Educational Encyclopedia of Islam launched

By Saiyed Danish
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New Delhi: Educational Encyclopedia of Islam was released here at the India Islamic Cultural Centre on July 30. The two-volume encyclopedia has been compiled by Syed Iqbal Zaheer, the editor of Young Muslim Digest. The occasion was graced by K. Rahman Khan, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha as the chief guest, Sirajuddin Quereshi, president of IICC, and Dr. Javed Jamil, Editor of Islam, Muslim & the World.

The event began with a keynote address by Syed Iqbal Zaheer. He emphasized the need of having an encyclopedia of Islam in the times of western propaganda of deception and disinformation about the tenets and history of Islam. “How long will a civilization last if it is based only on matter and not value. Man with no values is a jungle man?,” he said commenting on the gradually degenerating civilization of the West. Expressing his deep concern over the dissemination of twisted Islamic knowledge by Western writers and publishers, he said, “Whenever anybody in the West wishes to know about Islam, he has to refer to the Encyclopedia of Islam prepared by the western intellectuals whose misinterpretation of the Qur’an deflects students and intellectuals alike from the original message of Islam.

“Hadith tells us that Allah first created qalam (pen) and not ‘Aql (intellect), but the Islamic encyclopedias publsihed in the west mention just the opposite, indicating that Islam follows the same ‘Aql as in Greek mythology where the word ‘Aql stands for rich starfields of constellation Aquila,” Zaheer said offering an example of how those encyclopedias wrongly interpret Islam.

By giving several such examples about the western misunderstanding of Islam, he justified the need for producing an Islamic encyclopedia compiled by Islamic scholars and intellectuals. “It was long expected of us and it is now fulfilled. Muslims will not have to refer to any other non-Islamic source to learn about their religion, history and culture. It will challenge the western game of disinformation on Islam, he confidently said. The conclusion of his address was marked by the release of An Educational Encyclopedia of Islam jointly by Syed Iqbal Zaheer and K. Rehman Khan. 

Dr. Javed Jamil, known for his assault on western economic system and the author of The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism, spoke about the ills of western civilization. “All those who think that this is the age of science, need to rethink, as it is not the age of science but the age of economic fundamentalism,” he asserted. “I challenged the western world by comparing the literacy, the crime and consumption rate of Islamic countries with those of the western countries. We score better than them in all fields. The GDP of Islamic countries is far higher than some western countries, so on what grounds should Muslims feel inferior?” he added. “It is time for Muslims to launch an intellectual and economic counter-offensive against the western claims and not remain defensive,” he concluded. 

Dr. K. Rehman focused on the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), saying that he brought forth a system of fairness and equality and spread Islam as far as India at a time which lacked modern transportation and communication facilities. “Why do Muslims always complain and blame governments for all the ills?” he asked. “It is our fault that we have allowed others to take over,” he added. Regarding the mishandling of Islamic facts by western researchers, he said, “They have not produced encyclopedias to propagate Islam but to distort it. A Muslim, who strives hard to find one’s space in society, will always find it and we are there to help. But a negative thinking Muslim will never find his goal as Islam has no place for negativity,” he said.

The event concluded with the promises of making the encyclopedia available in all universities and research institutions, especially for Muslim students.

In essence, An Educational Encyclopedia of Islam covers the religious dimensions of Islam and its development in various parts of the world. Cultural issues which are of significance within the historical canvass of Islam like calligraphy and language have also been covered. Drawing upon trusted sources in the Arabic language, every sentence in the encyclopedia has been cross-checked for its correctness and authenticity. The entries of this encyclopedia are arranged alphabetically, i.e, A to H in Vol. 1 and I-Z in Vol. II. The encyclopedia ranges from brief essays to major analyses of topics like Attributes of Allah, Life of the Prophet and the earliest Muslims, Hadith studies, Islamic history, Women, Human Rights, Inter-religious affairs etc.

The two-volumes set in 1300 pages comes in eye-catching colours and designs, with every section of 50-100 pages presented in a different design, background and colour, thereby aiding the reader in recollecting where certain information is located in the encyclopedia. Its attractive 3D illustrations interspersed with anecdotes, sayings and epigrams and the use of 50 full-scale coloured maps and charts make the encyclopedia the first of its kind in the literary world.  The book was released under the aegis of IQRA Welfare Trust.    

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 August 2011 on page no. 1

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