Sunday, May 31, 2009



The holy Quran says: O men ! Behold, we have created you all out of a male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all knowing, all aware (Al-Quran. Al-hujurat 49:13)

The above verses are self-explanatory. It is necessary for us to following them instead of arguing or fighting with one another on small things. We are all one from the same one God. Our young religious scholars can do well in giving priority to the concept of one God and one community -ummah- in their sermons. There is also need for us to understand the other side of the story on every important matter. We cannot expect the people to toe our points of view always on every issue. It is ones right to judge issues in the light of the holy Quran and Ahadees.

Nobody can deny the importance of the four Imams ( Ayimma Araba'a) in the Islamic history and society as their contributions in codifying the Islamic laws are great. There are millions of people who following them and some other Imams. We cannot say that only a particular Imam was right and we do not think anybody feels or says so. Even these great Imams have rightly said that the holy Quran and Ahadees are most important and our attention should not be diverted from them.

The "guides" prepared by the great religious scholars are actually excellent ready-reckoners serving good purposes. Let us not under-estimate their services. We must be indebted to them. They were undoubtedly great scholars and the like of whom are not available now. They used their wisdom and solved the problems of the community during their periods as time demanded. If they are alive now, they would have found new solutions to the buring problems of the present highly materialistic world where human values are at the lowest ebb. It is unfortunate that we are fast becoming ritualistic and our good characters, manners, discipline etc. are on the wane. We are losing our good culture and civilization too and becoming rough in temperaments. Why is it that we are not following our fore-fathers who were kind hearted and soft-spoken. Let us ponder over these changes and find solutions for them.

We have seen students buying "guides" prepared by some experienced teachers and published by some companies and reading them instead of reading the prescribed text books in detail. We have also seen some students reading both the text books and guides. It is mostly the latter students who have more knowledge and score the best possible marks in their examinations. It cannot be said in the case of the former students. In the same way if one wants to study the holy Quran, the Ahadees and also the guides prepared by the Imams it is most welcome because it is what a Muslim should try to do. Only by reading different books written by different scholars we will be able to increase our knowledge. A voracious reader will be in better position to grasp the Islamic principles and laws in their proper perspective. We should not close the door for study of the most important divine book the holy Quran and Ahadees. Our leading ulema have been stressing these points. There cannot be two opinions about it. But some people in praising the Imams knowingly or unknowingly forget the importance we must attach to the holy Quran and Ahadees. Yet some other people do not take the trouble of understanding the services rendered by the Imams and express views which are un-Islamic in nature. Is it not a fact that there is a consensus among scholars that we can disagree with any Imam on any particular point of view by sheer scholarly thought?

The holy Quranic verse " hold tight to the rope of God and be not divided among yourselves" should always remain in our thinking. Every action we take should be for unity, prosperity and peace of the community.

It is hoped that our ulema will guide us to follow these values and remove the misunderstandings prevailing among us. We also request them to advise us about the importance of education, discipline, honesty, co-operation, truthfulness, simplicity, etc. and inspire us to follow them instead of keeping quiet and expecting everything from above. We blame Allah for our troubles without realising our blunders. Le them teach us the right path to free ourselves from any superstitious beliefs, face the challenges of the present time and come out successful in life. We should not forget our responsibilities.

Let us try to be an embodiment of love and affection to all no matter to which school of thought we belong. We must shun sectarian outlook. We must believe that everyone who is allowed to perform haj is a Muslim and nothing else. Let us remain united as our Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am) preached and practised.

Friday, May 29, 2009



By V. M. Khaleelur Rahman

KAVISH BADRI, the renowned Urdu poet is no more. He passed away on Thursday, 28th May 2009 in his native place Ambur. May his soul rest in peace.

The Urdu adage “Ghar ka peer maskhara” meaning our own saint has no value is more applicable to Kavish Badri, the mercurial, self respecting and emotional Urdu poet who did not seem to have “double standards”. He was straight-forward in his approaches and called a spade a spade. He never minced words. In other words he appeared what he was which is a rare quality of head and heart prevalent only among a very few people to say cautiously. In the present materialistic world there is dual standard everywhere. He was in Ambur after his retirement from the Madras University library near the Marina Beach. He was a great admirer of everything good and a strong critic of everything bad. His arguments were issue based. He was doodh ka doodh paani ka paani.

Kavish Badri was not only an excellent poet but also a good singer. He used to keep the audience under his spell with the powers of his pen and tongue. Urdu lovers were very particular about his participation in mushairas. However we missed him in a grand all India mushaira in Ambur held sometime ago.

Kavish Badri had many awards and laurels to his credit and one of them is the prestigious HAZRAT AMEER KHUSRAO NATIONAL AWARD which was bestowed upon him in 2006. He rose to the limelight after he had written a long epic “Shradhanjali” on the demise of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1965 which received appreciation from both Urdu and Hindi scholars including Firaq Ghorakpuri. His another book “Kaviyam” was also popular receiving both bouquets and brickbats from the people and it was discussed even in the Tamil Nadu assembly. His other books were “Kulfayakoon” and “Qibla Numa”

Kavish Badri wrote a poem in praise of the late journalist A.A. Ravoof saheb and recited it in the mushaira held on 3rd October 1976 in his memory in Ambur I borrow the following verses from it to adore the poet.

Kitne insan zinda rahkar pathar se bhi badtar hain
Kitne murde gal sadkar bhi gauher se bahtar hain
Naam uska zinda hoga kaam jo sab ke aaya
Phir bhi tera gham taza phir bhi tera gham taza

Saturday, May 16, 2009



India is comparable only with India - a highly democratic and secular country - the like of which is none. The Congress has proved its mettle by releasing a secular manifesto and making the people realise that it stands for the unity and integrity of the country by not dividing the people on caste, linguistic or communal lines and projecting Dr. Manmohan Singh as its next Prime Ministerial candidate. All Congress leaders particularly Dr. Manmohan Singh, Mr. Pranab Mukherji, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi focussed the attention of the people on policies and programmes. The BJP behaved irresponsibly by dividing the people on communal lines and giving importance to persons like Mr. Narendra Modi and Mr. Varun Gandhi who were not in the good books of the people to say the least. The young Congress leaders like Mr. Rahul Gandhi exhibited their maturity and behaved in a dignified way making it clear that they can be the real representatives of the people.

The BJP should learn a lesson from the outcome of the present parliamentary elections. The people are mature enough now. They cannot be fooled by slogans and emotions on communal lines. People like Mr. Modi and Mr. Varun Gandhi are a liabililty to it - not an asset. If these leaders were not there in the election limelight, one feels that its position would have been better.
Let it be clear to all that in today's modern India everyone thinks that when it is the question of our country, he or she is an IndiaN first, Indian second, Indian third and nothing but an Indian. There is an urgent need for the parties like the BJP to understand this mindset of the people and work accordingly without hurting the feelings of any community. India is great and incredible. The well conducted parliamentary elections have proved it once again beyond any doubt.

On this happy occasion every Indian feels proud of his or her Indianness as the people have exercised their franchise in favour of democracy and secularism - the sheet anchor of the Constitution of India.
V.M. Khaleelur Rahman

Friday, May 8, 2009

Whither the S/C judgment in the beard case?



The Supreme Court judgment, delivered by Mr. Justice Markandeya Katju in March 2009 dismissing the petition of Mohammed Salim, a student of a minority Christian institution, Nirmala Higher Secondary School in Madhya Pradesh in which he had sought quashing of the school regulation requiring students to be clean-shaven has created a controversy.

I always wonder why Muslim leaders including Ulema are so sensitive to issues like Shah Bano case, Aligarh Muslim University, Urdu, beard etc. without paying enough attention for the educational and economic development of the backward Muslim community. Even the sermons given during Friday prayers are bereft of any enlightenment or encouragement for the youngsters to study well, work hard and come up in life. They send a wrong signal to the people by asking them to prepare for the Aakhira and not to worry about the present world. This approach is contrary to the Islamic thought of making good of this as well as the world hereafter.

It is clear to anyone who reads carefully the proceedings of the case that the Judge did not make any derogatory remarks about “beard” and “burqa” as generally believed but castigated the approach of the student as “talibanisation” and nothing else. However he should have avoided using this unparliamentary word which has assumed a sort of notoriety now. A serious critic of this judgment can only find fault for this expression.

There is no reason why the Judge or for that matter anyone should be against anyone sporting a "beard" or insult a beard which has enjoyed a good place in all religions. A beard is not the exclusive domain of any particular community. We can see all sorts of people - Maulanas, sadhus, sants, priests, philosophers and scientists sporting a beard.

In ancient India, Greece, Rome, Egypt and many other countries the beard was allowed to grow long as it was considered a symbol of dignity and wisdom. Quite a large number of people mainly dignitaries belonging to all communities preferred beard, wanted to grow it long and paid much care and attention to it. In some of these countries including India the punishment for some crimes and sins was to have the beard of the offending persons removed in public. In other words they had a sacred regard for their beards.

In ancient Rome shaving was not known at all to the Romans during their early history. It is recorded in some historical works that according to Pliny, P. Ticinius was the first person to bring a barber to Rome at around 299 BC and Scipio Africanus was the first among the Romans to have shaved his beard. This is how the Romans started shaving their beards.

Christians also give importance to the beard because Jesus, Moses, Abraham and others had grown beards. However at various times in the history of the Catholics, Church has permitted and prohibited facial hair. Even Jews grow beards to show their observance of the Old Testament. Hindus also value the beard. However there is much stress for having the beard among the Sikhs. They consider it an integral part of their religious doctrine and a sign of the nobility and dignity of their manhood.

Islamic scholars have said that Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am) had a beard and shortened the moustaches and hence it is “sunnah”. But it is the Taliban ( in Afghanistan and in some places like Swat in Pakistan ) who have made a hell of it by forcing people to grow a beard and compelling barbers not to shave it. Allah does not see ones dress or shape. He sees ones character, actions and deeds based on his or her good intentions and purity of thoughts.

The position of beard being so similar in all religions, one need not have any doubt about the intentions of the Judge. Let us look into the proceedings of the case reported in the press.

The student’s counsel Mr. B.A. Khan argued before the bench that sporting a beard was an indispensable part of Islam. The Judge expressed his surprise on it simply because he being a Muslim did not have any beard. Anyone even a Maulana would have reacted in the same manner. The Judge actually gave importance to the views of the student by saying that if he was not interested in following the rules of the school, particularly on beard, he had the option of joining some other institution of his choice but could not ask a minority institution which has its own rights under Article 30 (1) of the Constitution to change its rules and regulations. Even his remarks on burqa were not against burqa. He only gave an example by saying that a girl student cannot say that she will wear only a burqa and not a uniform prescribed by a school. His observations were meant to emphasise that the constitutionally guaranteed rights of a minority institution should not be tampered with.

I feel that the Muslim community should have welcomed this judgment whole-heartedly for safeguarding the minority rights and congratulated the school for winning the case imposed on it. We should not forget that we are Muslims and constitutionally speaking ours is a minority community whether people like me like this categorization/nomenclature or not. The great freedom fighter and commentator of the holy Quran, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad never compromised on his idea of a single united Indian nation of all religious communities. All parties including the Congress accepted the vivisection of the country but not the Maulana.

If the Supreme Court had allowed the student to have a beard despite the norm of the institution for a clean shave, I don’t think he would have continued his studies there. Besides this the minority rights would have been at stake. I believe that the court has protected the rights of the minority institutions guaranteed under the Constitution of India by its judgment. We should be happy about it.

If the student was very particular about his beard, he would not have gone to this institution giving an undertaking that he would abide by its rules and regulations. History is replete with instances of great Islamists having sacrificed their good positions in different units to lead a life of their choice instead of asking them to provide something for them. A true Muslim will never be a burden to anybody. If he finds a place of his study or work not conducive for him, he will leave it. Salim should have selected the right school for him and if he had found the school rules unsuitable after getting admission there; he should have left it and got admission in some other school without going to the court. This can alone be termed as right Islamic spirit and nothing else. We depend on the holy Quran and the ahadees for inspiration and guidance.

At the same time I would like to add that in almost all Muslim minority institutions like in almost all Christian minority and other institutions in Chennai nothing is imposed on the students belonging to other religions. For example a head scarf is an indispensable part of the uniform in all Muslim schools but it is not made compulsory for non-Muslim girls. We have not seen any non-Muslim girl wearing a head scarf in any school here. In the same way in non-Muslim institutions belonging to Christian, Hindu or any other community in Tamil Nadu, there is nothing which can be branded as inimical to cultural or religious feelings of the Muslim community. In other words a good camaraderie exists among them here. We are proud of it. There are many Muslim educational institutions - primary schools, higher secondary schools, arts and science colleges, engineering colleges, etc. in places like Chennai, Vaniyambadi, Ambur, Melvisharam, Keelakarai, Trichy, Kayalpattinam, etc. where students belonging to all religious communities study understanding and respecting each other's sentiments.

When the controversy arose on the Supreme Court judgment, Mr. Moosa Raza, Chairman, South India Educational Trust, issued a statement immediately which reads as follows:

“I have known Justice Katju and I believe that he is a staunch secularist and is totally averse to all forms of radicalisms both Hindu and Muslim. I agree with his views that a minority educational institution can make any disciplinary rules to maintain its character. It can prescribe a uniform; prohibit the wearing of a particular dress etc. If anyone does not like such rules he is free to go elsewhere but he cannot ask for the rules to be changed."

Prof. Tahir Mahmood, an Islamic scholar, did the right thing in interviewing Mr. Justice Katju and coming out with a statement that the impression being given by some that the court rejected the Muslims’ right to sport a beard is wrong and that the real issue before the court was if a minority community had the right to administer an institution as per its rules or not and it has done justice to it by its judgment. However some Muslim leaders like Maulana Syed Ahmed Khizar Shah have criticized severely the judgment and professor saheb for his statement without giving their valid reasons and sound arguments for their protests. This attitude is sorrowful.

One feels that if the student had not joined the school or left the school without taking the beard issue to the court, it would have been better for him and our community. Our students should not be allowed to go astray. They should be taught how to live happily among different religious people in a plural country like ours where by the grace of Allah there are good opportunities waiting for them.

Let us uphold the secular credentials of our motherland which are rare in the world instead of wasting our time and energy indulging in meaningless and unproductive activities and bringing bad name to our community.




Islam from day one has been proclaiming Tawheed -oneness of God and oneness of the humanity and alhamdulillah - all praise be to God - there has been no compromise on this fundamental principle considered by all as the lifeline of the Islamic faith.

“There is no difference between an Arab and a non-Arab” is the famous golden saying of Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am). But unfortunately the abhorable concept of "kufu" which looks like a caste system has entered the Muslim society somehow or other in some parts of the world. A section of the ulema is responsible for it. They believe and preach boldly without any shame and in total disregard to the Islamic values that we must follow some rules and principles in matrimonial affairs to maintain and strengthen the family system and save it from chaos and disintegration. Thus they have framed some rules based on ancestry, religiosity, financial background, occupation etc. which are against the very letter and spirit of the holy Quran and Ahaadees and a blot to the fair name of Islam according to almost all Islamic scholars, intellectuals and modern thinkers. They have not quoted the holy Quran or Ahadees for these rules of kufu. The Prophet (sal-am) has said that if any man of good faith and character seeks alliance; give your daughter in marriage to him. Even in many states in our country India inter-caste marriages are encouraged by giving awards to the couples of such marriages. It is here we see the Islamic light.

The proponents of the kufu concept say that equality is a since qua non between the couple for a good and cordial marital relationship as otherwise their life will be miserable and lead to marital breakdowns due to incompatibility. This does not seem to be the case at all. Anyhow let us see their opinions and comment briefly.

According to some Ulema of the past and present there should be the following criteria of Kufu.

1) Ancestral equality: There is a difference between a Quraish and a non-Quraish Arab and also an Arab and a non-Arab. Islam says that there is no difference between them.

2) Equality of religion and piety: The second criterion accepted in respect of Kufu is religiosity and hence both man and woman should be religious. A pious woman should not be married to an irreligious person. Of course on this point one should be careful.

3) Financial equality: The third criterion is financial equality. Both man and woman should be equal financially. A rich woman should not be married to a poor man. We have seen so many rich women living happily with their poor husbands and vice versa sharing their wealth.

4) Occupational equality: The fourth criterion is occupational equality. If a woman or her relatives are in some high occupational status in society, the occupation of the man wanting to marry her should be equally high. For example if a person is a merchant while some other is a labourer or sweeper, the two cannot be equal. No profession is low. The Prophet (sal-am) has kissed the hands of the labourers. If two adults being in such conditions want to marry, nobody can prevent them.

Some ulema are of the opinion that if a woman marries on her own accords a man of ghair kuf (a man lower in status than hers or her relatives), her wali (guardian) has the right to object to the marriage and get it annulled. But if the guardian has no objection, the Nikah will be valid. But if after Nikah the status of the husband goes down, the wife would be impressed upon to bear with him with the hope that his position will improve. After marriage, nobody can get the marriage annulled unilaterally without her consent and without any valid reasons.

They also say that the Syed families are suitable matches for one another as they share descent from the Quraishi tribe and that they can also marry high caste people like the Shaikhs and the likes. But other families not sharing their lineage are not match to them; no matter however strong may be in their profession, family background and status. This is actually an anti Islamic concept and therefore there is no takers for it.

Most of the views expressed above with regard to Kufu as we have seen make painful reading and are in total contravention of the Islamic laws. History is testimony to the fact that Islam has influenced people of different cultural and social backgrounds in different countries to mix in marital relations and be a shining example of the Islamic fraternity. There is no caste system in Islam.

The holy Quran and ahadees say that the differences we see among the people of the world are just for the sake of identification and the best among us are only those who are pious and God-fearing. We cannot underestimate or consider any section of the people lower or inferior. Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am) not only preached equality among the people, Arabs and non-Arabs, but also actually practised and implemented it in his innumerable actions and deeds. Everyone still remembers and gets inspired how Hazrat Bilal, a black slave, was liberated and elevated to the high position of the “Muazzin” in Makkah and how revolutionarily he arranged the marriage of his cousin, Hazrat Bibi Zainab – a Quraish lady – with Hazrat Zaid bin Harisa – Prophet Mohammed’s liberated slave and his “adopted” son.

Islam also made history when Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) and his companions migrated to Madina. How the Muslims in Madina came forward and sacrificed everything to help the migrated Muslims is something unprecedented and unheard of in the annals of the world history. The Muslims, spread the world-over, are to a great extent a beautiful community of multi-cultural heritage. The religion of Islam which has embraced the whole world under its catholic and universal codes of brotherhood cannot and does not give importance to any sectarian or caste consideration.

The meaning given for a Ghair kuf by some as “someone below one’s status in terms of caste, family or occupation” is misleading and Brahmanic in nature! Only those who have an Aryan attitude can think so and keep their daughters unmarried for years together expecting a suitable match from the Heavens!!

It is well known that many Arabs come and marry Indian girls in cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Poona etc. Was there any objection to it on the ground of Ghair kuf? Even the most objectionable marriages of the Arabs with Indian girls were not objected to by the Ulema just because they thought there is no difference between an Arab and a non-Arab Muslim.

There are many instances of the time of Prophet Mohammed (Sal-am) to prove that the concept of kufu as propagated by a section is nothing to do with Islam and in fact it is a hateful innovation detrimental to the human society and pristine pure Islamic values of equality and brotherhood.

When Prophet Mohammed (May peace be upon him) asked the respected tribe Banu Biyaza to give any of their women in marriage to Abu Hind (R), a slave and a barber, they wanted to know if they should marry their daughters to their slaves. At this time the verse was revealed “ O man! Behold, we have created you all out of a male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all knowing, all aware (Al-Quran, Al-Hujurat 49:13) This verse has rejected the concepts of castes and biradaris. Our Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) praised Abu Hind ( R ) as a man of strong faith and character and preferred him for matrimonial alliance. There is no question of any religious importance being given to ancestral, financial or occupational status. The only criterion is religiosity and piety on which most religious scholars agree.

The castes, biradaris, etc. found among the Muslims are their own making and Islam is not responsible for it. Islam stands for oneness of God and mankind.