Dr. Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi Sambhali | Caravan Daily
TODAY, our country is facing myriad problems. Growing unemployment, galloping inflation and depreciation of rupee to new lows, all these indicate that our economy is worsening by the day. But for Muslims, all that matters, in the wake of worsening communal atmosphere in the country, is their own security and survival as a community with dignity.
Ummah-e-Muslimah (Muslim community) is divided due to internal differences and dissentions because of which anti-Muslim forces seem to have been successful in their nefarious designs. There is scope for dissent in Islam. But infighting within the community, no matter what, is prohibited. Allah says in the Holy Quran: “Do not fight among yourselves, or else you will become cowards and your dignity will fade.” (Surat Al-Anfal 46).
Today, some unscrupulous vested interest groups in the country don’t miss an opportunity to denigrate Islam and Muslims. We won’t be able to defend ourselves from the malicious propaganda unleashed by these Islamophobic forces unless we are united. Therefore, it’s time we set our differences aside and present a united front to take on our detractors rather than fight among ourselves.
When Maulana Arshad Madani, president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, met Mohan Bhagwat, the head of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), some so-called Muslim leaders who have personal differences with the maulana started criticising him ignoring the fact that the he neither met him covertly nor did he claim to have resolved any issue pertaining to the community during the meeting.
Through his meeting with the RSS chief, the maulana only sought to open a door of communication with the rightwing Hindu outfit in a bid to restore communal harmony between the two major religions of the country. Of course, we have strong differences with the RSS over its track record as a Muslim baiting rightwing organisation. But in the current scenario, communal harmony is vital to safeguard mutual interests of both the communities and ensure unity of the country.
In a country like India where innumerable issues are posing grave threat to the social fabric of the nation, interfaith dialogue is the only option to resolve mutual differences and secure lasting peace. Hence, it is imperative that our scholars and intellectuals come forward to offer their services to end the years of hatred.
The Jamiat Ulama Ulama-i-Hind has been offering numerous services to the Indian people, especially the minorities. Here, let’s have a recap on the journey of this great organisation.
It’s more than 100 years since Indian ulama (Islamic scholars) proposed to set up a platform for Muslims at the instance of Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmood Hasan Deobandi, father of the Silk Letter Movement who was the first student of Darul Uloom Deoband and the founder of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. Thus, the organisation established on November 19, 1919 was named Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind and Mufti Kifayatullah was elected its first president.
At that time, the main aim of the Jamiat was to free the country from the shackles of imperialistic British Empire. Hence, the primary objective of the organisation was to launch a movement for independence of the country apart from solving religious, social and political problems of Indian Muslims. Today, the membership of this oldest and largest organisation of Indian Muslims goes into millions. There are innumerable local and state branches of the Jamiat across the country.
The Jamiat Ulama made unparalleled sacrifices for the independence of the country over a period of 28 years. The Jamiat, along with the Indian National Congress (INC), fought the British till the attainment of freedom from the oppressive and exploitative foreign regime in 1947. During the independence struggle, both Muslims and Hindus fought against the foreign masters shoulder to shoulder and made enormous sacrifices for the country.
The role of the Jamiat in the freedom struggle is indeed unforgettable. However, the anti-Muslim and anti-national elements today are trying to push all the sacrifices of Muslims, especially the Ulama, for the country under the carpet. It is, therefore, the duty of the educated among us to acquaint the new generation with the sacrifices of the Muslims in the struggle for freedom. Our sacrifices are second to none. In fact, the dream of freedom could not come true without the generous contribution of Muslims. And hence, our stakes over the country are unquestionable.
After the independence, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind refrained from the electoral politics and devoted itself to the educational, reformative, welfare and preaching activities. It did not mean that the Jamiat wanted to keep Muslims away from politics.
In the run-up to partition, the Jamiat had thought the majority community would unite against the Muslim League and defeat the forces of Muslim separatism on every front. However, the forces of separatism succeeded in their designs and the country was split. After the partition of the country on the basis of religion, Muslims in India were reduced to the status of a minority. Ever since, the Jamiat is engaged in service of the community. It devised its policy and programs to train Muslims with farsightedness rather than on impulse so that they could become practicing Muslims equipped with the power of knowledge and learning. Furthermore, it worked towards representation of Muslims in legislatures while preventing the anti-Muslim elements from achieving their divisive agenda.
For almost 72 years after the attainment of independence, the Jamiat truly represented the Indian Muslims and always emphasised on the need for a positive approach to all their issues. The biggest problem of Muslims after partition was to protect their faith as a considerable number of Muslims had migrated from some states of northern India to Pakistan. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad had said, “If you successfully protected the faith of Muslims, you really did a great service in India.”
The Jamiat made every possible effort to remove the educational backwardness of Muslims. It did not only stress on the religious education of Muslims but also has been providing poor students with the opportunity to acquire modern education by giving them scholarships.
The Jamiat has built hundreds of houses for the victims of communal riots in the rural areas of Muzaffar Nagar and Shamli districts of Uttar Pradesh. Besides, the organisation is always in the forefront in helping the victims of floods, cyclones, earthquake or other natural calamities. Hundreds of thousands innocent Muslims are languishing behind bars due to lack of resources to access legal aid. Providing counsel to them has indeed been a matchless service of the Jamiat. Hundreds were released from prison, thanks to the continuous efforts of Jamiat, albeit after prolonged incarceration.
After the BJP coming to power in 2014, the problems of Indian Muslims have increased manifold. These problems are different from that the community faced earlier. Everyday a new issue is raised on purpose so that they (Muslims) remained trapped in these and won’t be able to tread the path of development. If one day it is the issue of Vande Mataram, another day it is the Suriya Namashkar. One day we hear a call to declare all Muslims terrorists, another day there would be criminal conspiracy to usurp the highest seat of learning for Muslims by ending its minority status.
Sometimes the madrassas, which have played a pivotal role in the freedom struggle, are singled out for campaign of calumny, at others Muslim youth are arrested on mere suspicion of their association with some or the other terrorist outfit. While other likeminded organisations are also engaged in providing legal aid to the hapless families, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has no match in its legal fight for the innocent Muslims youths.
It’s high time the Ulama led the community on the righteous path instead of expending their time and energy on trivial issues being raised with intent to divert attention from the real problems confronting the community. Along with religious education, the Muslims should be encouraged to pursue modern educations. If a Muslim youth, aalim (religious scholar), Islamic centre or educational institute is targeted, we all should unite setting aside our ideological differences and put up a strong defence. The interests of Muslims are best served only when the country remains united.
The views expressed in columns here are author’s personal and Caravan Daily does not necessarily subscribe to them.