Sunday, November 27, 2016

Islam and Women Rights



Reviewed by ASIF ANWAR ALIG

Women in Islam: Exploring New Paradigms, by Moin Qazi, Notion Press, Chennai – 600 005 (India), 141pp, Indian Rupees199, Soft.

T
he book Women in Islam: Exploring New Paradigms by Dr. Moin Qazi breaks misconceptions, myths and maneuvers on the Islamic concept of women rights. A new addition in the literature on Islam religion and women’s rights it confronts several misunderstandings. Perceptive response to the biased perceptions on Islam that often portray this faith erroneously instead of describing its ascent—a religion with the history of first being foremost advocator of women emancipation—it has ample insights.

Islam is usually denounced in the pretext of few common Muslims’ misbehavior with the fairer sex to judge its women rights. Referring to the verses of Holy Qur’an and examples from Prophet Mohammad’s (peace be upon him) relation with his wives, this book is seminal for readers’ awareness om women rights and their social status in Islam. The verses describe women’s role for mankind’s sustainability.

This book breaks the myths with sufficient argument. It initiates debate for awareness about Islam as the only religion in human history which inspired women to attain best positions spiritually, economically, socially and politically through their equal participation. Women willfully enjoyed their rights in the Arab world some fourteen centuries ago while world’s rest cultures treated them mere inheritance objects.

References from Holy Qur’an enrich this book as an authentic account of facts. “Men and women have the same spirit, there is no superiority in the spiritual sense between men and women” [Qur’an 4:1, 7:189, 42:11]. Thus Qur’an confronts sexual discrimination and defines moral and spiritual duties of men and women from worship to human needs with an exception of specific concessions to females in biological contexts. It takes into account women’s feminine factors, health issues and greater role of childbearing.  

Dr. Moin Qazi points out that so called women emancipation and freedom in Western World had the heights of hypocrisy until few centuries ago. Islam offered freedom to women in everything including economic rights as equal partners to shape human the societies fourteen centuries ago. West recognized women as human existence to be granted equal rights several centuries later in around 19th century. Until then women hardly had any rights to own properties in the Western World. They remained the deliberate ‘objects’—as male properties.

Unlike West, Islam enforced the rights of women with this freedom to lead life with respect as partners for human sustainability in the light of Qur’an and Hadith. Islam didn’t coerce women from involvement in businesses besides their primary roles of homemakers. It propagated societies to develop strategies to ensure that their women have presence in all professions to enjoy equal pays and in the meanwhile they also maintain self-dependence in whatever roles they play. Furthermore, their financial security was also assured. Such concepts can be best understood from Qur’an and hadith.   

The book highlights women’s rights in Islam on issues like marriage, childbearing, divorce, rights to inherit parental properties and et al. Holy Qur’an demarcates the rights which men and women enjoy and also focuses on the respective duties of husbands and wives as partners with mutual responsibilities to balance family concept. It this assures for the emergence of humane societies. Such rights are understood in the context of women’s biological being that they won’t have the identical duties like men. Their totality is of fulfilling respective responsibilities with the rights they enjoy.

The messenger of Allah repeated his followers in the last command in farewell pilgrimage in Makkah: “I command you to be kind and considerate to women.” He conveyed that “it is only the generous in character who is good to women, and only the evil one who insults them.” Isn’t it vivid explanation of Islam propagating the rights which women deserve as equal participants in mankind’s growth?     

Muslim women are often questioned for specific attires. Holy Quran directs them as committed women to dress virtuously in the respective societies. Their dresses mustn’t incite any sexual attraction. Attires should reflect intellectual and spiritual being instead of provoking diverted attention to other’s sexuality.

This book has the examples of Muslim women’s participation in several public affairs like battlefields during the early years of Islam. Even prophet’s wives volunteered for such roles as the ideals for future generations. The Holy Qur’an gives this right to women to choose their spouses with freedom. Parental forces to the Muslim daughters to go into conditioned marriages with somebody are cultural practices. Such practices don’t have any connection with the Islamic values and therefore denounces them. 

 
The Holy Qur’an insists that it is utter nonsense to treat both genders in the same sphere by ignoring their biological and psychological differences. Their roles are complementary for each other and so are they varied to suit to the nature of their existence. “And the male is not like the female.” [Qur’an 3:36].

With profiling history’s twenty renowned Muslim women and their towering contributions to shape the destinies of future generations this book concludes with an appealing message for introspection. They were inspiration for everybody, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, as great women in Islam. By devoting their lives, they defined women rights in Islam in the true spirits for centuries. 

Islam projects women as partners for the growth of human race. Ironically, biasness against this religion by those not aware of this faith questions women rights in this faith. This book breaks several myths with arguments to come out of various such misunderstandings.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Muslim First or Indian First

Reviewed by ASIF ANWAR ALIG

At Home in India: The Muslim Saga, by Salman Khurshid, Hay House Publishers (India) Pvt., Ltd., New Delhi-110 070, Year2015, 392pp, Indian Rupees 699, Hard.

W
hile intolerance, chauvinism and Hindutva totalitarianism reels India through minority suppressions, especially of Muslims, with series of clampdowns since Narendra Modi led Bhartiya Janata party (BJP) swept the poles should Muslims feel at home in India? At Home in India: The Muslim Saga by Salman Khurshid illustrates a ray of hope. Muslims mustn’t underestimate the prodigious contributions of their forefathers. They indisputably contributed to build India’s cultural, social and economic sanctity, he advocates.
 
Seasoned politician Salman Khurshid raises questions in a context of Sachar Committee and Mishara Commission reports on social and economic status of minorities especially Muslims. Issues of national interest for them like ‘Reservations to Inclusion based Social Justice in India; Equal Opportunity Commission and Communal Violence Bill of 2011’ have been thoroughly discussed. Sections on Riots & Reactions; Global Islam and India’s Secular Muslims to Leadership for New Century besides Notable Indian Muslims and Muslim Renaissance in India perpetuate why they should feel proud of their past, present and future.    

Covering almost everything on Indian Muslims—from concerns to contributions in country’s growth perspective—this book elaborates the role of this community to entrust why they feel at home. A section entitled Education; the Cradle of Capacity Building run over few chapters discuss the niche issues of establishment and contributions of India’s renowned Muslim minority institutions Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI). Both brought educational renaissance in the community since their inception and still shape destinies. This book overviews AMU and JMI foundation, growth and erratic dawn falls.

India’s partition in 1947 was biggest setback for these institutions while intellectual Muslims shifted to the newly created Pakistan en masse. Former president Dr. Zakir Hussain alongside other Muslim intellectuals initiated JMI nourishment to build and rebuild it. Intellectuals associated with it nourished it to preserve the nationalistic traditions. ‘What else could be best coincidence and slap on chauvinist forces to convey that in the mid-1980s, a Muslim Professor Mujib Rizvi headed JMI’s Hindi Department whilst its Urdu Department boasted due to the untiring efforts of scholar and Hindu Professor Gopi Chand Narang to defy religious divisions.

AMU foundation as Mohammed Anglo Oriental College in 1875 by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to it becoming a full-fledged university in 1920 and its struggle to retain minority character have been thoroughly discussed. Its minority issue erupts regularly but solution is still bleak due to biasness. This book summarizes chronology of events that brought manifold transformations in AMU. From potential impact on Muslim think tanks to community rights in the light of original motive of establishing the institution in AMU, this book equally raises questions on those dissociating with it for vested interests.

Vision of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was to form a class of masses amongst Muslims to emerge into ‘Mohammedan in religion, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, through opinion and intellect.’ He dreamed to inspire the students to develop self-respect, sense of superiority with regard to social graces by firm belief that one could overcome hurdles with ability to express the intelligent opinions. His vision and philosophy transformed destinies of Indian Muslims with his opposition to a system of education that ‘left inner spirit dead.’ 

He also believed that education talim (education) and tarbiyat (knowledge and training) were mandatory for budding minds. One prepared for occupations while other designed to bring out innate qualities of character needed for enlightenment.

AMU’s fortuitous contribution to India’s freedom movement in early 1920s became brainchild for JMI’s inception. Dr. Zakir Hussain alongside Kunwar Mohammad Ashraf and nearly 700 students responded to Mahatma Gandhi’s call. They left MAO College and joined non-cooperation movement. Thus JMI was born due to Gandhi’s exhortation, Ali Brothers and other Muslim intellectuals’ untiring efforts.

Through discussing general perceptions on Muslim minorities this book asserts that all sections are important to be given equal importance. Muslims though deserved more attention due to specific reasons. Being largest of all minorities with substantial presence they seek respectable life in a country they were born or they chose to stay by choice although separate land was carved out for them on religious grounds. 

Their inherent contributions to make Indian history and to shape the ‘Idea of India’ since first resistance against British rule in 1857—First War of Independence—can’t be ruled out. They struggled to dream for democratic and secular nation. Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, prominent leader Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and other towering Muslim leaders dreamed for the modern India.

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of India led by Indian National Congress set up the committees to uplift minority communities. Sachar Committee focused on Muslim minorities and collected data from all sources in and outside government to observe exact scenario. Raghunath Mishra Commission with wider landscape and focus provided recommendations to empower all minorities.  

Pointing out the doom of Indian Muslims ever since country was partitioned, Khurshid exhorts to look on their sufferings in August 1947 riots and thereafter. Repeated genocides from November 1984 riots in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination on 31st October 1984; 1993 Mumbai riots to recent killing in Gujarat 2002 pogrom shook the community. Unpleasant scenarios of riots in Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh in 2013 and 2014 respectively further shattered them.

Indian Muslims encounter tough situations regularly but equally do they excel in several professions. They boast of three Muslim Presidents, three Muslim Vice Presidents, four Muslim Chief Justices, one Muslim Chief Election Commissioner, a Muslim Cabinet Secretary and many Muslim Chief Ministers in the post-independent India. List of towering contributions of Indian Muslims is long. This book describes why they are at home in India and questions of ‘Muslims First or Indian First is irrelevant.’

Enlisting Muslim presence in India’s celluloid industry he discusses contribution of Bollywood actors and actresses from Muslim community to shape world’s largest entertainment industry, Bollywood. He also enlists successful Muslim cult figures from poetry, music and painting et al. Khurshid insists that hurdles didn’t bring Muslims at crossroads. They are successful individuals and proud Indians.

Few names from the Muslim community with quintessential impact in the idea of India to fulfill the country’s collective dream to name a few are father of Indian missile technology and former president late Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam; software leader Azim Premji of Wipro; food industry leader Irfan Allana; cosmetic queen Shahnaz Hussain; educationalist P.A Inamdar, retail master M.A Yousuf Ali; institution builder B.S Abdurrahman; medicine man at Cipla Yusuf Hamied; healthcare leader late Habil Koraikiwala and musician A.R Rahman who made India proud. The list is too long to mention.  

While raising questions that pertain to Indian Muslims, Khurshid insists that he doesn’t propose for them to receive the best of everything sought. In all fairness they must receive what they deserve. They willingly gave up their claims for national integration since country’s partition. They are sensibly compromising on the matters of ban on cow slaughter to rest issues to respect country’s secular fabric.

Good chunk of Muslims made bold decision on 15 August 1947 to stay at home in India instead of going into a newly carved out nation—Pakistan. As Indians and Muslims they are Indian Muslims or Muslim Indians. They made a difficult choice through the rejection of powerful claim for them to live together with their own community in a state supposed to be perceived theirs. It was not easy decision for them encountering scenes of divided families, loss of personal properties and shattered lives to bear trauma of a transition. Scares of partition are unhealed yet. As Indian Muslims made clear choice to stay at home they were silent and did not speak traumas or insults encountered.   

Muslims are usual suspects in India, Khurshid exhorts. An example is how Indian Government was forced to arrange special speech broadcast over the radio by the then Vice President, Dr. Zakir Hussain during 1965 Indo-Pak War with an aim to dispel the wild rumors that he was placed under house arrest due to being Muslim suspect. Similarly, during 1980s matinee idol Dilip Kumar (actual name Yousuf Khan) faced desperate situation to run from pillar to post to protect his reputation against the rancorous intimations of him being a Pakistani spy. Of extreme suspicions were biasness and demarcations to deliberately avoid Muslims in the sensitive posts in government organizations.

Reflection of Independent India brings grim facts what caused for Muslims to accomplish. They rather faced nagging disappointments by failing to produce serious thinkers after partition, which could be of the caliber of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Shibli Naumani or Dr. Mohammad Iqbal except Maulana Abul Kalam Azad—whose ideas were shaped before country’s partition. Perspectives on Muslim Personal Law Board and Indian Muslims in the contexts of Mohammed Ahmed Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum case on the issue of maintenance awarded to divorced Muslim woman under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) provide distinct facets of debate in a section spreading over several chapters.  
           
Raising pertinent questions, this book points out why Indian Muslims are subject to gravitational pulls of two extremes. At the crossroads between conservative religious leaders wanting their subservience rigidity under Shariat Law to idealistic left-wing intellectuals looking at the other end without assessing mass sentiments, Muslims, particularly those as midstream liberals, are in catch22situation. Assessment of India’s Uniform Civil Code on multiple perspectives makes this book a seminal work.  

On Islam and its teachings, this book vividly describes idea of a religion—revealed religion to make believers think. Islam was not revealed as a whole at one go. It was rather revealed over certain period of time in response to actual human situations. Focusing on Islamic revolution from the Arab world to spread worldwide, this book mentions life of Prophet of Islam Hazrat Mohammad (May peace be upon him) as portrayal of compelling intellectual, political and socio-economic reform movement. The life prophet became sunnat—a normative path for every believer to follow. Those willing to know respect for women bestowed by Islam must study Prophet’s life instead.  

Muslim World didn’t have serious problems for welfare and security of divorced or widowed women during Islam’s expansion. It gave equal status to women some 1400 years ago while other civilizations treated them like chattels. Women were protected through emotional and economic safety with secured entitlements in paternal properties to claims against deceased husbands under the Islamic Law. Male relatives were under an obligation to provide support while all else failed to help desperate womenfolk.  

By raising questions in the context of Muslims in India, Khurshid insists that it is usually on only two occasions that legitimate expectations of Muslims come into limelight. Their leaders see a wake-up call once ordinary Muslims are slaughtered in communal riots to shame human civilization or while non-Muslims curiosity evokes questions on Muslim Personal Laws. 

Millions of them encounter problems but only few leaders speak fearlessly on their concerns. He laments why it virtually became impossible for them to produce leaders of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (11 November 1888 – 22 February 1958) and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai’s (18 February 1894 – 24 October 1954) caliber post-independence.    

Raising question whether it is still necessary for Indian Muslims to prove credentials of loyalty this book recounts that though Indian Muslims face countless problems it is their home dearest than other places in whole world. Pain and nostalgia of Muslims from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar migrating to Pakistan by yearning for homeland in India even after several decades of migration is vivid. Referred to as muhajirs or tiliars they haven’t found true home in Sindh or Punjab yet in a country they chose.

Khurshid cursorily enlists recent uplifts of Indian Muslims as appreciable steps. Establishment of Hamdard Education Trust and Institution in a splendid campus in national capital Delhi growing into a Deemed University is notable post-independence development. Educational and financial institutions founded by Bohra Muslims including Bombay Mercantile Cooperative Bank happening to be largest and fast growing Indian cooperative bank to Mumbai’s Memon Jama’t and followers of Agha Khan as country’s best business groups match with the world’s entrepreneurship leaderships.  

Besides having an eye on Indian Muslims’ plights this book evaluates their past, present and future. It entrusts Muslims to look at potential scopes to become touchstones. Let them make their own identities in a country they decided to make their home.  

This review first appeared in the Mosaic section of Ceylon Today [www.ceylontoday.lk] 

http://epaper.ceylontoday.lk/Process/UploadTwo/e_paper/5259.jpg

Muslim First or Indian First

Reviewed by ASIF ANWAR ALIG

At Home in India: The Muslim Saga, by Salman Khurshid, Hay House Publishers (India) Pvt., Ltd., New Delhi-110 070, Year2015, 392pp, Indian Rupees 699, Hard.

W
hile intolerance, chauvinism and Hindutva totalitarianism reels India through minority suppressions, especially of Muslims, with series of clampdowns since Narendra Modi led Bhartiya Janata party (BJP) swept the poles should Muslims feel at home in India? At Home in India: The Muslim Saga by Salman Khurshid illustrates a ray of hope. Muslims mustn’t underestimate the prodigious contributions of their forefathers. They indisputably contributed to build India’s cultural, social and economic sanctity, he advocates.
 
Seasoned politician Salman Khurshid raises questions in a context of Sachar Committee and Mishara Commission reports on social and economic status of minorities especially Muslims. Issues of national interest for them like ‘Reservations to Inclusion based Social Justice in India; Equal Opportunity Commission and Communal Violence Bill of 2011’ have been thoroughly discussed. Sections on Riots & Reactions; Global Islam and India’s Secular Muslims to Leadership for New Century besides Notable Indian Muslims and Muslim Renaissance in India perpetuate why they should feel proud of their past, present and future.    

Covering almost everything on Indian Muslims—from concerns to contributions in country’s growth perspective—this book elaborates the role of this community to entrust why they feel at home. A section entitled Education; the Cradle of Capacity Building run over few chapters discuss the niche issues of establishment and contributions of India’s renowned Muslim minority institutions Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI). Both brought educational renaissance in the community since their inception and still shape destinies. This book overviews AMU and JMI foundation, growth and erratic dawn falls.

India’s partition in 1947 was biggest setback for these institutions while intellectual Muslims shifted to the newly created Pakistan en masse. Former president Dr. Zakir Hussain alongside other Muslim intellectuals initiated JMI nourishment to build and rebuild it. Intellectuals associated with it nourished it to preserve the nationalistic traditions. ‘What else could be best coincidence and slap on chauvinist forces to convey that in the mid-1980s, a Muslim Professor Mujib Rizvi headed JMI’s Hindi Department whilst its Urdu Department boasted due to the untiring efforts of scholar and Hindu Professor Gopi Chand Narang to defy religious divisions.

AMU foundation as Mohammed Anglo Oriental College in 1875 by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to it becoming a full-fledged university in 1920 and its struggle to retain minority character have been thoroughly discussed. Its minority issue erupts regularly but solution is still bleak due to biasness. This book summarizes chronology of events that brought manifold transformations in AMU. From potential impact on Muslim think tanks to community rights in the light of original motive of establishing the institution in AMU, this book equally raises questions on those dissociating with it for vested interests.

Vision of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was to form a class of masses amongst Muslims to emerge into ‘Mohammedan in religion, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, through opinion and intellect.’ He dreamed to inspire the students to develop self-respect, sense of superiority with regard to social graces by firm belief that one could overcome hurdles with ability to express the intelligent opinions. His vision and philosophy transformed destinies of Indian Muslims with his opposition to a system of education that ‘left inner spirit dead.’ 

He also believed that education talim (education) and tarbiyat (knowledge and training) were mandatory for budding minds. One prepared for occupations while other designed to bring out innate qualities of character needed for enlightenment.

AMU’s fortuitous contribution to India’s freedom movement in early 1920s became brainchild for JMI’s inception. Dr. Zakir Hussain alongside Kunwar Mohammad Ashraf and nearly 700 students responded to Mahatma Gandhi’s call. They left MAO College and joined non-cooperation movement. Thus JMI was born due to Gandhi’s exhortation, Ali Brothers and other Muslim intellectuals’ untiring efforts.

Through discussing general perceptions on Muslim minorities this book asserts that all sections are important to be given equal importance. Muslims though deserved more attention due to specific reasons. Being largest of all minorities with substantial presence they seek respectable life in a country they were born or they chose to stay by choice although separate land was carved out for them on religious grounds. 

Their inherent contributions to make Indian history and to shape the ‘Idea of India’ since first resistance against British rule in 1857—First War of Independence—can’t be ruled out. They struggled to dream for democratic and secular nation. Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, prominent leader Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and other towering Muslim leaders dreamed for the modern India.

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of India led by Indian National Congress set up the committees to uplift minority communities. Sachar Committee focused on Muslim minorities and collected data from all sources in and outside government to observe exact scenario. Raghunath Mishra Commission with wider landscape and focus provided recommendations to empower all minorities.  

Pointing out the doom of Indian Muslims ever since country was partitioned, Khurshid exhorts to look on their sufferings in August 1947 riots and thereafter. Repeated genocides from November 1984 riots in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination on 31st October 1984; 1993 Mumbai riots to recent killing in Gujarat 2002 pogrom shook the community. Unpleasant scenarios of riots in Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh in 2013 and 2014 respectively further shattered them.

Indian Muslims encounter tough situations regularly but equally do they excel in several professions. They boast of three Muslim Presidents, three Muslim Vice Presidents, four Muslim Chief Justices, one Muslim Chief Election Commissioner, a Muslim Cabinet Secretary and many Muslim Chief Ministers in the post-independent India. List of towering contributions of Indian Muslims is long. This book describes why they are at home in India and questions of ‘Muslims First or Indian First is irrelevant.’

Enlisting Muslim presence in India’s celluloid industry he discusses contribution of Bollywood actors and actresses from Muslim community to shape world’s largest entertainment industry, Bollywood. He also enlists successful Muslim cult figures from poetry, music and painting et al. Khurshid insists that hurdles didn’t bring Muslims at crossroads. They are successful individuals and proud Indians.

Few names from the Muslim community with quintessential impact in the idea of India to fulfill the country’s collective dream to name a few are father of Indian missile technology and former president late Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam; software leader Azim Premji of Wipro; food industry leader Irfan Allana; cosmetic queen Shahnaz Hussain; educationalist P.A Inamdar, retail master M.A Yousuf Ali; institution builder B.S Abdurrahman; medicine man at Cipla Yusuf Hamied; healthcare leader late Habil Koraikiwala and musician A.R Rahman who made India proud. The list is too long to mention.  

While raising questions that pertain to Indian Muslims, Khurshid insists that he doesn’t propose for them to receive the best of everything sought. In all fairness they must receive what they deserve. They willingly gave up their claims for national integration since country’s partition. They are sensibly compromising on the matters of ban on cow slaughter to rest issues to respect country’s secular fabric.

Good chunk of Muslims made bold decision on 15 August 1947 to stay at home in India instead of going into a newly carved out nation—Pakistan. As Indians and Muslims they are Indian Muslims or Muslim Indians. They made a difficult choice through the rejection of powerful claim for them to live together with their own community in a state supposed to be perceived theirs. It was not easy decision for them encountering scenes of divided families, loss of personal properties and shattered lives to bear trauma of a transition. Scares of partition are unhealed yet. As Indian Muslims made clear choice to stay at home they were silent and did not speak traumas or insults encountered.   

Muslims are usual suspects in India, Khurshid exhorts. An example is how Indian Government was forced to arrange special speech broadcast over the radio by the then Vice President, Dr. Zakir Hussain during 1965 Indo-Pak War with an aim to dispel the wild rumors that he was placed under house arrest due to being Muslim suspect. Similarly, during 1980s matinee idol Dilip Kumar (actual name Yousuf Khan) faced desperate situation to run from pillar to post to protect his reputation against the rancorous intimations of him being a Pakistani spy. Of extreme suspicions were biasness and demarcations to deliberately avoid Muslims in the sensitive posts in government organizations.

Reflection of Independent India brings grim facts what caused for Muslims to accomplish. They rather faced nagging disappointments by failing to produce serious thinkers after partition, which could be of the caliber of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Shibli Naumani or Dr. Mohammad Iqbal except Maulana Abul Kalam Azad—whose ideas were shaped before country’s partition. Perspectives on Muslim Personal Law Board and Indian Muslims in the contexts of Mohammed Ahmed Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum case on the issue of maintenance awarded to divorced Muslim woman under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) provide distinct facets of debate in a section spreading over several chapters.  
           
Raising pertinent questions, this book points out why Indian Muslims are subject to gravitational pulls of two extremes. At the crossroads between conservative religious leaders wanting their subservience rigidity under Shariat Law to idealistic left-wing intellectuals looking at the other end without assessing mass sentiments, Muslims, particularly those as midstream liberals, are in catch22situation. Assessment of India’s Uniform Civil Code on multiple perspectives makes this book a seminal work.  

On Islam and its teachings, this book vividly describes idea of a religion—revealed religion to make believers think. Islam was not revealed as a whole at one go. It was rather revealed over certain period of time in response to actual human situations. Focusing on Islamic revolution from the Arab world to spread worldwide, this book mentions life of Prophet of Islam Hazrat Mohammad (May peace be upon him) as portrayal of compelling intellectual, political and socio-economic reform movement. The life prophet became sunnat—a normative path for every believer to follow. Those willing to know respect for women bestowed by Islam must study Prophet’s life instead.  

Muslim World didn’t have serious problems for welfare and security of divorced or widowed women during Islam’s expansion. It gave equal status to women some 1400 years ago while other civilizations treated them like chattels. Women were protected through emotional and economic safety with secured entitlements in paternal properties to claims against deceased husbands under the Islamic Law. Male relatives were under an obligation to provide support while all else failed to help desperate womenfolk.  

By raising questions in the context of Muslims in India, Khurshid insists that it is usually on only two occasions that legitimate expectations of Muslims come into limelight. Their leaders see a wake-up call once ordinary Muslims are slaughtered in communal riots to shame human civilization or while non-Muslims curiosity evokes questions on Muslim Personal Laws. 

Millions of them encounter problems but only few leaders speak fearlessly on their concerns. He laments why it virtually became impossible for them to produce leaders of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (11 November 1888 – 22 February 1958) and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai’s (18 February 1894 – 24 October 1954) caliber post-independence.    

Raising question whether it is still necessary for Indian Muslims to prove credentials of loyalty this book recounts that though Indian Muslims face countless problems it is their home dearest than other places in whole world. Pain and nostalgia of Muslims from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar migrating to Pakistan by yearning for homeland in India even after several decades of migration is vivid. Referred to as muhajirs or tiliars they haven’t found true home in Sindh or Punjab yet in a country they chose.

Khurshid cursorily enlists recent uplifts of Indian Muslims as appreciable steps. Establishment of Hamdard Education Trust and Institution in a splendid campus in national capital Delhi growing into a Deemed University is notable post-independence development. Educational and financial institutions founded by Bohra Muslims including Bombay Mercantile Cooperative Bank happening to be largest and fast growing Indian cooperative bank to Mumbai’s Memon Jama’t and followers of Agha Khan as country’s best business groups match with the world’s entrepreneurship leaderships.  

Besides having an eye on Indian Muslims’ plights this book evaluates their past, present and future. It entrusts Muslims to look at potential scopes to become touchstones. Let them make their own identities in a country they decided to make their home.  

This review first appeared in the Mosaic section of Ceylon Today [www.ceylontoday.lk] 

http://epaper.ceylontoday.lk/Process/UploadTwo/e_paper/5259.jpg

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

System’s victim of wrongful confinement



Reviewed by Asif Anwar Alig

Framed as a Terrorist: My 14-Year Struggle to Prove My Innocence, by Mohammad Aamir Khan with Nandita Haskar, Speaking Tiger Publishing Pvt., Ltd., New Delhi, Year 2016, 240pp, Indian Rupees 250, Soft. 

N
ow that BJP is at the helm of power at Center, minority bashing is commonplace. But the agonies of unlawful confinement of Mohammad Aamir Khan for 14 years indicate system’s deliberate biasness for minority communities particularly Muslims, whether secular or non-secular parties rule India. The book Framed as a Terrorist: My 14-Year Struggle to Prove My Innocence by Mohammad Aamir Khan is contextual memoire—a narration of a novice—that raises big question on country’s national integrity. 

Aamir’s nearly 15 years of incarceration in several jails until getting acquitted from the terrorism cases have been painstakingly debated in the media. Political parties and non-governmental organizations came forward to support him to start life afresh. 

This firsthand narration aptly defines how justice was buried with fabricated framing of an ordinary Muslim youth. He bore the brunt for ‘failing to collect some stealthy information for Indian intelligence agencies during a personal visit to Pakistan’ to meet his sister in Karachi. 

Repeated physical and mental tortures as brutalities crushed him and shattered the family. He recalls the sufferings of other Muslim youths as deliberate victims and questions government prejudices against this community. Many Muslim youths have been wrongfully confined. Their cases are still unsolved and they linger in different jails. Brutally tortured they have least chance for justice. Luckily, Aamir was acquitted unlike many other sufferers. 

This autobiographical sketch of an ordinary Muslim youth narrates his deliberate victimization to punishment for not fulfilling a sinister ‘mission’ of intelligence agencies against Pakistan. Aamir became scapegoat of their modus operandi. 

An encouraged author, Aamir narrates a story as if profiles countless others languishing in various jails on false charges. He met many of ‘framed terrorists’ lodged in different jails with least or no hope for acquittal. 


This book daringly exposes such brutalities. Optimism overpowered his nightmarish tortures but his home already shattered in one and half decades. Thus, his story speaks of sufferings of countless others. Luckily he had honest supporters in judiciary to other departments that rescued him. With precious days of life lost by the time proved innocence, no action was taken against those yet who framed him unlawfully.    


He was one of the many Muslim youths facing the fate of system’s whim. Percentage of Muslim inmates in the Indian jails is much higher than overall population percentage? This book advocates through an ordinary sufferer’s argument and augur Muslim community for their timely introspection. Intelligence officials deliberately scripted story in the wake of Delhi serial blasts to declare him terrorist. The claims were proved wrong but they ate up 14 years of an innocent’s life.   

This memoire of an ordinary Muslim youth describes the fabrications and framing of innocents as “terrorists.” He was falsely accused in 18 bomb blast cases but got acquitted from all. Finally released from Rohtak Jail on January 12, 2012 after spending wasteful years in different jails, the “free man” would have seen his pain healed if the government had at least issued symbolic apology. Even media played nefarious role by literally declaring him terrorist during this period.

 
He thanked a section of media and honest journalists for taking his story into true spirit. They supported in his struggle to prove innocence. Non-governmental organizations and human rights activists too supported him besides impartial judiciary paving the way for acquittal from the so called “covert terror investigation.” His story raises finger on the Indian media whether it plays the role of social watchdog in the matters of tackling cases of Muslims arrested in connection with terror. Often media declares Muslim youths guilty by turning police investigation factious loops into facts. By airing falsehoods, they make the common masses believe falsehoods. 


This book is an eye-opener for Indian Muslims to introspect what leads to their doom. It is also caveat on country’s intelligence agencies, police, judiciary and media why innocents are framed and how that would further reinforce terrorism. Everybody won’t have spirit of “willing to serve nation in nationalist spirit” which Aamir did but got framed as a terrorist.   

He couldn’t do a clandestine “service” assigned to him as he was not a trained spy. That didn’t justify him to be declared terrorist. His abduction and illegal custody after failing to accomplish that modus operandi until being framed terrorist to spend fourteen years in jails was irrefutable loss. He was forced to sign blank papers, write letters to his parents to willingly send his passport through officers to smoothen way for him being framed as terrorist are all anti-Muslim slurs. 

 
The sufferings of Mohammad Aamir Khan are known to all through this book. This couldn’t be possible without unconditional support from the Human Rights Activist Nandita Haksar and his lawyers who took his case on humanitarian grounds to prove his innocence. Besides explaining bitterness and tough times he spent in the jails that shiver readers’ spines he meticulously describes the city of his birth—Old Delhi—after donning into an author’s role.  

It is high time Muslim intelligentsia thinks to act to prevent many such innocent lives from getting perished. All of them won’t have the courage to come out of their sufferings to write a book on brutalities they encounter.  
 
This book concludes with happy note that he has now begun to lead life afresh with wife Alia and daughter born from their wedlock. She offered moral support to his beleaguered parents in his absence. His stigma has not gone yet although he has a family for moral support. His nightmarish fourteen years still haunt him though he is more optimistic for a bright future.  

This review article was first published in Radiance Viewsweekly on November 01, 2016. 
 
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