Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

March 2008
Cover Story Muslim Economy Minarets The Muslim World Islamic Economy Campus Round-Up Editorial Bouquets and Brickbats Community Round-Up Western Viewpoint Social Networking Survey Muslim Perspective Interview Quran Speaks to you Hadith Our Dialogue Fiqh Soul Talk Islamic Voice Debate Women in Islam Low Self Esteem Opinion Children's Corner From Darkness to Light Book Review Miscellany Society Matrimonial "Discover Yourself"
ZAKAT Camps/Workshops Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us


Dangers of Condoning Violence

The violence and chauvinism unleashed by the Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena in Mumbai and its environs and the kid glove treatment it has received by the State Government and the pusillanimous statements by the Centre, betray a dangerous trend in national polity. It serves to show the dichotomy in treating violence and the various actors perpetrating it. While the divisive, fissiparous and communal forces with a political clout get away with mass murder, mayhem and vandalism, those without political constituency are the only ones that face prosecution. The farce of arrests in Mumbai almost came as a celebrity sport with the culprits walking with boastful smiles out of the court.

For one full fortnight, Mumbai, the urbs prima, has been under the reign of terror by the goons and vandals, yet the Centre has not moved an inch to curb the violence. Such blatant challenges to the government’s authority and mockery of rule of law only leads to suspicion that the Mumbai vandals have been acting to the script of certain political godfathers. Deploring, rather than condemning, has been the crux of statements issued by parties that occupy the centre-stage in politics and governance. Even Maharashtra leaders have made only squeamish noises. The regional chauvinism being fanned by the splinter group of Shiv Sena directly challenges the authority of law and strikes at the very roots of civil liberties and fundamental duties enshrined in the Constitution. Violence by MNS goons circumscribes the citizens’ right to settle or seek employment anywhere in the country. It is fallacious to assume that those who arrive in Mumbai only earn their livelihood. They also offer their toil, sweat and blood to run its industries, services and transport. Their contribution to the Maharshtra economy is manifold more than the money they remit home. Even in context of assault against Bihari workers by ULFA in Assam, the attitude of the Centre was one of looking the other way.

It also calls for addressing the underdevelopment in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand urgently. These states have emerged as major supplier of massive labour force to industry and agriculture in almost all of the states in Western, Eastern and North-eastern India. Largely unskilled, English illiterate, these workers are vulnerable to xenophobic propaganda which they are ill-equipped to debunk. Devoid of educational and employment opportunities in their home states, they come handy for all menial jobs in cities and metropolises across the country. If MNS-triggered violence is glossed over so conveniently, how does one justify our concern against raw deal being done to people of Indian origin in Malaysia and elsewhere?

Learning from Others

The Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board would be constructing a 700-bed cancer hospital at Katra, 45 kms from Jammu at a cost of Rs. 700 billion. This piece of news should be as much welcomed as it should be instructive for the Muslim community. Welcome because an organization engaged in promoting spiritual healing and peace, would be offering medical care in a key area unattended in a state marred with militancy. Instructive, because, the state in question is a Muslim majority one where no such initiative has emanated from within the community even though it is dotted with numerous seats of Muslim saints and sages.  The role of religious mutts in welfare activities has been on the rise in independent India. Saibaba of Puttaprathi runs a University and supplies water to hundreds of villages in parched Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh. It runs a state-of-art hospital in Whitefield near Bangalore which received a princely donation of Rs. 600 crore from a single NRI individual a few years ago. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Board funds Sri Venkateshwara University at Tirupati and has set up hundreds of schools, colleges, marriage and function halls, lodges and inns all over southern states. Veerashaiva and Vokkaliga mutts have empowered the Lingayat and Vokkaliga community through a network of professional colleges and hospitals in Karnataka. Amrithdevi Anandmayee Ashrams have been spreading enlightenment through hundreds of colleges. In short, the proceeds from public donations are being harnessed for public good.

Except for the shrine management of Khaja Bandenawaz Dargah at Gulbarga and the Hazrat Madani Dargah in Ullal, incidentally both in Karnataka, the Muslim shrines have not woken up to the call of the times to extend a helping hand to the suffering humanity. When a Vaishnodevi Board could set up a hospital in a Muslim preponderant region, what bars our own dargah managements to get into educational and health sectors and extend the blessings to people of all faiths and fraternities.    They remain mired in their age old practices with Urs, sandal procession and blessings at best. At worst, a huge legion of so-called khadims at Khawja Moinuddin Chishti’s dargah in Ajmer lives off the income from the public offering. Dargahs elsewhere too follow in its footsteps. Little is allowed to be dropped in the official hundi by the flunkeys of greedy hordes of these khadims in order to fund the better upkeep and upgradation of facilities in these centres of devotion.  Devotees continue to get a raw deal and same chadors are sold over and over again to be offered at the graves of saints who were a beacon of selfless service. Is it not time for us to wake up an take notice of what others are offering and reorganize charities at Dargahs socially beneficial purposes?