By Fauzan Alavi
August 17, 2019
Islam emphasised education. The Prophet would seek advice from his wife. He said whomever Allah has given two daughters towards whom he is kind; they will be a reason for him to enter Paradise. All of this highlights how important women should be in Islam.
But today it is unfortunate to see the very reverse in most parts of the world. In India we have squandered the legacy that would have kept us in the mainstream, ie modern education. If women are not educated then automatically half the Muslim community is handicapped, and so the community is doomed. Gross misinterpretations of the Quran are part of our life, as most clerics who advise us do not themselves know Arabic.
It is time for Muslims to introspect. Playing the victim will not take us anywhere. We have to start taking care of our own. Jews, Sikhs and Parsis are the real minorities in India, with a very small share of the population. Yet they are surviving, indeed thriving as equals in India. Why? Because they are highly educated.
Religious education is important for everybody, including Muslims. But we must aim to be part of the mainstream, not apart from it. It is time to manage Zakat and Waqfs well. These have assets worth lakhs of Crores. If these assets are used responsibly for the public benefit, it can transform our community.
Who will ensure this? We alone can do it, and must do it ourselves. Not the ministry of minority affairs, or some MP or MLA. Enormous Waqf funds have been squandered by Muslims themselves, something never thought possible when Waqfs were created.
Waqf properties could be a powerful instrument for uplifting the poor and revolutionising the quality of education. Why then is it that most people who have been heading the boards have been of doubtful credibility? Is PM Modi responsible for this mess also?
Christians have set up world class educational institutions to which people from every community want to send their children, pulling every possible string and offering large donations to get in. How many have we set up? Global Zakat is estimated at $200 billion, ready to be routed to worthy causes. If we organise ourselves to become worthy recipients, Indian Muslims can benefit enormously from this global treasure.
Madrasas of poor educational quality are created for the poor, while rich Muslims send their children abroad or to convent schools. Is this just? The Prophet has said that what you seek for yourself, you should seek for your brethren too. Some secular state governments have gone on overdrive to facilitate madrasas and Urdu teachers, increase the salary of imams, and in one state even provide housing for imams. Has this helped the community? No, a particular section of Muslims has been patronised while ordinary Muslims still languish in poverty and illiteracy.
Islam talks of cleanliness, and courteous behaviour towards all. The concept of neighbourliness, if followed sincerely, will lead to zero conflict as it cuts across all castes and communities.
Triple Talaq is not in the Quran. Why do we follow this custom? Do we give women the rights they are entitled to, with grace and empathy? We build air-conditioned, well-carpeted mosques while in the neighbourhood women are struggling to make ends meet and cannot pay school fees for their children. Do we actually read the Quran with its full meaning? If yes then why do we follow empty and meaningless priorities? There is no mention of wearing skull caps in the Quran, so why make it a prestige issue?
Muslims in India are a strength to the nation. Let critics say anything, they will not be able to prove that we are any less loyal to the nation than anyone else. Let’s take it upon ourselves to get our act together, and be educated and economically sound. That alone can get us on the same platform as anyone else. We should lead by example as instructed by our own Prophet.
It is time for Muslims to think, introspect and take charge of their lives. If we don’t do this, then politicians like Modi, Shah and Yogi Adityanath are always there to pass on the blame for our plight on our own failings.
Source: The Times of India