Wednesday, April 28, 2010




The much publicized seminar on “Islam and Non-violence” organized by the Forum for promotion of Moderate Thought in Islam in Chennai on Monday, 26th April 2010 was successful and well attended. All the speakers listed in the programme The Prince of Arcot Mr. Mohammed Abdul Ali, Mr. Asghar Ali Engineer, Mr. Moosa Raza, SIET Chairman, Mr. Andrew T. Simkin, Consul General of the United States of America, Mr. R. Nataraj, I.P.S., Director General of Police, Mr. Shakeel Akhtar, I.P.S, Additional Commissioner of Police attended and delivered their speeches on the occasion.

The seminar began with the recitation of the verses of the holy Quran. Mr. N. Roohullah, Treasurer of the Forum recited the verse 13 of Surah Al-Hujurat and gave its meaning

“( O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)” (Translation by Yusuf Ali )

and delivered a speech in English stressing the need to understand the divine notion that the entire human community is one although it is of different languages, cultures, colours, communities and countries and nobody can be superior in the sight of Allah on the basis of anything except piety. In other words one should build his character on the right path shown by God. His emphasis was on the fact that Islam stands for equality, fraternity, peace and prosperity of the human race as a whole and there is no room for non-violence. His speech was gentle and meaningful and appreciated by the audience.

The Secretary General of the Forum Mr. A. Faizur Rahman, a critical analyst as he is well known, during his speech touched the controversial issue of the right of a husband to beat his wife and said referring to the Verse 34 of Surah Al-Nisa 4 of the holy Quran said that the word “zaraba” used here does not mean “to strike” but used in the meaning of “to explain by giving an example”. His tone and tenor and criticism of the translators who were great Islamic scholars was not liked by the audience in general.

I quote the ayat here for the ready reference of readers:

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has made one of them excel over the other, and because they spend out of their possessions (to support them). Thus righteous women are obedient and guard the rights of men in their absence under Allah’s protection. As for women of whom you fear rebellion, admonish them, and remain apart from them in beds, and beat them. Then if they obey you, do not seek ways to harm them. Allah is the Exalted, the Great.” (Maulana Abul Ala Maududi – English translation by Zafer Ishaq Ansari)

NOTE of the translator :

This does not mean that a man should resort to this three measures all at once, but that they may be employed if a wife adopts an attitude of obstinate defiance. So far as the actual application of these measures is concerned, there should naturally be some correspondence between the fault and the punishment that is administered. Moreover, it is obvious that wherever a light measure can prove effective one should not resort to stern measures. Whenever the Prophet permitted a man to administer corporal punishment to his wife, he did so with great reluctance, and continued to express his utter distaste for it.

Mr. Faizur Rahman had also written an article about it earlier in which he says as follows:

The New York Times on March 22, 2007 reported that a German Judge turned down citing the Quran, a Muslim wife's request for a fast-track divorce on the ground that her husband beat her from the beginning of their marriage. The Judge justified her ruling by saying that the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives because the Quran sanctions such physical abuse.

The Judge was obviously quoting one of the most mistranslated verses of the Quran (4:34) which supposedly allows wife beating. The mistranslated word is wazribuhunna which is derived from the root zaraba. Major commentators of the Quran including Ibn Kasir, Pickthall, and Maulana Maududi, the founder of Jamat-e-Islami, have rendered this word as "beat them" ignoring the fact that the word zaraba has various other shades of meaning. Out of the 50 times it occurs in the Quran, 31 times it has been used in the meaning of "to explain by giving an example." Only 10 times it has used to mean "to strike" but mostly in the context of Moses "striking the rock" or the sea, and angels "striking the faces" of the sinners.

Even if there has been a judgement like this actually, it only shows the ignorance or mischief of the judge in giving a verdict on a divorce case quoting a sentence about the beating of the erring wife by the husband. Unless we read the version of the judgement in detail, we cannot comment on it.

It is also written in many Islamic books that beating of the erring wife as a last resort after many persuasions as mentioned in the note above was permissible only by ‘miswak” ( a tooth brush). This is not an issue at all. The Secretary should not have touched this issue in the conference where dignified speakers, press persons and knowledgeable Muslims and non-Muslims were present.

The Prince of Arcot Mr. Mohammed Abdul Ali made a powerful speech saying that his ancestors the carnatic rulers were highly secular, gave importance to the welfare of the subject and donated lands to temples, churches etc. without any discrimination on religious grounds. He gave so many examples of the camaraderie prevailed and prevailing between his family and other religious heads belonging to other communities. People listened to him with all attention and interest. However he could not help saying that he was disappointed with the Forum. He expressed his apprehensions about the Quran being misinterpreted by such attempts. He questioned the Secretary about his intentions in naming the forum as the “Forum for promotion of Moderate Thought in Islam” and said that “ not even a comma can be changed in the holy Quran. I am warning you, don’t tamper with the Quran. This is a sensitive issue. You will only end up in creating trouble”.

It seems that the Prince of Arcot who is a well wisher of Mr. Faizur Rahman took liberty to advise him as above.

The Secretary said in his defence that “the Quran is moderate. We are not deviating from it. We are only targeting extremist thought”.

Mr. Moosa Raza said that Islam rejected all forms of extremism and felt that the best response of the Muslims threatened by the influential and powerful Western culture should be to adopt the good values of the West, educate themselves and learn the present advances in science and technology in which Muslims were once at the zenith. He quoted the history of Muslim achievements in Spain and other countries in detail.

He felt that insecurity was the cause for troubles and said that the government of India was sympathetic to them. He appealed to the Muslims to make full use of the funds allocated by the government to the Ministry of Minority Affairs for their upliftment. He stated that the Ministry had spent only 3.50 per cent of an annual allocation of Rs.1850 crore.

As regards to the comments of the Prince of Arcot, he also felt that the name of the Forum could be changed as “Forum for Promotion of Moderate Thought among Muslims”

Mr. Natarajan and Mr. Shakeel Ahmed also spoke about the contribution of Islam and Muslims in bringing unity and fraternity among the people.

Mr. Asghar Ali Engineer spoke excellently in his characteristic cool and calm manner explaining many things including the importance of belief, good deeds and patience which are manifest in the following Surah Al-Asr. and answered questions from the audience

1. By the declining day

2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss

3. Save those who believe and do good works and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.

Even to a question of a youngster who faced some problem at an airport abroad just because his name started with “Shaikh”, Mr. Engineer said that we should understand the situation and tackle it with patience and wisdom. He also answered many other questions from the audience.

The English daily The Hindu which always gives importance to values reported the proceedings of the conference in a positive manner under heading “Peace, tolerance central to Islam” whereas another English daily The Times of India highlighted the slight verbal spat in a sensational manner under the title “Forum sparks heated debate on moderate side of Islam.”

There is no doubt that the seminar was highly successful despite the slight verbal spat.

Note: Just now I have received a message from Mr. A. Faizur Rahman that the name of the Forum has been changed as “Forum for the Promotion of Moderate Thought among Muslims”. This has been done in accordance with the demand made by H.H. the Prince of Arcot. Mr. Mohammed Abdul Ali.

Friday, April 16, 2010




Chennai: No doubt, the Muslims of Tamil Nadu have improved educationally to some extent during the past two decades, thanks to the awakening among them for higher education such as medical and engineering even though it is not as fast and vigorous as in other communities. The Tamil Nadu Haj Service Society is guiding the community by conducting free educational counselling and courses through its Educational Counselling Centre.
Of late, Muslims have started understanding that they cannot think of progress and prosperity without higher education. The IT industry is also attracting a large number of students and traditional business such as leather, textile, hardware etc. are losing their charm due to various reasons. Time changes and unless we change with the times, we will stand nowhere in the glare of the world.

The Tamil Nadu Haj Service Society is guiding the community by successfully conducting free educational counselling and other courses to boys and girls by its Educational Counselling Centre established in the year 2004. Hundreds of students - both boys and girls - are benefited every year by its highly useful guidance. There is a team of well qualified and experienced counsellors and efficient administrative staff to guide them. The counsellors are happy that they have been successful in bringing out the hidden talent and in-built potential of the students during the counselling sessions in the presence of their parents. A number of students who had counselling in the Centre have completed their studies and secured placements as doctors, engineers, teachers, etc.

M. Mohammed Hashim is the President, H. Muhammed Afzal the Hon. Secretary and A. Mohammed Ashraf the Hon. Treasurer of the Tamil Nadu Haj Service Society, Chennai which is situated at No. 3, Demellows Road, Choolai, Chennai – 600 112.

A team of eminent faculty has started giving higher educational guidance to students on the first come first served basis. They are also conducting the following courses for the benefit of the community:

1. Certificate course in language - Basic Urdu
2. Certificate course in spoken language - English
3. Certificate course in basic computers - Hardware and Software
Duration of the course is two and a half months (From 1st April to 15th June 2010)
Timings: 4.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. Separate arrangements and exclusive dates/schedules are available for girl students.

When I visited the Haj House to make an on-the-spot study of their activities, I saw many students and parents seeking guidance there from the experienced faculty. Urdu, English and Computer classes were also in progress.

The following are the panel members for 2010 who have come forward to serve the community without expecting any remuneration.

1. Janab L.W. Abdul Wadood, M.A., M.Phil, retired Professor of Economics, Jamal Mohammed College, Trichy
2. Janab M.J.A. Meeran, M.Sc., M.Phil, retired Professor of Physics, The New College, Chennai
3. Janab R. Akbar Ansari, B.Sc, MBA, PGDFM, DCPA, Assistant Manager, Indian Bank, International Division, Chennai
4. Dr. S. Dawood Sharief, M.Sc, M.Phil, Ph.D, Associate Professor, Vice-Principal of Evening College, The New College, Chennai
5. Janab A. Mohammed Meeran, B.Sc, Bio-Chemist (Rtd), Corporation of Chennai, Chennai
6. Janab Mohammed Fayaz, B.Sc, M.A., M.Ed., Educational Consultant, Chennai
7. Janab M.I. Mohamed Ayub, M.Sc., M.A., M.Ed., PGDCA, Principal, Anaikar Higher Secondary School, Chennai
8. Captain Zahid Hussain, M.A., M. Phil, Selection grade lecturer, Dept. of economics, The New College
9. Janab A. Syed Javid Hassan, M.Com., MBA, M.Ed, PGDFM, Accounts and Finance Consultant, Chennai
10. Dr. Mazher Sultana, M.Sc., M.Ed., M.Phil., Ph.D, P.G.D, (Bio.Tech), Additional Professor, Presidency College, Chennai
11. Dr. S.K. Zareena, M.A., M.Ed., Ph.D, (Education), Principal, MEASI College of Education, Chennai.

The efforts taken by the Educational Counselling Centre and the faculty are really praiseworthy. Their guidance is helpful to the students in selecting the right course of study for them. One feels that such activities which are going on in some other places also should be undertaken in as many places as possible in order to make the community realize the importance of higher education more and more and provide them details about available degree courses, their importance, fee structures, scholarships, colleges having these courses etc.

Saturday, April 10, 2010



The budget presented by the hon’ble Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee on 26th February 2010 can be considered as “ people friendly “ because he has given relief to individual taxpayers by widening the personal income tax slab as shown below:

Income For males below 65 years For females below 65 years
Old New Old New
Up to Rs. 1,60,000 Nil Nil Nil Nil
Rs. 1,60,000 to Rs. 1,90,000 10% 10% Nil Nil
For both male and female
Old New
Rs.1,90,000 to 3,00,000 10% 10%
Rs. 3,00,000 to Rs. 5,00,000 20% 10%
Rs.5,00,000 to Rs. 8,00,000 30% 20%
Above Rs. 8,00,000 30% 30%

For senior citizens the exemption limit increased from Rs.2,25,000 to Rs.2,40,000

Contributions to Central Government Health Scheme up to Rs.20,000 are exempted from tax. But gift of gold, silver, other precious metals is taxable after 1.6.2010 if it is not from relative, inherited or on marriage. There is also benefit of deduction for investments up to Rs.20,000 in long term infrastructure bonds over and above existing Rs. 1 lakh limit under Section 80C of IT Act for investing in savings like Provident Fund, Mutual Funds, Insurance schemes etc. However there is no relief for the lower income group.

VIT University Chancellor Mr. G. Viswanathan while asking the government to take measures to prevent foreign universities, if permitted in our country, from grabbing faculty from leading institutions, has suggested that incentives be given to teachers to attract talented persons to teaching profession. In his opinion one of the ways for this can be to grant exemption to teachers from paying income tax or impose a lesser tax as in Pakistan where the tax is just 5% for teachers.

A tanner pointed out that such unexpected but important suggestions are rightly made to improve the conditions of the Indian educational institutions at the present when the proposal for allowing foreign universities in our country is being debated, but there seems to be no such “think tanks” in the leather industry, which is passing through a difficult period, to suggest something necessity for its improvement.


The one-time grant of Rs.200 crore provided in the budget coupled with the Rs.120 crore grant from the Tamil Nadu government is expected to bring much relief to the Tirupur dyers. No doubt it was the urgent need of the time.

Many tanners and exporters say that we should not be carried away by the glitterings we see in the leather fairs. The fact is that the leather and leather products industry is still struggling for survival and unless there is some support in the forms of increased incentives and drawbacks from the government things cannot move well in the industry in production and export. We cannot forget that there are stiff competitions from countries like China and Pakistan in the world market. The leather and leather products manufacturers and exporters are in a dilemma, not knowing what to do and how to proceed further. The small units are the worst sufferers. Many tanners I interviewed told me that the Council for Leather Exports and other associations are not serious in representing the leather industry to the government.


Consumer items like mobile handsets, battery chargers, play stations, solar powered and electric cars are to cost less and prices of allopathic, homeopathic and ayurvedic medicines will also be somewhat lower as their excise duty was reduced.

Petrol, diesel, domestic air travel, cigarette etc. are to cost more.
It is reported that the Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee was a pipe smoker till about 25 years ago. He is not smoking now. He has threatened smokers with more taxes in order to discourage them from smoking. Every right thinking person feels that it is perfectly in order. In the meantime he and his other ministerial colleagues would do well to think of discouraging alcoholism also by all possible ways and after sometime ban it completely. His attempts to make our country healthier and richer are welcome and praiseworthy.


Many associations hailed the budget as fine or excellent act meant for development but expressed disappointment at many disadvantages including the hike in the Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT) and excise duties. Some of them had been demanding cut in MAT from 15 to 10 percent but the government increased it to 18 percent. MAT is a tax payable by the companies which have received tax benefits or tax exception under various schemes.

Mr. Singhania, President of Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), has also said that “by and large the finance minister has provided a stable tax and policy framework for the Indian economy to move forward. However the industry is disappointed that he has raised the MAT rate from 15 to 18% when the industry was demanding a cut down to 10 percent”. He has further said that “the impact of excise duty hike across the board coupled with increase in excise duty on petrol and diesel will add pressure on the price line in current circumstances”.
Mr. M. Rafeeque Ahmed, Chairman, Farida group, has also welcomed the budget for its developmental aspects, hailed the provision of one time grant of Rs.200 crore to Tirupur dyers and expressed concern over the increase in MAT from 15% to 18%.


Many tanners and merchants in the leather industry express their disappointment that the leather associations are not as active as they should be to assess its present conditions and make suitable and necessary suggestions to the government to achieve export targets and march forward in the highly competitive world market. According to reliable sources, export of leather is likely to go down in the coming days.

They also regret that in the 2188 member strong organization - Council for Leather Exports –a very few members attend its General Body Meeting every year and hence there is no opportunity at all for discussing burning issues and resolving them in a way acceptable to all.

(Indian Leather, April 2010)