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Posted Online on Friday 2, September 2005 11:20 IST

Muslims for the Nation, concept paper for action 

By Yawar Baig

The Milli Gazette (online edition)

I was a shamefaced witness to the protest in front of the Hajj House in Hyderabad organized by the non-Muslim AIDWA led by Brinda Karat (wife of Prakash Karat, the new leader of CPIM), protesting against the racket of marrying young Muslim girls to aged Arabs, that Hyderabad seems to be famous for. I was ashamed because this is something that we Muslims should have been doing and should have corrected ourselves. Instead non-Muslim activists have to protest for what we allow to happen to our women. In this context, I thought of several other situations where we Muslims need to correct social evils in our own society. It is my suggestion therefore that we start an organization which will address all such issues, starting with the issues of Muslim society first.

I suggest we call this organization "Muslims for the Nation"…….the word Nation having two meanings of the Ummah as well as India as our nation of citizenship. I propose we have the following aims and objectives:

1. To work for the betterment of India as our nation.

2. To work for the upliftment of all poor, oppressed and downtrodden people whoever they may be by concentrating on education as a primary area of focus.

3. To work eradicate social evils in the Muslim community and restore the purity of the Islamic way of life.

4. To address all incidents of discrimination, especially against women and children and work to eliminate them and to provide those who are discriminated against with avenues of redressal using the judicial and public service system.

5. To use the media and press to present the correct and factual picture about Islam and Muslims and their issues to the public in place of the distorted propaganda that currently masquerades as fact.

Methodology
Create a Core Council (Majlis Ash Shura) consisting of:

1. Lawyers (2-3 of different specializations – at least one woman)

2. Journalists (2-3 – at least one woman – who are powerful enough to ensure that things are published, aired)

3. Social activists and workers (2-3 – at least one woman – who have previous experience and high credibility)

4. Ulama (2-3 - at least one A’alima – who are aggressive and aware about the realities of our society)

5. Others (2-3 people of high social standing and access to funds)

6. Stake Holders: Core members of this should also include the "oppressed" and less privileged people. I think it is valuable for the shura to have those people's view points,
emotions, constraints etc. - Else plans will be made which are impractical or ineffective on the ground. So include girls who were married off at young age, their father/mother, abandoned wives, those who had to live with drug addicts etc. These people can be made members of the shura for a short duration (1 year?) and keep changing the individuals after that.


Working: There will be no designations or positions. The leadership of the Council will be by rotation. The leader will be called the Amir and will change every year. Members will advise the Amir on various issues. The Council will work in the way of the Sunnah. It is essential to involve women in a meaningful way in this work so that their issues are handled. It is essential that all people who are on this Core Council have impeccable credibility and have no other affiliations and agendas. It is strongly suggested that the organization has no political affiliations and has no politicians on the Core Council.

This Core Council will meet and decide on which issues to start with and how to handle them. 


Suggested issues that need immediate attention:

1. Racket of marrying young Muslim girls of poor parents to aged Arab men, being run by Qazis and agents in the old city of Hyderabad.

2. Codifying of Muslim Personal Law and appointing a Committee to issue Fatawa by the AIMPLB

3. Introducing quality English language and vocational education in our major Jami’aat.

4. Wife abandonment

5. Dowry and excessive spending in weddings as well as celebrating non-Muslim customs

6. Drug use, alcoholism (rather drinking)

7. Prepare Ulama with Teacher Training and Montessori methodology so that they can use these in the Madrassas they usually start especially in rural areas. The aim is to prepare them to teach upto the 7th class and prepare the children to take the regular 8th class Board exam in addition to the religious knowledge that they impart. 

8. Such schools can be aided and monitored by Muslims for the Nation.

Your comments are most welcome.
The purpose of this paper is to encourage people to start this work and to network across the nation so that they can build on each other’s strengths and not reinvent the wheel everywhere.

One other matter: This is not a grassroots public movement. This will be the work of a small group of highly dedicated; highly competent people who want to make a difference to the Muslims and to their position in India. So it must never be positioned as anything other than that.

Finally there are 3 key elements in this program if it is to succeed: 
1. No positions of authority on the Shura that are permanent

2. Active involvement of Ulama (forward thinking, worldly aware ones)

3. Active involvement of women (both A'alimaat and actual victimized women)

These elements may well generate opposition among people who are in leadership positions today, but without them, I strongly believe that this initiative will fail.

Yawar Baig, a graduate from IIT, Delhi and IIM, Ahmedabad and presently working as a management guru for various institutions and multinationals, may be contacted at leadtrain@yahoo.com

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