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'Education will bring Muslims to the mainstream'

<p id="content">Kaleemul Hafeez began his career as a works engineer in the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) in Delhi, turned entrepreneur and then evolved into an educationist. These days, Hafeez runs a well-known school and coaching centre, besides his own company which is into hospitality and other diverse fields.

Having being orphaned at the age of 13, Hafeez completed his education with much hardship but learnt valuable life lessons after moving to Delhi.

"When I was working in the SPA, I came to know that the community stands nowhere, unable to influence policy and the primary reason behind this was lack of education," he told IANS.

Once in Delhi, Hafeez came in contact with a number of influential people including politicians and others working in the field of education, many of them hailing from South India. The perception was that North Indian Muslims lagged behind in education.

So Hafeez started working on this and established a CBSE School upto class XII at Badayun in Uttar Pradesh and a coaching centre in Delhi. Today 78 children from his coaching centre have cleared the coveted NEET exam.

The young educationist is astonished with the kind of communal division in the country. Hafeez says the society at large doesn't discriminate but there is politics involved in it. "I have never faced anything like that but now, when you see social media, the kind of stuff written or posted there about the community is disgusting."

But when asked who should be blamed for backwardness of the community, he says there are three big culprits: religious leaders, political leaders and social leaders .

Religious leaders did not involve the community in politics except telling then it is not their work, the political leadership got a chance but lacked vision, while social leaders were not bothered about the community's upliftment but just bickered with each other, elaborates Hafeez.

Asked why the Muslims have to prove their patriotism, Hafeez blames the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for that. Hafeez says the RSS has vitiated the atmosphere so much that the community is viewed with suspicion after any untoward incident.

Still, Hafeez says as a society, Hindus don't have any grudge against Muslims but the polity has changed it.

With the advent of Hindutva politics, Muslims no longer feel as confident as before, says Hafeez. "Every issue is being seen from prism of religion and I blame the media for this. Even issues which have nothing to do with Muslims are painted like that."

But he remains optimistic about the future of the community. "I am not nervous as times will change once Muslims join the mainstream through education. Then we will able to counter the narrative. The education jihad will bring us to the mainstream."

Hafeez runs the 40-acre Al-Hafeez Educational Academy, in Budaun, Uttar Pradesh, besides a CBSE school and an NIOS Centre.

He also runs a reputed NGO dedicated to social service and disaster relief work.

Hafeez has been a member of the Censor board and also has done the interiors of the India Islamic Cultural Centre.

Hafeez says he will remain steadfast in his quest to serve society as much as he can. "I am deeply committed in my responsibility to serve my country by putting my best efforts for the development of society and removing the barriers of communication to eliminate mistrust among different communities. My roots are deep and built upon trust and integrity. I firmly believe that through teamwork and a passion to serve, we can make the world a more harmonious place."