Let's say Assalamu Alaikum, Muslim India!
By Syed Mohammad Raghib, The Milli Gazette
Published Online: Sep 30, 2012
On reading the editorial "Khuda Hafiz, Muslim India!" in Syed Shahabuddin Saheb’s December 2009 issue of Muslim India, I couldn't stop tear coming out of my eyes. I was in a state of shock for a long time as to how much we Muslims are self-centred and how careless we are about the affairs of the community. Hence I could not stop myself from writing what I am feeling. Without hesitation I would like put the blame not only on our self appointed community leaders but on those capitalist Muslims and intellectuals who chose to ignore this great work and hardly supported this journal financially or intellectually which lead to Shahabuddin Saheb deciding to closed it down, the second time, for good.
Here is the full text of the editorial:
Muslim India was my favourite Child, nurtured with love, time, energy and money for more than twenty years, with the objective of focusing on the Muslims situation in India, political, economic, social and educational of noting its struggle and endeavour, its weakness and strengths, and hypocrisy of its friends as well as its unrealizable perceptions, both internal and external. In one word, the object was to compile a record for the next generation of the events & happenings of the last quarter of the 20th century. Muslim India fearlessly brought together all available authoritative information about political under-representation, economic deprivation, its educational backwardness & social degeneration. In the process Muslim India became an institution, acclaimed for his accuracy and impartiality, as it was community, which was as proud of being Indians as it was of being Muslims, thus representing a reach cultural synthesis and confluence. Muslim India was acclaimed both for its reportage and analysis. In a way it became the fore-runner of the Sachar Report.
In 1996, I lost my seat in the Parliament and thus ceased to have access to official information. I was also no longer in a position to bridge the financial gap. So on completion of 20 years in December, 2002, I requested my dear friend Zafarul-Islam Khan, Editor of Milli Gazette, to take it over. He ran it for two years then stopped.
Pressed by some friends & assured of their support, I began the third phase in July 2006 and kept it going until December, 2009. But the friend who had promised extensive help silently withdrew after the first year! What pained me for 20 years & I kept on distributing more than a thousand complimentary copied to eminent public figures, academicians and journalists. At one stage I appealed to them to become paid subscribers but the response was poor. I tried to raise money through enrollment of Donor-Subscribers and Friends of Muslim India going. But for how long! The real problem was non-availability of skilled staff whose cost had risen & the mounting debt.
Agonizingly, I realized that with poor health and faltering finances had no option to call it a day. So the last issue is in your hand.
I have been wondering how to keep in touch with you to share my reaction to the national situation as it develops. Perhaps occasionally through the internet, I thank all of you who have helped me all these years in one way or the other.
I pray to Allah that before long someone, stronger than me and with better command of resources shall emerge on the scene to fill the gap.
May Allah bless, Ameen
Our community has not received a service which can match that of Syed Shahabuddin’s. May be because of the toll partition had on us, Muslims. The sad part ever since 1947 has been that if someone tries to rise and do something for the community, they are trampled by others for their own personal, social or political benefits. Or just simply ignored. This is what has happened with Syed Saheb. Our community should have supported him, atleast financially, to keep alive such a great journal which is still remembered, missed, and very much referred by researchers interested in Indian Muslims or anything related to them.
I hope that some people will sincerely rise to the occasion and will do something to revive this important journal. Syed Shahabuddin sahib writes about Muslim India in his editorial that, “the object was to compile a record for the next generation of the events & happenings of the last quarter of the 20th century.” Hence with Muslim India not being published for the last 3 years, we have already created a gap in this record. Researchers and our young generation will have to look at secondary sources, biased sources for information. This is and will remain our loss. It is time we get our act together.
It’s time to think about our current and future generations, do we want them to read History which is records by us or by someone else? Are we even prepared to Educate our community? Now, due to extensive commercialization of education hardly any good supportive personalities are available around us apart from some selfless people who are always ready to support the community with all their potential. A few names come to my mind whose services to the community cannot be ignored, like Mr. Wali Rahmani who started Rahmani-30 coaching, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal who started free IAS/IPS coaching institute, Syed Zafar Mahmood Saheb who is running Zakat Foundation of India, and Mr. P.A Inamdar who is running many educational institutions. There are other organization as well like Hamdard Study Circles who are active in their zeal to produce a better generation of Muslims.
Despite all these progressive efforts, we are lagging behind from our targets and the conditions of Muslims continue to be worse than SC/ST. This is a sour fact which always bothers me and I sure you also, that why is it that we are so backward? Why our community has never been able achieve self reliance, why our politicians and so-called intellectuals continue to ignore the community to prove their loyalty towards the state and/or some political party. Just to show that they are ultra secular they have been depriving us of our genuine needs. Why do our religious educational institutions focus on religious education? Earlier this was not the case. Look at Al-Nizamia of Baghdad which was setup in 1065 and in just 33 years of age Al-Ghazali was appointed professor of that school in 1091, where politics, bureaucracy, maths, physics, chemistry, history, astrology and other subjects were taught to nearly 3000 students.
Not only that period, after 18th century many Muslims scholars who were acutally from traditional educational background did well in Journalism, Politics, History, Sociology, Mathematics etc. Why do today’s madrasas fail to produce scholars likes Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, Maulana Shibli Numani, Syed Suleman Nadvi, Maulana Shaukat Ali, Maulana Mohammad Ali, Syed Ali Mian Nadvi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Anwar Shah Kashmiri, Muhammad Qasim Nanotvi, Maulana Maudoodi, Pir Meher Ali Shah, Allama Iqbal, Rafique Zakaria, and others.
Now it’s time to deliberate on how the Muslim community can take it’s own responsibility and how efforts could be made to nurture the current generation which could give us scholars as was the case earlier. Don’t we have our long legacy of producing good journalist, doctors, engineers, social scientists, thinkers, mathematicians and many other experts by their own means?
If we commit to do this with full conviction we can change the lives of thousands of people who are still waiting for liberator (Maseeha) and we can develop our secular India in which all religious and political option will be available for everyone without any bias or discrimination. Government assistance is good but our own efforts would bring better results, insha Allah. But the condition is self-less service.
Before concluding here I am reminded to two couplets of Allama Iqbal, one in which he says:
“Quwat o fikr o amal pahle fana hoti hai,
phir kisi qaum ke shaukat pe zawal aata hai”
and in the other he says
“Khulte Nahin Iss Qulzam-e-Khamosh Ke Asrar
Jab Tak Tu Iss Zarb-e-Kaleemi Se Na Cheere”
(The secrets of this silent sea, however, do not yield, Until you cut it with the blow of the Moses’ rod.)
In the light of above couplets there is an immediate need for us to unite ourselves at all fronts and work for better education, better political and social participation for the progress of the country and community. Not to be divided in the name of Deobandi, Barelvi, Khanqahi, Hanafi, Ahle Hadees, Shia, Sunni, Jamiat Ulema e Hind, Jamaat e Islami Hind, Muqallid and Non Muqallid etc. We, Muslims are treated as second class citizens in our own country as we do not speak in one voice due to these divisions. We have to rise above this. We have to speak in one voice.
One strong step in this direction for our empowerment would certainly be reviving Muslim India. Please get is touch with me or directly with Syed Shahabuddin Saheb. Let’s not let there be a break in our history. Let’s say Assalamu Alaikum, Muslim India!
Syed Mohammad Raghib is a pursing Ph.D. from Centre for West Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org