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Muslims, madrasas and masael (problems)
By Saeed Suhrawardy

By a strange coincidence, all the three words start in Urdu with ‘meem’, the Urdu equivalent of ‘M’. Obviously, there is nothing wrong in the Urdu alphabet in itself. If at all there is any relationship between the above three words, it was detected by a ministerial committee of the government of India. Home Minister LK Advani told newspersons that Muslims and madrasas pose a danger to the internal security of the country. The question worth asking in this connection is: whether the safety and security of Muslims face the danger from the government or vice-versa? One thing is clear, that if the government does not trust Muslims, Muslims too are not satisfied with its character and performance. Rather, they have fears and doubts in their minds against it. A story will help simply this paradox.
A villager once took his ailing son to a doctor and begged him to save him, for God’s sake, since he (the son) will give him support in his old age and on him his (old man’s) hopes rest. The condition of the patient was very serious. The doctor left no stone unturned in treating him. His father was repeatedly saying: ‘Please save my son’.
Suddenly his condition started deteriorating. His father started crying and wailing. He fell on doctor’s feet and said: ‘He is my only son. If something happens to him, the world will become dark and dismal for me’.

Because of waking continuously, the old man fell asleep. When he was having a sound sleep, his son breathed his last. The doctor feared that on getting the news of his son’s death God know what he may do.

When the old man woke up, the doctor gradually and cautiously said to him: ‘Baba, have patience. Your son is dead’.

Not a drop of tear fell from his eyes. There was not indication of sorrow on his face. He said ‘Doctor Saheb, you left no stone unturned. When it is the will of God, what you and I can do.’ But the doctor was not satisfied with the old man’s reply. He feared the likelihood of some big tragedy behind his apparent silence and patience, lest his heart sink by not outwardly expressing his sorrow.

The doctor asked him: ‘Are you not sorry for your son’s death?’ ‘Doctor saheb, I fell asleep for a short while and I saw a dream that I have become very rich and I have five healthy and handsome sons. When I woke up, all had disappeared. When all the five were gone, why to mourn for one only. I will consider this also as a dream.’
Ghalib had said a somewhat similar things in his following couplet:
Ranj ka khoogar hua insaan to mit jaata hai ranj
Mushkilain itni pareen mujphar ke aasaan ho gaieen
(If a man becomes habituated to grief, it loses its sting; I faced so many difficulties that I took them all easy).
Muslims spent half a century after Independence on the lookout for a healer of their woes. They became habituated to problems and difficulties. Problems of Muslims are identity, security, education and progress. Madrasas are closely related to all these four problems. Government has reasons to be afraid of Madrasas. It has no intention of giving security to Muslims. When Muslims will not feel safe, they cannot be serious about education and progress. After being deprived of education and development or progress, the question of their identity becomes meaningless.
After excluding the Muslim culture, history and participation in the freedom movement from the national educational mainstream, Muslims are abreast of the world around them only through their madrasas, which the Sangh Parivar does not like at all. They go on attacking the mosques and madrasas and their existence on some pretext or the other.
The enmity of Sangh Parivar is understandable. But the common sense of the too-secular Muslim is a thing to be pitied upon. He is not prepared to spend even a single paisa on the patronage of madrasas. He is always in the forefront in criticizing these institutions and does not care to buy Urdu newspapers. He has learnt one word i.e., ‘fundamentalist’ from English newspapers, which he goes on parroting ad nauseum. In English this word is used in the sense of an abuse. If you want to be inimical to a bearded Muslim, dub him a ‘fundamentalist.’ He will become an ISI agent and a terrorist in the eyes of Home Ministry. Police will further add to his woes. In order to harass him still further, he may be accused of having a link with Daud Ibrahim. There is no need of giving any proof. Only a baseless and unfounded expression of doubt is sufficient to turn his life into a hell. The experience of Abdus Samad, a student of a Hapur madrasa, is a living example.

Now it can easily be decided as to who is whose enemy and who is dangerous to whom - Muslims to government or government to Muslims?

‘Fundamentalist’ in Urdu means one who champions old customs and traditions strictly according to scriptures, which is not as explosive as the English word. Who is there in the world who is not faithful to the fundamentals of his religion and legacy? Everyone, whether a Hindu, Sikh, Christian or Buddhist, loves his faith and beliefs and leads his life according to its precepts. If a Muslim sticks to his religion and acts upon its teachings, why an accusing finger is raised against him?

Muslims and their religious institutions are facing three-pronged attacks. Sangh Parivar is in the forefront in poisoning the country’s atmosphere against them. Their newspapers and literature are continuously engaged in spreading hatred and enmity against them. Dozens of cases of burning the Qur’an and attacks on mosques take place in order to fan communalism in the country. Muslims are arrested and made to rot in jails merely on the basis of suspicion, and cases are registered against them under draconian sections of Indian Penal Code. On the country, criminal elements of Sangh Parivar murdering justice go scot free.

The second front of attacks on Muslims and their institutions is manned by Home Ministry and its local-level intelligence agencies. Officials of secret agencies show their excessive alertness and enthusiasm in keeping a watchful eye on matters of madrasas and its staff. At some places they extract their monthly ‘tips’ too from these institutions.
The Central Ministry of Human Resources Development is the third front, which has made saffronization of educational syllabi as its mission. How then the syllabus of madrasas can be acceptable to it? A befitting reply to the accusations against madrasas was given by the students of Rajasthan madrasas. The results of students of madrasas in Rajasthan’s middle school examinations were between 90 and 100 percent whereas the results of government schools in the Muslim populated areas were 65 percent. A girl student of Rahmani Model School, Sabiha Parveen, secured 90 percent marks and brought her school in the limelight.
Most of the madrasas are self-dependent and are not a burden on the State treasury. These madrasas are taking lakhs of poor students out of the world of ignorance and exposing them to the luminous world of education and learning. If they give better results than government schools inspite of their limited resources, they deserve encouragement, and accusations against them must be stopped.

If Muslims want a place of honour and excellence in the country, they better not consider themselves as ‘minority’ and make the utmost use of their intellect and intelligence in which case their problems will be solved easily. However, this is not an easy job.

A ‘mian bhai’ stumbled upon Alladin’s lamp. He thought of testing it. As soon as he rubbed it, the jinn stood up in front of him and said: ‘Master, you have remembered me after a long time. What is your order for me?’

Mian bhai was a very sincere man and a great well-wisher of the community. He thought, what after all what have I to do with wealth, bungalow, gold, silver etc. Let me demand something for which the world would remember me. So he asked the jinn to solve all the problems of Muslims. With folded hands, the jinn said: ‘Whether you punish me or set me free, but I cannot do this job’. ‘Why can’t you do this?’ he asked. The jinn replied: ‘I am a well-wisher of Muslims and cannot think of harming them.’

‘How will they stand to lose if their problems are solved?’ Mian bhai asked.

The jinn replied: ‘If I solve all the problems of Muslims, their leaders will start fighting among themselves for taking the credit. Somebody will catch hold of the other’s neck; someone will pull the hairs of someone. Somebody will break the head of someone and somebody’s legs will be broken. So I do not want to commit this sinful act. Please therefore excuse me, my lord.’

Hearing this, the lamp fell down from Mian bhai’s hands. The jinn immediately picked it up and vanished.
(translated from Urdu)
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