The dignitaries seated on the dais
with Dr. Syed Zafar Mahmood, president Zakat Foundation of
India, (ZFI), being second from right
Muslims are drenched in poverty and illiteracy not due to lack of
funds available in the community but it is the indifferent and indolent approach to life
coupled with ignorance which have made them vulnerable in society
and open to many vices.
Thus, it is the responsibility of the elite in the Muslim Ummah,
who have been blessed by the Almighty Allah in all respects, to
come forward and help their co-religionist to fight the challenges
of life spiritedly.
The above observations were made by Dr. Syed Zafar Mahmood,
president Zakat Foundation of India, (ZFI), while making a Power
Point presentation in a workshop. The Delhi-based ZFI organized
the 11th National Workshop for “Economic Empowerment of the
Deprived through timely information and its utilization” here in
Bhopal on Tuesday at the Noor-us-Sabah Palace Hotel.
The purpose of the workshop was to create awareness among the
participants about the welfare schemes launched by the governments
of the day for the minorities and impart training as how to use
the Right to Information, (RTI), Act to monitor the implementation
of these schemes.
Along with Dr. Mahmood, the others who graced the dais included:
Justice (Rtd.) Mr. Faizanuddin, Mr. Iftakhar Ahmad, MD of Bhopal
Glue factory; Mr. Sikandar Hafeez Khan, chairman of Reliable Group
of Industries; Mr. Nisar Ahmad Tamboli, a social activist from
Maharashtra, Tariq Qamar, Head of the Monitoring Department of ZFI;
and Mr. Wasim Akhtar (IAS Retd.).
Dr. Mahmood through his presentation impressed upon the
participants that it is imperative on the elite class to devote
their precious Time, Resources, Assets, Income and Love, which he
abbreviated and coined as “TRAIL”, for others in the community who
belong to the have-nots category to uplift their lot. He quoted
profusely the various Ayats from the Holy Qur’an, effectively
interspersed with couplets of Allama Iqbal to suit the situation,
to arouse the moral obligations of the participants to at least
part away with one-third of their TRAIL for the needy who have not
been fortunate enough to have two square meals a day in peace.
To drive home the point he quoted Ayat of the Holy Qur’an 2.219
which says give to others what is beyond your needs to emphasize
on the participants that they have been blessed by Allah’s bounty
both intellectually and materially as compared to a rickshaw or a
cart puller who has to labour hard all day for his sustenance. So,
the poor have right of their share in whatever we have and we are
not supposed to hold it back. So, Islam says whatever we have
extra than our own needs should be parted away for the poor in the
community so that wealth circulates in the community for the
benefit of the have-nots in the Ummah. Quoting another Ayat No.
5.8 from the Holy Qur’an: “Fastabiq-ul Khaeeraat” which means to
vie with one another in good deeds, he tried to motivate and
impress upon the participants the piety of their acts.
Dr. Mahmood, who was Officer on Special Duty with Sachar
Committee, said it is very vital for the citizens to monitor the
government’s welfare schemes to see that these are implemented in
letter and spirit for the benefit of the minorities. He urged the
participants to wake up from deep slumber and realize their
responsibilities towards society. The RTI Act is a powerful tool
now available with citizens to put pressure on the bureaucracy to
implement the welfare schemes in fixed time frames without
indulging in dilly-dallying tactics, he emphasized.
He moaned that in the Indian Civil Services, judiciary and
government jobs only about 1 to 4.5 per cent Muslims presence are
there. It is not due to any bias but lack of interests, attitude
and approach shown by the community as only 0.5 per cent of the
13.4 per cent official Muslim population, according to 2001 Census
data, take the examinations, he pointed out.
Dr. Mahmood revealed that Jain community which is a miniscule as
compared to Muslims has collected 13 million dollars for preparing
their youth to appear in the Civil Services examination. He said
that if Muslims take up the challenge and exhort their youth in
large numbers to prepare for these examinations such as IAS, IPS
and other allied services then their ratio in the bureaucracy
would increase. This in turn will upswing the affect on the
overall improvement of the condition of the community. “It is the
bureaucracy which plays a pivotal role in overseeing the
implementation of national policy and resource allocation of the
government”, he remarked.
He said ZFI is running Sir Syed Coaching Centre in New Delhi
wherein it selects and sponsors the coaching of a limited number
of ‘ZFI Fellows’, i.e. academically meritorious and financially
deserving candidates with an interest in appearing for the highly
competitive Civil Services examination conducted by the Union
Public Service Commission of India (UPSC). The candidates are
selected after an extensive application, test and interview
process. They are encouraged to gain admission to premier coaching
institutes of Delhi such as Vajiram, Synergy, Sri Ram, Ensemble,
Interactions. Their fee is paid by ZFI directly to the institutes.
Now, ZFI intends to establish its own coaching centre in its own
building for preparing 500 students every year for civil services
and other competitive examinations for which funds are needed, he
The backwardness of Muslims economically and educationally is not
due to lack of funds but the community’s virtual ignorance about
the different welfare schemes run by the governments at the Centre
and the state level. The Muslim Ummah fails to take advantage of
these schemes as a result of which funds worth crores of rupees
gets lapsed, he opined.
He said in order to instill awareness in the Muslim community ZFI
has offered to establish a furnished reading room-cum-information
centre having a computer with internet facilities in Masjids all
over India wherever a room or a hall is made available to them.
This will be christened as “Darul Mut’ala-wa-Markaz-e-Ittela’aat”.
The Masjid committees can contact the ZFI with applications to
this effect. About 100 applications have been received from all
over India so far for this project, he added.
Dr. Mahmood lamented that the Ministry of Minority Affairs turned
down the recommendation of forming Indian Waqf Service to create a
new cadre of Waqf officers, on the lines of the civil services, so
that the state Waqf boards and Central Waqf Council would be
managed better. The Ministry turned down the recommendation,
saying a new cadre is neither practicable nor legally feasible, he
He revealed that using the RTI Act he filed an application and
found how the recommendation was rejected without discussing its
merits. It was found that a deputy secretary with Ministry of
Minority Affairs had struck down the recommendation for an Indian
Waqf Service in three sentences,” he said.
The Deputy secretary Virendra Singh had in his noting had
observed: “The state Waqf board has the autonomy to decide the
number of personnel, their deployment status or pay. The state
boards do not have a defined relationship with the CWC (Central
Waqf Council) unlike the position between the states and the
central government and, therefore, replication of an all-India
cadre on the lines of the IAS is not practicable. Amendment to the
Waqf Act to induce the envisaged centralisation may neither be
legally feasible nor desirable.”
Subsequently Cabinet note had only four words: “This is not
recommended.” As such it was not felt necessary at any higher
level to hold any discussion, Dr. Mahmood said.
Meanwhile, it may be pointed out here that Justice Rajendar Sachar,
who headed the Sachar Committee that prepared a status report on
Muslims in India, had said: “There is no legal hurdle in creating
the Indian Waqf Service”. The Art. 312 of the Indian Constitution
clearly provides that Parliament may by law provide for the
creation of one or more all-India services common to the Union and
Rajendar Sachar had said his committee had found “a severe
shortage of senior government officers who are Muslim to manage
Waqf affairs. A separate cadre would mean officers who are not
only permanent but also qualified enough”.
Most of the 27 state Waqf boards are headed either by
not-too-highly qualified CEOs or by government officials holding
the post as additional charge. The Sachar Committee had said: “up
to 200 Group A officers are needed to service the Waqf affairs
across India “ and recommended, “The government may, therefore,
consider creating a new cadre of officers to be recruited by the
UPSC so that they can deal with the specific affairs of the Waqfs
It is observed that some of the Waqf board heads in the country
are very poorly educated personnel. For example the Puducherry
Waqf Board chief is A Sherfuddin, who is only a matriculate while
that of Andaman and Nicobar Mr. Mohammad Akhtar Hussain is only
higher secondary and is in ex-officio capacity. The Tamil Nadu
Board chairman is a literary figure viz. Mr. Khaleelur Abdul
Rahman, who is a poet and a writer.
It may be mentioned here that as per Sachar Committee Report there
are 6 lakh acres of Waqf properties across India of which total
area of 4.9 lakh registered. The Book Value written a century back
was Rs. 6000 crore which translated into the current market value
is whopping Rs. 1.2 lakh crore. The current annual income of the
properties is Rs. 163 crore while the potential annual income
should be around Rs. 12,000 crore, the Sachar Committee Report
Meanwhile, spurred by the exhorting of Dr. Mahmood and his other
team member’s presentations the participants came up to form an ad
hoc body at the end of the workshop to work for Muslims in Bhopal
and later in Madhya Pradesh on the lines of ZFI to uplift the
community from the morass of ignorance and poverty. The members of
the ad hoc body are: Mr. Iftakhar Ahmad, Mr. Sikandar Hafeez, Mr.
Wasim Akhtar, Mr. Mazahir Malik, Mr. Ishrat Siddiqui, Prof. Fauzia
Arshi, Mr. Pervez Bari, Mr. Nadeem Anwar and Mr. Abdul Tahir
Justice Faizanuddin speaking on the occasion stressed that the
information and knowledge gained at the workshop should be
utilized for the betterment of the community then only it would
become meaningful. He state that three things viz. (i) economic
condition, (ii) educational condition and (iii) social status of
any community go to shape its place in society. If economic
strength is the backbone of a community then Muslims are without a
backbone which is quite evident to one and all seeing their
poverty, he opined.
Mr. Wasim Akhtar said that this era being of information and
networking it should be utilised tactfully to uplift the
minorities, especially the Muslim community which is lagging far
behind in all walks of life. He called to replicate the ZFI
success story which is doing a yeoman’s service to make Muslims
live a life of dignity.
He said to have faith in government sector as he has been part of
it. Sharing his experiences when he was posted at Jhabua as
District Collector, he said Self Help Groups are success stories
of society which he minutely observed in the Scheduled Tribes
which is a monolithic society. He stressed on the universalisation
of primary education and called upon Muslims to take advantage of
government infra-structure instead of opening their own schools.
Earlier, Mr. Nisar Ahmad Tamboli explained at length the various
schemes, Acts, policies, funds, institutions, scholarships etc.
available for minorities at the Central and state levels. While
Tariq Qamar gave a detailed Power Point presentation about the
various schemes for the welfare of minorities.
The proceedings in the workshop was conducted by Mr. Tariq Charlie
with aplomb while Mr. Abdul Tahir proposed vote of thanks.
This is the 11th in the series of the workshops held all over
India. The workshops were successfully completed, earlier at
Lucknow & Rampur (all three UP), Patna (Bihar), Ranchi (Jharkhand),
Mumbai (Maharashtra), Kolkata (West Bengal), Malappuram & Calicut
(both Kerala). Now, after Bhopal it would to be held in Srinagar
(J & K) on March 20.
It may be mentioned here that Zakat Foundation of India was
established in 1997 as a grassroots level organization by
concerned residents of New Delhi. It is a
Non-Governmental/Non-Profit Organization which collects and
utilizes ‘zakat’ or charity for socially beneficial projects in a
transparent and organized manner.