Ramadan 1424 H
Volume 16-11 No : 203
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We do need greater emphasis on the education of the Muslim community and their productive employment in various fields. This is true not only for removing the differences from among ourselves, but also for the proper and true understanding of Islam itself!
By Shahnawaz Khan
Thanks to the later generation of people who have let go of previously held ideologies, such as preventing the education of female children, opposing the use and adoption of English as a language of communication, not putting enough emphasis on all round education and not allowing women to employ themselves, we are now looking at a new phase in the lives of the Muslim community.
Yes, we do need greater emphasis on the education of our community and their productive employment in various fields. This is true not only for removing the differences from among ourselves, but also for the proper and true understanding of Islam itself. Today is the Age of Information and we have to take full advantage of the Technological advancements available to the rest of the world. There is now an understanding of creating schools, which offer to teach Technical and Vocational subjects in addition to Islamic Learnings. This should be the mainstay of our focus on a long- term basis.
Complementing, if not replacing the traditional Madrasas, with Institutions which offer to teach Technical, Vocational, Medical and Business courses should form the core of our Community Service policies in the decades to come. To supplement this effort, we should also open Institutes for the proper Training of Teachers. It is obvious that we cannot sustain a continual growth in Education, without the availability of trained Teachers. It is also necessary to learn about Management and Administration to be able to provide the backbone to these services. This will go a long way, in providing us with a productive source of employment within and outside our own community, and in the long term will provide us with a much -needed face-lift in the International arena.
I dream of one day looking at a series of schools, in every nook and corner of India called for e.g- Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (R.A) High School and Technical College, where young students can the get the best quality education alongwith becoming a Hafiz-e-Quran or an Alim. These young people will embody what true Islam means and would be the best living examples of Dawah across the globe. We can already see such live examples today, such as Dr.Zakir Naik, who is not only a professional in the worldly sense of the word, but also a prime example of how a Muslim should be.
However it needs to be clearly stated and understood by all those involved ,that we are not trying to Modernise Islam and its teachings. There is a common mis-conception among many people, that adoption of modern techniques would need a change in the fundamental structure and teachings of our religion. No, it does not- it only means the adoption of modern techniques to understand and follow our faith in a better way. Just like learning English is not going to make us Christians, so too adopting a modern and contemporary technique will not change the teachings of Islam, in fact I am of the opinion that it will strengthen it.
Islam as a way of Life, is the best thing that happened to mankind, thanks to the Blessing and Gracious Will of Allah. It is only our own failings which has given our community a not too healthy reputation. We have previously not been very successful in showing the Right Path to not only the whole world, but even to our own brethren.
(The writer is based in Mumbai and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nearly a century of distance with Islam has altered the way of life of Muslim Bosnians.
Sarajevo: The first glimpse at the Bosnian cities of Sarajevo and Mostar gives the unmistakable impression that Bosnia has indelible imprint of medieval Islamic and Ottoman culture. The crisp aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the brass and copper
handicrafts, the long-nosed hubble-bubble, the aroma of traditional Islamic cuisines such as ‘boruk’ and ‘chawapi’ wafting out of bakeries reaffirm this view.
The plaques bearing Quranic calligraphy in homes, canopied gravestones, the call of the muezzins arising out of the pencilled minarets of the mosque further confirm it.
But at the same time, the last century in alienation with Islam has had its impact. Bosnia moved farther and farther from Islam and West Asian culture.
One gets a culture shock when people who greeted you with Assalamu alaikum order pork dishes in restaurants. Meat shops stock the pork cultlets alongside the mutton and cheese.
I remember the 1994 evening when I asked my interpreter Eden as to what hurt him most during the days of civil war. His answer was ‘liquor which had gone beyond his purse’. With war over, the things have eased considerably and pubs are now filled with youth.
I found the restaurants and bars serving coffee and liquor with gusto and the cacophony raised by the tinkling of pegs and cups often made it impossible for us to hear azan from the mosque.
I remember the Bosnian Muslim kids began to get their first lessons in Islam and Quran in 1994. TV and Radio had begun teaching history of Islamic Bosnia and theology. I had met Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sayeed Saikich, in a technical school, who had told me that that the Communist era had almost cut the Muslims off their religion, history, culture and literature.
But the civil war and onslaught against Muslims revived Islam. People began to question as to why they were targetted despite the fair skin, despite Slav origin of their language and ultimately attributed the atrocities to Islamic faith.
But people’s return to Islam is a bit reluctant and faltering one. Mosques (or Jamia as they are called here) are full only for the Eid congregations. Rest of the time, the imams are invariably alone for the five time prayers.
My journalist friend, Mirsid Bahram still believes the religion is one’s personal affair. He felt no qualm in telling me that he too attended prayers on Eid (Bairam in local parlance) and mainly to please his mother. He was frank enough to admit that he ate and drank whatever pleased him and would roam about with both male and female friends.
When I recounted these narrations from youth to Mufti Sayeed Saikich, he was a bit embarrassed and said it would require a few generations for youth to change over to Islamic ways of life. But he said mosques are increasingly getting more worshippers. But there were hardly any evidences to the effect on the ground. The imam of a Srebenica mosque told me that he would be the lone man to pray after himself calling the azan. On my query if he would not wait for the faithful, his reply was simple: ‘They are expected only on Friday congregation’. The situation at Banja Loca was a bit better. Imam Effendi Marcheech, said nearly 50 faithfuls attend the Maghrib congregation.
I strayed into the madrassa on the old, now demolished ‘Satari Most’ bridge on the Naritva river in Mostar. There were nearly 25 youths studying the Quran and theology. They were bidding goodbye to each other with “Khuda Hafiz”. I asked the young girl Ameena Sheliva as to what she would being doing following her graduation from the Madrassa. Sheliva was clear that serving Islam would be her only assignment. Her English was broken.
The reply from Sheliva had given Mufti Saikich some contentment. He was satisfied as he his efforts were coming to fruition, somewhere, in some measure.
(Note: This report is a translation of Arjumand Bano’s report for BBC.Urdu.com by Maqbool Ahmed Siraj. There may be discrepancies in spellings as Slav names do not find correct phonetic substitutes in Urdu. We owe responsibility for all such miss-spelt words and terms.)
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