Sufism: The Heart of Islam (New Book by Sadia Dehlvi)

Getting a visa to India is a nightmare for ordinary mortals. My application was not very politely returned last month with technical objections. It was only when a letter from Harper Collins arrived that the High Commission rather efficaciously allowed me to enter enemy territory, that too with special instructions that cantonments were out of bounds. I guess the South Asian officialdoms have yet to discover that Google Earth has permanently altered the shape of boundaries and secrecy.

Sufism:The Heart of Islam
by Sadia Dehlvi
Price: Rs. 695.00 (Hardback)
pp 400
Harper Collins India Original

I had to plan this rushed sojourn to attend the launch ceremony of Sadia Dehlvi’s book that has now hit the Indian bookshops with a bang and will soon be found in Pakistan. Sufism – the Heart of Islam is the culmination of Sadia’s journey of self discovery, and to use Bulleh Shah’s metaphor, entree into the inner temples of the heart. This was no ordinary launch, as I have been a literary companion in this path that Sadia has taken – right from the conception of the book, its shifting hues and drafts, the magnificent illustrations and poetry translations, and of course its final shape.

I had almost given up the idea of being present at the launch in the face of visa hurdles. I think the gods intervened, or as I told Sadia our beloved saints – Khwaja Gharib Nawaz of Ajmer and Nizamuddin Auliya of Dilli – allowed it to happen. The launch brought together a host of other friends who have been involved in giving various stirs to this book-brew.

The launch took place at Hotel Le Meridian and was a major Delhi hungama, as the hall was packed with more guests than it could accommodate. The nonagenarian Khushwant Singh made it despite his formal goodbyes to social occasions, and so did many others who have been friends with Sadia.

The inimitable thumree singer Vidya Rao launched the ceremony with an ensemble of what is these days known as Sufi music. She presented a Na’at in poorabi ang that was a delightful piece, establishing intimacy with the last Prophet (pbuh) urging him for blessings. The folk idiom made it even more striking than the usual renditions of this genre one is used to in Pakistan. A Hindu woman offering salutations to Hazrat Mohammad (pbuh) was a rare sight by itself. My favourite hierarchy of Sufi love, sung so beautifully by Vidya, was:

Khwaja milay tau Ali milay
Ali milay tau Nabi milay
Nabi milay tau Khuda mila

Khushwant Singh had to leave early, so he made a speech that was full of his classic witticisms. Declaring that he was free of God in his mental landscape, he had started to believe in miracles and the biggest miracle was Sadia writing her book! Mushir ul Hasan, the keynote speaker praised the book and its central message that Sufism was embedded in Islamic thought. He was a little critical of the Naqshbandi school of Sufism that was orthodox in his opinion, and had a sectarian bias in its worldview.

Karthika V. K., Chief Editor, Harper Collins India was most pleased with the book and she was also quick to note Sadia’s devotion to this project and spoke of how absorbed in the book writing and production she had been for the last one year.

Sadia was beaming with things coming together. Even on this occasion she could not stop herself from cracking jokes about the writing process, and she also spoke of how scared she was of her mother’s wrath if anything went wrong. The author’s mother, Zeenat Dehlvi, has been the proverbial lighthouse in introducing her to the Sufi tariqa or the path. Using several translations of mystic verses Sadia projected a lively, intimate and personal understanding of Sufi principles and vision. Oroon Das, an eminently talented theatre actor ended the evening with renditions of a wide range of Sufi verse from the book – from Hafez and Rumi to Bulleh Shah, as well as more contemporary Sufi poets.

Sadia Dehlvi for some time was known in Delhi as a page three persona – attending parties and events, and pictured as a secular, brainy Muslim diva holding forth on various issues – until her journalistic career took a turn over the last few years as the ‘principal’ spokesperson for Indian Muslims. Her writings and television appearances have harped on some bold themes such as the need for Muslims to look into their own backyard, use a bit of rationality and above all reject the orthodox Wahabi streams that seem to have engulfed the Muslim imagination in the era of militant Islamism.

In this process of getting to know herself and her cultural heritage, her focus shifted to an exploration of Sufism and its various historical movements. In the subcontinent, the Muslim identity cannot be separated from Sufi moorings, given the monumental role that the travelling saints, dervishes and fakirs played in converting the native inhabitants of India. The Muslim ruling classes were interested in India’s wealth and the capture of its political power since the eleventh century. Therefore, the rulers, most of whom were men of Central Asian or Persian descent were unlikely candidates to be spreaders of Islam’s egalitarian message.

Thus the great mingling of mystical Islam and India’s local, folk traditions found a synthesis in the South Asian brand of Sufism. But this was an endeavour that remained within the intellectual and spiritual depth of core Islamic beliefs. The current erroneous observations of Sufism as a separate belief-system from ‘Islam’, therefore, is an uninformed view and betrays the lack of understanding of this drummed-up danger religion.

For instance the book mentions the Prophet Muhammad declaring in a Hadith Qudsi: ‘Heaven and earth cannot contain Me but the heart of my faithful servant contains Me.’ The mystic poet Fariduddin Attar illustrates the state of the lovers in this couplet translated by Annmarie Schimmel:

When you seek God, seek him in your hear
He is not in Jerusalem, nor in Mecca nor in Hajj

Sufism takes the reader in an engaging way, through the layers of Islamic beliefs, and explains how a three-fold structure comprising “sharia, the outer law; tareeqa the inward path; and haeeqa, the arrival at the reality of Allah” are the different facets of a universal worldview of the religion. The various stages of the Sufi path such as hal (intoxicated state) and maqaam (station) are also elaborated well for lay readers.

The most illuminating part of the book is the evolution of Sufi schools of thought and their key beliefs and approaches. While browsing through the text one marvels at centuries of synthesis in the Indian subcontinent, which explains why the dergahs remain such a focus of public attention and imagination.

What I especially like about this volume is its immediate connection with readers. For example Sadia writes in a chapter entitled Tariqa – the Way of the Sufi:

“Growing up in an Irish convent boarding school, I regularly went to church, sang Christmas carols, baked Easter eggs and imbibed Christian values. During annual holidays a maulana, a religious teacher, came home to teach the Quran to all the children. He instilled the fear of God into us, with the result that fear remained the only emotion that the heart felt for the Creator. Somehow, this overwhelming fear kept me connected to Allah, despite often wanting to break away completely. Traversing the Sufi path changed my attitude, for it teaches that prayer rituals are worth little if not accompanied by love and sincerity.”

Whilst exploring the core of Sufi thought, the book traces the extraordinary lives of the early Sufis including the companions of the Prophet (pbuh), their sayings, and their emphasis on the purification of the heart. For modern readers, the larger narrative covers the period of early Islam to its current nemesis in the shape of militant ideologies. The book’s key argument is also contemporary: how Islamism is the undoing of a faith founded on the principles of love, peace and tolerance. The engaging style in which the book insightfully examines the complex relationship of Sufism with both Muslim and non-Muslim societies, should be instructive for readers outside South Asia as well.

Sadia’s book is a timely addition to the debates on Islam, Sufism and its accessibility and reader-friendliness. This is bound to attract a large number of readers.

Extract from the book

The most common response on hearing the title of my book has been: ‘But what has Sufism got to do with Islam?’ I realize that Islam is perceived as a faith with harsh laws, whereas Sufism represents wonderful poetry, dance, art and an appealing form of universal love. It is difficult for some Muslims and most non- Muslims to accept that Sufism is the spiritual current that flows through Islam. Sufi Masters are called ahl e dil, ‘people of the heart’. They teach that religion has no meaning unless warmed by emotions of love, and interpret Sufism as being the heart of Islam. However, I do understand that Sufism has come to mean something quite different in the language of the New Age. Disillusioned with religion and the problems associated with it in secular democratic societies, people tend to mix and match elements from various religious traditions that personally appeal to them…The Quran informs us that Islam is not something that began with the Prophet Muhammad some 1400 years ago, but with the creation of the universe in which Adam was the first Prophet. Sufism is the timeless art of awakening the higher consciousness through submission to the Divine Will. The Sufi doctrine goes far beyond history and is rooted in the primordial covenant all unborn souls made with their Creator. Many friends view my visits to dargahs, Sufi tombs, as senseless medieval superstition. Some orthodox Muslims even insist that Sufism is an innovation in Islam-a sinful practice that our ancestors picked up from Hindu idol-worshipping traditions. They reason that since most of our ancestors were Hindus, some of us are still using pagan methods like singing, to please the gods… I would also like to share the miracle of my son’s birth. The best of infertility specialists had categorically told me that due to various complications it appeared virtually impossible for me to have a child. I was 32 years old, with the biological clock ticking away. I wanted a child desperately, but the doctors were not hopeful. My mother reprimanded me for giving up hope and despairing of God’s grace. She advised me to go to the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, popularly called Gharib Nawaz, Patron of the Poor. I travelled to Ajmer and pleaded for his blessings, vowing to come back for thanksgiving if my prayer was granted. In Delhi, I regularly visited the dargah of Hazrat Shah Farhad and lit candles for the granting of a child… My prayers were answered and a few months later there was an embryo kicking away in my womb, causing boundless joy. My son Arman Ali was born in Karachi through a Caesarean section, and while being wheeled away after the operation I faintly heard the doctor comment on the miracle birth. According to the Islamic calendar, Arman was born on the sixth of Rajab, a date that marks the annual Urs, death anniversary, of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz. The sixteen-year-old lad is a musically talented child, and this is a gift that I believe is from the Sufi Master… While researching the biographies and discourses of the Sufi Masters, I slowly began to understand traumatic experiences as both nourishing and necessary for those who truly seek to purify and liberate the mind, body and soul… I discovered that spiritual endeavours leading to states of ecstasy were usually rooted in grief. God, by His own admission to Moses, revealed that He lived in broken hearts. All Sufis believe that both affliction and bounties are the blessings of God. Something stirred my soul and I began to see myself as blessed rather than cursed by God. It changed my relationship with Him from one of animosity to one of friendship and love. I made a conscious, sustained effort to apply some basic principles of Sufism to my shattered life. I vowed to develop rida, resignation to the will of Allah; tawakkul, trust in Him; sabr, patience; and mohabba, love. I found that it soon provided me with the strength of a lioness and the flight of a falcon. I no more fear life or death, for I see life as an endurance of God’s will, and death as something that unifies us with the Creator.  (Extract from Sufism: The Heart of Islam – by Sadia Dehlvi. Published HarperCollins India.)

Islamic Perspectives Of Inter-Community Relations

Maulana Yahya Nomani

(Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)

The issue of what Islam has to say about inter-community relations is one about which much misunderstanding exists. Anti-Muslim propagandists claim that Islam preaches hatred for non-Muslims, and that the Quran is a menace to world peace. They go so far as to argue that world peace is simply impossible as long as the Quran exists. In order to back their propaganda, they have deliberately twisted and misinterpreted certain verses of the Quran. Many people with little knowledge have fallen prey to this poisonous propaganda, which has been aggressively spread on an enormous scale through the media.

At the same time, we must also admit that some Muslims themselves entertain misunderstandings and extremist views about the issue of relations between Muslims and others that are based on a completely wrong interpretation of the Quran and the Sunnah, the practice of the Prophet. This calls for a detailed study, so that misunderstandings, wrong interpretations and extremist views about Islamic teachings regarding relations between Muslims and others can be countered.

It is true that Islam stresses that Muslims, here understood in the sense of true submitters to God, are distinct from others in terms of their religious views and ethical virtues. It cautions them from imitating others, especially their religious symbols and rituals, which Islam does not accept. It is also true that Islam strictly forbids befriending enemies of the faith and those who conspire against Muslims. At the same time, however, Islam exhorts Muslims to relate to other non-Muslims with softness, good manners, gentleness and love.

Respect for the Human Race

Islam teaches that all human beings, irrespective of community or race, are children of the same set of primal parents, and, so, are bound together by their common humanity. As the Quran states:

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.” (Quran 49:13).

This basic Islamic teaching about the whole of humankind being children of the same parents stresses the need for consciousness of our common humanity and of us being brothers unto each other. This is why, according to a hadith report, the Prophet would, after finishing his prayers, supplicate with God, saying, ‘O Allah! Sustainer of myself and of everything! I bear witness that all human beings are brothers of each other.’

According to the Quran, human beings are creatures worthy of respect:

“We have honoured the sons of Adam […]and conferred on them special favours, above a great part of Our Creation.” (Quran 17:70)

This clearly indicates that Islam regards human beings as deserving respect, love and concern on the basis of their humanity. A hadith report well illustrates this teaching. Once, the Prophet was present along with some of his disciples when a funeral procession passed by. The Prophet stood up. Seeing the Prophet stand out of respect for the dead man, some of his companions informed him that the man had been a Jew. But, the Prophet responded, ‘Was he not a human being?’ After the Prophet, some of his companions, too, followed this example of his, as is related in the books of Hadith compiled by Bukhari and Muslim.

In another hadith report, the Prophet exhorted his followers to relate with kindness to all creatures thus:

‘God is merciful to those who are merciful. Deal with mercy towards creatures on earth and He in the heavens will be merciful towards you.’ (Sunan Tirmidhi, 1924; Sunan Abu Daud, 4941).

This hadith report very clearly expresses a basic Quranic teaching. The Quran states that the true path to salvation is through showing mercy and love to others:

“And what will explain to thee, the path that is steep? (It is:) freeing the bondman; Or the giving of food in a day of privation to the orphan with claims of relationship, or to the indigent (down) in the dust. Then will he be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, (constancy, and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion. Such are the Companions of the Right Hand.” (Quran 90: 12-18)

This is the path of salvation—not simply to be kind-hearted, but also to participate in the mission to promote, in practical terms, kind-heartedness and compassion for others. Such are the steps on the path to salvation. Islam does not restrict good behaviour simply to other human beings. Rather, it insists that Muslims should behave in this way with all living creatures. Thus, according to a hadith recorded in the Sahih of al-Bukhari, the Prophet said, ‘There is merit (sawab) in behaving well towards all living creatures.’

The Bond of Nation/Community (Qaum)

Islam recognizes a certain sort of brotherhood and feeling of oneness among members of the same community/nation as an established fact. This is expressed in the Quran in the form of various prophets, such as Hud, Saleh, Shoeb and so on, addressing the non-Muslim members of their communities as brothers, and, in this way, accepting a relationship of nation- or community-based brotherhood between Muslims and non-Muslims belonging to the same nation or community. When these prophets of God preached His message to their own people (who were not Muslims, or ‘submitters’ to God), they addressed them as ‘ya qaum’ or ‘O my people’, appealing to their hearts and reminding them of the common bond of community that they shared with them. This clearly indicates the sort of concern and love that Muslims should adopt when addressing their non-Muslim compatriots and in seeking to cement bonds with them.

The importance of how concern and love should infuse relations between people belonging to a common race or nationality, despite their religious differences, is evident from the fact that the Prophet Muhammad cared for the (the then non-Muslim) Egyptians just because the mother of the Prophet Ismail (Ishmael), son of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), was from Egypt. The Prophet instructed the Arabs to remember this ancient racial tie, saying that they would soon conquer Egypt and that he wanted them to deal with the Egyptians kindly because they had the right to protection (haq-e zimma) and because their racial ties with the Arabs demanded this.

Kind Behaviour Towards Non-Muslims: Some Examples

Various Islamic teachings and Sunnah or practice of the Prophet indicate the kindness and concern that non-Muslims deserve from Muslims. The Quran mentions that needy non-Muslims are deserving of the financial assistance of Muslims, and that, therefore, they should be helped. In the Surah Al-Baqara of the Quran, God says that guiding others to the faith is not the work of human beings, and that God guides whom He wills. The Quran adds that we must not refuse to help a needy person simply because he or she refuses to accept Islam. It says that we shall be rewarded for whatever we spend in God’s way:

“It is not required of thee (O Messenger) to set them on the right path but Allah guides to the right path whom He pleaseth. Whatever of good ye give benefits your own souls and ye shall only do so seeking the “Face” of Allah. Whatever good ye give, shall be rendered back to you and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly.” (Quran 2:272)

This verse indicates that while providing financial help to others it is not necessary to distinguish between those who accept Islam and those who do not. In other words, all needy people are deserving of such help.

Elaborating on this verse, the noted scholar Imam Ibn Jareer Tabari wrote in his Tafsir-e Tabari that the verse commands Muslims not to deprive non-Muslims of charity. He was of the view that this was how numerous companions of the Prophet and those who came after them in the next generation understood this verse.

This was also the practice of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. Thus, as mentioned in the Kitab al-Kharraj by Abu Yusuf, the Caliph Umar sent a letter to his governor, instructing him to provide for his poor and needy non-Muslim subjects from the wealth of the Muslims.

Reconciliation and Kind-Heartedness

Islam stresses kindness towards relatives, especially close relations, so much so that it says that God declares war against he who does not fulfill his responsibilities towards his relatives (Masnad Ahmad 1684; Sahih al-Bukhari 5987-5989). It also declares that those who sunder their relations with their relatives will have no place in heaven (Sahih Muslim, 2556).

Kindness towards and reconciliation with relatives applies to all relatives, Muslim as well as non-Muslim. It is their right. Islam seeks to cement relations, not to destroy them. Thus, non-Muslim relatives have all the rights over a Muslim, so much so that the Quran lays down that if a Muslim’s parents are not Muslim themselves, and even if they seek to pressurize their Muslim son or daughter to abandon Islam, they must be treated well under all conditions, although one should not yield to their pressure. As the Quran puts it:

“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command) “Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal. “But if they strive to make the join in worship with Me things of which thou hast no knowledge obey them not; Yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration) and follow the way of those who turn to Me (in love): in the End the return of you all is to Me, and I will tell you the truth (and meaning) of all that ye did.”(Quran 31:14-15).

The mother of Abu Hurairah, a companion of the Prophet, used to say bad things about the Prophet, but Abu Hurairah tolerated this. When he complained about her behavior to the Prophet, the latter prayed for her, rather than expressing hatred for her. Because of this, she was guided (Sahih al-Muslim, 2491).

The mother of Hazrat Asma bint Abu Bakr was a polytheist. In the wake of the Treaty of Hudaibiyah between the Muslims, led by the Prophet, and the Meccan pagans, relatives from both sides were able to meet each other. At this time, Hazrat Asma’s mother came to Medina to meet her, bringing along with her some gifts. Hazrat Asma thought of reciprocating this gesture by giving her mother some presents when she was returning. However, she hesitated for a bit, not sure if Islam allowed for Muslims to present gifts to their non-Muslim relatives. Accordingly, she approached the Prophet and asked him if she should seek to strengthen her ties (silah rahmi) with her mother. In reply, the Prophet said she must, and instructed her to give her gifts. (Sahih al-Bukhari 2602; Fath al-Bari).

Some commentators have claimed that Hazrat Asma’s mother had come to Medina because she was in need of help. But, the fact is that she was a well-off woman, and Hafiz Ibn Hajar and other scholars have written that she herself had brought gifts for her daughter. Thus, it could be that she wanted to restore her bonds with her daughter that had been earlier sundered. In other words, Hazrat Asma’s giving of gifts to her mother appears not to have been an expression of help to a needy mother, but rather, a way of expressing and fulfilling her duty of familial love.

Other Social Relations Between Muslims and Others

While Muslims have been forbidden to engage in such relations with non-Muslims that might undermine or destroy their religious distinctiveness, Islam stresses that Muslims must relate with concern, and a high standard of morality with non-Muslims in order to create a better society. Treating neighbours kindly is such an important Islamic teaching that in the corpus of Hadith, narrations relating to the Prophet, it has been said that not abiding by this teaching can sometimes even lead to the danger of one’s own faith being taken away. The Prophet thrice proclaimed that he who is a source of discomfort to his neighbour is not a true believer (momin) (Sahih al-Bukhari, 6016).

One’s neighbour, who deserves exemplary treatment, can be a Muslim or a non-Muslim, and the above-mentioned principle applies in both cases. This is well-illustrated in the following story. One day, a goat was slaughtered in the home of Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Umar. When he returned home, the first thing he did was to ask if some of the meat had been sent to the house of his Jewish neighbour. ‘I have heard the Prophet stressing the importance of kindness towards neighbours’, he said (Abu Daud, 5152).

One aspect of the life of the Prophet, which serves as a model for Muslims to emulate, is that even if an enemy is in great trouble one should supplicate for him with God. On the one hand, the Prophet would beseech God to punish bloody oppressors, but, on the other hand, we see the Prophet helping the Qureish of Mecca, who stiffly opposed him, when they were faced with a severe famine. In that critical situation, Abu Sufiyan, the Qureish leader who had stridently opposed the Prophet, came to him. Invoking their relationship, he said that the Quraish, the tribe that the Prophet himself belonged to, were dying, and requested him to beseech God. The Prophet prayed to God, and because of his prayer the situation was cured (Sahih Bukhari, 4824).

It is said that if a Jew present in the Prophet’s congregation would sneeze, the Prophet would do the same dua, ‘May God give you guidance and improve your condition’, for him as he would for a Muslim (Sunan Abu Daud 5040). Because they were so fond of this dua, some Jews would pretend to sneeze, but the Prophet still do this dua for them. In the Masannaf Ibn Abi Shiba, the Masannaf Abdur Razzak and the Sahih of al-Bukhari, there are numerous narrations about the Prophet making dua for non-Muslims. This clearly shows that Islam exhorts its followers to deal kindly with people of other faiths.

Commensality or eating together has great importance in building relationships. The Prophet used to invite non-Muslims for meals. Expressing concern for the oppressed and distressed, irrespective of religion, is something basic for good social ties, and the Prophet Muhammad also abided by this. He would visit the homes of non-Muslims when they were sick, to enquire about their health (Sahih al-Bukhari 5657). The Prophet also gave gifts to non-Muslims, and courteously accepted the gifts that they presented him with, as has been recorded in the books of Hadith. It is said that a non-Muslim ruler sent the Prophet a beautiful silken cloak, which the Prophet accepted (Sahih al-Bukhari 2616). He gave it to Ja‘afar bin Abi Talib, saying that he should send it to his ‘brother’, Najashi, the Christian ruler of Abyssinia, who had helped the Muslims (Masnad Ahmad 13214). The Caliph Umar sent a valuable cloth as a gift to a ‘polytheist brother’ of his, and the Prophet knew about this (Muslim 2068). The ruler of Aila sent the Prophet cloth and a mount, which were put to use (Sahih Bukhari 3161). At the time, when the Prophet was departing from this world, he instructed Muslims, especially their leaders, that delegations of guests (who were generally non-Muslims) that would come to them should be given presents while departing, as he himself had done (Sahih al-Bukhari 3053, Sahih al-Muslim 1637).

From these references to the shariah and the Sunnah, the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, it is clear that Islam stands for humanitarianism, love, concern, compassion, large-heartedness and good behaviour with people of other faiths, in general. That is to say, if a person who follows another faith is not an oppressor or an enemy of Islam or a conspirator or is not waging war against Muslims, Islam considers him or her worthy of help and solidarity and stresses respect for his or her humanity.

(This is a translation of excerpts from Yahya Nomani’s Urdu book, al-Jihad [Lucknow: Al-Mahad al-Ali Lil Darasat al-Islamiya, 2009. Yahya Nomani works with the Lucknow-based Urdu Islamic monthly, al-Furqan)

Rahmani-30: A school Of Hope

The Muslims of North India for historical reasons have not had very friendly relations with the local police. I was in Patna visiting Rahmani-30 when Abhayanand, Additional Director General of Police makes a visit in his official car. Rahmani-30 is set up on the pattern of Bihar Super-30 which is a successful experiment to pick and train 30 students from poor economic background and prepare them for entrance exam of famous Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

Abhyanand waits while group of twenty odd Muslim students finish their afternoon prayers (Asr). These students have recently appeared for the class tenth exams and selected to Rahmani-30 after an entrance test and an interview. Entrance test was held in Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal – clearly a sign of increasing popularity of the institution that is barely a year old.


A year ago, Maulana Wali Rahmani, Sajjada Nasheen of Khanqah Rahmaniya, Munger and Secretary of All India Muslim Personal Law Board requested Abhayanand to help him set up Rahmani-30. Abhayanand was associated with Super-30 and readily agreed to the idea. The dearth of good quality students led them to start another batch of students who had just finished their tenth. So that they can be given quality education for two years and that way more students can be ready for the tough entrance exams of IITs (IIT-JEE).

I was visiting the institution just three days before the results of IIT-JEE were to be announced. No one could have imagined that all ten students would have qualified for India’s premier engineering institutions. At that time there were about twenty-five students who had arrived there from different districts of Bihar. A few students were from adjoining states of Jharkhand and West Bengal. These are the two years batch of Rahmani-30 that is preparing for IIT-JEE of 2011.

Abhayanand, who goes by only one name, arrived unannounced and a class was organized just after the Asr prayer. He went over some Physics problems for about 45 minutes. Students came out to see him off and he offered some words to inspire his young and eager students. Talks again turned to Physics and he continued the instructions on the back of his official car. This was a rare and a welcome sight to see police officers contributing towards the future of young Muslim students.

ADGP Abhayanand told me that he enjoys teaching and is now associated with five such experiments. Most of the students of these five institutions qualified for IIT. For economically and educationally backward state of Bihar this is very good news. And more than news, it is a hope that now even poor but meritorious students can achieve success with a bit of help. In Bihar, Rahmani-30 has given a new direction to Muslim students anxiously waiting for announcements of entrance exams and results.


Successful students of this year’s exam have already indicated that they will teach their juniors and once finished with their education will work for the benefit of the community. It costs Rs. 80,000 per year for each student’s expenses. Students are given free board, lodge and instructions. All expenses are met by Rahmani Foundation.

Rahmani-30 is a beacon of hope for Bihari Muslims not only because of the help it provides to meritorious students but also because a new generation of Muslims is taking up interest in the community affairs. Though Abhayanand and Wali Rahmani are the public face of Rahmani-30, volunteer team behind this institution consists of young Muslims in their 30s. These have jobs but volunteer their time to make sure that wheel of this coaching keeps turning. They make decisions for the day to day running to organizing exams.

With the successful result of this year’s IIT-JEE, Rahmani-30 and people associated with it have proved that they mean business and that with focused and sustained effort nothing is impossible.