Monday, June 22, 2015

Qirath of late Maulana Mohammed Qasim Bhopali sahib

 The great Qari, Hafiz, Mufassir and orator par excellence Maulana Mohammed Qasim Bhopali sahib is not with us during this Ramadan. His peaceful recitation of the holy Quran gave "sukoon" to one and all. He was the Qazi and Imam of Periamet Masjid for about 30  years. His sweet recitation, excellent Jumma Khuthba and his weekly  appealing Tafseer (interpretation) of the holy Quran attracted people from far and near to the Masjid. During Ramadan people thronged to the Taraweeh prayers conducted by him in the Periamet Mosque and so was the case when he conducted Taraweeh prayers in Anjuman-e-Himayat-e-Islam masjid. 

He was one of the best international Qaris. He had won many laurels in many international Qirat competitions. We miss him miserably during this sacred month of Ramadan. He passed away in his native place Bhopal and his burial took place on 13th September 2014.
His awesome Qirat is available in the following link:


His beautiful recitation of the entire holy Quran is in the following link:

Let us pray for his maghfirat. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Kombai S. Anwar's "Yaadhum" - a learning experience


Kombai S. Anwar’s documentary, ‘Yaadhum’, traces the roots of Tamil Muslims holding a mirror to a society that fostered brotherhood. 
Kombai S. Anwar’s ‘Yaadhum’ is a learning experience. It opens the window to a world where people of different communities co-existed, enriched each other’s lives and did not even think about it. The documentary that was screened recently at the C.P. Art Centre traced the roots of Tamil Muslims holding a mirror to a society that fostered brotherhood. 

Neither Anwar nor his documentary would be new to readers. The film has garnered awards and is drawing attention slowly and steadily. But it is the eternal relevance of the message that makes viewing it a rewarding experience, an experience that strengthens bonds and puts hope in weary hearts. 

What exactly triggered the film? “Identity crisis,” pat comes the reply. As a child, Anwar did not have problems socialising. In Kombai, a hamlet in Madurai, where he was born, people of all communities lived together, shared space and emotions. It was as an adult that he found himself confused. “You don’t speak Urdu…?” The unsaid part was, “What kind of a Muslim are you?” As if Urdu is mandatory to practise the faith. “We can learn the Koran in our mother tongue, whatever it may be. Brethren from the same community were asking the question as if the Tamil Muslim was an alien. My roots are here, my parents and their parents are here. But we are not accepted. What then is my status?” 

Anwar decided to explore and trace his roots, from the foothills of the Western Ghats, where his forefathers had pepper and cardamom plantations. His fascinating journey across the State and beyond resulted in the documentary ‘Yaadhum (All).’ 

“A year after its release, I find new meanings and new dimensions,” says Anwar. “The time has helped to look at it from new perspectives,” he adds. “Remove me, a Muslim, and put someone else in that place, from anywhere, any community, the subject would still be relevant. Identity crisis is something happening everywhere, most of the conflicts born out of the desperate attempt at assertion.” 

The film opens with a temple procession to the accompaniment of nagaswaram crossing a mosque. None complains. “This is a procession of the Ranganatha temple and is a routine,” says Anwar. Trade facilitated traffic, especially to and from West Asia. This in turn led to people adopting different faiths. “We are talking about the scene 1,400 years ago. So from Madurai and Kochi to Kayalpattinam and Nagore, there are Muslims, who speak Tamil and are native of the soil. Of course, there are Malayalam and Telugu speaking Muslims, Moplahs and so on.” 

“The division was a colonial legacy,” asserts Anwar. “The British, from a mono-faith background, did not appreciate the plurality of this land and realised that they had to first breach this unity in diversity. What followed was the two main divisions -- Hindus and Muslims. The former was a term foisted upon us. It suited the purpose of the East India Company. Unfortunately, we are also following history as it has been recorded by them,” explains Anwar. A few historians are trying to put the record straight but the effort is not sufficient. “There is a lot to unlearn,” he says. 

“I was always drawn to Madurai, the city that doesn’t sleep. There is always something happening,” says Anwar. One of the major festivals is Puttu Tiruvizha that commemorates one of Siva’s 64 leelas. The film captures the priest assuming the role of a lad (!), who offers to help Vanti, the old woman, and eventually falls asleep. No, it is not the drama that matters so much here as the Muslim family that plays a vital role. With them rests the responsibility of putting up a fence around the enactment arena. They are honoured on the concluding day, a tradition that has continued for four generations. 

A brief shot captures a woman performing karagattam in costume, typical to the art – brief skirt and a jacket. “There is nothing vulgar about it. It is our ethos. Nobody in the village would think it is obscene because it is part of rural culture. The urban version found the artist clad in full pyjamas and have lost a flavour that belongs to this soil,” points out Anwar 

The Kanthuri festival in Azhwartirunagari is celebrated to the accompaniment of nagaswaram and the gait of an elephant. And martial arts were not exclusive to Tamils. The film focusses on the oldest mosque built in Dravidian style. Later in the interaction with the audience, Anwar remarks that there never were set rules to the construction of mosques. They imbibe the architectural style of the period and place. Thus the inside of a mosque is similar to the worship place of the Hindus and those in Kerala resemble a typical Ambalam. “There is no rule that mosques must have minarets.” 

Someone in the audience mentions Kafir, which is supposed to denote hatred for other elements. Anwar’s quiet reply - “I’ve also heard that it has negative connotations but the Islam I know is all about equality and brotherhood” – is greeted with loud cheers. 

The film has experts talking about the contribution of Muslims to Tamil literature. “Their contribution is the richest,” observes Kaviko Raguman and says this fact was acknowledged by no less a person than K.P. Viswanathan, scholar. And there are any number of scholars, including M.M. Ismail, who were Ramayana experts. Gunangudi Mastan Saheb can be compared to the Azhwars in his devotion to Allah, whom he visualised as a woman. Expressing his love for ‘Her,’ Saheb concludes on this poignant note: “You may have many suitors but you are my only Light of Life.” 

It is moving as Aboobacker sings the praise of Allah prefixing the songs with tuneful viruttams. Kapi and Bageshri lend themselves to his voice that has the tone of a temple bell. 

The film ends with the song ‘Yaadhum Oore yaavarum kaelir.’ To an appreciative audience, Anwar explains, “With this rich tapestry of legacy and bonhomie, I can’t be an alien. I don’t have to speak Urdu in order to prove that I’m a Muslim. I’m a native of this place. I’m a Tamil first and Muslim next. I am a combination of all the factors that make my motherland special.” 

In a private chat, Anwar expands: “Conflict arises because we have failed to look at the picture as a whole. Without a fair knowledge of the scriptures of other faiths, one cannot claim to have complete knowledge of one’s religion. There are leaders, who have read the Gita, Koran and the Bible. They rise above all differences because they know ultimately it is one power.” 

It is in this context perhaps that the film speaks of Sufis and Siddhars in the same breath. “Yes,” affirms Anwar. “‘Onre Kulam, Oruvane Devan’ comes from Tirumandiram. Yakoba was a Vaishnavite, who after meditation found himself transported to Mecca. Bhogar too had a similar experience,” he informs. The film shows people of all faiths praying at the altar of Sufi saints, believed to have healing powers. One is reminded of women with ailing children waiting outside mosques to be blessed by the … They strongly believe that his rhythmic chanting and the caress of the peacock feathers, through the cloud of fragrant sambrani will remove any ill effects their offspring might be suffering. 

Is Anwar planning a second part? 

Yes, on the Diaspora. “Singapore and Malaysia to begin with,” he says. “And it will be Tamils on the whole, which will 

“You know, biriyani is not our trademark delicacy,” Anwar told the viewers. “We serve our special guests what is called Nei Soru.’” He adds: “However, if you want to eat biriyani, come to Madurai. You’ll get the most authentic recipe there.” 

“I encountered a problem getting a community certificate for my daughter because her name was Nachiyar, the same issue that dogged my mother, whose name is Chellammal,” observes Anwar. These are Tamil names but my contemporaries do not understand it. “We are dismissed as Labbai, something inferior. But we had our counter. We called the Urdu speaking Muslims Pattaani,” he laughs. 

Vignettes from the film
Joe d’Cruz says: “When I was a childm I often would hear this pedlar, a Muslim elder, crying out, ‘Muscoth Halwa!’ at noon with the sun right above his head. He would enter our house, head straight for the kitchen, pick up a plate, and help himself to the food even as my grandmother would hurry with a glass of water. After the meal, he would stretch himself in a corner, rest for a couple of hours, pick up his vessel and leave. Where is disparity here? We would call our Muslim elders chacha and chachi. 

About Anwar
A student of Chennai’s Loyola College (visual communication), Anwar was a freelance journalist who photographed pictures for his own stories. Soon he found pictures were more eloquent than essays. He engaged himself in making documentaries and short films. He was commissioned by South Madras Gazetteer to trace the history of Muslims of Madras. The Archaeological Survey of India gave him the project of making a film on the Big Temple to commemorate its 1,000 year. “Documenting the history of Muslims opened my eyes to the misrepresentations that filled the so-called history books. They were simply loaded against the community. I decided to focus on the subject and throw light on the misunderstandings.” 

(Courtesy: The Hindu) 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Sorcery: Is it not a fraud on gullible Muslims to amass wealth?

SORCERY: Is it not a fraud on gullible Muslims to amass wealth? 

By V.M. Khaleelur Rahman

Chennai based Sana Nursary and Primary School celebrated its anniversary on 24th January 2010 and its boys and girls proved their mettle by enacting different programmes in English, Arabic and Urdu which were very much appreciated by people gathered there in good numbers. Maulana Mohammed Kaleem Siddiqui sahib was the Chief Guest. I heard his speech carefully and had an interview with him later. As his views are thought provoking, I want to share them with you. He said inter alia:

"A Muslim is bound to possess a thirst for knowledge and acquire it in different sciences including medicine, engineering, astronomy etc. There were great Muslim scientists in the past. The holy Quran asks us to research what is in the earth and on the skies - Tafakkaru fissamawati wal arz. Even learning a language different from ones mother tongue such as English which was neglected and its learning was considered Haraam on patriotic grounds when Muslims were involved in the freedom struggle is necessary now. It is very unfortunate that Muslim community is educationally and economically backward........" The Maulana exhorted the students and the people to seek more and more knowledge packed education. Asked if getting higher education is not necessary for women as sermoned by some ulema, he retorted that getting no education is haraam as it is against the Islamic diktat of "talabul ilmi fareezatun ala kulli Muslimin wa Muslimatin" ( Seeking knowledge is mandatory for all Muslims - men and women).

As regards "baddua" (cursing), he said that it is not permitted and our Pesh Imams should be careful about it. There is no permission in Islam to curse anybody. Sometimes we see our pesh Imams cursing in words like "allahumma shaththith shamlahum, allahumma dammir deyarahum". This is not correct. I have asked many to refrain from doing so."

He also pointed out to a question that putting hurdles in the way of good things being done (as was done in the case of Dr. Zakir Naik's Peace programme in Chennai) is against the letter and spirit of Islam. Difference of opinions can be discussed and sorted out and enmity should not be created among people. He honestly feels that there is no issue which cannot be solved by discussion in the light of the Quran and Ahaadeeth.

All the above and some other issues he discussed were appealing to me except his views on sorcery (sahar, jadoo tona ). A man approached the Maulana with his son and said that "some sorcerer has made his son ill mentally with the result that he behaves differently nowadays and puts us to troubles". The Maulana advised him to do some isthighfar like saying Subhanallah 100 times daily in the morning and evening. I asked him if any sorcerer can harm anybody without any contact just by reciting something or doing things, his hesitant reply was almost in the affirmative. This surprised me. I said if harming others is possible for the sorcerers, there will not be any direct attacks between one country and another and rulers like Bush and Saddam could have sought the help of sorcerers to finish or harm each other. The Maulana had no clear answer. Can anybody throw light on this vital subject and explain why people like me cannot reject the theory of sorcery as practiced now as absurd and fraud on the gullible people and nothing but exploitation to amass wealth?

Thursday, June 4, 2015



Indian Shoe Federation (ISF) in association with South India Shoe Manufacturers Association(SISMA) and with the support of some other organizations is presenting AMBUR OPEN 6 exhibition of Finished Leather, Accessories, Components & Technology on 6th and 7th June 2015 at Ambur Trade Centre, Ambur. 

Saturday, 6th June 2015

Exhibition opens at 8.45 am. 

Inauguration Session: 10.30 am to 11.30 am

Chief Guest : Mr. M. Mohammed Hashim, Chairman, KH group of companies, in the august presence of Padmashri Mr. M. Rafeeque Ahmed, Chairman, Council for Leather Exports.

Guest of Honour: Mr. N. Shafeeque Ahmed, Chairman, IFLMEA.

Parallel Sessions:  11.30 am to 1.00 pm
  1. Seminar by TUV SUD : Hall 8, Level  II, 11.30 am to 12.30 pm – Comprehensive service scope for footwear and leather products supply chain.
  2. Open House: Board Room, Level  II, 11.30 am to 1.00 pm. Topics – Global footwear scenario, Environment &  the way forward in the Indian leather industry etc. 
Interactive Session on Shoe Components: Board Room – Level  II, 2.15 pm to 3.30 pm.

Business Session: 

Saturday - 6th June 2015 - 9.00 am to 6 pm. 
Sunday   -  7th June 2015 - 9.00 am to 5 pm.

Ambur Open exhibition has been growing well from its inception. It is one of the most important and well attended leather exhibitions of the country. The industry is keenly awaiting it and its outcome with interest particularly at the present time when it is in a tight corner. The different trade associations are expected to discuss the present problems the industry is facing and find solutions for them through the state and union governments. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


V.M. Khaleelur Rahman

There seems to be no change in the Chennai leather market. Limited activities are taking place in certain items of tanned and wet blue goat and sheep skins which exporters require. While exporters of leathers are very slow in purchases, exporters of leather products such as shoes and garments are choosy in their operations. Tanners are not happy as they are not able to get workable prices from their domestic as well as overseas customers. 

Tanned goat skins Run selections are moving at around Rs.90 and A/B/C linings combined at around Rs.45 per sq. ft. There is more demand for lining leathers rather than any other item. Local Rejection and Langda are salable at around Rs.30 and 25 per sq. ft. respectively. But demand is not much. 

Even in raw hides and skins, prices are down particularly because many tanners and exporters are either slow or have stopped their purchases. Effluent problems in different states also prevent tanners from bulk operations.

Overseas activities are also restricted in leather items. Only some big exporters are able to get some export contracts. One feels that there is considerable downfall in exports. As reported earlier there are also reports of delay in payments of export bills. 

Quotations of tanners are as follows:


4/7  Run Rs.90, Fifth Rs.75, Inf. Fifth Rs.70 and LIF Rs.55 per sq. ft.
4/7 All Suede Rs.50 and ABC Suede Rs.55 per sq. ft.
3/5 ABC Lining Rs.46, 4/7 ABC Lining Rs.47 and 5/8 ABC Lining Rs.49 per sq. ft.
Local Rejection Rs.31 and Langda Rs.26 per sq. ft. 

EXPORT QUOTATIONS are at around the following prices: 

                                S/C OR F/C GOAT LEATHERS
Size/sq. ft.
Price US$ per sq. ft. C&F
Goat upper leather
0.6/0.8 mm
Goat milled leather
0.6/0.8 mm
D/E – G/H
1.75 – 1.65
Goat suede leather
0.6/0.8 mm
All Suede
Goat lining leather

3/5 or 4/7
0.5/0.7 mm
0.6/0.8 mm
                                                     F/C SHEEP LEATHERS
Price US$ per sq. ft. C&F
Sheep upper leather
0.6/0.8 mm
Sheep Upper leather
0.8/1.00 mm
Sheep lining leather
0.5/0.7 mm
Sheep lining leather
0.6/0.8 mm

The above quotations are just an indication. Some reputed and big exporters are quoting much higher prices depending on the quality and selection. 

Japanese customers are not in the market. Only some meagre business is taking place in lower selections. Quotations of exporters are as under: 

F/C sheep suede leather

All Suede 6/8 sq. ft. JY230, 5 sq. ft. and up JY220 and 4/7 sq. ft. JY210 per sq. ft. C&F 

F/C sheep lining leather 

TR-Lining 4/7 sq. ft. JY140 and 5/8 sq. ft. JY150 per sq. ft. C&F 


Ambur Open Exhibition-6 is scheduled for 6th and 7th June 2015. It is one of the most important and well attended exhibitions of finished leather, accessories, components, technology and machinery. The industry is keenly awaiting it and its outcome with interest particularly at the present time when it is in a tight corner. The different trade associations are expected to discuss the present problems the industry is facing and find solutions for them through the state and union governments.