Frank F Islam
Empowering Muslims through Education
Mr. Raees Kahn, Distinguished guests, students, friends, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I want to express my deep appreciation for your warm welcome. I want to thank Raess khan for giving me an opportunity to address you today.
I admire Raess passion, his vision and his commitment in educating the next generations. He provides the broad shoulder upon which we can stand. Let us give him big round of applause
It is wonderful to be at St. David School and especially to be here with all of you young people. It takes me back to my youth. I feel a common bond THROUGH shared history, shared heritage, and shared background. Our bonds are STRONGER THAN the differences that, too, often drive us apart.
I am proud to be standing here, and looking at you today I never felt so blessed. I see me in you. I see the future of India. I see the future of the world.
Growing up here in Azamgarh had an enormous impact on the person I am today. It is where my journey began. It is where I grew up. It shaped my story and determined my destiny. I have fond memories of Azamgarh. I never lost love of Azamgarh. I feel a strong bond to the past and future of Azamgarh. I remember it all too well riding my bike in hot summer sun. This is where I learned how to catch a kite in brown muddy waters filled with rice paddies. It was an exciting time of my life, memories remain endearing
I grew up in a middle-class family. My parents taught me to: Treat people in the way that you want to be treated. Give dignity and respect to others. Work hard and aim high. Do what you can to serve your community. In the neighborhood where I grew up, all of us from different backgrounds and different faiths learned to work side-by-side because we were bound together in the service of others.
Azamgarh instilled basic values that have served me in good stead throughout my adult life. They include:
- A passion and love for education
- Eternal optimism about your hopes and dreams
- Being collegial and candid towards all
- Keeping steadfast to your standard of excellence
- Living in peace and harmony
- Being tolerant and respectful of the dignity of each person
- When you are successful, help and invest in others by giving them ladders of opportunity to succeed
The education you are receiving is a powerful equalizer. It will open doors of opportunity. It will enrich and empower you. That is why I ask you to join me in reciprocating by using our empowerment to empower other Muslims in this town and in India through education. Our cause should be to use education as a tool to improve the socio- economic status of Indian Muslims.
Let me explain why helping to empower our Indian Muslim brethren is so critical at this point in time. (Pause.)
The serious situation for Indian Muslims reminds us how entrenched poverty in the Indian Muslim Community has become. The situation for many Indian Muslim Youths is desperate and heart breaking. They are smothered by the blanket of history and circumstances. It is the lack of education which leads to lack of opportunity that breeds violence and fuels frustration and desperation.
Education will provide avenues for participation in 21st century careers, the competencies to compete in a global economy, and the capacity to contribute to lifting fellow Muslims out of poverty and deprivation.
All of us should promote the inclusion and full participation of Indian Muslims in public and private sectors and advance their leadership skills and knowledge.
All of us should ensure that those Indian Muslims get the knowledge, skills and abilities that they will need to ensure that all Muslims throughout India become first-class citizens in the future.
We also need to make eradicating illiteracy among Muslim children a priority because that is the starting point to learning and success. Our goal should be 100% literacy by 2030. WE CAN DO THIS!
One of the ways to give literacy in the primary grades is by significantly expanding the number of teachers and schoolhouses serving Muslims. Other means that will contribute to achieving that end would be using educational resources to:
- Help Indian Muslims to contribute towards social, political, and economic development of India
- Promote exchange of technology to develop entrepreneurial and leadership skills
- Encourage excellence in Muslim youth
If we act together, we can make sure that all of our children enjoy lives of opportunity and dignity. If we empower Indian Muslims by education and economic mobility, they will change the face of India.
And, here is the critical point that I want to make as I move into the last part of my discussion with you.
I recently received the UP Ratna award.
In accepting that award I stated that I am really glad that the UP has instituted a mechanism to engage the diaspora in a serious and meaningful way for the development of the state. And pledged that I would be happy to help on that initiative – especially in the area that is near and dear to my heart: education.
I am convinced that the best way for this school and India to realize its vast potential is by empowering people through education and economic mobility. I firmly believe Education is the gift that keeps on giving. Education empowers the mind and uplifts the soul. It is a powerful equalizer for opening doors to lift themselves out of poverty. Education is the best investment we can make to build next generations of leaders and innovators.
In closing, although it is a bit contrary to my nature, let me offer some advice to young people in the audience:
That advice is:
- Be a lifelong learner
- Never give up
- Write your own legacy
- Be the change that you would like to see happen
- Do not forget your heritage and roots. Dedicate your selves to draw upon the values, ingenuity, decency, dignity, and spirit that has been the greatness of this community
- Be the leader for the next generations
- Never be frightened of the future but you need to build the future
- Do well but do good
- Invest in others by sharing and giving back
- When you are successful provide ladders of opportunity to others to succeed
- Be the best you can be
- Exploit your fullest potentials
In summary, let me say that all of us do well remember no religion and no race and no culture and no nation has a monopoly on wisdom or on human dignity. Wisdom belongs to all who are willing to work hard, who aim high, and who get the right education and who can pursue their dream.
With that thought and spirit in mind, let us extend our hand, hope, help, and heart to those who are less fortunate and those who are socially and economically disadvantaged and those who are underprivileged and those who are voiceless. Let us empower them with education and economic mobility. When they succeed, ALL of us succeed. India succeeds, world succeeds
Let us together change the face of this town. One life- one family- and one village at a time
Good luck as each of you moves forward in your process of being and becoming.
Thank you. God bless you all.