By Md S. Ahmad, New Age Islam
May 13, 2013-05-13
Zee Salam had organised a three day conference on Islam at Okhla from May 10 to May 12. The conference was much publicised by the Urdu media. But according to a report in an Urdu daily, the conference drew flak from Muslims. The disinterest shown by general Muslims in the conference has irked the religious Ulema of the country. Various Ulema analyse the phenomenon differently. They attributed the low attendance of Muslims in a conference that was held by a big TV channel of the country to their indifference to religion.
The Jama’at Islami leader Engineer Muhammad Aslam said that the life of the modern day Muslim was very busy and so they did not have much time to attend such programmes. They spend the whole day to fulfil their economic obligations which leave them little time to attend such serious programmes. Secondly, he said that today materialism had assumed importance and religion and spiritualism had lost its importance. Thirdly, people were more attracted towards entertainment programmes on TV channels and therefore did not find any attraction in religious programmes.
Maulana Md Mustafa Nadvi said that the reason behind the poor participation of Muslims in such programmes was that the speakers speak in outdated style and diction. They simply quote the verses of the Quran and Hadiths and present their translation to show their knowledge of Arabic and the Quran. They do not present the Quran and Hadith in the context of the situations of the 21st century. The speakers do not discuss the sensitive issues of today. They simply read out the old and outdated issues and fatwas to the audience. People in the present day are facing problems of a different kind which the speakers do not address because the Ulema of today are unaware of the intellectual and cultural issues of today.
He said that one more reason behind the low participation of Muslims in religious programmes was that practical solutions and plans for the future of Muslims are not presented by the Ulema.
Another religious scholar Quari Abdul Mannan said that any religious programme which is held with a view on commercial gains will fail. Religious programmes should be organised only with the aim of obtaining God’s pleasure. He said that religious organisations and mosques should play an important role in drawing Muslim masses towards religious programmes.
Maulana Atif Sanabali of Mumbai said that the reason behind the lack of interest of Muslims in religious affairs is that people have lost their objective of life as Muslims. If one realises why God has sent us in this world, he will head towards such academic and religious meetings. Such lack of interest is because of the lack of Islamic temperament among the Muslims.
The various reasons for the lack of interest of Muslims in religious programmes given by different religious scholars are more or less true. But the analysis of Maulana Mustafa Nadvi seems to be most correct. Our Ulema do not have any creativity in dealing with and presenting the messages of the Quran or the Hadiths. In almost all the programmes, the Ulema or the Maulanas harp on the same oft-repeated verses or quotations and they discuss the same oft-repeated issues. I remember the Meelad Mahfils of our childhood days in which the Maulanas would repeat the verse which meant in Urdu, ‘Aurat tumhare ghar ki kheti hai, usme jis tarah se chaho aao’(Women is your tillage, so enter in her as you wish) ignoring that minor children were also among the audience. Even to this day, the Maulanas often quote this verse in Milads in a hoarse voice. To them there are no other issues which they should have dealt, in a gathering which was full of young people and children. They could have discussed the importance of education and knowledge stressed in the Quran and Hadith, good behaviour, health and other relevant issues.
The other issue which they raise is whether Salam should be offered while standing or sitting as if this is the most important issue for the Muslims. They never raise the issue of education, moral upbringing, the curse of begging and sectarian harmony and brotherhood. Mostly such meetings are held by a particular sect to promote their sect and vilify the opposite sect and thus spread hatred. They do not also discuss the issue of cleanliness and hygiene which is the most important issue in the Muslims society.
They take special interest in discussing the issues of husband wife as it provides them an opportunity to spice up their lecture with sexual innuendos.
However, in our childhood days such Milad programmes attracted huge crowds and people would listen to the speakers till the end of the programme. But as the days passed and Muslim masses matured, they gradually showed disinterest in such programmes as they knew that they will not get to hear anything new.
Maulana Mustafa Nadvi rightly says that our Ulema speak in an outdate way. People want to listen from the Ulema about the issues that affect them in the modern day. Twenty years ago, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan became popular among Muslims because he discussed Islam in a modern style and diction. He presented contemporary interpretations of the Qur’anic verses that touched the chord of Muslim hearts. Even laymen started reading Al Risala because of its freshness of ideas and diction.
Unfortunately, the majority of our Ulema do not possess that creativity in discussing the Quran or the issues of Muslims in contemporary style. The Quran exhorts Muslims to ponder and think. But it seems, let alone general Muslims, the majority of our Ulema do not have time to think and do research work. They have some readymade stuff which they deliver in every religious gathering. Worse, most of them charge a hefty fee to attend such meetings and deliver their lecture and call it a service to Islam and Ummah.
Muslims of this busy world do not have time for mundane religious activity. They will offer five prayers, offer Friday prayers, fast in the month of Ramadhan and pay Zakat but will avoid such religious gathering of boring speakers who will present old wine in old bottle.
(With due apologies to Zee Salam)