Let us stand up and be counted

Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood,

I write this to invite your kind attention, Dear Readers, to a very important matter that concerns the Muslim community of India. Kindly forgive me if any of my words or expressions appear to hurt you in any manner.

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You’re well aware of the morass in which the community is placed for long. If needed, the Sachar Committee Report of 2006 is the latest document on the subject.

‘Promises to Keep’, the 2011 survey report of Harsh Mander’s Centre for Equity Studies shows with evidence that there is lack of willingness in the bureaucratic hierarchy to implement whatever schemes have been framed by the Government for the welfare of Muslims and other minorities. The Government decided to rubbish this report also though on grounds of some statistical inaccuracy. Thus the main contours of this Report also got swept under the carpet.

The Waqf Amendment Bill, 2010 makes a mockery of about twenty vital recommendations of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Waqfs and the Sachar Committee.

The Mishra Commission Report too is in perpetual cold storage.

Why is all this happening with us? What lessons should each one of us take from these mishaps?

I’ve been very deeply mulling over the problem. The only diagnosis that I am able to arrive at is that the required number of its competent members have not devoted themselves selflessly for taking care of the ailing community. Most of us whom our Creator has placed at a much higher pedestal than the teeming millions of our community-mates do not devote to the community the extent of share it deserves in our individual life. Many of us are satisfied by being community-sympathetic within our thought process, during sporadic leisurely discussion with family and close friends or by writing on community networks. Some of us find solace in occasionally organizing some get-togethers making a section of the community internally happy for a while. Very few of us have utilized individual time and resources to physically help the needy in different possible ways much less establish new institutions and facilities for upgrading / facilitating some sections of the community in the fields of education, health, awareness and the like. In fact, on many scores, a comparison with the fellow minorities like Christians and Sikhs is embarrassing. Still much fewer of us come forward to give to the downtrodden community the strength of our proven calibre and our powerful voice, consciously choosing not to barter our capacity to do so for some favor from the Government or even merely its good books. Consequently, the total concern and effort of us, Indian Muslims – in magnitude and intensity – is hardly one percent of what is required to make a substantial difference.

Thus, we are violating the Quranic injunction (2.219): Wa yas-aloonaka ma za yunfiqoon: qulil ‘afw: They ask you how much are they required to devote in charity; say, what is beyond your need. God has ordained that out of the individual time, resources, assets, income and love – whatever is beyond individual/family requirement, one must devote, selflessly and enthusiastically, for others.

As I think more and more, my conviction strengthens that the only way out is that, at a given stage of life, many of us should change the track and come out of the straight jacket, namely, be-borne ~ get-brought-up-and-educated-well ~ start-earning ~ enjoy-the-family-personal-status-and-assets ~ keep-on-enjoying ~ and one day quietly-disappear-in-thin-air. Suppose each one of us lives in this world for eight to nine decades. Thus, as far as personal aggrandisement is concerned, many of us must call it a day latest by the sixth decade of life while we are still capable physically and mentally. So that the quality time during two three decades is devoted in selflessly yet quite actively working to help people other than ourselves and our families.

God describes in the holy Quran (18.7) His purpose of creating the humanity, “In order to test you as to who among you acts more righteously”. According to the converging exegetic analysis here righteousness means helping the fellow beings have a better life.

Urges Allama Iqbal:

Main zulmat-e shab mein ley ke nikloon-ga apney darmaanda kaarwaan ko,
Sharar fishaan ho gi aah meri nafas mera shola-baar hoga.

In the darkness of sorrowful night, I must lead my miserable caravan from the front,
My expression of deprivation must scintillate and my spirit should remain volcanic.

I invite you, – brothers, sisters and the youth – to kindly join hands on this actionful journey. Offers God, At’amahum min joo’iunw wa aamanahum min khawf. (When you will walk on My way, I guarantee that) You will neither grieve nor shall you fear. (So, better stand up and be counted).

I again quote the Allama:

Kabhi darya sey misl-e mauj ubhar kar,
Kabhi darya ke seeney mein utar kar
Kabhi darya ke saahil se guzar kar
Muqaam apni khudi ka faash-tar kar.

(Indulge in purposeful action, continuously)

Like a wave, sometimes forcefully emerge from the river,
Sometimes pierce the river deep inside,
Sometimes surround the river around its banks.
Thus, prove to God what high grade you must get in His evaluation.

May God make all our actions noble and direct all of these exclusively for His plesaure. Amen !

Note: If there is sufficient interest generated from these musings, I intend to describe, in the second volume, the pivotal problem areas and fountain heads – and, how each one of us can contribute to resolve these.

(The author is President, Zakat Foundation of India, New Delhi 110025
www.zakatindia.org [email protected])