03 January 2011

Interview with 'The Companion' magazine at the end of SIO's 14th term.

Interview to 'The Companion' magazine at the end of SIO's 14th term.

·How do you feel at the end of the term?

Alhamdulillah.. The 14th term has ended with a deep sense of happiness. Let me thank and congratulate my team at the centre – Abdur Rafique sb; Bilal, Shahnawaz Ali Raihan, Azharuddin, Shibli Arsalan, Mohammed Irfan and Abul Aala Subhani and the whole members and cadres for their complete cooperation and dedicated hard work. And my wife and kids and my beloved parents, their unyielding support and advices without which this task was impossible. Shukran lakum wa jazakumullahu khair... I pray to Almighty from the depth of my heart, “Oh Allah, we have tried our maximum to perform in its perfection. Accept all the efforts we have done and forgive the mistakes for us in your path...”

·Do you feel satisfied or if you feel something is yet to be done?

As far as the policy program of the year 2009-10 is concerned, yes Alhamdulillah all the activities planned plus a lot more has been done. But as far as the mission is concerned SIO has got miles to go ahead and the efforts made are negligible. Our message is no doubt gaining acceptance in the non-Muslim mass, breaking the ice of pre-conceived notions and prejudices. But our movement, I believe has to do much more to reach out to the people of this country. More creative, meaningful and colourful manifestations of Islam need to be made. As a movement, SIO’s creativity must benefit the student community and society at a wider spectrum. Launching independent forums and endeavours is one such thing. These endeavours can be exemplified as hydrogen balloons, of which threads are not in our hands, initiated by us but meant for and used by the people. I dream of an SIO which is more felt by the nation at various levels.

· What are the major achievements of SIO in your term?

The discourse on ‘Representation of Islam in Plural Society’ and the subsequent out reach into the non-Muslim mass of this country is I would say the most important achievement of SIO in its 14th term. Active participation in global students/youths confederations and taking part in campus union elections at a large scale were under prime focus. Massive public relations exercises were done at central level. SIO has taken some path breaking steps in these areas in this term. Activism embedded with social service was another thrust area. At a time when education reforms are being discussed at its very minute levels, SIO initiated a discourse to deconstruct education of our country from its basic philosophy. “Islamic Philosophy of Education” was raised as a subject of debate in the academic circles and also Muslim students, country wide. SIO also had addressed the menace of “State and Non-State Terrorism” by inculcating balanced thoughts in youth and student community and also exposing the state conspiracies behind propagandas. SIO demanded justice for the victims of state terrorism and also released a revealing book on the issue – “Aatankwad ki Antar Kadha”. A new publishing house named “White Dot Publishers” was launched and two new titles were published. These were some of the major thrust areas and steps taken apart from the regular and routine works that we do.

· What was the discourse on “Representation of Islam in Plural Society”? What were its practical implications in the organisation?

We are living in a country with diversities of multiple spectrums. A country with not only religious diversities but diversities in multiple domains – Culture, ethnicity, linguistics and colour. It is very important for an Islamic movement working in a country like India to learn and understand how Islam and Islamic tradition viewed religious pluralism. Due to reasons pertaining to history, the Hindus and Muslims which together constitute 95% of Indian population has been staying miles apart. Muslim and Hindu population concentrated in different ‘bastis’. All transactions became limited within the community. Muslim community thought only of their own problems and shrinked to themselves. This unfortunately has indeed created an influence in shaping our organizational character too. This distance is the reason of misunderstanding and prejudice on Islam and Muslims. Engagement with the non-Muslim society is the most important step forward. Engaging with non-Muslim society with the beautiful values and message of Islam is primarily what d’awat is. D’awat has been misunderstood as only preaching. And da’ees has been identified as only Tele-evangelists and preachers. But were as every Muslim, individually is a da’ee if represents Islam by his deeds and actions. And representing Islam collectively is by establishing in the society the beautiful values of Islam like justice, peace, loyalty etc. Beautifully presenting Islam orally and textually is d’awat in the second category which only a very few can do. SIO has adopted a work culture where in the non-Muslim mass has been held close and the gap is minimised. That is how the non-Muslim sympathisers has almost doubled the number in this term.

· You have had interactions with Islamic movements worldwide. How do you see SIO in the global map of Islamic movements?

SIO is no doubt the largest Islamic student’s movement in the world which works centralised in such a large geographical area. And it also can be marked as a single largest Islamic student’s movement with the largest number of diversities in the world. All most all the massive Islamic student’s organisations in the world are working in Muslim majority countries. In this global village, Muslims are a minority with a population of approx 23 percent. Therefore SIO’s work culture and priorities are looked upon with great interest by international Islamic confederations. SIO has been admired in the international conferences for its creativity, courage and its slogans which synchronises with present day society.

· In a growing age of cyber and technology, all dimensions of inter-personal relations and society are changing. How did you handle this situation especially in case of young generations coming in and their Tazkiyah part? What do you suggest for people coming in near future?

You are right. Virtual reality has become an inevitable part of student life and it has added a new domain in our activism. An Islamic movement staying far from this reality cannot utilise the wide opportunities which has been open by the world of internet. It’s not only used to communicate with a mass but also to reach out individually to the policy/opinion makers, political leadership and the intellectual cream of this country. SIO has undoubtedly created a parallel media on the net with more than 500 blogs and thousands of micro blogs throughout the country. This has enabled us to reach to a very large audience.

· You've seen SIO in length and breadth of country. What do you feel is the important quality of SIO and its cadre which distinguishes it from rest of society?

Since our organisation is cadre based, obviously the members and cadres have superiority in terms of knowledge and character in comparison with the society as a whole. If you compare SIO cadre with that of other political organisations the difference is that we have sense of social responsibility and divine accountability. More over our cadres does their hard work without any worldly and material ambitions and only for the sake of paradise. If you compare with other Muslim organisations we understand Islam in a larger canvas and as a balanced ideology between extremism and reluctance.

· Anything that you remember most about this termh?

For me every faces of members that I met - from Assam to Gujarat and from Punjab to Kerala - are unique experiences. There are many sweet memories and experiences that I had and InshaAllah will remember and elaborate some other time.

· You're completing your organizational life also. How do you feel while stepping into Jamat. It is said SIO is still not contributing much to Jamat, what do you think are factors for this.

For me personally, even thinking of retirement from SIO is heart breaking. But this is an irresistible phenomenon! There are hundreds of members who are technically retiring from SIO. I would like to remind all of the retiring members that we are not retiring from the movement but only from the organisation which was a temporary setup. All retiring members shall formally enter Jamate Islami Hind by giving an application of membership. It is factually incorrect to say that SIO is not contributing much to Jamaat. Undoubtedly, at the national level more than 80 percent of SIO cadres are assimilated into Jamaat. And it is SIO who is contributing the maximum for Jamaat. Moreover around 50 percent of Jamaat’s first line leadership and 75 percent of second line leadership are contributed by SIO.

· In this term centre did some good experiments like transferring programs formation to zone. Adoption of a very generic and at the same time detailed policy on various fronts by CAC etc. what do you feel about all these experiences?

The experiment of making only policy at central level and living the programs to be formulated at zonal level on the basis of central policy was evaluated as a successful experiment. All zones have their own educational, social and cultural indigenous concerns which need to be taken into account whole formulating the program. I also feel that this federalism needs to go a bit further. States can be grouped into three or four broad categories and policies shall be framed differently for each groups based on their peculiarities. All zones shall be given the freedom to decide on their programs based on the central policy. India is a country with such lot diversities that each state has in itself features of being a separate country. I believe; organisational governance with more flexibility is suitable, practical and effective in our movement.

Let me thank once again to the cadres for the love and care they had given me. May the Almighty unite us all once again in his Jannatul Firdouse... thanks for giving this opportunity..