[gha] Re: Memorium on Asghar Ali Engineer

  • From: Gopala Mariappan <drgopala@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: gha@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 18 May 2013 17:07:04 -0700


On Sat, May 18, 2013 at 4:31 PM, transcendentlaw@xxxxxxx <
transcendentlaw@xxxxxxx> wrote:

>   Sheila,
>     This memoriam for Ali Engineer is good for publication to join the
> others in our ezine.  I differ with his vocabulary, such as lauding
> distributive justice without mentioning the harmony of contributive
> justice as in Norm Kurland's just third way, www.cesj.org, just as I
> differ with his disparaging use of the term communal when religious
> tribalism would be more appropriate.  His emphasis on justice is what makes
> Ali Engineer stand out among most others as a prophetic person.
>                                                 Salam, Bob
> *India Resists *
>  *[image: gandhi]SIGN 
> PETITION<http://www.indiaresists.com/who-is-afraid-of-gandhi-sign-petition-for-re-publication-of-his-writings-tampered-by-bjp/>
> *
> Who is Afraid of Gandhi? BJP Govt tampered with Gandhiji's writings.
> Several years have passed since the UPA's promise of a reprint.
>    Legacy of Dr. Asghar Ali 
> Engineer<http://www.indiaresists.com/legacy-of-dr-asghar-ali-engineer/>
> May 18, 2013 12:41 pm1 
> comment<http://www.indiaresists.com/legacy-of-dr-asghar-ali-engineer/#comments>
>  *Irfan Engineer*
> A storm has destroyed everything in my life. I am not even beginning to
> come to terms with the loss in my life. Death, like storm, is God’s hand
> and you are so helpless. Never knew that death would snatch my very loving
> father Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer from us. I was not prepared yet for this
> colossal loss! But let me remember what he has bequeathed to me. My sister
> Seema rightly told a reporter that our father wanted us to inherit his
> legacy equally – legacy of his teachings. In the lull after the storm I am
> trying to reflect on his legacy to gather some pieces of my inheritance.
> What is the legacy that I have inherited from my father?
> [image: Asgar ali 
> engineer]<http://www.indiaresists.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Asgar-ali-engineer.jpg>1)
> The discipline and the punishing schedule that he followed.
> He never budged from his daily routine which included morning walks to
> maintain his health; working from morning 8:00 am till 10 pm in the night
> with a small nap in the afternoon until he was hospitalized on 13th
> February 2013; divided his day into four segments – administrative work,
> responding to e-mails, reading and writing, and followed the time schedule
> meticulously. Office staff was not allowed to violate. Visitors from
> outside city would be entertained even in violation of the time
> distribution, but visitors from within city were requested to seek
> appointment, but even then he would be considerate if they came from far.
> Even on Sundays and holidays, the schedule would hold for him and even if
> he had to sit in the office alone. Sunday evenings sometimes was a time for
> a little stroll or a drive. Frequent travels deprived us, his family
> members, from his company. However, he did not distinguish between the
> groups that invited him. His commitment once given, he would honour it,
> even if later some more important invitations arrived on his table. Even
> his ill health would not force him to change his mind. He has conducted his
> peace and conflict resolution workshops when sick. This discipline and long
> day enabled him to contribute so much to the world but perhaps contributed
> towards shortening his life. How organized and disciplined can we be?
> 2) Nothing except the values of justice, equality, love, dignity, and
> diversity were sacred for him. No rituals and no traditions and no
> cultures. Cultures were only media through which humans made a sense of the
> world. All cultures, all faiths were to be respected. Except the values,
> everything else should be subjected rational scrutiny and reformed,
> reinterpreted, re-understood and refashioned to serve the sacred values.
> His lifelong search for truth knew no limitations and was checked by no
> sacred symbols, rituals, traditions, language or culture. Truth could be
> achieved only through relentless and fearless pursuit. No cost was high
> enough to attend truth. Truth required only an honest inner search dictated
> by conscience. He paid a price for his search of truth – transferred often
> and promotions delayed when in service of Bombay Municipal Corporation as a
> civil engineer for his honesty and for leading Engineer’s Association, took
> voluntary retirement to work full time for the cause, suffering great loss
> of income, socially boycotted by Syedna’s establishment which meant being
> cut off from his mother, brother, sister and other near and dear ones, his
> house and office was attacked and completely destroyed by Syedna’s
> fanatical followers in February 2000, was physically attacked 6 times by
> Syedna’s fanatical followers with sharp weapons in order to kill him, often
> abused and threatened, but nothing deterred him from his search for truth
> and no sacrifice was too high a price to be paid for his principles. He was
> like a rock so far as his principles were concerned. How honest and
> relentless can we be in our search for truth?
> 3) If one realized any dimension of truth, it should be shared with people
> and without fear of consequences and in language that people understand. He
> often told me that the difference between a prophet and philosopher was
> that prophet communicated his message in language that people could easily
> understand whereas often philosophers spoke in language comprehensible only
> to a privileged few. The latter made careers, the former brought about
> social change and left a lasting impact and legacy. As an activist scholar,
> Engineer always talked in simple understandable language through his
> writings and oratories. He consciously chose that! He had begun writing in
> academic language initially, but soon checked himself, for he wanted to
> work for social change! How passionate can we be in our quest for social
> change? Will we walk the talk?
> 4) Dr. Engineer often said that search for freedom required enabling
> environment. It required freedom and democracy and free dialogue. Three Ds,
> he would say – Democracy, Dialogue and Diversity. All were necessary for
> honest understanding and knowing each other and more facets of truth in all
> its complexity. One had to be a patient listener and open minded before we
> strive for truth. The differences between two individuals and two or more
> groups can be made a bridge to reach out each other and to enrich our
> understanding through dialogue with those with whom one had differences.
> Diversity was important as different cultures represent different systems
> of meaning and visions of good life. Since each realizes a limited range of
> human capacities and emotions and grasps only a part of the totality of
> human existence, it needs other cultures to help it understand itself
> better, expand its intellectual and moral horizon, stretch its imagination,
> save it from narcissism to guard it against the obvious temptation to
> absolutize itself, and so on. This does not mean that one cannot lead a
> good life within one’s own culture, but rather that, other things being
> equal, one’s way of life is likely to be richer if one also enjoys access
> to others, and that a culturally self-contained life is virtually
> impossible for most human beings in the modern, mobile and interdependent
> world. No culture is wholly worthless, that it deserves at least some
> respect because of what it means to its members and the creative energy it
> displays, that no culture is perfect and has a right to impose itself on
> others, and that cultures are best changed from within.
> 5) For a person who has realized truth, it was absolutely necessary to be
> humble. More than anything, Dr. Engineer was a very very humble human
> being. While returning home from office (when he could walk home), often he
> would be stopped on road by a stranger and the insignificant stranger would
> discuss or ask his doubts and even argue with Engineer on various issues.
> He would passionately argue with the stranger his opinions for, sometimes,
> hours. My legs would ache standing with him but until the stranger was
> fully satisfied or decided to quit, Dr. Engineer would passionately keep
> discussing with him. Later when I would inquire why he invested so much
> time, he would reply, everyone was important. He was highly approachable
> and anybody could contact him anytime of the day and night with their
> queries. He would reply to abusive e-mails, and he could patiently reason
> with every opponent. His humility influenced even the most indoctrinated
> cadre who passionately opposed his views. His patience in arguing with them
> and making them see reason was remarkable. No case was beyond redemption
> for him. Each human being could be made to see reason and convert her to be
> a justice and peace worker. Humility was very natural for him and was the
> other side of coin of truth, but it was also his tool to win over worst
> opponent! He has conducted his peace workshops in challenging conditions
> that the organizers can afford. Sometimes in conditions that would appall
> any decent person. People were important to him and not luxuries and
> comfortable situations. He would easily trust people and particularly those
> who were needy. Compassion for those needy, suffering and victims of
> injustice was an important value for him which he followed lifelong. He was
> softer than molten wax as far as marginalized, oppressed and persons
> needing justice, or suffering or otherwise needy people were concerned.
> 6) Peace with justice was another value to which Dr. Engineer was
> absolutely committed to. There could be no peace without justice and
> justice meant not only restorative justice where violators of one’s rights
> were brought to justice and punished and the victims had the right to
> reparations. Justice for him also meant distributive justice where class
> based inequalities were not to be tolerated. In order to work for peace, he
> studied communal conflicts in depth and understood the roots of the
> conflict were in economic, social and political inequalities. He wrote
> extensively on major communal conflicts and explained that though religion
> was used as a tool to promote conflicts, religion was not the root cause of
> the conflicts. The real nature of conflict was competition between elite to
> control socio-economic institutions, including the state and establish
> one’s hegemony over the other. Religion was used as a tool to mobilize
> large number of gullible people. Communal conflicts would not be possible
> without wide spread prejudices against the minorities. Prejudices against
> the minorities were the foundation on which the infrastructure of communal
> conflicts was built. Dr. Engineer painfully gathered facts and data to
> counter the prejudices against minorities convincingly. Many people have
> approached this author to recall how the workshop and sound arguments and
> facts placed by Dr. Engineer changed their attitudes towards minorities.
> One Haryana police officer by the name Sharma met me while Dr. Engineer was
> in ICU to tell me how attending Dr. Engineer’s workshop was life changing
> moment for him. He never hated minorities from that day onwards and, more
> important, would never believe in stupid propaganda like Aurangzeb would
> eat only after gathering 20 manns of sacred threads of Brahmin.
> 7) One truth that he arrived through his search was the need to liberate
> religions from the clutches of the priestly establishments and restoring
> agency to a common believer would rejuvenate the religion, but more
> importantly, reveal the hidden meanings that we had failed to understand
> hitherto. Religion would become true moral power in the hands of the
> oppressed to fight injustice and change the oppressive status-quo. To him
> religion was not religion if it didn’t inspire to question status-quo,
> question the dominant understanding, and taught the followers to be rebels.
> He challenged the understanding of the left ideologists for whom religion
> was opium of masses. Even to Marx, religion was not frozen into single role
> of opium. Marx propounded that religion was also sigh of the oppressed and
> heart of the heartless world.
> 8) Gender justice and equality in general and for Muslim women in
> particular was a great passion for him. He pressed his entire knowledge of
> Islam and understanding of Quran, Islamic history, study of Islamic
> jurisprudence to service for the cause of Muslim women. Quran, according to
> him talked only of rights of women and not of men in Surah An-Nisa and
> reference to men was always with respect to their duties and not rights.
> That was to set the social imbalance right where women only had duties and
> no rights. He argued that during medieval period, as Muslim rulers
> conquered territories and spread, and became an empire, patriarchal culture
> snatched the rights given to women by Quran. Muslim Ulema seldom could
> counter his Quranic arguments and would respond with and defence of
> patriarchal cultural values on the basis of morals. He instructed me to
> give his daughter and my sister her share in his property after him. He of
> course struggled for equality of all and was part of struggle for
> implementation of Mandal Commission Report much before we all knew about it.
> 9) Mission of Asghar Ali Engineer was to liberate religion from religious
> establishments, make it a tool to question established interpretations of
> religious scriptures and make it a inspiration to search for truth and
> change the oppressive social reality; to embrace diversity and learn to
> co-exist through dialogue of cultures and equality, particularly gender
> equality and rights of Muslim women and by bringing scholarly works to bear
> to achieve these objectives was the mission of Asghar Ali Engineer. He
> expanded the horizons of knowledge and values and opened up many avenues
> for us to achieve the goal of equality, justice, peace, dignity for all and
> diversity. Asghar Ali Engineer was an institution in himself. Are we ready
> to carry forward his mission with the discipline and dedication that he
> had? We will strive!! May his soul rest in peace
>    -----Original Message-----
> From: Imtiyaz Yusuf <notification+zrdo1ollzld1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: Islamic Studies in Southeast Asia <408849852470412@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> >
> Sent: Sun, May 19, 2013 3:55 am
> Subject: [Islamic Studies in Southeast Asia]
> http://www.indiaresists.com/legacy-of-dr-asghar-al...
>   Imtiyaz Yusuf posted in Islamic Studies in Southeast 
> Asia<http://www.facebook.com/n/?groups%2F408849852470412%2Fpermalink%2F570306746324721%2F&mid=801938eG5af3c8604755G1a13219G96&bcode=1.1368888928.AbnKT6vxQ5JhP0CQ&n_m=transcendentlaw%40aol.com>
> [image: 
> http://www.indiaresists.com/legacy-of-dr-asghar...]<http://www.facebook.com/n/?profile.php&id=658653991&mid=801938eG5af3c8604755G1a13219G96&bcode=1.1368888928.AbnKT6vxQ5JhP0CQ&n_m=transcendentlaw%40aol.com>Imtiyaz
> Yusuf<http://www.facebook.com/n/?profile.php&id=658653991&mid=801938eG5af3c8604755G1a13219G96&bcode=1.1368888928.AbnKT6vxQ5JhP0CQ&n_m=transcendentlaw%40aol.com>5:55pm
>  May 18
> http://www.indiaresists.com/legacy-of-dr-asghar-ali-engineer/<http://www.facebook.com/l/SAQG28V-Y/www.indiaresists.com/legacy-of-dr-asghar-ali-engineer/>
> <http://www.facebook.com/l/1AQHO-NTUAQH3qWM1FSJPE9ypE4A69ckRpOWIjUpHqTh4OQ/www.indiaresists.com/legacy-of-dr-asghar-ali-engineer/>Legacy
> of Dr. Asghar Ali 
> Engineer<http://www.facebook.com/l/yAQES6deXAQEFC3i-Gdb70AJza23BtzwEBtngvUPVO2Iibw/www.indiaresists.com/legacy-of-dr-asghar-ali-engineer/>
> www.indiaresists.com<http://www.facebook.com/l/yAQES6deXAQEFC3i-Gdb70AJza23BtzwEBtngvUPVO2Iibw/www.indiaresists.com/legacy-of-dr-asghar-ali-engineer/>
> Irfan Engineer | A storm has destroyed everything in my life. I am not
> even beginning to come to ter...
> View Post on 
> Facebook<http://www.facebook.com/n/?groups%2F408849852470412%2Fpermalink%2F570306746324721%2F&mid=801938eG5af3c8604755G1a13219G96&bcode=1.1368888928.AbnKT6vxQ5JhP0CQ&n_m=transcendentlaw%40aol.com>·
>  Edit
> Email 
> Settings<http://www.facebook.com/n/?settings&tab=notifications&section=group_notification&mid=801938eG5af3c8604755G1a13219G96&bcode=1.1368888928.AbnKT6vxQ5JhP0CQ&n_m=transcendentlaw%40aol.com>·
>  Reply to this email to add a comment.

Other related posts: