Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood is one of those rare individuals who have their hearts, minds and spirit where they must be. His spirit guides his mind and his mind controls his heart. Dr Mahmood has a rare record of excellence — excellence in academic career, excellence in service to the State and excellence in service to the community and the nation. After successfully living his career as a Tax Commissioner, for several years he has been devoting all his waking hours to his faith, community and the nation. His ability of deep thinking and meticulous planning accompanied with tireless devotion has produced highly admirable results in many areas. Zakat Foundation founded by him is engaged in some of the remarkable projects in the field of education and employment, and his intellectual activism is guiding the community towards a more fruitful existence. His physical stature may be short but his stature as a guide, planner and statesman is very tall. He has deep understanding of Quran, which of course remains his ultimate Guide, Islamic history and modern development. When these combine with his long experience as Administrator, he comes out to be a man of comprehensive abilities. His holistic view of the world makes him a philosopher cum guide of extraordinary mettle. In additions, he is a man of words which accompanied with his understanding of Islam engenders excellent write-ups for the community and the nation.
Dr Zafar Mahmood is a product of Aligarh Muslim University where he did Masters in Political Science and doctorate in Public Administration. He then successfully completed in allied civil services exams and joined Department of Taxation in Govt of India and in a period encompassing 3 decades he held various important positions. He was Officer on Special Duty, Prime Minister’s High Level Committee (2005–07) for preparation of Report on Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India. He was appointed National Level Monitor for overseeing implementation of welfare schemes for Minorities 2010–11 and in that capacity visited selected interiors of Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs) to monitor the implementation of Government Schemes for Welfare of Minorities. Previously, he was Indian First Secretary / Consul (Haj) and Director of Indian International Schools in Saudi Arabia (1988–91) where he streamlined and computerized the Indian Haj Management in Saudi Arabia. And introduced a consolidated and intertwined Annual Haj Plan for the Ministries of External Affairs, Civil Aviation and Health, Central Haj Committee in Mumbai, State Haj Committees, Indian Consulate in Jeddah and Indian Haj Offices in the Holy Cities and Jeddah Airport. One important step he took was to persuade Saudi authorities to accept pilgrims’ compulsory dues in consolidated form from the Indian mission; this saved hours of troublesome wait by tens of thousands of Indian pilgrims at Saudi arrival terminals. Introduced He also opened new Indian schools in five Saudi cities, expanded and streamlined existing schools and conceived and pioneered the new Indian School in Jeddah for 10,000 students
He also served as Administrator, Combined Wakf Board of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh (1998–99)
As Chief Commissioner of Income-tax, he worked in the fields of Administration, Information Collection, Research, Publications, Survey, Investigation, Assessment, Public Relations, Publicity, Statistics, Accounts, Audit, Recovery and Appeals in Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar, U. P. and Maharashtra. Topped the All-India list of IRS officers at the time of promotion. Composed and uploaded first web site of Income-tax Department. Drafted and published ‘Citizens Charter’.
Dr Mahmood was Dy. Director General, Trustee and Treasurer
India Islamic Cultural Centre (1993–2003)
1. Current positions and activities
Currently, he is Founder President, Zakat Foundation of India (1997 till date) www.zakatindia.org, which is involved in several commendable works. Academically bright but financially needy graduates are selected annually through professionally conducted Test and Interview and they are sponsored in successful institutes in Delhi for Civil Services coaching. The scheme gives very good results year after year; even one ZFI Fellow topped in IAS Examination, 2010.
ZFI’s Department of Community Monitoring oversees the implementation of Government welfare schemes for the deprived sections of society.
Hundreds of very poor children are sponsored and educated in different educational institutions with hostel facility. Candidates are helped in filling application forms for many other jobs and coached.
Other important establishments are Happy Homes India (separate orphanages for boys and girls), Mercy Home India, and charitable medical centre in areas with large labor population. Seriously ill patients are treated at reputed hospitals bearing full expenses like kidney / liver transplant, implantation of steel rod, etc. ZFI is also engaged in
- Distribution, on monthly basis, of uncooked food items among widows and other indigent women.
- Helping families stand on their feet and become self-employed.
- Getting poor girls married.
- ZFI Team visited Tamilnadu’s Tsunami affected areas, West Bengal’s poverty stricken families, Kashmir’s earthquake & floods hit regions and Gujarat’s disturbed districts — provided medical assistance and helped the poor to restart their normal life.
- Organized 12 National Level Workshops in Zonal Districts of India located in and around 90 Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs). Apprised the participants about state minority welfare schemes and trained them how to monitor the implementation of these schemes using Right to Information Act. Established refugee home Darul Hijrat for Rohingya Refugees of Myanmar (Burma).
Dr Mahmood is also Founder President, Interfaith Coalition for Peace, New Delhi, which believes in a common destiny of mankind based on love and peaceful coexistence. It has dedicated itself to chisel a family across the world that honors the sovereignty of God, respects human dignity, honors the feelings and opinions of different communities, upholds their religious and human rights and promotes justice, peace and mutual respect. ICP works with the civil society, NGOs, autonomous institutions. It joins hands with the religious and faith groups and cooperates in creating and nurturing an atmosphere of trust and understanding.
At ICP, research is carried out for finding commonalities among scriptures, precepts and practices of various faiths, developing and publishing them and taking them to the masses, encouraging awareness and interaction, capacity building, conflict resolution, reconciliation and praxis. Programs are held all over India with substantial local help. ICP has branches & resource persons in 24 states of India.
He is also Founder Chairman, God’s Grace Group of Educational Institutions (1996 till date) which include Community College under IG National Open University, God’s Grace Study Centre for professional courses under Hamdard University, God’s Grace Schools in Delhi. It also organized 9 month Java/e-Commerce NIIT Course for poor students and got them placed in jobs. It also ran Coaching Centres with best city tutors for Secondary / Sr. Secondary students (subsidized under Upward Bound Scheme).
He is also Founder Chairman, Iqbal Academy India
He is Deputy Secretary General (for South East Asia), World Zakat Forum, headquartered in Indonesia
2. Representations and Presentations
Dr. Mahmood represented India in several international events which include:
* Parliament of World Religions, Melbourne 2009,
* Interfaith Conventions Oslo and London 2006,
* Two phases (3–4 wks each) international project titled “Islamic LIfe in US” 2004–06 organized by American Department of State,
* Partnership of Civilizations, St. Petersburg, Russia 2007,
* First International Consultation of Muslim Scholars, Islamabad 2005,
* International Charity Convention, Hyderabad, India 2007,
* Global Minorities Meet, New Delhi 2007 and South Asian Consultations on Peace Building in Religions, New Delhi, India 2008.
He delivered Lectures at:
(a) Harvard University (Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs — Project on India and the Subcontinent);
(b) House of Lords, London
© Cambridge University, UK
(d) Microsoft Headquarters, Seattle USA.
(e) International Zakat Conference, New York USA
(f) World Council of Religions, Melbourne, Australia
(g) Muslim Council of Britain
(f) International Islamic University, Brunei
(i) International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan
(j) Indian Universities of Aligarh, Delhi, Jamia Millia Islamia, Hamdard, Madras, Integral (Lucknow), Science & Technology (Guwahati), Kashmir, Calicut, Kolkata, Pune, etc.
His publications include
(1) Perseverance of Life: Paikaar-e-Zindagi (Urdu);
(2) Chasing the Renaissance: Nish’at-e Saaniya ki Justujoo (Urdu);
(3) Iqbal’s Recipe of Poetic Steroids: (coffee-table album) Jahaan-e-Makafaat;
(4) 157 Articles: In leading national newspapers / periodicals / net portals / magazines on topics related with interfaith, educational and socio-economic uplift of weaker sections in English, Urdu and Hindi — Times of India, Hindustan Times, Hindu, Rashtriya Sahara, Inqilab, Milli Gazette, The Eastern Post, The Islamic Voice, Radiance.
4. Views on Important Issues
4.1 The current state of affairs in the country
Generally compared to the rest of the developing world, the Indian democracy is doing reasonably well particularly with the judiciary, the election commission and the media now playing proactive role. Yet, the ground level scenario is unenviable. With the onset of national independence and political freedom in mid-20th century the zamindari traditions of the yesteryear transformed themselves into a sort of Bolshevik harakari that now unfortunately informs the national social ethos. Natural urge of care and concern for others has generally taken a backseat. ‘I am (or we are) more equal than the other(s)’ is the anti-social complex that largely permeates the individual and group ego. Indian standards of integrity need to be redefined and re-calibrated. Indian sayings like “nobody dubs his own yogurt as sour” or “nobody admits his own son as squinted” need to be condemned and dumped. Anti-female tinge in normal intra-family interactions needs to be done away with. Class and caste consciousness warrants renunciation. Only that person should be treated as superior who is, by disposition, closer to God. Upbringing of the children during the first ten years of their growth needs to be accordingly toned up, qualitatively improved and systematized.
Muslims intermittently ruled parts or whole of India from 7th to 18th century AD. Yet, during the eleven centuries of their political overbearing Muslims chose to remain as much a minority as they are now. From mid-18th to mid-20th century the Britishers found it politically expedient to rule by dividing Muslims and Hindus. In 1947 Muslims took away a part of the Indian territory to the chagrin of all those who remained behind. Thus, in late 20thand 21st centuries, there is every natural reason of majority of the Hindus broadly nurturing a deeply ingrained psyche of anti-Muslim apathy whose dissipation within a span of less than at least a century would be too presumptuous. If I was a Hindu during those 13 centuries it would have been unworldly for my progeny today to be 100% Muslim-friendly at heart.
From early 20th century a section of Hindus began thinking of and planning to gain political control based on whipping up this anti-Muslim communal ethos. Their institutional works began getting translated into political victory in the wake of the Babri Masjid demolition and its aftermath in 1990s. The general election results of 2014 are an important milestone of that broad-way. Nonetheless, the spell of one century or there-about is not too important a portion in the life-span of nations. Vis-a-vis the panacea role of human conscience it further pales into insignificance. Also the robustness and longevity of the societal health is an undeniable derivative of its private and public morality. Hence there is every ground to be optimistic provided one remains on the side of God.
4.2 The Current State of Affairs in the World
The humanity is reaching out to the Moon and Mars, the list of incurable diseases is dwindling, the means of communication are getting faster by the day, and sources of knowledge are in the finger tip. Yet, the world today, as much as it was yesterday, mostly mirrors a conundrum of untruth, inequality, greed, selfishness, shortsightedness, parochialism, injustice, intrigue, double standards, one-upmanship, immorality, illegitimacy, expansionism, hegemony, and so on. Fundamental human interests are sacrificed at the altar of geographical boundaries even though the latter keep on changing. Narrow political selfishness, thy name is nationalism. UNO is mostly a club for pass time with no grit nor much meaningful dialogue for the common good of humanity. The best course to ameliorate this pathetic situation is to upgrade the individual human character. At world level there should be a body known as United Spirituals Organization (USO). The membership of its General Body, the bureaucracy, staff and each of the other organs should be open to the people of those spiritual traditions that came into being at least half a millennium ago (these may be known as USLs: United Spirituals) — in proportion of their respective numerical presence in the world. There should be no veto power. The USO charter should include those fundamentals of USLs that are common among all. The USO should be equally financed by each USL. Discussion or discourse in any manner on issues other than inter se commonalities should be prohibited within the USO’s domain. Separately for the children and for the grown-ups, the USESCO should publish books in different languages incorporating the fundamentals of each USL as approved by the respective USL groups. The USO’s representative bodies at world and regional levels should periodically organize assemblies to encourage mutual identification and to consolidate commonalities. The USO should institutionally ensure that its resolutions and events are widely reflected in the world media.
4.3 The Current State of Affairs in the Muslim World
Today’s Muslim world has widely deflected from the prescribed crease. Basic concepts of Islam are not known to 99% of Muslims. People generally but erroneously believe that Islam is confined to Kalema, Namaz, Zakat, Roza and Haj. Conversely, the fact is that these form only the skeleton and that’s from where Islam launches itself. The effect of real import of Islam has to reflect in the believer’s interaction with the rest of the world between two namazes. The message of Kalema should instill Godly strands into the individual thought process and action. The spirit of Zakat, Sadaqah and Qulil Afw should percolate into the believer’s conscience. Roza should minimize his/her needs and maximize his kindness. Haj should fathom his/her urge for universal fraternity, tolerance and open minded world view.
The basic concepts of Islam include the realization that God’s purpose of creating humanity is to test us as to who among us is more fastidious in being serviceable to the fellow humans (Quran Karim 11.7). In each one of us God has infused His soul (39.72) thus putting us under obligation to try our best to imbibe His qualities. Besides being forgiving, compassionate, supportive etc. one of His qualities is that every day He is busy in some new design (55.29). Whatever God has blessed me with has to be utilized by me and my family only to the extent that’s reasonably needed; the balance provision with me belongs to others and should be spent in the cause of God and for the needy (2.219). The community’s wealth has to be circulating in different hands and must not remain confined among a few (59.7). I can be a good Muslim only if I believe in God, all of His books, all of His messengers among whom I do not differentiate (2.285). Muslims of the world need to institutionalize learning of these concepts and practice these in daily life at every level. Like all Muslims in general, the leaders of the Muslim world are also oblivious of God’s real message to them. That’s why they’re as much guided by today’s widely prevalent self-serving preferences of expediency and diplomacy as the rest of the world. The concept of ‘One Ummah’ and the demands of its unity and holistic prosperity do not figure in international Muslim calculations. Individual and dynastic considerations overweigh the larger community interests. National interests — that are often engendered by political interests of the national leadership — are allowed to block the road to smooth sailing of the universal Ummah. This state of affairs needs to be addressed and treated by selfless individual and NGO protest against individualistic and parochial designs of the Muslim nations and Muslim societies. The solution lies at the doorstep of the selfless puritans. Besides, on the pattern of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, there should be an autonomous Islamic body at world level that should be independent of national governments and their conglomerates. That body should keep on collecting global data and scholarly viewpoints, carry out researches and act as the philosopher guide for the community. It should be equally financed, in small measure, by each Muslim country and major NGOs.
(a) We are able to successfully espouse the cause of De-reservation of Muslim-predominant parliamentary & assembly constituencies all over India as recommended by Sachar Committee;
(b) We are able to construct the campus of ZFI’s Sir Syed Coaching & Guidance Centre for Civil Services (SSCGC) in New Delhi for 500 boys & Girls;
© We are able to establish junior level regional feeder institutions for SSCGC,
(d) We are able to construct the building of ZFI’s As’haab-as-Suffa Institute for Imams & Khateebs in New Delhi;
(e) We are able to persuade the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Govt. of India to establish National Waqf Academy;
(f) We are able to persuade the Govt of India to establish Indian Waqf Service as recommended by Sachar Committee;
(g) We are able to establish Darul Mutala cum Markaz Ittela’aat (Reading Room cum Information Centre) in one room of each mosque in India; (h) We are able to further develop ZFI’s Haj Fund of India on the pattern of Indonesia’s Tabuk Haji.
(i) We are able to reclaim Waqf properties from adverse possession and ensure their utilization for community and national uplift;
(j) In Allama Iqbal’s terminology Keemiyagar means the mature and experienced alchemist who can turn ordinary metals into gold. S/he continues to have robust limbs and brain but has since fulfilled worldly responsibilities. S/he will have to come forward to change the community’s track. In every Indian constituency the local Keemiyagars will have to form a group of 10–12 persons of their ilk, name it KGP (Keemiyagars Political) and begin working from a room in one of their own houses. They should continuously work for the community uplift and thereby win the hearts of the local population and thus also influence its political thought process turning it toward its own betterment.
6. Personalities that Influenced
Prophet Mohammad (S), Hazrat Umar (R), Tariq Bin Ziyad, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Sir Mohammad Iqbal, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Syed Mahmood Hasan (my father), Manzoor Alam (my father-in-law), Prof Syed Nasir Ali (my teacher at Aligarh), Barrister Balbir Singh, Kader Bhai Sopariwala (Mumbai philanthropist), Dr Rajiv Sharma (my university friend), Rakhi Chakraborty (media reporter — like daughter to me).
7. Some glimpses in English Media — Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood
Before Sri Narendra Modi, when he was BJP’s PM candidate:
The Ahmedabad presentation -some media coverage:
1. The Hindu
5. CNN-IBN Live
6. You Tube
7. The Asian Age
8. Indian Express
10. PTI GANDHINAGAR
Is this the 2014 effect? Modi sits through presentation on 2002 riots, says I’ll consider it
11. India Today
12. Outlook India
14. Khaleej Times
15. Kashmir Reader
16. The Daily Star
Mr. Modi’s attempt to build bridges with Muslims isn’t working, witness the June 30 Gandhinagar fiasco. This was boycotted by most invited Muslim scholars. Former Sachar Committee official Syed Zafar Mahmood convincingly accused Mr. Modi of promoting anti-Muslim hatred.
Meet, Zafar Mahmood, the Islamist troll who criticized Modi in a public meeting. twocircles.net/2013jun29/i_kn…
18. India Business
SZM quoted in ToI lead articles
Indian Muslims increasingly disenchanted: Syed Zafar Mahmood
UPA’s last window of opportunity
No elections in Muzaffarnagar till Muslims are back home
Minority group sets terms for vote
Muslims: UPA 1 & 2 failed us
UPA too has failed Muslims
Gagging of Dr Fahim Beg is an insult to the Muslim community
Muslims are the loaf in the electoral fight between NDA and UPA
To grab / retain power at the centre
BONDING WITH THE EXTENDED FAMILY