Jamait-Ulama-i-Hind: Chidambaram only partly right
by Hari Om on 08 Nov 2009 4 Comments

Addressing the 30th general session of the Jamait-Ulama-i-Hind (JuH) at the Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband seminary, founded in 1867 by Maulana Mohammad Qasim Nanwtawi, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said that the JuH opposed the two-nation theory and played an important role in the country’s struggle for freedom.

Chidambaram was partly right and partly wrong. He was right when he said that the JuH opposed the British rule, as also the two-nation theory aimed at dividing the nation. He was wrong when he gave it full marks, virtually saying that the approach of the JuH was liberal, all-embracing and secular. This was not the case.

The JuH all along believed in wholesale conversions and wanted to re-establish Islamic rule in India. Its entry into the Indian freedom struggle and its insistence on territorial and united nationalism, as opposed to religious nationalism, was just tactical.      

It needs to be underlined that the JuH, which came into being in 1919 as a political organ of the Deoband School to join the Turkey-centric Khilafat Movement, opposed the two-nation theory because it believed that the division of India and creation of Pakistan would defeat its ultimate objective of converting the non-believers and re-establishing Islamic rule in all of India.

To be more precise, its arguments against the two-nation theory were: “The Pakistan demand has British backing; Pakistan will split and therefore weaken Muslim India; Muslims left behind in India after separation will be at the mercy of the Hindus; partition will hinder the missionary activities of the Ulema; Muslim League leaders are ignorant of Islam, have no ideology, and are only exploiting the name of Islam for the worldly gains of Muslim vested interests; and Muslim League leaders are incapable of building up an Islamic state and their Pakistan will be no better than the Turkey of Mustafa Kamal.”

What were the stated aims and objectives of the Deoband seminary and its political outfit, the Jamait-Ulama-i-Hind? Their aims and objectives were “to defend Islam, Islamic rituals and customs, and Islamic nationalism against all odds injurious to them; achieve and protect the general religious and national rights of the Muslims; establish good and friendly relations with the non-Muslims of the country to the extent permitted by the Shariat-i-Islamiyah; fight for the freedom of the country and religion according to the Shari objectives.”   

The meaning of the unambiguous arguments advance by the JuH against the two-nation theory, and the implications of its stated aims and objectives do not warrant any reflection. For everything is self-explanatory. Even a naïve would take no time to conclude that the intentions of the JuH were neither noble nor secular, and that it simply wanted to give a particular type of orientation to things in India, political or otherwise.

The attitude of the JuH has not undergone any change whatsoever. Both JuH and the Deoband School were “intellectually sterile” before 1947, and they continue to remain so even today. They still believe in conservatism and out-dated and “old-fashioned disciplines.” Their approach continues to be as sectarian as it adopted at the time of their formation. They have no regard for teachings other than those of the Hanafi School of theology. They continue to oppose even today the Barelvis and Ahl-i-Hadith, leave alone the non-believers like the Hindus and Sikhs and their religions. They are simply “competent in theological hair-spitting” and in “expounding the orthodoxies of their particular sect.” And they continue to cherish the desire of achieving their goals set at the time of their inception.

That JuH and the Deoband School have not changed a wit can be seen from JuH’s 3 November 2009 endorsement of Deoband’s 2006 Fatwa directing Muslims not to sing the national song Vande Mataram, as according to the Deoband School, singing the national song is an anti-Islamic act.

P Chidambaram, who committed a grave fax pas by attending the JuH-sponsored conference, would do well to study the nature and aims of the Deoband Movement and the JuH. He must hit the nail on the head and say what is right and what is wrong. Such an approach on the part of the people at the helm has become imperative in view of the activities indulged in by outfits like the JuH, which only produce indoctrinated jihadis. His explanation that the anti-Bande Mataram resolution was not adopted in his presence is just not enough.                         

The author is Chair Professor, Gulab Singh Chair, Jammu University, Jammu



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