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

All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat 
By Syed Shahabuddin

The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), is the apex forum of Muslim organizations and institutions of national eminence alongwith some well-known personalities have played a notable role, since its inception, in articulating and projecting the concerns and aspirations of the Muslim community and defending its interests.

The Mushawarat could not fulfill its task, as effectively as it could have because of paucity of resources. To give an example, during the period 1995-1999, the Mushawarat had no Central Office. Its average annual expenditure during 1990-1995 was about Rs.20,000 when the annual cost of a messenger or a typist is of the order of Rs.24-36,000, how could the Mushawarat deliver the goods?

It was established at a representative meeting of the community leaders held on 8-9 August, 1964 at Nadwatul-Ulema, Lucknow, which was inaugurated by Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi and chaired by Dr. Syed Mahmood. Apart from them, Mufti Atiqur Rahman, Maulana Abul Lais Islahi, Qari Mohd. Tayyab, Maulana Kalb-e-Abid, Maulana Minatullah Rahmani, Janab Mohammad Muslim, Maulana Jan Mohammad and Janab Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait played the key role. Of all these founders, only Janab Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait is with us to guide us.

Dr. Syed Mahmood was elected as its first President. Mr. M.N. Anwar, MP became its first General Secretary. Dr. Syed Mahmood was followed by Mufti Atiqur Rahman and Mr. Zulfiqarullah and Maulana Mohd. Salim as President. Mr. Syed Shahabuddin is the President since June, 2000.

Object and Purpose

Since its inception, the object and purpose of the Mushawarat is to secure Unity, Cooperation and Coordination among opinion-makers of the Muslim community, on issues of common concern, to provide relief to the victims of communal violence, to monitor constantly the situation of the Muslim community in all its dimensions and to take up with the authorities its legitimate aspirations and grievances, to encourage its participation in the national affairs and to create conditions for the protection of its religious and social identity.

Policies

Since the very beginning, the Mushawarat has consistently promoted peaceful co-existence among communities, communal harmony, Hindu-Muslim unity, national integration and inter-group reconciliation. 

It has been consistently engaged in building bridges with other religious minorities, particularly the Sikhs and the Christians and with the Dalits who continue to be oppressed in various parts of the country.

It believes that the destiny of the Muslim Indian community is indivisible from that of the Indian people as a whole and that the country cannot achieve the greatness it deserves without the development and empowerment of all sections of its people.

Its chosen methods for protecting the interests and projecting the consensus of the community have always been peaceful, democratic and constitutional. 

The Mushawarat is not, and has never been, a political party though it is committed to the principles of Democracy, Secularism, Social Justice and Human Rights. The Mushawarat feels that most of the grievances of the Muslim community arise because of the failure of government and administration to implement the constitutional safeguards and guarantees to national policies and programmes.

A non-political body, the Mushawarat does not participate in elections but it has been guiding the Muslim community at the time of parliamentary or assembly elections with the objective of strengthening the secular forces.

At various crucial junctures, the Mushawarat leadership has played a decisive role in creating autonomous organization to deal with specific major problems such as the AMU Action Committee, the A.I. Muslim Personal Law Board and the Babari Masjid Movement Coordination Committee. These bodies independently tackle specific problems in the light of the general consensus.

The Mushawarat has played a constructive role in resolving critical situations such as those created by the VHP agitation against the Shahi Idgah Masjid, Mathura and Gyan Vapi Masjid in Varanasi, the Shia-Sunni dispute in Lucknow, large-scale detention of Muslims under TADA, the Hate Campaign against the Community and its basic religious institutions, the Masjids and the Madarsas, the Communal Massacres as in Gujarat Genocide, 2002 and on questions relating to under-representation of the Community in Legislatures, educational backwardness of the Community, the saffronisation of education, crises in the AMU, representation of Muslim women in reservation in legislatures for women, reservation for Muslims in public employment, particularly in the police and intelligence machinery, to mention a view.

Cooperation with Other Muslim Jamaats
The Mushawarat has, of late, been endeavouring to build a consensus through consultation among leading Muslim organizations including those which are not formally its members, like the All India Milli Council or the Jamiat-ul-Ulama Hind on broad issues of immediate and common concern. Such initiatives were taken at the time of the last General Election in 1999 and in subsequent State Assembly elections, particularly in Assam, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh and on questions of Delimitation and Saffronisation of Education.

Dastoor

The Mushawarat adopted a formal Dastoor in 1965; it was amended in 1967 and had some minor changes in 1987. The Dastoor of 1965 has been replaced by a new Dastoor in 2002. This is a landmark in the history of the Mushawarat and a quantum jump in the process of revival.

The process began in the early 80's when it was felt that the existing Dastoor was not adequate to deal with the manifold problems faced by the community and that the evolution of a consensus as well as its effective projection required a much broader representation of the community from all fields of achievement as well as an efficient network, horizontal and vertical, from the national to the local level.

The new Dastoor is the distillate of the deliberations of the Mushawarat over two decades. The process gathered momentum after the current Markazi Majlis-e-Mushawarat took over in June, 2000. Alhamdulillah, its efforts have been crowned with success.

Open Membership

The first innovative feature of the new Dastoor is the open-ended membership of the Majalis-e-Mushawarat at all levels, so that all persons of achievement, knowledge, experience and skill from all walks of life including heads of Muslim organizations and institutions, without any distinction on the basis of sect, language, domicile, race or occupation or organisation or institution, who share a desire to serve the community, may be knit together in a common pursuit. 

Secondly, the Mushawarat shall operate also at Zila and Shaher levels and there shall be structural linkages among all the five levels so as to construct a three-dimensional network which will, in the fullness of time, one hopes, rope in the creative energy and committed talent of the whole community.

Presidential Model

Thirdly, the Dastoor has adopted the presidential model but limited the term of the President to 2 consecutive terms of 2 years only and barred him from seeking a third consecutive term.

Structure

1. Supreme Guidance Council, with 15 members to provide continuity to the Mushawarat.

2. Markazi Majlis-e-Mushawarat, with a term of 4 years consisting of 1) Members of Supreme Guidance Council, 2) Two national office-bearers of Member-Jamaats of national eminence in various fields, 3) Individuals of national eminence from various fields.

3. Markazi Majlis-e-Amla consisting of 31 members or 10% of the membership of the MMM, 2/3 to be elected by the MMM, 1/3 to be nominated by the President.

4. Office-bearers: Apart from the President to be elected by the MMM for 2 years, Vice-Presidents, the General Secretary and 4 Secretaries are to be nominated by the President out of the members of the MMM.

5. Markazi Standing Committee consists of President and Markazi Office-bearers.

6. Reyasati Majalis-e-Mushawarat

7. Zila Majalis-e-Mushawarat

8. Shaher Majalis-e-Mushawarat

At present, the following Jamaats represented in the Markazi Majlis-e-Mushawarat:

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, All India Momin Conference, All India Shia Conference, Imarat-e-Sharia, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa, Indian National League, Indian Union Muslim League, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadees Hind, Movement for Empowerment of Muslim Indians, United Minorities Forum, Assam (State), U.P. Rabita Committee (State)

Central Office

The Mushawarat has a well-equipped Central Office which has all facilities for fast communication and which is open Monday-Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM. The Central Office brings out the quarterly Bulletin under the title "Mushawarat" which reflects the wide front on which the Mushawarat is working and interacting with the Government, the political parties and the mass media. The Central Office runs a Reading Room. The Bulletin contains Statements and Resolutions of the Mushawarat as well as its letters and communications to various authorities.

The Markazi Amla meets every 2 months and has held 20 meetings during the period June, 2000 - October, 2003. Similarly the Markazi Majlis-e-Mushawarat meets every 4th month and has had 11 meetings during the same period. During the period the organization adopted 117 Resolutions and issued 130 Statements.

Building Project

The Mushawarat has an on-going project to construct a building for its Central Office in Abul Fazal Enclave, Okhla, New Delhi, at an estimated cost of Rs.1 crore. The building will, apart from office space, include an Auditorium, two Committee Rooms, a Library-cum- Reading Room, 2-3 Guest Rooms, with a total floor area of about 5,000 sq.ft. spread over 2-3 floors.

Funding of the Mushawarat

The expenditure was low because the income was low. But even if the membership dues were paid, the Mushawarat could not have much with a projected annual income of Rs.50,000/ This means that the Mushawarat cannot be made into an effective instrument without donations.
Budget of the Central Office
Budget Estimate Actual
Year  Income  Expenditure Income Expenditure
2000 - -  - -  1,31,515 1,03,050
2001 2,80,000 2,30,000 3,53,170 1,73,220
2002 2,50,000  2,48,000 2,44.120 2,10,286
2003 3,50,000 3,50,000 3,41,918 2,70,643*

*upto October 2003 

To be functional, the Central Office needs a budget of at least, 25,000 p.m. Without making a public appeal, the Mushawarat requested a few friends and well-wishers, persons with deep commitment to the cause of community to join the Circle of Friends of the Mushawarat. Today, the Circle has ??? members and so many Associate Members who have committed themselves to contribute Rs.10,000 and Rs.5,000 respectively every year. In addition to the current assets, the Mushawarat maintains separate funds for Relief and Legal Aid and for its Land and Office Building Project. As on 30.9.2003, the balance in these 2 funds was Rs. 20,16,832 and Rs. 39,706 respectively.

Election

The term of the current Markazi Majlis-e-Mushawarat and the office-bearers expires on 31 December, 2003. The Markazi Majlis-e-Mushawarat is being reconstituted in accordance with the Dastoor, 2002 and the elections of President and 20 members of the Markazi Majlis-e-Amla shall be held during December, 2003 - January, 2004 whose programme has been announced by the Returning Officer Mr. Ahmad Rashid Shervani. The important feature is the introduction of postal ballots to enable all members throughout the country to participate in the elections.

Conclusion

The Mushawarat belongs to the Community. It exists to serve the Community. Its doors are open for all Jamaats and opinion-makers of national stature who are invited to associate themselves with the construction of a viable and influential platform for deliberating collectively over the problems, immediate, short-term and long-term, faced by the Community at various levels for formulating a consensus on remedial measures and then addressing the rest of the nation, the governments, the political parties, the mass media and the academe. The stronger the Mushawarat, the more effective will be the Community's legitimate quest for Justice and Dignity through Empowerment.

The Mushawarat needs and deserves the support of the Community and particularly of all its members who have their knowledge, experience and skill to offer for the common cause, at this critical juncture.

The purpose of this article is to familiarize the community, with the Majlis-e-Mushawarat and invite all those concerned with the destiny of the community to associate themselves with the construction of a viable and influential forum at this historic juncture in order to help chalk out the path and lead the caravan.

The author is president of AIMMM.

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