Engineering harmony

The best jehad is to speak the truth in the face of a tyrant. The word has been misused throughout history by scores of rulers,for their own selfish motives,” said Dr Asghar Ali Engineer,well-known social activist and Islamic scholar.

Written by Shalini Rai Narayan | Published: February 7, 2009 2:32:25 am

Dr Asghar Ali Engineer,renowned author and secular activist,stressed the need for peace and empathy in today’s troubled times

The best jehad is to speak the truth in the face of a tyrant. The word has been misused throughout history by scores of rulers,for their own selfish motives,” said Dr Asghar Ali Engineer,well-known social activist and Islamic scholar. He was speaking to The Indian Express after delivering a speech at the Symbiosis Knowledge Village in Lavale on the occasion of Combat Terror Day organised by students of Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC).

“The US consumes 70% of the world’s resources and the remaining countries have to make do with 30% resources. There’s bound to be a sense of discrimination creeping in somewhere. The crying need today is that of inclusiveness,not exclusiveness,as practised by past U S governments,” added the scholar,who’s a civil engineer by profession,and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Jamia Milia Islamia University,Delhi.

Having come under virulent criticism and even physical assaults for his open disapproval of the vice-like grip of the Bohra priestly establishment over lives of ordinary Bohras,Engineer said it’s imperative to stand by what you believe in,even if it comes at a cost. “Ultimately,you have to pay the price,whatever it be,of your convictions,” he asserted.

A noted Islamic scholar who has been trained in tafsir (commentary on Quran) and hadith (Prophet’s sayings) and Islamic jurisprudence,Engineer has more than 40 books to his credit,including Islam and Its Relevance to Our Age,Rights of Women in Islam,Sufism and Communal Harmony and Islam in South and South East Asia. He was also given the Communal Harmony Award by the Union Govt in 1997.

When asked what is it that makes educated youth fall prey to the malaise of communalism,the noted author said the culprit is a deliberate misinformation campaign. “The problem is that there are very few authentic sources of correct information and this lacuna is readily exploited by vested interests. But the only way to avoid this is to ensure that each one knows the truth and finds out the truth himself/herself,” he said. “It’s a precedent for all to verify that those men and women who have managed to change the world,have done so because they set out on the quest for truth and rested only after they discovered the entire reality,” added Engineer.

Ending the interaction on a spiritual and wistful note,the 70-year-old scholar said that in the face of all-encompassing violence,we need to be even more non-violent. “The need of the hour is not jehad but non-violence and a sense of justice being done to all. As the Sufi saints said,if you do have to practise jehad,let it be against your desires. That really is jehad-e-Akbar or the greatest of all jehads,” said Engineer.

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