Make Tireless Strivings for Overall Betterment

ABDUL RAFEEQ, national general secretary, Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO), talks to DR. WAQUAR ANWAR on the various shades of the Policy and Programme of the organisation. Excerpts:

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ABDUL RAFEEQ, national general secretary, Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO), talks to DR. WAQUAR ANWAR on the various shades of the Policy and Programme of the organisation. Excerpts:

How did you come in contact with SIO?
My family background is of the Islamic movement. My father is a member of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.  My contact with SIO started in 1992. I came closer to the organisation in 1995 and was granted its membership in 1997. I was in a hostel in Kolkata when I came in contact with SIO and I joined it as a member while staying there in the hostel. I was assigned different responsibilities thereafter.

What responsibilities you got?
I was assigned the responsibilities of Zone Organiser, Kolkata level In-charge, zonal secretary, zonal president, national secretary and now national general secretary.

So you got chance to work at all levels of the organisations.
Yeah, Alhamdulillah.

What is your educational background?
I am AalimFazil and have done takhassus (specialisation) in Hadith. Further I did MA in the Bangla Literature and History. Now I am registered as a Ph.D. student in the Bangla Literature.

What is the topic of your Ph.D?
The topic of Ph.D registration is, “Behaviour of Religion in Bangla literature from 1872 to 1905.”

There is an impression about the Bangla literature that it has advocated Sarva Dharma Samman that has been an impediment in the field of propagation of Islam. What is your opinion?
It is true that the concept of Sarva Dharma Samman, meaning that one would reach God by adopting any path of his liking, has served as some impediment in the propagation of Islam. At the time when this movement got impetus some persons from the Muslim community also participated in this. Obviously Bengal has played a vital role in this – men like Ram Mohan Roy, Vidya Sagar, Rabindranath Tagore also opined in this fashion. There have been concerted efforts to propagate this idea among the Muslim community. Muslims by and large have been ignorant about Islam and its teachings.

Was the basic literature about Islam available in the Bangla language, prior to those prepared by the Islamic movement?
Yes, translations of the Qur’an and Hadith were available. The Qu’ran was translated in the late 18th century. Interestingly the first Bangla translation of the Qur’an was done by a Hindu gentleman.

What is the medium of instruction in Madrasas in Bengal – Urdu or Bangla?

In what language you studied?

Tell us about the position of SIO today.
Alhamdulillah, SIO has spread in almost all parts of India. The organisation has succeeded in spreading its message in the length and breath of the country. We are present in almost all states. However, our presence in two-third of north-east states is weak. The same is true about Andaman and Uttaranchal. In other zones, alhamdulillah, we have meaningful presence. We have been able to both spread and consolidate our work.

Is it true that SIO work started from Urdu speaking areas. But later, the pace of growth has been faster in the states where other languages like Malayalam and Bangla are spoken? If yes, what is the phenomenon?
It is true. However, I have not done any special study of the phenomenon. It is true the message of SIO grew faster in languages like Tamil, Malayalam, Kannad, Telugu, Bangle, etc. This is the outcome of special efforts made by SIO. We stressed that work should be done in the respective mother tongues of the addressees. Another phenomenon is that most of the members of the students community today are English-knowing and we have been able to address them in the same. So we have succeeded in communicating to those students who are not Urdu-knowing.

You have stated in your policy that you will give equal stress on both propagation of the message and consolidation of the organisation. What does it signify?
The idea is to reach out to the places we have not reached till date. At some places we have persons who have some degree of association, may be passive or dormant or not much active. We will try to activate such persons and places. On the other hand we have to assure that active units become more active and they are able to perpetuate, rather increase, their activity.

There are a number of students’ organisations and SIO is one of them. Has this organisation marked its presence with any degree of distinction?
Alhamdulillah, SIO stands recognised to a fair degree.  We have surveyed the situation and found that SIO is one of the most organised students’ organisation in the country. In two or three states SIO is better organised than SFI or NSUI.

What is the norm on which this comparative study has been done?
On the basis of activism – how we take up the issue of students community, how we solve them and what response we get on those issues from the students.

In which state you feel SIO is remarkably active?
We are that active in Kerala, Karnataka and AP. The pace of work has increased in Bengal. In Bihar SIO cadre displayed activities during the last term.

Your Policy and Programme has given much stress on campus. When we say campus we ignore students of madrasas and they are left behind. They may be only a small per cent of the total students, nevertheless they have a presence.
Madarsas are a reality; students study there in good numbers. We have not ignored them. SIO has always made specific plans for them. In this term also we have earmarked plans for them so that we may do work among madrasa students. There is a separate organisation for madrasa students, known as ‘Tanzeem Talaba-e-Arabia.’ There is an attempt to demoralise the students of madrasas with reference to their syllabi, both internationally and nationally. These things are aimed at targeting such institutions and hamper their growth. We are concerned about the correct reforms in their syllabi without hampering their basic role in the society and their importance.

SIO has been talking about reforms in the education system of the country. Have you done any considerable work in this area?
In our last term we worked in this field and had organised symposia on the subject. In the current term we have once again addressed the issue with added stress. We aim at elaborating the philosophy of education in Islam. We want to work positively for improvement of the system of education. We are going to form two committees in this field in a couple of days to study these aspects including the content taught in the existing system of education in our country and suggest measures for improvement.

Your Policy talks about physical fitness of students. What do you mean by this?
Physical fitness, along with mental abilities, is necessary. The Prophet (may Allah bless and greet him) too has taught this. All students, not only our members and cadres, and everyone else should be physically fit. They should not merely remain in-door but they should come out to keep themselves fit, develop concerns about their surroundings and do their part of work for the welfare of society.

Your Policy states that all zonal offices of SIO will function as students’ centres. What is the blueprint of such students’ centres?
It is our dream, and we will strive to translate this dream into reality, that all offices of SIO whether at central level, regional level or local level should function at centres for the benefit and overall welfare of students. Every student should realise that he will get in SIO office guidance about career, about education and other problems like information about accommodation, academic help and the like. We will, inshaAllah, form such complete guidance and help centres for the student community.

What about SIO’s contacts with other student organisations?
We have cooperated with other student organisations on issues where our concerns are common. We would continue that type of seeking and providing cooperation with them.

Such cooperation has been for common stage or it has extended to common actions too.
Our cooperation has been both for common stage and for joint actions. It has also been in unified action plans. We will continue with this policy.

Hindutva forces in Mangalore came out in action against pub-culture. What is your reaction?
We are against the violent method adopted by them. We are also against obscenity and pub-culture and we have protested in the past against such things. But the method we vouch is constructive and educative. We do not like violence. Taking law into hand is not the solution. We believe in actions within the scope provided by the law.

What is your message for students?
My message to students is that the present situation in India demands that they should do hard work, make tireless strivings for overall betterment and always be alert. There is no alternative to hard work in a constructive manner. Things are changing very fast. One should be alert to take stock of the same and be abreast of the changing situation. Students and their movements in India should study the situation and work to eradicate all forms of injustices from society. Particularly there are many injustices being done to the minorities. Muslim students should understand these and be consciously active to resolve them. They should work more seriously in the field of their education and march ahead without much hue and cry. They should work peacefully and seriously for resolving their problems and taking themselves, the community, the society, the nation and the humanity towards better future.