By Danish Ahmad Khan
New Delhi: Abdul Rashid Agwan, the Chief Editor of IndianMuslimObserver.com, has recently been conferred the IOS Silver Jubilee Award at a public function in New Delhi for his significant contribution towards ‘public cause and common good’. Mr. Agwan is among 30 prominent personalities of the country who received the award. He was honored with a memento, a Shawl and the certificate of appreciation “as a gesture of recognition of his extraordinary services to public cause and common good” at a function held at India International Islamic Cultural Centre on Sunday, April 17, 2011.
Institute of Objective Studies (IOS), which gave the awards on the occasion of its silver jubilee celebrations, is an internationally acclaimed academic body based at New Delhi with chapters across several states in India. The IOS, which is currently being headed by its Chairman Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, was established in the year 1986 with a view to promote empirical and conceptual research. The IOS carries out research on ideologies and problems relevant to Indian polity, society, economy, religion and culture. It primarily focuses its attention on the problems of Muslims and other minority groups. The studies include the problems of development processes, community relations, social tensions, status of women etc. Its achievements and programme have received recognition from the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. The IOS is in Consultative Status (Roster) with ECOSOC of UN.
The IOS has not only tried to fill the academic vacuum in approaching societal issues faced by Indian people in general and Muslims in particular, but has also provided a platform for serious intellectual endeavor in the areas of Social Sciences and Humanities, and became a trendsetter in the fields of conceptual and investigative research on the Qur’anic approach to human problems and the problems of Muslims in India..
Besides Mr. Agwan, other prominent personalities who were also felicitated on the occasion included Maulana Dr Saeedur Rahman Azmi, the Chancellor of Integral University and principal of Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow (in chair); Maulana Jalaluddin Umri, Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami Hind; Maulana Abdul Wahab Khilji, Vice President of Welfare Party of India; and Dr Anis Chishti, the leader of Payam-e-Insaniyat.
While speaking on the theme of the ceremony “Towards Knowledge, Development and Peace: Outlining Roadmaps for the Future”, Abdul Rashid Agwan put forward a critique on the notional understanding of the civilization, which according to him comes in the way of advancement of knowledge, sustaining development and preservation of peace around. He said that it is wrong to believe that human civilization is vertically divided into many ‘civilizations’ on religious lines, as Hutington and others have argued, rather civilization appears and disappears in a particular lot of human society or in a region due to certain universal factors. “So long as we will go on propagating that there are many civilizations in the contemporary world which are competing and clashing with each other for dominance, we cannot have an objective knowledge, a sound development and a lasting peace,” said Mr. Agwan.
Abdul Rashid Agwan is a well known activist working in the field of human rights, interfaith relations and community development for more than three decades. He also happens to be the founder general secretary and the first director of the Institute of Objective Studies, and played a key role during its formative phase.
Mr. Agwan has to his credit over a dozen books and around 70 papers and articles on environment, education, community development, interfaith relations, etc published in different journals and newspapers. He co-edited a five-volume rendering ‘Encyclopedia of the Holy Quran’. Besides being a writer and author, Mr. Agwan is a noted social activist and community leader. He runs expert and consultancy organization Centre for Advancement of Voluntary Efforts, New Delhi, which enjoys membership of around 200 NGOs. He also runs expert NGO Network www.muslimngos.com. He is also associated with several well-known Muslim organizations in different capacities including Universal Knowledge Trust, Foundation for Social Care, Milli Education Trust, All India Educational Movement, etc.