Journalism in Madrasas and Madrasas in Journalism
Abstract: Through the content analysis of more than a dozen magazines interspersed with the insights from interviews of around 30 editors and scribes, this paper seeks to explore the fascinating world of the madrasa journals. Apart from their thematic concerns, it brings in issues like geographical reach and the social composition of their consumers. Experiences of the editors and their approach to journalism also constitute a significant part of the paper. Moreover, it helps in developing a proper understanding of the process of bringing out wall magazines in madrasas. It also tries to grasp new trends in the domain of the madrasa journalism.
Bio: Based in New Delhi, Arshad Amanullah is an independent filmmaker and researcher. I have an M.A. in Mass communication from, Jamia Millia, New Delhi. I’ve also spent around 10 years in the Salafia madrasa, Varanasi. Islam, Indian Muslims, media and Bollywood are my area of interest. Having published two books and several papers, I’ve directed and scripted a couple of documentaries.
Contact: arshad.mcrc @ gmail.com
To Sarai Reader List,
Myself Arshad Amanullah.
I’m based in New Delhi and am with the department of visual documentation of Kabir, a communication initiative to promote and popularize the Right to Information Act, 2005.
I completed the masters degree in the discipline of mass communication from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi in 2005.I have co-directed a couple of documentary films about call centers as a lucrative career option for the young generation
Before coming to Jamia in 2000, I graduated from Jamia Salafia, an apex madrasa of the Ahl-e-Hadees sect of muslims (known for its non-adherence to any of the conventional schools of the muslim jurisprudence and a bit adamant towards a more puritanical interpretation of Islam and monotheism) situated in Varanasi. In the last phase of my stay in the madrasa which lasted for nine years, I developed my interests in the media affairs, particularly with reference to muslim issues and took to the writing. Considering two of my Urdu papers saleable commodity, my publishers printed them into book form (so it’s not my fault!).One of them deals with the relationship between media and muslims in the post-independence India ( Media Aur Musalman: Azadi Ke Baad).The part of the book which discusses Urdu media, contains a few paragraphs on the journals brought out by madrasas. In an interview with me, Maulana Sultan Ahmad Islaahi, an Aligarh based noted Muslim scholar, termed the sort of journalism practiced in those magazines as backdoor journalism (Oqbi Darwaaze Ki Sahaafat). It’s from that time I had the madrasa journalism in my mind as a theme to be explored in detail applying appropriate research tools of media studies. Now I am doing it as an independent fellow of Sarai.
The madrasa journals are the portals to the minds of the madrasa folk. What they think of the contemporary trends among the Indian muslims, of the current affairs and of the mainstream media? Apart from the thematic concerns, I will also analyze their political economy and the technology in use to bring them out.
For the study, earlier I decided to select three Urdu magazines, each from the three main sects will be selected: Ahl-e-Hadees ( Mohaddis, Varanasi), Deobandis (Tarjuman-e-Darul Uloom) and Barelvis (Ashrafiya).But after going through different journals, I discovered variations in the approach to the same issue and to the printing technology among the publications of the madrasas of the same sects. So, now I will take two or three journals representing the whole range of a particular sect .The reference period of the study will be taken from 2000 to 2004.This analysis will put the study at the confluence of qualitative as well as quantitative methods. Apart from the contents of the selected magazines, the interviews of their editors, women madrasa graduates and other concerned people will be another primary source of the research.
The first posting will be an introduction to the history and current scenario of the madrasa journals in India. Each of the next three postings will deal with the detailed content analysis of the journals of the three main sects of the Indian muslims. The sixth of the series will throw light on the wall magazines brought out by the madrasa students. In the final report, I will sum up my findings with a reference to the conceptual and methodological issues which I will have come across during my research.
From the Indian Express, “System Reboot”: http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=87713&pn=0
For close to a century, their curriculum was unchanged. Now, orthodox Muslim schools are co-opting computers alongside Kamil courses. Mohammed Safi Shamsi reports on West Bengal’s madarsa makeover Photos: Shubham Dutta
In less than a fortnight, some 25,000 students will be appearing for the High Madarsa exams in West Bengal. In many ways, they are the last link in a chain of an education system that took shape centuries ago. From next year, students will be tested on a reoriented syllabus that, for the first time, seeks to place Madarsa graduates at par with products of mainstream schools.
While the Centre has been working on upgrading educational infrastructure in areas of high Muslim concentration for more than a decade now, it is only of late that the efforts are bearing results. In West Bengal, more than any other state, the Left Front government’s modernisation programme will see 3.5 lakh students–including non-Muslims, underprivileged and first-generation learners–of the 508 madarsas affiliated to the West Bengal Board of Madarsa Education (WBBME) benefit from an education that equips them for the 21st century.
”Reforms, as we see it, are being ushered in in phases. For students of the 2006-07 batch and thereafter, the syllabus has been reoriented. We have also introduced computerisation and computer education, upgraded infrastructure and emphasised recruitment of teachers against vacancies,” says Abdus Sattar, WBBME president.
If India was recently hailed in the reputed Foreign Affairs journal for its reforms in the Madarsa sector, much of the credit must go to West Bengal. According to Sattar, ”Quite a number of Boards, academic bodies and even authorities of states such as Tripura, Manipur, Rajasthan, Maharashtra have approached us for guidance and assistance in reforming their madarsa system to be in tune with broad-based general education.”
Lessons from History
SO how did West Bengal come to occupy this spearheading position in madarsa revamp? According to observers, the state’s Muslim educationists have long been reform-minded: In 1915, it was at the instance of the then principal of the Dacca Senior Madarsa that Bengal adopted the ‘High Madarsa’, as distinct from the ‘Senior Madarsa’. Since then, the two streams have been available in tandem.
While the High Madarsa syllabus adds on Arabic and Advanced Arabic courses to the regular school syllabus offered by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education–and is treated at par with Madhyamik, ICSE and CBSE boards–the Senior Madarsa is a more orthodox course. It prepares students for the Alim (class X), Fazil (class XII), Kamil (two-year graduation) and Mumtazul Muhaddethin (master’s degree) exams.
Fundamentally unchanged since the early 20th century, the High and Senior Madarsa streams–available in the 10 affiliated madarsas in Kolkata district and 498 institutions across the state–are now set to be revamped. The reforms are based on the recommendations of the Madarsa Education Committee constituted by the West Bengal government in 2001 and headed by former state governor A R Kidwai
Central policy is just one of the many reasons why madarsas are changing,
VARGHESE K GEORGE, NEW DELHI
NOT just the Arabic script or the Koran by rote, but science, maths and computers too. Though West Bengal may be leading the field, more and more children across India are exposed to much more than they were ever before in madarsa education.
The factors pushing the educational boundaries in the traditionally rigid centres of learning are many. Not the least among them: Initiatives of the state, churning within the community, mass media, international politics etc.
”The realisation that modern education cannot be ignored for religious training is increasing, and madarsas are looking for new methods,” says Siddique Hassan, assistant secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
Gradually, Hassan says, madarsas in India will evolve into the pattern set by Christian Sunday schools, where children go for religious education, after attending regular school through the week.
In most Muslim pockets of Kerala, madarsas have already demarcated timings for religious and regular schooling and all of them are affiliated to state educational boards. ”In fact, an increasing number of schools attached to madarsas now want to be affiliated to CBSE and ICSE,” says Hassan.
SINCE 1994, the Centre has been running a programme to improve the educational infrastructure in areas of Muslim concentration and help madarsas introduce modern courses.
During the 10th plan, it will spend Rs 83.92 crore to allow madarsas to appoint two teachers in mathematics, science, social studies, English, Hindi etc. A one-time grant of Rs 7,000 for a science/maths kit and Rs 7,000 for establishing a book-bank is the other component of the government-funded scheme.
Often derided as seats of obscurantism and superstitions, madarsas are, nevertheless, the only means of any formal education for a large portion of Muslims. In the last two decades, madarsas have multiplied fast–estimates put the total number between 30,000 and 40,000–and at least 50 per cent of India’s Muslims are believed to have attended one.
Originally meant for imparting knowledge on Islamic texts, the system lost steam as technological modernisation made inroads in general education.
WITH the heightening of fundamentalism, madarsas have come under harsh scrutiny and the arguments for and against its modernisation have become active once again. The extremely autonomous functioning of madarsas and the resistance to outside interference are often counterproductive for modernisation attempts.
The ongoing madarsa scheme of the Centre is a voluntary one: Only those madarsas that want to need avail of the government funding. However, ”the present scheme needs overhauling”, says Zafar Ali Naqvi, member of the national monitoring committee for minorities education.
The Naqvi committee report to the government in November 2005 recommended that the scheme be scrapped altogether and suggested an alternative mechanism. ”The desired results could not be achieved in the present scheme,” Naqvi says.
Among the new suggestions under consideration by the GoI is the establishment of a Central Madarsa Board, which ”without interfering in the curriculum” of the existing madarsas, could establish Madarsa Schools ”on the same lines as Central Schools.”
Such schools would admit students from madarsas and be located in districts with a substantial minority population.
The committee has also recommended an increase in the salary of the teachers. At present, they are paid Rs 2,000 a month, leading to a high turnover in science and computer teachers.
Not everyone, however, agrees to this approach of introducing some science and computer alongside a pre-existing pedagogy. ”Every Maulana is now carrying a cellphone but that doesn’t change his values,” asks Imtiaz Ahmad, sociologist at JNU.
”The religious knowledge system and the scientific knowledge system are different. Trying to mix them is not the answer to Muslim backwardness. Modern aspirations of Muslims should be met through modern educational facilities.”
‘Quite a few school Boards, academic bodies, even states like Maharashtra and Rajasthan have approached us for guidance,’ says Madarsa Board chief
To the Kidwai committee report, submitted in September 2002, have been tagged on some changes in curriculum sought by the Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Bangla, a body of Bengali Muslim intellectuals.
Course of Time
SYLLABUS changes, not unsurprisingly, are the most controversial part of the reform programme and the proposal that is evoking the most opposition from organisations representing ulemas, students and teachers.
”We are talking of changes in the 103 institutions following the Senior Madarsa system,” says a Board official. So far, under this system, the Alim (class X) course laid considerable stress on the study of theology: The 2006 batch of students, for instance, will be appearing for 100-mark exams in Hadith (a narration of the life of the Prophet) and Tafsir (Koranic interpretations), and 50-mark papers in Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and Faraid (Muslim inheritance laws), besides two papers in Arabic.
Under the re-oriented syllabus, Senior Madarsa Alim students will have to sit for one Arabic paper instead of two. The 50-mark paper on inheritance laws is now optional.
But, according to some ulemas, it is the changes in the Fazil (plus-two) stage that are the most disheartening. Compulsory theology content is down to two papers from five (200 marks instead of 500) and the four compulsory Arabic papers has been slashed to half, 200 marks instead of 400.
”Students will also have the option of studying subjects like political science, computer application and general history,” says Sattar. ”Alongside, they can still opt for papers like Islamic philosophy and Islamic history.”
Higher up in the order, the two-year Kamil course is to be restructured into a regular three-year graduation course, to bring it in line with the degrees awarded by various University Grants Commission-recognised universities. A similar reorientation has also been conceptualised for the MM course.
Winds of Change
THE professed intent behind the rehaul, of course, is to equip madarsa graduates for mainstream, competitive jobs. While the High Madarsa stream gives students the option of joining conventional/non-theological schools and colleges for higher education, products of the Senior Madarsa system (including those who cleared the higher levels of Fazil, Kamil or MM) usually end up as teachers, businessmen or maulvis.
According to WBBME officials, the reforms will not only help the students get just and equal treatment in the world outside their madarsas, but will equip them with both theological and modern subjects.
Students of the madarsa system are guardedly optimistic about the changes. ”We are happy about the reforms,” says Shahidul Islam, a second year student of the MM course, ”but they will help us in career opportunities only if Senior Madarsa students are recognised as graduates or post-graduates after obtaining their Kamil or MM degrees.”
Sattar, however, is convinced they are making the right beginning. ”The first step to revival is getting the graduate and post-graduate degrees recognised. With reforms and reorientation of syllabi, we are in a process of getting things on track,” he says.
”Following the recommendations of the Kidwai Committee, various primary madarsas are also being upgraded. Teachers are being recruited for vacant posts and we are in process of providing computers to more madarsas.”
Interestingly, there is no separate state kitty for madarsa reform: All the recommended steps are to be funded from the Rs 125-crore annual budget for madarsa education in the state.
ON A REPORM ROLL
* Overall upgrade for madarsa education
* Modern orientation for syllabi
* Introduction of general courses of study
* Review of appointment procedures
* Overhaul of academic standards
* Improvement of status, management of Calcutta Madarsa
* Strengthening of WBBME infrastructure
Part of the Whole
BUT syllabus changes, while the most controversial, are only a portion of the madarsa revamp as it is underway in West Bengal. If the students of Calcutta Madarsa–the oldest formal educational institution in India, founded by Warren Hastings in 1780–are to be believed, it is possibly the least important part.
With around 17 of the 21 teaching posts vacant, the 600 students of the Central Kolkata institution are mostly dependent on part-time teachers. The building–the madarsa moved here in 1827–is in a shambles. The principal’s post has been unoccupied since 1997. And perhaps worst of all: The WBBME has decided to affiliate the 225-year-old madarsa to the 150-year-old University of Calcutta.
”A university much younger than us is being requested to recognise us. This not only hurts sentiments but also affects the prestige of an institution of repute and learning,” says Ashraf Hussain, convener of the West Bengal Madarsa Students Union.
The students have been protesting, acknowledges Calcutta Madarsa in-charge Tanvir Ahmed. ”But the affiliation is something that the government will decide. And we are looking into the housing issues.” Sattar, on his part, says that the teaching vacancies will be filled soon.
Dissent for a Cause
INNOCUOUS as they may seem, the reforms have met with more than their fair share of criticism. The West Bengal Madarsa Students’ Union, for instance, has long opposed many of the Kidwai Committee recommendations. So too have many madarsa teachers, who believe the Left Front-dominated WBBME has a ”hidden agenda”. ”If madarsas resemble schools, why would madarsas be needed at all?” asks a teacher at Calcutta Madarsa.
So, though state board-affiliated institutions have no choice but to adopt the reforms, most private madarsas–estimated to number around 700–are aligned against them. Basic madarsas, especially in the rural belts, continue to focus on theology, rudimentary maths and language.
”Madarsas are centres of religious learning. The main reason we don’t seek affiliation is the syllabus: The curriculum in government madarsas shifts the focus from theology,” says Qazi Fazlur Rahman, head of the Madarsa Azmatiya, a well-known private institution. ”At the same time, we aren’t against the introduction of modern subjects.”
In fact, it is in this spirit that the future of West Bengal’s madarsas seems most secure: The urge for modernisation comes from within the system, if still only a small part of it.
”We put as much emphasis on computer science, languages, science as we do on Islamic studies,” says Saba Ismail, principal of Babul Uloom, a private madarsa in Kolkata.
At the ground level, in West Bengal at least, there is acceptance of the need for change. ”There is no harm in introducing new subjects,” says Dr M K A Siddiqui, former researcher and professor with The Asiatic Society. ”But it should be accompanied by upgrades in infrastructure and recruitment of teachers. Some sections are usually hostile (to any kind of reform). Sincerity and a little bit of extra endeavour on part of the government would make all the difference.”
I’m sorry for being late. This is my second posting on the theme of “Journalism in Madrasas and Madrasas in Journalism”. I have analyzed in it the content of the two of the Ahle Hadees magazines and how they came in touch with the Salafia of Saudi Arabia. Differences in the approach, reach and content of the two magazines belonging to the same sect have also been studied.
“If one section of the majority community insists that it’s they who are the nation and the national culture and heritage is nothing else but their culture, ethos and rituals; unless the goal of the assimilation of the minorities into the fold of the majority is achieved, the national security of the country will be at stake, that section, in reality, is not concerned about the national security and the development of the whole nation and is just aiming at fuelling the majority communalism.”
This is an excerpt from an editorial of Mohaddis, an ‘Islamic cultural and literary monthly magazine’. Published in September.2001(p4-5), a time when the BJP led-NDA coalition was at the helm of affairs, the editorial mirrors the concerns of the madrasa people regarding a detailed report tabled by a committee of a couple of the central ministers. As the report pronounces that madrasas are the threat to the national security, it sent tremors to the madrasas across the country. The editor further writes: “The madrasas have played very crucial role in the freedom struggle, their graduates fought tooth and nails against the British colonial regime.But the above mentioned section of the majority community is of the opinion that they are the real culprits and are threat to the national security. In reality, they are neither the dens of terrorism nor the ‘shakhas’ for training the youth to use arms and ammunitions, but are the centers of the learning where education of the muslim theology as well as the necessary secular subjects is imparted to the students. In the period stretched over half a century after the Independence, the muslim community lagged far behind in the race of the development and education. Governments are elected and voted out off the office but nobody ever bothered to take any concrete step for the economic and educational upliftment of the backward muslims. In this state of despair, madrasas are the last resort for a number of students of the minority community whose followers are numbered at more than 20 crore.”
The editorial “Madrasas and the National Security” argues that this report laid bare the hidden agenda of the BJP government to foster the majoritarian communalism among the non-muslim brethren of the country. As the madrasas are the centers for Islamic learning and are established by the Muslims to preserve their culture and religion, a Constitutional right, they cannot be categorized as the threat to the national security, without any substantial proof. It should be seen as a concerted effort by one section of the majority community to wither away the diverse traditions and cultures of various minority groups by assimilating them into the north Indian Brahmanical way of life, and, this can definitely pose threat to the national security. Further, A.W.Hijazi, the editor, maintains that madrasas are spreading literacy to those who don’t afford to bear the expenses of the public schools and where the government fails to open a school. Having done so, the madrasas are helping the state out in maintaining its ‘welfare character’.
Mohaddis is brought out by Darul Taalif Wa Tarjuma which is the department of research of Jamia Salafia, Varanasi. The latter is the apex madrasa of the Ahl-e-Hadees sect of Indian muslims. The Ahl-e-Hadees are known for their non-adherence to any of the conventional schools of the muslim jurisprudence and are considered to be rigid in rendering a more puritanical interpretation of Islam and monotheism. They are the smallest minority among the Indian Sunni Muslims. An estimate put their population somewhere near 2 to 2.5 crore. Though they are scattered across the country, West Bengal has the largest share of them. Jamia Salafia is their intellectual centre while Markazi Jami’at Ahl-e-Hadees, Hind (Ahl-e-Hadees Manzil, 4116, Urdu Bazar, Jamia Masjid, Delhi-6) is the administrative head office of the sect.
It is evident from the content of Mohaddis that the ulema are not concerned with what is going on in the political arena of the country, unless it has some muslim angle attached to it. Rezaullah Madani who edits Jarida Tarjuman, the fortnightly organ of Markazi Jami’at Ahl-e-Hadees, Hind, says “Jarida Tarjuman aims at keeping the readers aware of the services of the Markazi Jami’at as well as helping it in translating its vision into reality So, as ours is not a political organization, we are more concerned about the social and religious issues of the community, rather than political ones. There are outfits which concentrate on the political issues in their publications”. However, while browsing through the pages of the magazine I came across pieces on Kanpur riots, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, the Gujarat genocide, the American attack on .Afghanistan and Iraq and ,of course, the Palestine question.
In an editorial on the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, A.W.Hijazi, buys the conspiracy theory and holds Israel responsible for the attack. (Mohaddis: November, 2001, p4-6).But what he writes about the US attack on Afghanistan makes an interesting reading and is worth reproducing here: “We don’t say that there are no extremists among muslims. Definitely, they are very much there. But it has to be accepted that these elements are found in every country and society. There may be other factors at work but illiteracy is the main reason behind it. So to educate the masses and equip them with the applied knowledge is the only way to eradicate terrorism. War cannot cure the wounds of terrorism. Only terrorists should be punished for their deeds and that’s only after the confirmation of their heinous crime. Is it the justice to punish the whole nation for the acts of some of them? Doing so per se is injustice and terrorism.” (p. 5-6).
Along with Mohaddis, Jamia Salafia brings out another monthly magazine Saut ul Ummah in Arabic. Dr. Muqtada Hasan Azhari edits the magazine since its inception in the early 80s. A graduate of the Al-Azhar Islamic University, Cairo, he is known for his liberal leanings in the Ahl-e-Hadees circle. An author of many books and a celebrated translator from Arabic to Urdu and vice versa, Dr. Azhari frequently contributes to Mohaddis on a range of themes.
Reacting to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre on the 11th Sep, 2001, he wrote a piece titled “How the Arab Journalism Reacted to the Terrorist Attack on the WTC?”(Nov, 2001).This write-up is a commentary on the coverage of the event in three of the leading newspapers and magazines of the Arab world: Al-Mujtam’a (a weekly magazine from Kuwait), Akhbar Al A’alam Al Islami (a weekly tabloid from Mecca) and Akhbar Al Watan (Oman).The piece opens with the description of the attack on the WTC and the details of the security measures taken by the US authority to reduce the possibility of any other attack by the terrorists. Then, he writes, paraphrasing what has been published in Al-Mujtam’a(22/09/2001), that Muslim ulema and leaders, all over the world, have termed this fateful event as a ‘human tragedy’ and ‘unislamic’ as Islam prohibits from terrorist activities in all its incarnations. Further, he quotes from Akhbar Al A’alam Al Islami, Mecca(28/09/2001) statements of bigwigs of the Arab world, including Dr. Abdullah bin Abdul Mohsin Turki,General Secretary of Muslim World League, Mecca; Dr. Muhammad Syed Tantawi, Vice Chancellor of the Al Azhar University, Cairo and Omar Musawi, General Secretary of Arab League, in condemnation of the attack. With the help of statistics and data, he goes on to elucidate that “Since the end of the 19 th century, terrorist activities of different kinds have been carried out in the US against celebrities and MNCs. Most of these ghastly acts have been masterminded and put into action by US citizens who belonged to American militia and extremist outfits while the involvement of the Arab criminals in any crime committed on the soil of the US is almost negligible. Then he raises the question: who are the real perpetrators of the attack on the WTC. He goes on to say that though the US is of the opinion that it’s Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda which is behind this tragedy, the things are yet not clear enough to make such a claim. Buying the conspiracy theory, he says that speculations are that those American soldiers who had fought against Vietnam carried out the attack in collaboration with Mosad, the Israeli intelligence agency. According to the Arab diplomats, he quotes from Akhbar Al Watan (Oman), the needle of the suspicion points towards the involvement of Israel in this tragedy and he enumerates their arguments in support of the claim:
1. None of the four thousand of the Jews who worked in the WTC, turned up that fatefulday at their workplace.
2. The Directors of the security personnel of all those airports from which the planes
were hijacked, were on leave.
3. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli PM, sent his condolence message to the President Bush even before the latter came to know about the incident.
Next part of the piece says that what had happened in Washington, New York and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, is a human tragedy which has no parallel in the history. Let’s hope this will compel the US to change its policies towards Palestine, Lebanon, Sudan, Iraq, Chechnya, Bosnia and Rwanda. Are the lives and liberties of the innocent citizens of these countries not as precious and respectable as those of the US citizens?
Then the article deals with the popular protests, held in almost all important cities of the world against the announcement of the President Bush that Military action will be carried out against those who are responsible for the attack on the WTC. He ends the article with what the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak said: I fear the treatment will worsen the situation. Any American attack on any country will end up but killing the innocent people, like those who have already been killed on September 11.This statement of the Egyptian President has been quoted from Al-Mujtam’a, Kuwait,(29/09/2001).
For a long time Dr.Azhari has been the rector of Jamia Salafia which was established in 1963 with great financial help from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In this capacity, he has frequently been to the gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, to represent the institution in several academic events and, also, to garner the economic support for Jamia. During one of such trips he addressed a gathering of the Ahle Hadees madrasa graduates from India who were then enrolled in the King Sa’ud University, Riyadh. The whole text of his speech titled “Knowledge is not a commodity, it’s a sacred heritage to be passed on” was reproduced in Mohaddis (June, 2002.p.20-30).In the speech he goes in detail to elaborate the nature and kinds of knowledge;the need of the hour; how to fulfill those needs?; what ails ulema and the madrasa graduates?; and the opportunity of the higher education available in Saudi Arabia.
A number of Ahle Hadees madrasa graduates fly every year to Saudi Arabia for the higher education. How and when had it started? ‘It’s difficult to specify the period when the Salafia of the sub-continent came into contact with that of Najd (Sa’udi Arabia).However, what we remember is that it started when Nawab Siddique Hasan Khan of Bhopal sent a copy of Fat’h Al Bayan Fi Maqasid al Qur’an, one of his commentaries on the Qur’an to Sheikh Hamd Bin Ateeque,a noted Saudi alim. As Siddique Hasan Khan had adopted the Ash’rites approach towards explaining God’s ways, Sheikh Hamd Bin Ateeque elucidated the Saudi Salafia’s stand towards the same in a letter to the former’, in an interview to the weekly Al Da’wah, Riyadh, said Dr.Rezaullah Mubarakpuri (1954 – 2003), the former Principal of Jamia Salafia (Mohaddis, Special Issue on Dr.Rezaullah Mubarakpuri, June to December,2003).This incident clearly suggests that the Salafia of the sub-continent was different from that of Saudi Arabia. Another event which highlights how the indigenous Salafia varies from the Saudi Salafia is related to Allama Sanaullah of Amritsar (1868 – 1948), another veteran Ahl-e-Hadees ‘alim. He followed the Ash’arite’s method in one of his commentaries on the Qur’an. Maulana Faqirullah Punjabi, a member of the Ghaznavi family of the Ahl-e-Hadees ulema who received his education from the ulema of Najd, Saudi Arabia and was adamant in their adherence to the interpretation of Islam provided by Mohammad Bin Abdul Wahab, did not like what Sanaullah wrote. In 1936-37.it triggered a series of writings in which Ghaznavids accused Sanaullah of deviating from the path of the Salafia while the latter was of the view that as the socio-political milieu of the country was diametrically different from that of Saudi Arabia, and that’s why our interpretation of Islam should be different from that of the Saudis. Those were the days when the Christian missionaries had launched their campaign of propagation and proselytization. Likewise, the Shuddhi Movement was also at its peak. Qadianism (Ahmedism) recently came into the picture and caused a lot of hue and cry among the Sunni muslims. As an ‘alim living in this age, Sanaullah had to develope a new idiom of the contestations to blunt what was being said and written about Islam by the above mentioned forces, and, of course, also, to keep the fold of his followers intact. Later on, both were invited to the court of King Saud who saw the point in Sanaullah’s arguments and sorted out the problem in his favour.
In fact, the salafis of the sub-continent preferred to use the term Ahl-e-Hadees for themselves. It’s only in 60s that their contact with the salafis of Saudi Arabia gained momentum.Ahle Hadees madrasa graduates started getting admission in Saudi Universities, especially in Al Jamia Al Islamia, Medina (a university where students from all over the world come for absolutely free higher education in the Islamic sciences and go back to their country to disseminate and propagate what they have learnt).Likewise, a number of Saudi ulema came to teach in Jamia Salafia, Varanasi when it came into existence. Thus, scores of Ahle Hadees madrasa graduates came back to India to preach the Saudi edition of Salafia. As most of them get a handsome salary from the Ministry of Propagation and Guidance of the Saudi Government, they maintain a life standard which was unprecedented to the Indian ulema. Earlier the ulema were known for their preference for poverty and humbleness in their interaction with the masses A sort of snobbery and intellectual arrogance crept into these Saudi-returned ulema. Thus, the Petro-Dollar has created classes among the Ahle Hadees ulema and they got divided into two camps: Madani (a suffix used by those in their names who got the opportunity to get educated in Al Jamia Al Islamia, Medina, Saudi Arabia) and non-Madani ulema. Madrasa students aspire to be a Madani as it secures a handsome salary, social status and an opportunity to acquire the skill to speak Arabic with adequate fluency. As non-Madani ulema lack all these attributes, they are being looked down upon by their Madani counterparts as well as by a common Ahle Hadees.
The Madani ulema, ignorant of the socio-cultural and political realities of India and fascinated by what they learnt in Medina, completely overlooked the spatio-temporal factors of the Islamic jurisprudence. They tried to impose fatwas of the Saudi ulema on the Indian masses. A sort of the dialogical colonialism was witnessed by the madrasa journals which became the vehicle for the dissemination of views (fatwas and opinion pieces) of the Saudi ulema on the one hand while the spaces of these magazines had been transformed into a battlefield between the Madani and non-Madani ulema.
Translations of the write-ups by the Saudi ulema constitute a sizeable chunk and regular element of the Ahle Hadees magazines. For instance, translation of an article of Allama Abdul Mohsin Al ‘Ebad, ex Vice Chancellor of Al Jamia Al Islamia, Medina, appeared in Mohaddis in 16 parts (from Jan 2002 to May, 2003). In this piece, the essayist has countered the ‘allegations’ made by Syed Yousuf Al Refa’i, ex-member of the Parliament of Kuwait, against the ulema of Saudi Arabia. Some issues of Mohaddis carry 2-3 translations of the pieces by the Saudi scribes. These translations generally deal with the themes of metaphysics and prayers.
In the early 90s, a fatwa by the late Abdullah Bin Baaz, the chief mufti of Saudi Arabia, was reproduced in Mohaddis. The fatwa was about whether it is Islamic to raise hands while invoking dua’, the concluding part of namaz. Bin Baaz termed it unislamic while in India the same ritual is considered to be the intrinsic part of namaz. The fatwa generated intensive debate in Mohaddis as well as in other Ahle Hadees magazines. It infuriated a number of veteran non-Madani Ahle Hadees ulema who were against the fatwa while the Madani ulema were all for it. The writings of the both sides were compiled in a special issue brought by Mohaddis. The insistence on the implementation of the fatwa of Bin Baaz caused even violence at some places
Translations from Hindi or English journals are rarely found.. In the period under study, I’ve found only 2-3 translations from English and all of them are about the muslims in the foreign countries and about those who have embraced Islam. ‘An Introduction to the Muslims of Mongolia’ (Mohaddis, July 2004) is the title of a piece which is basically a summarized translation from the English language. The translation chronicles in brief the history and the present day situations of muslims in the region. Mohd. Sanaullah Umri, the translator, has not mentioned where and when the source article appeared.
Most of the articles are based on the injunctions of the Qur’an and the Hadees.As a result, they become very hypothetical and abstract, detached from the ground realities. This gives way to the repetition and raises questions about the originality of the intellectual production of the ulemas. What Mohd Muniruddin Umri has written about “The human rights and Islam” (Nawa-e- Islam, October, 2000.p29) is not different from what someone else will jot down on the same theme. The reason is that everybody quotes the same verses of the Qur’an, sayings of the Prophet and a handful of events from the history of the Muslim rule. This approach makes their pieces abstract, anachronous and devoid of empirical studies of the socio-economic reality of Indian muslims. One rarely comes across a piece which has been written in the light of the data provided by any socio-economic survey of the country. In one of such articles titled “What Ails Muslims in India?” (Mohaddis,December,2000.p.35-40),the essayist quotes statistics from Vibhuti Narayan Rai’s book on communal riots and also from a survey by National Council of Applied Economic Research to show what the communal riots in the Independent India has done to the economy of muslims. He has also questioned the role of the Police in the communal violence. In the concluding part of the article, he argues that illiteracy among the Muslims, opportunism in their leadership, the inability of the community to reach out to their non-muslim brethren and the rise of the Hindu rightist forces are the causes which are at the root of the problem. Apart from the rhetorical approach, ignorance of languages other than Urdu also plays a critical role in the absence of statistics about the contemporary reality of the muslims from the madrasa journals.
The Ahle Hadees madrasa journals are all praise for the house of Saud and their kingdom. Time and again, they publish pieces which glorify the services of Saudi government and its charity works for muslim minorities of the world. In its issue of September, 2000, Nawa-e-Islam has printed three items (p20 to 32) related to the kingdom and its religious ideology “Wahabism or Salafia”.The title of the first article is “Saudi Arabia: An Ideal Islamic State” It narrates the history of the house of Saud since 18th century explaining how it rose to prominence and seized the throne of the country. The reasons why it is an “ideal Islamic state” are: it has constructed more than 2000 mosques in the kingdom; it has introduced a lot of new facilities for the Hajj pilgrims which has made their marathon very easy; it has been instrumental through the King Fahad Qur’an Complex, in distributing copies of the Qur’an across the world; it has established a factory for manufacturing the curtains of Ka’ba and, of course, it provides astronomical amount of money for the muslim minorities of the world. The second article of the series profiles the life and achievements of King Fahad Bin Abdul Aziz.The third and the last one is the translation of an address by the King Abdul Aziz to a gathering of the Hajj pilgrims in 1973.In this speech, titled as “They Call Us Wahabis”, the king has presented the crux of the Wahabism and declared it his state ideology. Recently, on the occasion of the visit of King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to India, the fortnightly Jarida Tarjuman came up with a special issue (1-15February, 2006.vol.26.No.3) in which 16 out of 26 items were devoted to deal with different aspects of the history and the services of the House of Saud.
Nawa-e-Islam, a monthly magazine, is brought out by The Islamic Preaching Council(1164-A,Chah Rehat,Jama Masjid Delhi-6) situated in a mosque which , according to its editor Aziz Umar Salafi, ‘serves the purpose of the mosque, the office and the restraunt’. The magazine provides more variety to its readers than what Mohaddis offers to its subscribers. Although both of them contain 48 pages, the former publishes around 12 to 15 items in every issue while Mohaddis keeps this number between11 to 13. Except the editorial column, both the magazines have only three regular columns. Apart from Dars-e-Qur’an (Guidance from the Qur’an) and Dars-e-Hadees (Guidance from the Hadees), Mohaddis has a regular column on fatwas which is missing in the case of Nawa-e-Islam. This, like Jamia Salafia, does not have any council of Muftis. So, instead of a column on fatwas, it has a regular column titled “Al Salam-o-Alaikum”. by Dr.Abul Hayat Ashraf. He, not an a’lim by training, comments in the lighter vein on a range of issues related to muslims. Majority of the pieces published in Mohaddis are written by the teachers of Jamia Salafia while the contributors to Nawa-e-Islam are from different parts of the country. It is interesting to note that except a few, all contributors to both the magazines are ulema by training. No remuneration is paid to these writers as the purpose behind bringing out this journal is tabligh (religious), not commercial. Mohaddis (size: 23×18 inches) is sold at the rate of Rs.10 per copy while Nawa-e-Islam (size: 21×14 inches) at the rate of Rs.8.
Mohaddis is held with respect in the circle of Ahle Hadees ulema as it publishes more erudite and in-depth pieces while Nawa-e-Islam caters to the common masses. The latter uses simple Urdu while the language of Mohaddis is more jargon-ridden and full of Arabic words. When an a’lim comes back to India after staying four-five years in Saudi Arabia,he writes in a Urdu which is Arabic-laden and reading of which produces an effect very similar to what is known as Gulabi Urdu invented by Mulla Ramuzi. So, Nawa-e Islam seems more familiar to a layman than Mohaddis. Another reason for its popularity among masses is that the length of its articles normally does not exceed four pages and, unlike Mohaddis, it avoids publishing long articles in several parts. The latter does not follow any standard format for write-ups published in it. Rezaullah Madani, editor of the fortnightly Jarida Tarjuman, Delhi, says: “I, after coming to the office in 2001, have almost stopped publishing long articles in several parts. This, including other factors, has helped a lot in increasing the readership of the magazine by leaps and bounds. In 2001, only2500 copies were published while nowadays the consumption has reached to 6000 copies”.
Mohaddis, Nawa-e-Islam and Jarida Tarjuman, like other madrasa journals, are not ready to show an iota of flexibility when it comes to the ideology of the sect. Even in matter of advertisements they strictly follow the sect line and decline to any advertisement having any photograph or other material contrary to their ideology. “We refuse to publish those advertisements which carry photographs of the living objects though the money offered by the advertisement agencies is amazing.’ says Rezaullah Madani.
The next posting will seek to explore the trends in the madrasa journals brought out by those ulema who belong to the Deoband school of thought.
Madaris Se Nikalnewaley Magazine : Hindustan me Muslim Nashr-o-Isha’at Ka Ik Aham Hissa
(Due to my illness it got delayed to inform you that Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia had organised a workshop on the theme of MUSLIM PUBLISHING IN INDIA on March 31, 2006.As the madrasa journals which i’m working on as a Sarai ifellow,constitute an important part of the muslim publishing,the centre had extended me an invitation to speak on the thematic concerns of these journals.A dynamic discussion followed my presentation.Though its Urdu typed in Roman,i’m posting it on the readerlist sothat interested fellows may go through it.Its English translation will soon appear on the list.)
Hindustan duniya ki sabse bari jamhuraiyat hai aur musalman yahan ki sabse bari aqalliyat.Mulk ke tool-o-arz me faili hui inki aabadi samaji, iqtisadi, maslaki, siyasi aur ealqaiyat ke etbaar se mokhtalif khano aur khemo me bati hui hain.Jahan tak nashr-o-isha’at ke kaam ka sawal hai, to musalman naashrieen ki bari tadad Urdu literature hi shai karti hai.Urdu matbu’aat ko motey taur par do khanon me banta ja sakta hai:
1. Secular literature
2. Mazhabi literature
Secular literature se meri murad aisi matbu’aat se hai jo ilm ki nai shaakhon , science aur samaji uloom se motalliq ho.Urdu me aisa literature napaid nahi to kabyab zaroor hai.Rahi baat mazhabi literature ki to garche aise mauzu’aat par urdu me achha khaasa zakhira mojud hai,lekin ye bhi sirf islam tak mahdood hai.
Urdu me jo mazhabi literature shai hota hai uska ik mo’tad bih hissa madaris ki koshishon ka samra hota hai.Madrason ki matboo’at ka qabil-e-zikr hissa wahan se nikalne wale jaridon aur majallon se tashkil paata hai.Main guzashta do mahine se Sarai nami ik idare ki madad se madrason me bartijane wali is sahafat ke khadd-o-khal neez uske asaraat ke mauzu par tahqiq kar raha hoon.Ab tak ke motale aur daryaft ki raushni me main is madrasa journalism ke hawaley se kutch baaaten aap ke samne rakhna chahunga.
Ye yaqin ke saath kahna behad mushkil hai ki Hindustan me fil waqt deeni parchon ki tadad kitni hai, taham agar unki tadad 100 ke aas paas mani jaye to ye koi mobalgha nahi hoga.Chunki deeni madaris ziyada tar shumaali Hindustan me waqe hain,isliye beshtar prache hindusatan ke isi khittey se nikalte hain.Taqriban har qabil-e-zikr madrasa ik parcha khwah wo se-mahi hi kyon na ho,zaroor shaai karta hai.
Chunki Hindustan me islam masalik aur makatib-e-fikr me munqasim hai.Isliye madaris jo ki islam ke in mokhtalif editions ki talimm dete hain,unse nikalne wale parchon ke mashmulaat bhi motalliqa maslak ke ruj’hanaat aur fikri mailanat ke akkas hote hain.Agar har maslak ke imtiyazi masail se sarf-e-nazar kar liya jaye to taqriban tamam deeni parchon ke mawad me kutch khas farq nahi hota hai.Misaal ke taur par agar ham mahnaama Mohaddis ko len jo Jamia Salafia,Vranasi se nikalta hai to is ke san 2002 ke shumaaron par nazar dalne se pata chalta hia ki mazameen ki tarteeb me darj zel pattern ka khyal rakha jata hai:
4. Halat-e-Hazira par tabsara
5. Jama’t ke imtiyazi masail par do-teen mazameen
6. Teen Chaar khalis deeni mazmoon
7. Akabirin ki sawanih
9. Tibb wo sihhat se motalliq Column
10. Babul Fatawa
Mohaddis ke ik shumaare me chhapnewale mazamin ki tadad umuman 13 se18 ke darmayan hoti hai.Phla mazmun Dars-e-Qur’an hota hai aur dusra Dars-e-Hadees..Ye dono Mohaddis ke mustaqil column hain.In me columnnigar hazrat bazat-e-khud aayat -o-ahaadees ki tashrih karne aur use ruh-e-asr se marboot karne ki bajae apne maslak ki mo’tabar tafsir aur tashrih ka kutchch hissa naqal karne par iktifa karte hai.Chunki ye tafsiren sadyon pahle likhi gayi hain, isliye apne zamane ke mizaj-o-masail ki aainadar hain. Lihaza ye dono column intihai khushk aur rewayati andaz-e-tahreer ka namuna hote hain
Jahan tak edariya ka talluq hai to ise kafi deedarazi aur jigarkavi ke sath tahreer kiya jaata hai.Lekin in me se beshtar edariyon me mulki ya bainulaqwami masail ke bajai deeni mauzuaat ko zere bahas laaya jaata hai.Misal ke taur par san 2002 me Mohaddis ke kutch edariyon ke anaaween yun hain:Hadees ka adabi maqam,sidq-o-amaanat se droghbaf san’at tak,Allah ke ghazab ke asbab,Allah ke madad ke asbab,Islam ka daaimi aalami aalame amn-o-sa’adat,Islam ko kamzor karne ki saazishen,Qaumi ittihad-o-taraqqi ke liye sadr-e-jamhuriya ka misali khitab,Mazaraat aur unko iijaad karne ka fan,Roza mere hi liye hai aur main hi roza ka badla hoon,Inqilab-e-zaman ki ek khushgawar misaal Is fehrist se ayan hai ki editor ne shaz-o-naadir hi musalmnon ke siyasi,samaji ya ma’aashi masail par qalam uthane ki zarurat mahsus ki hai.Wazeh rahe ki san 2002 maujuda sadi ka wo saal hai jisme gujrat fasadat aur iraq par America ki lashkar kashi jaise aham lekin siyah waqiaat runuma huey.Iske bawjud Mahoddis me gujrat ke dangon par koi idariya nahi chhapa Albatta As’ad Azmi ka ik mazmoon July ke shumare me zaroor sha’I hua tha aur bus.
Is ke baad ke ek do mazameen haalat-e-hazira ke bare me hote hain aur in me se aksar Dr.Muqtada Hasan Azhari ki qalami kawish ka natija hote hain.Lekin umuman in mazamin me filisteen ya iraq ya kisi aur muslim mulk ke hawale sa amriki policyon ko tanqid ka nishana banaya jaata hai.Is tanqid-o-tajziya ka maakhaz 90 fisad keson me arabi akhbar aur risaley hote hain.Amriki nausamrajiyat ke muzmarrat se apne qariyeen ko bakhabar rakhna yaqinan ik qabil-e-tahseen qadam hai lekin agar aisa karte waqt first hand information ki buniyaad par nataij akhaz kiye jain, neez issue ko arab sahafat ke chashme se dekhne ki bajaye ik Hindustani musalman ke noqta-e-nazar se pesh karne ki koshish ki jai to aisa karma Hindustani qariyeen ke liye ziyaada karaamad hoga.Dosri baat ye ki filisteen wagairah ke masail ko barahe rast sirf islam se jorna kis had tak durust hai ,ye bhi bahas talab hai.Meri nazar me,gair mazhabi siyasi jama’aton ke wajud aur unki khidmaat ka sire se zikr hi na karma,ik nihayat pechida aur kasir-pahalavi haqeeqat ko intihai saada aur satahi bana kar pesh karne ke mutradif hai,jo amr-e-waqiya ke khilaf hai.Amrika ke samraji azaimm ke shhikar dosre mamalik maslan Lattini amrika ke mamalik ke zikr se umuman guraiz kiya jjaata hai.Halanki samrajwad harhal me qabil-e-mozammat hai,khwah uska nishana mashriq-e-wusta ke muslim aksariyat wale mamalik ho ya latini amrika ke isai aur socialism ke pairukaron ki aksariyat wale desh.
In parchon me mulki siyasat par tabsara karne se umuman gurez kiya jaata hai jab tak ki koi aisa waqia na pesh aa jaye ya koi aisa siyasi faislana ho jaae jiska asar barah-e-rast musalmaanon par raha ho.Basa awqaat aisi surat me bhi ye deeni parchey khamoshi hi ki rah ikhtiyar karte hain jaisa ki gujrat fasadat ke hawale se main ne abhi abhi Mohaddis ke mauqif ka zikr kiya.Lekin kabhi kabhi behad barwaqt aur maalumatafza mazamin ko bhi in parchon me jagah di jaati hai.Misaal ke taur par Mohaddis ke may2002 ke shumarey me ik mazmun POTA ke motalliq shaa’i hua tha.As’ad Azmi ka ye mazmun isnsidad-e-dahshatgardi ke liye banaye gaye is qanun ke taqriban tamam goshon ka ehata karta hai aru is par siyasi jama’aton ke radde amal ki raushni me iske ma-lahu wa ma-alaih par sair hasilbahas karta hai. Lekin is tarah ke mazamin in deeni parchon me shaz-o-nadir hi chhapte hain jo nation-states me bati is duniya ki sab se bari jamhuriyat me basne wali sab se bari aqalliyat ke afraad ki khatir khah rahnumai kar sake.
Deeni parchon me samaji rasm-o-riwaj aur jadid rujhanat ko bhi mauzu-e-bahas banaya jaata hai.Jahez, khushi ki taqribaat me fizul kharchi, auraton par gharelu tashaddud waghira aham samaji masail par gahe ba gahe kutch na kutch in parchon me parne ko milta rahta hai.Lekin in mazamin ke usloob-e-istidlal aur tarz-peshkash ke hawale se agar ik do baten malhuz rakhi jaain to in ki efadiyat aur tasir me bepanah izafa ho sakta hai.In mazamin me umuman khalis mazhabi lab-o-lahje me guftagu ki jaati hai. Mazhabi istilah ka istimal apni jagah par bilkul zaruri aur barmahal hai.Albatta in masail ke samaji,iqtisadi aur insani pahlu bhi hain jin ki ahmiyat se inkar namummkin hai.Misal ke taur par ham khushi ke mawaqi par aatishbazi ke barhte huye rujhaan hi ko lete hain.Is mozu par likhte waqt agar iske iqtisadi,tibbi,mahauliyati aur qanuni (supreme court ke ahkammat) pahluwon ko bhi zere bahas laya jai to is se mazmun na sirf comprehensive ho jayega balki iski mauzuniyat aur efadiyat bhi barh jayegi.Mazid ye ki agar qalamkar hazraat sirf library me baith kar tarikh ki kitabon se aslaf ke waqi’aat pesh karne ki bajaye zara samaj me jaaen aur motalliqa mozu se jure hue niz motassir afrad ki rai jaane aur use apne mazmun me jjagah de,fir uski buniyad par nataij akhz karen to zere tahrir mazmun na sirf ruh-e-asr se ham ahang ho jayega bulki uski authenticity bhi doguni ho jayegi.
Apni ilmai nash-o-numa ko baqarar rakhne ke liye pabandi se literature review karte rahne ki ahmiyat se inkar namumkin hai.Samaji masail par deeni parchon me sha’e honewale mazamin ke motala se ye tassur milta hai ki qalamkar hazrat nai bahason,ilm ke naye goshon aur tahqiq ke naye manhaj se anjan hain.Misal ke taur par agar ham Mohaddis ke July 2002 ke shumare me chhape article “Islam me aurat ka tahaffuz aur us ki zimmedariyan” ko lete hain.Sab se pahle to main ye arz kar doon ki ye ik aisa mozu hai jis par deeni magazine me likhne wale har qalamkar ne kam se kam ik baar to zarur is par qalam uthaya hoga.Aur taqriban tamam mazamin ke mawad me taqriban 90 fisad yaksaniyat aur takrar hoti hai.Zahir hai ki iski wajah empirical approach ka foqdaan hai kyunki nusus to bahrehal tabdil hone se rahe. Qlamkar Maulana Mohd No’man Salafi ne bhi pahli hi fursat me auraton ko naqisatul aql qarar diya hai aur apne da’we ke sabut me Qur’an ki aayaten aur hadees pesh ki hain.Fir unhen laga ki chunki maghrib hi huquq-e-niswan ka hami wa a’lambardaar hai to unhon ne maghribi danishwaro ke aqwal bhi apni taayeed me pesh kiye.Agar mazmun nigar jins aur feminism ke issue par muslim khawateen maslan Fatima Mernissi,Zoya Hasan wagaira ki tahriron se baakhabar hote to shayad aisa na kahte.Hazrat Aisha ke ilm,Hazrat Khadija ki tajirana salahiyat wagaira ki taujih ke liye shayad mawaqi ki farahmi aur exposure jaise alfaz hi ziyada mauzu honge.Yahan par main jamiatus Salihat,Rampur ki taleemyafta Farzaana Shafaq ka zikr karna chahunga jo filhaal Jamia Hamdard me BUMS ki taliba hain.Jab maine un se Naqisatul Aql ki tashrih pucchi to us ne barjasta kaha:Jitni shariyat aur jo shariyat mard parte hain ham ne bhi wahi aur utni hi parhi hai.To is mamle me hamara ilm barabar hai.Yahan tibbiya ki parai me bhi ham kisi se kam nahi hain aur hamare ache marks aate hain.Pahle jab auraton ko mawaqe nahi milte the tab baat aur thi,lekin ab to surat-e-haal badal gayi hai.Haan jin auraton ko is tarah ke mawaqi nahi mile hain wo albatta naqisatul aql ho sakti hain.”.
Muslim samaj ke kutcch aise bhi masail hain jin par madrason se nikalne wale parchon mein awwalan to likha nahi jaata hai aur agar likha bhi jaata hai to is se motalliq sirf Qur’an -o-sunnat ki taalimaat ko pesh karne par iktifa kiya jaata hai.,samaji pase manzar me maujuda surat-e-haal ka tajziya kar ke puri tasweer ko manzar-e-aam par nahi laya jaata hai.Caste Hindustani mo’aashrey ka ik aham unsure hai aur jama’aton ki shirazabandi neez qiyadat ke liye hone wali morchabandi me kalidi role ada karta hai.Deeni parchon ke safhaat me ye sawal kabhi nahi uthaya gaya ki agar islam ukhuwwat -o-masawat ka alambardaar hai to ashraf aur azlaaf me bata muslim samaj ke aksar deeni wa siyasi sarbarahon ka talluq unchi zat, jo Hindustani tanazur me khushqismati se upper class bhi hain,se kyon hai.Aakhir arzal musalmanon ke hisse me qiyadat ki baag kabhi kyon nahi aati?Aur ab jab pasmanda musalmaan siyasi,iqtisadi aur saqafati mahaz par apni pakar mazboot bana rahe hain to unki is peshqadmi ko ummat-e-islamiya ke ittihad aur ittifaq ke liye khatra qarar diya jaa raha niz caste ki buniyaad par samaj ki taqsim ko ,jo ki ik zamini haqiqat hai, ghairislami bataya jata hai.Aisa kyon?Ye kutch aise sawal hain jo madraso se nkalne wale parchon me nahin uthaye jaate hain.
Har deeni parcha kisi na kisi maslak ka bhi Tarjuman hota hai.Isliye isme sha’e honewale mawad ka ik bara hissa us maslak ke faroi masail ke bare me hota hai .Wazeh rahe ki in masail ka talluq umuman ibadaat ya aqaid se hota hai.Zere bahas mahnama Mohaddis bhi is se achhuta nahi hai.Chunki ye Jama’at- Ahle hadess ke markzi talimi edara se shai hota hai.Isliye is me ahle hadeeson ke faroi masail jaise raf’ul yadain,aamin bil jahr wagaira par hamesha kutch na kutch zarur hota hai.Hindustan ke ahle hadison aur Saudi ulema me bari had tak fikri ham aahangi payi jaati hai.Lihaza Mohaddis me Saudi ulema ki tahreeron ke trajim bhi pabandi se shaa’I hote hain.Misal ke taur par Syed Yusuf Hashim Al Refai, Jo Kuwait ki ik aham siyasi shakhsiyat hain,ne ulama-e-najd par kutch etrazaat kiye the.To Allama Abdul Mohsin Al Abbad ,jo ki Jamia Islamia madina monawwara ke sabiq wais chancellor rah chuke hain ,ne iska tul tawil jawab likha.Is jawab ka tarjuma Mohaddis me 16 qiston me chhapa..Isi tarah tasawwuf ke talluq se ahle hadison ka apna ik khas mauqif hai.Apne is mauqif se ham ahang ik Saudi qalamkar Dr.Mohd Ibrahim Al Barikaan ke mazmoon ke tarjuma “Tasawwuf Naql wo Aql ki Raushni Me” san 2001 aur 2002 ke 12 shumaro me qistwar chhapne mein Mohaddis ke modir ko koi burai nahi hazar aai.Is se ik baat aur saamne aati hai ki madaris se nikalne wale parchon me qistwaar mazamin sha’I karne ka chalan hai.Aur to aur baz dafa to edariye bhi qiston me chhapte hain halanki Mainstream journalism me qistwar mazameen shaa’e karne se umooman parhez karte hain.
Ik aur mustaqil column sawanih ka hota hai jis me jama’at ke sarkarda ulama ka sawanehi khaka pesh kiya jaata hai.Khakanigari ka andaz intihai rewayati hota hai.Mamdooh paidaishi zaheen aur deendar hote hain.Unki tasneefi khidmaat,maslaki hamiyyat aur maslak ki tarvij–o- isha’at me unki khidmaat par khususi roshni daali jaati hai.Mohaddis me ek aur mustaqil column tibb-osihhat se motalliq bhi hai.Is column mein mausam ke taqaze ke motabiq kisi ik mozu par sihhat ki hifazat ke bare me ik mazmun hota hai.Ye mazmun kisi dosre parche se le kar courtesy ke sath chhapa jaata hai.Ye ik accha aur mufid column hota hai.
Ek mahine me Jamia Salafia,Varanasi me jo bhi sargarmiya hoti hain uska khulasa qariyeen ke saamne ik mustaqil column me Akhbar-e-jamia ke naam se pesh kiya jaata hai.Lekin madaris ki chahardiwari me kutch aisi sargarmiyan bhi hoti hain,jinka zikr na to is column me aa paata hai aur na hi kisi aur unwaan se unhe madaris se nikalne wale parchon me jagah mil paati hai.Meri murad talaba ke masail,asataza aur digar molazimin ki tankhwah se jure sawal niz asataza,talaba aur intizamiya ke maabain bahami tabqati khashmokash se hai.Aisa nahi hai ki chahardiwari ki andar sirf allah aur rasul ki hi baaten hoti hain kyonki andar ik pura mo’aashra aabad hota hai,tabqat,zaat paat aur ilaqaiyat ke khemon me bata hua mo’aashra.Qiyadat aur sarbarahi ke masle par hone wale ikhtilafat aur uske nataij kisi se dhake chhupe nahi hain.Asataza ko hamesha shikayat hoti hai ki unki tankhwah kam hai.Isi tarah deegar molazimin ki moshahrah bhi kuchch yun hi si hoti hai.Is andaruni siyasat me mohra hamesha talaba hi bante hain.Mazid ye ki system ki saari kharabiyon aur campus me waqe hone wala har nakhushgawar waqia ke liye talaba hi sau fisad zimmedar hote hain.Ye kutch aise chubhte hue sawal hai jin par dini parchon me bahas ki zarurat nahi samjhi jati.Wajah saaf hai ki ulama andruni baton ko awam ke sath share nahi karma chahte hain.Is tarah ghair elaniya taur par wo khud ko awam se alag ik class samajhte hain jiska hissa ik aam musalmaan nahi hai,Ye aur baat hai ki ye madarase awami chandey se hi chalet hain.Goya ki ultimate sovereign se hi haqiqat chhipane ki koshish ki jaati hai.Yahan par mashhoor deeni wa siyasi shikhsiyat Maulana Anzar Shah Kashmiri ke mahnama Mohaddis-e-Asr,Deoband ko main mustasna karne ki ijaazat chahunga. Kyonki mausuf ne apne kutch idariyon me madrase ke” andruni masail ” me awam ko bhi sharik karne ki koshish ki hai.( Molahiz ho mahnama Mohaddis-e-Asr,February,2006 me Maulana ka edariya “Madaris ke Masail”).
Madaris se nikalne wale jaraid me nai matbu’aat par tabsara bhi chhapta rahta hai lekin ziyadatar zere tabsara kitaben aqaid-o-ebadaat ke mauzu’aat par hoti hain.Neez in kitabon ka ik bara hissa Saudi ulama ki kitabon ke tarjama par mushtamil hota hai.Lihaza yahan par Hindustani ulama ki fikri asalat aur danishwarana contribution ke bare me sawal uthne lagte hain.Ye sawal us waqt aur bhi baja aur monasib maalum hote hain jab ik hi shumaare me kisi ik mozu par 7-8mazamin sha’e hote hain.Misal ke taur par Mohaddis November 2002 ke shumare me zakaat se motalliq teen mazamin aur roza ke baare me 7 article maujud hain..Mazid ye ki ik aur bharpur mazmun “Khajoor ke Fawaid” bhi isi shumare ki zinat hai.Yun to roze aur ramzan ke mozu par zakhim zakhim kitaaben mojud hain lekin mudir ke zehn me wazeh hona chahiye ki ik aam rozedaar ko aam haalat me kitni aur kaisi maalumat ki zarurat ho sakti hai.Bahut sare aise mozu’aat hain jo tishana-e-tahqiq hain lekin unpar ab tak kaam shuru nahi hua hai.Ahle hadison ke markazi talimi edarey se sha’e hone wali ik magazine ki haisiyat se Mohaddis me aise features to zarur chhapne chahiye jis se Hindustan me is firqa ke maanne walon ki sahih taadad,unki taalimi surate haal,fi kas maahana wa saalan aamdani ka pata chal sakey.
Aam taur se har deeni parche me fatwa ka bhi ik mustaqil column hota hai.Mohaddis me bhi aisa ik colum hai Babul Fatawa jo is ka sab se aakhri column hota hai .Ye column 2-6 safhat par mushtamil hota hai.San2002 me Mohaddis me jo fatwe chhape the unme se sirf ik fatwa sigrate noshi ke bare me tha jab ke baqiya fatawe ebaadat se motalliq the.Ajeeb baat ye hai ki is column se fatwa puchchnewale ke bare me kutch bhi pata nahi chalta.Ye bhi wasuq ke sath kahna mushkil hoga ki ye fatwa waqei kisi puchchey gaye sawal ke jawab me sadir kiye gaye ya ifta committee ne apni sawabdeed ke motabiq awam ki rahnumaai ke liye sawal waza’a kiye aur fir uske jawab diye.Yahan par Maulana Anzar Shah Kashmiri ka ye qaul pesh karma bemauqa na hoga ki jab sawal nahi aate hain to hum khud sawal garhte hain aur fir uska jawab dete hain taki awam ki rahnumaai ka silsila jari rahe aur unhe sawal karne ka saliqa aa jaye.”.(Mausuf ne ye baat mujjh se ik interview me batai thi jis me wo mahnama Mohaddis-e-Asr,Deoband ke editor chief ki haisiyat se bol rahe the).Mujhe ulama ki nek niyati par koi shak nahi hai lekin is se ye baat motanaza fih zarur ho jaati hai ki deeni parchon me chhapnewale tamaam fatwe awam ke deeni ruj’hanat aur tajassus ke akkas hain..Tarze istidlal ke talluq se kutch kahna shayad meri bisaat se bahar ki baat hogi.Albatta yahan par main Jamia Millia se jure ek barguzida islami scholar Proff.Mushirul Haq ke ik mazmun “Fatawa Aur Asri Masail” (Islam aur Asr-e-Jadeed,April1970) se ik iqtibas zarur pesh karma chahunga:
“Fatwa literature ka baghaur motala karne par ek aur haqiqat jo ham par munkashif hoti hai wo ye hai ki jun jun ham apne zamaane ke qareeb aate jaate hain,aam taur se Hindustan ke ulema usul-e-Istihsaan ko ghair zaruri samajh kar asri masail ki taraf se sarf-e-nazar karte hue nazar aate dikhayee dete hain.19 wi sadi ke barkhilaf 20 wi sadi ke fatawa me Istihsaan ke bajai fiqhi riwayaat ko ziyada ahmiyat di gayi hai…Bahr-e-haal ifta ki riwayat me ye ikhtilaf ik haqiqat hai jis se inkar nahi kiya ja sakta.Maslan jab awail …..”
[Islam aur Asr-e-Jadid,khususi shumara bayaade prof Mushirul haq.vol36.No.2.April2004].
While interviewing Maulana Ejaz Arshad Qasmi, editor of the website of the Darul Uloom Deoband madrasa, I asked whether you find it difficult to understand what goes in the construction and the packaging of news in national dailies as disciplines like Political Science are not the part of the madrasa curriculum. His answer was: “There is no need to attach so much importance to the disciplines like Political Science As the madrasa students are habitual of studying the bulky and tough syllabus, they really don’t need ,like the students of universities, to devote years to develop an understanding of the Political Science. Suffice it will for them to spare some time for the discipline.”
Likewise, Maulana Yaseen Akhter Misbahi, a Delhi-based veteran alim of the Barelwi school of thought and editor of the Urdu monthly Kanzul Imaan, Delhi, is of the opinion that Dars-e-Nizami (the curriculum presently taught in the madrasas) consolidates the academic foundation of a student in a way that one can excel in any field one opts for. That’s why instead of the fact that he neither studied in a university nor received any training in journalism, he continues; his editorials are admired among the readers.
A bunch of disciplines are considered useful in the mainstream education system and, also, they are considered necessary for the madrasas education system. At the same time, madrasa people don’t see any utility of these disciplines useful for themselves. Moreover, they are of the opinion that there are subjects in the madrasa syllabus which are useful and should be taught to the university students. The question which arises in my mind is: what is the useful knowledge? Which knowledge is useful for whom and who is going to decide it? What is the history of the useful knowledge?
NEW TRENDS IN MADRASA JOURNALISM
Though the term madrasa stands for old, oriental and obscurant, new writings on the same have proved that the real situation inside these reminiscents of the old education system is diverse enough to break the stereotype. So is the case with the journalism practiced there. It took me around four months to discover that new things are taking place in the domain of the madrasa journalism, though slowly.
It started in January of the year when Maulana Mohd Sajjad Rizvi, one of my friends, informed me about a magazine called “Jaam-e-Noor”, Delhi and suggested me to include it in my study. But as the magazine has seen only three springs of its life and I have been looking at the five years of the magazines, I did not take the advice seriously. Though a couple of things about it remained fresh in my memory, I could not decide what to do with it which was hinting the advent of a new brand of journalism in the sphere of madrasas. During the course of my fieldwork, I discovered two more magazines, Maah-e-Noor and Tooba, both from Delhi .Now, I was convinced that a wave of new trends was very soon going to sweep the field and the process had already been unleashed.
THE JAAM-E-NOOR STORY
What I found interesting about Jaam-e-Noor, the first magazine of this sort I came across, was the screaming headline on its laminated title page: “Sania Mirza ka Libas Koi Masla Nahi Hai.” (What Sania Mirza wears is a non-issue.) .This headline suggests that the magazine, in its content and approach, is sailing against the direction wind blows in madrasa journalism. The driving force behind bringing out this magazine is Maulana Khushtar Noorani, a graduate from the Islamic Call College, Tripoli, Libya in 1998. A chubby and bearded young man in his late 20s was posing for being photographed by another bearded but slim man when I entered 422, Matia Mahal, Jama Masjid, the office of Jaam-e-Noor to interview its editor. The person with camera turned out to be a fan of the magazine and was trying to capture a moment of his meeting with the editor, Khushtar Noorani. This visitor from Lahore was the evidence of name and fame he was enjoying in Pakistan where 2000 copies of his magazines are consumed, a record by any standard of the religious journalism, as the total circulation of the most of the madrasa journals does not exceed 2000 copies. However, there are other contributory factors too which set ground for the heights of popularity Jaam-e-Noor and his editor is scaling nowadays.
Religious education runs into the family of Khushtar Noorani. Allama Arshadul Qadri, his paternal grandfather, is an ideologue and the best-seller pen of international
fame within the circle of the Ahl-e-Sunnat sect. Though his body of work is comprised of more than a dozen books, Zer-o-Zabar, Zalzala and Lalazaar are supposed to be his magnum opus in which he engages in the polemics with the Deobandi ulama at an unprecedented plane.
According to Mohd Arif Barakati, a student of Al Jamiatul Ashrafia, Mobarakpur, Azamgarh, Jaam-e-Noor was a familiar name within the circle of Ahl-e-Sunnat as the personality of Allama Arshadul Qadri had been associated with it. In 1963, he started a magazine called Jaam-e-Noor from Kolkata. But it had to shut down in 1964 because his involvement in an increasing number of projects left him with almost no time for the magazine. When Maulana Khushtar announced in 2002 on the occasion of the Chehlum ceremony of Allama Qadri, to bring out the deceased magazine in a new avatar, every body hailed the decision. The magazine is so popular among the students of Al Jamiatul Ashrafia, the Oxford of the Ahl-e-Sunnat sect that Paigham-e-Islam, one of the student associations in the institution orders for 200 copies of Jaam-e-Noor every month. Imtiaz Ahmed, President of the association and also a student at the Ashrafia madrasa, is of the opinion that “apart from the subscribers, at least 5-7 talibilms read a copy of the magazine”. Not counting its historical importance, Jaam-e-Noor owes its unprecedented popularity to novelty of the approach it adopts towards the content and its presentation technique as well. This glaring difference between it and other madrasa journals is a conscious effort on the part of the editor Khushtar. During his academic sojourn (1996-1998) to Libya, he had closely observed how the journalism is practiced in the Arab world. Returning to India, he took a diploma in Print Journalism from Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi in 2001. All this helped him in evolving his own vision of quality journalism. He has been a bitter critic of the madrasa journalism. Articulating his views on the theme, he says that “journalism per se has never been taken seriously in madrasas. The motive behind bringing out these journals has either been to manage funds or to keep the community informed of the daily routine of the pir of the shrine. These magazines have been reduced to the status of the mere mouthpiece of the institution”. Those who are at the helm of affairs, Khushtar continues, “are simply not concerned with what are the current ground realities of the Indian Muslims, what they need, what ails them and what the earlier can offer to the community through their magazines. One of the reasons responsible for this phenomenon is that the editors of madrasa journals are not the professional and trained ones. Without having any idea how to plan the content of the magazine and how to introduce diversity in it ,they just keep on reproducing stuff relating to namaz , fasting, miracles and prophecies. One can find them in the religious books, easily available in the market. What new things you are offering through your journal to the readers? Besides all these, the editors lament of their low circulation. Obviously, if you are not a professional editor, the reading material you are offering are not upto the expectations of the readers, why should they buy your magazine? That’s why these magazines soon cease publication”.Jaam-e-Noor is the incarnation of the vision Khushtar has regarding journalism and bringing out a magazine. In fact the magazine has introduced, Khushtar claims, a number of innovations in the field of madrasa journalism. The magazine contains 64 pages which are divided into regular columns and it strictly sticks to this column design. Its editorial runs into 6-8 pages and is per se a full-fledged article dealing with an important current issue. There is a column of Tahriri Mobahasa (debate in writing). He relates passionately how the idea of this column originated: “This concept I’ve borrowed from The Times of India which in its Sunday edition provides diverse views of experts on a chosen theme. I also select a theme and request experts to express their opinions in 2-3 pages.” In one of his columns entitled Fikr-o-Nazar, he publishes views of those readers who are not columnists or scribes but they have some important issue to share with others, though in brief, say only in 10 lines. “You can sense a sort of democracy in this column” informs Khushtar happily. He has a regular column devoted to interviews, which carries every month an interview of one of eminent Muslim personalities or of renowned literary persons. Letters of the readers suggest that this column is amazingly popular among them. Khama Talashi is another interesting column. In fact; the phrase khama talashi itself is new to the dictionary of Urdu. Khama stands for pen and talashi for interrogation. Thus, khama talashi means academic interrogation. “I’ve commissioned one of my most talented friends for this column. He writes under the pen name of Abul Faiz Moinee. In his three paged column, he critically analyses all what gets published in every issue of Jaam-e-Noor. He even does not spare me and I publish his scathing remarks because I want to spread the message that democracy and the freedom of expression are two key components of journalism”, exclaims Khushtar proudly.
What really worked miracles for Jaam-e-Noor is the tone and tenor of its editorials. Khushtar, in his long and uncompromising editorials, blasted madrasa system and attacked the ulama community vociferously. This created a lot of controversy among the religious sphere of the sub-continent, resulting in carving out a niche for the magazine among both the critics and the criticized. In his own words, “the ulama were exercising a sort of control on the society. There was unstated rules that none could utter or write a single word against the mistakes they make….. I wanted to break this hegemony on the part of the ulema. In my editorials, I started writing against them and without paying any heed to their status or age.” Here it will not be out of place to have a look at some of the issues discussed in his editorials.
The Ahl-e-Sunnat ulema have a history of polemecising against each other on a certain theological issue in the pages of Dabdaba-e-Sikandari, a weekly newspaper from Rampur which began its publication around 1864, as Usha Sanyal has mentioned in her seminal work, Devotional Islam and Politics in British India, (P.188-98.OUP, 1996). Contrary to this, no magazine has ever criticized the way they engage the laymen of the sect or questioned the efficacy of methods they are employing to counter the arguments of the ‘others’. Khushtar Noorani in his editorial entitled “An overview of the conventional and path-breaking activities of the Ahl-e-Sunnat” (April 2005) discusses the following evils prevalent in his sect:
1. Craze for the admission in madrasas
2. Obsession with the rebuttal of the Wahabis
3. Eloquence of Oratory
4. Establishment of the Jurisprudential Board
5. Flood of journals
There used to be a time when there was a craze among Muslims to send their children into madrasas while the current trend is that only poor students study there or those children are spared for madrasas who do not show any penchant for studies. This attitude of the Muslims is responsible, according to Khushtar, for the constant degradation in the standard of madrasa education and, also, provided ‘others’ (defined in terms of Islamists and secular modernists) with the opportunity to question their relevance. Lambasting on the obsession of the ulema of the Ahl-e-Sunnat with rebuttal of the Wahabism, he says, we have a tradition of countering the Wahabis with both pen and speech since the inception of this stray sect. Though a number of very important areas merit the urgent attention of the ulema, the problem is that nobody has time to give them a thought because of their obsession with this anti-Wahabi spree. Worse, they are not ready to mellow down their tone in rebuttal of the Wahabis. Moving to the next point of the editorial, Khushtar writes that there is no denial of the fact that oratory, like writing, is a tested device of propagation. So, some of the Ahl-e-Sunnat ulema also started using oratory to enhance the mass appeal of the sect. Later on, a number of ulema introduced new elements in their oratory to multiply their impact on the masses. As the popularity of the orator is directly linked to his monetary income, madrasa students went mad in seeking excellence in the field and the whole night oratory session became recurrent phenomena within the religious circle, forcing the neighborhood to spend a sleepless night.
In 1992, under the auspices of Al Jamiatul Ashrafia, Mobarakpur, the Jurisprudential Board was set up as a splendid body of Muftis, envisioning it as a platform where important decisions relating to Sharia, will be finalized with consensus. The event sent waves of happiness across the Ahl-e-Sunnat. Though the body made it a point to incorporate all the renowned muftis of the sect, it was not long before a number of such bodies started mushrooming in the length and breadth of Jahan-e-Riza (the world of the followers of Imam Ahmed Riza Khan). Khushtar writes with astonishment: “I am at loss to understand the use of establishing all these small and big Jurisprudential Boards if their decisions are not followed by others”. He, taking a dig on theses muftis or the towering ulema, bitterly notes that though they think these enterprises as noble deeds, to me, the latter are not more than “just a waste of time and money”. The only way to transform them into a fruitful exercise, he suggests, is to constitute a co-ordination committee of these Jurisprudential Boards which can strive for making decisions of one of them acceptable to the most of the rest.
Khushtar has devoted the concluding paragraphs to the religious journalism practiced within the circle of the Ahl-e-Sunnat. He, in his own singular style, very succinctly bares the fact about it. He says that till date I am at loss to get appropriate words to describe these magazines: whether they are “anthology of essays taken from religious books”, “bundle of personal advertisements”, or “dazzling blood-drops of journalism on white papers”.(p.5). However, there are instances from the history that some magazines really did well and are still remembered. Khushtar is of the opinion that their success can not be termed as the success of the magazine per se as they were not different from others from the pack. It was the personal writings of their editors the popularity of the magazines springs from. What baffles him is the herd mentality prevalent in the Ahl-e-Sunnat sect. None is ready to do any sort of experiment. Every body wants to trade on the trodden path, resulting in unnecessary crowd in some fields while in want of appropriate man power in others which are by no standards less important.
Jaam-e-Noor came as a fresh gust of air to the readers of the madrasa journals. Khushtar’s editorials provided them with a new vision of journalism. In past, no body mustered the courage to express such daring views regarding the shortcomings of the Ahl-e-Sunnat ulema.
Started in 2002, his magazine is about to successfully complete its four years in a couple of months. He says that many persons wonder: “It was very courageous on your part that you have written publicly on the issues people were afraid of mentioning in their private chambers. We wonder how they have spared you from the fatwa yet”.
Maulana Qamar Ahmed Ashrafi Misbahi, a graduate from Al Jamiatul Ashrafia, Mobarakpur, is the advisor-in-chief of Jaam-e-Noor. Trying to analyze the factors behind the success of the magazine, Qamar says: “There was a discomfort among the new generation of the Ahl-e-Sunnat ulema regarding the scheme of things in the sect. But they were afraid of being ostracized or the backlash from the elder ones .So, they were looking for someone who is immune to this sort of reaction. Khushtar was a perfect case as he was the grandson of Allama Arshadul Qadri whose towering stature and contribution to the Ahl-e-Sunnat was undisputable. Surrounded by this hallow of familial linkage to Allama, he was shielded from any direct reaction on the part of the elder ulema. Moreover, a number of leading ulema demised during this decade, leaving an intellectual and authoritarian vacuum behind them. In addition to this, he had advantage of being educated in Libya and was one of those few who had a degree in journalism from a recognized government institution. He had a great passion for journalism and was impatiently looking for the opportunity to tap his potentials. Besides, he did not owe allegiance towards any khanqah, excluding any chance of being pressurized by his pir. Last but not the least; Jaam-e-Noor is published by Maktaba Jaam-e-Noor publishing house, owned by Ghulam Rabbani, Khushtar’s father. In other words, Khushtar is not a servent-editor but is the editor cum proprietor. So, he needed not to be afraid of being thrown out of his job. Thus, all these factors worked in his favor and he became the vehicle for the dissemination of the thoughts of the agitated young ulema who extended to him tremendous support: intellectual, moral and in form of articles”. Had there been someone else in his place, he would have been either silenced or a fatwa would have been issued against him.
Self-criticism is intrinsic to the vision of Jaam-e-Noor. It is this call of introspection which it gives time and again to the laymen and ulema of the Ahl-e-Sunnat, keeps its readership graph up. In February 2005, Khushtar as the editor of the magazine went on a tour to Pakistan and interacted there with a range of ulema of his sect. His editorial of the month of May, 2005 is a sort of travelogue of this trip. Interestingly, he has mentioned a couple of differences, which he observed, between the ulema of India and Pakistan. “It should be acknowledged that in the period of last 2-3 decades, the contribution of the Pakistani ulema has outnumbered that of their Indian counterparts. The propagation of the thoughts of Imam Ahmad Riza has been carried out on a scale which is unparallel in the world.”(p5). Consequently, he continues, “Pakistani literature constitutes today 70% of what the Indian publishing houses are churning out”. It suggests, on the one hand, the paucity in the intellectual production of the Ahl-e-Sunnat ulema of India, and it speaks volumes about the state of original contribution and publication in the language of Urdu on the other hand. He, in the later part of the editorial, emphasizes that contrary to the Indian ulema, their Pakistani counterparts are more open to find out people-friendly legal solutions of the problems posed by the innovations in the field of science and technology. He is amazed at the glaring difference between the ulema of both countries in their approach to the day-to-day issues, despite the fact that all of them adhere to the same sect. Then he goes on to elaborate it with the help of an example. On the question of the legitimacy of Videography and photography, the Ahl-e-Sunnat of India is divided into two camps, triggering a series of writings and counter-writings on the issue.
Interestingly, on the other side of the border, it is simply a non-issue. The Pakistani ulema find videography and photography useful in spreading the views of their sect. Critiquing those who consider the use of videography illegal, Khushtar argues, what they mean by “majority” (Jamhoor) when they refer to their stand as representing that of jamhoor while the reality is that it is legal in all parts of the Muslim world, including Pakistan.
So, in majority are those who see its use lawful, contrary to the arguments of those who are against it. (p6). It is this position of the editor which makes Jaam-e-Noor perhaps the only Ahl-e-Sunnat magazine which publishes blurred photographs of human beings on its title page.
Hamrey Masail (Our Problems) is a weekly program telecast by ETV Urdu. Devoted to the discussion on one of the current issues relating to Muslims, Obaid Siddiqui anchors the programme amidst the invited experts and a number of participant audiences. In one of its episodes, Khushtar was invited as the representative of the Ahl-e-Sunnat sect to express his view regarding the Division in the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. His reaction to the arguments of Shaista Amber, President of Women Personal Law Board makes an interesting reading as it provides a glimpse of his thoughts regarding the secular reformist Muslim women. He writes in his editorial that the session started with the question: why Shias, Barelwis and women, breaking away from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, have formed their own boards? It was Shaista Amber who spoke first. Listening to her words, I felt that “she is suffering from the labor pain (emphasis mine) caused by the birth of rebellious mentality in the women against men and specially against ulema, springing from western thoughts, superficial study of Islam, limited knowledge, borrowed insights and ordinary power of perception.”.(Jaam-e-Noor, June 2005, pp 3-4).
In the concluding paragraph of the editorial, he summarizes what he spoke in the program. In his words: “If the representatives of the AIMPLB believe that drafting a model Nikahnama, they can solve the familial disputes and social tension, and if women, forming their own personal law boards, think that this will add to their prestige in the society, and they will not be meted with any injustice and atrocities in their homes as well as the incidents of talaq will stop, I think, they are chasing the mirage and nothing more”. The tranquility and peace can not prevail in the society unless initiatives to implement Islamic injunctions in the society are taken. (Ibid, p5).
In an editorial on the electoral politics in Bihar, Khushtar has presented a detailed analysis of the dynamics of the Laloo Prasad vs. Ram Vilas Paswan scenario. Like the Muslim situation in the post 1990 Bihar, role of media in the politics of Bihar, an overview of the Paswan’s love for democracy, the reality of the slogan of Muslim chief minister, use of puppet ulema by Paswan in the election campaign are enough to suggest that the editorial has a pro-Laloo and anti-Paswan tilt. It highlights how Laloo has made riots an alien phenomenon in Bihar which had been the worst-hit state by the recurrent communal violence under the Congress regime. After the demolition, Muslims got disenchanted with it and started voting different secular parties in the different parts of the country. This strategy on the part of Muslims divided their votes, culminating in the emergence of the BJP as the single largest political party in the 14th Loksabha election. He has shown how Paswan’s secular credentials kept oscillating from Laloo to NDA to Congress. That’s why he should not be given a chance any more. Then, Khushtar argues how the consolidated Muslim votes to Congress in the general election of 2004 has breathed a new life into it, reduced to almost a dead party then. “The need of the hour is that Muslims of every state, using their foresight, should vote for only that party which is capable of stopping the rising tides of communalism and which guarantees for their development in different walks of life”, concludes Khushtar.(Jaam-e-Noor, December 2005.p9).
When it comes to the international affairs, Jaam-e-Noor is no different from other traditional madrasa magazines. Muslim world and how the US engages it, is what dominates most of the writings on international politics in the magazine. Also, they have great appetite for the hear-say about the Zionist lobby. Like any other traditional alim, Khushtar Noorani too has his own understanding of what takes place in the arena of international relations. It will not be out of context to reproduce here a couple of paragraphs from one of his editorials entitled: “Well-Planned Designs of the US against the Muslim World and the Reality of our Silent Protests”:
1. “After the 2nd World War the US and Soviet Russia emerged as two superpowers on the world map. But after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 9th decade of the 20th century, the United States became the sole super power. Now it got involved in its retaliatory actions against the Muslim world, for which the whole western Christianity and Zionism have been preparing since 15th century after their defeat in the Crusades.” (Jaam-e-Noor, July 2005, p3).
2. “If we chronologically analyze the meticulous planning behind these regular attacks on the Muslim world then we come to know that when Muslim world was celebrating its victory on the West in the Crusades, vows were being solemnized in the churches of the West to erase the contours of the Muslim world from the world map. According to this plan when Europe was struggling hard to wake up afresh, mustering its courage, Muslim rulers and nobility were leading lavish life in their palaces and were busy in wine sessions. In the 16th century, two movements swept Europe: Renaissance and Reformation. The earlier made Europe shine with the light of knowledge and paved the way for establishing of universities of Oxford and Cambridge, institutions of international repute, while the latter led to the emergence of the Protestants as a sect. At that time the Muslim rulers were busy in composing verses in praise of their beloved and were putting all the might of their kingdom at disposal to erect wonderful monuments like Taj Mahal to please the souls of their dead soulmates. In the 17th century there started an age of scientific and material development in Europe and till the 18th century they, to subjugate the world and especially the Muslim world, were successful in inventing arms and ammunitions which were earlier beyond imagination… ” (Jaam-e-Noor, July 2005, pp3-4).
Among other eye-catching columns of Jaam-e-Noor, those of interview, tahriri mobahsa and Khama Talashi worth mentioning here. As far as the interview column is concerned, it’s really an innovation in the field of madrasa journalism. That the magazine unfailingly publishes a fresh interview every month exudes how serious the editor is about the quality he promises to his readers. Some of personalities whose interviews have already been published in it is : Maulana Mansha Tabish Qasuri ,Lahore; Dr.Syed Aleem Ashraf Jayesi,UP; Mohd.Arif Iqbal, editor, the monthly Urdu Book Review; Mosharraf Alam Zauqi, the novelist; Maulana Kaukab Noorani,Karachi; Dr.Monazir Aashiq Harganwi,Bhagalpur University,etc. Tahriri Mobahsa (discussion) is another interesting column which is exclusive to Jaam-e-Noor.
It should be borne in the mind that in the Muslim religious circle, dissenting voices even in the matters concerning academics are shortly silenced by one means or another. This column, through its debate on a range of issues, has established, on one hand, how ulema of a particular sect differ from each other in their opinions on a given topic while on the other hand; it reiterated the need to tolerate differences in opinions. Some of the topics of this column are as follows: How to save the world from the scourge of terrorism? , What should be the role of ulema in the general election?; Should Urdu be included in the curricula of madrasas?; How useful is the university education for the madrasa graduates?.
The last question was thrown for the discussion in the month of April, 2005(pp21-27). Views of five madrasa graduates on the topic have been published. Here is what the editor has put in boxes as the summary of their views:
1. University education widens the mentalscape of the madrasa graduates, revitalizes their views and makes their arguments serious and factual. (Tanveer Arshad, Department of Arabic, JNU).
2. People should stop bothering about the shortcomings of the modern educationalinstitutions because every coin has two sides. (Samrul Hoda Noori, 4th semester, Faculty of Medicine, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi).
3. In the contemporary time, one can not properly render his services to Islam on the global scale unless one is trained in the modern sciences. This underlines the need for the modern education. (Shaukat Ali, Department Urdu, Jamia Millia Islamia).
4. Today it’s obligatory for every Muslim child to marry religious education with modern one so that he, retaining his identity, can lead a dignified life. (Sadrul Islam Misbahi.Department of Arabic, University of Delhi).
5. Modern education, through some of the madrasa graduates, will steer the course of the history of the Ahl-e-Sunnat towards a new direction. It’s started making its effects felt since now. (Zishan Ahmed Misbahi, sub-editor, monthly Jaam-e-Noor).
The column of Khama Talashi (Academic Interrogation) adds one more feather to the cap of Jaam-e-Noor. This style of self-criticism is not only praiseworthy but is a contributory factor towards emergence of a culture of tolerance and internal dialogue among religious elites. Abul Faiz Moinee, who writes the column with unmatched fearlessness and erudition, is extremely popular among the readers. He starts one of his columns narrating an incident of Josh Malihabadi: “Josh Malihabadi sent a copy of his autobiography entitled ‘Yaadon ki Baarat’ to Mahirul Qadri, editor of the monthly ‘Faraan’ with this note: Janab Mahir! Lijiye bakra hazir hai.Shauq se zabah farmaiye. (Mr.Mahir! The lamb is here before you. Please butcher it.).Then Mr. Mahir butchers the lamb with his own style .i.e., wrote a 60 pages treatise as a critique of the book. My friend Maulana Khushtar Noorani too every month sends me a copy of Jaam-e-Noor with an identical note on it. It’s a matter of coincidence that till date it’s his own writings which have been slaughtered at the altar of criticism”.(Jaam-e-Noor, October 2005, p55). In the present column, he first congratulated the editor on having designed such a wonderful title page, and that’s without including any dome or minaret. Then he wonders how the editorial has adopted a soft line towards the ulema as the editor has a reputation of being extremely critical of ulema.
Further, he mentions an article which seeks to analyze observations of some oriental scholars regarding the Hadis literature. He writes: “Though the piece is informative and analytical, there are few places where my eyes stopped” due to mistakes in the years of birth and death mentioned. Commenting on the debate on the topic of “Whether the suicide bombing may be a form of jihad or is just a waste of human life”, he criticizes a participant for the mistake he committed in translating an Arabic sentence while takes a dig on the other for using jargon-laden language, almost incomprehensible for the masses.
Assessing the next piece which is a travelogue by Maulana Kaukab Noorani, Moinee writes in a lighter vein: “I went through the piece, the first part of a two part-series and am eagerly waiting for the next part as the earlier has nothing substantial in it” (p 55). Thus, every column of Khama Talashi makes a hilarious reading, especially when you are aware of the content of the previous issue of the magazine. Besides all these, Jaam-e-Noor is an Ahl-e-Sunnat magazine to the core of its content. Though I came across a couple of non-Ahl-e-Sunnat fans of Khushtar’s writings, being an Ahl-e-Sunnat magazine is central to its identity. That’s why themes which distinguish the sect from ‘others’ frequently find place in the pages of the magazine. Even Khushtar, in some of his editorials, writes on these issues. Apart from the content of Shari’ Adalat, the fatwa column, which reinforces the Ahl-e-Sunnat identity of the magazine, other columns also time and again keep raising these issues. For example, articles like ‘Of course, there is no sect called Barelwi’ (February, 2006), ‘Accounts of Oral Contestations (Monazara) with Deobandis’ (July, 2005), ‘Seeking help from the grave of the deceased Shah Saud’ (November, 2005) suggest that polemics are not completely out. Thus, university education and a degree in journalism has engendered in the editor’s approach a tilt towards providing choices to the readers but while doing so he has to be careful enough not to cross lakshman rekha of the sect. On the other hand, the journalism course has enabled him to package the commodity called magazine in an eye-catching manner and then to adopt marketing techniques to lure the consumers (here readers) and increase its salability. In a way, with advent of this professionalism, a shift, though unacknowledged and not much pronounced, takes place in the approach of the madrasa journalism: from dawah-oriented to economy oriented, though in a limited sense. Thus, these new trends in this genre of journalism don’t signify a paradigm shift, rather ‘shifts within the paradigm’.
OTHER NEW TRENDS
Maah-e-Noor, another praiseworthy adventure of the Ahl-e-Sunnat sect into the madrasa journalism, came into the picture in May, 2005. This monthly is brought out by a publishing house named Maktaba Maah-e-Noor, located in Matia Mahal, Jama Masjid, Delhi. Though the magazine has just celebrated its first birth anniversary, it has seen more than one reshuffling in its editorial board. From the 1st of June, 2006, Afzal Misbahi has joined it as the editor, a post which was lying vacant for months. A graduate of Al Jamiatul Ashrafia in 1997, Afzal has worked for 7 years with the Delhi and Gorakhpur bureau of Rashtriya Sahara, the largest Urdu daily of North India. Enrolled in the University of Delhi as a PhD candidate on the theme of “Urdu Journalism in India after Independence”, Afzal has extensively interviewed veteran political leaders for and considerably contributed to the daily in his Sahara days.
As a madrasa monthly, Maah-e-Noor is no different from others of the pack in any considerable way when it comes to the content. However, what distinguishes it from others, including Jaam-e-Noor, is the remuneration it offers to everybody who contributes to its content. “This is the first magazine which pays to its contributors”, exclaims Afzal with pride. According to the system of gradation it observes, it pays Rs.300, Rs.400 and Rs.500 to respectively amateurs, regular and senior scribes. Though it’s a meager amount compared to what a mainstream magazine offers, it is a pointer of the change which is slowly creeping in the sphere of madrasa journalism. Even the acquiring services of someone like Afzal who has experience of working for years in the mainstream media; itself has no parallel in the history of religious journals. As he is just one month old in his new office, his own vision of journalism is yet to be translated into the reality. However, in the very first issue of the journal under his editorship, under the heading of Special Articles, he has published on the contemporary reality of Muslims some pieces by Dr.Mushtaq Sadaf, Ahmed Javed and Mohd Aurangzeb Khan, all from the mainstream media. Also, his editorial on the controversial film The Da Vince Code reflects his willingness to make his magazine relevant to the modern time, not divorced from the current issues. Though the editorial is rich in its content, ideologically speaking it mirrors the concerns of the religious conservatives. Interestingly, Maulana Abul Hasan Ashrafi Miyan, the editor-in-chief cum proprietor of the magazine is based in London and makes frequent visits to India. Its finances are met with what Ashrafi Miyan manages to garner from the Ahl-e-Sunnat diaspora of UK. It also gets funded by Choksi Brothers & Sisters, Toronto, a private firm run by the Indian diaspora.
Unlike these two magazines, Tooba, the next one in this league is the organ of an Ahl-e-Hadis madrasa Jamia Ibn-e-Taimiya, Chandanwara, East Champaran of Bihar and its research wing Allama Abdul Aziz bin Baz Islamic Studies Centre, Darya Ganj, Delhi. The monthly is consistently in publication since it started in 2001. Maulana Zillur Rehman Taimi, associated with the magazine since its inception, has been promoted to the post of the editor in May, 2006. It is he who was instrumental in bringing the editorial work of the magazine to India from Riyadh, its former workplace. As he is enrolled as a research scholar with the department of Arabic in JNU, Zillur Rehman has a degree of journalism from the same university. In this way, he belongs to the new generation of the madrasa editors who, having received religious education in a proper madrasa went to the government universities for higher education and, also, have a degree in journalism under their belt from a reputed institution. Zillur Rehman says stressing on the fact that it has the policy of not publishing any thing which may lead to widening the intra-community divide among Muslims. This policy, according to him, “distinguishes Tooba from other madrasa magazines”.
Though the Ahl-e-Hadis have earned a reputation of being obsessed with the rebuttal of other Muslim sects, the magazine has, amazingly, sticked to the policy in its five years of life span. However, the magazine is open to any piece which observes the academic parameters to prove its hypotheses, irrespective of its being against the popular practices of the Ahl-e-Hadis. In this connection, Zillur Rehman narrates an incident that once we received an article in favor of calling two azans for the prayer of Juma.’ Instead of its being against the common practice of the Ahl-e-Hadis, we published it.
Running into 66 pages, the magazine is strictly divided into more that 15 regular columns. Unlike Jaam-e-Noor which has no fixed columnists for its regular columns, Tooba has its fixed columnists for all its columns. This column design is a contributory factor to its popularity as Shahnawaz Alam, a student of Jamia Salafia, Varanasi puts it: “It gives you a sort of satisfaction to go through a range of information encapsulated in a single issue. To me it’s possible only because of the meticulous column planning on the part of its editor.” Interestingly, most of its columnists are those who teach at Jamia Ibn-e-Taimiya, Chandanwara. It’s obligatory for them to contribute to the magazine under their assigned columns. However, couple of its columnists doesn’t belong to the teaching community of the madrasa. For example, Yusuf Nazim, a celebrated satirist of Urdu, regularly writes a column for the magazine and is paid for the same, although a very meager amount of money. In this respect, Tooba has partial resemblance with Maah-e-Noor which pays for every word published in it. Zillur Rehman has been conducting interviews of the Muslim celebrities for Tooba but unlike Jaam-e-Noor, it is yet to maintain consistency in this regard. The total circulation of the Tooba stands at 3000. That its 1400 subscribers are the students of Jamia Ibn-e-Taimiya is an interesting feature of the magazine. Every student has to subscribe it as its subscription fee is included in the admission fee of the Jamia. Though the institution receives generous donations from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, this unique feature of Tooba is a step towards making it economically independent.
In the light of what have been discussed till now, it would be fair to conclude that:
1. Those youngsters who are university educated and trained in journalism are
increasingly donning the cap of editors of madrasa journals.
2. They are trying their best to observe the norms of mainstream journalism in their
3. They are taking measures to make the magazine more participatory for the readers.
4. They tend to publish the writings of young ulema who are enrolled in the government
5 Some magazines have started paying a token amount of money to the scribes.
6. Self-correction is going to be the buzzword in the case of some of the magazines,
although the bashing of the ‘others’ has not lost all of its charm.
Views on the practice of homosexuality in the Muslim society
by: Arshad Amanullah
Irshad Mnji’s book ‘The Trouble with Islam Today: A Wake-Up Call for Honesty and Change’ (Imprint One, New Delhi, 2005) asks: Can Islam and homosexuality be reconciled? (P23). The subject of homosexuality is not new to the Muslim society. One may find recurring mention of the concept in its theological literature. The Quran has a chapter called ‘Lot’, after the name of a prophet, who had been sent towards people who openly used to practice homosexuality. The mission of this prophet was to persuade them to give it up. Being disappointed with the stubborn attitudes of the people, he invoked the Allah’s wrath to turn their settlements upside down and Allah responded to his plea. Exegeses on the Quran written throughout history dealt with the issue and, thus, kept on adding, though homogenous in nature, to the body of the literature available on the theme. However, one may trace some murmurs among the exegetes regarding the interpretation of the word ‘ghilman’ used for those small beautiful kids who, apart from hoors, would be in the heaven to serve its residents.
Likewise, the Hadis literature, being the explanation of the Quran, is replete with the references to homosexuality, denouncing it vociferously. I have a madrasa day memory. Once a lady asked for the opinion of the muftis about her husband who used to do only anal sex with her. The council of muftis at Jamia Salafia, Varanasi, unanimously advised her to seek khula from her husband if he does not improve his ways. In the corpus of jurisprudence, there are discussions about the fate of the person who does anal sex with animals, like donkeys and horses.
From a vintage point different from that of the Shi’a-Sunni divide, segregation between the sharia and tariqa is another significant division within Islam which paved the way for the emergence of a subculture within the Muslim society. It is this division which explains why the Sufis and ulema have been at the loggerheads through out the history of Islam. Sufis are on record to accuse ulema of being externalists, without understanding the kernels of the message of Islam. Urdu as well as Persian poetry is full of such themes. In a beautiful couplet, mocking at the obsession of Ulema with the externalities of an individual’s behaviour, one Sufi poet says:
Tar damani pe sheikh hamari na jaiyo
Daman nichor den to farishte wuzu karen
(O sheikh! Don’t bother about the fact of being my attire drenched in liquor. Its holiness can be gauged from the fact that if I wriggle it, the angels will rush to do wuzu out of its drops.).
On the other hand, ulema unfailingly used every opportunity to tell the public that Sufis in most cases are homosexual. They ad nauseam narrate how Sarmad was desperately in love with a Brahmin boy of Lahore and how he kept on wandering naked on the streets of the city. That’s why, they justify, he was beheaded on the order of Aurangzeb who, unlike Dara Shikoh, was strongly opposed to the Sufi Islam. Am’rad, a widely used term in the madrasa circle, signifies those males who are yet to grow moustache and beard. Madrasa authorities and teachers are often accused of being ‘amrad parast’ for extending unusual help to those students who are amrad. In the madrasa lingo, they are also referred as golden or black golden, those who have dark complexion. They are often teased by their class-fellows or/and room mates, in case of boarding madrasa. Moreover, students normally look at golden or black golden with suspicion of being involved in homosexual activities.
Cases of their being sodomised, by teachers or elder students, also sometimes, come into light. Subhashini Ali, the politician and social activist, once relegated an account of a small boy whom she admitted in a madrasa near Kanpur. After some days, the boy fled away from the madrasa due to being subjected to the sodomy. Subhashini furiously exclaimed: ‘Had I arranged for the medical check-up of the boy, all maulvis would have been caught red-handed’. In some cases, having ‘caught’, the partners confessed how it had started as sodomy and, later on, transformed into the consented relationships. Here it should be born in mind that most of the ulema who teach in a madrasa with boarding facility, live within the campus, or in student’s hostels as wardens, away from their family. The meager amount they get as salary is insufficient to meet the expenses of a full-fledged family. Also, coming from rural agricultural background, they need to keep their family at their ancestral place to look after the assets they have there.
Historically speaking, people have been interpreting canons of Islam in many ways, different from the popular Islam of their times. Started under the Umayyads and culminated in the rule of the Abbasids in the Baitul Hikmah, translations of the books dealing with Greek philosophy from various languages into Arabic had taken place on an unprecedented scale. Though the emergence of Mo’tazalites marks the break of a dawn of reason and rationality in the history of Muslims, they had never been the part of the mainstream Muslim society. Before the advent of socialism, capitalism had already gained theological legitimacy.
Likewise, shari’a has been interpreted to make socialism compatible with Islam in the last century and recently to substantiate feminism, democracy, etc. So, through out the history, and especially after the declaration of the death of the author by Roland Barthes, one is free to interpret the text in any manner one wishes. Therefore, efforts at theorizing the interplay between Islam and homosexuality are welcome.
There is really no obstacle in the process. What is really problematic is the social acceptance of a particular theory or interpretation in the mainstream Islam as all the mentioned versions of Islam flourished at the periphery, as the subculture.
It would be interesting to mention here that Pedro Almodovar’s Labyrinth of the Passion (1982) has a character Riza Niro (played by Imanol Arias) who is an Islamic terrorist and homosexual in his orientation. Being a son of a deposed Islamic shah who is a cancer patient, Riza has acutely developed sense of smell and a porky shrink bent on sleeping with a frigid gynecologist who is treating his stepmother, the ex-empress, for infertility.
The question which sometimes arises in my mind is what the most pressing need of the Muslim community, say of India, at the moment is. Despite my fullest awareness of the role politics of desires plays in shaping the course of a human life, I would like to name ‘survival’ as the first priority. It is this concern for the survival of a Muslim which overshadows all of his other concerns. Though I don’t give the canonical Islam a shit, I constantly live under the fear of being shot dead on the pretext of my so-called connection with any shadowy terrorist outfit. In this regard, my professional training in one of the most fashionable disciplines and even my denial of any compliance with the Allah of Bin Ladens, I stress, will not prove of any help to me against the anti-terrorism brigade.
Some months ago, Taliban fanatics in Afghanistan brutally murdered an Indian engineer, Satyanarayana, who was working in that country, for no ‘fault’ other than his being an Indian and a non-Muslim. This poem,written by Ather Naqvi, appeared in the Urdu madrasa journal Jarida Tarjuman (Delhi).
To the Taliban: Bi Iyye Zambin Qataltumuh <1>
(In context of the murder of Indian engineer Satya Narayana)
Into the deep darkness of your heart
There are no rays of the light anywhere,
Even your decomposed souls, being transformed into fiend,
Are ecstatic in the dance of barbarism, at the land of death,
Your sense is dead,
Your conscience is lying lifeless,
And your reason has already breathed its last,
You are still leading life of Jahiliyya ,2>, in the dark ages bygone,
You are a shame in the name of humanity,
You have become catastrophe (azaab) for the followers of the true prophet,
It’s due to your brutality only that the ummah is condemned to a
severe mental agony,
Terrorism on your part has provided the West with the opportunity to
the true religion,
You have become the real brother of Narendra Modi,
Like him, you too have stains of blood on your hands, of the innocent,
But thou not are the descendents of Afghans, the brave and self-priding folks,
As you got deformed into the dreaded idols of barbarism,
When will come to a halt your madness of the blood-shedding?
Thousands of innocent dead bodies
Tell us: what was our crime,
That you have slaughtered us in punishment of?
Tell us: what was the mistake of Satyanarayana,
That you murdered the innocent, without any hesitation?
Have you been till the day ignorant of the divine command “Man Qatala
Nafsan Be Ghaire Nafsin” ,<3>
Having killed him, now you are declared the murderer of the whole humanity?
When you will be asked on the Day of Resurrection:
“Bi Iyye Zambin Qataltumuh”,< 1>
Tell me: what will be your answer?
What will you say to the God Almighty?
[This poem appeared in a fortnightly madrasa journal “Jarida Tarjuman”, Delhi
<1> . A verse from the Quran: As a punishment of what crime you people murdered him?
<2> The period which predates the advent of Islam and is supposed to be characterized with war, murder and lack of respect for the humanism
<3> The period which predates Islam and is supposed to be characterized with war, murder and lack of respect for the humanism.