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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2003 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Haryana Muslims
Struggling hard to find ground
By S Ubaidur Rahman

Not much is usually written about Muslims in Haryana. It is assumed that not many Muslims live there and so there is no development on any front in this small Muslim community. It is only the illiterate and backward area of Mewat that makes it to the headlines in the print and electronic media. 

But to confine the Muslim community in Haryana to Mewat would be gross injustice to the community there. While on a tour of Yamuna Nagar recently this writer was amazed to find a great center of Islamic learning in this area that never gets any mention anywhere, not even in the Muslim press. 
Mosque demolished in Loharu, Haryana

Some ten kilometers from Yamuna Nagar lies Buriya an erstwhile princely state. It was only one of the two princely states in the eastern part of undivided Punjab where Muslims were in the majority. Besides, it was Malerkotla in Punjab that was the other place. It was Malerkotla also where Muslims were saved from savage bloodthirsty mobs menacingly searching for Muslims in the post partition days in 1947 to kill them. A large number of Muslims outside these two places were eliminated by Hindu and Sikh mobs. There were some other fortunate Muslim families who could save themselves by being able to cross over to the newly carved country. In Buriya it was the local Raja Anmol Ratan Singh who saved Muslims from the marauding mobs. 

Now come to Buriya and you would be amazed by Madrsah Faizul Quran, a center of Islamic learning that has helped Muslims in the area to once again recognize their religious values. It has also worked overtime to help a number of Muslim families in the area who had hidden their religious affiliation to once again flaunt it. 

More than seven hundred students are now studying in this madrasah, learning not only Qur’an and tajweed but also complete course of Darse Nizami (academic). In the primary classes the madrasah follows the general pattern of education followed in any school in the state. It attracts students from all corners of the state. 

The Madrasah has plans to provide vocational training to its students. It has started this section recently but wants to make it an independent unit within the campus. The Madrasah has a whole separate section for the education of women students as well. Though so far not many girl students could be admitted there for want of space, it has plans for admitting them in larger numbers in the future. The majestic minarets of the mosque that peep out from the splendid red stone mosque give the madrasah a great look. 

And the man who has put in all his energy in transforming a small maktab in the town into a big institution is Peer Hafiz Husain Ahmad. The man who is hailed by both Muslims and Hindus alike as a pillar of communal harmony is respected by both the communities. 

Peer saheb in his mid 50s says that just two decades ago it was very difficult for Muslims to openly flaunt their religious affiliations in the region. But now a lot has changed. Muslims who were forced to hide their religious identity in the post partition era are now coming out either due to campaigns we started or after seeing others returning to their roots. 

He says shuddhi movements initiated by Arya Samaj and several other Hindu organizations have made a negative impact on the psyche of Muslims in the area. Due to the fact that most of them are illiterate farmers, they were prone to these tactics. But now these people who were affected by shuddhi movements are returning to their roots. 

The Maulana, who is also the president of Deeni Taleemi Council of Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, has also established several primary and middle schools in the area that follow the syllabi of government schools besides adding one or two books on Islam and Urdu. One such school is being run in Bombaypur in the same district in which more than six hundred students are enrolled. Peer saheb is also planning to establish a senior secondary school in Buriya itself and make it a model for other schools in the state and other parts of the country. 

Last year the Deeni Taleemi Council Haryana surveyed two hundred and ten villages with more than forty percent population in Haryana and found that the level of illiteracy was alarming in the area. It found that around 11000 kids between six and 11 years of age were not going to schools. The Council has already started several primary schools in the area and is planning to establish some more in many of these villages. 

The best thing about Peer saheb is that he is equally respected by Hindus and Muslims. One can find any number of people either seeking his blessing or advice on issues ranging from common public to family affairs. Phones too keep ringing. Every phone is attended by peer sahib himself and he has a solution for problems of all the people. Last year a seerat conference was organized to give the message of peace of the Prophet to common people in the area. Peerji says he had anticipated the participation of only ten thousand people. But there were more than fifty thousand people who attended the conference. And most of them were Hindus. 

People of the town are all praise for Peerji. They applaud his efforts in maintaining communal harmony and for eradication of illiteracy. 

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