Assalamualaikum warahmatullah-e-wabarakatu, (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon you all,)
All the praises are due to Almighty God and peace be upon last Prophet Muhammad who was the messenger for all human beings to guide them all in the right path of the God. And Islam is the only way where solutions of every problems, success and real peace lie.
Here, I have tried to place real situation of Muslim of Nepal in briefing as per my limited knowledge and resources. So calling you all for forgiveness if there remained and mistakes and error in my writing.
Nepal is an independent Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal (संघीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल) secular country announced by the interim constitution developed after the revolution with the enterim King Gyanendra. The country is situated between India and Tibetan territory of China in Asia. The country stretches 885 km in length from east to west and up to193 km in width from north to south. The total land area of Nepal is 55,463 square miles or 147,181 square km. Eighty percent of its land is covered by hills and mountains and the rest by plains, low lands and river valleys.
The total population of Nepal according to the 2001 is
|Total (in thousands)||Percentage|
Source: Central Statistics Department (Govt. of Nepal)
Hindu is the major religion and Buddhism, the second major religion and Islam is the third one. If we look towards the census held twenty years ago reported that the people believe in Hindu religion were 89% but it has reduced to 81% in 2009. And the main reason of reduction is adoption of Christianity and Buddhism.
History of Nepal says that the first Muslims, who were Kashmiri traders, arrived in Kathmandu valley in the 15th century during the regime of King Ratna Malla. A second group arrived in the 17th century from Northern India, and they manufactured small armaments for small hill states. They reside in 74 districts out of 75.
Muslims of Nepal speak the Nepali, Urdu, Hindi, Maithali, Bhojpuri, awadhi and more other languages. The majority of the Muslims live in the terai and the mountainous areas. Their
Muslims of Nepal are settled in the 74 districts of Nepal from the mountainous region to the plane area of Terai. And Majority of them are in Terai districts. The table given below shows highly Muslim population area.
Highly Muslim Population Area
There is no doubt about the contributions made by the Muslims of Nepal from the Malla kingdom (King Ratna Malla) to up to now in bringing back the democracy.
Identity as Muslims of Nepal should be Muslim rather than of Madhesi because some of them live in Terai while other reside in the mountainous region. They are not involved in any commercial or industrial undertakings, and the majority of them are either unskilled laborers or small-scale subsistence farmers, with a sprinkling of some lower-level civil servants. So, most of them are living their lives below the poverty line.
Thus ignorance and backwardness are rampant among Nepalese Muslims, and this has led to their forfeiture of their human rights in the country.
Even in the faith that they profess, their knowledge of Islamic principles and culture is very meager, and they do need proper guidance and direction in this respect. Many of them are Muslims in name only, but hardly know anything else about Islam. The main reason behind this is the lacking and backwardness in educational field.
Muslims seek basic and fundamental education regarding the religion so that to become able to recite and understand Quran and Islam. So they need such basic education that teaches them how to perform Salah (Namaz), Zakat, Fasting and Hajj in a well manner. But the national educational system and curriculum lack these teachings and discusses only about the Hinduism. So the solution of this problem is only to establish such institution privately to conduct the educational activities which would work for the production of well educated, skilled personnel and professionals having Islamic spirits of Islam.
And this is the reason that there are a number of madrasas and schools working throughout the country but they are unable to produce skilled personnel and professionals that could match the country’s demand. So, they are unable to get any job in the government sectors and hence they are bound to do jobs in the maktab (small madrasa), Mosque as Imam (one who leads the prayer), Muazzin (one who calls the people for the prayer by reciting azan) where they get 2500-3000 salary per month. So, how is it possible to uplift the life style?
Government of Nepal has not ever given concentration to bring the Muslims in the main country’s stream. They do not support the madrasa financially and morally which is playing a significant role to educate the Muslim people and helping the nation to reach literacy rate 53.7%. More over it has been found that the government authority creating several problems during the registration and issuance of certificates.
Schools & Madrasas
here are several madrasas running to educate the people throughout the country from primary level to bachelor level and example of one madrasa is enough to understand its importance. Al-Jamiatul Islamia, Al- Islah madrasa (school) situated in the Sunsari districts and in the village of Bhutaha, where level of education is up to Aalmiat (Intermediate). And several subjects are taught as Nepali, English, Science, Geography, Social Science, and Mathematics which are quite similar to the national curriculum. Even the students are able to seat for district level examination and SLC too. And their performance is also appraisable. Total number of students is near 2200. And the writer of this page was also a student of this madrasa. Government has failed to bring any assisting programs to flourish such madrasa whose financial condition remains always vulnerable and thus there is a need of bringing special programs to uplift the situation and quality of education are being given in such madrasas.
The Muslims of Nepal are not given the right to practice Islamic personal law, because there are no such laws in the country, though Islam dawned on it in the fifth century of the Hijri calendar, according to existing historical records. It was Arab and Muslim traders who introduced Islam to Nepal. And they have to follow the non Islamic rules regarding marriage, divorce, sacrificing animal in the way of God during the month of Eidul Azhah and others.
Sheikh Muhammad Nassir Al-Abboudy, Assistant Secretary General of the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL) said that the Muslims of Nepal are incapable of combating their backwardness in social, economic, and political matters, nor are they capable of confronting the missionary activities and their enticements. The missionaries have been able to open schools, clinics, libraries, and other facilities, including cash disbursements.
Nepalese Muslims do, however, get help from such countries as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, in the form of scholarships to those who wish to study at the universities of the two countries.
The Sectors of exclusion of Nepalese Muslims
There is no need of any research work to be done to know the sectors of exclusion of muslims communities in Nepal. A light view is enough to see that the presence of Muslims in all the structural and developmental is either zero or negligible. Here I have tried to enlist few of them in short.
1. Constitutional & Legal Sector
All the constitutions of Nepal developed and modified up to now have failed to provide acceptance to the Muslim communities. And this is the main important reason of the exclusion that Muslims were out of enjoying the constitutional and legal rights.
2. Political Sector
Muslim communities are and were used just as the vote bank by the political parties of Nepal. They understood and raised the problems of Muslim communities rightly during the time of election but sided back just after entertaining the hunger of vote. Not a single party has raised the issues of muslims either in the assembly or cabinet and thus Muslim are the victims of seclusion and deprived of serving the nation politically and in administration sectors. There are no fixed seats for the muslim candidates in the political system by the election commission.
First time in the history of Nepal, under the Proportional Election System, Women, madehesi, Dalit, Janajati , back warded sectors and others were given fixed percentage but muslim were not given such right to entertain their political right. They were included with the Madhesi which is so funny.
The table below is enough to understand the political situation of muslims.
|S.No.||Working Committee||Total Members||Muslims||Percentage|
|5||Terai Madhes Loktantric Party||57||5||8.77|
|6||Madehsi Janadhikar Forum||26||4||15.35|
Source: Muslim Awaaz (Megazine published by NMFN)
- 3. Educational Sector
This most critical and pitiable situation of muslim is understood as backwardness in education. And the reason behind the illiteracy is poverty and lack of proper awareness towards the education though Islam has made it compulsory for every muslim men and women to get education. Most of them are leading the life under extreme poverty and below the poverty line.
Though the Madrasas have been playing very significant role in the education sector and producing hundreds of muslim intellectuals each year working in several sectors within the nation and outside of the nation and the country id being benefited from them since they are contributing in GDP and GNP of the nation and uplifting the PPP in spite of lacking the proper care by the nation. But these Madrasas have their own problems lacking assistance and means and dependence upon the fund collected from donations from the individuals, organization and nation is also a great problem.
Lack of recoganization and affiliation of the Madrasa and its certificates have created a strong bar for the product of Madrasa to work and serve the nation having involved in the main stream of nation. And there is lack of separate educational facilities for the women since Muslim women feel hesitation with the co-education system.
The rate of Muslims getting higher education is so negligible. The consensus held in 2001 showed that Muslims having the degree of Graduation and Post Graduation is 4067 only. And 42 percent children leave the school during their primary education. According to the statistics of Human Development 2006, Muslim male literacy rate is 61.8 and female literacy rate is 26.5. And the percentage of students obtaining secondary certificate is 25.5 percent in male and 12 percent in female.
Economic & Employment Sector
Muslims are deprived from the work in national army and administration but a very few number of muslims are in the job of police and governmental jobs. And this is the reason of negative affect and bar in progress. And it has diminished the self confidence of the muslims. The public agitation, demonstration and intense pressure caused the government to modify the nijamati service ain and 45 percent reserved seats to be fulfilled by open competition were provided in the favor of women, janjati, madhesi, dalit, handicapped and backwarded communities. But it also did not give emphasis on the declaration of Muslims issues and reserved seats for them.
Number of secretariat and asst. secretariat in the ministry, presence of muslim in Bar Association, Human Right Commision, Public Service Commission, National Planning Commission, Akhtiyar Durupyog Anusandhan Aayog, Dalit Commission is totally zero from the muslim community.
Conclusion: Muslims of Nepal have the great desire to serve the nation in all respects so their reorganization and the establishment of general religious rights will create more love towards the nation and they may be able to contribute in a better way. Therefore the government should bring them in the main country’s stream.
Md. Mozammil Haque
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