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Mumbai: Noted Islamic scholar and reformer Maulana Sajjad Nomani of Lucknow was present as chief guest at 15th MMERC Convocation in Mumbai. In his address to the students of MMERC completing Diploma in English Language and Literature (DELL), he admonished them to reach the peak of English speaking and writing and then convey the universal message of Islam to those knowing nothing but English, the internationally dominant language. However, he cautioned them to get influenced by the Western culture. ‘So far, I have listened English from ‘slaves’ (according to mentality) but for the first time I am listening it from ‘free’ ones,’ said Maulana adding, ‘the way to materialize the English skills you got in MMERC should be by serving Islam. Some of the youths among you must resolve to do for the humanity not for oneself. Don’t use it for material gains or you will commit lose the trust of the Muslim community.’

Maulana, on the basis of his observation, told the attendees that not much effort was needed to persuade the women in western countries to put on veil. He narrated, ‘I have some female relatives in European countries. They told me that their Christian classmates visit them on Sundays and request to spare some time as they wanted to learn the way to wrap scarf.’

It must be admitted that the exhortations of Maulana Nomani were the piece de resistance of the convocation ceremony and the hall was full to overflowing by the public who came to hear his sensible comments.

This function held recently at Mumbai’s Hajj House was the annual Convocation of Markazul Ma’arif Education & Research Centre. In the function MMERC graduates gave their presentation on various burning topics. All the graduates were alumni of Islamic seminaries and were given their first acquaintance with the English language through its two-year Diploma in English Language and Literature (DELL)

he function was presided over by Sirajuddin Ajmal. He is the director of the Ajmal Group Of Companies and an MLA in the Assam assembly. While welcoming all the attendees, he said that MMERC was a part of the educational activities run under the largest North-East NGO Markazul Ma’arif.

Giving details about the establishment of Markazul Ma’arif in 1982 for rendering welfare service, he said it was a dream of his father late Haji Ajmal Ali, and that Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Qasmi (his brother) had contributed greatly towards nurturing the NGO. He expressed his sense of satisfaction on seeing that the madrasa graduates trained by MMERC have attained remarkable communicative skills in English after completing the prescribed two-year diploma in English speaking and writing.

The course condenses into a short period all the levels of English grades right from the first to the graduation level and hones the communicative skills of the students in English.

In the function, two MMERC graduates, Usama Imran Zakir Qasmi and Mufti Nisar Ahmad Qasmi, presented speeches on ‘Modernization Of Madrasa Curriculum’ and ‘Qur’an Peace & Violence’ respectively.

Classifying opinion makers about prevalent madrasa curriculum into two groups-one calling it outdated and irrelevant and the other claiming it requires no changes at all- Usama said both were wrong as they were holding extreme positions. ‘The moderate solution lies somewhere between the two extremes. What needed is to ‘upgrade’ the syllabus and not to ‘replace’ it,’ he said quoting justice Maulana Taqee Usmani who reportedly stated, ‘The most pressing need of our time is to renew and review the system of education and training in madrasas and try to infuse a new spirit in its dead body.’

‘A few selected verses of the Qur’an are misquoted, out of context, by those propagating the notion that Islam promotes violence by sanctioning Muslims to freely slay the infidels. Islam does not allow its followers to fight people except those who fight them and it orders Muslims to stop war if the opposite party stops,’ argued Mufti Nisar Qasmi speaking on his topic. He added that Islam imparts teachings of peace and good behaviour to others. ‘According to a saying of Muhammad (saws) ‘the creature is a family of Allah and the most beloved to Him is the one kind to His creatures’.

Besides, two MMERC scholars related to MMERC Dawah department also gave their talks. Maulana Shahid Mo’in Qasmi, coordinator of the department, spoke on ‘Risks from Homosexuality as per Logic & Islam’. He expressed surprise over the efforts by the so-called protagonist ‘freedom’ to legalize homosexuality under the guise of ‘personal freedom’ and said, ‘Homosexuality is both ‘unnatural and injurious to health,’ adding ‘none of the religions– a religion does not prohibit natural needs–allow it.’ Arguing that the natural trend was ‘heterosexuality’, not homosexuality, Shahid Mo’in said that Allah did not create a ‘gay’ fellow for Adam to get peace and pleasure rather He created Eve. He also claimed that homosexuality causes AIDS. ‘Since the time AIDS was discovered, 2 crore and 50 lakh people have been affected till date.’

Contrary to the misrepresented notion, Maulana Hifzur Rahman Qasmi, a Dawah trainee, said that hijab (veil) is a means to protect a woman’s modesty and it safeguards her from falling prey to the lustful eyes of males. He came down heavily on the hypocritical attitude of the West towards hijab.

Referring to the controversial statement of French president Nicolas Sarkozy that burqa was a ‘sign of subservience’ therefore, it was not welcome in (secular) France, he said, ‘They talk of freedom of choice but when it comes to Muslim women’s choice of wearing burqa they cannot bear it! The claims of freedom turn out to be hollow once any one else instead of the Muslim woman tries to define it as to what type of dress she can put on and which attire she should abstain.’ He also asked if veil was a sign of slavery then why the well-known Tamil writer Kamladas Suraiyya was influenced by it to accept Islam and why even the women of western countries protested against the statement of Sarkozy.

There was also a screen presentation of the activities of the NGO Markazul Ma’arif on its publications, makatib, education, teachers’ training, computer training, relief and rehabilitation work, health care, water supply and mass marriage, among others.

The chairman of Anfar Group of Companies, Maulana Mushtaq Anfar in his talk suggested that the students should get knowledge throughout their life accompanied with sincerity and piety and make people take advantage of that. For encouraging the students to perform best Tarun Rathi, the Mumbai United Democratic Front president, awarded a cash of Rs 5,000 to the three toppers in the examination and requested to let him confer this award every year.

Dr. Abdur Rauf Soomar, the chairman of Muhammad Haji Saboo Siddique Musafirkhana Trust, while calling the experience of equipping madrasa graduates with English a successful one, suggested introducing the same in other madrasas too. ‘Students from Mumbai and Maharasthra should be given more opportunities’, he affirmed.

In the function, the six toppers of the first year- Muhammad Haneef Qasmi, Nisar Ahmad Qasmi and Muhammad Salim Qasmi- and three of the second year- Muhammad Zafar Akhtar Qasmi, Muhammad Javed Iqbal and Muhammad Usama Zakir Qasmi were awarded trophies. Muhammad Ashraf Qasmi and Muhammad Nisar Qasmi were awarded the Best Writer and the Best Speaker respectively.

Four students, Asrarul Haque Qasmi & Muhammad Ehsan (1st Year) and Shuja’at Husain Qasmi & Muhammad Zaki Qasmi (2nd Year) were awarded for being particular about attendance– not absent for more than five times during the academic year– in the class.

Besides them seven more awards were conferred on the students showing their commendable performance in various aspects of academic life in MMERC. Muhammad Zakaria Qasmi, Muhammad Abdul Aleem Qasmi, Taqee Ahmad Qasmi, Fakhruddin Ahmad Qasmi, Waseem Akhtar Qasmi, Asrarul Haque Qasmi and Muhammad Ashraf Qasmi were conferred with ‘The Punctual Student Of MMERC, ‘The Efficient Personality Of MMERC’, ‘The Immaculate Personality Of MMERC’, ‘The Pleasant Personality Of MMERC’, ‘The Social Personality Of MMERC’, ‘The Spiritual Personality Of MMERC’ and ‘The Sportsman Of MMERC’ awards, respectively.

The function was attended by many leading and notable personalities of the city including the convener Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, director of MMERC, Mufti Azizur Rahman Fatehpuri, the grand Mufti of Maharasthra, MLA Basheer Moosa Patel and Mahmood Daryabadi, general secretary of Ulama Council, among others.

Abdul Hameed is a research scholar at MMERC.
He can be reached at ahameed12@gmail.com

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