M. S. Alam Umri
The statistics and reports produced by the Indian government at different times including Gopal Singh Report of 1983, Rangnath Mishra Report of 2004, Sachchar Committee Report of 2006 and lately 2011 Educational Data about Muslim states of education. and according to that latest data, the percentage of Muslims’ illiteracy is highest among all communities with 42.7%. In other words, it means still about half of Muslim population in India are illiterate. Here, I’m not interested to present you exact numerical educational performances of Muslims at each educational level from pre-schooling to higher-education or the ratio of Islamic institutions and their graduates. My interest is to let’s think together what went wrong that still Muslim community is far behind.
According to the UNISCO Human Development Report 2003, a Muslim citizen reads less than a book in one year and at the same time European read 35 books and Israeli citizens read 40 books. According to the Arab Cultural Development Report 2011, the average of Muslims’ reading is 6 minutes in a year while Europeans dedicate 200 hours in a year for reading on average. Unbelievable! How a nation which is honoured with the Book whose first verse urge for reading “Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists). Has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. Has taught man that which he knew not”;a nation on which learning is an obligation “the pursuit of knowledge is mandatory on each Muslim regardless of gender; man or woman” can be so uncaring and dumb???
These statistics fundamentally raise two scenarios and I believe both are true. One is Muslims are sluggish, do not work hard, do not study, they look for easy jobs and second is that they did not get enough opportunities and some who got the opportunity, had to quit the study at early stage to support their families financially and many did not use the opportunity at all because there is no any awareness. The question is whom to blame? Whom to complain about? My answer is simple and straightforward that it is We. We are the ones whom to be blamed and we are the ones whom to be complained about. Often, I hear my fellow faith mates that it is political parties who have used Muslims for their benefits, they did not think of their interests; moreover, to fulfil them. With due all respects, I do not agree with such claims, we know that India has thousands of political parties, but can you figure out a single party for me where Muslims are not working with.
There is no party where Muslims are not working, even hard-liner BJP and RSS have Muslims who work with them, but they are there for showcase. They have no voice for their community, they follow party’s line and code of conducts. They are the real perpetrators in my view who seek vote from community on the name of their interests but after winning election, they just forget them. There are many Muslims political parties stood for Muslims, but their performance is also unnoticeable. I have no idea why Muslims political parties do not work diligently in a way all citizens regardless of their religion, race and language should desire to make them win in all elections of India.
One of the greatest stigma of Muslim community is it lacks central, comprehensive, accommodative leadership based on لاإله إلا الله and their basic demands of security, freedom of faith, education, job and political belongingness where all political and religioussects regardless where they reside and what language they speak are equal. The Muslim community has become a defensive community; a community which is not proactive and due to this it moves as per its ill-wishers want. They do not have their own roadmap for their activities. The fact is it is aimless, a complete lost community. It is well-known, well-observed, well-discussed issue that due to binary education system, one section of Muslims doesn’t know the basics of secular education and on the other hand, second section doesn’t know the basics of religious education and the gulf between themis widening, such that they do not come together. Both possess extreme views for each other and the irony is still not any serious steps have been taken.
Have you ever thought that this educational backwardness is not limited to Muslims in India only, but it’s a global phenomenon? Comparatively, Muslims are backward in education globally. If we look at the history, we find as long Muslims were knowledge producers, they were the leaders of the world but the day when they became knowledge consumers, they became followers. People looted their wealth, corrupted their faith, misled their community. And if they want to reclaim their history, they must be knowledge producers once again. They must become Abdul Kalam to make their hardcore ill-wishers to respect them. They must become reference and authority in their fields;no matter whether it is educational sector or business or IT or Entertainment or law making or law practising or religious studies and that day no one will dare to ask them to leave the country because without them country will move nowhere. They will be the engine of country and country will need them.
(Writer is PhD. Researcher at IIUM, Malaysia)
M. S. Alam Umri