Special Reports

Imams urged to use pulpits for Muslim empowerment

New Delhi: While the streets and roads in the National Capital were wearing a deserted look on Sunday, 13 October, due to Dussehra and official weekly holiday, hundreds of imams and clerics sitting inside the majestic India Islamic Cultural Centre here on Lodhi Road had gathered to discuss the present and future of India's second largest majority community.

Packed to capacity of 300 seats, the grand Abdur Rahman auditorium on the first floor of IICC was rapt attention to the speech of Zakat Foundation of India president Dr. Syed Zafar Mahmood who had called the meeting. Dr. Mahmood, without mincing a word, said the Congress-led UPA government had done little to the real empowerment of the Muslim community in the last nine years of its power at the Centre. After presenting 20 demands, Dr. Mahmood urged the imams to use the pulpits of the mosques to raise Muslim empowerment issues. He categorically said, without the active involvement of the imams a mass movement cannot take form, and without that no government is going to listen to the genuine demands of the community.

Dr. Mahmood in his speech raised the issue of Reservation to Dalit Muslims and Christians, De-reservation of assembly and parliamentary seats reserved for Scheduled Castes as Muslims are almost majority in those seats and SCs have small population. He also demanded fast-track courts for disposal of terror cases.

Taking a strong stand on Muzaffarnagar riots and their aftermath, Dr. Mahmood demanded redeployment of Army in Muzaffarnagar and neighboring areas which witnessed riots and migration of over one lakh Muslims. He said Army should be there until the situation returned to complete normalcy. He also demanded the central government not to hold Lok Sabha elections in the riot-affected Muzaffarnagar and neighboring districts as over one lakh internally displaced people may not cast their votes. When he asked the gathering if they support this demand, hundreds of hands went up to endorse it.

The gathering included a good number of people from the riot-hit areas of Muzaffarnagar. Presiding over the program, Maulana Abdullah Phoolpuri of Azamgarh appealed to imams and clerics to implement the proposals of Zakat Foundation of India.  Mufti-e-Azam Punjab Maulana Fuzail Usmani asked the Govt to consider proportional representation to Muslims in the legislature. He decried the failure of UP and central governments in Muzaffarnagar and asked for facilitating the return of the one lakh displaced Muslims to their houses under military care.

The Presentation is available at http://www.zakatindia.org/images/20points-UPA%20Action%20Plan%20PPT.pdf

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 November 2013 on page no. 13

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