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To commemorate the outstanding services of Hazrat Shah Waliullah to promote the Islamic values, the Institute of Objective Studies instituted an Award known as “Shah Waliullah Award” to honour eminent scholars who have done outstanding work in Social Sciences, Humanities, Law and Islamics. The Award is in the form of a cash of one Lakh rupees, Memento, shawl and a scroll of honour containing citation which is given annually to the best scholar of the year. The scheme was started in 1999.

The scheme is administered by an independent Board which nominates a Panel of Experts consisting of eminent scholars to identify and recommend the scholar to be honoured. The subject or the field of the Award is decided by the Board for each year.

The first Shah Waliullah Award (1999) was conferred posthumously on Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Hassani Nadvi (R.A), popularly known as Maulana Ali Mian, on 3rd of November, 2000. The second Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Janab Qazi Mujahidul Islam (R.A), the renowned Islamic scholar and an authority on Islamic Fiqh. The third Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Prof. M. Nejatullah Siddiqui, an authority in the area of Islamic Economics and Islamic or Interest-free banking. The fourth Shah Waliullah Award was presented posthumously to Hazrat Maulana Mohammed Shihabuddin Nadvi (R.A.) on 27th March, 2004, who made an outstanding contribution in the field of Qur’anic Uloom. The fifth Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Prof. Mohd Yasin Mazhar Siddiqi, the renowned scholar on Historiography in Islamic Perspective on 24th September, 2005. The sixth Shah Waliullah Award could not be conferred because there was no unanimity on the candidate, nor an appropriate standard of excellence in the candidate available. The seventh Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Prof. Tahir Mahmood, the renowned scholar on Islamic Law on 11th July, 2009. The eighth Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Dr Maulana Taqiuddin Nadvi, the renowned scholar on Hadith literature on February 26, 2011. The ninth Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Dr. Mohammad Khalil Abbas Siddiqui, the renowned scholar on Social Anthropology in Islamic Perspective on December 15, 2012. The tenth Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Maulana Syed Mustafa Refai Nadvi Jilani on August 23, 2014 and the eleventh Shah Waliullah Award was conferred of Maulana Syed Rabe Hasani Nadvi, Reactor, Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow on August 01, 2015. The topic for the next Shah Waliullah Award is “Media, Society and Indian Muslims”.

Further, under essay writing competition (for junior category) the Institute invites yearly the young scholars and researchers to submit the essay on the topic/subject (to be decided each year).

The essay on the topic “Shah Waliullah’s Approach to the Qur’an” for the year 2002 written by Janab Mahboob Farogh Ahmad Qasmi of Darul Uloom Deoband was considered as the best for the award, while the topic of the essay for the second award was “Human Rights in Islamic Perspective” and the essays written by Ms. Najmus Sahar Tahsin S. of Chikmaglur (Karnataka) and Mufti Md. Serajuddin Qasmi of Islamic Fiqh Academy, New Delhi were considered as the best for the award jointly, while the topic of essay for the third award was “Intra-Community Dissension and the unity of the Muslim Ummah” and the essay written by Mr. Anis Ahmed Falahi, Jamiat-ul-Falah was considered as the best for the award. The topic for the fourth award was “Constitutionalism in Islamic Perspective” and the essay written by Prof. Faizan Mustafa and Dr. Afroz Alam was considered as the best for the award and the topic for the fifth award was “Education in Islamic Perspective” and the essay written by Ms. Najussehar and Mr. Kefayetullah was considered as the best for the award. The topic for the next essay writing competition is “Media, Society and Indian Muslims”.

Rules relating to the conferment of the Shah Waliullah Award

1. The Award will be administered by an autonomous Board appointed by the Governing Council of the Institute of Objective Studies.

2. The Board shall nominate a Panel of Experts to identify and recommend the recipient of the Award. The Panel shall consist of at least three eminent scholars from disciplines or fields in which the Award is to be given. The composition of the Panel will change every year according to the discipline or field in which the Award will be given.

3. The subject or theme of the Award shall be determined by the Board in each year.

4. Only Indian citizens shall be eligible for the Award.

5. The Institute of Objective Studies shall solicit the opinion of scholars, heads of university departments and the ulama for nominating the recipient of the Award.

6. If the work of a nominated scholar happens to be in a language other than Urdu, Arabic and English the publications will be required to be submitted along with a brief summary in English for the consideration of the Panel of Experts.

7. Self-nomination shall not be entertained.

8. The bio-data of the scholars nominated for the Award should be submitted as per the prescribed format.

9. While making the nominations, the totality of the work of the nominated scholar would be kept in view.

10. The recipient of the Award will not be eligible for the award for the second time for the next 5 years.

11. Nominations should be accompanied by a brief bio-data of the nominated scholar and at least two of his/her works, which are supposed to constitute his/her most important contribution.

12. The decision of the Board regarding the selection of the awardee shall be final.

13. The Board may defer or withhold the Award in a given year, if nobody is found suitable for the Award.

14. In a situation where there is no clear nomination for the award, or where the opinions of the proposers are divided, or where the person nominated by the Board for the Shah Waliullah Award declines the award, the Shah Waliullah Award Board will have the authority to nominate an eminent scholar for the award.

15. The Award may be given posthumously, provided the death of the nominated scholar has not occurred more than five years before the last date prescribed for submission of nominations.

Shah Waliullah: An Introduction

Shah Waliullah (1703-1763) was one of the most outstanding Muslim scholars of eighteenth century India. He was a rare polymath who made highly original and seminal contributions to a variety of Islamic disciplines, including the translation and exegesis of the Qur’an, Hadith, Fiqh, historiography, Kalam, Tasawwuf and Islamic philosophy. He played a pioneering role in the revival and regeneration of the intellectual, moral and cultural legacy of Islam and thereby influenced and inspired several generations of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent.

One of the most important and enduring contributions of Shah Waliullah relates to the Holy Qur’an. Four distinctive but interrelated dimensions of his approach to the Holy Qur’an and his contributions to Qur’anic studies are noteworthy.

He emphasized the pivotal role of the Qur’an in the Islamic ethos and considered it incumbent on every Muslim to understand its meaning and message. Realising that a majority of Muslims in India were not sufficiently conversant with the Arabic language, he undertook a translation of the Qur’an into Persian. Subsequently, two of his sons rendered the Qur’an, on the basis of his Persian translation, into Urdu, the lingua franca of Muslims in large parts of the country. These translations paved the way for the translation of the Holy Qur’an into other vernacular languages. Shah Waliullah firmly believed that religious instruction in Islamic madaris should begin with the learning of the Qur’anic text, followed by its translation and explanation of difficult words and passages as well as a brief commentary in the local language. He believed that this should form an inseparable part of the curriculum of Islamic madaris.

He realized, to his dismay, that the scholars and ulama of his times were deeply enamoured of Greek philosophy and attached undue importance to philology and grammar. He cautioned them against the insidious consequences of this preoccupation and urged them to turn instead to the fundamental sources of Islam – the Qur’an and Hadith – which alone could provide a true understanding of Islamic teachings and principles.

Shah Waliullah was acutely aware of the need to interpret and project the teachings and principles of Islam in the contemporary academic and literary idiom. He worked out, for this purpose, a comprehensive and cogent system of Islamic philosophy and scholasticism based essentially on the edifice of the Qur’an and Hadith but presented in the idiom and style of his time.

12th Shah Waliullah Award on “Media, Society and Indian Muslims”

The last date for receipt of nominations is 30 June, 2016.

A Note on the Theme of the Award

Journalism occupies a high place in the politically motivated and conscious world we live in today. Our world is characterized by digital media where journalism has suddenly acquired great importance and assumed bigger role to play in the fast globalizing world. Internet and smart mobiles have empowered even the common men to play a vital role in our informed society as ‘citizen journalist’. One or another form of journalism may have faded in importance but its effectiveness as well as role have increased manifold.

Journalism is defined as gathering, processing and disseminating news in a dispassionate manner. It is indeed difficult to be dispassionate all the time but essential for journalism to play the effective role it is expected to in making our world a civilized one.

Some people rightly think that journalism is not only gathering and reporting news but it also includes inquiring and verifying them before they are disseminated. Herein comes the role of journalistic ethics or that it ought to be positive and never be negative. In simple and plain words journalism is different from propaganda.

Journalism uses different media to circulate the news it has. We have traditionally known media like newspapers & magazines (print) television & radio (electronic or broadcast) to report about events and keep people informed about them. But now digital media are growing at a fast pace, so we have news websites, portals and blogs. Social media, Facebook, Twitter and others, have also become a vital source of information. People just use smart phones, open their timelines on Facebook or go to Twitter to know the latest news at any time. In fact TV channels, too, have become available on smart mobiles in many ways.

Owing to digital media not only access to information has become easy but it has also empowered everyone of us to express our views on news and events taking place in the world at any given time. It also enables us to participate in live television debates through tweets than be a mere watcher and listener. Thus today all of us have an opportunity to become an active player in the making of the world we are living in. Suddenly everyone of us has become important as ‘citizen journalist’. One can imagine that the whole access to and use of digital media have become easy, it however requires certain qualifications and skill development for those who wish to be ‘play maker’ in the world of journalism. You must have good linguistic skill as well as the knowledge of technology available to us. It is probably here that we, the Muslims, other marginalized faith groups and ethno-linguistic minorities need to work hard. We need to be highly educated, to be well-informed, to be able to analyze information and see through designs if any and be able to develop our own Islamic or Muslim perspective on fast happening events in the globalized village of humanity. It is, no doubt, challenging. But it is worthwhile to take up and be among the news makers.

It is one thing what we ought to be and another what actually we are. At the moment we aren’t news makers, rather our portrayal in media, in India and abroad, is hugely negative. There can be ascribed several reasons for this sorry state of affairs. Besides the weaknesses within we must keep in mind that by and large media, both electronic and print, have been overtaken by groups with vested interests which are inimical towards minorities. Sections of media have become willing spokesmen of particular brand of ideologies and negative politics or at least they allow themselves to be used by them. Most dangerously some powerful business houses have either overtaken media houses or ‘bribe’ them to serve their vested interests. It seems that some political parties, too, have become super rich and use their wealth to influence media to their advantage. Above all, being agents of business houses many newspapers and channels willingly become spokespersons of ideologies and political groups which, they think, can be milked later on.

Not only in India but also on global scale, it seems, a concerted effort is being made to malign the image of Islam and Muslims. The noble concept of Jihad has been degraded to mean terrorism. Islam is being portrayed as a religion of violence and as incapable of coping with modernity and democracy. Sadly the ongoing internecine wars in the Muslim world have further encouraged the hostile media to spew venom against Islam and Muslims or perpetuate and reinforce unfounded stereotypes and misconceptions about them.

We also see that a great majority of media, especially in India, has turned blind eye to the plight of minorities and weaker sections, for their problems, views and ideologies are either ignored, misrepresented, even distorted or mentioned only in the passing. For example we generally notice that when a Muslim is arrested by secret agencies or police, media quickly assume the role of judiciary, convict him/her and malign his/her image beyond recovery. And when after long, tedious and torturing trials he/she is exonerated by the court, the media fail to either carry out the news or give it almost invisible coverage. In contrast growing majoritarian and totalitarian trends, anti-minority propaganda and utterances bordering on intolerance receive prime time coverage and are debated in such a way as these are natural reactions to ‘provocative’ events and voices. Moreover, rarely any mainstream newspaper or news channel has ever thought of and highlighted the problems of the falsely implicated Muslim youth who are acquitted by courts after languishing in jails for several long years.

Indian Muslims have no news channels and no mainstream newspapers. The few English language journals and newspapers they have are not effective in projecting a proper Muslim image owing mainly to their poor circulation. Moreover, their saner voices hardly find prominent mention in mainstream media with wider circulation and outreach. However, there are individuals who have rendered yeoman service by discussing Muslim issues objectively. Such efforts need to be appreciated and lauded. The Twelfth Shah Waliullah Award will be given to a journalist/media personality or media house/newspaper/magazine that have sought to serve the Muslim community in all possible ways.

Essay Writing Competition (Junior Category) on “Media, Society and Indian Muslims”

The Institute of Objective Studies invites essays on the topic of “Media, Society and Indian Muslims” by young scholars and researchers. The best essay will receive a cash award of Rs. 25,000/-.

The last date for submission of the essay is 30 July, 2016.

Candidates who wish to participate in the competition are required to submit their essay in accordance with the following guidelines:

i) The candidate should be below 45 years of age.

ii) The essay should have a high academic standard and should not exceed 10,000 words. Detailed references should be appended at the end of the essay.

iii) The essay should be submitted in quadruplet, along with the curriculum vitae of the candidate.

iv) An essay which is submitted for the competition should not have received any award by any other organisation or institution. If the essay wins the award, the IOS will have the exclusive right over its publication.

v) The decision of the IOS on the selection of the best essay shall be final.

A Note on the theme of Essay

Media plays a vital role in today’s upwardly mobile society. Media, both print and electronic, is often hostile towards Indian Muslims, and most of time we are not in a position to counter propaganda against us. Rarely the media highlights the Muslim plight, especially their all round decline. But the emergence of social media has provided opportunities to the weaker sections including the minorities also to present themselves to the world the way they are or they ought to be. But one can imagine a lot more is needed to serve Islam and Muslims both at national and international levels. We, the Indian Muslims know our reality well. We are backward in almost every walk of life. The only encouraging sign is that Indian Muslims are unhappy with their current status and have a strong desire to change their condition for good. Among other things, they realize well the all important role of media in improving their image and highlighting the problems which they are facing all across the country. They also realize that it would take time, training and investment of resources, human as well as capital, to make their presence felt in the media. Media, being a special mode of communication, needs special training and capability in order to be used properly for the benefit of the marginalized sections of the society. It is therefore essential for all of us to make best use of media for our advantage. It is with this view that we are inviting young scholars to participate in the essay writing competition of the IOS. This is our way of preparing our younger people to enter the media in a big way.

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