When the country was debating non –issues like intolerance and ‘award wapsi’ thousands of Muslim women gathered at the holy shrine city of Ajmer in Rajasthan Thursday were busy in writing a new script of change under the benign leadership and guidance of senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar.
Participating in the first of its kind national conference of Muslim eves drawn from all over the country, these members of fair sex deliberated for nearly four hours to find solutions to their problems like illiteracy, healthcare, employment and equality of status in the male-dominated society.
A strong contingent of 126 Muslim women and men from Nagpur participated in the conference for the first time under the leadership of MRM National Organising Co-convener Virag Pachpore, Maharashtra convener Mohd. Farooq Sheikh, Akil Khan, Riyaz Khan, Adv. Shahajan Farooq Shiekh, Shabanam Khan, Ikra Khan, Anjum Teacher, Manorama Jaiswal and others.
This first ever national conference of Muslim women was organized by Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), a social reform movement launched in 2002 under the joint inspiration of Muslim religious scholars and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leaders. Earlier, the MRM had organized women’s meetings on regional levels at Pune, Lucknow, and Delhi.
This was more important being the first national convention and as expected it evoked an overwhelming response from Muslim women from Kashmir to Kerala and Gujarat to Manipur. Nearly five to seven thousand women along with some hundred male members of the MRM gathered at the holy city of Ajmer known after Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti and the only temple of Brahma the Creator, located at Pushkar in its vicinity, to have threadbare deliberations on issues like education, healthcare, employment, status, talaq, and so on.
Solemn beginning: The proceedings began at 11 am in a specially erected huge pandal at Azad Park in Ajmer with the recital of verses from Holy Quran. Reshma Hussain, Convener of women’s Wing of MRM, Advocate Rubi Khan, Dr Munnawar Chaudhary and Farhad Sagar were seen managing the dais. The guests were escorted to the dais and welcomed by the organisers.
Indresh Kumar was especially welcomed with a 51 kg garland of red roses. Those who welcomed him with this unique garland included MRM Ajmer zone convener Sattar Khan, President of Taragarh Durgah committee Mohsin Sultani, Munsif Ali Khan, Syed Abdul Bari Chisti, Syed Afshan Chisti, Syed Ibrahim Fakr and Dr Munnawar Chaudhary.
MRM National Convener Mohd Afzal, Abu Bakar Naqvi, Shahnaz Afzal, Dr Nahid Sheikh, National Vice-President of BJP Minority Morcha, Jyoti Kiran, Chairperson Rajasthan State Finance Commission, Geeta Gunde of Bharatiya Stree Shakti, Najneen Ansari of Benaras, Hafiza Muzaffar from Kashmir, Adv. Shahjahan Farooq Sheikh from Nagpur, Brahamakumari Dr Savita from Mount Abu and Brahakumari Punam from Jaipur graced the dais by their august presence.
The fragrance of ‘Hubbul Vatani’ spreads: The organizers were seemingly happy and delighted that their main objective was achieved by this gathering. The speakers emphasized the importance of education, health, cleanliness and gender equality to enhance the status of Muslim women in the society. Besides, stress was also laid on spreading the message of ‘hubbul vatani’ (patriotism) and mutual love and understanding amongst fellow citizens and self-reliance and self-pride.
The participating women were told to give importance to education as it was their “fixed deposit” forever; care for their health as it was the way for a healthy self and healthy family; keep the family small to enable them to raise their children with moral ethos and values that build their character and always have a positive attitude towards life.
Addressing the gathering in his usual lucid and sweet tongue Indresh Kumar posed certain fundamental questions to them. “What is the religion of the Sun and the Moon?” and answered that their religion was welfare of all beings even at the cost of their troubles. Like them we should also live for the needy; neglected; exploited and poor, he exhorted them.
Emphasizing on need for small families, Indresh Kumar said that some politicians advocate for larger families and oppose family planning measures for their vote bank politics. He appealed to the Muslim community not to get misled by such propaganda and vote bank politics and go in for family planning for our own happiness and betterment.
Making a reference to the recent controversy surrounding intolerance, Indresh Kumar said that people like Aamir Khan, Tista Setalwad, Medha Patkar could only see the rot in the country. He also criticized the terrorists and naxalites and appealed to the audience to denounce such elements as they would not solve the problems of the people.
Women’s Welfare Fund and Anaj Bank: Stressing the importance of education of girls Indresh Kumar announced that the MRM would set up a Women’s Welfare Fund from Ajmer starting with RS five lakh seed money to help the deserving Muslim girls of poor families to continue and pursue their education. An educated girl illuminates two families and thus becomes the torchbearer of humanity; he said appealing to the gathering to encourage girls in the family to go in for higher studies. He also announced that he would be inaugurating Shahid Ashfaq Ullah National Memorial Trust run and managed by MRM on December 21 at Pune. This trust will take care of the educational needs of the Muslim community, he added.
He also announced to set up a food grain bank (Anaj Bank) from Varanasi to provide food for the poor families. Such a bank has already started functioning and at present some 80-100 poor families are being benefitted. These two projects are novel beginning of the MRM and would go a long way in improving the overall standard of the society and the country, he added.
Drive against talaq: Indresh Kumar came down heavily on the practice of oral talaq prevalent in the Muslim community. Quoting the Prophet he said that women are regarded with highest respect and honour in the Islamic tradition. “Heaven lies at the feet of the mother”, the Prophet would say. Why give talaq to such highly regarded soul, he asked and advised them to divorce the bottle of wine that spoiled their life and made it miserable.
Similarly, he advised them to adapt to cleanliness so that they could live a healthy and disease-free life. This is possible only through education and imbibing values. Cleanliness would take them closer to godliness, he stressed.
Appeal to help for Tamil Nadu flood victims: Indresh Kumar made a very fervent appeal to extend help to the hapless victims of recent floods in Tamil Nadu, especially in Chennai where thousands were rendered homeless and shelter less and marooned. To everybody’s surprise his call evoked a very positive response and the crowd donated a huge sum of Rs 50,250/- for the flood hit people. Expressing satisfaction and thanks to the audience Indresh Kumar said that this money would be handed over to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for the victims of Tamil Nadu floods.
Launching of newspapers for MRM: Indresh Kumar announced that the MRM has already launched some periodicals from various places such as ‘Khabar Express’ from Jharkhand, ‘One Nation’ from Jaipur, ‘Paigam Madare Vatan’ from Noida, and ‘Aftab-e-Hind’ from New Delhi. The MRM plans to launch seven more newspapers from some other places by 2016, he added underlining the need for strengthening the media side. One such newspaper would be exclusively for women’s issues, he added.
Visit to Ajmer Shrine: Taking a brief silent break from the proceedings, Indresh Kumar paid a visit to the shrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti. He offered ‘chadar’ and ‘rose flowers’ at the shrine and prayed for peace, progress, happiness and brotherhood of the people. It was a pleasant surprise for all as the same Indresh Kumar was accused of bomb blast at the same shrine during the time of the UPA government. The UPA then tried hard to book him under the crime but could not do so. He was accompanied by former chairman of UIT Dharmesh Jain.
Later when he returned to Azad Park he disclosed to the audience that he visited the shrine and prayed for the well-being of all those who attended the conference. Indresh Kumar was guided and assisted in the Durgah by Khadim Sayyad Fazle Hasan Chishti who presented him the ‘Tavarrukh’ (Prasad).
Resolutions passed: The conference adopted as many as seven resolutions. The first was related to education as it was told by the Prophet that seeking education was the duty of every man and woman. Therefore, the participants were advised to impart education to their children even at the cost of some difficulties.
The second resolution was on maintaining cleanliness in houses and surrounding areas so that the environment also remained clean and neat. Another resolution exhorted them not to indulge in female feticide and celebrate the birth of a girl child and observe her birthday with gusto.
Yet another resolution urged them to limit the size of the family so that they can pay attention to bringing up of their children. Similarly the males were urged not to give divorce their wives and keep away from any kind of addiction.
Two of the resolutions were regarding ‘intolerance’ and ‘terrorism’. The conference vowed to frustrate the designs of those who smell intolerance in the air of ‘our country’. Those who defame our nation are not true Hindustanis and not even true Muslims, the resolution said. Our country has been tolerant and would remain so. We will play an important role in maintaining that atmosphere of tolerance, the resolution said.
The resolution on terrorism denounced the violence in the name of religion in the strongest words. Killing of innocent people was never sanctioned in Islam. The resolution urged the mothers to stop their children getting attracted to this destructive ideology and ensure peace in the country.
By Virag Pachpore
Images are author’s self-contribution.