Brief Report of the 3rd Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer Memorial Lecture
by Shri Wajahat Habibullah
“Islam in India – Challenge or Promise”
The 3rd Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer Memorial Lecture was organized on September 6, 2014 by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism and Centre for Social Theory, Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Attended by around 150 people including activists, academics, journalists and students, the lecture was delivered by Mr. Wajahat Habibullah, former chairperson of the National Commission of Minorities on the topic- Islam in India: Challenge or Promise.
The event began with the lamp lighting ceremony and the honorary ritual of adorning Dr.Engineer’s photograph with a garland. The guests were welcomed with bouquets and mementoes. Dr. Ram Puniyani was then called upon to say a few words about Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer and his work. He spoke of the exceptional way in which Dr.Engineer took his diverse yet coherent and comprehensive work on a range of issues to the ground, among the people. His work, Dr.Puniyani explained, ranged from Bora reform to reading Islam and understanding communalism.
This was followed by Adv. Irfan Engineer’s address who briefed the audience about the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism and its nature of work and activities. He spoke of the ways in which the Centre intervenes to maintain secular democracy and communal harmony- through workshops, lectures, seminars, publication, fact-finding and research.
Prof. Parthsarathi Mondal gave a brief address to welcome the guests, expressing his willingness to interact with CSSS in the future and work jointly to meet common ends.
The tone of the lecture (which was to follow next) was set by the cultural group – Kabeera – that sang peace songs, to celebrate the spirit of Dr. Engineer’s mission.
Shri Wajahat Habibullah then began his lecture (attached herewith) on Islam in India-its trajectory of evolution, the challenges it faces and the future it envisions for itself. (Please find the paper in the file attached). The lecture was followed by a lively discussion including many questions and some comments.
The event concluded with the Vote of Thanks, delivered by the moderator for the event.