Need to convert challenges into opportunities, says Indian scholar

September 14, 2017

By S. Athar H. Rizvi

Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — No nation can survive without boldly tackling the myriad challenges of the contemporary world, a prominent Islamic scholar from India has said.

When the situation anywhere gets bad, an energetic and vibrant community is the one which strives to convert these challenges into opportunities, Sheikh Khaleelur Rahman Sajjad Nomani, noted academic, intellectual and journalist from the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, said at a felicitation function organized for him by India Fraternity Forum (IFF) at a popular restaurant here recently.

“We should learn to convert challenges into opportunities. Challenges arise to make the nation and community strong and in history there is no nation or community that has developed without going through the challenges. We need not worry about the current situation of India,” Sheikh Nomani.

Sheikh Nomani said that today it is not only India but the entire world is going through very critical situation which the Ummah has never experienced before. However, the positive prospects of the challenges faced should be well utilized as great opportunities.

He explained that there is a gross misunderstanding that there are only two major communities in India — Hindus and Muslims. “This notion is quite baseless and absurd; there are more than 6,000 different ethnic and cultural communities and tribes including the tribals and adivasis (aborigines), scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, lingayats etc. These communities form a bulk of India’s population.

“Unfortunately, when the British rulers thought of granting independence to India, the Brahmins who have been enjoying the benefits of power hatched the plan under some Congress leaders to keep the Muslims away from the corridors of power. Muslims then were the largest community in India. Thus, immediately after the independence all ethnic tribes and communities were included under Hinduism, to create a feeling that Hindus are the largest community in the country. For example the 75 million strong lingayats of south India were never recognized as Hindus before independence and they were not practicing idol worship either. But, after independence they were smoothly absorbed into Hinduism. They protested against this move and submitted their representation at least 60 times before the central government. Often communal riots were conceived and executed to keep these communities within the fold of Hinduism,” he said.

Nomani, a member of the All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board and All India Milli Council, and editor-in-chief of Al-Furqan, a leading Islamic magazine in Urdu founded in 1933, was in the Kingdom to perform Haj.

Son of renowned Islamic scholar Maulana Manzoor Nomani, he was born in Lucknow and had his higher education from Nadwat Al-Ulema Lucknow and Darul Uloom Deoband and then obtained his doctorate degree in Qur’anic studies from the Islamic University of Madinah. An orator par excellence, he delivered speeches at the United Nations and a number of Western universities as well as international interfaith conferences, besides serving as faculty member at several Indian and foreign universities. Sheikh Nomani is the founder of many educational institutions and bodies, including Rahman Foundation and is serving as adviser to many Islamic seminaries.

Quoting from his experience, Maulana Nomani gave examples of his interactions and deliberations with various tribal communities in Maharashtra to help them safeguard their identity, culture, customs and traditions, rather than being forcefully absorbed into the Hindutva mainstream.

When the Law Commission’s questionnaire on Uniform Civil Code was circulated last year, Sheikh Nomani contacted these tribals and adivasis and they joined as a party to the case in the Supreme Court and declared their stand against implementing the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Same was the position of the lingayat community toward UCC.

Sheikh Nomani advised the Muslims to understand the historic conquest of Makkah without any bloodshed, in the light of the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him). “Today, under the present circumstances it is more relevant and logical to work on the tradition and strategy of the Prophet (pbuh), especially on the principles of peaceful coexistence,” he said.

He lauded the efforts of Popular Front of India and Social Democratic Party of India in materializing the slogan of unity in diversity through peaceful coexistence and urged to support their activities of developing the nation, as enunciated in their project 2017.

The function was attended by Indian elite from various organizations in Jeddah.

In his felicitation address, Abdurrahman Baqawi (vice president of All India Imams’ Council) explained the important role of an imam in the Muslim community, particularly in the present Indian situation. He urged to work for the dignity and honor of Muslims in the country.

Felicitating on the occasion, Farzan Rizvi (Aligarh Muslim Old Boys Association Jeddah) praised the community services of IFF. Video clips were presented by Omer Hussein before the gathering to briefly explain the services of IFF, particularly the Haj Volunteer Services.

The program began with the recitation of a few verses from the Holy Qur’an by Master Mohammed Zakariya Biladi and there was the melodius nath (eulogy of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) presented by Ameen Ansari.

IFF regional President Faizuddin presided over the function and Ashraf Morayur (President of Indian Social Forum) proposed a vote of thanks. Zakariya Biladi introduced the guests who attended the program and anchored the function.

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