West Bengal: Workshop to develop entrepreneurship among Imams and Ulema

By Muslim Mirror Network

In Kolkata, West Bengal, a workshop organized by the Maaeshat Foundation and Tarbiyah Cambridge International School provided imams and ulemas with an opportunity to acquire entrepreneurial skills.

The day-long workshop took place at the Indian Science Congress Auditorium, where Ahmad Hasan Imran, the chairman of the West Bengal Minorities’ Commission, engaged in interactive sessions with the religious leaders.

Ahmad Hasan Imran said that the primary objective of the workshop was to assist Imams and Ulema in initiating their own businesses and achieving financial independence.

“In the Muslim community, Imams play a significant role. In West Bengal, imams and Ulema are financially weak. We need to do something to make them financially strong.
Their salary is very low. The objective of this workshop is to make the imams and ulemas learn business skills. This will help them to start their own business and earn their livelihood,” said Ahmad Hasan Imran.

Ahmad Hasan Imran highlighted the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), emphasizing the significance of business.

Referring to the neighbouring country Bangladesh, Ahmad Hasan Imran said: “In Bangladesh, there are Islamic institutions which give different types of business training to imams. In India, Islamic organisations give different types of small business training to religious leaders. For example, Maaeshat Foundation is conducting an entrepreneurship workshop for imams and ulemas to learn the trade of tea, either, dates and items.”

At the workshop, experienced businessmen shared insights on the fundamentals of business with the participants. The clerics had the opportunity to engage with business experts and address their inquiries, thereby gaining clarity on various aspects of entrepreneurship.

During the workshop, Mr. Huzaifa Arshad, the proprietor of Natural Shine, a tea trading business, encouraged businessmen who were involved in trading tea or dates to step forward and participate in this noble cause. He emphasized the importance of leveraging their business expertise and resources for a greater purpose, possibly referring to initiatives that benefit the community or promote social welfare.

“It should be done keeping in mind the Akhirat. There are two types of human beings in the world. The first type of human being is the one who live for his children, wife and family. The other type is the one who thinks about the society and do good deeds for the society for the sake of Allah (God). They do for sadqah jaria. Businessmen should contact Maaeshat for this purpose,” Arshad said.

Mr. Md Arif of Dania Dates International addressed the concern of hesitation or apprehension among imams regarding potential business losses. He emphasized the importance of dispelling such worries, stating that it is not necessary for imams to exclusively purchase dates from his company. He stressed the need to raise awareness among imams about entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency, encouraging them to earn their livelihood and reduce dependence on others.

Earlier, on March 12, 2023, the Maeeshat Foundation and Tarbiyah Cambridge International School joined forces to host a comprehensive day-long workshop on entrepreneurship for Ulemas and Imams. The event took place at the Tarbiyah Cambridge International School Auditorium in Badanagar, Danga, Jalalpur, Malda, West Bengal.

During the workshop, Reyaz highlighted the primary objective of the Maeeshat Foundation, which is to equip religious leaders with the necessary education and training to engage in business ventures across the country. The foundation aims to empower Ulemas and Imams by providing them with the skills and knowledge required to successfully navigate the world of business, thus enabling them to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities with confidence and competence.

“We want they (imams) not have to rely on the pay provided by the Masjid committees for their basic needs, but rather develop their own sustainable sources of income,” he said.

During the workshop, the Clerics and Ulema were presented with hampers called “Madina Basket”.

The “Madina Basket” is an assortment of goods intended for distribution among mosque clerics and imams. It includes various items such as non-alcoholic fragrances (attar), dates, honey, caps, handkerchiefs, and more. Each “Madina Basket” carries a retail value ranging between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000, encompassing a selection of products that hold significance in religious and cultural contexts. These baskets are designed to provide essential items and meaningful gifts to support and show appreciation for mosque clerics and imams.

In connection with the Tea business, Natural Shine’s proprietor Huzaifa said: “We want to promote Madina Basket because it’s a noble concept. It is my privilege to be part of it Madina Basket and this initiative (community change programme). We want to sell our product (Tea) at a reasonable price to imams and ulemas. They (imams and ulemas) can purchase our tea (suppose 5 – 10 kg) and then re-sale it. They will earn some money after reselling it.

Concluding the workshop, Reyaz said: “The goal of conducting training programmes and entrepreneurship workshops here (West Bengal) is that. It is the belt where such workshops are needed the most. We will find that there is a huge population of ulemas and imams in West Bengal. They go to other states and carry out imamat. Poverty here is more than in other states. The salary of imams is also very low in West Bengal. They are being utilised the politicians to influence the masses. We want that they should not get utilised, become financially strong and lead a life with dignity. Madina Basket or the Maeeshat’s programme is trying to solve this issue.”

He emphasized that Maeeshat Foundation has dedicated several years of effort to this endeavour, and their work has now achieved success in creating awareness among the public.

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