MAULANA ABDUL AZIZ, president Movement for Peace & Justice (MPJ), Andhra Pradesh, talks to AYESHA AMEER on what MPJ is doing to establish peace and justice in the State. Excerpts:
Could we have a brief overview of MPJ and its activities since its recent inception?
We are about to celebrate a major milestone in Indian history. But alas 60 years after India won independence, this great nation is still roiling in lawlessness, barbarism and near-total anarchy. To top this, social disorder, economic oppression and injustices at different levels have torn the social fabric of the country apart. But there are people with consciences, who are determined to challenge this era of darkness. MPJ is a step in this direction. Since its inception two years ago, it has risen rapidly, spreading to about 70-75 branches all over AP. MPJ was formed to address the social problems and issues of the various communities that live in India. Our agenda also includes creating a public pressure group that can influence politics towards beneficial decisions for people.
MPJ caters to various communities. How far have you been successful in building an inter-community platform that addresses the issues of the ‘aam aadmi’, irrespective of his caste/religion?
Yes, this is meant to be a comprehensive movement that is open to everyone, not just Muslims. We have been receiving quite encouraging responses from other communities, and quite a few people, impressed by objectives, are coming on board. The diversity of the group also includes advocates, political and social activists, and women activists.
The movement’s name is very interesting, with the inclusion of universals like ‘peace’ and ‘justice’. What in your opinion are the true factors that lead mankind to peace?
I firmly believe that every human being must recognise and acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Creator, and as long as one keeps denying that He is the fountainhead of peace, one can never have peace truly. You must open your eyes to the fact that this Supreme source has provided you with a concrete form of peace called Islam – a universal name for welfare and goodness. The messenger who brought this guidance to us – his entire life is the best example of upholding peace , justice and equality – presented it not just as an utopian concept, but as a true promise for all times to come.
The world is not exactly a rosy picture today. What are the factors that have led to worldwide unrest, fear and disruption of peace?
What else do you expect if you continue to sit back and watch aggressors play the biggest bully in the field? Assisted by European countries America unleashed deadly terror in Iraq, killing, maiming and orphaning thousands. Afghanistan’s mosques full of fasting worshippers were bombed in the holy month of Ramadhan. Injustice par extreme, $30 billion grants are bestowed on a nation that is infamous for its perennial aggression, and sanctions are imposed on a nation that – impoverished for decades – is struggling to reach stability? You supply the world with arms and weaponry, and then you fight to establish peace?
Until America and its allies stop interfering with, policing and challenging other nations, there cannot be any peace in the world. Remember where there is interference, there will certainly be a reaction, a conflict, struggle for freedom.
This then, is the definition of terrorism according to you?
Unprovoked aggression is supreme injustice. And defence is a survival instinct: people will fight for their rights. Every nation has a right to establish a governance of principles, to abide and live by them; and if they are tyrannised for it, they will rise. Look at what 1857 was named: mutiny. The first struggle for independence, which set India ablaze: how would you, an Indian, look at it? As treacherous rebellion or as a struggle that should be appreciated? But wherever Muslims are involved, it is instantly labelled an act of terrorism.
What are your expansion plans for MPJ?
MPJ has been a very successful experiment Alhamdulillah, and we have plans to expand to Tamilnadu and Karnataka now. People have been observing our efforts, and are stepping forward to strengthen the endeavour, impressed with the results. The services of our legal cells have been in great demand, with lawyers and legalists working late into the nights, addressing people’s issues.
How are your relations with the media?
Initially the mediapersons had reservations about us, because unfortunately even our mainstream media is infected by the virus of communalism and bias. But they are opening up slowly; the response is encouraging. It also depends on the issue, I am afraid. They were pretty cold during our activism for Muslim reservations.
Please comment on the socio-political situation in Andhra Pradesh.
Every government makes empty promises, but I am happy to note that the YSR-led Congress government has at least taken up some reform measures, addressing problems of the people. The land distribution project, for instance, is a daunting task, but the government is at least trying. But I feel that Muslims should not be too dependent on governments. Work for your own uplift. Those among us who are educated, well-to-do and aware have to think about the downtrodden and less fortunate in our community. No one else will.
What are the activities MPJ is currently busy with?
We have successfully established our latest legal centres, one at Khammam and the other at Hyderabad. The Women’s cell has raised the issue of AP’s abysmal standards of education in government schools, and our upcoming campaign aims at pushing for quality improvement in education here. We are also pushing for a ban on prostitution.
What is your message to our readers on this occasion?
Work, while democracy gives you a chance. Use every opportunity available to serve mankind. Soften hearts towards the truth by service. Put in your best efforts towards inter-community rapport and services. Present the true picture of Islam, both in word and deed – for Islam is peace. Work against those who seek to promote communal hatred and oppression, work hard to spread tolerance. This is a responsibility on every citizen of this nation – to ensure that independent India remains free.