It is worth mentioning that the highly-qualified and professional Indian Muslims settled in United States of America did not forget their brethren in India and collectively striving to improve their socio-economic condition through education. They formed a philanthropic charity organization in 1989 popularly known as American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) which has been sincerely and selflessly striving to empower Indian Muslims through education.
Dr. Khutub M Uddin (MD, PhD, Psychiatrist and Professor of Psychology) is one of the founder trustees and former president of AFMI, said the Indian Muslims’ future is very bright, and we should drive pessimistic thoughts away from the minds of young generation. They should remain steadfast in contributing towards social, political and economic development of India and its impacts are palpable in the Indian Muslims. In a tete-a-tete with Muslim Mirror editor Syed Zubair Ahmad, Dr. Khutub M Uddin offered a number of suggestions for improving the conditions of underprivileged Muslims and their relations with fellow countrymen. He said Indian Muslims must change their psyche and mindset as their population is almost equal to that of United States.
Below are excerpts from the interview:
SZA: First tell us something about the AFMI?
DK: AFMI is a philanthropic, service based and issue-orientated organization formed by Muslim Americans of Indian origin in 1989. It strives for the educational and economic uplift of Indian Muslims by seeking cooperation among American and Indian relief and educational organizations.
Furthermore, AFMI also intends to serve as a bridge between Indian intellectual, public officials and business people and Indian Americans, especially Muslims. Currently AFMI is working to bring 100 percent literacy among Indian Muslims. For this, it has built schools in many Indian villages and adopted many schools, with students numbering in several hundred thousand. For motivation to excel in education AFMI had awarded over 1,300 gold, silver, bronze medals (Over 2000 medals distributed so far) and certificates to meritorious students of X and XII of each state of India.
SZA :How do you see the present situation in your country of birth as Muslims and other weaker sections have been on the receiving end since this government came to power?
DK: Though situation is alarming but has not gone out of hand. Therefore, we should stop being negative and pessimistic. Things are bad but not devastating. You know that crisis brings opportunities to rise and shine. We must develop positive thinking and service about self-concept. My humble suggestion to Indian Muslims is that they should not paralyze themselves with despair and depression but they must rise and shine as it is a transitional phase.
SZA: How can Indian Muslims come out from this crisis?
DK: Muslims must be realistic, and positive. They should look around the happenings in the world. We should hope for the best but prepare for the worst and that is the major key for success.
SZA: However, it is bad to see that Indian Muslims are in the grip of fear?
DK: We must come out such feelings. Be aware of toxic fear psychology. A Muslim has no fear except the Almighty Allah, and he believes that nobody can help him except Allah and nobody can hurt you except Allah. So we must come out from fear psyche.
SZA: How Muslims can improve their lot. Did you have any suggestions?
DK: Muslim leaders, scientists, academics, professionals, entrepreneurs, Engineers, social workers, must rise to the occasion to mobilize the masses to achieve their rightful place. It is Islamic obligations on them. They must educate persuade and ignite people to participate in social economic political and civil activities.
SZA: Since this government came, attempts are being made to push Muslims to margins. The community has been already pushed to political margin?
DK: We must educate, encourage, and persuade our women to participate in elections and social, political activities. They are the one who can really change the fate of our community. If women are active they can change the world. For example, see the role of Jewish women who are very active in Social Service for their communities. As the saying goes “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle rocks the world” it is very true.
SZA: How can Muslims improve their representation in Parliament and state assemblies?
DK: Muslims must identify their enemies who come as their well-wishers. In this regard, they must identify the dummy candidates who pop up during the election time to divide mislead and destroy the power of Muslim votes. We should dissuade and discourage them as, by doing so they are selling their faith for cheap and it is not acceptable.
We should not sell our votes for petty things. They should also build coalitions with like-minded religious minorities and groups like Dalits, Christians, Sikhs, Adivasis and secular Hindus etc that would improve their political representation.
SZA: But, we see Muslims still did not emerge from the partition hang-over despite the new generations?
DK: It is my firm view and belief that Indian Muslims are really not a minority but a significant Majority. We must change our psyche and mindset. Our population is almost equal to that of United States. We must remember this and mobilize ourselves. Furthermore, as Indian –origin American citizen, I do suggest that we have to build India on Indo-Islamic ethos of love, tolerance and peace.
SZA: But you see Muslims are victims of targeted violence, now they are facing new dreaded phenomenon of mob-lynching. In this backdrop, what Muslim youths should do?
DK: We must come out from defeatist mentality. Fear-complex has many shades and colors and it makes very bad impact on our psyche. It affects our body and brain because both are interconnected. Fear turns into anxiety, anxiety turns into frustration and frustration leads to depression which is very dangerous. Since a believer fears non except Almighty, so there is nothing like fear in the mind of a Muslim. The legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was my friend. He used to say that ‘I become The Greatest because there was nothing like ‘fear’ in my mind since childhood. I fear only Allah’.
This instinct makes you a winner .This applies to an individual as well as to a community as a whole. We must unite ourselves especially when the right-wing politicians want to annihilate our very existence and identity. In this situation silent is a crime. We need to wake up and do something. We cannot complain to others when we are not helping ourselves by organizing our thoughts and actions. We must strategize and act upon it.
SZA: What is your message to the Muslim youth who seem to be restive because of prevailing hopeless situation?
DK: Indian Muslims must change their psyche and mindset as their population is almost equal to that of United States. I must say that youth are future and backbone of any community. Therefore, it is our duty that they must be encouraged and involved in, political and social economical activities. They can’t be ignored as their active participation is utmost necessary for the better future of the community. In a nutshell, we must organize; strategize the energies of young generation for the benefit of the community. I firmly believe that “no doubt future belongs to us , as “WE ARE THE WORLD “we are the salt and sweet of the World “.