Women and Nation Building

Dr. Thamee Shahid for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

All of us in this world are people who share things, basic needs and wants that define the similarities between us – as humans. We are all expected to perform our duties, deliver and execute, without question. We must ‘blend in’. Work, feed family, pay taxes, etc. And if there is a little more left in you, work for the good of mankind. But this expectation is highly unrealistic in the face of the prejudices that society holds against us.

There is a prejudice that women are the “weaker sex”. Very conveniently the society has defined the role of a woman within the confines of her home, beyond which there is no need of her, and no way in which she can contribute. The crimes against women, especially the way they occur in our country, have served as constant and horrifyingly oft-repeating reminders as to why our roles ought to be limited.

People have now questioned the very reasons why women need to be considered as the equals of men and sought to restrict the freedoms which a girl has the right to enjoy. Her right to education, to earn a respectable livelihood to have her own opinions and views, and to walk in the modern world with her head held high.

As we emerged in this new era of human civilization, we thought that the world would respect women more and give them their rightful place in society but what has happened is that the very existence of women has been threatened. Then again, there are prejudices of all sorts. Almost everyone in this planet is stereotyped against no matter who they are. You don’t really have to be Muslim, or a woman. You could be a Hindu, a Christian, a Sikh, a fair-skinned person, a dark-skinned person, ethnically Asian, European or Latin American, whatever you may be, someone somewhere will have a problem with who you are.

The recent racist attacks on North-eastern students in Delhi are a living proof to this unfair reality. And the problem is that the people in our world are quite comfortable living in these horrors, rather than challenging and destroying these prejudices once and for all.

But the question remains – in the light of these unjust and illogical prejudices that the society holds against us, are we really going to be great contributors to our world? Will our need be recognized as the world we live in grows more and more hungry of aid, help, healthcare, care and concern? How in this present world riddled with Islamophobia and Gender Inequality and Racism, are you and I going to help this planet become a better place to live? Is it even possible? The answer is yes.

The world is quick to criticize, slow to recognize and even slower to appreciate. So if it is the recognition or appreciation we are aiming for then we might as well pack our bags, go home, and never touch this topic again. But if we really wish to contribute then let’s start by being realistic. Problems and pessimism are bound to be hurled our way, constantly.

Let us learn to deal with it. Let us learn to differentiate between criticism and insult, and respond accordingly, debate with critics and ignore those who find the need to insult.

Most importantly never let go of the dream that inspires you to do what you are doing, what you are struggling with to achieve. The dream of a better world.

For instance, Dr Hawa Abdi of Somalia started out with a small clinic in the midst of civil war, and the world stood up and recognized her efforts to contribute to a society plagued by violence and turmoil by providing healthcare.

She was named the Glamour Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” in 2010, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.

If we were to wake up in this moment and decide to channel our efforts and our strengths to make a difference, however small it may be, it will go a long way to help people grow as a community and society that takes care of itself. If we were to target areas such as healthcare, illiteracy, gender inequality etc, our minimal efforts would have lasting effects. All it takes is a desire, a moment where our hearts think not for us, but for others. And that is how prejudices and stereotypes are broken. That’s how illusions are shattered and how awakening and realization dawn on a people. That’s how we should respond to those who try to hold us back because of our differences, not by violence, not by hatred, not by “retaliation in kind”, but by displaying care and concern for our world at large, of whose even the people who dislike us are a part of.

We as a nation, win over hearts by befriending them, and by sharing their pain. That’s how we contribute to nation-building.

[The author is a Doctor, practicing in Shadan Medical College, Hyderabad.]

Excellence in Sports Participation

Ehtesham Ali Khan for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

Usually when one writes articles such as these the tendency is to keep saying we should do this, we should do that and so on. However, an alternate way to put things together is to convey benefits and I think that makes more sense than the former style. This write up is articulated in such fashion.

Let’s dedicate few lines to emphasize role of sports in current economic times. It’s more than a 500 billion dollar plus industry and growing .So what does it do promote sports for advantageous purposes, which is by creating platform for expression of energy in meaningful ways with returns in the form of awards, recognition, respect, acknowledgement of talent , creation of jobs etc.

In all this, where does Muslim participation and contribution stand? A closer look at micro level exposes reality in ways we do not want to see and wish we could change things around. Our youngsters standing on day to day basis in front of girls colleges dressed up to catch attention or at movie theatres with late night parties etc. and in addition to this armed with money power at hand due to parents working in gulf countries, there is more freedom and ways to spend time and money.

A total lack of direction at young age when it matters and later we seem to be paying our way through professional courses and move on into global markets then comes the struggle to make ends meet at home or abroad. Could be sheer waste of talent when there lays the potential.

Why is participating in sports so meaningless to such a vast chunk of Muslim population? Is it lack of will or day to day survival to make ends meet that they find beyond reach to get into this lane that becomes too unaffordable for many or too many?

So lethargic that after late night or weekend activities they simply do not have will to get up early morning and go through the grind on day to day basis. There could be so many pros and cons in vast population and food for thought for those who want to enable so much for many aspiring youngsters who simply do not know how to navigate.

To be concise and direct I believe it’s a two way effort. Encouragement to participate, identify potential, Psychological consultation and development procedure initiation .This is one side of the coin: Communication strategy. The other side is the receptor and needs to understand and respond. If this situation can be rolled out I believe we have something to look forward to. We may look forward to seeing more of Hashim Amla , Azharuddin , Muhammed Ali, etc.

At grass root level motivation to both parents and children to look forward to a meaningful activity rather than phobia of losing out on academics and at youth level competitive attitude for a goal oriented activity. This is what we desire and rather than say our youth have lost direction we need to find ways to give them the same (take ownership), monitor, make corrections, set bench marks and bring about improvements for a satisfactory contribution to the society.

(The writer is a former Ranji Cricket player who played as a wicket keeper from Hyderabad.)

Youth Spirit: Understanding ‘Youthness’

Hisham Barbhuiya for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

Youth is a period of life every human being looks forward to as a kid. When old, the same individual may lament over the lost period for not having utilized it enough. The stereotypical image of youths indulging in sports, adventure tourism and everything associated with fun and enjoyment is very prevalent these days. These enticements however have deviated many from the actual goal of life.

As per a Hadeeth, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied and your life before your death.”

What we often don’t realize is as to how important this period is as far as Ibadah is concerned. The tremendous power of our du’a(s) is also underestimated by most. That a du’a can actually fix our problems and even change the course of our destinies as per the Qur’an and many Ahadeeth is something to ponder about as to what a tremendous entity we as human beings have been bestowed with.

In order to make du’a, the ritual Salah or Namaz is a pre-requisite. As kids we aren’t able to fulfill this obligation many a times due to lack of senses, and as elders we may not be able to do so as health concerns may take toll. So, the best time to make use of this power is now – as youths!

There are a lot of evils in this world which needs to be corrected – pornography, rape, prostitution, racism, bigotry and the like. A lot of people in the world are suffering today in places like Burma and Syria. Here we are full of life and energy and yet doing nothing for them and to make this world a better place to live in.

Shouldn’t we feel guilty about this? We should! But there is a lot we can actually do. The first step is du’a. A du’a made for others brings about the same blessings for the ones who make it too. So, in short it helps others as well as ourselves.

Then comes, du’a combined with actions. This is where Da’wa comes into play as a part of those ‘actions’. Da’wa is not fanaticism or trying to impose our views on others. It’s simply enjoining good and forbidding evil as the Qur’an says. So, let’s wake up and utilize our time.

(The writer is a Content Writer who works in an Multi Natioanl Company in Bangalore.)

Education Requirements in Information Technology Age

Prof. Suleman Siddiqi for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

This age of Information Technology has thrown open new avenues and has brought knowledge at our door steps. Overwhelming changes are taking place in different spheres of our life, therefore, it is time that the young Muslim youth must set their goals, reorient themselves to the requirements of the time, age and society.

The requirements of the present day industry, corporate and private sector have changed drastically. They are looking for young, dynamic, honest, committed and skilled youth. Apart from the domain knowledge, you are required to possess sound knowledge of other subjects as well.

In this age of 24 x 7, we need to orient our self to the choice-based credit system, which will enhance the knowledge and marketability of the student. This is a self-learning age. Sitting at home you can register yourself for any certificate, diploma or any other program online. You can write your exams online and download your results.

I would like to share with you a story of a young girl who did her degree program in English literature from McGill University, Montreal, Canada. After her marriage she moved to Middle East with her husband. There she appeared for an interview in a school to teach English language and literature.

After the interview, the principal informed her that she is the best, but she also said she has not been selected. On enquiry she was informed that she has to her credit no teacher training program. She went home, sat on the computer, went online and found a teacher training program of six months.

She registered herself, downloaded the material, studied hard and wrote her exam online. She travelled to London with her husband for three weeks to teach in a school. She came back, downloaded her certificate and went to the same school and she was appointed on a substantially good salary. This is the easiest way to enhance your knowledge and marketability. Take advantage of this great facility which was not available to us when we were students.

As I said earlier, this is the age of 24 x 7. People who are willing to work round the clock and who are committed are being preferred. The wife of a close friend of mine died recently. His son came all the way from U.S.A. During his journey to Hyderabad he was working on his laptop at the airport and during the flight despite this tragedy.

After the funeral was over, he came and said, uncle I’m leaving tomorrow. I was shocked and told him that your father is alone, he need to stay back at least for a while. I advised him to send an email to his office requesting them to grant him a leave of one week, apt came the reply, “Though you are not in office, you are in office, leave is granted.” Take a lesson from this disturbing event, but appreciate the commitment of this young lad of twenty-five years.

One among the present day requirements are the communication skills. It is essential that while one completes degree or the P.G program, one must develop the communication skills. My elder Brother gave me a mantra. I will pass this mantra to you. You will be reluctant and hesitant to speak English at home, with your relatives and friends.

What you need to do is to start speaking English when you enter the bus and stop English when you are out of the bus. You must speak English on enquiry counters at railway platforms, airports and malls. In ten minutes your audience is gone and you are free to switch back to your own mother tongue.

He also advised me to read a small column from any English newspaper daily. He asked me to note a word on a piece of paper, check its spelling and meaning and keep it in the pocket of my shirt and go through it number of times. This will add thirty words to your vocabulary in a month. If you can do this exercise for six months without break, I can assure you will be speaking fluent English. Try this mantra.

The pace of learning and work culture has changed drastically; therefore, we need to orient our self to distance education programs, online courses, virtual classrooms, digital libraries, language laboratories, incubation centers, electronic data banks, seminars and workshops to enhance our knowledge.

Today, parents are keen to admit their wards either in medicine, engineering, MCA or MBA. There are very few Muslim candidates who are opting for basic sciences and courses like Micro-Biology, Bio-Chemistry, Bio-Technology and many such other courses. The number of Muslim scientists is diminishing and has reached a stage of single digit. Time has come for all the Muslim parents to ponder and inculcate among the youth the love for science, social sciences, law and humanities.

Though we have entered the post-modern era, the ethical values, respect for parents, elders and help for the poor and the needy, which is enshrined in our religion – Islam is fast disappearing in our day to day life. Islam wants to establish a just, ethical and economically balanced society.

Muslim youth must exemplify themselves by adopting and adoring these values. Huge material is available on different Islamic websites. Please spend your ten minutes every day with these sites that will make you a true and a valuable Muslim.

Such people and nations who do not equip themselves according to the time, age and society are relegated into background. Time has come to regroup, reorganize and fall in line with the requirements of our time. Education is the key. Wishing you all the best!

(The writer is an ex-Vice Chancellor of Osmania University, Hyderabad and currently teaches in Islamic Studies Dept.)