Have we given them proper sanctity or not ?


As a student of social sciences I can easily discriminate between a sympathetic comment and a snobbish, supercilious attitude that explains the motivational dynamics which underlie RWA. Please don’t confuse this RWA with ‘Resident’s Welfare Associations’ or the body of parvenu fortresses of new Indian culture. I’m talking about ‘Right Wing Authoritarianism’ that is trampling underfoot the secular democratic traditions of Mother India.

Minorities are disrespected in any country whenever they are treated merely as the addressees of the majority rules constraining the formulation and pursuit of their life-plans. An impression is created that being minority, the treatment meted out to them in politics and society is legitimately influenced by the majority judgment. A sense of helplessness prevails among them. It is understood that there is a group in the country that is superior and merciful and the other inferior groups – the receptor of mercies.

The message that the RSS wants to send to Minorities is that you are at the mercy of majority. And since the coming to power of the Modi-BJP government in May 2014 this RWA has emboldened its ambit which is a part of the RSS strategy to convert Secular India into a Hindu Rashtra.

The latest salvo is fired by fired by no other but the Union Minister Union Ravi Shankar Prasad who was responding to a question related to development having an impact on culture and diversity. The honorable minister enlightened the country with the following stately message at the annual ‘Mind Mine Summit’ organized by the ‘Hero Group’ in New Delhi:

“We salute diversity and culture of India. There are two ways of looking at it. Let me be very frank today. There has been campaign against us for a very long time, but today we are here because of the blessings of people of India. We have got 13 Chief Ministers of our own. We are ruling the country. Have we victimized any Muslim gentleman working in industry or service? Have we dismissed them? We don’t get Muslim votes.

I acknowledge very clearly, but have we given them proper sanctity or not? We have a problem with some of our friends. Mostly, the Leftist friends and journalists who entertain a pathological hatred against Narendra Modi. Good luck to them.””
It’s not that Indian Muslims are unfamiliar with such benign blathering at their expense but earlier such efforts were being pushed through at medium pace and into a limited space.

Now the magnitude and speed of such favors have stepped up exponentially. That RSS does not believe in diversity outside the majority compass and their underlying theme is that India belongs to the Hindus alone and so they dub Christianity and Islam as ‘foreign’ religions is now open in Indian skies.

This attitude and the supportive propaganda has relentlessly fueled violence, from the brutal burning of Pastor Graham Stewart Stains on January 23, 1999 in Manoharapur, Orissa, the honorific Kandhmal violence in Orissa 2008 to the introduction of the ‘Freedom of Religion’ Acts in states like Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh to the recent Gau Raksha victims at Muzaffarnagar and Alwar.

Responding to the minister’s remarks, the AIMIM chief and Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad Asaduddin Owaisi on Saturday hit back at Union Minister for Information Technology and Law Ravi Shankar Prasad for his comments that the BJP has given Muslims ‘sanctity’ despite not receiving votes from the community.

“We (BJP) gave them sanctity? Who are ‘we’? It is the constitution that has given rights, our rights are protected under that,” Owaisi was quoted as saying by ANI. Also, the senior Congress leader and former union minister Salman Khurshid said: “I see no reason why someone should feel that a particular segment of society is unable to vote for them.

We should see who does not vote for us & find why and see if it can be addressed. Don’t know from where has ‘sanctity’ come in.”

I think the political patients of ‘foot n mouth disease’ and loose cannons of Indian RWA are hell bent to undo what PM Narendra Modi has been trying to do since he came to power!

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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On Teacher’s Day

teacher

Coming across old acquaintances is a wonderful feeling, more so, if these old acquaintances turn out to be one of your past teachers, it is a bonus. On Teacher’s Day I remember few teachers at primary school levels like Master Dulha Saheb and Durrenajaf Saheb, at college level,  Naqiuddin Saheb, Surendra Kumar Saharma Saheb, Master Anwar Saheb, Hasan Abbas Saheb, Hasan Wafa Saheb, Raghunath Singh Saheb, Ravindranath Kapoor Saheb and at AMU Aligarh, Dr Fazal Mohammed Saheb, Dr Abulhasan Siddiqui Saheb, Dr Irfan Saheb and Sir Brian Mige and Sir Edwin Mendoza at Oxford Street’s HTT College, London who have left their indelible marks on my life.

I’m sorry to miss more names that should have been included in this list. Today I spent a lot of time remembering and praying for the teachers who taught me. All of them would have taught so many thousands like me and maybe many of us students might have become very successful in various fields. We could be well placed, well respected, famous, rich or whatever and a large part of the credit would definitely go to these silent workers in our life. We can never ever forget their role in our lives.

My teachers loved, cared and tried to understand the embodiment of weakness that was I. They  forgave me for my foibles and in the end when many of them are no more I can’t fully explain how I feel their ever presence in my life. The teachers are only supposed to teach but they invariably ended up doing much more than were expected of them. All of us have so many fond memories of our teachers who did in some way or the other contribute to us becoming what we are today. They molded us into individuals to face the world and situations.

I came across a quote somewhere which went something like, “Every situation we face is a learning experience and every person we come across is our teacher.

In every walk of our life we have come across people who have taught us something. Some by giving up a pep and support when it was needed and some who let me down in the worst crucial moments of my life.

Let us always remember with gratitude that, “I do not completely make myself, God makes me, using many others.” I end with the beautiful lyrics of the Bette Midler song ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ which is apt for everyone who has ever taught us:

…Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
for you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you…

…fly high against the sky,
so high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you,

I thank God for you my teacher , the wind beneath my wings.

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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The Martyrdom of Karbala and our ‘Attitudes’

Don’t waste your time chasing things that will never be beneficial to your future.

………..April Mae Monterrosa

But the moot point is – How do we conceive our future – the materialistic future or the spiritual one?

If you are sitting with a religious zealot without a rational attitude, he would advocate a future in Black and White. All sermons and advice would he shower about the nothingness and emptiness of this world and promises of heaven where you might be allowed many of the luxuries (of course chaste and pristine) that you have been looking in this world and didn’t enjoy. May be he would enlighten with the verses of the Holy Book and Holy Traditions like the following:

Surah At – Takathur, 102:1-8
(In the name of Allah – the most Beneficent, the most Merciful)

  1. You are obsessed by greed for more and more.
  2. Until you go down to your graves.
  3. Nay, in time you will come to understand!
  4. And once again: Nay, in time you will come to understand!
  5. Nay, if you could but understand (it) with an understanding (born) of certainty,
  6. you would indeed, most surely, behold the blazing fire (of hell)!
  7. In the end you will indeed, most surely, behold it with the eye of certainty:
  8. and on that Day you will most surely be called to account for (what you did with) the boon of life!

And for an unripe mind, it leads to a thought of giving up all the attractions, magical spells and allurement of this world. And the next streak leads to ASCETISM – the renouncing of this world.

Does the religion of Islam demand that situation?

Indubitably, we as Muslims have a clear purpose in our lives and that is to earn the pleasure of our Creator. The positive feelings such as inner peace, joy, gratitude and hope all devolve around that very concept.

“And I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).”

The Holy Quran Chapter 51:56

This Surah is one of the most powerful and prophetic passages of the Qur’an. It illuminates man’s unbounded greed and tendencies which have come to dominate our societies. We jump with indiscrete to increase in benefits, be they tangible or intangible, real or illusory. It denotes man’s obsessive striving for more and more comforts, more material goods, greater power over his fellow-men or over nature, and unceasing technological progress.

However, it is imperative here to understand the concept of worship. As we understand, the worship of God is not only ritualistic akin to some choreographed acts of gymnastic. Worship of Almighty includes seeking knowledge, fulfilling the family, social, political and state responsibilities, helping others and performing the regular prayer rituals. And to conform to all those duties, tasks and avocations one has to wade through the rough and tough of hard practical life with all its pathos and privations.

The Holy Quran Chapter 67:2

“And We have not created the heaven and earth and what is between them in vain. That is the opinion of those who disbelieve. And woe to such disbelievers, because of the Fire. Shall we treat those who believe and do good deeds as those who spread corruption on the earth? Or shall we treat the pious as sinners?”

Allah wants us to perform good deeds and be honest. Corruption and Islam can never go parallel. We have to strive to do hundred percent justice to all the activities which are entrusted to us. And to perform good deeds we have to be both materialistic and spiritual. Islam proscribes and prohibits ‘asceticism.’ While the religion wants us to live within our means and be content with the modicum of comforts, it exhorts to improve our economic and social conditions by all fair means.

The conventional wisdom suggests that a materialist wants to change the present for a better future. He deals with the unpleasantness of life with intelligent and self-willed efforts and works hard to attain a standard happy life and prosperous life by creating conditions within himself and his environment. He goes by his past experiences and relies upon his strengths and abilities to safeguard his / her interests. While doing all that he prays the Supreme Authority for a positive response.

The problem with the so called-religious-spiritual zealot is that he thinks more about the rituals and prayers and feels that spending most of the time in these activities would entitle him for Allah happiness. He inadvertently ignores his family, social, economic and educational tasks and indulges in the practices that relate to outward show of sainthood and religious paraphernalia. Those errands and engagements hardly make any difference in his attitudes and dealings. On the contrary, this kind of excessive devotion leads to PRIDE in one’s own piousness and importance which is not what the Islam expects.

From an ordinary Muslim, Islam expects the golden mean where there is fine balance in his spiritual activities and his professional responsibilities. The true worship is if we are honest in all the dealings of life; if we lead a simple life without conceit and arrogance; if we take care of our social responsibilities as a good citizen; if we’re to ready to allow our resources to be availed by our needy neighbours; if we give real respect to our elders and lead a life without hate and work hard for a better tomorrow for us and for those who connect us.

As the famous Urdu poet Jigar Moradabadi has said:

“Mehav-E-Tasbeeh To Sab Hain, Magar Idraak Kahan,
Zindagi Khud Hi Ibadat Hai,…….. Magar Hosh Nahi.”


Most of us busy with the prayer string beads without knowing the Real Truth. Are We but conscious and aware that all the activities of our (honest and diligently lived) LIFE itself are PRAYER….Nay, but we are not sentient!

A few weeks later the Mourning Period of Moharrum is approaching when we would recall and remember the Martyrdom of Karbala. I believe the best tribute of Imam Hussain (AS) and his mission would be to fulfill all the responsibilities of life, especially for the youth, to spend time in their studies along with the traditional rituals and prayers in just proportion. The Holy Imam would also never approve our display of wealth, pomp and power in his name. He would love to see his followers taking lead in the world in all positive fields. He would love to see the youth engaged in activities that would enhance their character. Wasting time is never part of worship or mourning of martyrs of Karbala!

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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Hijab -A matter of discussion

Let us try to understand the word Hijab (veil) before going in to further details. Many people like to refer to Hijab as a “personal choice”. Yes. It is a personal choice. It is a personal choice to submit to God rather than the fashion of society. It is a choice to be beautiful to God, rather than to people.Hijab However, Hijab should not just be seen as a cloth one puts on the head. Rather Hijab is a symbol of our worship and servitude to God. It is a symbol of modesty, that is not just about our attire; it extends to our whole demeanor. Let us turn our attention to The Holy Qur’an.

Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or dress like veil, gloves, head cover, apron), and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of feminine sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful”

[Al-Noor 24:31] 


My personal experience

I am a girl who born and bought up in Delhi, still putting my Hijab on wasn’t actually a hard decision for me.
For some Muslim women, it is a real jihad as they can’t imagine themselves wearing a Hijab and covering their hair. I met many Muslim women who were praying, fasting, going to religious meetings, seeking Islamic knowledge, yet they always found excuses why not to wear their Hijab.

Few couplets on Hijab by my father “Sikandar Amrohvi”:

Daur-e-hazir mein taraqqi kar rahi hain aurtein,
Dekho parde mein bhi rehkar har amal mein saath hain

Ye kaun keh raha hai rukawat Hijab hai,
Parde mein bhi jahaz udati hain aurtein

During my school days, I just felt it is impossible to walk in with Hijab in hot summer days, at that time I used to wear Hijab just in winters to protect myself from cold wind. I used to wear my Hijab only during our visit to my Hometown, Amroha but I was always thinking of wearing it outside as well.
After high school Allah responded to my supplications and helped me to finally accept the Hijab completely. When I joined Delhi University, apart from choosing so called happening life style of DU campus I choose to wear Hijab to retain my dignity and to protect myself from shaitan. Most of the friends accepted me with Hijab in fact some of them support and appreciate me while some of them demoralized me with some hurtful comments. I would like to tell my sisters that it’s not as hard to wear Hijab as it seems, it’s just to take a challenge, and accept the reality, try to live a life the way we have learnt from Qura’n.

I do wear trendy clothes and a scarf/Hijab. My clothing is modest. Allah makes Islam easy and tells us to do everything in moderation. Looking presentable and neat is also important especially if you are a Muslim because you are representing Islam.

When we are discussing Hijab, it might come to one’s mind that it’s a kind of marginalization of women, who have to preserve their beauty away from the eyes of all the people except the woman’s husband or some of her relatives. But is it really true that Hijab causes women to be suppressed or marginalized? To be able to answer this question we may look at the advantages of its wearing.

Benefits of Wearing Hijab

Wearing Hijab has being observing a modest Muslim style of dressing offers these benefits:

Represent Purity
Hijab is an indication of dignity and purity. It highlights women as chaste and pure women. I think, the Hijab acts like a shield between chaste Muslim women and the World’s evil.

Protect from male harassment
Research shows that one of Hijab’s most important advantages is the security of the society that clears it from crimes, rape, incest, harassment in daily life, etc. looking at this advantage affirms the idea that by taking off their Hijab social crimes are increasing. I personally feel that if Hijab is observed in true sense by all of us, half of the problems existing in our society related to women will be solved. Maybe we can create a better society for coming generations by opting for Hijab.

Scientific Benefits Of Wearing Hijab:
Protecting the head is very important from a health perspective. Results Of medical tests show that 40-60% of body heat is lost through the head during winters and in summer hijab protects our head from direct sunlight and heatwave, so persons wearing head coverings are protected from cold and heat about fifty-percent more than those who do not.

All these are my personal opinions and feelings about Hijab. Please leave your feedback/comments.

Nuzha Fatima

She was born and bought up in Delhi. Graduated from Jamia Millia Islamia Sr. Sec. School in 2011 and received an undergraduate degree in 2014 in Botany from Delhi University. She earned a degree Bachelor of Education in 2015 from Indraprastha University. She started writing diary at very early age.

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Moharrum, Marsiya and Deccani Bharat


Slowly and sadly, our new generation is distancing away from our rich, cultural and linguistic past. The period and spirit of Mourning of Ashoorah and the following weeks that were known for austerity, devotion and sacrifice of mourners – the azadars of Imam Hussain (AS) are fading into memories. The occasion of AZA is now gradually turning into the mere rituals and traditions. We use these occasions of sorrow to show our status, prosperity and clout to impress the society we live in. In the name of Ghum-e-Hussain we show our fines sherwanis and our ladies are not far behind. They do follow as the best of the Black Fahion Dress which is kept for social gatherings for this period. But this is not the subject of this article. Neither, it is the whole story.
In a majlis, sometime ago, after the Marsiya, I found a boy wondering about the meaning of MUJRAYEE and Zaigham. I wasn’t shocked as even the elders there were ignorant about these words. We have been sliding past down the escarpment of our heritage unknowingly and we all should collectively take the blame.

The recitation of Marsiya has become more like a formality with a few in the audience following what is being narrated. Our children read the BAYAZ with NOHAS scribbled in Hindi and we have our Zakirs with the notebook of Majlis in English Script for Urdu delivery. Times have changed and what is there in store for us in future, only Almighty Allah knows.

Marsiya was the integral part of Azadari-e-Imam-e-Mazloom. It is not a new creation. Long before its induction in Urdu, it existed in Arabic as well as in Persian poetry. The word Marsiya is derived from an Arabic word ‘Rasa’ which means to cry and grieve. The purpose of Marsiya was to mourn over the dead people and to describe their deeds to make people realize their loss. There are a number of Marsiyas in Arabic literature, but the Marsiyas written by Mutumum lbn Navera and Hanfa are considered to be outstanding. Marsiya, in Persian literature was borrowed from Arabic. The first Marsiya was written by Muhtasham Kashi during the Safawid period (1523-1578). The most popular Marsiyas, both in India and Iran, were written by Mulla Hussain Kashifi called Rawzat ul-Shuhada. Earlier Marsiya were recited only for selective audience of aristocrats. Then, as the next step and natural culmination of the literary efforts, it was to make popular in masses. The poets of marsiya went to majalis and soon it was considered to be a religious duty as well as an honor to recite in public. The Marsiya in Dakni literature, therefore, became exclusively a poem in which the tragedy of Karbala was described. Much of the tragedy of Karbala has been Indianized in that period. The Dakni poets have described the engagement of Hazrat Qasim in pure Indian setting. All the ceremonies and costumes they have mentioned are Indian. This goes to show that culture plays a vital part even in religious traditions. Indianization of the ceremonies connected with the Muslim festivals was aimed and practiced by the Qutb Shahs of Deccan.

The Marsiyas are now purely religious in nature. They are written to identify oneself with the martyrs of Karbala. Therefore, they express deep devotion and sorrow of the poet. This genre of poetry is a valuable source of information also. They describe the deep human emotions, pathos, sufferings, sacrifices and ceremonies of Muharram. You find in Marsiya the details of the articles used in the times of Imam, the costumes worn, the jewelry used and the customs.

The earlier form of Marsiya was not the same as it is today. The poets of the Qutb Shahi period wrote Marsiya in the form of present Salam. The length of the marsiyas used to be much shorter. It generally had seven to nine couplets, with a Maqta as the last couplet.

The Qutb Shahs of Deccan not only patronized the Marsiya writing, but themselves wrote Marsiyas. Qutub Shahi dynasty were Shias but they encouraged the poets of other sects to participate in the literary exercise. There were as many as twenty one poets, during the Qutb Shahi period, who wrote Marsiyas and they were not all Shias – many Sunnis and some of them belonged to Silsila-e-Qadria.

In Ashoorkhanas (Imam Barahs or Imam Bargahs), the people irrespective of their status were made to sit on the floor, covered with Daries or Qaleen. The poet or the Marsiya Khawn then climbed the scaffolding platform called ‘Minbar’ and recited in tune, as the practice was during the later period, or just read. But it is certain that there was no Majlis, in which Marsiya was not recited and the view gets its confirmation as the Marsiyas address the people directly.

The first poet of Golconda who wrote the first Marsiya in the Deccan was Wajihi. But it was Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, who gave a set form to the Marsiya and helped in its progress. There are five Marsiyas in his Kulliyat, four are in the form of Salaam and one in the form of Masnavi. Beside Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, Abdullah Qutb Shah also wrote Marsiyas. Marsiya writing was considered a great honour. Beside Marsiya, there are three more forms of poetry which are connected with the Majlis. They are Salaam, Nowha and Soz. Nowha, unlike Marsiya does not contain any description or the details of the events. It is simply meant to express the feelings of sorrow and perform Matam.

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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A Happy Diwali to All My Friends !

To my Countrymen in general and Hindu brothers and sisters in particular :
“A festival full of sweet childhood memories,
sky full of fireworks,diwali-img
mouth full of sweets,
house full of diyas and heart full of joy.
Wishing you all a very happy Diwali!”
My parents never told us that Diwali was a Hindu festival. My maternal grandfather would take us to town bazaar where we buy ‘QANDEELS’ the scintillating colored lamps, “Kheelen” the rice puffs and “Khand Ke Khilone’- the Candy molded toys. Qandeels would decorate the central places, between the arched pillars of our house, and gave a romantic exotic look that appeared mysterious also. Few senior villagers who had survived the ZAMINDARI ABOLITION of 1952, and were nostalgic and compassionate enough to remember their Ex-Zamindar would bring the handmade sweets to our haveli. My father would welcome them with open arms, a warm embrace and a plate full of local sweets. Tea was not popular in those days. My mother would prepare a jaggery-milk concoction with a touch of saffron for the special guests. She would send in ‘MARDANA’, the hall for males, silver goblets, filled up to brim and perched precariously on a fancy tray. The Diwali guests were given the family status and all our siblings would come out to offer our respect and greetings to our Chowdhry Tayajis one by one. It was the payback of hospitality and courtesy to those who had come all the way from the villages to recall the good or bad times when Zamindar was next to the king.
As I cherish memories of my childhood, Diwali occupies an important space upon that canvass. Diwali was one of the most joyous times of the year. I can still vividly recall our old haveli bathing in fluctuating lights of the traditional tiny oil lamps. The small earthen cups were positioned on windowsills and paths leading to house. Electricity was a luxury and few could have boasted that privilege. Our parents kept reminding us to be careful as we ran to avoid catching fire. We were conservative Muslims but we loved to celebrate ‘Raksha Bandhan’ and ‘Diwali.’ These were our festivals.
Other exciting aspect of Diwali for us was the fireworks. These came in a great variety – sparklers, Catherine wheels, Roman candles, rockets, firecrackers, etc. There were restriction set that forbade us to enjoy loud crackers and heavy rockets. We would crackle the Khand toys rice puff all through the day and visit the decorated, glittering noisy bazaars in night with our father to enjoy the razzle dazzle. In the main market, the sweet shops used to offer infinite varieties of Indian sweets – laddoo, halva, burfi, rasmalai, jalebi, etc. Our Hindu friends would exchange sweets and often trendy clothes with the neighbours, friends and extended families.
Uncle Mathur would remind us that the day was the celebration of Return of the Raja Ram and his brothers after exile.
With the razing down of the Babri Masjid and death of the father, these celebrations have become the memories of past. Speeches of myopic politicians and torch bearers of divisions in society and their likes have extinguished those flames of love, excitement and respect for the common heritage. Decades after independence, the miasma failed to rekindle the spirit that my family had kept alive for generations. Still, I hope and pray the return of those good old days. Again I wish all – A Very Happy Diwali.

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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Yeh Ummat Khurafat Men Kho Gayee

Modern Science is mapping the human brain waves today and we, the Muslims, are put to sound sleep. Alas, our sleep has been stretched too long and too deep. ‘The story of Seven Sleepers’, in our context is transmuted into a pathetic narrative. We are meandering down a slope that is leading to an abyss of ignorance. But why it is happening? Some facts of negative progress or retrogress are simple to parody but hard to comprehend; some realities are too stubborn and stare directly into our faces; some lapses and misfortunes compel us to look back into retrospect and some chapters of our own history inspire to brood why the darker nights of ignorance have so horribly enveloped the believers of ‘Towheed’? What has happened to our faculties of observation, analysis and our perceptions? Why are we rendered so intellectually numb and why are we failing to envision for the new dawn? The tragedy that the cohesive whole of our Ummah is highlighted in the following paragraph that I had picked from some periodical long ago:
“In 2005 Harvard University produced more scientific papers than 17 Arabic-speaking countries combined. The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims have produced only two Nobel laureates in chemistry and physics. Both moved to the West: the only living one, the chemist Ahmed Hassan Zewail, is at the California Institute of Technology. By contrast Jews, outnumbered 100 to one by Muslims, have won 79. The 57 countries in the ‘Organization of the Islamic Conference’ spend a puny 0.81% of GDP on research and development, about a third of the world average. America, which has the world’s biggest science budget, spends 2.9%; Israel lavishes 4.4%.”

The chasm between a Muslim and Knowledge, especially in the field of the applied Sciences, is too wide. However, it would be a futile effort if we keep crying over the split milk. Let us try to explore the causes and remedies.”

The Islam as introduced by the Prophet Hazrat Mohammed Mustafa (PBUH) was a doctrine that was concomitant of Progress. Progress is fruition of Knowledge and Science is nothing but Knowledge.

What is Science?

To define it in nutshell – “Science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.”
The word science comes from the Latin “SCIENTIA,” meaning knowledge. How do we define science? According to experts of diction and philosophy, science is “knowledge attained through study or practice covering general truths that are obtained and tested through reliable and repeat processes. These methods are purely concerned with the physical world.” What does that really mean? Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena.

Science as defined above is sometimes called ‘Pure Science.’ The application of research evolved from science in relation to human needs is known as ‘Applied Science’ It could be further classified into Natural Sciences which cover the study of natural world and Social Science that encompass the systematic study of human behavior and society.

The pertinent question challenging us today – Is Islam inimical or hostile to Science?

If you could afford to forget the blood curdling and gun trotting fanatic terrorists with black tunics and hoods and imagine the clear advice our Prophet (PBUH) had delivered more than fourteen hundred years ago, we would realize that he had emphasized that the material world can only be understood through scientific inquiry. Islamic culture is a knowledge based culture. He valued science over extensive worship and declared: ‘An hour’s study of nature is better than a year’s prayer’. He had directed his followers to ‘listen to the words of the scientist and instill unto others the lessons of science’ and ‘go even as far as China in the quest of knowledge’.

Today it might sound odd to our westernized generation but Islam had actually encouraged the pursuit of scientific knowledge right from its inception. The Holy Book places immense emphasis on scientific knowledge. The first Quranic word revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is ‘Read’. It refers, amongst other forms of readings, to reading the ‘signs of God’ or the systematic study of nature. It is a basic tenet of Muslim belief that the material world is full of signs of God; and these signs can only be deciphered through rational and objective inquiry.

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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Eid Mubarak

Eid-ul-Fitr is a festival that marks the end of the Holy month of Ramazan. This joyous day is celebrated to give thanks for the blessings of Ramadhan. Muslims attend the congregational Eid prayer service which is held in the morning. They wear new clothing, cook delicious food and invite friends and neighbors to celebrate with them. Fasting during Ramazan inspires sympathy for the hungry and needy, and encourages Muslims to donate generously to the poor. It is also an occasion for prayers when the Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder, to demonstrate the equality and equity which is the inherent feature of Islamic society all over the world.

It is the most important festival in the Islamic calendar (Muslim Holiday). It is interesting to know that this day does not mark any historical event or episode. It is just a thrilling joyous day that provides the Muslims an occasion to offer thanks to Allah for having given them the strength and the will to observe fast during the holy month of Ramadan.  The greatest significance of this day of rejoicing lies in the fact that on this day every Muslim is enjoined to give the needy food at the rate of the prescribed weight per every member of his household, including servants and guests who were sheltered under his roof the preceding evening. It is called FITRA. Based on this deed, the day is called Eid-ul-Fitr. In nutshell we can say – It is the day for the haves to share a portion of what they have with the have-nots.

This day also offers an opportunity of spiritual stock-taking. We ponder over the strength of our will or the weakness of our character. For those who disobeyed the commands of Allah in past, this is the finest chance to confess the pangs of their conscience, inner struggle and continuous realization of the feebleness of their character. We fast the 30 days of Ramazan and avail and enjoy the spiritual, social, scientific and medical benefits from fasting. We are supposed to obey Allah, unquestioningly, without complaint, without regret, in humility and in charity.
We ask this day to Allah to forgive our sins and we believe that Merciful and Beneficent God confers His favors with a promise,”Oh My subjects, it is now for thee to ask for Me to give.”

It is the day to show, to express and demonstrate the measure of a man’s love for his Creator is his unquestioned obedience to the commands of the Creator.
On this day, we pray for the good of our neighbors irrespective of their caste, creed and religion; we pray for the bright future of our Mother Land and for the eternal happiness, prosperity, good will and unity in diversity of whole mankind.
Here I’m quoting the messages of few world leaders on this auspicious holy day:

Ayatullah Rouhani of Iran –The message reads, “I congratulate all Muslim governments and nations on Eid al-Adha which is manifestation of sincerity and faith in God Almighty. I hope that we will witness restoration of peace in the international community and friendship among the nations and the Muslim Ummah in particular, by taking advantage of teachings of divine prophets.” In the messages, he wished success, good health for his counterparts and dignity and happiness for the Muslim nations and governments.

In his Eid Greetings President Obama says: “Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to Muslim communities in the United States and around the world as they celebrate Eid-al-Fitr. For Muslims, Ramadan has been a time of fasting, prayer and spiritual renewal. These past four weeks have also been a time to serve the less fortunate — a reminder of the obligations that people of all faiths have to each other. In the United States, Eid-al-Fitr speaks to the truth that communities of faith — including Muslim Americans — enrich our national life, strengthen our democracy and uphold our freedoms, including the freedom of religion. That is why we stand with people of all faiths, in the United States and around the world, in protecting and advancing this universal human right. On behalf of the American people, we congratulate Muslim Americans and Muslims around the world on this joyous day. Eid Mubarak.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has released a message wishing Muslims “a very happy and peaceful Eid ul Fitr” – the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan:

“I want to send all Muslim families in the United Kingdom and around the world my best wishes for this very special time of Eid. The ending of the Holy month of Ramadan is a joyous time as families and friends join to together in celebration. This year many of you will come together to contemplate the appalling scenes we have witnessed on our streets and how our communities have been affected. Community spirit however remains strong in this country. I was particularly moved by the scenes of a united community coming together in Birmingham, not only to mourn the deaths of three young friends, but also to issue a strong message of unity and cohesion with people of other faiths. Peace, forgiveness and unity are the spirit of Eid. They are important messages now and will remain so long into the future. I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Eid ul Fitr. Eid Mubarak.”

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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The Brief History of Hazrat Syed Sharafuddin Shahwilayat

Let this scribe make a confession: He is no authority upon the subject – ‘Life and Events of Syed Hussain Sharafuddin Shahwilayat’. He is neither a historian nor a scholar chronicler or a very strong devotee of any cult or tradition. This article is simply based upon some folk stories, magazines, books, stray observations, cluttered thoughts and last but not least – some figments of unintended imagination. The reader is free to accept, reject, condemn and challenge any content of it at his own standards of merit and knowledge.

Before I describe the brief history of the Saint Sharafuddin Shahwilayat I feel it would be justified if I share few thoughts about Tasawwuf which could be simply described as the traditional Islamic science of self-improvement and spirituality. It is related to Sufism and defines our relationship with Allah. According to Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi – Many people have misunderstandings about tasawwuf. Many think that it is something beyond the Qur’an and Sunnah. Errant Sufis as well as the superficial ulema, although on the opposite ends of the spectrum, are together in holding this mistaken notion.

Consequently the first group has shunned the Qur’an and Hadith while the second group has shunned tasawwuf. Actually, although the term tasawwuf, like many other religious terms in use today, evolved later, the discipline is very much part of the Shariah. The department of the Shariah relating to external deeds like salat and zakat is called fiqh while the one dealing with the internal feelings and states of the heart is called tasawwuf. Both are commanded in the Qur’an. Thus while commanding Salat and Zakat, the Qur’an also commands gratefulness and love of Allah and condemns the evil of pride and vanity. Similarly, in the books of hadith, along with the chapters on Ibadat, trade and commerce, marriage and divorce, are to be found the chapters on riya’ (show off) takabbur, akhlaq, etc. These commands are as much a mandatory requirement as the ones dealing with external deeds. Its focus is tahzeebe akhlaq or the adornment of character; its motive is the attainment of Divine pleasure; its method is total obedience to the commands of the Shariah.

Sufism traces its origin precepts to Hazarat Mohammed (PBUH) through his cousin and son-in-law, first Imam and 4th Caliph of Islam Hazrat Ali (KAW). There is only one connection ‘Naqshbandiya’ which claims its origin to Hazrat Abu Bakar, the 1st Caliph of Islam. According to great Iranian scholar Abu Rayhan Albiruni, the ‘Sufi’ word is derived from the Greek word ‘Sofia’ meaning wisdom. The Sufi practiced asceticism and shunned the pomp and pursuit of pleasure flouted by Umayyad, Abbasi, Khilji and Toughlaq dynasties. They never preferred the company of feudal aristocrats for pleasure.

Today the picture of gun-totting terrorists, bombs and preachers-of-hate is in absolute contrast to the cool, inspiring, loving, smiling and reassuring images that conjure up when we remember Nund Reshi, Lalleshwar or Dehat Bibi, the saints of Kashmir Valley.

Pass through a cent per cent Non-Muslim locality and hark the melodious renditions of folk singers reciting:

“Chap tilak sab cheeni, baat ajab keh dini, mohe suhagan keenhi, monse nayna milayke…….”

(The eyes met and I gave up all the symbols of faith, my beloved spoke some enchanted words and made me a bride). You instantly knew the creator of these words – Ameer Khusrau.

Visit any dargah in your town when you feel exhausted and need some urgent peace of mind and the sacred ambience, the Qawaals will be there to welcome you with “Haideriyam Qalandram mastam, banda-ey Murtaza Ali hastam, Peshway tammam rindanam, ke sag-e-kooye-Yazdanam” (I’m a mendicant of Haider’s order, I’m a pure disciple of Ali Murtaza, who is the leader of all the Universe. I’m the dog of the lane of Mustafa (PBUH).)

Tasawwuf is the soul of Islam. Its function is to purify the heart from the lowly bestial attributes of lust, calamities of the tongue, anger, malice, jealousy, love of the world, love of fame, niggardliness, greed, ostentation, vanity, deception, etc. At the same time it aims at the adornment of the heart with the lofty attributes of repentance, perseverance and.

In India the concept of Tasawwuf is followed and practiced in different forms and different schools. They are not radically different from each and a subtle nuance of names categorizes them as beautiful branches of the same spiritual plant that shades over the schism that prevails  in basics of belief. I am giving below the most popular schools of Tasawwuf.

Chishtiyyah:

The Chishtiyya order emerged out of Central Asia and Persia. The first saint was Abu Ishaq Shami (d.940–41 A.D.) establishing the Chishti order in Chisti Sharif within Afghanistan. The notable saint Moinuddin Chisti (d. 1236 A.D.) has championed this order within India, making it one of the largest orders in India today. Scholars also mentioned that he had been a part-time disciple of Abu Najib Suhrawardi. Khwaja Moiuddin Chishti was originally from Sistan (eastern Iran, southwest Afghanistan) and grew up as a well traveled scholar to Central Asia, Middle East, and South Asia.[He reached Delhi in 1193 A.D. during the end of Ghurid reign, then shortly settled in Ajmer-Rajasthan when the Delhi Sultanate formed. Moinuddin Chishti’s Sufi and social welfare activities dubbed Ajmer the “nucleus for the Islamization of central and southern India.” The Chishti order formed KHANQAH to reach the local communities, thus helping Islam spread with charity work. Islam in India grew with the efforts of dervishes, not with violent bloodshed or forced conversion. Until this day, both Muslims and non-Muslims visit the famous tomb of Moinuddin Chishti; it has become even a popular tourist and pilgrimage destination. Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar (d. 1605 A.D.), the 3rd Mughal ruler frequented Ajmer as a pilgrim, setting a tradition for his constituents. Successors of Khwaja Moinudden Chishti include eight additional saints; together, these names are considered the big eight of the medieval Chishtiyya order. Moinuddin Chisti (d. AD 1233 in Ajmer, India), Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (d. AD 1236 in Delhi, India), Fariduddin Ganjshakar (d. AD 1265 in Pakpattan,Pakistan), Nizamuddin Auliya (d. AD 1335 in Delhi), Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehalvi, Bande Nawaz (d. AD 1422 in Gulbarga, India), Akhi Siraj Aaine Hind (d. 1357 in Bengal India, Alaul Haq Pandavi and Ashraf Jahangir Semnani (d. AD 1386, Kichaucha India).

Suhrwardiyyah:

The founder of this order was Abdul-Wahir Abu Najib as-Suhrawardi (d. 1168 A.D.). He was actually a disciple of Ahmed Ghazali. The teachings of Ahmad Ghazali led to the formation of this order. This order was prominent in medieval Iran prior to Persian migrations into India during the Mongol Invasion. Consequently, it was Abu Najib as-Suhrawardi’s nephew that helped bring the Suhrawardiyyah to mainstream awareness.

Naqshbandiyyah

The origin of this order can be traced back to Khwaja Ya‘qub Yusuf al-Hamadani (d. 1390 A.D. ), who lived in Central Asia. It was later organized by Bahauddin Naqshband (b. 1318–1389 A.D.) of Tajik and Turkic background. He is widely referred to as the founder of the Naqshbandi order. Khwaja Muhammad al-Baqi Billah Berang (d. 1603 A.D.) introduced the Naqshbandiyyah to India. This order was particularly popular Mughal elites due to ancestral links to the founder, Khawja al-Hamadani. Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty in 1526 A.D., was already initiated in the Naqshbandi order prior to conquering India. This royal affiliation gave considerable impetus to the order.

Qadiriyyah

The Qadiriyyah order was founded by Abdul Qadir Gilani who was originally from Iran (d. 1166 A.D.).[ It is popular among the Muslims of South India. As a widespread order, the Qadiriyyah had a prominent sheikh in India. Muhammad Mayan Mir (d. 1635 A.D.) was a famous scholar known for significant non-Muslim tolerance and community service work. Worlds largest religious organisation Dawate-E-Islami also belongs to the Qadiriyyah order whose founder was Moulana Ilyas Qadri.

Sufism helped the assimilation of the Afghani Delhi Sultanate rulers within mainstream society. By building a syncretic medieval culture tolerant and appreciative of non-Muslims, they contributed to the growth of stability, vernacular literature, and devotional music in India. Literature related to monotheism and the Bhakti movement also formed syncretic influences in history during the Sultanate period. Sufi scholars traveling from all over continental Asia were instrumental in the social, economic, and philosophic development of India. Besides preaching in major cities and centers of intellectual thoughts, Sufis reached out to poor and marginalized rural communities and preached in local dialects such as Urdu, Sindhi, Panjabi versus Persian, Turkish, and Arabic. Their teachings of humanity, love for God and Prophet (PBUH) continue to be surrounded by mystical tales and folk songs today. Sufis were firm in abstaining from religious and communal conflict and strived to be peaceful elements of civil society. Furthermore, it is the attitude of accommodation, adaptation, piety, and charisma that continues to help Sufism remain as a pillar of mystical Islam in India.

The History of Hazarat Shahwilayat:

To begin with, very few history books are available in India now where he is mentioned in any form in relation to larger SUFI Movement of India. Perhaps, his father was shy of éclat and preferred the ascetic life of Amroha which was often referred as Qasba Azizpore in those days. He didn’t make Delhi or any royal city of his final abode. There is no provision of SAJJADA NASHEENI in his hierarchy that is so common and necessary in Sufi Schools. One can safely conclude that he had a limited spiritual domain and he loved the simple life of towns and villages.

He was the son of Mira Ali Buzurg who was a learned scholar. His mother’s name was ‘Umme Habeeba’ and she was the daughter of Syed Abdul Moueed Ali. Syed Jalaluddin Haider Surkh Posh, the famous saint of earlier Muslim Indian Sultanete, was the real brother of Bibi Umme Habiba.

The parents of Shahwilayat were direct descendents of Imam Ali al-Naqi al-Hadi (AS) – the 10 th Imam. Imam’s period coincides with the rule of Abbasids – AlWathiq and Al Mutawakkil. These rulers were jealous of Imam’s reverence, popularity an following among ordinary Muslims. He concocted excuses and called Imam from Medina and imprisoned him at Samrrah, Iraq. He achieved martyrdom on 3 rd Rajab 252 AH at the age of 42 years. He left behind five children:
1. Hazrat Imam Hasan (the 11 th Imam)
2. Hazrat Hussain
3. Hazrat Mohammed
4. Hazrat Jafar
5. Bibi Aisha

They migrated to the city of Sauda in Syria and from there to ‘Wasit’ a hamlet in Iraq. This town was established at the bank of River Dajla by Hajjaj Bin Yussuf in 83 AH. After a lapse of considerable time new designs of agriculture and water resources diverted water to other canals and waterways and it resulted in scarcity of water in the town. Political and Administrative frictions compounded and made life unbearable for the descending generations of Syeds of Abbasid Kingdom. Syed Mira Ali Buzurg had three sons and one daughter.
1. Syed Hasan
2. Syed Hussain Shahwilayat
3. Syed Mohammed
4. Bibi Umme Salema

Bibi Umme Salema and Syed Hasan died in childhood. In 662 AH, to avoid the persecution and tyranny of ruler they decided to leave their ancestral lands for the good and migrated to Bhakkar in Multan (now in Pakistan).

And according to many scholars, in the year of 670 AH, 2 nd Zil Hij (corresponding to Wed 29 th June 1272 AD) Hazrat Sharafuddin Shahwilayat, his father Syed Mira Ali Buzurg and his family along with many other members of his family group came to India via Multan and settled in Amroha. It was during the rule of Sultan Ghyasuddin Balban. However, some scholars disagree and claim that in 690 AH, during the rule of Sultan Jalaluddin Firoz Shah Khilji, the family landed in Amroha.

Boy Sharfuddin received his primary education Dars-e-Quarn and Hadith at home and his father was his mentor and tutor. As grown-up he was trained in spiritual disciplines by Syed Jalauddin, Syed Bahuddin – the father-in-law of Syed Jalauddin and Moulana Nasehuddin Suharwardi s / o Qazi Hameeduddin Nagori. The names of Saint Arif Suharwardi and Syed Usman Lal Shahbaz Qalander aka Jhulewala are included in the list of his teachers.

He was assigned the area between River Ganges and Kumayun Hills as his preaching spiritual domain by his spiritual guides. He followed the simple ascetic life and his message was universal love and respect. He was admired and received warmly by the people of all the faiths. The fame of his piety and erudition spread in all the four corners around Amroha.

The famous book of Amrohvi history ‘Tareekh-e-Wastiya’ describes Mohalla PACHDARA as the maiden nest for newly arrived family. He was married to Bibi Kaneez Fatima, the daughter of Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari and they had three children.
1. Syed Mir Ali Buzurg
2. Syed Abdul Aziz
3. Bibi Baqia-ut-tahirah aka Bibi Bakhuhi.

Bibi Bakhuhi was known for her piety,simplicity and devotion to prayers. The grave of Bibi comes your sight when you enter the gate of dargah.

There is no authentic record how long Hazrat Sharfuddin stayed in Amroha and then left for Kumyun Hills for meditation and prayers. His trip to Hills was meant to acquire knowledge and practice Riyazat, Chillakashi and special prayers. It was a sort of specialized spiritual training in splendid isolation. For this reason alone he was also called as PEER PAHARI – The Saint of Hills.

Some chronicles have mentioned about the trees he planted in the hills to support his place of meditation which was similar to MACHAN. He brought back those plants to Amroha when he returned. One of those plants survived and is still believed to be sheltering the shrine. He died on 21 Rajab 739 AH and was buried in Amroha.
He had also performed Haj and stayed in Mecca for 7 years. No dated of departure or arrival for Haj are available.

Syed Mohammed Abdal Dooda Dhari, a close relative of Shahwilayat was one of his appointed subordinate but Syed Sharafuddin instructed to discontinue the practice of baiyat and the system of succession was discarded forever in his lineage. Dooda Dhari Saheb died in 798 AH and all the sacred belongings of Hazrat Sharfuddin were buried with him.

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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Our TEHZEEB – Gone With The Wind

Life is not so short but that there is always time for courtesy.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life is a difficult journey. We can pass through it easily if we make it easy for others. We make it one hell for ourselves; thorny and rocky for others if we forget that everyone needs respect, love and admiration even if he / she doesn’t demand for it. Courtesy and politeness are the best attributes to make life more amenable and conducive to peaceful co-existence. Customs, conventions and manners are the expressions of mutual understanding, sharing and appreciation. These traits do not make life difficult as someone had said, “Etiquette rules are fancy stuff invented to make the rest of us feel stupid.” It is not true. Relationships of existence, whether close or distant, become more bearable in the difficult times if we adopt or follow the fundamental principle of mutual respect. Unfortunately, as we are climbing the ladder of material progress and growth while we are leaving the good manners as dispensable flotsam – something we could do without. Children do not respect their parent, students don’t respect their teacher, a subordinate doesn’t respect the boss and public no longer respect the leader. The vice-versa, so essential for smooth sailing is also true. We are giving up the prescription the basic rules of existence and subsistence in our daily routines. There is hardly any consideration for others. Proper manners came into being not artificially, but these were based on an authentic concern for the love and respect of others.

Why our social relations so shattered today? Watch out the lonely street or a crowded shopping mall, a railways compartment or a bus stop. Everyone is busy with his or her mobile. No one wants to talk face to face. We avoid each other. Why? Just because we need not very many good manners while we initiate or carry forward the dialogue on mobile. Good manners and normal courtesy have been disregarded as unnecessary and superfluous. The pillars of shared ethical and moral code of conduct are rendered useless like Morse Key and Telegraphic system.

In these times of fast life, Dellhi, Lucknow and Hyderabad, the cities once the citadels of culture and traditions have become an emaciated shadow of their past. Delhi – 6 is difficult to distinguish from Noida – 60. Where are all the old Delhi Walas disappeared no one knows. In Lucknow you have to visit the Imambarahs and museums if you are looking for the culture Nawabs had left. No more Ikke-wallas are there to welcome you in a style that once used to make you feel respectable and important in the hoary past when you came out the ‘Char Bagh Station.’ In Hyderabad, you have to wriggle out of the complex Telengana issue to reach out to someone who has time for you to talk in the original sweet Hyderabadi lingua franca.

Demanding ‘self-restraint’ is consideration for others : A courteous man is a man of refinement, a gentleman or lady considers for others at all times. A golden rule of the past which is sadly disregarded at present is to rise to one’s feet when a lady, a senior person or a dignitary enters a room. This was a sign of respect for age and rank. A simple gesture like this helped to instill in youth a respect for age, rank, and authority. It used to instill the self confidence in both. Anyone cares to do that ?

The laws of hospitality were the corner stone of our spiritual and social development. In them were the reflections of the wisdom of the ages. Today hospitality is overtaken by hostility. A young boy is not willing to vacate the seat for a senior citizen in the transport even if it is clearly reserved for him. A well-dressed man doesn’t want to get up from the ladies seat until the lady demands for it. The hostility, alienation, and vulgarity of the modern day is the direct output of our hedonistic approach to life – devoid of spirituality and reason. We are leaving behind the manners and etiquette that had profound meaning to make life easier and more bearable.

So, when in a beautiful winter morning I was enjoying my Nahari and Nan at Bismillah Hotel, Ballimaran, Dehi- 6, a young boy sneaked into my hitherto unoccupied opposite chair and checked politely, “Can I sit here.”
If a seat is empty your opposite no one would care to ask your permission in Delhi to sit there. It is always his birth right. The very enquiry was a pleasant surprise.“You’re welcome, tashreef rakhen Janab.”

The gentleman took the seat with a smile and fired his first salvo – “I’m a real original Delhi Wala and your nice SHERWANI has compelled me to share the table with you.”
I got a lurking fear that he might be a cheat, a poseur ready to go fast on me. However, without knowing what was there in store for me I replied politely that I was honored. I’d been an old Aligarian (an Old Student of Aligarh Muslim University) and Sherwani wass still the integral part of my dress.”

Before I move on my story, I must make a confession. Unfortunately, I’d never felt at home at Delhi. I feel uncomfortable with the supercilious, plastic, back-stabbing, nasty and self-reverential culture of Delhi or New Delhi. To me, Mumbai / Bombay has always been real, straight, practical and beautiful; to me Mumbai is the center of attraction of life, a land of honest, hard-working and no-nonsense inhabitants. Many ideas could never be justified. You just feel them, savor them as candy floss. Being away of my country had often made me home-sick, nostalgic and at times morose. So, while I may stay anywhere I always long to go back to Mumbai; I want to have my breakfast of Brun-Pao at a Sun Light Hotel in Colaba and lunch of Seekh Kabab at Byculla or Biryani at Olympia. I miss Barah Handi Paye of Bhindi Bazar, and Puorhits’ Thali at Churchgate. It would if be a grave injustice if I do not recall the nice food of Sher-e-Punjab at V.T. and Delhi Darbar at Faras Road. Bombay had been my KARAM BHOOMI and I love this city as I love my own existence.

To continue my story, I was enjoying the winter-brunch at Old Delhi, expecting nothing but an Urdu Akhbar and some solitude with good food. This gentleman was an unwanted intruder into my life.

“Mohatrum, may I dare to ask you a question?”
“Of course you could as long as it is not too personal.”
“Where did you get your Sherwani stitched?”
“At Bombay, Mohammed Ali Road….”
“Thanks for enlightening me. I thought we have the finest Sherwani tailors only in Aligarh and Delhi. Your’s is a masterpiece with nine buttons.”

Usually I’m a well dressed individually and deem it unnecessary to welcome the comments upon my attire. I always dress for myself and put on what I like irrespective of what others think of my dress. The saving grace is that none of my dependable friend or relative did ever report that my dress was improper for the occasion and anyone ever laughed at it.

My expressions were categorical in suggesting that I no longer enjoyed the continuity of discussion or his company. He got up from the seat with a ‘Khuda Hafiz’ and a genuine smile on his face he left.

I was wondering after his departure why he made a reference of nine buttons in my Sherwani. The close scrutiny of Sherwani revealed that the sequence of my buttons was wrong and I could have been an object of ridicule had I attended the meeting in that style. There was a funny pop in the middle with a wrongly placed button. The boy saved me a serious embarrassment without slighting or hurting my ego. That was the Delhi – 6 at its best. I put it right and was looking for the boy when I stepped into the street. It was a turning point that redefined my feeling and kindled the respect for Delhi.
I wish you a day filled with courtesy, flowing in grace, to you and from you!

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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