Even after 60 years of independence, Indian Muslims are yet to get their political foothold. Caught in the crisis of educational backwardness, they are a scattered lot groping in the dark in search of their future. These views were expressed by Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi in an educational awareness conference held recently in Santoshpur, 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. The conference was organised by Delhi-based All India Talimi Wa Milli Foundation of which Maulana Qasmi is president.
In his presidential address, Maulana Qasmi observed that Muslims’ educational backwardness was critical which had made their overall condition worse than Dalits. No community can progress without education, he said. Hence it was imperative that Muslims educated their present generation and also safeguarded their faith and culture. This will be a new dawn of educational and economic development.
While expressing his concern over the poor literacy rate of Muslims of West Bengal, Maulana Qasmi made a fervent appeal to the responsible members of society to rise to the occasion and to take part in furthering the cause of educational upliftment. He cited the example of the Foundation which had started several makatib in remote villages to provide education at primary level. It has given good results, he said. Seeing the successful results of these makatib, the Foundation is planning to set up more makatib and primary educational institutions in future, he added.
Maulana Qasmi said that financial constraints were a big hindrance for many intelligent and meritorious children. Therefore, the Foundation has adopted several means to provide for the education of poor children.
Speaking on this occasion, Member Parliament and editor Urdu daily Azad Hind, Ahmad Saeed Maleehabadi said that the reason for Muslims’ lagging behind other communities in India was their failure to go with the demands of time. He felt an urgent need to open primary schools and religious makatib in backward Muslim areas.
Maleehabadi regretted that most Muslim organisations concentrated in urban areas while there was more need of such attempts in rural areas. He commended the Foundation for focusing its attention on rural areas and asked the people to extend their support to it.
Local MLA Abdul Khaliq Mulla said education is the basic need of every human being and in this competitive age only those communities can progress who make education the mission of their lives. He appreciated the Milli Foundation for starting a madrasah with accommodation facilities in Fatima Masjid complex.
Maulana Nausher Ahmad Kalkatwi, secretary of the Milli Foundation presented the Foundation’s annual activity report while shedding light on the aims and objectives of the organisation. He said that the Foundation had so far established 163 makatib in remote areas of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal and a girls’ school (Milli Girls School) with modern accommodation facilities in Kishanganj district of Bihar to promote girls’ education. The school at present has 500 students.
This year the Foundation provided 170 tube wells in the bordering areas of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal where drinking water is scarce. It has also distributed clothes and other basic necessities of life among more than 300 poor widows in the three stares.
Noted poet Shakil Ansari coordinated the hours-long programme which was attended by ulama, intellectuals and social activists including 24 Parganas’ Superintendent of Police Zahidur Rahman, senior journalist Syed Ali, Bengali newspaper Al-Qalam’s editor Ahmad Hasan Imran, general secretary of Milli Council Haji Shuhood Alam, member Muslim Personal Law Board Haji Shamim Akhtar Jawed, member Waqf Board Aminuddin Siddiqui.