Friday, October 22, 2010


When we look around and contemplate on various incidences that occur in our daily life we can understand the philosophy of Islam in a much better way. That is why perhaps Islam is also known as ‘Deen-e-Fitrat’. Allah (SWT) has instructed us in Quran itself to ponder upon and contemplate on various ayahs so that we might get a better understanding of the purpose of life; mere recitation of Quran may not be so beneficial in that sense.

A few days back, on one of the online news portals, I came across the news regarding the ceremony which Mr. Ratan Tata, the TATA Group Chairman organized in memory of the employees who died fighting the terrorists on the dreaded 26/11 attack on Taj hotel, which is owned by the Group.

The ceremony was organized on the first anniversary of the attack and there were more than 1000 guests who had assembled for a multi-faith prayer meeting in the hotel. They were witness to an emotionally choked Tata talk about the attack. The Chairman of Tata group also unveiled a 12-foot high memorial, engraved with names of employees and guests killed by terrorists in the three-day long siege on the iconic hotel.

When the Taj was attacked it was the brave employees of the hotel, who under the leadership of Mr. Karambir Kang – the general manager, took up the mission of rescuing the guests. Mr. Kang was busy saving guests on the ground floor, even as his own wife and two children were trapped in fire—and later found dead—in their top-floor room.

Needless to say that his dedication and commitment for his duty won him several awards like Forbes: Person of the year 2009 and Corporate Citizen of the year award. And above all he won over many hearts.

 If we discuss the gesture of Mr. Tata with people irrespective of their religion or social status we might get a feedback that whatever Mr. Tata did was an acknowledgment by the Head of the organization to his dedicated employees for sacrificing themselves in saving the hotel. And the memorial is the remembrance for their selfless sacrifice.

The biggest terrorist attack which Islam faced was during the reign of Bani Umayyad when Yazid was the ruler. It was great sacrifice of Imam Husain (A.S) which saved Islam. As a memorial to this great sacrifice a procession of Tazia is carried out across the World and people mourn and cry and show their love for the great sacrifice of household of the great Imam on the day of Ashura the 10th Moharram.

In this article in the light of various ayahs we would try to understand the Jihad-e-Karbala. Holy Quran is a complete book which guides us through and helps us in understanding the great sacrifice.

When Yazid came to power he started demanding the oath of allegiance (bay’ah) from everyone using unfair and forceful means. During those days it was a well-known practice in the Arab world to pay allegiance in important matters like rulership and authority.

Yazid was fully aware of the stature and place of Imam Husain (A.S) in Khilafat and in order to give credibility to his ideology he desperately wanted allegiance of Imam Husain (A.S) and sent him the messages in this connection. Acknowledging Yazid’s authority by the Prophet’s [PBUH] grandson at this point would have meant confirmation of his evil deeds and Khilafat. For Yazid, Imam Husain’s (A.S) seal of approval was thus the one most needed.

At this point let us see the following ayah from Surah-e-Mohammed and contemplate on that:
•“Ae Imandaro agar tum Khuda ke deen ki madad karoge to Woh bhi tumhari madad karega aur tumhain saabit qadam rakhega.” - (Surah-e-Mohammed, ayah 7)

“(O you who believe! if you help (the cause of) Allah, He will help you and make firm your feet.)”

The ayah says that whoever would help the cause of Allah, he would be helped by Allah (SWT) in return and He would make firm his feet. Now let us relate this with Karbala and see it in this perspective.

Imam Husain (A.S) in Karbala remained firm on his feet and did not pay allegiance to Yazid. It was a battle of the truth against the falsehood, righteousness against evil and justice against corruption. He stood in scorching heat of Karbala along with his companions. He was devoid of water and food but determined. His loved ones, including his six month old son Ali Asghar, were martyred but it did not deter him and he remained steadfast. His love for the religion and Allah (SWT) gave him the strength to bear the atrocities.

The importance of this Jihad-e-Karbala has been mentioned in various books by prominent compilers. Abul Hasan Ali bin Husain Mas’oodi in his Muroojuz Zahab wa ma’adinul Jawahir reported,

•“Whoever accepted the slavery of Yazid by swearing fealty at his hands was spared, otherwise he was subjugated. Thus the meaning of allegiance to Yazid was not merely the acceptance of a new caliph, but it meant to sell one’s Religion and faith in slavery to a tyrant.”

Imam Husain (A.S) was the custodian of Allah’s religion and how could he allow this to happen? One of those who fought the battle of Karbala against him says:

•“I have never seen a person bereaved of his sons, menfolk and his companions more Lion-hearted than him.” (Ref: Ibne Aseer, Tareekh Kamil)

This speaks a lot about his firmness and steadfastness during the battle of Karbala and thus his willingness to help and serve Islam and Allah’s cause.

Let us again refer the holy Quran and try to find-out few more ayah in this connection:

•“Jin logon ne Khuda ki raah main apne des chhode phir shaheed kiye gaye ya mar gaye Khuda unhain zaroor umda rozi (aakherat main) ataa farmaega.” – (Surah-e-Al Hajj, ayah 58)

“(Those who leave their homes in the cause of Allah, and are then slain or die,- On them will Allah bestow verily a goodly Provision: Truly Allah is He Who bestows the best provision.)”

Imam Husain (A.S) had left Medina, his home, for the cause of Allah and had come to Karbala. He had 72 companions for this noble cause along with him including children and women of his household. On the fateful Friday, the 10th of Moharram 61H, he was brutally martyred alongwith his companions. The women and children were made captives.

When we contemplate on the above ayah, it seems that it is indicating the battle of Karbala and the sacrifice of Imam Husain (A.S). Here, Allah (SWT) has promised that He would bestow His limitless grace and provisions on all of them who were martyred in Karbala along with Imam Husain (A.s). So when Allah (SWT) Himself remembers and acknowledges the great sacrifice, I am sure He would expect the same from us. Why would not we remember the great sacrifice every year then?

Whenever there are atrocities afflicted upon people we love we tend to cry that is a psychological process, a natural instinct. And Islam is also known as ‘Deen-e-Fitrat’, so crying for Imam Husain (A.S) is natural and very much as per the tenet of Islam. But still let us try to find out whether there is any mention of mourning and crying in Quran?

Let us see the following ayah from Surah-e-Yusuf:

•“Aur Yaqub (A.S) ne un logon ki taraf se mooh pher liya aur rokar kehne lage haai afsos Yusuf (A.S) per aur isqadr roye ke aankhein un ki sadme se safed ho gayee wo to bade ranj ke zaabit the.” – (Surah-e-Yusuf, ayah 84)

“(He turned away from them and cried: "Alas for Yusuf!" And his eyes turned white with grief which he bore in silence.)”

Here, in the above ayah Quran says that Yaqub (A.S) cried a lot as he was missing his son Yusuf (A.S), and he cried to such an extent that his eyes turned white and he lost his eyesight.

It is thus allowed in Quran to cry for someone you love and remember. All the Saiyeds are descendants of Imam Husain (A.S), it was their household which was attacked in Karbala, so when they cry they remember the grief and sorrow of their forefather Imam Husain (A.S) and pay tribute to him. Rest of the Muslim world shows its gratitude to the household of Imam Husain (A.S) for their great sacrifice in saving Islam by crying and mourning during the month of Moharram.

Now again going back to the above ayah let us see how did Yaqub (A.S) get back his eyesight? For this I would like to quote the following ayah again from Surah-e-Yusuf:

•“Yeh mera kurta le jaao aur usko abbajaan ke chehre per daal dena ke woh phir beena ho jaaenge (dekhne lagenge) aur tum apne sab ladke baalon ko lekar mere paas chale aao.” – (Surah-e-Yusuf, ayah 93)

“(Take this my shirt and cast it on my father's face, he will (again) be able to see, and come to me with all your families.)”

In the above ayah Yusuf (A.S) instructs his brothers to take his shirt with them and to cast it on Yaqub (A.S)’s face so that he would get back his eyesight. There is no doctor or a hakim to cure Yaqub (A.S)’s blindness, it was just a shirt, which because of its association with Yusuf (A.S) got the power to heal the blindness.

This clarifies why most of our desires are fulfilled on Tazias during Moharram. It gets the power of desire fulfillment because of its association with Imam Husain (A.S).

Apart from the above example of Yaqub (A.S), is there any other example in Quran which mentions crying and mourning? Let us see the following ayah from Surah-e-Dukhaan:

•“To unlogon per aasmaan wa zameen ko bhi rona na aayaa aur na unhain mohlat hi di gayee.” – (Surah-e-Dukhaan, ayah 29)

“(The sky nor the earth cried for them, nor were they given respite.)”

The above ayah refers to the army of Pharaoh when it was doomed and got drowned in Nile river. The ayah explains that though they were destroyed neither sky nor the earth cried for them as such was their conduct. It can be inferred from this that since Quran is mentioning about sky and earth’s crying, sometime in the history of mankind it must have happened or it might happen later on. So when did this happen?

It is mentioned in the tafseer of this ayah in Sahih-e-Muslim that when Hussain (A.S) was martyred on his martyrdom even sky shed tears and cried and its crying was to turn red in colour. (Ref: Sahih-e-Muslim)

A similar tradition has been mentioned by Allama Ibn-e-Hajar in Sawaiqe Mohraika that much before the incident of Karbala took place, once Imam Ali (A.S) was passing by Karbala when he reached near the place of grave of Imam Husain (A.S), he said “This is the same place where our camels must rest and we can keep our belongings here. This is the place where our blood would be shed. Few people from the Ahl-ul-bait of Rasool (SAW) would be martyred here and on them sky would shed tears and even the earth would cry.” (Ref: Sawaiq-e-Mohraika, Ibn-e-Hajar)

Imam Ali Zain-ul-Abedin (A.S) says that:

•Every Momin, whose eyes shed tears upon the killing of Husain ibn' Ali (A.S) and his companions, such that the tears roll down his cheeks, God shall accommodate him in the elevated rooms of paradise. (Ref: Yanaabe'al Mawaddah, p. 419)

 So when sky and earth can cry why can’t we? Thus crying is to showcase our solidarity and commitment for Islam and its preachings, as it was Imam Husain (A.S)’s sacrifice that saved it.

Now let us move further and find out what Quran has to say about this great sacrifice and its importance? The following ayah from Surah-e-Sa’afat says:

•“Us main shak nahin ke ye yaqeeni bada sakht aur sarihi imtihaan tha aur Hum ne Ismaeel ka fidya ek zibhe azeem (badi qurbani) qaraar diya. Aur Hum ne unka achha churcha baad ke aanewalon main baaki rakkha hai ” – (Surah-e-Sa’afat, ayah 106-107-108)

“(Most surely this is a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a Feat sacrifice. And We perpetuated (praise) to him among the later generations)”

Allah (SWT) tried the willingness of Ibrahim (A.S) for sacrificing his son Ismail (A.S) in His path and once He was convinced He postponed it and exchanged it with a much greater sacrifice (Zibhe Azeem) for a later generation.

This great sacrifice which is mentioned in the above ayah and which was postponed for later generation is the sacrifice of Imam Husain (A.S) and his household at the battlefield of Karbala. (Ref: Merajjunnabuwat, P 35)

If Imam Husain (A.S) has given such a great sacrifice for the cause of Allah that Quran testifies, then as a Head of both the worlds, what has Allah (SWT) promised to Imam Husain (A.S)?

In the following ayah from Surah-e-Fateh, Allah (SWT) promises:

•“Aur jisne us baat ko jis ka us ne Khuda se ahad kiya hai pura kiya to us ko anqareeb hi ajr-e-azeem ataa farmaega.” – (Surah-e-Fateh, ayah 10)

(“Those who fulfill their promise to God will receive a great reward.)”

By not accepting allegiance to Yazid and in the process sacrificing himself and his entire household, Imam Husain (A.S) kept his promise to Allah (SWT) in the best possible manner. And Allah (SWT) has hence blessed him and his household with the great reward for their deeds. Now when we love Imam Husain (A.S) we are amongst the people who fulfill their promises to Allah (SWT), as by loving him we have rejected Yazid and his ideology, and hence Allah blesses us with a great reward.

Even in today’s modern world people do remember this great sacrifice. Is there any indication of this in Quran? Let us find out:

•“Aur Hum ne un ka zikr khair baad ke aane walon main baaqi rakkha ke har taraf se Aal-e-Yaseen per salaam hi salaam hai” – (Surah-e-Sa’afat, ayah 129-130)

“(And We perpetuated to him (praise) among the later generations. Peace be unto the Aal-e-Yaseen.)”

Allah (SWT) sends His salams and salutations to “Aal-e-Yaseen” and promises that their deeds would be remembered by the later generations; it means that till the time the world lasts whatever ‘Aal-e-Yaseen’ has done would be praised and remembered.

Ibn-e-Abi Haatim and Ibn-e-Marduiya have quoted Ibn-e-Abbas that Aal-e-Yaasin in the above ayah refers to Aal-e-Mohammed (SAW) i.e. household of Mawla Ali (A.S) and Imam Husain (A.S) (Ref: Durr-e-Mansoor, vol 5, P 286)

Thus we find many people of this modern world from different faith and religion still remembering Imam Husain (A.S) and take inspiration from his great sacrifice. It is Allah’s promise and it is bound to remain so till this world lasts.

Prominent people from various walks of life and different parts of the World have paid their tribute to Imam Husain in the following words:

•“Imam Husayn uprooted despotism forever till the Day of Resurrection. He watered the dry garden of freedom with the surging wave of his blood, and indeed he awakened the sleeping Muslim nation. Husayn weltered in blood and dust for the sake of truth. Verily he, therefore, became the bed-rock (foundation) of the Muslim creed; la ilaha illa Allah (There is no god but Allah).”—Sir Muhammad Iqbal

•“In a distant age and climate, the tragic scene of the death of Husain will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader.”—Edward Gibbon

•“I learned from Hussain how to be wronged and be a winner.” —Mahatma Gandhi

Before I end my article, it is worth mentioning here an interesting history of the day of Ashura the 10th Moharram, the day Imam Husain (A.S) was martyred:

•It is mentioned in Sahih-e-Muslim that Ashura is a day of great historical significance as on this day Adam (A.S)’s repentance was accepted by Allah (SWT); Nuh (A.S) and his companions were saved in the ark; Allah extinguished the fire in which Ibrahim (A.S) was thrown by Nimrod. On 10th of Moharram Ayub (A.S) got relief from his illness; Musa (A.S) got the Commandments. Yusuf (A.S) got re-united with his father Yaqub (A.S). Yunus (A.S) was taken out from the belly of the fish. On this day Nile river was divided and Pharaoh along with his army drowned. Isa (A.S) was raised to the sky and Sulaiman (A.S)’s kingdom was restored. (Ref: Sahih-e-Muslim)

From above we can understand the importance of this day as Allah (SWT) chose this day to grant relief to his chosen prophets from their individual atrocities.

So while Allah (SWT) helped His prophets on this day, it was Imam Husain (A.S) who came forward to help Islam; Allah (SWT)’s religion to relieve it from the clutches of Yazid and thus resurrected the religion and gave it a new life.

Allama Iqbal, a prominent urdu poet who is also known as ‘Shayar-e-MashriK’ praises the contribution of the sword of Mawla Ali (A.S) and the sajda of Imam Husain (A.S) in restoring Islam in following words:

“Islam ke daaman main bas iss ke siwa kya hai, Ek Sajda-e-Shabbiri Ek Zarb-e-Yadullahi.

”We are lovers of Imam Husain (A.S) who helped Your religion, so O our Lord! Bestow Your limitless grace on all of us and spare us from every grief or sorrow other than the sorrow of Imam Husain (A.s) and his household. Aamin”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hearty Mart at Juhapura

Juhapura, a Muslim dominated area lies on the western outskirts of Ahmedabad near Sarkhej in Gujarat. It is situated along the National Highway 8A that goes towards Saurashtra and Kutch. Previously it used to be known as Jivapura and also as Sankalitnagar.

In order to rehabilitate the 1972 flood victims, a colony of 2,248 homes was developed; this was known as Sankalitnagar and around this colony then Juhapura developed. It was a small suburb with a small population until the early '90s. And as late as 1992, a large number of Hindus mainly from Dalit, Bhoi and Thakore communities lived here.

Most of the Hindus moved out of Juhapura after the communal violence that broke out post the Babri Masjid demolition in the year 1992. Jeevan Bhoi was one of those who lived in Juhapura till 1992. "After that it was frightening to live there," he says. "Many of my Muslim friends assured me that nothing would happen, but as I could not be at home for most part of the day, it worried me about my family's safety," he adds.

Again, the communal riots of Gujarat in 1992-93 and especially after the 2002 communal riots, large numbers of Muslims migrated to Juhapura from Hindu-dominated areas of Ahmedabad for a safe-haven. For a decade of 1992-2002, Juhapura largely remained an area which was considered as riot prone and downtrodden. It was deprived of basic amenities and though it became a pre-dominantly Muslim ghetto it was avoided by effluent Muslims.

Post 2002 communal riots even the effluent Muslims shifted their base and moved to Juhapura. This changed the social dynamics of the area and it started getting all the due attention from various corners. This migration of Muslims with deep pocket caused a construction and housing boom in the area with housing prices skyrocketing.
With a booming real estate the area promised development but still it remained devoid of basic amenities like a proper organized retail outlet which can provide convenience of purchase to the residents. Adanis had opened their supermarkets across Ahmedabad but for an obvious reason avoided Juhapura.

It was in this gap we found a huge opportunity to start an organized food-grocery store in the area in early 2004. Vishala Circle was the fastest developing area within Juhapura, as it was not cramped unlike other parts of the area and we could speculate a good growth of the area in near future.

With the vision of bringing convenience to the locality, we started Hearty Mart in February 2004. It was modeled as an ideal neighbourhood store and positioned as ‘Sabse Khass Ghar ke Paas’. As it was a store which was equipped to cater to all their basic needs. A store which was positioned as a convenience store and wanted to establish itself as a one-stop-solution for the daily needs of groceries, cosmetics, food grains etc. Thus was destined to bridge the gap between demand of daily needs and the options of supplies available.

It is said that one problem leads to another; even we faced certain problems which we could never speculate while we were deciding to open our shop here. The negativity attached with the area made the business operation really difficult. We realized that it was not at all conducive for a smooth operation as the vendors and suppliers were reluctant to support us and give merchandise on credit. In order to win their trust we organized get-together with them to break the ice and also paid them with advance cheques and even in cash till the time we had not win them over.
Even the residents were reluctant to purchase and we found meager footfalls in the first year. The problem was that:

• Most of them had migrated from other areas and they preferred to go back to the retailers from their old area to purchase. There was no shop patronage for Hearty Mart.
• There was lots of skepticism and suspicion on the future of Hearty Mart since they were well aware about the area and its image.

The immediate remedy of the above situation was to work in such a manner that they start patronizing the shop. As a strategy we undertook the following measures:

• We launched schemes like free-gifts and discounts on purchase of more than Rs. 1000/-.
• On completion of 100 days, a packet of 500 gms sugar with a personalized letter was sent to all the prominent customers. This was unique to the area.
• We started taking their specific orders for specific merchandise even when there was no demand for the overall product category. This made the customers felt special.
• Introduced loyalty cards and home-delivery. Again it was new to the area as there was no proper organized player who could provide them with such promotional offers.

Our faith in business and our efforts helped us gain their confidence. We slowly found that more and more residents became our patrons and it was their support which helped us in the most testing initial phase of the business. The footfalls started increasing day in and day out and we got the steady customer base.

The success of Hearty Mart at Juhapura broke the myth that the area was not conducive for business and no business can flourish here. Many entrepreneurs after closely watching the success started entering the area with their businesses and some of them are really successful. The development of the area post Hearty Mart is as follows:

• Hearty Mart is a prominent landmark of Sarkhej-Juhapura road.

• A good organized neighbourhood store in the area promises a convenient abode for the residents. Presence of Hearty Mart at Elecon Tower, ensured that all the flats of the 10 floor high-rise building were sold at a premium; which the builder could not sell before as people were reluctant to purchase an apartment in a high rise after the earthquake.

• Though now across India Subhiksha has closed down; it was success of Hearty Mart that encouraged Subhikhsha to set-up its shop in Juhapura. First national brand to open its shop here.

• A Private bus-stop has developed just before Hearty Mart.

• Lots of media coverage of Hearty Mart brand has perhaps inspired a leading Mumbai based non-veg restaurant to open its outlet here.

• Axis bank has opened its ATM in the premises of Hearty Mart. We have rented them 100 square feet for the ATM as a shop-in-shop concept. This has been accepted well by our customers as it adds to their convenience.

• Radhe Developer has announced 3 BHK premium apartment scheme ‘Imperial Heights’ bank opposite Hearty Mart. It would be having all the modern facilities for the lifestyle seeking residents. Again a unique residential scheme for the area which no-body would have thought of before.

Today almost 4 lacs Muslim live in Juhapura and that is why perhaps it has been termed as the largest Muslim neighbourhood in Gujarat. Contrary to its image of being crime-ridden and riot-prone it has been a preferred area off-late by Muslim professionals, artists, government officers of IAS and IPS ranks and businessmen. It is needless to say that they have contributed in the development of the area in their own special way.