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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Advent of 15th Century Hijra (November 10, 1980)

Around the 4th year of the caliphate of Hazrat Umar may God be pleased with him) he took the momentous decision in his capacity as Khalifat ul Muslameen to link the Muslim era with one of the most notable event in. the life of the Prophet of Islam. This event in popular parlance is referred to as the Hijra by which term, of course, is meant the event of the prophet leaving Mecca, his home town, for a distant place that afterwards came to be called Madinatun Nabi or City of the Prophet — Madina for short. The real significance of the event lies in the fact that the Prophet, in order to fulfil his mission of disseminating the divine message to mankind, had to undergo the supreme sacrifice of giving up all his contacts with Mecca, that is to say, the world where he had lived, moved and had his being and had to undertake an arduous journey to a distant and unfamiliar place in order to fulfil his mission. It is that act of sacrifice symbolized by the event of founder of Islam leaving Mecca for Madina which lies at the head of Muslim culture and has served for the succeeding generations of Muslims as stimulus to enable them to transcend their narrow, petty personal purposes with a view to working for a larger divine purpose. The message of the Hijra is that when the call of duty so demands Muslims should be prepared to give up everything that they haveeven their contacts with their hearth and home or with their kith and kin to explore the possibility of being able to do the noble work which they are called upon by their faith to accomplish.
The end of one century of the Hijra calendar and the beginning of another marks the occasion for the renewal of every Muslim’s triple-fold commitment to the fundamental beliefs, tenets and concepts of Islam, to the strengthening of the Ummah’s unity and to the re-emergence of a dynamic Muslim civilization in order to promote true equality, justice, universal peace, progress and happiness for all man-kind. The Hijra Centenary is not an Eid or an occasion for religious ritual — it is primarily a time for critical reappraisal and cultural regeneration. The occasion of the turn of the Hijra Century is part and parcel of the onward march of history in which the future role of Islam is as important as its role in the past. Right now, the Ummah have to evaluate their role in the future to achieve its objective.
The Hijra Centenary Commemorations will help to create among Muslims an awareness that they have, throughout history, been in the vanguard of socio-economic change and innovation as a spiritual, moral and cultural force that for the greater part of recorded history Muslims have been the chief source of civilized behaviour in all fields of human endeavour.
The Hijra Centenary Commemorations will help to create among the Muslims a sense of history together with a sense of destiny which proclaims that, despite the recent past, the next phase of history will witness the re-emergence of Islam as a living, dynamic and growing civilization.
The Hijra Centenary Commemorations will help to spread the message of Islam and to encourage direct and purposeful studies of Islam in all major languages. It will also ensure the participation of Muslims in all countries and a tall levels in the celebrations. The Hijra Centenary Commemorations will also be an occasion to inspire Muslim scholars, students, authors, creative thinkers, journalists, artists and publishers to attain higher levels of excellence in their fields in the service of Islam.
The Sixth Islamic Foreign Ministers’ Conference held in Jeddah, on 12-15 July, 1975, decided to celebrate the beginning of the fifteenth century Hijra throughout the world and asked the Secretary-General to prepare studies and proposals in this connection. Consequently, the Seventh Islamic Foreign Ministers’ Conference held in Istanbul on 12-15 May, 1976, set up a twelve-state preparatory committee for the Hijra Centenary Year Commemorations. Pakistan is a member of this Committee.
The Preparatory Committee held three sessions in 1977 under the chairmanship of H.E. Fouad Al-Khatib, representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. After carefully considering the report of the Committee of Experts appointed by the Secretary-General which met in London on 23-27 July, 1976, under the chairman-ship of Mr. Salem Azzam, Secretary-General, Islamic Council of Europe, the Preparatory Committee made recommendations to the Eighth Islamic Foreign Ministers’ Conference held in Tripoli, Libya, considered the resolution adopted by the Seventh Islamic Foreign Ministers’ Conference and the programme laid down by the Preparatory Committee and approved the programme with its budget for celebrating the advent of 15th Century Hijra. In view of the decisions and recommendations of the Islamic Foreign Ministers’ Conferences from time to time, the Council of Advisers, in their meeting held on 30th April, 1978, decided to form a National Committee in Pakistan to chalk out a befitting programme for the celebrations. A general body meeting of the Pakistan National Committee met on 5th November, 1979, under the chairmanship of Gen. Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, President of Pakistan and approved the National Programme, which includes the following projects:
1. Establishment of a Literacy Commission.
2. A Mass Contact Drive.
3. Establishment of an Islamic University with a Difference.
4. Publication of an Islamic Atlas.
5. Holding of an International Conference on the Contribution of Islam to Human Civilization and Culture.
6. Holding of an International Conference on Science in Islamic Polity — its Past, Present and Future.
7. Exhibition of Photographs and Calligraphy.
8. Publication of a book “Muslim World Today”.
9. Issue of Stamps, Coins, etc.v 10. An International Muslim Jurists’ Conference.
11. Construction of Hijra Manzils.
12. Seminars at Universities.
13. Youth Festivals.
14. Lecture Series.
15. Publication of a book on Islam in South Asia.
16. Holding of a Symposium on Islamic Arts, Architecture and Archaeology.
17. Holding of a National Conference of Muslim Women.
18. Publication of books for children.
19. Holding of a Symposium on Islam and Science.
20. Collection of books, reprints, translation, etc.
21. Preparations of documentary films.
22. Institution of Hijra Prize.
23. Institution of Hijra Medal.
24. Holding of a Seerat Colloquium.
25. Historical and Cultural Research.
Besides, the Provincial Governments have their own programme of celebrations based on their local environments.
The national programme will run concurrently with the international programme being implemented by all the Islamic Governments.
The Muslims at one time were at the pinnacle of glory. They lost their destiny because they lost the spirit of research and inquiry. After centuries of slumber the Muslim nations are stirring up. The sense of Islamic solidarity — one of the manifestations of their re-emergence — has been gaining momentum during the last and the present century. “Let us”, as exhorted by President Mohammad Zia—ul-Haq in his address to the nation on 19th November, 1979, “on the advent of the ‘15th Century Hijra, resolve to dedicate our lives to the glory and greatness of Islam. We should create a society where social justice prevails, where there is no poverty and ignorance, where honesty and hard work are pursued and where research and a spirit of inquiry prevail. Let us all turn to Allah and pray that He may bless our efforts with success.
To commemorate the Advent of 15th Century Hijra, Pakistan Post Office is issuing three postage stamps of 40P, Rs. 2/- and Rs. 3/ denominations and a Souvenir Sheet of Rs. 4/- denomination on the 1st Moharramul-Haram, 1401 Hijra.
The Souvenir Sheet is valid for the pre-payment of postage.