I was recently invited to speak at the Youm-e-Rahmatul-lil Alameen by Maulana Abdul Raheem Qureshi of the All India Tameer-e-Millat in Hyderabad.
This is an annual commemoration of the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is indeed an important event as it emphasizes his humanistic role and sheds light on the peaceful evolution of society. It is especially important in present times when youth are becoming excited by murderous organizations and are setting off to fight in a self-contrived cause that is entirely bereft of any religious ideal.
Accompanied by the energetic Aijaz Ahmed Khan President JCA – India Forum, I arrived at Hyderabad airport and was warmly received by Mohammed Khaleequr Rahman, a social activist and campaigner of “Youth Against Speed”. He is very popular among young people and serves as a role model for many. Also present at the event was Ziauddin Nayyar, an interesting man. He is the Vice President of Iqbal Academy in Hyderabad, which houses 55,000 of Allama Iqbal’s books. Iqbal is often described as the “Poet of the East”.
Indian cities have a special flavor; the cacophony of sound, the hustle and bustle, and the special aroma of bazaars and eateries are delightful.
Being whisked through various meetings and conferences, I could not help but notice the intense resolve of those I met to enhance the quality of life of their fellow Indians. This was secularism at its best. The keynote speech for the Prophet’s commemoration was given by retired IAS officer and head of ETV, Jagdish Chandra, who impressed me with his sincerity and logic. I got a chance to meet Mohammad Azharuddin, the former Indian Cricket Captain, someone I used to watch on television.
A place of interest that I would advise people to visit is Dairatul Maarif. It is an institution that collects old manuscripts and, with meager capacity, tries to preserve them. The Indian government offers an annual grant but more funds are needed to preserve these priceless works that will ultimately disappear if nothing is done to preserve them. Mustafa Shareef, the organization’s director, is a lonely man battling vigorously to preserve books that Arab libraries and research centers should take steps to hold on to. In dusty cubicles, works of literature face the onslaught of the elements.
Hyderabad, a state once ruled by the Nizam, still retains vestiges of its glorious past. The Nizam was a progressive man; schools, colleges and medical dispensaries dating to the mid-nineteenth century still exist today.
We had lunch at the Nizam Club. Remnants of former glory and a ghost of the Nizami past could be felt. After having entered a phase of nostalgia, the inhabitants have now geared themselves up as residents of the newly formed Telangana State.
Civil society is on the move and among the institutions that I visited was the Khak-e-Taiba Trust, which aids children living in slums. The dedication of the Trust’s Chairman Syed Azmathulla Sahab, its managing Trustee, Ghulam Yasdani, and Director of the Misri Gunj School, Azeem Qureshi, would truly touch anyone.
Not to be outdone was Moulana Mohammed Raheem Ansari, the President of Jamia Islamia Darul Uloom Hyderabad, whose sterling service and efforts to provide a religious and secular education are noteworthy.
I have mentioned these institutions because they are the leaders in the battle against obscurantism and falsehood. Those in charge of these organizations want India and Indians to be the leaders of change in Asia. They are against the ghetto mentality of their community, and they all expressed their willingness to take part in nation building. India’s beauty is its ordinary people – the farmers, rickshaw or now tuk-tuk drivers, its teachers, students and other common folk. Their aim is to better their lives and that of their children.
Hyderabad is a place where all this is happening. This is what KC Rao the Chief Minister of Telangana is aiming for. His vision and goal is to enhance prosperity. The Deputy Chief Minister Mir Mohammad Ali Saheb echoed these principles when he reiterated that the goal of the state government is to prioritize the welfare of its people. He made his point with such zeal, fervor, dedication and commitment that I am sure progress will prevail.