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What should Muslims do in today’s world?
By Firoz Bakht Ahmad

In today’s unfavourable circumstances Muslims should organize and activate themselves very seriously and regularly in a systematic manner in all fields. The Muslim nation has become so much frustrated today that it has started considering itself on the decline. One of the important signs of the nations on the decline is that its members are gripped with a sense of jealousy. They cannot see or tolerate any body being well-off, thriving, happy and prosperous. They do not even tolerate if some one earns name and fame by doing some good work even if it is for their own benefit. A couplet of Iqbal is relevant in this connection:
My wailings may bring tears to every sympathetic heart
And awaken them from deep slumber

Who can deny the fact that man has felt the need of knowledge and learning in all ages but as far as Muslims are concerned, they are badly in need of it without which their Islamism and existence itself are incomplete. No man can ever make advancement without knowledge and education. We happen to read very often in newspapers and magazines that backwardness and miserable conditions of Muslims have crossed all limits. There is no dearth of analysts and sympathizers of this type. But, of course, we are lacking such people who should come forward in practical life and help the Muslim community in all fields. Today our community is being considered the most backward section because of educational backwardness. This is a very unfortunate and bitter truth which we cannot deny.

Some people may think that I am writing such things with a prejudiced mind but as a matter of fact things are like that. Just as a rose plant has flowers as well as thorns simultaneously, in the same way facts of life have at every step bright as well as dark aspects. The bright aspect is that a very useful discussion is going on for a long time in Urdu daily ‘Rashtriya Sahara’ about what Muslims should do under the present circumstances. In this connection, we come across balanced articles by Maulana Asrarul Haq Qasmi, Prof Zafar Ahmad Nizami, Saeed Suhrawardy, Ehtesham Qureshi, Siraj Piracha, Yusuf Rampuri, Mushtaq Ahmad Alig etc which prove the intellectualism of these personalities. Very often we also come across reviews and observations on their articles in the correspondence column of this paper.

After the Babri Masjid incident many intellectuals, journalists, leaders and sympathetic people have written articles. Today the same kind of atmosphere is being created again. These things are being discussed and talked about in every meeting and conference and these things are haunting our minds and hearts but still no practical steps have been taken. Many thoughts and advices of wisdom have been expressed and only the practical and concrete steps remain to be taken but this field appears to be barren. It appears as if we are mumbling something in dream or slumber. We have yet to get up and start moving. There are many avenues for work, not far off and at distant places but very near to our homes and their surroundings. Just say ‘Bismillah’ and start the work. Starting the work doesn’t mean setting up any big university, college, school, madrasa or a coaching centre. The field of education is such that even if you do a small service, it will be equivalent to a big project or performing a feat.

What is in fact needed is that every sympathetic person or well-wisher of the community should decide to devote a couple of hours daily for the welfare activities of Muslims. If he is very busy but if he devotes only a couple of hours in a week wholeheartedly for welfare activities, our community can very much move forward.

Since no work can be done without money, it is essential that every one of us should willingly contribute at least one percent of his annual income for welfare activities of the community. We can learn this lesson from the Christian missionary organizations. Students passing out from missionary schools, colleges and other institutions willingly contribute 5 to 10 per cent of their income. Every one knows the fact that Christian missionary institutions run their schools, colleges, dispensaries and hospitals etc very enthusiastically and successfully. Some people of our community tried to collect funds of this type but the overall result was that whatever amount was collected in this way was misappropriated. The bitter truth is that our society is very much lacking in sincere Muslims who can work honestly. Even if some people want to work sincerely and selflessly, it is unfortunately seen that our community did not encourage and strengthen them.

About ten years ago Hazrat Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi and Saiyid Hamid had started the movement of bringing out an English daily at national level because our community has no English paper of national level and also of a high standard. If the population of Muslim is taken as 14 crores (though unofficially it is considered to be 20 crores), our compatriots are unaware of their problems, difficulties, feelings, aspirations etc. According to Sayed Hamid, as regards Urdu newspapers, it is only we who write and we who read and become satisfied.

For such an English daily of national level, an amount of Rs 1 crore and 15 lakh at least was required and appeals for subscriptions were made to all Muslims of the country. Just see the insensitivity of our nation that whereas only one person having the sympathy and consideration of the community could contribute the entire amount, an amount of Rs seventeen-and-a-half lakhs only was collected from all over the country out of which Rs 7 lakhs were collected through the efforts of late Abid Ali Khan, founder of the Hyderabad daily ‘Siyasat’. Only Rs 10 lakhs were collected from rest of the country. The scheme therefore remained a non-starter and was wound up. If every one of a population of 14 crores would have contributed Re 1, Rs 14 crores could have been collected. It is a matter of great shame that in this age of high technology and information technology, our share in the means of communication is virtually nil.

The reason is that there is acute famine of social service organizations in the Muslim society of India. Take, for example, the recent riots of Gujarat where we saw that we had to suffer such great loss of life and property because of lack of organized efforts. The position of Muslims is such that a riotous mob did not spare even the former Congress MP, Ehsan Jafri. At least now we should open our eyes and make up the deficiency in shortage of social service organizations in every locality, town and district. This field of education is so wide and long that even if a lot of people make it the mission of their lives, there will always be shortage of good people in this field. Some organizations are no doubt doing such work on all-India level but they are collectively not more than ten percent. In the words of Hali:
Now the rational order and need of time is
That education only is important in the world
Teach them today itself about tomorrow
And remove the curtain from their eyes. 

(Translated from Urdu) q

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