BURLINGTON, MA–American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin honored Frank Islam with its prestigious “Pride of India” award during its 25th annual convention at Burlington Marriott in Burlington, MA. Islam, a confident of President Obama and an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist, donated $222,000 in May this year to Aligarh Muslim University in India. This is part of his $2 million commitment for the construction of a new management complex at the 140-year-old university.
“It is a distinct honor and privilege to be here tonight to accept the •AFMI Pride of India'” said Islam after receiving the award that was bestowed upon him by India’s Consul General—New York Ambassador Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay on behalf of AFMI. “Also it is privilege to be asked to speak as a part of AFMI’s Silver Jubilee Celebration.”
Past winners of “Pride of India” award include noted lyricist and song writer, Javed Akhtar; Ram Vials Paswan, Union Minister; and Rehman Khan, Former Union Minister of Minority Affairs in India.
“I have received many awards. But this one is extra special because it comes from this prestigious organization in its silver jubilee year,” Islam said. “I must admit that receiving this award and joining such luminaries does not make me proud. It makes me humble.”
AFMI’s Silver Jubilee Convention was held on Saturday, Aug. 29, at Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Celebrating Excellence, Empowering Communities: AFMI’s 25 Years of Service.” AFMI is a philanthropic charity formed by American Muslims of Indian Origin in the 1989. AFMI strives to improve the socio-economic status of the underprivileged Indian Muslim minorities through education. Since it was founded, AFMI has remained steadfast in its mission to achieve 100% literacy among Indian Muslims.
“The sole goal of the organization is achieving 100 percent Muslim literacy in India,” said A.R. Nakadar, founder and trustee of AFMI. “You have created an educational movement throughout India.”
Nakadar said that since 2004 literacy among Muslims has increased two percent every year. “Within 10 years, we can change the status of Muslims in India,” said Nakadar, adding that the whole educational movement has gained momentum in the Muslim community in India and now there is a need to shift the focus on economic development.
AFMI Suhaib Siddiqi welcomed the guests and speakers and reiterated that it is an exciting time for AFMI’s efforts in India. He said there are 180 million Muslims in India, the second largest Muslim population in world after Indonesia. He said 67 million Muslims in India cannot read and write and 30 percent live in slums.
“The world of education and literacy for underprivileged population is an exciting area and we are confident that with your support we will succeed in our mission,” Siddiqi said in a message to AFMI members.
Islam quoted a study that showed that only 11% of Muslims in India pursue higher education compared to a national average of approximately 19% and that participation in the “general category of Muslims in higher education” had actually declined by 1.5% for the period studied
“These are devastating findings that frame the critical nature of the need and present the challenge and opportunity for Indian Americans – and most especially for those of us who are Indian Americans of Muslim origin to participate in solving this problem,” Islam said.