had dreamt of heavenly bliss after entering into wedlock? Community leadership is helpless. Parents can at best provide temporary asylum. Married brothers dance to the tune of their wives. Religious leaders remain outside the domain of family relationship. Legal recourse is costly and uncertain. Feminine activists raise their voice, which boils down to a whimper. Protests and demonstrations will create a social movement. Commissions of enquiry get into atrocities and harassment against women, but their reports get dusted and rusted in the cupboards of the State.

These unfortunate married girls will have sleepless nights, weeping all by themselves, drinking the sorrowful tears from their eyes. Often they have tender children, the only hope for them and the only factor which prevents them from committing the inevitable and prohibited self-extinction, suicide. Suicide is a sin but life is a pain. To live or not to live is the thoughtful or thoughtless provocation.

Lip sympathy and external ointment to the dreaded broken relationship will only prolong the disease, worse than cancer. What is then the alternative, if there is any? A thefty penalty is to be paid. Survival warrants removal of the sacred but vitiated married robe. Is it very difficult? No, the depth of pain and misery is so much that if determination is not there, the human body will easily be consumed by the power generated by these forces. If will power is exercised, then these girls have chances of survival and can face the challenges. They may take the lead in ushering a new socio-cultural environment where women can demand and get their rights and status granted in Islam. The male champions of women's right will get into oblivion and may have to wear masks or burkah to cover their Hippocratic and shamed faces. A revolution, not evolution, becomes inevitable. The true spirit of Islam may then prevail. Aggrieved and suffocated women can provide a dynamic and hopeful leadership to make the males hang their heads in shame and female foes of the unfortunate female victims will have to repent for ever because their daughters may also face a similar situation. This realization would provide on easy and quick solution.
Politics in Islam
Hamdan Muhammad Hassan

Understanding Politics in Islam - Fiqh al Siyasah: adapted and rearranged from the book Fiqh al-Dawlah written by Professor Yusuf al Qaradawi. According to Al-Mawardi from his book Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniyyah, it is hirasatud din wa siasatud dunya - to uphold the religion and administer the world. Politics is not munkar - is not a depravity - real politics is noble, virtuous because it administers the affairs of all creatures, bringing man closer to good and away from fasad - evil. According to Ibn al-Qayyim, politics is really the justice of Allah the Almighty and His Prophet (Pbuh).

The Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was a politician as well as the messenger conveying the risalah, murabbi - teacher, Qadi - Chief Justice, Head of the nation and Imam of the ummah. The Khulafa’ al Rasyidun - the rightly guided leaders, who succeeded him, were also politicians following the Sunnah - way of the Prophet, establishing just administration, practising ihsan - the betterment of good and providing the leadership of ‘ilm - knowledge and Iman - belief.

However in the present time, due to ‘politics’ man faced suffering as a result of deceit and political ploys and scheming and devious politicians, whether in the form of past colonialists, treacherous rulers, tyrannical leaders and regimes preaching Machiavellian philosophy (the end justifies the means!).

It became common to label and describe committed Muslims as ‘political’ so that they are regarded warily and wickedly for the purpose of disassociating and furthering apart the people from them, intending that society will shun and hate what is called ‘political Islam’. It has been such that symbols of Islam like the headscarf, the proper attire and congregational prayers - Salat jama’ah are attempted to be labelled ‘political’.

The Fight against Fasad and Zulm (Evil, Transgression and Tyranny) is the utmost in Jihad from the understanding of the Prophet’s tradition (mafhum hadith):

Munkar (transgression) is not limited to khamr - liqour, gambling and zina - unlawful sex but degrading and defiling the honour and dignity of the people and citizens is a major transgression, so is cheating in the elections, refusing to give testimony - neglecting to vote, letting government be in the hands of those who are not deserving and undesirable stealing and squandering the nation’s wealth and property, monopolising the people’s needs for personal gains or cronies’ interests, detaining people without crime or just cause, without judgement from a fair court, torturing human beings in prison and the detention camps, giving, accepting and mediating in bribes, cowering up to, praising evil rulers.

These are all grave transgressions!

When a Muslim remains quiet upon seeing all of these it means that he or she does not deserve to live (is not alive) from the mafhum of al-ayat and al-hadith.

Islam requires that every Muslim has political responsibility. A Muslim is required by his Iman - faith to be truly concerned with the affairs and problems of the ummah - community, helping and defending the meek and the weak, fighting tyranny and oppression. By retreating and abstaining oneself, it will only invite divine retribution and be seized by the flames of hell (mafhum ayat).

True democracy is not the whims and desires of the tyrannical rulers or their cronies, it is not the place to jail and incarcerate its fighters and not the place to torture its proponents.

Democracy is the simplest and proper way to achieve the aims of a noble life, to be able to invite all to Allah and Islam. It is the place for a free and honourable nation to have the right to choose, evaluate the ruler, change governments without coups and without bloodshed.

The theory, way and system which looks alien maybe adopted if it benefits us and as long as it does not contradict clear Islamic edicts and the rules of Shariah. We appraise, amend according to our spirit, we do not adopt its philosophy, and we do not allow what is forbidden and vice versa. We do not relinquish or compromise what is ordained or compulsory - the wajib in Islam.

The gist of democracy is that the public, the people can choose the rulers who are going to administer them; the people having the right to select, criticise and terminate; and the people are not forced to accept systems, trends, and policies which they do not agree to and they are not abused. They are free to hold elections, referendums, ensuring majority rights, protecting minority rights, having opposition, have multi parties, press freedom and safeguarding the independence of the judiciary.

Shura or consultative decision making must be followed and not just as a debating factor. By practising shura, it is closer, hence even better than the spirit of democracy. It is but the lost jewel found, the lost wisdom - al-hikmah which has been rediscovered.

Shura enables musyawarah to be conducted, obtains views and opinions, becomes the responsibility of the people to advise and counsel the government (ad-dinu nasiha) and establish amar ma’ruf nahy munkar - enjoining good and forbidding evil. Among the obligations of amar ma’ruf nahy munkar is the highest jihad (struggle) that is to voice out the truth in front of the unjust tyrant.
Qur’anic Examples of Tyrannical Rulers

The Al-Qur’an denounces all powerful rulers such as Namrud, Fir’aun (Pharaoh), Hamaan and Qarun. Namrud is taghut - the transgressor who enslaves the servants of Allah as his serfs.

There is the pact or collaboration of three parties:

Fir’aun - he claims to be God, carries out tyranny and oppression throughout the land, enslaves the people

Hamaan - the cunning politician, experienced, having self interest, in the service of taghut, propping up and supporting Fir’aun and cheating the people, subjugating them.

Qarun - the capitalist or feudalist who takes opportunity from the unjust and oppressive laws, spending fortunes for the tyrannical leader in order to profit and amass vast returns, bleeding and exploiting the toils of the people. The origin of Qarun was that he came from Prophet Musa’s own clan who colluded with Fir’aun due to the love of worldly life and materialism. The combination of taghut and Zulm results in the spread of mayhem and the destruction of the community, subjugating man by force and degradation.

The People: Al Qur’an denounces the people or citizens who are obedient and loyal to their oppressive rulers. The people who remain under the tutelage of taghut are fully responsible and accountable because it is due to their attitude that brought forth these fir’auns and taghuts. Al-Junud (the collaborators):

These are the armies and enforcers of the rule and order of the taghut. They use force, fear and repression to eliminate and subdue all opposition and dissidents of the tyrant.
An Example of Leadership

Balqis, the Queen of Saba’ as told in the Qur’an was a woman who lead her people well, justly and administered them with intelligence and wisdom saving her people from a war that was destructive and made decisions by syura-consulting them. Alas, the story ended with the acceptance of Islam. She led her people towards the goodness of the world and the hereafter.
Pluralism in Islam

The existence of various parties or movements is forbidden as long as unification is not achievable due to differences over objectives, approaches, understanding and the level of confidence and trust. Variety and specialisation are allowed as long as they do not become contradictory and confrontational. However everyone has to be in one united front when facing the challenges to aqidah - belief, shariah, ummah and the survival of Islam. Relations between parties and groupings should be in the atmosphere of non-prejudice, forgiveness, nobleness, counselling truth and steadfastness, wisdom and engaging in healthy cordial debate.
Counselling and Corrective Participation in Politics

Without the shedding of blood, the most effective way as the outcome of long and painful struggles is the existence of political forces which the government in power is unable to contain or eliminate: that is presence of political parties.

The ruling regime can get rid of individuals and small groups of opponents but it is difficult for them to defeat or wipe out larger organisations which are well structured, organised and rooted in the masses of society. Political parties have the platform, machinery, newspapers and publications as well as mass influence.

Political parties or political movements are necessary to fight oppression, to enable criticism, bringing back the government to uphold truth and justice, bringing down or changing the government. These parties are capable of monitoring and appraising the government, offering advice and criticism.

Voting in the elections is a form of testimony. A testimony is considered just as long as one is not convicted of crime. Whoever so votes or abstains from voting in the general elections causing the defeat of a trustworthy and deserving candidate but on the other hand allows the candidate who is less trustworthy and undeserving to win, has gone against the command of Allah concerning giving testimony.

(The author is a senior civil engineer at the University of Sciences, Malaysia.
He is involved in the Muslim Youth Movement in Malaysia)
Yeoman Service by Kashmiri Students
By Arjimand Hussain Talib
Exhibition of Books Collected by GCE Chapter UMF (Kashmir)

The decade-long turbulence in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Kashmir valley, surprisingly has seen many qualitative developments in the field of education. Although there has been vast destruction of educational infrastructure in the valley, there have been many positive developments too, which could be described as spontaneous individual responses to pressing social and educational challenges, which the Information Technology revolution has thrown in, and which the state has failed to address.

There has been a mushroom growth of private schools in the Valley’s urban areas, which have not only provided considerable job opportunities to the educated youth but have also acted as good alternatives to the drop-outs of the poorly-run government schools. A survey conducted by the United Mission Foundation (UMF) in June ’98 revealed that a majority of Srinagar’s illiterate parents had sent their children to private schools, during the years when the Valley was going through political uncertainty.

On the other hand, owing to very restricted movement of youngsters outside their homes, most of the students aspiring for professional courses spend their time in extensive curricular studies, which has resulted in the Valley students sweeping almost all the competitive exams, during the last decade.

The decade long strife has also seen a spurt in the coming up of professional colleges and centres of specialised education in Kashmir. Creation of the Jhelum Valley Medical College, Prime Medical College, Sir Syed Memorial Engineering College, Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, Kashmir Institute of Physiotherapy in Srinagar have considerably broadened the scope of specialised education in the valley.

With the state yet to introduce degree courses in computer science in the colleges young software engineers, mostly having been trained outside the valley, have taken the lead in opening computer education centres throughout the valley. These centres have become very popular among students. With not a single computer training institute in the valley before the 90s, today dozens of computer training institutes offer courses in even advanced internet technology and client server technology, apart from courses in languages like Oracle, JAVA, VC++ and VB 6.0. The story doesn’t end here. The past ten years have also witnessed a dramatic growth of private colleges of education in the Valley. Not only do these dozen and odd colleges attract the students from the Valley, according to a survey conducted by the Indian Express newspaper recently, hundreds of students, particularly girls, from the neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi get B.Ed degrees from these colleges every year.

Due to a state of saturation of once popular fields of engineering and medicine, the Valley students are seeking diversification and broadening of the horizon of education in the state. In this direction, the creation of an NGO — UMF — by some Kashmiri students has been a very significant development.

Being the only non-politicised voluntary educational initiative in the Valley, the Foundation has begun with a world-wide book-collection campaign for establishing a big computerised library in the heart of the capital Srinagar which is intended to serve as the centre of various non-formal educational projects as well. The Foundation has a large following all over the globe where Kashmiri students are pursuing various courses. The Foundation is also planning a research centre called KASHMIR CARE (Kashmir Centre for Advancement in Research and Education). The centre will focus on the research in educational, social and environmental fields.

The Foundation has planned a fund to be raised with public donations, which would enable it in raising the infrastructure for the library. Although the expenses of the Foundation are presently being borne by the members themselves, the UMF approached UNESCO for help in this endeavour, which has sought a project report for the purpose.

As the UMF is banking entirely on non-governmental financial support for the project, it expects whole-hearted support in terms of financial help and books, from Muslim individuals and social organisations. Given the success of this project, the UMF is optimistic that it will set an excellent example for such voluntary developmental initiatives in Muslim societies in South Asia.

Those interested to help may please contact: Feezu Jowhar, Department of Law, Kashmir University, Hazratbal, Srinagar J&K 190006, Or Sajjad Hakak, Tipu Hostel, Ghousia College of Engineering, Ramangaram, (PO) Bangalore 571 511

(The author is director of United Mission Foundation) e-mail: visit us at
Choose the Lesser Evil!
By Hasan Mansur

Sushma Swaraj, BJP candidate and notable rival of Sonia Gandhi, declared recently in Mangalore, that her party will never go back on the Ram Mandir issue and Uma Bharati, notorious for spouting venom against Muslims, in an appearance on the Star TV indulged in her favourite pastime of bashing Muslims, hurling accusations of their being a vote-bank and accusing others of appeasing the minority community. On August 23, Pramod Mahajan declared in Aurangabad that the Ram Mandir is very much on the agenda of the BJP. Those who have been reading the English weekly, Organiser, the saffron mouthpiece of RSS, will find no let-up in its venomous outpouring against the minorities. That the BJP is an outright communal outfit, exploiting religion to grab political power is, known to all. The Supreme Court that pronounced in a landmark judgement that no religious party could be a political party has found the Election Commission not rising to its constitutional obligation of debarring this communal outfit from electoral politics and such is the dismal state of the Indian polity.

Let there be no illusions whatsoever about the Sangh Parivar, a creature of many tongues which has been consistent in its hatred for minorities, specially the Muslims. It continues to flex its genocidal muscle as it happened in the bloody events in Ahmedabad recently. The irony is that the Minister for Home is Advani, one of the prime accused in the Babri Masjid case. Vajpayee, the mask or ‘mukhota’ for the RSS, dons on and off the mask as the political occasion demands, alternating between call for peace with war cries. To imagine that he is the liberal among the hawks of the BJP is to entertain a dangerous delusion since he declared long ago that the RSS is his soul.

Undoubtedly the greatest threats to the Indian polity are communalism and casteism and of all the political parties, the BJP wears these on its sleeve unashamedly. Its pathological aversion for the minorities which takes genocidal proportions and abetting discrimination and violence against the Dalits points to the Sangh Parivar as its mentor and Manuvada as its theology. It uses the naive Dalits as cannon-fodder against the Muslims and the naive backward castes against the Dalits. It preserves its own identity as representing the upper castes. It is infiltrating into all professions -- intellectual and non-intellectual -- and ties up with the feudal and mercantile communities. Its mindset stuck in mandirs and so-called sants, is intent on destroying places of worship and has penchant for settling the old scores on the streets. Its jingoism threatening Pakistan with the bomb and its pusillanimity in the face of Chinese belligerence show for what it truly is, a cowardly bully. All its prowess lies in engineering killing of defenceless men, women and children as Hitler did with the Jews. This creature without a social conscience must be confronted and must be defanged.

The task of the people is to identify those individuals, not political parties, who are imbued with humanism, shun violence against the poor and uphold the democratic rights of the poor and share the conviction that India is a pluralist society with multiplicity of culture, language and faith and the test for a genuine democrat is his or her deep concern for the multitudinous poor and deprived; his or her priority is to enhance those values that make for a life with dignity, that could be sustained through literacy, employment, shelter, health and faith of one’s choice. Citizens should cast their vote for such candidates who uphold democratic values. The people will be deceiving themselves if they think that this election is a most crucial and decisive battle for survival of democracy. They must realise that this is among the many battles to be fought in the years to come to undo the evils of Manuvada dating back to thousands of years. As voters, they must scrutinise the pros and cons and choose perhaps the least evil against the predators of varying degrees now found in most political parties of the Right and Centre. We are witness to thousands of political leaders and activists who have revealed themselves as rank opportunists, their socialism or liberalism shown as masks to be discarded to pursue their unprincipled agendas, displaying various shades of the saffron hue.

The coming century will see the sharpening of the struggle between life-giving humanism and death-dealing communalism in this country. It is going to be a long haul and to lose heart is to lose faith in humanity itself. One has to recall those immortal jotting of that indomitable Czech, Julius Fuschik, whose spirit never flagged in the face of Nazi terror in his country, holding aloft the banner of courage and liberty even when he was pushed inexorably towards death. It will never do to cease this struggle against the powers of death and darkness. It must be the democratic endeavour of every democratic citizen to fight injustice, violence and evil, a battle to be waged till victory is ours. The indomitable will of life-loving humanity will never give in to the Fascist evil.
The Spirit of Charity
D.A. Sait

Charity begins at home, they say, meaning that one who wants to practise charity must first direct his charitable urge to his own near and dear ones in need of succour. Islam lays great stress on the claims of our poor relations to our charity. But in actual fact what we find is that an affluent Muslim, when confronted with a call from an indigent relative, tries to palm him off with a few rupees without bothering to know about the actual needs of the supplicant and render adequate assistance. Only recently I came across a case where an eighty-year-old poor woman who was practically at death’s door, struggling for life in a private nursing home, was to all intents and purposes, given the cold shoulder by a host of alluent relatives. For appearance’s sake some of her nephews and nieces visited her at the nursing home. Some exhibited their generosity by tucking under her pillow a fifty-rupee note, a couple of them a hundred-rupee note. But nobody bothered to speak to the hospital management and enquire about the final hospital bill, because it would have cost them a pretty penny. None of them wanted to spend on a poor, dying woman. They never wished to find out how she was going to get out of the hospital, dead or alive, without paying the management their pound of flesh. Then why did they turn up at the hospital at all, one might ask. Well, the answer is, they were afraid of wagging tongues accusing them of indifference to a dying, old relative. For one thing, they wished to stop those tongues from wagging, and for another, they wished to slave their own consciences by grudgingly parting with a few rupees. On enquiry it transpired that the nursing home bill ran into four thousand rupees for a three-day stay, and who was to pay this sum? Not the poor lady who could never afford that luxury.

Then why did she allow herself to admitted in a nursing home instead of in a government hospital? The government hospital was too far away from where she was staying, which was in the little hut of a widowed daughter of hers who was as poor as the old lady herself. The daughter did not want to take the risk of her frail, sick, old mother being carried all the way to the government hospital. So she had opted for the nearest nursing home. She had been so racked with anxiety that there was no room in her brain for thoughts like the medical bill of a nursing home. Ultimately, however, the bill was met by a pious Muslim who had kept himself in the background till then. When told of the old woman’s plight he came to her rescue, to the eternal shame of all those hypocritical, self-seeking nephews and nieces. I am happy to say that the octogenarian lady is now back in her daughter’s home, though her days look numbered. In a cold, harsh, selfish world the succour from that lone Muslim, who aspired to live up to the teachings of our beloved Prophet (Pbuh), stands like a beacon to guide a misguided brother along the path to the grace of Allah. All those nephews and nieces of the destitute old lady who had tried to palm her off with a few rupees, belong to the category of philistines and have no right to call themselves Muslims. At best what they have done is to make a futile bid to clothe themselves with an aura of generosity. Talk of the ‘Munafiqs’ (hypocrites) who tried the same trick with the holy Prophet (Pbuh). Have they ever reflected that outward appearances cut no ice with the Omniscient Allah who looks into the hearts of his creatures and deals with them accordingly?

The story I have related above is a true account, a leaf from life.
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