M.J. Akbar asks Muslims to overcome inferiority feeling

November 9th, 2008 - 4:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Nov 9 (IANS) Eminent journalist and author M.J. Akbar has asked Muslims in India to overcome their inferiority feeling and strive for excellence in their own spheres, while seeking to remove misconceptions and misinterpretations of Islam.He was addressing clerics at the conclave of the Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind, the biggest and oldest Muslim group that is meeting here to discuss host of issues faced by Indian Muslims.

Akbar, who was the special invitee at the 29th general session of the Jamiat, cited instances from the life of Prophet Mohammed to prove the point that the numerical strength was insignificant to achieve excellence.

“When Prophet Mohammed migrated to Medina, Muslims were few in numbers but the tribes living in and around Medina made him their leader. The Prophet became a leader not because of numerical strength (of Muslims) but because of his abilities and leadership qualities,” Akbar said in his speech delivered in Urdu.

Pointing out that the Prophet Mohammed entered into agreements with various groups including Jews, he suggested that in a democracy Muslims can also have similar arrangements with other communities.

“The holy Quran has defined secularism in the best possible manner. It says ‘To you your religion and to me my religion’. We should follow this principle and have understanding with others,” he told 6,000 clerics who gathered here from across the country.

Decrying attempts to link Islam with terrorism and fascism, he said the Quran described terrorism as ‘fasad’, or spreading mischief, and has even prescribed punishment for those indulging in ‘fasad’.

“Islam has clearly laid down that killing one human being is like killing the entire humanity and saving one’s life is like saving the entire humanity,” he said.

He pointed out that first caliph Hazrat Abu Bakar formulated rules for waging a war and ordered that women, children, the elderly people and also those who took shelter in places of worship should not be harmed.

Akbar said jehad is a holy word used for holy war and it has nothing to do with ‘fasad’.

He said terms like jehad were also used for holy wars in other religions like ‘dharam yudh’ in Hinduism and ‘crusade’ in Christianity.

Calling for introspection by Muslims to identify their weaknesses, he said “poverty, illiteracy and discrimination on the basis of sex” were their worst enemies.

Underlining the importance of women’s education, he said hijab, or veil, was not a hurdle in education.

“Educating a girl doesn’t mean that she has to take off her veil or move away from our culture,” he said.

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