Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Jamadiul-Akhir / Rajab 1423 H
September 2002
Volume 15-09 No:189

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Muslim Perspectives| Book Review| Children's Corner| Quran Speaks to You| Hadith|
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Book Review


The NRK Factor
It's time for an Islamic Renaissance!
Submitting to Western Hegemony?
Qur'an is the Word of God Various Scientific Proofs


The NRK Factor

Reviewed by
Maqbool Ahmed Siraj

Kerala's Gulf Connections

Kerala's Gulf Connection
By K. C. Zachariah, K. P. Kannan, and S. Irudaya Rajan
Centre for Development Studies,
Ullur, Thiruvananthapuram.
Price Rs. 250,
pages 230

Gulf money changed the face of Kerala drastically. Within two decades of exodus of employable youth and influx of Gulf money, Kerala metamorphosed into a land of posh houses overflowing with electronic gadgets. Its rural roads got lined up with taxis. Bars came up where none existed before. Structures bathed in glass, steel and concrete replaced the quiet tiled roof houses built with laterite bricks amid palm groves.

On another level, youths vanished from homes. Wives and kids who were separated from their husbands and fathers for years without end inhabited large haunting houses. Sulking elderly folk became the fixtures for the mosques. Psychiatric practitioners and family counsellors began to have a roaring practice. Money did come in abundance. But not the enterprise. Traditional industries such as coconut processing or rope-making fell in disrepute. Shorn of avenues for investment, theatres, hotels and nursing homes mushroomed in towns. Pressure built up on land and farms gave way for colonies.

The NRK FactorIt is said the 1973 Oil boom and consequent employment opportunities in the Gulf averted the Communist revolution in Kerala. Nearly 15 lakh Keralites who work in the Gulf region constitute the important financial backbone of the state’s economy even 30 years later. Of these a little more than half are Muslim Keralites. Emigration to the Gulf countries has become an effective route for economic emancipation for the poor household in the state. Foreign remittances or ‘money order economy’ was contributing almost 22 per cent of the State’s Gross Domestic Product i.e., Rs. 13-14,000 crore around the year 2000. The Gulf remittances accounted for 17 per cent in 1991-92. These vital figures suggest that the Non-Resident Keralite (NRK) factor could be used for Kerala’s economic resurgence.

There were 30.7 lakh Indians in the Arab region in 2000. Of them 10 lakh were in the UAE alone. The total stock of Kerala emigrants in the UAE alone was about five lakh in 2001. An average worker who stayed for six years in the Gulf brought Rs. 7.5 lakh on an average. 36 per cent workers of Kerala emigrants had a monthly saving of Rs. 6,000 and another 37 per cent a monthly saving of Rs. 6,000 to 12,000.

While consumption level of an average Keralite went up and occupied a slot of 41 per cent above the national average in 1991-92 (Kerala’s consumption rate was below the national average in 1978-80), the saving rate soared to 21 per cent in 1972-73 to 50 per cent in 1991-2000 period.

The study confesses that migration is an unconventional path to development but in the context of Kerala it is undoubtedly the most “productive industry” employing nearly two million persons directly and supporting 7 to 8 million family members. However the study finds that educated and skilled Arab workers and better trained workers from South East Asia would pose a greater competition and challenge to employment prospects for Keralites. 80 per cent of Keralite workers in the Gulf had no formal training and only 20 per cent had diploma or certificates. It suggests a short term plan for skill development among Keralites and a long term globalisation of Kerala’s educational system.

Some of the suggestions from the study such as promotion of sea voyages between Kerala and UAE to ferry workers to home, curtailing the monopoly of Air India (which virtually milks the passengers) on Gulf sectors, reduction of airport users fee in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi airports to just Rs. 100, formulation of savings and pension scheme for the NRKs and worthwhile schemes for investment in sectors such as higher education, infrastructure, real estate, tourism, IT, healthcare etc. are worth considering by the Government of Kerala.

The study takes a comprehensive look at the NRK factor and fills a longstanding void on this very important sector of Kerala economy. With a little over half of the NRKs being Muslims, the community could use the data to plan a strategy for its economic development too.

 

Non-Resident Keralites

Highlights of CDS Study

  • Nearly 1.3 to 1.5 million Keralites live outside India.

  • Principal area of origin of emigrants from the state was Malappuram-Thrissur belt. From Malappuram alone there were 297,000 people working in the Gulf. This is more than a fifth of the total. Trivandrum was next with 131,000 or 10 per cent. Thrissur, Palakkad, Calicut, Kollam and Ernakulam had each one lakh emigrants. In terms of emigrants per 100 household, Malappuram had 49 persons for 100 household.

  • Nearly 51 % of emigrants were Muslims but remittances by Muslim households received were only 50 per cent. Muslims had the highest illiteracy and lowest proportion of persons with secondary school leaving certificates among NRKs.

  • Among the 13,62,000 emigrants, only 1,26,000 were women. Of these only 25 per cent were Muslims.

  • An emigrant spent Rs. 44,000 on an average to go abroad. Cheating by agents was also added into the cost factor and it came to 22000 as average loss.

  • 27 per cent funds for meeting emigration expenses came from family savings, 50 per cent borrowed from relatives, 60 per cent took institutional loans and 40 per cent sold gold jewellery. Only a small minority sold land.

  • A million Keralite married women stay away from their husbands. These are ‘Gulf wives’.

  • When ‘Gulf wives’ were asked whom they would prefer for their son-in-law (between locals, Keralite in other states of India or NRK), 83 % said a person working in Kerala). 14% preferred an NRK and 3% a person working outside Kerala.

  • There were 739,000 return emigrants in 1998 (i.e, people who had returned from the overseas after living and earning for a period of one year.

  • There were 623,000 less than emigrants. About 1/8th of Kerala households had a return emigrant each. Largest number was in Malappuram (124,000) and 21 return emigrants per 100 household.

  • More than half the number of emigrants were Muslims, 13 % were Ezhawas, 12% Syrian Christians, 8% Latin Christians, 8% Nairs. The SC only 1.4 %.

  • An estimate of total cash remittances received by Kerala household during a 12-month period in 1998 was Rs. 35,304 million.

  • The average annual remittance was about Rs. 25,000 per emigrant. Cash remittances constituted 9.3 per cent of the State Domestic Product. The total remittances received by the Kerala household were 2.55 times higher than what Kerala Government received from the central Government as budget support.

  • The total value of goods (gold, jewellery, gadgets, clothings etc) received by the households was Rs. 5,413 million. Thus total remittances, cash + goods came to Rs. 40,717 million or 10 .7 per cent of SDP.

  • Malappuram received 17 % of the total remittances. Thrissur 14 per cent and Ernakulam 13 per cent.

  • Muslims received 47 per cent of total remittances. Ezhawas and Syrian Christians each had received about 13 per cent. Latin Christians 11 per cent and Nairs about 9 per cent.

  • But in average household terms, it were not the Muslims who received the highest per emigrant remittances. An average Latin Chrisitan emigrant sent back Rs. 33,000 per year and an average Syrian Christian emigrant Rs. 27,000. An average Muslim emigrant sent back remittances Rs. 24,000.

  • Remittances per emigrant varied according to education levels. A degree holder on an average sent Rs. 37,000 while an illiterate emigrant was sending Rs. 20,000.

  • NRI deposits in Kerala in 1998 had Rs. 127,350 million and they are growing at the rate of about 25 per cent per year.

Excerpted from Kerala’s Gulf Connection
by Centre for Development Studies,
Thiruvananthapuram.

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It's time for an Islamic Renaissance!

Young Muslims must acquire knowledge as an obligation imposed upon them by the Quran. Follow the ideals of Al-Biruni and Ibn Sina, advises Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed, President, Islamic Research Foundation, Kentucky.

By Nigar Ataulla

With Quran as their guide and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), the early Muslims reached the zenith of civilisation which lasted over 1000 years. During this period, the Muslims contributed vastly to the enhancement of arts, science, medicine and cultural growth of mankind. The Islamic Empire, for more than 1000 years remained the most advanced and civilised nation in the world. Dr Ibrahim B. Syed , an educator and currently Clinical Professor of Medicine (Medical Physics and Nuclear Cardiology) at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Kentucky, has spent a lifetime, thinking and scripting reams of literature on the status of the Muslim Ummah today. From his treasure of books, comes this brilliant new tome, "Intellectual Achievements of Muslims," which attempts to answer the reasons for the downfall of Muslims from such glorious heights- from a position of top of the civilization to the bottom! " One of the major reasons is obscurantism, which is the act of obscuring, or striving to prevent enlightenment or to hinder the progress of knowledge," says Dr Syed who is also the Founder and President of the Islamic Research Foundation Inc, in Louisville, Kentucky.

No one can deny that the Muslim Ummah occupies a position which is at the lowest rung of the ladder in the world. The share of Muslims in Nobel Prizes and the Olympic Games is close to nothing. Muslims' contribution to literature is marginal, Muslims have been economically exploited and politically subjugated. Muslims number between 1.2 to 1.5 billion, the average literacy rate is between 25 and 35 per cent and in rural areas in Muslim countries, the illiteracy rate among Muslim women is 93 to 97 per cent. Dr Syed clearly portrays the fact that the western educated Muslims know Das Capital than Quran, Hadith and Fiqh. They know the theology of Thomas Aquinas, but are ignorant of Al-Ghazali. They know everything about Isaac Newton, but have no idea of Al-Biruni. They read the adventures of Marcopolo, but have never heard of the travels of Ibn Batuta. They have read the works of Toynbee, but do not know that Ibn Khaldun is the founder of Sociology.

They know that William Harvey discovered blood circulation, but do not know the achievements of Ibn Nafis, the forerunner of William Harvey. Packaged elegantly, the most notable feature of the book is the simplicity of language, devoid of clichés and high- sounding vocabulary. It reflects the down-to-earth approach of Dr Syed who was born in Bellary in Karnataka and completed his initial education in Mysore. While the book elucidates the achievements of Muslim scholars, scientists and intellectuals during medieval times, the author minces no words to explain that Islamic Renaissance means the intellectual growth of the Muslim Ummah-that is young Muslims ought to learn and apply research methodology to interpret the glorious Quran and Hadith in the context of modern knowledge. Due credit should be given to Dr Syed for his admirable optimism where he has presented the "Action Plan" for Muslims across the world. One of them being the acquisition of knowledge, education and science as an obligation imposed upon them by the Quran so that they become self-reliant. Illustrating a touching example from the life of Al-Biruni, the author recollects: I spoke of Al-Biruni who flourished in Ghaznah 1000 years ago. The story is told of his death by a contemporary who says: I heard, Al-Biruni was dying, I hurried to his house for a last look.

When they told him of my arrival, he opened his eyes and said: Are you so and so? I said: Yes. He said: I am told you know the resolution of a knotty problem in the laws of inheritance in Islam. And he alluded to a well-known puzzle. I said: at this time? And Al-Biruni replied: Don't you think it is better that I should die knowing rather than ignorant? With sorrow in my heart, I told him what I knew. Taking my leave, I had not yet crossed the portals of his house, when the lament arose from inside: Al Biruni was dead.

Dr. Syed's book is dedicated to the Universal Muslim scientists and scholars of the past, the present and the future and is an eye-opener to the Muslims of today that they need to achieve a balance between Islam and modernity through Ijtehad (creative and independent thinking).

The book is available at:

Star Publications Pvt Ltd, # 4/5 B, Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi-110002, Tel: 011-3257220, Email: starpub@satyam.net.in

and

The Islamic Circle, # 23, Boundary Road, Rose Hill, Mauritius, Tel: 230-464-3247, Email: tic@int.mu

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Submitting to Western Hegemony?

Jihad-The Trail of Political Islam
Author: Gilles Kepel
Publisher: I.B.Tauris, London & New York
Pages: 454
Price: 25 Pounds

Reviewed by
Yoginder Sikand

The emergence of Islamist political movements in large parts of the Muslim world has occasioned a veritable flood of writings on the subject. Much of the research being done in the West today on Islam focussed on what is called, for want of a better term, Islamism or 'political Islam'. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, movements for Islamic assertion are seen, in influential circles in the West, as the new 'enemy'.

This accounts for the growing interest in the study of Islamic movements in Western universities and policy circles. Since Islamist movements are viewed as threats to Western hegemony, most studies by Western scholars on contemporary Islamism are motivated by security considerations and thus are far from being objective. This voluminous tome falls neatly into that category. Gilles Kepel is recognised as one of the leading French scholars of Islam, and has written extensively on contemporary Muslim societies. In this latest book of his, he examines the politics of what could be called 'jihadism', which he equates with the phenomenon of 'political Islam'. Kepel begins by tracing the roots of the Islamist ideological project to the writings of certain key ideologues, such as Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Ikhwan-ul Muslimin, the Egyptian, Sayyed Qutb and the Indo-Pakistani scholar-political activist, Sayyed Abul 'Ala Maududi. He shows how each of these thinkers sought to respond to the challenges that their own societies were faced with by developing an understanding of Islam as a total ideology, encompassing all aspects of a believer's personal as well as collective life. For these Islamist thinkers, Islam was incomplete without the state to enforce the Islamic law. Hence, for them, the struggle for the Shariat-based state was a central concern.

Kepel argues that the growing resort to violence on the part of some Islamists, best epitomized by the blowing up of the World Trade Centre in New York, is evidence, not of the growing strength, bur, rather, of the increasing weakening, and, therefore, desperation, isolation and decline of 'political Islam'. He argues, and rightly so, that when in power, such as in Iran and in the Sudan, Islamist parties have failed to live up to their promises for a better life for their people, and have installed fiercely authoritarian and anti-democratic regimes in place. This, coupled with the growing violence of many Islamist groups, he suggests, have turned large masses of their supporters against them. Kepel thus argues that 'political Islam' is a spent force, and speaks of a 'post-Islamist' era, and argument which seems somewhat premature, if not far-fetched. It may well be that advocates of 'political Islam' would gradually realise the futility of violence and may well seek to pursue peaceful means to carry on with their own political project, a possibility that Kepel, in his eagerness to pronounce the demise of a politically engaged Islam, hurriedly denies.

Kepel declares that 'Muslims no longer view Islamism as the source of utopia', gleefully welcoming it as 'auguring well for the future.' He is speaking more for himself than for millions of Muslims across the world.

Kepel appears to recommend that Muslims, like other people in the 'Third World' and victims of the globalisation project, must cheerfully submit to Western hegemony rather than struggle to challenge it.

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Qur'an is the Word of God
Various Scientific Proofs

Reviewed by
Justice A. Abdul Hadi

Former Judge, Madras High Court This book is a revised and enlarged second edition of the original book which was published in 1998. " The desire to write such a book was there since I felt that through such a book, I could make my humble contribution to the awakening of a strong conviction about two fundamental things in the minds of all including those people who may be as of now, non-Muslims, atheists or agnostics". The book priced at Rs 100 can be bought from the author at:
Old No-28, new No-57, I Main Road, Gandhi Nagar, Adayar, Chennai-600020. Ph: 44002750/4430246.

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