The symposium on Socioeconomic Empowerment of Muslims in Plural India held at Saharanpur on November 26 proved to be a historical event as for the first time it succeeded in putting forward a roadmap for the progress of Muslims in India, with emphasis on socioeconomic empowerment.
Initiating the debate, Dr. Javed Jamil said that in the past, Muslims had been working more on the theological or political agenda of Islam and were neglecting the socioeconomic agenda. The time has now come when the emphasis has to shift on the socioeconomic agenda. He said Muslims must shy away from reactionary and Muslim-specific approach and must now be ready to play an assertive and meaningful role in national affairs.
Dr Jamil lamented that Muslim organisations and leaders never react to the country’s annual budget, which is the most important document in the economic direction the country is heading to.
Mr. K Rahman Khan, Deputy Speaker of Rajya Sabha, in his video speech, said he has been taking great interest in Dr Javed Jamil’s project of Socioeconomic Empowerment of Muslims, especially his vision of greater involvement of Muslims in Corporate Sector and is ready to help the cause in a big way.
He said Muslims must concentrate on education and business if they have to be a truly powerful community in plural India. He stressed the need of proper use of Waqf, Islamic Banking and high educational institutions in the country.
Maulana Salim Qasmi, Head of Darul Uloom Deoband (Waqf) expressed his happiness that the focus is now shifting away from emotional issues to the all-important issue of Economic Empowerment. He expressed the hope that the seed sown in Saharanpur will grow to its fruition. Maulana Abdullah Mughaisi Ajrarvi described the event as a historical one and said that there is absolutely no need for Muslims to feel inferiority complex any more. He said Muslims are already on the road to progress and the next decade, God willing, will prove to be a big leap in their march towards progress.
Mrs Arfa Khanam, TV Journalist and columnist, highlighted the importance of strong media that gives proper coverage to the plight of the deprived. She felt aghast why the name of a person becomes important in secular India. Thakur Amar Singh, MP, said without the progress of Muslims, India cannot progress. He lamented that the political parties and leaders are only interested in their vote banks and are doing nothing to improve the economic conditions of people. He said the increased role of Muslims in corporate sector is something that needs full exploration.
In his video speech, Justice Rajender Sachar, the head of famous Sachar Committee Report on the condition of Muslims, said Islam is a religion where Unity of Mankind implies Unity of Mankind, equality of all and equality of men and women. He stressed that Muslims must come out of besieged mentality and must achieve excellence in higher education. He said education of women needs to be stressed more; as Islam promotes education of both. He said that he is happy that the conference is deliberating on the socioeconomic agenda, something that should have begun much earlier. But it is always better to be late than never.
Dr Shakil Samadani of Aligarh Muslim University said there is a need of strong leadership and if the old leadership has failed, the new leadership must emerge. He said the opening of the centres of AMU in different cities across the country is a historical step that will surely help the cause of the higher education among Muslims in a big way.
Mr Siraj Qureshi, President, India Islamic Cultural Centre, in his message, hoped that the resolutions adopted in the Conference will soon be developed into an Action Plan, which will go a long way in socioeconomic empowerment of Muslims in the country. He promised full cooperation with any such Action Programme.
Mr Azim Sherwani of Jaipur, stressed the need of a monitoring mechanism that can keep an eye on the inclusion of Muslims in jobs at every level. He said this is a task which can be performed without much involvement of money. If two persons in every district collect the records from District administration and publish the reports on the level of employment of Muslims in different jobs, this will create sufficient pressure on the local authorities.
Mr Naved Mumtaz, DCP New Delhi said more than discrimination, it is the attitude of Muslims themselves which is responsible for their plight. He stressed that the monitoring is something that needs to be taken very seriously and a strong mechanism has to be evolved so that monitoring can be done at the central, state as well as district levels. He stressed the need of Career Counselling particularly in smaller towns and Qasbahs.
Mr Nafisul Hasan of Dehradun described the problems at the practical level and sought a networking of people engaged in socially useful activities all over the country. He stressed that Muslims should come forward to improving their lot themselves; and called upon the Government to implement without delay the recommendations of Ranganathan Commission report.
Mufti Fazlur Rahman Hilal Usmani of Punjab said economics holds special position in Islamic system, and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) gave much higher importance to business than employment.
Maulana Mushtaq of Lucknow stressed the need of proper development of Zakah institutions. Statements and papers from Mr Shamim Siddiqui of America and papers of Mr Malik Muhammad Wasim of UAE and Mr Ariz Muhammad of Hyderabad were also presented in the seminar. The conference was organised by PEACE, Islam, Muslims & the World and Qaumi Ittehad Conference.