[Reader-list] Maulanas in the News

Yogi Sikand ysikand at gmail.com
Wed Aug 1 13:20:51 IST 2007

Maulanas in the News

Yoginder Sikand

A maze of pot-holed lanes winds its way through a squalid slum at the
far end of the sprawling Muslim locality of Zakir Nagar in South
Delhi. The lanes are lined with open drains, clogged with garbage and
blanketed with clouds of mosquitoes. Tiny hutments and
half-constructed buildings cluster together haphazardly. A muddy
by-lane, rendered almost unusable due to the recent rains, leads off
towards the Jamuna beyond. Half way along, a tin board nailed on to an
unpainted brick wall announces the Rabita Islamic News Agency (RINA).

The brainchild of Maulana Muzzammil al-Haq al-Husaini, a graduate of
the Deoband madrasa, and former editor of al-Kifah, the Arabic organ
of the Jamiat ul-Ulama-e Hind, RINA was set up in 1987. For more than
a decade it functioned in a somewhat perfunctory manner, the amiable
middle-aged Maulana tells me, but for the last two years it has been
working in a more organized way.

Maulana Muzzammil explains the aims of RINA and the way it functions.
'We want international news, especially about Muslims and Islam in the
other countries, to reach Urdu newspapers. We also want Indian Muslim
news to reach papers abroad'. For the former purpose, RINA culls
information from a host of Arabic and English websites, newspapers and
magazines, translates this into Urdu, and sends it in the form of
summarized reports to more than 150 Urdu publications across India.
'It is otherwise very difficult for many of these papers to access
this material. It also saves them the trouble of having to arrange for
this material to be translated into Urdu', he says. These reports are
sent through email to some papers, and in the form of a weekly news
bulletin, titled 'Alam-e Islam Ki Khabrein' ('News From the Islamic
World'), which is sent by post to papers that do not have access to
the Internet.

The other major service that RINA provides is news about Indian Muslim
affairs to Arabic and English publications, the latter both in India
and abroad. 'Despite the fact that India has such a large Muslim
population, people in the Arab world have little or no knowledge of
the Indian Muslims', the Maulana points out. 'I traveled to the Arab
world and I came across people who asked me, in all seriousness, if
Muslims are allowed to build mosques in India! Considering the fact
that Muslims, as well as others, enjoy considerably more religious
freedom in India than in many Arab countries, such lack of knowledge
of Indian Muslims in the Arab world is really distressing', he
continues. 'This is both because the Arab press gives very little
coverage to Indian Muslim issues and also because we have done little
to tell others about ourselves'. 'Many Arabs', he adds, 'have this
very distorted understanding of the conditions of the Indian Muslims.
They think that we are all very poor and deprived. Many people go to
the Gulf and paint a very sordid picture of the Muslims here in order
to seek to garner funds in the name of the community. It is thus
important for us to present the facts about ourselves as they are'.

To get the Indian Muslim viewpoint across to an Arabic- and English-
knowing readership, RINA has recently launched a features and news
service in both languages. It selects material from Indian Urdu papers
and gathers reports from its correspondents in different parts of the
country and translates them into Arabic and English. This material
will shortly be made available on RINA's website, which is presently
under construction, and in the form of printed weekly newsletters.
'We want to focus on news about Indian Muslims that receive little or
no coverage in the English and Arabic press', the Maulana explains.

RINA is one of the few news agencies that focus solely or largely on
Indian Muslim issues. It might have more room for improvement, though,
particularly in the quality of the news that it sends out. The absence
of feature stories is also something that could be addressed. But that
said, the Maulana and his enterprising team of four young
colleagues—three being graduates of the Deoband madrasa and one from
the Nadwat ul-Ulama, Lucknow—exemplify what difference even a small
group of dedicated activists, operating from a single room in a
squalid slum, with just a fax machine and a computer at their
disposal, can make.

For more details about RINA, contact Maulana Muzzammil al-Haq
al-Husaini on rinaislamicnewsagency at yahoo.co.in /  Tel: (0091-11)

Sukhia Sab Sansar Khaye Aur Soye
Dukhia Das Kabir Jagey Aur Roye

The world is 'happy', eating and sleeping
The forlorn Kabir Das is awake and weeping

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