Friday, June 27, 2008

G.M. Banatwala is no more. Let us pray for his maghfirat

The passing away of Mr. G.M. Banatwala, a seven-time MP to the Lok Sabha, on 25.6.2008 is a great loss to the community and country. He was an orator in both Urdu and English and kept his audience spell bound. He was a good Muslim. He gave importance to democratic and secular values as per his faith. He never shirked his responsibility in working for the benefit of the people particularly the backward communities.

Mr. Banatwala always said that we should be well educated as Prophet Mohammed (sal-am) gave preference to education and made seeking education compulsory for both men and women. Uplifting the Muslim community in economic and educational fields was his aim. We have lost a great leader of his calibre. May his soul rest in peace.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Zackeria Hazrath : A Teacher With a Difference



We were fortunate to have many good and dedicated teachers in the Mazharul Uloom High School, Ambur where we studied more than four decades ago. That period is still green in our memory. We cannot forget our teachers who taught us with all care and attention. Every teacher had his own special characteristics, which impressed and inspired us and even now we cannot but remember and respect them very much.

Prophet Mohammed (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) gave importance to education and teachers. Once he came across two circles of people. The first circle was supplicating to Allah and the other was listening to a discourse by a teacher. The Prophet said “ The first circle is begging God who may or may not give them what they want but the second circle is getting education from a teacher. I have been sent as teacher.” He joined the second circle. This shows that the Prophet gave preference to teachers and education. There are many examples of him giving priority to teachers.

In this write-up I would like to share my impressions about the late Janab V. Mohammed Zackeria sahib, a dedicated and well-known teacher who served in the Mazharul Uloom High School for more than 40 years and left his indelible shining marks. He was affectionately called “Zackeria Hazrath”. He was actually a teacher with a difference. To him teaching was a mission. He taught his pupils with all seriousness, care and attention. He was very scientific in his words and deeds. He endeavoured his best to make every boy a “gem” in discipline and education. He never tolerated laziness and wanted his pupils to be alert and hard working.

Zackeria Hazrath was not only a teacher, but also a reformer par excellence. He was well versed in Urdu, English, Tamil and Hindi languages. He was good in Arabic and Persian also. Interest of the community was dearer to him. He was a serious person, an authoritative one. He “ruled” us and wanted every one of us to study well and benefit from the school without wasting any time.

He had modern thinking and always opposed superstitious beliefs and revealed in his own inimitable Urdu language how soothsayers, sorcerers, astrologers etc. hoodwinked innocent people for the sake of money. He advised us not to believe them and understand things properly using our intellect and wisdom. He was dead opposed to blind following in any matter.

Zackeria Hazrath’s literary taste was immense. He never failed to correct even the spoken language of his pupils whether it was Urdu, English or Tamil. His pupils as well as their parents were careful while talking to him. He disliked the colloquial and wanted everyone to speak chaste Urdu in its sweet and beautiful form. He used to say “Urdu ka khoon mat karo.Miyan” ( Don’t kill the Urdu language.)

The following “rubayee” penned by him shows his noble thoughts. We have to understand it in the proper perspective and respect the plural society in which we live.

“Ya rub hai teri her jagah hasthi,
Paatha hai thujko daaraa-e-beenaayi,
Masjid mayn Muslim Mandir mayn Hindu,
Karthay kalesa mayn wird hain Easaayee”

O God, your existence is everywhere,
Knowledgeable persons are able to find you,
Muslims in the mosque, Hindus in the temple
And Christians in the church pray to you.

One day Hazrath wrote this “rubayee” on the Black Board in the class room and said that “after all everyone is worshipping the same God”. People like me still remember it because of the beautiful thought expressed therein. It is a powerful thought and this thought is necessary for all Indians where different religious people live happily. We cannot forget this great teacher under any situation. He is no more now. But everything he taught us so happily and so seriously, sometimes even with anger, is in our memory in tact. It is impossible for us to forget him and his wonderful and revolutionary teachings. May Allah rest his soul in peace.

EID-UL-AZHA - A festival of selflessness and devotion

Eid-ul-Azha: A festival of selflessness and devotion

By V. M. Khaleelur Rahman, Ambur

The festival Id-ul-Azha, popularly known as Bakrid, is celebrated on the tenth day of Zul Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, in memory of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (Alaihis salam -AS) who is said to have lived about 4500 years ago. He was an embodiment of selfless sacrifice and deep devotion to Allah. Once dreamt as if commanded by God, he was ready even to sacrifice his only son Hazrat Ismail (Ishmael) who was also all the more willing to give up his life as per Divine order. But it was stopped as it was not what God wanted but he was only tested for his faithfulness and forbearance. In this connection the holy Quran says in its inimitable expression that it is not the "flesh and blood" that reach God but the devotion one has for Him.

The most important aspect, associated with this festival, is the Haj pilgrimage to Makkah. It is one of the five "pillars" of Islam. The others being belief in God, prayer - five times a day, fasting during the month of Ramadan and compulsory payment of 2.5% called "Zakath"on one’s assets to the poor and needy. It was Prophet Ibrahim (AS) who built the "sacred refuge" of Makkah-based Kaba, "the first House of worship, full of blessings and guidance for all mankind " and "Pilgrimage thereto once in one’s life is a duty people who can afford it owe to God"– i.e. if one is physically and financially sound - according to Islamic yardsticks.

The sacred "Zamzam" water which Haj pilgrims fondly drink and bring home for distribution among relatives and friends is from the place where a divine miracle had happened. It is recorded that when Hazrat Hajira (Hagar), wife of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and her infant son Ismail were taken to a rocky and barren valley in Makkah to settle down there, her son grew very thirsty. There was no sign of water anywhere in that vast uncultivable area. She did not know what to do and ran desperately helter-skelter seven times praying to God between two hillocks, Safa and Marwah, in search of water to quench her son’s thirst. Suddenly a spring of fresh water came gushing miraculously under his feet to her utter surprise. The pilgrims perform what is called "Saee" remembering this divine mercy by walking briskly seven times between Safa and Marwah – a distance of about 500 metres,

The Islamic equality and brotherhood of mankind is manifest in the mammoth gathering of more than two million Haj pilgrims, drawn from different parts of the world, irrespective of their colour, creed or country, joining together at a place, men in a white unstitched "uniform" of two pieces of cloth called "Ihram" and women with a head-cover and usual dress, doing "tawaf" (circumambulation) and praying to Almighty God with absolute devotion and wishing for world peace and prosperity. This spectacular annual assembly of Haj pilgrims, full of piety and Divine wisdom, is of great significance.

The holy Quran says: "O People! Behold, we have created you all out of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes only for the sake of identification and knowing one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is pious and God-fearing"( Al-Hujurat 49:13). It also says that "God does not love the proud ones" and Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am)’s warning is that "he who has a grain of pride in his/her heart will not enter heaven."

If the purpose of religion being love is properly understood and followed, we can get a just world order wherein one can live, develop and prosper happily in an atmosphere free from fear, oppression and exploitation and also make the other world hereafter, called "Aakhirah", a paradise. A Haji – one who returns after Haj pilgrimage – is expected to be as innocent as a child without enemies from within such as envy, greed, ill-will etc. and lead a life getting the pleasure of God.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


1. HEART: Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am) said, ‘Listen carefully, there is a lump of flesh in the body. If it is set right and made good, the entire body becomes good and healthy, but if it becomes diseased, the entire body becomes diseased. Remember well: it is the Heart.’ (Muslim, Bukhari: Nu’man ibn Bashir)

2. LIVING IN GOD’S PRESENCE: Someone asked: ‘How can one purify and develop himself, O Messenger of God, pbuh? He replied: ‘He should always remember that God is with him wherever he is.’ (Tirmidhi: Abdullah ibn Busr)

3. SEEKING GOD’S LOVE: Hazrat Mohammed (Sal-am) said: ‘ Anyone who possesses three qualities finds thereby the sweetness of faith: that he loves God and His Messenger, pbuh, more than everything else; that when he loves a human being he loves him for God’s sake alone; and that he abhors returning to unbelief from which God has rescued him, as he abhors being thrown into fire.’ (Bukhari, Muslim: Anas)

4. FINDING GOD BY SERVING MANKIND: Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am) said: God will say, ‘Son of Adam, I fell ill but you did not visit Me.’ He will say, ‘O Lord, and how could I have visited You! You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘Did you not know that My so and so servant had fallen ill and you did not visit him? Did you not know that had you visited him you would have found Me with him?’

‘Son of Adam, I asked you for food but you did not feed Me’. He will say, ‘O Lord, how could I have fed You! You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘My so and so servant asked you for food and you did not feed him? Did you not know that had you fed him you would surely have found that with Me?’

‘Son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink but you did not give Me.’ He will say, ‘O Lord, how could I have given you to drink! You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘My so and so servant asked you to give him to drink and you did not give him. Had you given him to drink you would surely have found that with Me’. (Muslim: Abu Hurayrah)

5. OUTWARD RELIGIOSITY AND OSTENTATION: The Messenger of God, pbuh, said: Many a one fast, but gain nothing from their fasting except hunger and thirst, and many a one pray all night, but gain nothing from their night prayers except sleeplessness.’ (Darimi: Abu Hurayrah)

6. HYPOCRISY: The Messenger of God, pbuh, said: ‘Three characteristics are the signs of a hypocrite, even if he fast, performs the Prayer and claims that he is a Muslim: when he speaks, he lies, when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is trusted, he betrays his trust.’ (Bukhari, Muslim: Abu Hurayrah)

7. MERCY TO GOD’S FAMILY : The Messenger of God, pbuh, said: ‘All
creatures are God’s family; and God loves them most who treat His family well and kindly.’(Baihaqi: Anas)

8. The Messenger of God, pbuh, said: ‘Only those who are merciful will be shown
Mercy by the Most Merciful. Show mercy to those who are on earth, He who is in heaven will show mercy to you.’ (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi; Abdullah ibn ‘Amr)

9. THIS TOO IS CHARITY : The Messenger of God, pbuh, said: If a Muslim
plants a tree or sows a crop, then whatever bird eats of it, or a human being, or an animal, it counts as charity for him. He also said: ‘Whatever is stolen from it, that too counts as charity.’ (Bukhari, Muslim: Anas, Jabir)

10. GOLDEN RULES FOR HUMAN RELATIONS: The Prophet (Sal-am) said: ‘No one among you attains true faith, until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself.’ (Bukhari, Muslim: Anas)

11. CARING FOR THE FAMILY: The Messenger of God, pbuh, said: Anyone who desires his earnings to grow and his life to be prolonged should treat his relatives well.’ (Bukhari, Muslim: Anas)

12. Hazrat Mohammed (Sal-am) said: ‘One who breaks the ties of relations with his relatives shall not enter Paradise.’ (Bukhari, Muslim: Jubayr)

13. The Messenger of God, pbuh, said: ‘A person who merely reciprocates when doing good, is not really the one who maintains ties with his relatives, but the one who does good and maintains relations even if others do not do good, is a good relative.’ (Bukhari: Abdullah ibn ‘Amr)

14. CARING FOR CHILDREN: The Messenger of God, pbuh, said: ‘No father can give a better gift to his children than providing them with a good education.’ (Baihaqi: Ayub ibn Musa)

15. CARING FOR WOMEN: Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am) said: ‘The most perfect in faith among the believers are those who possess the best morals, and the best among you are those who are kindest to their wives.’ (Tirmidhi: Abu Hurayrah)

Dr. Allama Mohammed Iqbal and his poetry



    Dr. Allama Mohammed Iqbal was a famous Urdu and Persian poet and philosopher, yes the same poet who wrote the famous national song “Saray jahan say achcha Hindustan hamaara, Ham bubulayn hain uski yah gulsitan hamaara” ( Our India is the best country in the world. We are its nightingales and it is our orchard) He was born in Sialkot on November 9, 1877. He was the most intellectual thinker and poet the Muslim world has produced in India. His poems like “Shikwa” (Conplaint) and “Jawab-e-shikwa” (Reply to the complaint) continue to inspire not only Urdu speaking people but intellectuals belonging to all communities and nations. His poems have been translated into most of the world languages.

    He was younger of the two sons of his father Shaikh Nur Mohammed and mother Iman Bibi. They were very pious, God-fearing and honest couple.

    Iqbal had his primary education in the madrasa of Maulvi Syed Mir Hasan. After sometime on the advice of the Maulvi sahib he was admitted to Scottish Mission School at Sialkot. Even before he passed his final examination, he was married to Karim Bibi, daughter of a physician, Khan Bahadur Dr. Ata Mohammed Khan.They had two daughters and a son. One of the girls passed away soon after birth and the other at the age of nineteen after prolonged illness. The son was Aftab Iqbal who became a corporate lawyer later. He started writing poetry in his Intermediate days in the upgraded Scottish Mission College.

    At the age of 19 years Iqbal joined Government College, Lahore in 1895 and studied Arabic, English literature and philosophy under the guidance of Sir Thomas Arnold who had shifted there from M.A.O. College, Aligarh after completing his book “The preaching of Islam” in which he has discussed in detail about Islam’s peaceful spread. Iqbal was very much impressed by his warmth and understanding of Islamic culture and civilization. He passed B.A. with distinction and got scholarship and gold medals for his excellent performance and getting highest marks in Arabic and English.

    Iqbal, according to many writers, was a simple and happy person with an alert mind. It is said that during his school days once he came late to his class. Asked by the teacher he replied simply “Sir, Iqbal (meaning glory) comes late.”

    Iqbal started his poetry in the tradition of Dagh Dehlvi, the language purist. Then he was attracted to the social perspective of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Hali. Actually he wanted to reform the society through his poetry. He was also a patriotic poet. He was a great exponent of modernism and social revolution in the Islamic world. His passion for modernisation and development was very strong. He was also a humanist. He moved his audience to tears while reciting his poems in the big gatherings of Anjuman-e-Himayat-e- Islam. He had a soft corner for the suffering lot.

    Iqbal had married Mukhtar Begum and Sardar begum also who had given him a son (Javid) and a daughter (Munira).

    In 1927 Iqbal delivered six lectures on “The Reconstruction of Islamic thought” in Madras, Hyderabad and Aligarh which are thought provoking even today. He was a genius in every sense of the word.

    Iqbal was exceptionally a natural and rational Islamic poet the like of whom is yet to be seen. He started writing Urdu poetry during his college days in Lahore as said earlier. He attended a “Mushaira” (poetical symposium) in Lahore’s Hakiman Bazar for the first time at the age of 22 years and recited his poetry. When he recited the couplet

    Moti samajh kay shaanay kareemi nay chun liyay
    Qathray jo thay meray arq-e- infiaal kay

    Divine forgiveness gathered them as pearls,
    The drops of my repentance and remorse,

    he was very much appreciated and a noted poet Mirza Arshad Gorgani who was present there applauded him whole-heartedly and wished him all the best.

    He was also an excellent philosopher and profound thinker. The community was dearer to him. He gave equal importance to the Islamic concepts of both “Huqooqullah” and “Huqooqul Ibad”The following poem is a shining example.

    Qaum goya jism hai afraad hain aezayay qaum,
    Manzil-e sunath kay rah pa hain thasto payay qaum

    Mahfil nazm-e hukoomath chahra zaybayay qaum
    Shair rangeen nawa hai theetha-e beena-e qaum

    Mubtala-e-dard koi azu ho rothi hai aankh
    Kis qadar hamdard saaray jism ki hothi hai ankh

    Community is an organism and individuals are parts of its body
    Those engaged in industry are its hands and legs

    Those engaged in administration are it s face
    Poet of myriad sweet melodies is the eye of the nation

    The eye weeps for the suffering of any and every part of the body,
    How sympathetic it is to the entire organism

    The community should act as the eye and consider the suffering of any section of the people as its own and find remedies for it is the message Iqbal wants to stress to the people. It reflects the divine ordain that the humanity should be valued, respected and helped in the best possible manner and one should not be self-centred.

    It is very unfortunate that in the present highly materialistic world there is very little room for camaraderie and nobody seems to care for anybody. There is an urgent need for us to grasp the Islamic lesson Iqbal expresses in his poetry. We have seen Ulema (religious scholars) quoting him extensively. His poems are power packed and full of meanings.

    Somebody has rightly said that a unique contribution of Iqbal to the contemporary Islamic thought is his bracketing modern science with 'God-consciousness' which he considers more precious than mere belief in God. He equates the scientist's observation of nature with seeking a kind of intimacy with God.

    Rajmohan Gandhi says that Iqbal had started becoming popular by 1905 when he left for Europe because of his poems like “Nala-e-Yatim” (The orphan’s cry), Abr-e-Gauhar Bar (Blessed Showers) dedicated to Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am), Parinde ki fariyad (The bird’s lament) in which he has portrayed a caged bird’s longing for freedom –about India’s survitude. He strengthened the Hindu-Muslim unity by his Tarana and other poems.

    Iqbal studied philosophy at Cambridge and law at London’s Lincoln Inn. He also received a doctorate for his research thesis on Persian metaphysics from Munich University. It reveals that sufism was an alien and unhealthy growth and it had no place in original Islam. He loved Persian language and wrote poetry in it with preference but disliked Persians like Sufi poet Hafiz of Iran. He adopted rationalism to reform the humanity in general and Muslim in particular) which was engrossed in many superstitious beliefs.

    Authors like Rajmohan Gandhi and Mujeeb have said that the West’s strength was admirable to Iqbal but not its merciless competition between man and man and nation and nation as is the case even now. He wanted a solution for all ills of the society and finally found Islam as the best remedy for all our problems.

    Dr. Mohammed Hasan says that “Iqbal’s poetry has a world perspective. He was primarily concerned with nothing less than human predicament. Searching for the hidden laws of human development, Iqbal propounded his philosophy of Ego ( Khudi ) with certain social checks and balances ( Bekhudi ). It is in this context that his contribution to world poetic thought remains invaluable.” He was a poet of the East and a manifestation of self-reconstruction and reformation and a poet of the East

    As a philosopher Iqbal reveals the mystery of life as follows:

    Gul is shakh say toot-thay bhi rehay, isi shakh say phoot-thay bhi rehay,
    Samajthay hain naadaan isay baysibath, ubharta hai mit mit kay naqshay hayaat

    Flowers fall off from this very branch
    and yet from the same they sprout again,
    Unwise take it as transient
    But the image of life emerges again after falling off

    Iqbal was proud that he was an Indian and rightly considered that it was a torch-bearer to world civilisation. He believed in the uniting force of Islam. Actually he wanted everyone particularly Muslims to understand the Indian plural society through his many poems. He did not participate in the Khilafat Movement.

    He passed away at Lahore on 21 April 1938 and buried adjacent to the “Badshahi Masjid” built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


In the name of God, the beneficent, the merciful
Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds
The beneficent, the merciful
Owner of the day of judgement
You alone we worship and you alone we ask for help
Show us the straight path
The path of those whom you have favoured
Not the path of those who have earned your anger nor of those who have gone astray.