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Published in the 16-31 Jan 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Medal winners at the AFMI convention from all over India

Quality education stressed at AFMI convention
By Mohamed Ayub Khan

Mumbai: Education, education and education was the refrain here at the recently concluded two-day international convention of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) at Mumbai during 27-28 December. The federation formed fourteen years ago is dedicated to socio-economic and educational development of Indian Muslims. 

Muslims should concentrate on real issues instead of being distracted by non-issues. “Is there a Qur’anic injunction necessitating Muslims to eat beef or slaughter cows,” Nakadar asked. “Focus on issues like illiteracy, poverty, unemployment and moral decadence.”

As has been the tradition, meritorious Muslim students from across India were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals at the hands of eminent dignitaries from India and abroad in the presence of noted personalities like ex-Chief Justice and Aligarh Muslim University Chancellor A.M.Ahmadi, Sunil Dutt, Dr.Ishaq Jamkhanawala, Fakhruddin Khorakiwala (Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia), Dr.John Dayal and others. The motivation that students receive at the AFMI convention has been widely acclaimed as it encourages them to excel in higher students. Several former AFMI medal recipients have usefully pursued higher education and are now employed in high paying positions. 

Speaking at the convention Dr.A.R.Nakadar, Secretary General of AFMI, said “Knowledge is Power is the finest idea ever put into words.” He said the pen earlier and now the mouse of the computer is more powerful than the might of the canon. 

Addressing the students he asked them to excel in their respective fields. “It is a great achievement on your part but you still have a long way to go. Just being good enough is not enough.” He advised them to be proficient in information and technology, be a team player and hold positive attitude, even in adverse situations. 
He asked everyone concerned with the educational development of Muslims to pool in their resources. Muslims should concentrate on real issues instead of being distracted by non-issues. “Is there a Qur’anic injunction necessitating Muslims to eat beef or slaughter cows,” he asked. “Focus on issues like illiteracy, poverty, unemployment and moral decadence.” 

Some speakers at the conference: syed murtaza, IU Khan, John Dayal, Zafarul Islam Khan, Yoginder Sikand, Jamkhanawala

Justice Ahmadi reiterated AFMI’s earlier proposal to set up an All India Muslim Education Board, which would strive for the educational upliftment of the community. He said it is wrong to think that educating girls will spoil them. “Don’t get misled that higher education will spoil your daughters. An educated mother is an asset for the entire family.” 

Firoz Bakht Ahmed, an educationist and journalist from Delhi and grandnephew of Maulana Azad, lauded the efforts of some of the madrasas, which had introduced computer and other job-oriented courses in their curriculum. “Teach them Qur’an and Islamic jurisprudence. But equip them also with a skill…Give Qur’an in one hand and computer in another and we will make wonders,” he said. 

Sunil Dutt, veteran film actor and Member of Parliament, appreciated AFMI’s role in the promotion of education India. He called for the elimination of caste distinctions from the Indian society. He emphasized the need for the education of the girl’s and said that it cannot be ignored. 

Dr.Yoginder Sikand, an expert on Indian Madrassas and Islamic movements, said that there is no evidence that Indian Madrassas are involved in terrorism. “Name a single madrassa that has been accused of promoting terrorism. It is the Saraswati Vidyalayas and RSS-run schools which should be brought to book for promoting hatred against other communities.” 

He said there is a need to differentiate between Indian and Pakistani Madrassas. “Madrassa in India have been traditionally concerned with religious and spiritual education and kept off from the polity and the state.” 

John Dayal (human rights activist), Yusuf Muchala (senior advocate), Dr. Zafrul Islam Khan, Shenaz Sheikh and several other specialists from media and education fields spoke at the event. 

The delegates attending the convention unanimously resolved that they: 

1. Reject the notion presented and promoted by the media and some vested communal interests that the Madrassas in India are imparting extremist ideology to the Muslim students. 

2. Appeal to the Government of Maharashtra and the Central Government to alleviate the economic backwardness and illiteracy of the Muslim community at large. 

3. Show great concern to the steps taken to saffronise education and tampering with the text books of History and other text books prescribed as part of the curriculum. 

4. Call upon the Muslims to refrain from disturbing the harmony and urge the communities to understand each other’s points of view and work towards the betterment of our nation. 

5. Call upon the management of the Muslim Educational Institutions to fulfill their obligations to work for the welfare of the minority and refrain from profiteering. 

6. Felt the necessity for the Indian Muslims to devise the ways and means to create Baitul Mall for the welfare and upliftment of the Ummah. 

7. Hope AFMI will strive to form an All India Muslim Educational Board. 

8. Request the Ulema to introduce formal education in the madrassas and also request that they propagate the message of formal education in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. 

9. Have taken note of systematic dilution of Article 30 of the Indian Constitution by impairing and undermining political compromises effected at the time of enactment of Art.30 and trampling upon this basic feature of Constitution. 

10. Look upon with concern at the recent move by the minister of Human Resources Development to compel universities like Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Hamdard, to do away with their procedures of admitting students.

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