Today, when India is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Independence, every community is reviewing its growth. Muslims are also in a reflective mood. It’s a reality that Muslims have occupied top positions from the President of India to Governor of States and Ministers. However, despite this, the Sachar Committee and the Ranganath Mishra Commission reports say that the Muslims were cheated in these 75 years. With many such questions,
Malick Asghar Hashmi, editor, Awaz-the Voice (Hindi), had a long conversation with Zafar Sareshwala, a businessman, and the Vice-Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University. He is currently busy with the mission of modernizing madrasa and other educational institutions across the country. Excerpts from the conversation:
Have Muslims got nothing in 75 years?
That is not right; a man must do a self-introspection. Evaluating oneself has a lot of importance in Islam Even the Prophet has said it’s the kindest act to do is self-assessment in quietness. A man should reassess his routine and ponder where he went wrong or what he did the right way. If I extrapolate it, then as a community, we have to think about what did wrong or did right.
It has been more than a hundred years since Sir Syed established the Muslim University in Aligarh. Sir Syed's concern was that if this community remained illiterate, it would not be able to do anything in the world. This happened 150 years ago. It is not just India where the situation (for Muslims) deteriorated in these 150 years. Look at Turkey where the Ottoman empire vanished in 1923. However, the rot had set in 50-60 years ago. Once upon a time, this community was educated. It is said that 400-500 years ago Muslims had taken education to Europe and the continent is alive on that basis. We had the reputation and it slowly vanished. After the Independence, the educated Muslims especially of UP and Bihar left for Pakistan. It was a major loss.
I think we didn't pay attention to education. The regimes come and go. We were like people who don’t have vessels to collect that rainfall. The rainfall was the development and the vessel editions.
Had the AMU not been there, this community would have been in worse condition. We did not take advantage of the many opportunities that we got in 75 years.
Is there a need to change the mindset of Muslims? Who will bring about this change? What is the reason for no new leadership emerging?
I see the issues facing Muslims as two-pronged. One section of our issues cannot be resolved unless others help us; the other can be helped with self-help. Our problem is that we spend our lives trying to solve issues that need others’ help. We give very little attention to what we can do ourselves.
What politics are you talking about? You are dependent on political parties. Parties will not give you tickets, so how will you go there? Keep this aside; let’s look at the other issues. I feel that if education comes to you then all your issues are resolved.
I look at it from the point of view of the Jewish community; what Hitler did to them or even before. Until a hundred years ago, Jews could not even take a place in Manhattan, the center of New York. Some 150 years ago, a jew could not afford to buy anything in the world. Later a big change took place. 70 years ago he (Jews) picked education –science, technology, law, Engineering and they made themselves indispensable.
Muslims will have to follow the Jews.
There are big centers of technology and big companies in Israel. The world can’t do without them. Muslims as a community will have to do the same.
You asked who would develop leadership? Look, political parties will not do it. They care about their votes. If political parties were sincere the situation would be different. The members of Muslim civil society should come forward to take this responsibility.
From what you said, two things emerge Attitude and Thinking. Explain a little more about how a change can be brought in the thinking of Muslims.
I spoke about Israel. I also visited Palestine, on the side of Ramallah, and saw the big change in the thinking of Palestinians. They have taken to education in a big way, far ahead of even other Arab countries. Israel is was ahead of others in high technology and Palestine is ahead in supporting technology.
See how some 30 years ago, the work of transcript started in Bangalore. It was a lower-level work in technology. Then it turned into call centers. Gradually, many American companies became dependent on India. Almost similar things are happening in Palestine. The technology of the second and third levels is coming from Palestinians on a tremendous scale. This makes Israel completely dependent on the Palestinians. There is silence in Ramallah and other areas. The people there realized that nothing would be gained by fighting.
If the community is educated with honesty and kindness, everyone will need us. You talked about the political participation of Muslims, you tell whether a Muslim was a participant or not? In the first 50-55 years of the government, the Muslims were participants in the government. Those Muslims who represented that party or were ministers or MPs made their life comfortable and didn’t bother about the community? If Muslims are supposed to be happy that the cabinet has four Muslim ministers, then this is stupidity.
If we depend on Muslim leaders in these political parties, nothing will happen. We have to rise for self-help.
In the elections around the corner in five states, parties are avoiding giving tickets to Muslims saying it would lead to polarization. You do not think that participation in politics is necessary for Muslims?
It is necessary. However, we must prioritize our needs. Samajwadi Party will not give you a ticket, BSP will not give you a ticket, what will you do? You will have to become indispensable. I remember. I have a round table in my house in Mumbai where Salim Khan (Salman Khan's father) and other philanthropists gathered. Sometimes we would even call the US Council General and once also called the Canadian High Commissioner. Earlier Muslims did not get visas, especially students faced problems in getting a visa. I remember Salim sahib telling the US counsel general, “Look brother, the problem is that in reality, a Muslim is not a true Muslim.” He told him that if all Muslims were truthful Muslims, you (the US) would come to take them from their homes to the USA.
That's why I advise Muslims to keep their eyes and ears open. Keep an eye on the politics in UP and everywhere else. If they don’t let you stay there, you must make yourself indispensable based on education, with complete honesty and kindness. Capable men, Honest men, and trustworthy people are needed in this world. Even a dacoit needs an honest and capable man to work in his house.
Muslims need to follow this path and become relevant to the country. This is an easy way; just one needs to get the education and don’t need anyone else in this path. Who stops you from appearing in UPSC, NEET, JEE exams? I think there is a need to change one’s thinking.
(To be continued..)