Muslim Relief and Charities (IMRC), a US-based organization, has
built 60 schools in the remote villages of coastal Andhra Pradesh
and plans to construct 40 more to provide spiritual education to
Under its platform, Rural Educational and Economic Development
(REED), the organization has not only constructed the buildings of
basic multipurpose one-teacher schools but also appointed trained
"We will run these schools for two years and thereafter hand over
the management to local Muslims," Ahsan Syed, a member on IMRC
board, told IANS during his recent visit to Hyderabad.
It was three years ago that IMRC got a survey conducted on the
socio-economic conditions of Muslims in coastal Andhra villages.
Appalled by the utter poverty, illiteracy and inequality, it
decided to launch the project, but despite its offer for total
funding of the project, no organization came forward to undertake
the work. It finally launched the project with the help of some
The mosques-cum-schools with libraries have come up in Srikakulam,
East Godavari, Guntur and other districts in coastal Andhra. The
organization, which raises donations from individuals in the US,
is also providing food and clothes to the poor and conducting
"We are spending Rs.5-6 lakh for construction of each school
building and spending another Rs.2 lakh on the maintenance," said
Ahsan Syed, a retired engineer with US Army Corps of Engineers,
who now delivers sermons at a mosque in Santa Clara.
The organization is at present working only in Andhra Pradesh, but
it is receiving requests from other states like Assam, Bihar,
Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra to undertake similar projects. "We
don't have resources and people who can work in field," he said.
He believes that Muslims not just in villages in India but across
the world face the same problems. "Deprived of education and
living in utter poverty, they have moved away from Islam and as a
result they are being exploited by Christian missionaries," he
"We are teaching basics to them, creating the fear of God in them.
We tell them that this world is temporary, everybody has to die
and there is 'Akhirat' (hereafter) and everybody will be
questioned about his deeds."
The IMRC also has a proposal to extend micro loans to the poor in
Andhra Pradesh villages.
"After 'Iman Billah' (belief in Allah), the biggest intellect is
serving people. This is built in for us," explains Ahsan, who had
migrated to the US from Hyderabad in 1967.
An expert of 'Iqbaliyat' (studies of poet-philosopher Allama
Muhammad Iqbal), Ahsan believes the young generation of Muslim
Indian Americans are not aware of the problems of their brethren
in India. He attributes this to the problems faced by the
youngsters in maintaining their own identity in the US.
"They (the young Muslim Indian Americans) are the best Muslims at
the international level. We hope that on world stage they will
bring glory to Islam," said Ahsan, who teaches Iqbaliyat to youth.
Ahsan is also on the board of trustees of the Indian American
Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group which informs the US
Congress and the US President about the conditions of Indian
Muslims. He claims the biggest achievement of IAMC was the
cancellation of diplomatic visa of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra
"It is not a pressure group. It is an advocacy group. We work with
Hindus and Christians. We tell them we share the same problems. If
a man is poor, we don't see whether he is Hindu, Muslim or
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)