The role played by Muslim clerics (Ulema) during freedom movement in India cannot be undermined. The sacrifices they made and the way they inspired and motivated youths to actively participate in freedom struggle is commendable. Although we do not remember all of them, they continue to be a rich part of our history.
Nowadays, our clerics mostly do their religious duty by preaching lessons on Islam and construct madrasas to impart Islamic knowledge among Muslims which is very obligatory but they are not leading the community from front as their counterparts did in the earlier ages.
There are very few clerics who are actively taking part in building and changing the community with a holistic perspective. One such cleric would be Maulana Syed Shahabuddin Salfi Firdausi , who built the Blood Bank instead of Madrasa. It is quite astonishing to see a cleric breaking the general trend and building a Blood Bank with state-of-the-art facilities.Maulana Shahabuddin is renowned Islamic scholar, Author and Peace Activist. He has authored “Seerat-e-Badr-ud-Duja”, a biography of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in 2016 and recently he wrote a booklet “Talaq Talaq Talaq” detailing the procedure of Nikah, Talaq and Halala. Maulana has always been keen on keeping communal harmony among Indian society. He played a vital role during the Solapur riots happened in 2002. In fact, Asghar Ali Engineer lauded the role played by Maulana in his article published in ‘Secular Perspective’ November, 2002 issue. In the words of Engineer, “It should also be mentioned here that the role played by Maulana Shahabuddin Salfi was very laudable. He restrained the Muslim youth in Sahara nagar area and Asra nagar area otherwise the Muslims would have suffered far more damage. The Muslim youth were quite violent in their behaviour. It was restraint and wisdom exercised by the Maulana and also Police Commissioner Mr. More that saved the situation. The Maulana also protected many Hindu lives in these areas.”
Maulana Shahabuddin was born in Darbhanga district of Bihar in a highly religious family. His ancestors include “Shaikh Tajuddin Madari Darbhangwi” who is one of the elderly Sufis of Bihar. He graduated from reputed Islamic seminary “Darul Uloom Ahmadiyya Salafia” Darbhanga.
Maulana Shahabuddin is the founder and chairman of Athar Blood Bank. To construct the blood bank, the residents of Solapur selected the most suitable persons and made a public trust, “Athar Minorities Social and Welfare Association”. After 6 years of hard work put up by Maulana Shahabuddin, The Athar Blood Bank, Solapur was completed and on June 02, 2012 was inaugurated by Sushil Kumar Shinde, the then Minister of Power India.
When asked about the reason for building the blood bank, Maulana Shahabuddin says, “They are here to serve the humanity and not just one community. For the same reason we chose ‘Service to Humanity’ as a slogan for the blood bank. People from all communities have contributed in building the blood bank and pooled in Rs 1.5 crores to make the dream a reality. Also, the trust is now handling the construction of new Maternity Home.”
The blood bank is equipped with all the latest technology and equipment and has capacity to store 700 units at a time. Eighteen staff, including 3 MD doctors work at the centre and the Bank organises an average of seven blood donation camps in a month. Even this is not sufficient and more co-operation from society is needed. It is operational for 24*7 and supplies blood to Government Civil Hospital and Private Hospitals across Solapur district. It also provides emergency blood delivery to Hospitals if need arises.
According to their motto of serving the humanity, the Bank provides free blood to Thalassemia and HIV patient. Also financially weak sections are given a discounted and sometimes they are not charged at all. Blood is transported through an ambulance which also serves as mobile medical facility. People can reach blood bank on +91 0217-2622999.
Maulana Shahabuddin urged more people to come forward and strengthen the blood bank through blood donation camps, financial aid etc. The Blood bank is covered under section 80G of IT Act and all donations can avail tax exemption.
But Maulana Shahabuddin is someone who does not stop with just one such endeavour. He has always actively participated in promoting educational awareness among Muslims and he hosted Saiyid Hamid’s (Ex-Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University) initiative “All India Taalimi Karwan” to promote educational awareness among Indian Muslims in 1992 at Solapur. He also presided over the “Paigaam-E-Taalim Conference” organised by “Anjuman-e-Bashindagan-e-Bihar Welfare Association” on March 31, 2013 at Jhula Maidan, Mumbai, which was attended by various MPs and other leaders cutting across party lines.
Apart from his social responsibility, he also balanced his religious responsibilities by constructing a mosque “Masjid-ul-Salam” in Ambedkar Nagar, Solapur and also under the guidance of Maulana Shahabuddin, Makkah Masjid, Solapur (One of the central and oldest mosque) was demolished and a new mosque having capacity of 6,000 people has started and currently construction of mosque is on the verge of completion.
The efforts of clerics like Maulana Shahabuddin who are actively involved in shaping the good future for our children on all fronts must be lauded and acknowledged. We hope that in future there will be more clerics coming forward and leading the community from front and set the example for others to follow.