BASIC ISSUES…Lack of good primary education is a major source of concern for Indian Muslim community. Image credit: Brianna Sacks/Huffington Post
TRAC | CARAVAN DAILY SURVEY
A large percentage of Muslims send their children to community-run schools, to preserve their religious and cultural identity. Unfortunately, the quality of education in majority of these community managed schools is sub-standard. Thus, at the primary level, Muslims are unable to get quality education, which is easily available to students from other communities. This is the first stumbling block faced by a Muslim on the road to development.
Hanif Lakdawala | Caravan Daily
MUMBAI — Indian Muslims, for ages, have successfully lived in the plural society of multiple religions and culture. While time and again, the community has been pushed to the corner by varied forces, it has survived the onslaught to its religious and social identity.
As a result its focus has shifted from constructive growth, essential for its progress, to defensive approach focusing on emotional issues raised by the forces manipulating the electoral politics of the country.
Of late, the games of polarization played by the political ring masters against the Indian Muslims, supported by a section of media and others having vested interests, have triggered a new thought process within the community. The community is conscious of the plot to provoke and destabilize them.
This development has triggered a debate, about identifying the weak spots, which are making the community vulnerable. After doing a ‘Strength Analysis’ of the community in the previous survey in the Caravan Daily, this write-up will try to identify the areas where Muslims of India have lagged behind, affecting their growth and progress..
The author, through Mumbai based research agency, ‘Trends Research Analysis Centre’ (TRAC), conducted an opinion survey of community intelligentsia and scholars.
The sample of 284 respondents across Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Kolkata included those who have a PhD in history, political science, sociology, psychology, arabic, or a recognized course from any of the eminent Islamic seminary or a Madrasa. Using Thurstone scale, these respondents were asked to select various issues affecting the community and rate them on the scale of 1 to 11.
The survey revealed that lack of quality primary education is the Achilles heel of the Muslims of India. 71% of the respondents gave the rating of 10 or more to poor quality of primary education imparted in the schools managed by Muslims.
A large percentage of Muslims send their children to community managed school, to preserve their religious and cultural identity. Unfortunately, the quality of education in majority of these community managed schools is sub-standard. Thus, at the primary level, Muslims are unable to get quality education, which is easily available to students from other communities. This is the first stumbling block faced by a Muslim on the road to development.
Once the damage to a student is done at primary level, it cannot be undone at higher levels, with a result that a large number of Muslim students are unable to compete in the open category or in the job market after college or universities.
Indian Muslims, living in a plural society, have to face peculiar issues which are community specific and religion oriented. In the entire country, there is not a single research or documentation center which could exclusively focus on issues confronted by the community.
68% respondents gave the rating of 9 or more to the absence of legal aid within the community. The Indian Constitution has given Muslims exclusive rights to manage their educational institutes and freedom to exercise religion or belief, teaching, practice and observance. Unfortunately, many statutory bodies and government organs, time and again infringe upon these constitutional rights. Many Muslim managed educational institutes have surrendered their rights to manage the affairs of their institutions.
When it comes to legal assistance, Indian Muslims do not have a single organization that has expertise to deal with issues related to minority constitutional rights.
With electoral politics occupying the center-stage in the country, building bridges with the majority community has become difficult.
In spite of the Quran having specific instructions for Muslims to give alms in charity to orphans and the poor, irrespective of their faith or religions Indian Muslims lag behind in doing so.
If only Quranic instructions were followed, it will go a long way in neutralizing the propaganda promoting hatred towards Muslim. 61 % of the respondents gave rating of 8 or more for the lack of concrete initiatives for building bridges with the majority community.
Strangely enough, despite the Quran being one of the strongest emotional symbols amongst Muslims, it is only read as Tilawat in Arabic, with no plan or organized efforts within the community to learn or teach Quranic Arabic. Not being able to understand Quran, gives birth to ideological confusions and factional strife. This has prevented the community from presenting itself as a role model with an ideal social and economic model to majority community to be emulated.
Indian Muslims, living in a plural society, have to face peculiar issues which are community specific and religion oriented. In the entire country, there is not a single research or documentation center which could exclusively focus on issues confronted by the community. 58% of the respondents gave rating of 7 or more to lack of research on community specific subjects. Even research on religious issues is absent which further spreads confusion and mistrust with other communities and also within the community.
One of the important reasons for the spread of hatred against an Indian Muslim is the misrepresentation of history. The majority community is presented with a distorted history of Islam and Muslims in India. Muslims are presented as invaders and idol breakers. The real contribution of Muslims in the growth and progress of the nation is neglected.
Where are Muslim historians? Why has the community neglected history and directly played in the hands of the merchants of hatred? Even Muslim institutions and organizations do not have proper records of their own history. 55% of the respondents gave rating of 6 or more to the lack of Muslim historians and absence of organized efforts within the community to write and preserve its history.
Economic empowerment of any community depends on banking, finance and availability of loans. As interest is prohibited in Islam, Muslim economists and scholars have till date failed to provide an alternative model, so that the financial needs of the Muslim business community, traders and also a common man are fulfilled. 52% of the respondents gave rating of 5 or more to the absence of any strong interest-free model to fulfill its financial needs.
There is an absolute lack of clarity amongst Muslims of India about the banking system, trading in stock and commodities, and other derivatives..
This write-up with the help of the survey identified the main weak spots within the Muslim community of India. In the follow-up, the Caravan Daily will take up each issue identified as a weak spot in detail.
Hanif Lakdawala is a Mumbai-based community activist, educationist and Director of Trends Research and Analysis Centre (TRAC), a Mumbai based research agency. For feedback, write to [email protected]