JODHPUR – When extravagance is the hallmark of marriages in the Muslim community, a Nikah performed in an austere manner, without any lavish spending or an ostentatious feast being thrown, has set an example in the Sunnah way of Islamic marriage in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur city. The Islamic marital contract is the talk of the town, with everyone expressing praise for its spirit of simplicity, modesty and purity.
The initiative has been taken by noted educationist Mohammed Atique, 75, the Chief Executive Officer of Marwar Muslim Educational & Welfare Society (MMEWS) and Founder-Chancellor of Maulana Azad University. Atique’s granddaughter, Khadija, was married in the Nikah solemnised on March 5 in the mosque of Madrasa Darul Uloom Arabia Islamia, situated in the Chokha area of Jodhpur.
There were no food servings, no payment of dowry and no exchange of gifts. The guests, limited in number, were only served with Chhuaras (dry dates) and fruit cream to sweeten their mouths. The guests, mostly the bride and bridegroom’s relatives and acquaintances, blessed the couple with a happy married life and dispersed after the short ceremony. Many banners displaying messages on the significance of education were put up on the madrasa premises.
While the Shahar Qazi, Wahid Ali, conducted the Nikah proceedings, Hafiz Abdul Karim Nadvi read out the Khutba and narrated several Ahadith (sayings of Prophet Mohammed) on the subjects of the wedding ceremony, matrimonial alliance and prohibition of dowry. Others who attended the ceremony included the Congress MLA from Jodhpur City, Manisha Panwar, Municipal Councillor Ganpat Singh Chauhan and social activist Sandeep Mehta.
Atique said while addressing the gathering that the Muslim community should maintain the beauty of a simple Nikah and arrange children’s marriages with as much humbleness as the Prophet displayed in his life. “This message needs to be shared with the entire Ummah. The best wedding, according to the Prophet, is that upon which the least trouble and expenses are bestowed,” he said.
Atique’s salutary initiative formed part of an ongoing campaign of the MMEWS to make marriage easier among Muslims, give inheritance right in the parental property to the daughters, stop female foeticide, remove discrimination between boys and girls and prevent any exchange of money on the pretext of dowry.
The bridegroom in the Nikah ceremony was Ali Hasnain, son of Mohammed Hussain Ghouri. In another unique initiative, an announcement was made for establishing the Ummul Momineen Khadija Charitable Trust with a corpus of Rs. 10 lakh for giving scholarships to poor and needy children for their educational upliftment. Atique’s granddaughter Khadija will be the Chaiperson-cum-Managing Trustee of the trust.
Those who attended the Nikah ceremony in the mosque took a pledge that they would conduct weddings in their families with as much simplicity and dignity as possible. There was a common refrain that Muslim marriages have become complicated, costly, difficult and unaffordable. Rituals and traditions borrowed from other cultures and evils having no relevance to Islam are being incorporated into the Prophet’s sacred Sunnah.
The MMEWS, established in 1929 during the pre-Independence era, runs as many as 330 educational, health and social institutions. Atique has been instrumental in easing the lives of more than 45,000 youths through these institutions working in the varied fields of education, health care, community development, rural development, waste-to-wealth initiatives and skill development programmes during the last four decades.
The then ruler of Jodhpur princely state, Maharaja Umaid Singh, was the patron of MMEWS and had gifted a school named “Darbar Muslim School” to the Society in 1936. The Rajasthan Government allotted five acres of land to the MMEWS in 1978, on which the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Muslim Senior Secondary School was constructed. Since then, the Society has established several institutions, including the Industrial Training Institute, Nursing College, Pharmacy College, B.Ed. College, Mai Khadija Hospital, Rahmatul-Lil-Alameen Blood Bank, Marwar Adarsh Guashala and Bujhawar Veterinary Hospital.
The MMEWS established the Maulana Azad University at Bujhawar village, on the outskirts of Jodhpur, in 2013, intending to provide higher education to the most deprived and marginalised sections of society. The first President (Vice-Chancellor) of the university was the noted Islamic scholar from New Delhi, Prof. Akhtarul Wasey, while the current President is Prof. Jameel Kazmi, who hails from Jaipur. The university has moved towards interdisciplinary studies and has manifested indigenous ethos and the spirit of plurality in its functioning.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot granted Rs. 15 crores to Maulana Azad University to establish a Centre of Excellence and Research in 2022. The university is providing education to more than 15,000 students belonging to Muslim and other less privileged communities in multiple disciplines of studies.
Besides, about 45,000 students have so far passed out from the MMEWS group of institutions and become doctors, engineers and business people and entered other professions as well. Some of them have also established nursing homes and clinics in remote rural areas, often ignored in the government’s development plans.