Cleveland, Oct 3 09—Over 300 people attended the XIX Annual convention of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) at Holiday Inn, Cleveland, Ohio in the first week of October. About 35 delegates from 15 different states and Canada in addition to local guests attended the event that focused on the theme of empowerment of Indian Muslims through the medium of education.
Sessions during the day covered wide range of topics related to education and empowerment of the society. The speakers discussed how to create knowledge based society in an era dominated by Information and Communication Technologies when we are still struggling to increase over all literacy.
Many panelists discussed the poverty alleviation and emphasized that the number of doctors, lawyers, I&T specialists, accountants and other professionals, measures the strength of any society.
A session in the afternoon focused on how Muslims can become an assertive and positive contributing force, socially, economically and politically. Discussion surrounding the role of affirmative action and its pros and cons involved large participation from the audience.
On the session for Social Harmony and Social Interactions speakers chastised the political expediency that has caused communal divide and rifts. Speakers emphasized the need of social harmony for the progress of the country and opined that different religious communities should work towards building bridges of understanding.
The banquet session was the highlight of the convention. The banquet hall was full to the standing capacity. Dr. Aslam Abdullah was the MC. His witty remarks punctuated by jokes kept the audience attentive but relaxed.
Mr. Zahid Siddiqi, chairman of the convention in his welcome speech thanked the delegates and the audience for their participation and making the convention a success.
Dr. Iqbal Ahmed, incoming president of AFMI for 2010, in his speech gave the statistics about Muslimâ€™s low literacy levels. He said that as a direct consequence of this Muslims remain marginalized and some times resort to all sorts of unwanted activities. He chided the government for not implementing Sachar Committee and other such reports.
Dr. Nakadar in his power point presentation briefed the audience about AFMIâ€™s work in the education field, its relief and rehabilitation programs and about AFMIâ€™s political education. AFMI has been working diligently for 20 year that covers almost all the Indian states. He encapsulated AFMIâ€™s 20 years of work in over 100 slides. It left the audience impressed with AFMIâ€™s work and its achievements. In addition to scores of continuing projects half a dozen new ones have been added this year. These include relief and rehabilitation for victims of devastating floods in Kosi (Bihar), water delivery projects in Uttar Pradesh, support to educational projects in Jaipur and Amravati (Maharashtra), and help to a girlâ€™s college run by the Sultan Shaheed Education Trust in Mysore.
Mr. Shaukat Khan, the current president of AFMI, reiterated the impact of organizationâ€™s positive role in India as well as in USA. He said, AFMIâ€™s Houston Chapter is very active and participates in all Indian national activities. Same way we being the citizens of USA it is our primary duty to help the downtrodden sections of the society in this country as well.
Starting his speech with Islamic greetings Congressman Dennis Kucinich said he stood firmly with the Muslim community in America and appreciated the community for their valuable contributions that has enriched America. He was extremely appreciative of AFMI and its work; he said â€œI feel good for your wonderful work in India, your spirits are lifted when you bring a change even in one personâ€™s life and that is what you are doingâ€¦ it is really a great workâ€. He was surprised that right to education is enshrined in the Constitution of India while there is no such provision in the US.
The Congressman accepted an invitation to AFMIâ€™s International Convention at Indore on Jan 2, 2010 and was promised an elephant ride, he quipped: â€œI am a Democratâ€
Dr. Muhammad Aslam Parvez, principal of Delhiâ€™s historic Zakir Hussain College said the division between worldly sciences and religious sciences is artificial. Knowledge is created by Allah and everything that we know describes His majesty and power. He said that Muslims must have to learn the contemporary sciences as part of their religious duty. He also said the Quran provides the main inspiration to Muslims to move forward. However, the Quran is revered but not understood by many. A great majority of Muslims is totally unaware of the message of the Quran.
Justice M.S.A Siddiqui, chairman of Indiaâ€™s National Commission on Minority Educational Institutions, said the community has to look within for its ills and find ways to improve. He further said that the article 30 of the Indian constitution provides especial privileges to minority institutions. We should take advantage of it and that he would gladly provide any assistance in the matter. He stressed the value of tolerance and communal amity.
Justice Siddiqui was honored with AFMIâ€™s Excellence Award. Mr. Shaukat Khan, Mr. Zahid Siddiqi, Dr. Mansoor Ahmad, and Mr. Saeed Bukhari received Appreciation Awards. The Pride of India Award was deferred for next year.
Mr. Sanaullah Khan presented the vote of thanks and recognized the delegates amongst thunderous applause. This was followed by delicious dinner prepared by Shalimar Gardens.
Preacher Moss entertained the audience for an hour with his wit and jokes.
The delegates to the convention reaffirmed their dedication to the cause of education in India and promised to do their best in furthering AFMIâ€™s goal of bringing in the light of literacy to each and every Muslim home in India.