The air was thick with words like education, knowledge,
learning, coaching, “Taleem”, “Tarbiyat”, “Padhayee” and the likes
which echoed in the auditorium of Ravindra Natya Grah at Indore in
the two-day International Educational Convention of the American
Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin, (AFMI), of the United States
and Canada which concluded on January 3.
Speaker after speaker in their
inimitable style stressed strongly on the importance of education
and the written word. They were all unanimous in their opinion that
no community, society or country anywhere in the world could ever
progress with a humane face to lead a dignified life without adoring
itself with the jewels of education. The general consensus which
emerged was on the need and necessity of girl-child/women education,
parents awareness towards education, value-based education, quality
It is illiteracy that breeds poverty
and not vice versa. Illiteracy is not hereditary and is not
transmitted into genes like hereditary diseases by the human race
into its progenies. This fact emerged in crystal clear manner as one
sat through the proceedings which enriched the mind and heart of one
and all with the knowledge that one can compromise on education only
at one’s own peril to shed tears later in life.
The delegates to the convention
reaffirmed their dedication to the cause of education in India and
promised to do their best in furthering AFMI’s goal of bringing in
the light of literacy to each and every Muslim home in India.
The two-day program which included
Gala Award Ceremony for the meritorious students was hosted jointly
by two NGOs namely Rahat Charitable Trust, Khargone (M.P.) and
Taleem Foundation of Madhya Pradesh working in the field of
education. Delegates from the United States of America, Canada and
all over India attended the AFMI convention along with meritorious
students, who excelled in X and XII Board examinations, and their
Ali Qureshi, immediate past president AFMI and currently on its advisory board who is based in Albuquerque
in NM-USA, speaking on the occasion urged the Muslim youth to
consider education as a means not just to conquer the outer space
but also be equipped to cover the inner space. He appealed them to
be ready to make compromises when called upon in the name of
humanity and peaceful co-existence.
Qureshi, a philanthropist who has
served in the Indian Air Force, said education is a basic human
right and it should be monitored that no kid is left behind devoid
of education. For imparting quality education the education system
must be child-centered and the girls should have access to it
providing an opportunity to acquire education which is relevant in
today’s competitive world, he emphasized.
Dr. Mrs. Razia Ahmed from
Cleveland in Ohio state of USA, who s a strong proponent of women education and a
member of many organization, said that though poverty is playing an
important role in breeding illiteracy but education is very
important for which motivation is necessary for poverty-stricken
Muslim masses to overcome this impediment. There is no demarcation
between “Deeni Aur Dunyavi Taleem” (religious and worldly
knowledge), she averred.
While stressing the importance of
education for women-folk of the Muslim community, Dr. Razia said all
knowledge helps know the creator Allah in a better way. She appealed
to those who are well-off asking them to adopt children of have-nots
and educate them while quoting Mubarak Kapdi, well-known
educationist and counselor, that Zakaat is an important tool with
which they can be helped out.
Presenting a paper on “What ails
higher educational institutions” (of Muslims), N. Jamal Ansari, a
freelance social and political analyst who is on the staff of Aligarh Muslim University, (AMU), pointed out that internal politics
is one of the major factor behind downfall of Muslim institutions.
He cited example of AMU which is facing many problems due to
Ansari said: “We should ponder over
the basic question – how to overcome the ills in Muslim society like
greed, jealousy, aloofness and lethargy because our institutions are
also mirror of our society. Unless we change our society, we cannot
develop our institutions in a sustainable manner”.
He emphasized that a firm and decisive
action is needed to isolate the vested interests of silent majority
of Muslims who are behind the downfall of the most of our
institutions of higher learning. “We need committed teachers who
take their profession as a mission. Future of Muslims depends upon
these teachers. There is a need that they act like father, guide and
friend to Muslim youth to push up a whole deprived class. If we do
not do this, our life is not worth living”, he opined.
He appealed to the AFMI educational
convention to pass two resolutions related to Muslim education
institutes. The first resolution should be in support of proposed
AMU centre at Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh so that Madhya Pradesh
Government initiate proceedings of land allotment and the centre may
be established to realize the dreams of AMU’s founder Sir Syed Ahmad
Khan. He wanted the second resolution must be to declare the AMU and
Jmaia Millia Islamia as minority institutions.
Khalid Khan, a resident of Hasanpur in
Uttar Pradesh who is nowadays based in Los Angeles, said education
is the only medium through which Muslims can make a place for
themselves with dignity and honour in Indian society. “Aisa Mat
Sochiye Dusre Aap Ke Liye Kya Kar Sakte HaiN Magar Apne Aap Se
Poochiye Aap DoosroN Ke Liye Kya Kar Sakte haiN”, he quipped.
Khalid announced to establish an
office in New Delhi to make available information about government
schemes for welfare of minorities and especially Muslims.
Dr. Mohammad Ahsan, Regional Director,
Regional Centre of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, (MANUU),
Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, spoke on “Distance & Open Learning – A Means
of Democratizing Education”. He said that distance education can
provide an alternative to the constraints of conventional education
system. It accepts the challenge of existing constraints on
resources, building for schools and colleges, funds, availability of
workforce etc., and seeks to mobilize available resources to provide
the much needed instructional packages.
Dr. Ahsan said that the distance
education can thus contribute to the educational reforms in our
country which is a significant policy change n our educational
system. Through this policy education will be at the door step for
our all citizens, irrespective of their sociological, psychological
and physical conditions.
He said as Muslims have been left
behind in education they should take advantage of the distance
education. Catering to the needs of school/college dropouts,
distance education can almost eliminate the academic isolation of
those who have been deprived of education for whatever reasons, he
He said in fact open learning system
is flexible in terms of admission, choice of programs, duration and
age requirements, teaching methods and evaluation procedures. Thus,
it offers an alternative channel to those who missed the
opportunities of education. The distance mode universities cater
especially to women, working people, dropouts and those who want to
improve their academic qualifications and professional skills, Dr.
Dr. (Miss) Shabistan Ghaffar,
Co-chairman National Commission for Minority Girls Educational
Institutions, lamented that there is no coordination among Muslim
institutions which impedes development of Muslim society as a whole.
She said that her agenda is how to empower a girl-child. She said
when we educate a boy-child then it is a single person only but when
a girl-child is educated then a family, society and a nation
benefits from it. The girls role are multi-dimensional, she opined.
Abdul Ghaffar Sheikh from Canada
said: “If we are for the Muslim community then we should work
together to uplift it from the quagmire of illiteracy and poverty
and try to empower them educationally, socially and politically.”
Sheikh quoted the example of Nihad
Awad, who is the Executive Director of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, (CAIR), a Washington DC-based grassroots
membership organization which seeks to empower the North American
Muslim community through political and social activism.
He said that Masjids network can be
centres for all round activities of Muslim Ummah. However, in India
he regretted that committees running Masajid affairs have nothing to
do with education. He pointed out that in the time of our beloved
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Masajid were not only the place of Namaz but
all matters of state were discussed and planned out there.
“In Canada Masjids are centres for all
round activities which should be emulated in India also for the
betterment of Muslim Ummah”, Shaikh advised. He said one should have
always the best of both worlds.
“Please do not give up your “Akhirat”
(Hereafter) and also do not lag behind in this world but strive hard
striking a perfect balance between spiritualism and materialism”,
Sheikh fervently appealed the audience. He quoted the example of her
two daughters who are Alima from Malegaon and then did their
graduation in Canada. One of his daughter works as Immigration
Councilor in Canada and goes to office well clad in Burqua without
any inhibition, he pointed out.
Mrs. Ruhi an MBA from the USA who was
born in Indore, regretted that in India regionalism is the order of
the day which weighs heavily on the minds of Muslims also. This
leads to compartmentalization of society and as such there is no
dialogue between Muslim institutions of South and North India. In
South India much good work has been done in the educational and
other fields which could be benefitted by the North Indians if a
channel of dialogue between the two is opened, she stressed.
She said that according to Justice (Retd.)
Sachchar Committee Report 70 per cent of Indian Muslim women are
housewives. If the literacy level of these housewives is increased
then they could focus on education of their progenies and it would
go a long way in upgrading the educational level of Muslims to
empower them, she added.
Tayyab Poonawala, a civil engineer
based in New York, said education is real wealth. He spoke on
strengthening our feeder educational institutions viz. Primary and
Secondary educational institutions which are in dilapidated state so
that the products of such failed institutions are able to
successfully compete in today’s challenging world.
Dr. Abdul Razzaq, a top dermatologist
of the world from Harvard University in the USA, moaned that in
India at present there are no Muslim mentors and leaders who can
guide the Muslim Ummah.
Parents do not motivate their children
in the formative years to emulate the towering Muslim personalities
of yesteryears and take up challenging tasks for the welfare of
Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Trustee AFMI and
Director of Islamic Institute of Las Vegas-Nevada-USA,, who
compeered the seminar on education with aplomb, informed that there
are 37,000 libraries in the USA of which 17,000 are owned by
Christians while in India Muslims have only 27. “If Muslims just
“Soongh LeiN” (smell) these books in the libraries then there may be
some improvement in their lot” he said in a lighter vein.
Dr. Abdullah said that 600 million
dollars are being spend on education in India by the NRIs from the
USA, Canada, Middle East, Australia etc. but its results are not
quite visible as they should have been. This is due to
non-coordination and controversies which are the hallmarks of Muslim
It may be mentioned here that the AFMI,
which is a philanthropic charity organization founded by American
Muslims of Indian Origin, has come a long way since its inception in
1989. As a grass roots based organization it has been working
towards the goal of attaining 100 percent literacy and the
elimination of poverty in the Indian Muslim community.