Category Archives: Community Involvement / Social Issues

Repackaging 1,000-yr-old ideas to revive a system of medicine

Malegaon (Mumbai) , MAHARASHTRA :

The system’s beginnings can be traced to the teachings of ancient Greek physicians like Hippocrates, and its principle revolves around strengthening the ‘Quwwat-e-Mudabbira-e-Badan’ (immunity).

Dr Yusuf Ansari has authored over two dozen books which are used by Unani and MBBS students across India. Mayur Bargaje
Dr Yusuf Ansari has authored over two dozen books which are used by Unani and MBBS students across India. Mayur Bargaje

The Unani system of medicine, which was introduced by the Arabs and Persians sometime in the 11th century, is said to be dying a slow death. Though India is still one of the leading countries in Unani medicine today, with the largest number of educational, research and healthcare institutions, the number of Unani practitioners here is far less than what it was in the past. In Maharashtra, a doctor has been making efforts to make Unani medicine system more relevant and accessible in contemporary India. Dr Yusuf Ansari, a 62-year-old resident of Malegaon, has authored over two dozen books in the past two decades which are used by Unani students across the country. The books are based on the Unani medical curricula laid down by the government, but some of them, like the ones on physiology, surgery and pathology, are also referred by MBBS students.

The system’s beginnings can be traced to the teachings of ancient Greek physicians like Hippocrates, and its principle revolves around strengthening the ‘Quwwat-e-Mudabbira-e-Badan’ (immunity). The foremost book on Unani — ‘The Canon of Medicine’ — was written by Avicenna in the ninth century. While Avicenna’s works were followed by other writers as well, the content and language of these books made them a bit difficult for students to follow. “All these books are scholarly pieces, but seeing that many students found these books a little difficult to follow, I attempted to write a book which would be in tune with the contemporary times and would be lucid and understandable for students as well,” said Ansari.

Ansari’s first attempt was a book called ‘Tahafuzz-e-Tibb’, or preventive and social medicine. “The idea was to link the concept of Unani medicine with contemporary medical problems. I wrote the book to make this effective medical form understandable and more relevant. The book, however, was published only in 1996 after which I was asked to write more on the subject,” said Ansari.

Interestingly, Ansari’s primary degree has not been in Unani medicine. Coming from a very humble background, Ansari gained an MA in English, and for a time used to work for Rs 20 per week. He eventually joined a Unani college as an English language teacher to make ends meet. It was only in his 30s that Ansari’s interest in Unani medicine peaked and he decided to pursue a degree in it at the same college where he taught English.

Apart from Unani medicine, Ansari also writes in various science journals on subjects such as electronics and information technology. Ansari believes that education is the only way to empower communities in the country. His son Mohammad is the first IITian to emerge out of Malegaon. His sister Dr Zubaida Ansari was the first female scientist from Malegaon and is now a part of Jamia Millia Islamia’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Basic Sciences. His nephew Aleem Faizee runs a popular community website in Malegaon. “Today, this medicinal system is suffering because it is seen to be associated with a certain community. My attempts have been to ensure that people open their minds and see things for what they are really worth,” says Ansari.

source: http://www.indianexpress.com / The Indian Express / Home> India / by Zeeshan Shaikh , Malegaon / July 10th, 2017

Rayalaseema IG takes charge

Rayalseema, ANDRA PRADESH :

ShaikIqbalMPOs14jul2017

New SPs assume charge in Tirupati, Vizianagaram

Shaik Mohammed Iqbal took charge as Inspector-General of Police, Rayalaseema, in Kurnool on Monday from N. Sridhar Rao, who has been transferred.

DIG of Anantapur Range J. Prabhakara Rao, Superintendents of Police – Gopinath Jatti (Kurnool), Rajasekhar Babu (Chittoor), Attada Babujee (Kadapa) – APSP Battalion Commandant Samuel John, Regional Vigilance and Enforcement Officer Sivakoti Babu Rao, Additional SPs P. Shaik Shavali and I. Venkatesh, Circle-Inspectors and SIs welcomed Mr. Iqbal with bouquets.

Later the officials gave a warm farewell to outgoing IG N. Sridhar Rao by felicitating him with shawls and garlands in the police guest house here.

In Tirupati, Abhishek Mohanty, a 2011 batch IPS officer, took charge as the Superintendent of Police of Tirupati Urban police district, here on Monday. Speaking to the media, he said that their focus would be on implementing the ‘rule of law’ along with basic/professional policing.

In Vizianagaram, G. Pala Raju has taken charge as Superintendent of Police from his counterpart L.K.V. Ranga Rao on Monday.

Later, talking to media persons, Mr. Raju said that he would improve community policing and other programmes that his predecessor had initiated for the welfare of people.

In Kurnool, Traffic will be streamlined in coordination with officials of the Kurnool Municipal Corporation, Roads and Buildings, National Highways, citizens and NGOs, Kurnool Superintendent of Police Gopinath Jatti has said.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Andhra Pradesh / by Special Correspondent / Kurnool – July 04th, 2017

How An Act Of Kindness By An Indian-Origin Muslim Helped A Man To Become Top Jurist In South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA :

An Indian-origin shopkeeper based in South Africa became an overnight sensation after the new deputy chief justice recalled his generosity over four decades ago when he was looking for a loan to fund his studies.

TWITTER
TWITTER

Suleman Bux, 76, who at that time ran a small general store in Ixopo town, had forgotten about the young man with whom he had struck a deal to be a good student by giving him groceries for his family so that they could save what they would have spent on this for his studies.

Judge Raymond Zondo, 57, who has been recently appointed as the Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, recalled how he had sceptically approached Bux when he started his studies in 1981, unsure of whether he or anyone else would give a loan to a 20-year-old man.

Zondo approached Bux, without telling his family and helped him with groceries for his family.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Reunion after over 30 years, Judge Raymond Zondo & Suleman Bux 😀 Absolutely love this..Faith In Humanity Restored😎@KhayaZondo73 –  ✌🙏

Zondo’s emotional video at his installation to the second highest judicial post in the country recently went viral as he recalled Bux’s influence on his life, expressing a desire to meet him again after the fasting month of Ramadan was over.

Zondo met with Bux and his extended family to thank him personally. Bux shrugged off the huge media attention.

“He gave me a very nice watch, which was very generous. I was moved by the gesture,” Bux told local media, adding that he had not expected the issue to have received as much attention as it did.

After he began earning, Zondo tried to repay Bux but the shopkeeper, who is still running a wholesale store, told Zondo to rather finance some other young students.

“I helped him because it was the right thing to do. As a Muslim, helping others is important, but you do it because you want to, not because you want recognition and for everyone to know,” Bux added.

source: http://www.indiatimes.com / Indiatimes.com / Home> News> India / IndiaTimes / July 11th, 2017

Tiger hunter turns tiger rescuer

Hyderabad, TELANGANA :

Hyderabadi shooter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan | Photo Credit: aranged
Hyderabadi shooter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan | Photo Credit: aranged

Maharashtra :

‘Man-eater’ successfully tranquillised

Reputed hunter from the city, ‘Nawab’ Shafat Ali Khan, who used to be frequently embroiled in controversies by shooting down ‘man-eating’ tigers, has, for a change, successfully tranquillised female tiger in Maharashtra that had reportedly turned man-eater.

The three-year-old tigress was captured alive on Monday evening from the outlying territory of Tadoba National Park, near Halda village, Mr. Khan informed over phone.

The tigress, named C-1 by the Forest Department officials, was from the spill-over population of 40 adult tigers and 19 cubs that struggled for survival in the Brahmapuri Division outside the national park, thickly populated with human habitations and sparsely with prey base.

The young feline had killed two humans and injured four, besides lifting away countless cattle and goats between April and June. After it had reportedly killed a man on June 21 and partially ate his body, villagers became furious leading to her being declared a man-eater, and ordered to be shot down.

Attempts by veterinarians to tranquillise the big cat turned futile, and Mr. Khan was invited by the Maharashtra Government to hunt her down. “I had noticed that the tigress displayed abnormal behaviour. She would kill the cattle during daytime, and when resisted, attack the villagers,” Mr. Khan recalled. However, he decided to capture her alive, after noticing from camera traps that she was beautiful and young. His team, including son Asghar, faced tough opposition from the villagers who wanted her shot down.

“They even attacked us once, seeing the tranquilliser guns in our hands. We had to sit with them, and make them understand our efforts,” he said. The cattle kills became very frequent, but almost always, the tigress abandoned her kills scared by the attempts to chase her away.

Tigress that was tranquillised.
Tigress that was tranquillised.

“After a futile attempt at Padmapur village on July 4, she disappeared up to July 9, only to resurface near Halda village where she was conceived by her mother. Our task became very difficult as her mother and two sisters roamed in the five square kilometre vicinity,” Mr. Khan said.

Painstakingly, the stripes on the tigress’ body were memorised, and her presence was ascertained further through her odd tendencies of abandoning her kills.

“Monday afternoon, she killed a cow and ate five kilograms of meat. We set up a ‘machan’, tied the carcass with ropes and awaited her arrival. At 5.30 p.m., she came tearing out, lifted the carcass snapping the ropes, and almost galloped away, but not before I took a very fast shot. The dart went in her neck, and she fled dropping her kill,” Mr. Khan explained. She was noticed 200 meters away, captured and brought back to the Forest Department’s camp at Ekara village.

“I visited the tigress on Tuesday morning. She was in healthy condition,” Mr. Khan informed.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Hyderabad / by Swathi Vadlamudi / Hyderabad – July 12th, 2017

Meet Salim Sheikh, Gujarat bus driver who risked his life to save Amarnath yatris; to be nominated for bravery award

GUJARAT  / Amarnath Yatra (JAMMU & KASHMIR )  :

If Salim, the driver of the bus ferrying Amarnath Yatris, had not acted wisely and shown exemplary courage, the brazen terror attack would have certainly claimed more innocent lives.

SalimMPOs11jul2017

Ahmedabad:

If Salim, the driver of the bus ferrying Amarnath Yatris, had not acted wisely and shown exemplary courage, the brazen terror attack would have certainly claimed more innocent lives.

Salim, the Gujarati driver of the bus that was ferrying the passengers, has now emerged as a hero by saving so many innocent lives while risking his own.

According to reports, Salim drove the bus to safety amid continuous firing by a group of heavily armed terrorists who attacked the bus which was returning from the Amarnath Shrine.

Despite being reportedly hit by a bullet, Salim locked the door from inside, refraining terrorists from entering into the bus.

Realising that if he stops the bus, terrorist would kill many innocent yatris, Salim drove for nearly two kilometers before finally stopping near an army camp.

“I spoke to the passengers and they were all praises for the driver. He drove despite the firing and took them to safety. It made a lot of difference and lives were saved. He did not stop. Had he stopped, more lives could have been lost,” Munir Khan, IG, Kashmir, told reporters.

One of the survivors of the attack also praised Salim for his bravery and said, ”We were asleep and were woken up by bullet sounds. He continued to drive and took us to safety. If not for him, it would have been worse.”

Back home in Gujarat’s Valsad, Salim’s family also expressed satisfaction that he managed to save several lives.

“He called me at around 9.30 pm and said that there was firing. Salim did not stop when terrorists fired but only looked for a safer spot for the pilgrims. He could not save seven lives but managed to move over 50 people to a safe place. We are very proud of him,” said Javed, Salim’s cousin.

Later, speaking to reporters, Salim said, ”God gave me strength to keep moving, and I just did not stop.”

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijat Rupani, who announced ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of victims and Rs 2 lakh for injured, said that he will nominate driver Salim for bravery award.

There were initial reports that the bus was not registered for the Amarnath Yatra and the driver had committed some lapses on his part.

However, the Jammu and Kashmir Police has rejected such reports and stated that reports of the bus not being registered were far from the truth.

“The bus was very much registered for Amarnath Yatra and they were also in a convoy. “They had finished their darshan just two days ago and had plans of visiting a few tourist places. Yes, they were on a different route than the yatra route but the bus was registered and in a convoy,” Munir Khan added.

The bus, which came under a dastardly terror attack on Monday evening, was from Gujarat, and all pilgrims were from the same state.

The bus – GJ 09 Z 9976 – was registered in North Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district, but the owner had sold the bus to one Jawahar Desai of Valsad, Gujarat.

Of the seven pilgrims – five women and two men – who lost their lives, two were from Valsad, two from Dharampur, two from Pardi and one from Vansda. Another fifteen sustained injuries, four of them serious wounds.

source: http://www.zeenews.india.com / Z News / Home> News> States> Gujarat / by Zee Media Bureau / Tuesday – July 11th, 2017

Muslim doctor, Hindu compounder spread message of peace in violence-hit Basirhat

Basirat, WEST BENGAL :

Compounder Debprasad Bairagi (left) has been working for the last 35 years with Dr Kaseed Ali (right) in Basirhat.(Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)
Compounder Debprasad Bairagi (left) has been working for the last 35 years with Dr Kaseed Ali (right) in Basirhat.(Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

Dr Kaseed Ali and his compounder Deboprasad Boiragi have been working together for nearly 35 years. Ali tells his patients that Boiragi has been no less than a family member.

Patients coming out of doctor Kaseed Ali’s chamber in violence-hit Trimohini area of Basirhat town are carrying, apart from the medical prescription, advice on communal harmony.

Ali and his compounder Deboprasad Boiragi are working together for nearly 35 years. Ali has made it a point to tell each of his patients that Boiragi has been no less than a family member and any loss to him would have been a personal loss to the Ali family.

“Over the last five days, I was always tense about his family’s security. I told the local leaders from my community to ensure his safety. Fortunately, since I have been practising here for the past 45 years, the leaders took my advice seriously and Debu’s family is safe,” Ali said.

“I find no difference between Debu and my two sons. I consider his wife as my own daughter-in-law and his kids as my own grandchildren,” Ali says.

Boiragi said a doctor’s chamber is the right place to spread the message of communal harmony.

“We are telling everyone how our professional engagement led to emotional bonding between two families and this was normal for Basirhat. It is not that patients are unaware of these facts. But it is time we remind each other of the true character and traditions of Basirhat,” Boiragi said.

Close to his chamber is a medicine shop run by Benoy Krishna Pal, who was horrified by the violence at Trimohini. He even planned on leaving the town with his family, until a Muslim friend, Gazi, asked him not to.

However, Gazi refused to take any credit.

“I did not do anything special to be thanked for. Anybody would have done the same to save a childhood friend. We are like brothers,” he said.

source: http://www.hindustantimes.com / Hindustan Times / Home> India / by Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri / Hindustan Tim ess, Bashirat (West Bengal) / July 10th, 2017

Chronicler of the mundane: Ranjith Kally documenting Indians in the anti-apartheid movement

SOUTH AFRICA :

Born into a family of ‘coolie Indians’, Ranjith Kally was important in documenting the role of Indians in the anti-apartheid movement

Monty Naicker, Nelson Mandela, and Yusuf Dadoo at the Treason Trial, Pretoria, 1958.
Monty Naicker, Nelson Mandela, and Yusuf Dadoo at the Treason Trial, Pretoria, 1958.

For most Indians with some awareness of the history of South Africa, India’s connection with the country begins and ends with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. As Nelson Mandela famously put it, India sent Mohandas to South Africa and received a ‘Mahatma’.

If the province of Natal was one of several places around the globe where the epic of Indian indentured labour was writ large, South Africa was nearly distinct as the site of an unusual and inspiring solidarity between black people and Indians in the equally epic struggle against racial oppression. Photojournalist Ranjith Kally, who died at the age of 91 in Johannesburg this June, was the great chronicler of both Indian life in Natal and the resistance to apartheid.

Kally was born near Durban in 1925 into a family of ‘coolie Indians’. His grandfather worked on a sugar plantation; his father, likewise, left for the fields early every morning. As was common in his generation, Kally was educated only up to Class VI. He worked in a shoe factory for 15 years and stumbled upon a Kodak Postcard camera at a rummage sale. In 1956, Kally procured a job as a photographer with Drum, a magazine that had been launched to give expression to the lives of black and coloured people.

Chronicling a struggle

Kally’s first photographs of anti-apartheid figures would be taken in the late 1950s. One of his favourite subjects was Monty Naicker, an Indian who trained as a doctor before turning to political activism. At a break during Pretoria’s Treason Trial in 1958, Kally captured Naicker with a young Mandela and the venerable communist leader Yusuf Dadoo in the background. Kally’s many photographs of Fatima Meer, another titanic figure in the anti-apartheid struggle, furnish insights both into how women assumed political roles in the public sphere and the little-discussed role of South African Indian Muslims in shaping secular narratives of freedom.

MeersMPOs11jul2017

In one photograph, taken in the early 60s, Kally seated Meer’s daughters, Shamin, Shehnaaz and Rashid, around their buoyant-looking mother in Durban’s Botanical Gardens. The photograph was intended for Ismail, Meer’s husband, who was then in detention, as a keepsake of his family. There is no hint here of anxiety, fear, or the oppressiveness of racial terror. But Meer was also godmother to Nelson and Winnie Mandela’s children, giving them a home and hope at a time of despair.

Kally knew better than most that the story of the anti-apartheid struggle was not only one, or even mainly, of ‘great’ figures. In a rigidly racist society, the occasions for transgression were many and the outcome generally was painful for those animated by the desire for equality and social justice. The anti-miscegenation laws were severe, but, as one of Kally’s most stunning photographs shows, this did not prevent Syrub Singh and the dazzling Rose Bloom (seen emerging from a court hearing) from joining hands in matrimony.

Courting the everyday

What is striking in Kally’s large and still largely unknown body of work is his attentiveness to the quotidian life of Indians in and around Durban. Close to half a century after the end of the indentured system, the greater majority of Indians still lived below the bread line. In one photograph, an Indian woman scrubs dishes outside a group of shacks; a very young girl, clutching a toddler, stands by her side. Kally closely observed young Indian boys and girls working in the cane fields.

His 1957 photograph, ‘Children Gotta Work’, is illustrative of not only Kally’s approach to the grittiness of Indian life in Natal but of the self-reflexivity in much of his work. Four Indian children, some unmistakably teenagers, are on their way to work in the fields. Shovels are flung across their shoulders; two of them firmly grasp lunch boxes in their hands. They walk barefooted in the morning light. The photograph resonates with pictures of Partition, but there are also shades of the historic march of Indian miners from Natal to the Transvaal in 1913. Workers on the move, the daily walk, the look of determination: all this is part of the ensemble.

I didn’t know Kally well enough to say whether he was a man of sunny optimism, but his photographs nevertheless suggest an eye for the whimsical and a zest for life. The whimsical touch is nowhere better captured than in his photograph of a boy with a large tortoise on his head.

The wide grin on the boy’s face reveals the unmistakable fun he is having in ferrying his slow-moving companion. The boldest expression of this element of joie de vivre in Kally’s work is a photograph called ‘The Big Bump’. Two men, both amply endowed at the waist, are rubbing against each other. Each man seems to be saying, ‘My tummy is larger than yours, and all the better for it.’ Kally’s camera paves the way for understanding the extraordinariness of the ordinary.

That is not an inconsiderable gift.

Professor of History at UCLA, the author has the distinction of being listed among the 101 Most Dangerous Professors in America.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society> Spotlight – History & Culture / by Vinay Lal / July 08th, 2017

Palmyra of the Deccan

Vijayapura (formerly BIJAPUR ) , KARNATAKA :

A view of Gagan Mahal in Vijayapura.
A view of Gagan Mahal in Vijayapura.

The Adil Shahis made Bijapur (now Vijayapura) a city ahead of its time in terms of infrastructure development and security. This well-planned city had two fortifications, one around the principal Adil Shahi administrative and residential buildings, and a larger one around the rest of the city. Both were roughly circular and had moats and several gateways. To further strengthen the defence of the city walls, the Adil Shahis built many bastions and about 96 gigantic cannons were placed on them. Only a dozen of these canons exist today. Most of them are placed in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) museum housed in the Nagaad Khana in front of Gol Gumbaz and some of them still sit atop the surviving bastions.

First line of defence

The fortifications have crumbled due to neglect and the moats are overgrown with thorny shrubs and in some places, they are filled with sewage and garbage. The only gateway that the citadel still has is on the south. This was the principal gateway into the citadel but now wears an abandoned look. Just inside this once splendid gateway are the remains of guardrooms constructed entirely of pillars from Hindu temples mostly belonging to the Vijayanagara period.

One of the surviving bastions is the Sharza Burj or Lion Bastion which is also the largest bastion in the city. It is famous for housing the cannon Malik-i-Maidan or Lord of the Plains, which was a war trophy won after the defeat of the Vijayanagara Empire at the Battle of Talikota. The cannon is made from a special alloy and can fire not only cannon balls but also metal slugs and copper coins.

Nearby is Haidar Burj which is the highest gun platform in Vijayapura and is a very conspicuous solitary structure.

It is also called the Upri or Upli Burj by the locals. It was built in 1583 by Haidar Khan, a general during the reigns of Ali Adil Shah I and Ibrahim Adil Shah II. A spiral stairway leads to the top which houses two long cannons. The tower was most probably customised for the guns which needed to be fired from a height so that they can have a long range.

The Adil Shahis wanted to transform their capital city to match the Mughal cities in the North by building imposing courtly structures, gardens, wells, waterways and granaries. While most of the structures have fallen to ruin, some have been converted to government offices and only a handful are open to tourists. The Gagan Mahal was built by Ali Adil Shah I as a palace and an audience hall. Only its structural skeleton remains today. A short walk from the Gagan Mahal is the Sath Manzil (Seven Pavillions) or Haft Manzil built by Ibrahim II as a pleasure pavilion. Only a few storeys survive now and there is no way to go inside. Just opposite this is Jal Mahal or Water Pavilion that has been decorated exquisitely and is crowned by a dome. It is set in the middle of a square pool which is now dry and filled with garbage. Again, there is no way to go inside.

Reservoirs & stepwells

Water was and is a precious resource for Vijayapura and the Adil Shahis built a complex hydraulic system to bring water from distant sources into the city and supplemented this with reservoirs and stepwells. Only a few stepwells and reservoirs survive today and the system of aqueducts and horizontal wells are lost. The Taj Baoli is the biggest stepwell in Vijayapura and was built by Malik Sandal, a Persian architect, in honour of Taj Sultana, the wife of Ibrahim Adil Shah II. Sadly the well, its gateway and the gallery around it are in a very bad state. It won’t survive for long if no action is taken immediately.

Another well-known stepwell present here is the Chand Baoli. The stepwell was built by Ali Adil Shah I in honour of his wife Chand Bibi and it served as the model for Taj Baoli. Chand Bibi is best known for courageously defending Ahmednagar and Bijapur against the attacks of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. She was the regent of both Ahmednagar and Bijapur and was known to be a good warrior, musician, linguist and artist. The structure is now completely cordoned off from the public. One can only see it through the grill gate.

Present-day Vijayapura would have benefited if the administration had preserved the hydraulic system of the Adil Shahis and used the many stepwells and reservoirs instead of letting them turn into garbage dumps. Waking up to this, the Minister for Water Resources, M B Patil announced in April that starting with Taj Baoli, around 20 wells in Vijayapura will be rejuvenated at the cost of Rs 4.25 crore. As a part of the rejuvenation process, the dirty water present in the wells is being pumped out, the garbage is being removed, and the well is being desilted. Additionally, there are plans to repair the structures around them. When fresh water accumulates, it will be pumped and stored in tanks, from which people can collect water for domestic purposes apart from drinking. This will ease the water scarcity the city is facing to a certain extent.

Unless people surrounding these monuments understand their historical importance and realise that a clean baoli can help face water scarcity, all efforts to revive the heritage structures will be futile.

source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Supplements> Spectrum / by Rijutha Jagannathan / July 04th, 2017

An 800-Year-Old Piece of Indian Heritage in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM :

The Ansari family in front of their house in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
The Ansari family in front of their house in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

 

Did you know that there is a corner of Jerusalem that has a distinct Indian stamp to it and its various residents wear their Indian origin like a medal?

Next to the Al-Aqsa mosque in the city there is the Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. The hospice is managed by the Ansari family and has a centuries-old connect to India.

The Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
The Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

Indian pilgrims to the “holy city” of Jerusalem, can stay at the ‘Indian Hospice’ and pay homage to the Indian Sufi saint Baba Faridudding of Shakar Ganj, who visited the place 800 years ago.

Seen here, celebrated Indian chef Samjeev Kapoor at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
Seen here, celebrated Indian chef Samjeev Kapoor at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

The Indian Connection Through Baba Farid

The year is 1200, a little over a decade after the armies of Saladin had forced the Christian Crusaders out of Jerusalem. And an Indian Sufi saint from Punjab named Baba Fariduddin of Shakar Ganj travels to the war torn city.

The victory of Saladin against the Crusaders. Balian of Ibelin surrendering the city of Jerusalem to Saladin, from Les Passages faits Outremer par les Français contre les Turcs et autres Sarrasins et Maures outremarins, c. 1490. (Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)
The victory of Saladin against the Crusaders. Balian of Ibelin surrendering the city of Jerusalem to Saladin, from Les Passages faits Outremer par les Français contre les Turcs et autres Sarrasins et Maures outremarins, c. 1490. (Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)

 

Sufi saint Baba Farid (Photo Courtesy: Seeker of Sacred Knowledge)
Sufi saint Baba Farid (Photo Courtesy: Seeker of Sacred Knowledge)

It is said that Baba Farid swept the stone floors around al-Aqsa mosque as a mark of devotion. He is also known to have taken up fasting in the silence of a cave nearby.

Long after he went back to India, Muslims from the sub-continent who passed Jerusalem on their way to Mecca stopped at this spot in memory of Baba Farid. It became a sort of temporary residence for the pilgrims.

Ansaris Deputed To Care For Baba Farid’s Legacy

In early 1920s, Jerusalem’s Supreme Muslim Council requested the leaders of the Khilafat Movement of British-ruled India to nominate someone to care for the hospice. The Khilafat leaders honoured the request of the Supreme Council then headed by Arab nationalist Mohammed Amin Al-Husseini. That is how in 1924 Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari – who was also part of the Khilafat Movement – was chosen to go to Jerusalem to take charge of the hospice.

Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

 

Sheikh Munir Ansari who now heads the place, seen here as a boy. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
Sheikh Munir Ansari who now heads the place, seen here as a boy. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

His son Sheikh Munir Ansari now heads the place. The two have during their respective years as administrator of the hospice, persuaded the rulers of several Indian Muslim states, including Hyderabad, to make contributions for the upkeep of the hospice. Munir’s son Nazeer proudly explains the glorious history of the place.

Not only pilgrims, but Indians from all walks of life who visit Israel like to meet the Ansaris. They are amazed by the way the Ansaris care for that piece of India in the land of Arab-Jewish confluence. Past visitors include famous journalists, presidents, Indian politicians, celebrities and commoners.

The Ansaris have been gracious hosts to many Indian journalists. Seen in this picture, among other journalists is Suhasini Haider of The Hindu. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
The Ansaris have been gracious hosts to many Indian journalists. Seen in this picture, among other journalists is Suhasini Haider of The Hindu. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

 

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar at The Indian Hospice. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar at The Indian Hospice. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

 

President Pranab Mukherjee too visited The Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
President Pranab Mukherjee too visited The Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

The Ansaris value the responsibility that comes with the inheritance of the heritage. Their FB page says:

Maintaining and protecting an Indian institution in Jerusalem’s old city is no easy task. But Sheikh Munir has accomplished the impossible with delicate diplomacy and extreme tact.

The Indian Hospice

The Ansaris on a visit to India. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
The Ansaris on a visit to India. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

The Ansari family has been a steady presence in Jerusalem ever since and they all still carry Indian passports.

source: http://www.thequint.com / The Quint / Home> News Videos / by Kirti Phadtatre Pandey / July o4th,2017

 

Aligarh Muslim University: a great seat of learning

Aligarh, UTTAR PRADESH :

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan dedicated his life for the Hindu-Muslim unity in the country and worked all his life for the educational upliftment of the community and for the strengthening of a pluralistic society of a modern India. He stressed on making education a medium to transform people into good human beings.

The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) represents the secular Ganga-Jamuna culture and the AMU community is committed to preserve this identity of this great seat of learning. Sir Syed avoided too much emphasis on religious subjects in his writings, focusing instead on promoting modern education.

As we know, the AMU is an academic institution of international importance offering more than 300 courses in both traditional and modern branches of education. Academic excellence and cultural ethos of AMU needs to be projected and propagated worldwide more effectively in a positive way. In the fast changing technological world, the role of media has become very important in disseminating the information to have a maximum reach.The supreme interest of Sir Syed’s life was education in its widest sense. He wanted to create a scientific temperament among the Muslims and to make the modern knowledge of science available to them. He championed the cause of modern education at a time when all the Indians in general and Indian Muslims in particular considered it a sin to get modern education and that too through English language. He began establishing schools, at Muradabad in 1858 and Ghazipur in 1863.

A more ambitious undertaking was the foundation of the Scientific Society, which published translations of many educational texts and issued a bilingual journal in Urdu and English. It was for the use of all citizens; they were jointly operated by the Hindus and Muslims. In the late 1860s, there occurred some developments that were challenges to his activities.

In 1867, he was transferred to Varanasi, a city on the Ganga with great religious significance for Hindus. At about the same time, a movement started in the city to replace Urdu, the language spoken by the Muslims, with Hindi. This movement and the attempts to substitute Hindi for Urdu publications of the Scientific Society convinced Syed that he should do something.

Thus during a visit to England (1869-70), he prepared plans for a great educational institution — a “Muslim Cambridge.” On his return, he set up a committee for the purpose and also started an influential journal, Tahzib al-Akhlaq (Social Reform), for the uplift and reforms of the Muslims. A Muslim school was established at Aligarh in May 1875, and after his retirement in 1876, Sir Syed dedicated himself to make it a college.

To carry the legacy of the great reformer, the AMU has got a dynamic and intellectual person as vice chancellor in the form of Prof Tariq Mansoor, who had been associated with the university for more than three decades. Mansoor has been the principal of the J N Medical College since 2013. He had been the secretary of the University Games Committee for about seven years.

Besides being the president of the Association of Surgeons, he has been a member of the Medical Council of India (MCI) since 2015 and that of the AMU Executive Council for 12 years. Mansoor is a recipient of the senior surgical award from the Association of Surgeons of India. He is also given credit for the overall development of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College. He served as an advisor in the Union Public Service Commission and as an assessor for the MCI.

Mansoor, in his vision, posted on the University’s website clearly stated that he will implement “Sir Syed’s vision of imparting modern education and will be focusing on “preparing students to qualify in competitive exams for central services, armed forces, IITs, IIMs and leading industries. We will also aim to produce top professionals in medicine, engineering, law, management, sciences and humanities”.

Appeal to alumniIt is unique and very positive to have a team of highly intellectual and academicians of repute to run the University. It is important for the progress of an academic institution that it should run by the academicians of high repute.

In an open letter to the AMU alumni who are holding important positions in different organisations worldwide, the vice chancellor has made an appeal to them to contribute both academically and financially.

To me, this is a very good move and initiative that will certainly help the students in getting employment in national and international market. Alumni support will also help in developing the infrastructural facilities of high standard as we have seen the contribution by Frank Islam, an AMU alumnus based in the US.The way newly appointed vice chancellor has taken the initiatives so far clearly shows his vision and plan for the betterment of the university. However, it would be more interesting to see his efforts in days to come. His biggest challenge would be maintaining the law and order situation in the campus. His long association with AMU would certainly be helpful in understanding the dynamics of the campus and in maintaining the law and order situation.

However, I would suggest that the VC should have an IPS officer on deputation basis as proctor of the University with power to handle the law and order situation independently. Another issue he may face would be regionalism and groupism in the campus but I am happy to mention that he already stated clearly in his vision that he will eliminate factionalism and groupism from the campus. It is high time for the AMU community to support the vice chancellor in making the University as one of the best in the country.

(The writer, a linguist, teaches at Washington University in St Louis, USA)

source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Panorama / by M.J. Warsi / July 03rd, 2017