Don't use the K word
The Times of India: Sep 20, 2010,
When Prem Chand, a 25-year-old Pakistani Hindu and member of the National Youth Parliament died in the Islamabad air crash a few weeks ago, radical Islamism killed him a second time. The authorities who salvaged the bodies from the crash site painted Chand's coffin black and wrote 'kafir' (infidel) on it in glaring red—an act which raised hackles among enlightened Hindus and Muslims across the subcontinent.
The debate on whether a non-Muslim should be called a kafir or not is not new. Nor is the controversy around the word itself. What has shocked some senior Islamic clerics more is the utter disregard shown by the authorities for a dead person's dignity. It also betrayed their lack of understanding and complete distortion of a Quranic word.
The Quran uses 'kafir' for those who deny the Truth or the unity of God. Indeed, the holy book has a whole chapter named Al-Kafirun (Those Who Deny The Truth) on this; however, it has never asked Muslims to call non-Muslims kafirs. On the contrary, Al-Kafirun ends on a beautiful, conciliatory note often quoted by scholars: "Lakum deenakum waliyadeen (You have your religion and I have mine).''
Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, who heads Markazul Maarif, a Mumbai-based Islamic Research Institute, calls this verse the very kernel of Islam's emphasis on co-existence. "There could not have been a clearer divine commandment about choice of religion,'' he explains. "Islam invites everyone to its fold but doesn't humiliate those who don't embrace it. Using the word 'kafir' to abuse people of other faiths is un-Islamic.''
Scholars maintain that non-Muslims, including Hindus, should not be called kafirs for another reason. "Whether an individual or community denies the truth is a matter of his/her conscience. And since only Allah knows the conscience, nobody has the right to call a Hindu a kafir,'' says Maulana Abdul Khaliq Madrasi, vice-rector of the seminary Darul Uloom Deoband (
The obscurantists say Hindus should be called kafirs because, as they claim, Allah never sent a prophet with a divine book to them. Remarkably, the Quran calls all those communities who were sent with divine books, believers.
Scholar Asghar Ali Engineer doesn't buy the argument that Hindus never got a Prophet or a divine book. "The list of prophets named in the Quran is illustrative, not exhaustive,'' he says. "Muslims believe there were 1,24,000 prophets; the Quran mentions just about two dozen. It also says that Allah sent a 'haadi' (guide) to every nation. So, if there is no mention of a nation or the book in the Quran, it should not mean that people of that nation or community are kafirs.''
Mazhar Jan-i-Janan, an 18th-century Sufi saint, similarly disarmed those who believed that Hindustan remained devoid of a prophet.
"How can Allah forget a great nation like Hindustan and not send His guide here?'' he asked. "Maybe Ram and Krishna were such guides.'' Jan-i-Janan also refused to accept Hindus as non-believers or those who hide the truth because "Hindus also call Ishwar 'Satyam' (Truth)''.
Engineer refers to Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's heir apparent Dara Shikoh's scholarly work Majma-al-Bahrayn (co-mingling of two oceans), which draws parallels between Islam and Hinduism. "Hindus call Ishwar 'Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram' (Truth, Almighty and Beautiful) , and all these are equivalent attributes of Allah—Haq, Jabbar and Jamil,'' wrote Shikoh.
And finally, the disrespect shown to a dead person by calling him 'kafir' is also against the Prophet's own beliefs. Once he saw the cortege of a Jew pass by. Immediately, he stood in honour of the dead person. When a companion reminded him that it was a Jew's cortege, the Prophet shot back: "Was he not a human being?''
Federation of minorities appeals for peace before Babri judgment
Hindustan Times: Neha Ghatpande Mumbai, September 18, 2010
In light of the Babri Masjid judgment next Friday, the Maharashtra Federation of minorities NGOs has appealed to all Muslim youth to keep peace and not be influenced by external parties. The federation said that if the judgment is against Muslims then they would accept it as they respect the
Indian judiciary and abide by it. If the judgment is in favour of Muslims then they have appealed people not to come out on the street to celebrate the victory. They also said that they expected the same from the Hindu community.
“We know that Muslims won’t cause any problems whatever the judgment may be but we cannot talk about the outsiders who will try to provoke the Muslims to cause riots. We would like to appeal to everybody to keep faith in the judiciary and accept its decision. If any community feels that they have been wronged they can always appeal for further legal action.” M. Burhanuddin Qasmi, director of Markazul Ma’arif education and research center.
The federation also made a point that Commonwealth Games are coming up. The whole world has eyes over us. Indians all together shouldn’t send any wrong message to the world by showing disputes within. The federation of minority’s NGO’s Maharashtra is a federation which includes more than 100 NGO’s related to education, communities and other social issues. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Federation-of-minorities-appeals-for-peace-before-Babri-judgment/Article1-601551.aspx
Muslims appeal for peace -- post Ayodhya verdict
Friday 17th September, 2010 (IANS)
Muslim intellectuals and religious scholars Friday urged the Muslim community to maintain peace after the judicial gives its ruling on the Babri mosque title suit Sep 24.
Addressing mediapersons here, activists of the Federation of Minorities NGOs appealed to Muslims not to get emotionally swayed by the court ruling and maintain calm at all costs.
'The judgement may favour one community or disfavour another. In such a case, both communities have the option to appeal. The road does not end here,' said Maulana Zaheer Abaas Rizvi, general secretary of the All India Shia Personal Law Board,
Another speaker said neither side should make a public show that offends the other community.
'My request to both communities is simple: please do not celebrate if the judgement is in your favour or protest if it goes against you,' said Maulana Mehmood Daryabadi, general secretary of All India Ulema Council.
Other speakers said that individuals who try to create a rift between the two communities must be boycotted.
Others who spoke on the occasion included Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, director of Markaz ul Maroof, and Iqbal Memon, vice-president of All India Memon Federation.
Mumbai was engulfed in the worst ever communal riots in its history following the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya. The riots were followed by the March 1993 serial bombings.
Acknowledging the keepers of Quranic verses
The Times of India: Mohammed Wajihuddin, TNN, Aug 22, 2010, 03.22am IST
MUMBAI: Recitation of the Quran is part of ritual in Ramzan, the holy month of fasting. Now, a unique competition among hafizs (those who have memorised the entire Quran) and qaris (those who recite the Quran in the accents in which the verses were revealed) is being held to celebrate the revelation of the holy book, 1,400 years ago.
Organized by two NGOs, Aqdas Welfare Society and Mumbai Aman Committee, the three-day (August 26, 27 and 28) competition at Haj House will feature over 250 hafizs and qaris from across Maharashtra. The 10 finalists will share a total cash prize of Rs 30 lakh. Some of the winners will be sent on Haj.
"The Quran was revealed during Ramzan. It is the hafizs and qaris who have preserved the holy verses in their original form. No one can pay these exalted followers of Allah for the invaluable services they do. We are just acknowledging it with a token,'' said Maulana Mehmood Daryabadi, secretary of All India Ulema Council and the programme's convener.
While all the participants are from different madrassas in Maharashtra, each of the 16 judges is from outside the state. The contest, the organizers claim, is being held to send out a message to the anti-Quran elements across the world. Recently, a priest in the USA announced that he would burn the pages of the Quran on September 11 to mark the terror attack on the World Trade Center in New York. "By holding such a competition, we want to send out a message to all the anti-Quran elements that you cannot eliminate the words of Allah,'' said Daryabadi.
"This competition is a reminder to those Muslims who spend a fortune on things that are mere pomp that they need to do something to preserve the Quran, which was revealed to our Prophet,'' said Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmiof Markazul Maarif, a city-based Islamic research institute.
Seeing the response to the contest, the organizers plan to open it to participants from across the country in future.
Read more: Acknowledging the keepers of Quranic verses - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Acknowledging-the-keepers-of-Quranic-verses/articleshow/6389581.cms#ixzz10dSEFMOp
It's time for fasting, penance and prayer
The Times of India:
MUMBAI: With the sighting of the new moon on Wednesday, the Islamic holy month of Ramzan begins on Thursday. Roza, a month of fasting from dawn to dusk, is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Ramzan's importance lies in the fact that the Quran was revealed in this month. "Ramzan also has a blessed night called shab-e-qadar,'' said Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, head of Jogeshwari-based Markazul Maarif, an Islamic research centre. "The blessings for every good deed gets multiplied by 70 this month.''
The devout try to spend most of their time in prayers and seeking forgiveness. One of the Ramzan rituals is tarawih, a special namaz where the entire Quran is recited at night. Many Muslims give 2.5% of their annual savings to charity as zakat.
Meanwhile, Muslim pockets like Mohammed Ali Road have been decked up. Muslims and non-Muslims alike come here looking for Ramzan delicacies like malpuas, phirni and kebabs.
Read more: It's time for fasting, penance and prayer - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Its-time-for-fasting-penance-and-prayer/articleshow/6295634.cms#ixzz10dTqpV4X
Markazul Ma’arif and MHW Jointly Organize Free Medical Camp in Mumbai
Mon, 2010-06-14 01:40 — editor
Mumbai, 14 June, (Asiantribune.com):
“Health is wealth but people still do not care about their health; hence there is a lot to do for creating awareness among people regarding health and hygiene. Ignoring minor diseases and delaying in consulting doctors put lives into trouble and healable infections grow fatal. Let alone the amounts of money required for treatment.
It is needed to organize free medical camps with the objective of helping people especially those economically poor and create awareness regarding health and hygiene.” Director of Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi said on Sunday expressing his views on a joint free medical camp organized by MHW (Movement for Human Welfare) and MMERC (Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre). Maulana further said we will be organizing such camps in future and hope other organizations will play their role in this humanitarian cause.The camp organized in MMERC compound from 10 am today was inaugurated by Jafar Shaikh, Ghafoor Khan and Doctor Azimuddin, president of MWH who himself being a doctor was one of the physicians participated in the camp. The camp welcoming all people irrespective of religion, caste or gender comprised as consultants Dr. Owais Shaikh MBBS MD (Cardiologist), Dr. Mrs. Tajwar Shaikh MBBS MD (Gynecologist), Dr. MK Zaman MBBS, DTM & HMD, Dr. Shafique Ahmad BUMS and Dr. Amjad Chaudhary BUMS who helped people by their active participation. Besides free psychiatry counseling and distributing medicines the camp had facilities of free ECG, Diabetes and Blood Group checkups through lab expert Javed Akhtar and MHW volunteer Santosh Gupta and Jeet. The camp lasted for five hours about three hundred people benefited by it.Maulana Atiqur Rahman Qasmi, In-charge of MMERC said that the as physical ailments are common when the season changes it was in public interest to help people through such camps. Maulana also thanked all the staff of MMERC who made it successful by their voluntary participation. “I am happy to undergo my ECG check up without spending a penny thanks to the camp. Otherwise it would have cost me a lot” A patient named Abdul Qadir said.
Gallery – Click on picture to zoom.
Learning English by ulama is a need now
Mumbai, 27 August, (Asiantribune.com): ‘Ulama are the real spirit of the Muslim ummah, they have deep knowledge of Islam and they can only lead the Muslim community to the eternal success,’ observed by the speakers yesterday at a Convocation ceremony of Markazul Ma’arif Education & Research Centre (MMERC) at M.H. Saboo Siddique Musafirkhana, Mumbai.
The MMERC Convocation 2008 was chaired by Mufti Azizur Rahman Fatehpuri. Mufti Khairul Islam, Amir-e Shariat Assam, was the chief guest where prominent Muslim scholars and intellectuals from Mumbai city were profusely present.
All India Ulama Council’s general secretary Maulana Mahmood Ahmad Khan Daryabadi said, “It is a great pleasure to attend this convocation for the first time where we see the English language is being Islamized here”. Our ulama never opposed English as a language what they did was opposition of the English culture and their system of education which still we do. “I find this institution (MMERC) more than what I have heard and expected,” he added.
Maulana Mustaqim Ahasan Azmi, secretary Jamiat Ulama-e Maharashtra urged the audience and said that the mission of MMERC is a movement that needs to be propagated across the country. Addressing the graduates who have completed two year Diploma in English Language and Literature (DELL) under MMERC this year, Professor Zakir Ilahi said, “Wherever you go, a sincere service to the society and community must be your first priority, you are first an Alim and then anything else, you bear a heavy responsibility towards the nation”.
Maulana Mohammad Afzal Qasmi, an MMERC alumnus who now teaches English in a college in the UK and Islamic subjects in a madrasa in Blackburn, elaborated his journey from a small village in Bihar to MMERC, to Darul Uloom Deoband and to United Kingdom as a language teacher. He said, “All credits of my success go to none other than Markazul Ma’arif and its founder Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Al-Qasmi”. “I am a son of poor parents from Bihar and an ordinary graduate of madrasa, by the grace of Allah, I succeeded to a label in Deen and Dunya only after being connected with MMERC,” Afzal added.
Marking the farewell speech to the out going MMERC graduates Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, MMERC Director, said, “My students and my friends! You are and you will be an entrusted of the ummah. We are happy to consign the most precious gift to the community today-- in shape of you young men-- who have been equipped with required education and modern skills, and are able to communicate Deen to others”. Maulana MB Qasmi added, ‘but I also feel sorry that we are physically parting from each other today’.
He gave a list of advices to the students and focusing on the mission of MMERC he once again urged that the service of Deen-- peaceful propagation of Islam and helping those in need-- must be the sole purpose of their lives. MB Qasmi also thanked Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Al-Qasmi and his companions who apprehended the enormity of the situation and started this movement in 1994, later followed by others, which resulted at least a dozen of other institutions in different part of the country today.
Speakers were highly appreciative for the efforts of MMERC in the field of journalism. They applauded regular publication of articles and views from MMERC teachers and students in the mainstream national English and Urdu newspapers. “Gradual progress of Eastern Crescent, English monthly published from the house of MMERC, both in quality and content is a good omen for the Indian Muslims,” speaker asserted. Eastern Crescent, campaigns to be an alternative media and people’s choice began publishing in May 2006.
The inaugural speech in the convocation was delivered by Maulana Atiqur Rahman Qasmi, branch Incharge of Markazul Ma’arif, Jogeshwari. He said, “We tried our best to make these students best examples for others, it’s up to the beneficiaries now to engage them successfully.”
A nine member group of students have staged a play titled ‘Hakim Qabrasthani’, which was selected among the best during creative art competition of the students this year. The drama scripted and directed by one first year student Javed Iqbal was among the most amazing components which captivated the audience and they highly appreciated the students’ creative performance. In the 15-minute long drama a traditional semi-Hakim (neem Hakim) in rural UP and his disciples were acted by the student nicely.
Hifzur Rahman Qasmi, Usama Zakir Qasmi and Muhammad Ismail Qasmi, all students, delivered speeches on various important topics like “Is Qur’an God’s word?”, “God’s promises about Israel land” and “The real purpose of education” respectively.
Hifzur Rahman Qasmi said in his speech that the Qur’an is a pattern of eloquence. How it can be the words of an illiterate man? Usama Zakir Qasmi said that the situation of Israel and Palestine is going from bad to worse, the Muslim world should seriously think and act to resolve the deadlock situation in one of Islam’s most holy places. ‘The real purpose of education is the good upbringing of the children’ said Ismail. He said during his speech, “The Prophet (saws) had said that the best present from parents to their children is the teachings of good morals.”
MMERC research trainees Razi Ahmad Qasmi and Anwar Ahmad Qasmi threw a light on their topics-- ‘Contemporary Media and Muslim Issues’ and ‘Islamic Movements Through the Ages’. They informed the audience that they are about to submit their thesis on their respective assignments by the end of August.
Students were rewarded with 17 precious prizes for their best performances in various fields. The best speaker, the best writer, the efficient personality, the social personality, the spiritual personality and the sportsman of the year 2008 were some attractive awards in the function. 22 students who completed two year diploma in English language & literature (DELL) were honored with certificates this year.
The programme was concluded with Dua of Mufti Azizur Rahman Fatahpuri. He said in his presidential address that it is the need of time to learn English language by the ulama and Al-Hamdulillah Markazul Ma’arif Education & Research Centre (MMERC), Mumbai is rendering good services in this field.
In booming economy, an attempt to make stocks halal
Gujarati businessman, who bounced back after the riots, to hold meet on Shariat-friendly investments; ropes in Islamic scholars, Munich Stock Exchange chief
Mumbai, March 8: No government will ever do anything for the Muslims,” says this bearded, soft spoken investment consultant, stock broker and MD of a Rs 100-crore company. “What has to be done, Muslims have to do themselves. And there are plenty of opportunities available.”
It’s easy to write off Zafar Sareshwala (43) as a member of the Muslim elite, born into money to a Gujarati Muslim family that’s been manufacturing industrial valves for 150 years and one who can afford to say his community brothers must “get out of the Sachar-centric mindset”. But soon after Gujarat burned for months in 2002, Sareshwala’s Ahmedabad-based business was wrecked. He was nearly bankrupt.
In the story of how he bounced back is the central theme of a conference to be hosted in Mumbai-the city’s first-ever ‘Islamic Investment Opportunities Conference’, an attempt to draw Indian Muslims-nearly 15 per cent of India’s population-into the equity market boom. Sareshwala’s Parsoli Corporation Ltd will organise the conference at the Nehru Centre on March 10, even as a large group of minorities stages a dharna at Azad Maidan demanding that the Rajinder Sachar committee report be implemented.
Speaking at the conference, which has already received about 950 registrations, will be Shariat scholars including one from a Moradabad madrassa who will review a list of ‘Shariat-compliant’ stocks and discuss ‘Shariat-compliant opportunities’ in stock markets. Also participating is Uto Baader, president of the Munich Stock Exchange, who will make a presentation on how Indian stocks are today the place to park global dollars, and dinars too.
All of them also participated in a similar seminar held in Parsoli’s native Ahmedabad in December, but the scale and outreach of the Mumbai conference makes it hugely significant, organisers say.
“The stock exchange of any country is a barometer of its health,” says Sareshwala, who received many brickbats when he chose to meet Narendra Modi during the chief minister’s London trip. “And, if you’re speaking of growth, how can a country grow if 15 per cent of its population is outside that growth?”
For Muslim investors who wish to conform to the Shariat in matters of personal finance, asset-creation must be a halaal-exercise-no association with alcohol, no unethical means, no pork, no flippant entertainment businesses. While a few so-called Islamic banks and chit funds failed, the equity market will succeed, say the conference organizers.
“The filters are not so restrictive,” says Anand Tandon, investment manager and founder of Griffon Investment Advisors, who has been reading up ever since his association with Sareshwala began some years back. “About 50 per cent of the BSE 500 are available to Muslim investors,” he says.
While he will speak at the conference on how the equity markets work, how the market is booming, Tandon says the broad theme of the conference is also to get ulemas to talk to the community on the research, tell them that their country is on the growth path and they can’t deprive themselves.
For that, partnering Parsoli is the Markazul Ma’arif, an Assam-based non-governmental agency with a Mumbai arm that imparts English language higher education to ulemas, mostly the toppers from country-wide madrassas. For Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi of the Markazul Ma’arif-literally, it means Centre of Excellence—it all began with a research paper completed by one of his wards last year. “It was on the modern economy in the light of the Quran,” says the Maulana. “We found that there are possibilities in the existing stock market where Muslims can invest, but simply don’t have the information required.”
The three-year-old Parsoli Islamic Equity (PIE) Research Cell’s index of Shariat-approved stocks tries to fill that hole. This index, apart from discarding companies engaged in activities or means considered non-Muslim, also gives details on debt-equity ratios, the rule of thumb being that debt be no more than 33 per cent of total market capitalization.
And, since the Maulana Qasmi is a “practising Muslim who intends to remain one”, like most of the 950-odd people who will attend, the organizers are showing great regard for Muslim sentiment-a separate enclosure for women, even arrangements for Zohar namaz.
“One Hindu woman asked me why a separate enclosure,” says Sareshwala. “I told her we want women to see the world of opportunities independently, away from their husband’s viewpoint.”
He stresses that his company is are completely within the regulatory environment, registered with the SEBI, listed with the BSE, very close to getting a commodities listing. That the conference is an investment, a huge business opportunity for his firm is no secret. Still, between recruitments for four or five new branches in Mumbai, he says: “We have everything that a Motilal Oswal or a Merrill Lynch can offer you, plus Shariat-compliant investments.’’
Investment lessons for Muslims
New Delhi, March 8: India’s Muslims will be urged this weekend to shed their fear of banks, stocks and mutual funds, invest their money, and watch it grow.
The country’s first ever Islamic Investment Opportunities conference, to be held in Mumbai on Saturday, will argue that Islam may forbid speculation but allows core investments as long as the means are Shariat-compliant.
Joint organisers Parsoli, a Mumbai-based investment company, and Markazul Ma’arif, an education and research centre, have invited clergy, mostly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, to help break their community’s “traditional mindsets” on money.
M.B. Kazmi, a Markazul director, said studies by his centre showed that in the metros, the majority of Muslims had base assets of over Rs 1 lakh but were reluctant to take the money out because of “lack of confidence”.
“Most of them are practising Muslims who fear they may be guilty of committing haram (a crime) by making un-Islamic investments,” he said.
The conference is expected to showcase a convert: Mufti Ishtiaq Ahmed Azmi, who got his degrees in jurisprudence from the Dar-ul Uloom in Deoband.
“The economics syllabus in the madarsas needs to be updated to remove popular misconceptions about banking and investments. I studied the modern economic system from an Islamic perspective for a year and found that most of the concepts were easy to understand and apply,” Azmi said.
“There’s nothing in the Quran and the Prophet’s sayings that forbids Muslims from competing in a dynamic economic order.”
Kazmi said the conference’s objective was to start a debate, whose outcome could be codified into some kind of an economic law setting out the parameters for investment by Muslims. He said imams and scholars on the Quran, Hadees (a compendium of the Prophet’s sayings) and the Arabic language would draft the new law. “The Quran has words that are the equivalent of ‘share business’, ‘debts’ and ‘security money’, but these have to be rediscovered.”
Some Muslims believe that even without a reinterpretation, Islam affords a little leeway on interest: it is permissible to invest in businesses whose interest income is less than 10 per cent of their total revenues. If the earnings on interest are channelled into philanthropy, there’s no problem. But sects are sharply divided on the subject.
What’s definitely banned are investments in companies engaged in conventional finance, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, “vulgar” entertainment and — in India — sugar companies, because they generate molasses that are used in making liquor.
Despite these restrictions, India fares well on Shariat-compliance. A four-year survey of listings on the National and Bombay stock exchanges shows that while 115 of 988 companies passed the test in 2002 on the NSE, the number had gone up to 335 out of 1,000 by 2005. In the BSE, while only 95 of 500 companies made the cut in 2002, the number was 237 out of 500 by 2005.
But Ashraf Mohamdey, who owns Idafa Investments and will be at the conference, is cautious.
Mohamdey’s Mumbai-based company targets the middle-class retail investor. Although its growth over 12 years has been problem-free, his main concern is that India is not as “open” as Europe and the US, or even Sri Lanka, who have institutionalised Islamic banking without inviting the charge of being “communal”.
The Centre on Tuesday denied having decided to set up a committee to study the feasibility of setting up an Islamic bank.
Inquilab Annual Function
Home of Hope
Amidst the horrors of militancy in the hilly regions of Assam, a group of committed Muslims have set up
Markaz Darul Yatama, an orphanage for kids who are victims of ethnic violence
By Md Akhtab-ul-Ala
Think of Assam and there would be two things cropping up in the mind-the refreshing tea for the brighter side and the horrors of militancy, the State has been going through, which is the darker side. But Assam has its moments of hope where a committed group of Muslims have taken the initiative to extend their services for the needy and the poor and all that is done quietly and gracefully. Nestled amidst greenery, in the little town of Goalpara in the State, is the Markaz Darul Yatama, an orphanage which was the outcome of the philanthropic efforts of an NGO named Markazul Maarif having its bases at Hozai, along with the support of the local Muslims. It all started with the notorious ethnic violence in 1993 in Assam. The Bodo militants, in order to prove their majority in support of their claim for a separate Bodo State went on an ethnic cleansing spree in the districts of Barpeta, Kokrajharand Bongaigoan. These areas became the centre of communal carnage and many innocent Muslims were killed and lakhs were rendered homeless.
Thousands of Muslim kids were orphaned and dislodged from their homes and took refuge in various relief and rehabilitation centres set up by the government. The living conditions in these camps were pathetic with two square meals being a luxury for the families and the kids. So education was a dream too.
The Bodo militants, in order to prove their majority in support of their claim for a separate Bodo State went on an ethnic cleansing spree in the districts of Barpeta, Kokrajhar and Bongaigoan. These areas became the centre of communal carnage and many innocent Muslims were killed and lakhs were rendered homeless.
It was under these circumstances that Maulana Bostanvi of the Jamia Islamia Ishaatul Uloom and Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Qasmi, president of Makazul Maarif took the bold step of shouldering the responsibility of building the future of these helpless children by setting up an orphanage in the name of Markaz Darul Yatama at Goalpara in Assam. A plot of land was purchased from a local estate owner Md. Abdul Kadir who agreed for the sale at a much concessional rate. As a first step, 350 destitute orphan kids from different camps were taken into the new orphanage with the intention of imparting spiritual and contemporary education. Under, the leadership of the director Hafiz Bashir Ahmed Qasimi, Markaz Darul Yatama, currently has 400 boys and 250 girls (orphans) in separate campuses. Along with the modern education in English medium, Islamic classes too are organised along with physical training and NCC classes.
The boys section of the Markaz Darul Yatama is managed by 25 qualified teachers headed by Mufti Sa’aduddin Qasimi, while the girls section is managed by 15 teachers. The English medium section named as Markaz Academy has a staff comprising nine qualified teachers headed by Md M. H. Lashkar. Recently a 10-bed hospital named As-Salam was set up here to take care of the inmates of the orphanage. An Industrial training institute is part of the plans to impart training to the orphans in vocational jobs. Despite odds and the tense situation in Assam, the unflinching spirit of the small group of Muslims here serves as an example and indicates that hope exists even in the most hostile conditions and one needs to be determined to fulfill the goals.
Health Camps by Markazul Maarif in Assam
HOJAI : Noted voluntary organisation Markazul Maarif held health camps at seven places in the state of Assam between July 26 and August 5. 2,227 patients received treatment for various ailments at Phooltali, Udali, Padumphukuri, Kapashabar, Raikhata, Kumarakhata and Udaypur.
Most of these places are said to be inaccessible areas of a backward region. A 22-member medical team headed by Dr. Afif Khan, ex-Joint Director, Assam Health services, Nagaon pitched their camps in the places. He was assisted by Dr. Ashok Ray, Dr. Kumud Hazarika, Dr. Anup Kumar Das, Dr. Iqbal Hazarika, Dr.Subrata Banik etc.
The team doctors instructed the people about preventive measures against common ailments viral fever, diarrhoea etc.
Markazul Maarif is running several schools, dispensaries, and scholarship endowments in Hojai and Nagaon districts of Assam.
Markazul Ma'arif reaches to the rescue of 1200 families
Murshidabad, 10 August*, 2005: The devastating flood and erosion of Padma river and the following hunger have played havoc on the lives of people at Jalangi in Murshidabad District of West Bengal, 400 km. from capital city Kolkata by the Indo-Bangladesh in the northeast region of India. Two Muslim NGOs - Charity Alliance, Delhi and Markazul Ma’arif, Assam are placed in the affected areas to assist the victims. Many families in villages like Parashpur, Dayarampur, Taltali, Udyanagar and Raipara on the banks of the river Padma are left with nothing. ‘Even one complete village- Parashpur is totally submerged rendering hundreds of acres of land washed away and more than 200 families deprived of their houses and belongings in the swirling river water,’ reports M. B. Qasmi, Director MMERC, Mumbai after visiting the area in July 14-19. ‘Large areas of farmland have been inundated and it blocked sources of income and livelihood of the people in the area. Added to this, the famine condition further aggravated their living conditions and the tragic, catastrophic situation is slowly but surely pushing them to starvation deaths’, said Mr. Qasmi.
Markazul Ma’arif, an Assam based Muslim NGO, moved by the reported starvation deaths in Murshidabad sent a survey team in May to measure the loss and requirements of the people there. Following the survey report the Organization sent its officials- Mr. Sharifuddin Lashkar, Fakharuddin and Shah Jahan Ali- with relief commodities. The group organized local volunteers and provided the starving victims with rice (10 Kg. Per family), Daal, salt, cooking oil, baby foods, medicine, Lungi and Saries to 1200 families in 3 phases in June and July. Mr. Shamsul Haq Choudhury, Vice President of the Organization, Maulana Siddiqullah Choudhury, General Secretary West Bengal Jamiat Ulama-e Hind and M. Burhaniddin Qasmi from Mumbai have also distributed from the Organization goods to build shelters, to those who have lost shelters, and means of income to the selected males and females in July 15 and 19.
So far 600 bundles of Tin to 400 families (each bundle contains 72 ft. of aluminium shields), 15 rickshaw vans to men and 10 sewing machines to women have been distributed in the affected villages as means of living and earnings in addition to food, clothing and medicine to 1200 families in earlier three phases of distribution. In all some 7500 people have been benefited by the volunteer services of the Organization. Notably, Markazul Ma’arif is rendering this relief and rehabilitation commodities in Murshidabad with full collaboration of a London based humanitarian organization- MUSLIM AID.
The survey of the Organization also reveals requirements of proper educational infrastructure in the locality. Hence, Markazul Ma’arif is working to establish five schools in the severely affected villages where basic religious and primary secular schooling would be facilitated to both the boys and girls. Maulana Siddiqullah Chaudhury, General Secretary Jamiat Ulama-i West Bengal unit has agreed to look after the schools for the next five years with Markaz’s financing.
Markazul Ma’arif, headed by Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Al-Qasmi, Member Shura Darul Uloom Deoband; is the largest Muslim NGO in northeast India. From the very beginning of its establishment in 1982, the Organization has been engaged in plying a key role for a sincere, devoted and altruistic service to the people of northeast region, in social, economic, educational development without discrimination of creed or cast.
*Please note that the above press release was ready to be released on July 26 at nearly 03:30 PM when the historic rainfall and sudden flood in Mumbai changed our life for few days. The rain has submerged our office and literally whole campus of MMERC became an ocean of water within less than an hour. MMERC, Mumbai faced heavy lose, whole campus with all computers, furniture and a huge library was completely deep in the water for at least 12 hours. Today, Al-Hamdulillah, we are back again with a new set up. MMERC has been doing relief and rescue work since July 28 across Mumbai and Thane with food and house hold goods and medical camps.) http://www.markazulmaarif.org/newsite/donate.asp
(M. Burhanuddin Qasmi)
MARKAZUL MA’ARIF EDUCATION & RESEARCH CENTRE (MMERC)
Pratiksha Nagar Masjid, Patliputra Nagar
Oshiwara, New Link Road
Jogeshwari (W), Mumbai – 102 (India)
Tel: (+22) 26798538/ 56832225
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.markazulmaarif.org
Times of India
MUMBAI: Purdah. Terrorists. Imrana. Offended by what they perceive as a biased and unfavourable portrayal of Islam on television, a section of the Muslim community has decided to take matters into its hands.
Two new free-to-air, 24x7 Islamic channels will showcase "the true Islamic perspective" on issues facing Muslims across the world. The new channels will compete with QTV (Quran TV), the Dubai-based channel which has a vast and dedicated audience of Muslims in India and Pakistan.
The first channel, Kitaab, whose name is a homage to the Quran, will go on air on October 7, the second or third day of the holy month of Ramzan. The second channel, tentatively called Peace TV, will be launched in two months' time by Dr Zakir Naik, a well-known preacher on QTV.
"Kitaab will not just counter anti-Muslim propaganda in media, but will also help cleanse Muslim society," claimed Akhtar Sheikh, builder and the channel's chief promoter. "Muslims have long felt the need for a channel which they can claim as their own."
The programming for Kitaab will be entrusted to a largely orthodox group of... ... madrassa-educated Deobandi ulema.
Markaz-ul-Maarif, a Mumbai-based centre of Muslim religious scholars, has already set the compass for the channel - remove misconceptions about Islam, highlight the sacrifice of Muslim freedom- fighters such as Maulana Azad, and the Ali brothers, debate issues of personal law like marriage, talaq, maintenance and purdah.
The ulema's involvement is surprising given the debate about the legitimacy of television that currently divides the ulema in India. Last year, Mufti Mahmud-ul-Hasan of the Darul Uloom Deoband seminary had issued a fatwa banning television for Muslims.
Madrassas do not allow their students to watch TV. "Television is a means to (frivolous) entertainment," the Mufti had said, triggering a debate in the Urdu press.
But Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, who is involved in Kitaab's programming, says the ulema cannot deny the importance of visual media. "Take the case of Imrana. It was debated endlessly to the exclusion of everything else as if Muslims didn't have any other issues," he said.
Other members on the programming panel include Maulana Mehmood Madni of Jamiatul-Ulema-e-Hind and Syed Salman Nadvi of Nadwatul Ulema in Lucknow
Mumbai: Its 9’oclock late in the evening, the time to pack up for most of the people in Mumbai. However at Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Center (MMERC) in the heart of the popular international city in India, it is as if the beginning of the day. The activities in the classrooms, the calm in the library, the clerks at work, the buzz in the court-yard and the appetizing smell emanating from the kitchen, the combination was a match perfect to describe beginning of a busy day in any institution. No. They haven’t started their activities now. In fact they are busy right from 6 in the morning. Yet the freshness over their faces reveals absolutely no sign of fatigue.
This is the routine at Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Center (MMERC) in Mumbai, the Institute-cum-Research Centre for Madrasa students. The Institute that polish a select batch of immature yet talented Madrasa students and convert them into a valuable asset for the country and the world. The Institute that is the brainchild of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Qasmi who came into the limelight after floating Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) few years back and recently after winning the parliamentary election by a huge margin.
“We don’t have a weekly off, neither a Friday nor a Sunday. Our students are busy right from the morning till late in the evening for whole of the year”, said Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi. Maulana Burhan, the trusted lieutenant of Badruddin Ajmal in Mumbai, is also the principle of the Institute, a mentor and a father like figure for the students. At the same time, very confident and absolutely clear while expressing his views.
We asked him the motives behind setting up an Institute for Madrasa students, a bunch considered as useless and on whom no one would consider investing anything let alone millions of rupees every year, the philosophical Burhanuddin Qasmi goes on. “Had there not been Ulema after the decline of Muslim rule, the mythical Indian civilization would have absorbed Muslim identity and culture”, he said while adding, “Ulema have been the backbone of the Muslim community and their extraordinary efforts through ages have kept the Islamic assets protected and flourishing on the Indian soil. Therefore, the fate of Muslims as a unit and a separate religious group depends on the progressive ideas, up-to-date policies and universal thoughts of their spiritual leaders.”
“At the onset of the new millennium”, he said, “As the community was surrounded by multitude political problems, it faced the biggest challenge to its civilization and cultural heritage. Since the Ulema, being aware of only Islamic sciences and Urdu-Arabic languages, were not only lacking access to the international community but also to a good part of their population. Hence it is needed to equip the graduates of Madrasas with the modern science so that they can meet the modern challenges and play a greater influential role in the society.”
At the helm of the affairs, Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi personally takes care that the quality is strictly maintained for the two-year course having a total of just 25 students for each year. No less than education bliss for the Madrasa students, Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Center (MMERC) has changed the lives of more than hundred students in few years since its foundation.
“Total discipline and absolutely no leisure to anyone, our rules are very clear. Above all our evaluation method leaves no chance for the students to freak out. To come with the flying colors, they have no option but to perform”, said Maulana Burhan Qasmi.
Today the Madrasa students after completing the course from Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Center (MMERC) are most sought after by the consulates, publishing centers and even by the industries, everyone coming to Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Center (MMERC) with attractive packages and lucrative offers for MMERC students.
Certainly an IIM in making for the Madrasa students, the experiment that began in Mumbai has now spread to Assam, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh (UP).
Diploma in English Language & Literature (DELL): English is the Lingua Franca of the world today. People world over, communicate with each other and transact business through this language. Though Ulema from Madrasas know Arabic and they can comprehend Islam directly from the original sources, they find it difficult to communicate with the intelligentsia as they lack proficiency in English language. Consequently they are not only unable to present Islam to others but also fail to communicate with the educated people of their own community. To cement this communication gap, the Institute inspires Ulema to learn English so that they acquire enough proficiency in reading, writing, speaking this language and translate Islamic works into the same utilizing the modern tools of communication such as computer and Internet. It may help them become effective preachers and propagators of Islam.
Under this program, graduates from different Madrasas are selected after written and oral tests to join this two-year course. Priority is given to those graduates who have an aptitude and willingness to learn English and an ambition to work for Dawah in future. Students joining this course undergo training for two years with the sole objective of acquiring proficiency in English language and operating computer and Internet.
Students completing this course stand at par with graduate of English medium public schools and colleges. Also they become capable of writing articles, delivering lectures on Islam and comparative religions, teaching English and Arabic and taking research works in English independently. At the same time they get an opportunity to join renowned organizations, institutes and magazines and also to work as an administrator, teacher, interpreter and translator in India or abroad.
Having successfully passed the exams, some qualified students are selected for three years intensive full time “Research and Training Course”. During the period research methodology is instilled in them and in the process they are trained for an in-depth research. The topic of research is basically related to Islam and Muslims. During the first year the trainees select a topic in consultation with his guide. He is asked to collect materials and participate in seminars on the subject. He is also encouraged to meet different experts of the subject and visit various libraries. The trainee is required to submit a thesis of his research findings in no less than 100 pages. Once a trainee completes the Research Training course and submits his paper successfully, he is enrolled for “Research Fellow” phase.
During second year, the Research Fellow is to take thorough research on the same topic for which he has already submitted a paper. Intensive research is done here with a view to come out with new findings that help remove misgiving related to Islam vis-à-vis other religions and modern scientific researches.
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 email@example.com