Appeals to students, youth to fight vested interests trying to divide nation
# Islam in Arabic means "Surrender to God," and Jihad means not taking bombs and bullets to kill people
# Secularism could be promoted by working through religion, with courage of conviction from religious leaders
CHENNAI: "No power on earth can tell the Muslims to go to Pakistan and the Christians to Vatican," said Mohammed Abdul Ali, Prince of Arcot, on Friday. Inaugurating a symposium on Secularism — Issues and Prospects, organised to mark the golden jubilee of JBAS College, he said Islam was being targeted as a religion of terrorism by the western world. But Islam in Arabic means surrender to God. Jihad was the control of one’s self from temptations and not taking to bombs and bullets to kill people.
He appealed to students and youth to fight vested interests trying to divide the country in the name of religion.
Pointing out that it was not proper to go for the Haj pilgrimage by accepting Government subsidy, he said the Government could, instead, spend that money to subsidise education and health facilities. This would be a more meaningful way of helping Muslims.
Extolling the leadership qualities of the college’s founder, Justice Basheer Ahmed Sayeed, Mr. Abdul Ali said at the national or State level, Muslims did not have a leader to take their problems to the Centre and State Governments.
N. Ravi, Editor, The Hindu , spoke on the context and idea of secularism and the approaches to foster secularism and communal harmony. The immediate past was a time of rapid scientific advantages and developments in medicine. But the Ayodhya and Godhra incidents showed that the fabric of secularism was still fragile where communal tensions were kept aliveHe said in India, there was a different interpretation of secularism. It was thought of as people living together and tolerance. Quoting national leaders,
he said secularism could be based on citizenship and national boundaries as the organising principle provided by the Indian Constitution. In the confusing interpretation of secularism, there were some core principles such as equal protection for all religions; the State not in any way supporting or opposing any particular religion; the strong element of protecting religions and cultural rights of groups and the fourth pillar of Indian secularism, namely the protection of minority rights.
He said secularism could be promoted by working through religion with the courage of conviction from religious leaders in restraining their followers from violence and confrontationist approaches.
The second approach could be based on multiple-identities that people have, such as State, family, city, profession or organisations to foster amity and harmony among people. The third approach could be based on the citizenship of the Constitution, which provided a strong foundation for keeping the country united, he said.
Salma Salahuddin, Principal, JBAS College for Women, said the college had 5,000 students in day and evening courses. It had received the Five Stars status from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council and recently started the Centre for Women’s Studies.
R. Pushpa, Head, Department of Political Science, said the College was set up 50 years ago with the aim of empowering women through higher education. The department organised inter-collegiate oratorical, debate and quiz from February 1.