Saturday, March 23, 2013

Leadership qualities and Dhul Qarnain

It is well-known that a very small percentage of mankind go on to become leaders who rule over their masses. Yet, those who do, exercise considerable influence (good or bad) during their tenures. This story of Dhul Qarnain that Allah has narrated in the Quran serves to be a beacon for anyone who occupies, or intends to ascend to, a position of authority and leadership over a large number of people.

There are scores of articles and blot posts on the Internet that list and describe desirable leadership qualities for the benefit of the innumerable, young, ardent and wannabe ladder-climbers out there, which list the prerequisite innate as well as acquired traits of successful leaders.

Life coaches, authors, motivational speakers and corporate trainers have made lucrative careers out of giving conferences on sustainable leadership, and “how to become successful managers/CEO’s” et al. No surprise that self-help books on this topic penned by so-called gurus abound online and in print, many of them going on to become bestsellers.

The greatest book of all, the Quran, also throws light upon just what it practically means to be a leader, by narrating this story of Dhul Qarnain in Surah Al-Kahf, without mentioning any of his traits in the form of a list that we can all immediately start to incorporate into ourselves, but rather, by describing his actions and behaviors during his successful conquests; in particular, how he dealt with the people he came to rule over.

These people included those he had never even met before, nor (as in one particular case), whose language he even understood; people whose towns he traveled hundreds of miles to reach and eventually preside over.
Yet, Dhul Qarnain was so successful in influencing his subjects, that he was able to convince them to submit to and worship Allah as the only god,- and he did this without shedding any blood!
Sadaf Farooqi in her blog. Here

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Indian News channels are a security hazard?

Instead of questioning the narrative, news television and some print outlets have instead blatantly beaten the drums of confrontation, hyping even relatively calm statements by the army chief into belligerent displays of national machismo. Coming at a time when the government is attempting to move forward on dialogue with Pakistan that is very much in the national interest, the question should be asked: are some of India’s news channels, and their pursuit of eyeballs, turning into a national security hazard?

A handful of bellicose television supremos cannot be allowed to dictate a foreign policy that hurts the interest of India’s citizens.
Editorial in Business Standard. Here

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind to produce films and TV serials

The Kerala unit of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is getting into production of commercial films and serials, which will be telecast on its new venture, Mediaone TV. The Malayalam-language news and entertainment satellite channel is to go on air next month.

This is the first time a state unit of the Jamaat-e-Islami is venturing into visual media. Incidentally, Jamaat mouthpiece Madhayamam itself does not publish film advertisements, a policy it has followed since its launch 25 years ago.

The channel would be floated by the Kozhikode-based Madhyamam Broadcasting Corporation. A tie-up has already been worked out with Al Jazeera.

Jamaat’s ‘assistant amir (Kerala)’ Sheikh Mohammed Karakunnu, an Islamic scholar, said Mediaone would follow the same principles practised by Madhyamam. “Like the daily, the TV channel will give due space to issues of minorities, Dalits and the marginalised. The TV channel will also have regulations on accepting advertisements, (and on) content of the programmes,” he said.

Karakunnu confirmed that Mediaone would also produce its own films apart from sourcing films from outside. “Work on a film has begun,” he said.

Mediaone group editor O Abdurahiman said their aim was to give voice to the voiceless. “We want to develop an alternative media culture as our daily has done. Mediaone TV has entered into a tie-up with Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera, mainly for sharing content on world affairs. The channel would be hived into news and entertainment after six months.”

Noting that the bar on film advertisement in Madhyamam had no link with Mediaone airing films, Abdurahiman pointed out that the Jamaat mouthpiece didn’t skirt film news either. “Our daily gives film reviews and covers film festivals exhaustively,” he said.

Among the film proposals the channel is considering, Abdurahiman said, was one based on the life of Kunhali Marakkar, a local king’s naval chief who had fought against Portuguese invaders after Vasco da Gama’s arrival on the Malabar Coast in the 15th century. The story falls neatly in line with Jamaat’s pet campaign: anti-imperialism.

Writer and social critic Prof N M Karassery said that as it strives for more space in the mainstream, it was but natural for the Jamaat-e-Islami to turn to new media. Films, which could be used for ideological campaigning, were an obvious choice. “The Jamaat is not a mere religious outfit, but a political one in disguise,” he noted.

Karassery, however, added that the move could also backfire on the Jamaat. “I do not think that the channel would make that organisation more liberal, but may expose their anti-women approach and their capitalistic intentions,’’ he said.

Prof Hameed Chendamangaloor, who studies Muslim organisations, too isn’t surprised by the Jamaat’s foray into TV media as it wants to wield more political clout and foster Islamic politics. “No Muslim organisation can stick on to the days when watching TV or enjoying music was taboo. Even if the ideology is for conservatism, political motives would spur the Jamaat and other organisations to embrace changes, he said.
A report by Shaju Philip in Indian Express Here.

My Kafeel has my passport : Travails of Indians in the Gulf

One evening, I walked into a small Internet café near my hotel. Two young Indian men managed the café. After I had answered my e-mails, I bought a coffee and we chatted. They were from Faizabad, a small town in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Sohail, the younger, a wiry man who served coffee and tea and cleaned the place, had been working there for a year. When I told him that I had been to his town several times as a reporter, his eyes brimmed with tears. “I worked in a garage as a mechanic, but I didn’t make enough. I got married and had a child. So I came here. I thought I am going to Mecca. I will get to perform the Hajj and earn a lot more than I ever would,” he said. “I didn’t know people here would treat us like dirt.” He pointed to a chubby Saudi boy, who was a regular at the café and called himself “Funky Monkey” (his video-game username). “Every time he feels like, he would slap me. It is the same with other local customers. You are a little late complying an order and they bark at you, slap you.” He added, “Here you can’t appeal to anyone. My passport is with my kafeel and I can only go home when he allows me to.” Imran, the older counterman, consoled him. “You are here now! Get used to it. Do I cry? I haven’t been able to return home in three years,” Imran said.

“Why not?” I asked Imran.

“My kafeel has my passport. He keeps making excuses, delaying it. He doesn’t want to lose business if I go away. And he has to pay all my money that is with him and buy me the return ticket home.”

And yet, Imran said, “We still have it easy. Working here is much worse for the maids.”

There are about one-and-a-half million female domestic workers in Saudi Arabia.
Basharat Peer in The New Yorker. Here


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