Allah Hafiz instead of Khuda Hafiz, thatís the worrying new mantra

On the phone, from his fluent English and the number of times he uses "like" mid-sentence, you would think Zaid Patel is a college kid. When you meet him, though, this 28-year-old looks older than his years. In his white kurta-pyjama, cap, a beard, and the weight of his visiting card that reads, President, Islamic Information Centre.

Two years ago, this Commerce graduate from Mumbai's Burhani College, set up this centre in Andheri which arranges "Islamic programmes" for both "brothers and sisters," runs a free library of books and VCDs on Islam and offers free Arabic classes.

"I was an apolitical Muslim, scared to ask questions," Patel says until he met one Dr Zakir. Patel was only 15 then but he says Zakir convinced him about the connection between logic, science and the Quran. "Many centuries ago, the Quran had foreseen science as we know it today," he says, "and it offers answers to all problems around." He quotes chapter and verse as he argues his case even if it's the need for the hijaab ("it's pragmatic," he says, "read Chapter 33, Verse 59").

So how does this square with the current debate over the need for reforms in the religion? Patel evades a direct answer. As a follower of the Ahle Hadees school (which essentially says that all debate or interpretation of the Quran must end and Islamic jurisprudence be based on valid teachings and actions of the Prophet), he is motivated about what he believes in and is fighting his corner till you tire. "Those who spread terror in the name of Islam are simply un-Islamic," he says. "What is needed is a revival of the true fundamentals of Islam."

No one has chronicled the extent of this "revivalism" but interviews with several Muslim clerics, teachers and professionals, suggest that Zaid Patel isn't alone.

... contd.

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