3500 Madrasa Delegates Take Unanimous Decision
Muhamamdullah Khalili Qasmi
The leading Islamic seminary of India, Darul Uloom Deoband convened an All India General Meeting of Rabta Madaris Islamia Arabia (Board of Islamic madrasas) in Deoband on 13, 14 May 2007 Sunday and Monday, in a bid to build a consensus on the Ministry of HRD’s ‘Central Madrasa Board’ proposal. The General Meeting was attended by more than 3500 delegates of 3000 Islamic madrasas from all over the country and unanimously passed the resolution that the proposed Madrasa Board is against the spirit of Islamic madrasas, therefore it is unacceptable. The huge response that this meeting received belied the government’s claim that it enjoyed the support of majority of the madrasas in forming the Board.
The General Meeting will be remembered for years as it yielded presence of so many great scholars from all across the country even those who have some ideological differences among them. Darul Uloom Deoband tried to gather all of them on one platform to create consensus over the proposed Central Madrasa Board programme. The other biggest madrasas like Darul Uloom Waqf Deoband, Nadwatul Ulama Lucknow, Mazahir Uloom Saharanpur, Jamia Darus Salam Omarabad etc extended full support while Muslim socio-political organizations like Jamiat Ulama Hind, Muslim Personal Law Board, Milli Council, Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, Tanzim Abna-e-Qadeem etc came forward to back the initiative with full vigour and strength.
Interestingly the General Meeting enjoyed representation from major madrasas of all states of the country. The delegates were from Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Bihar, Bengal, Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Orissa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat, Cchattisgadh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
The meeting was held in three sessions in the grand marbled Rashid Mosque. The first session, on 13 May from 8 am to 12 pm, was presided over by Maulana Marghoobur Rahman, Mohtamim (Vice Chancellor) of Darul Uloom Deoband. The prominent participants who addressed the gathering were Maulana Muhammad Rabe Hasani (Nadwatul Ulama Lucknow), , Maulana Muhammad Salim Qasmi (Darul Uloom Waqf Deoband), Maulana Ghulam Rashool Khamosh (Gujrat), Maulana Nizamuddin General Secretary Muslim Personal Law Board, Maulana Mahmood Madani (General Secretary Jamiat Ulama Hind), Maulana Khalilur Rahman Sajjad Nomani (Lucknow), Maulana Ameeduz Zaman (Tanzeem Abna-e-Qadeem, Dlehi), Maulana Abdullah Mughisi (Meerut), Maulana Ghulam Muhammad Wustanwi (Maharashtra), Maulana Ashhad Rashidi (Madrasa Shahi Moradabad), Maulana Abul Aleem Farooqui (Lucknow), Maulana Burhanuddin Sambhali, Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani (Varansi), Maulana Rahmatullah (Jammu & Kashmir) etc.
Maulana Shaukat Ali Bastawi, the General Secretary of the Rabta, in his report, described the background of the meeting. After 9/11 attacks, the attention of media was drawn to Taliban regime in Afghanistan who were supposed to be trained in Deobandi madrasas of Pakistan. The then central government on India set up a Ministerial Group to monitor the madrasa activities in the country. The group expressed its concern over growing of madrasas especially at border areas and regarded them as dens of terrorism and fundamentalism. But, the fact was disgorged by Home Minister L K Advani when he faced a question in Parliament about the so-called criminal data of the madrasas. He confessed that the government has no record of any madrasa involved in terrorism. The NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee expressed its determination to set up a madrasa board and modernize the madrasa system. But for unknown reasons, it retreated and there was no further initiative taken in this regard. But, after transfer of power in 2004 when the reign of UPA came in Congress’s hand, the Ministry of Human Resources Development was entrusted to Mr Arjun Singh. According to its undeclared tradition, the Congress tried to fulfill the unfinished task of its predecessor. On 3 December 2006, the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutes convened a meeting under the supervision of HRD ministry and announced its plan of establishing central madrasa board. In response, the Executive Committee of Rabta Madaris held its meeting in Deoband and it expressed grave concerns over the proposal and warned the madrasas to shun supporting the board plan.
In his presidential address Maulana Marghoobur Rahman (VC of Darul Uloom Deoband and President of Rabta Madaris Islamia) said that the Central Madrasa Board proposal is a dangerous poison that aims at killing madrasas. If we will not be able to comprehend the gravity of the matter and reach a timely decision the coming time shall never forgive us. He added that these madrasas were founded to impart the education of Quran, Hadith and other Islamic Sciences, to preserve the Islam legacy and culture, to spread the Islamic values and ethics and defend the religion against all misunderstandings and misconceptions, and to produce sincere and dedicated servants of Islam who can preach the message of Islam to common masses. He counted several stalwarts and outstanding personalities that Darul Uloom Deoband produced in the past 150 years. According to him, the global powers are afraid of madrasas’ historic role; therefore they are conspiring to divert them from their right track. He concluded that Madrasa Board is a part of this international plot.
The Acting Mohtamim of Darul Uloom Deoband Maulana Ghulam Rasool Khamosh stated that we should deeply examine ourselves and assess our shortcomings. He said that mostly such circumstances come to remind us of our faults and give us a time to reform. Maulana Muhammad Salim Qasmi (Darul Uloom Waqf Deoband) said that under the disguise of modernization and reformation the proposal wants to kill the spirit the madrasas.
Maulana Muhammad Rabe Hasani (Nadwatul Ulama Lucknow) in his message said that madrasas are facing dangers and joint action is necessary, while Maulana Nizamuddin, Patna said that the anti-Islamic powers consider the madrasas a threat. But, the fact is that madrasas are preserving the Islamic identity and promoting national integrity and unity.
Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani (Varansi), said: The proposed Madrasa Board is an illusion and the promises made thereof are baseless. We should reject every offer and concentrate to rectify our internal system.
Maulana Ghulam Muhammad Wustanwi (Maharashtra) asserted that the madrasas should remain on the track which was laid down by our forefathers. There is a need to reform the internal system of madrasas and to establish part-time seminaries (maktabs).
Maulana Salman Mazahiri (Mazahir Uloom Saharanpur): First, the madrasas were threatened and persuaded and now they are appeased and shown the dream of handsome salaries. No madrasa board proposal is acceptable to us.
Maulana Ameeduz Zaman (Tanzeem Abna-e-Qadeem, Dlehi): We should keep distance from the Madrasa Board. This board is much more dangerous than the state madrasa boards in Bengal and Bihar, and this is not a local phenomenon but a part of a global conspiracy.
Maulana Arshad Madani, President of Jamiat Ulama Hind and Head of Education Department, Darul Uloom Deoband, said that the fate of the madrasas affiliated to state madrasa boards in Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Rajasthan is known to all. Their academic career is highly uncompetitive and below standard. He said that according to the Sachar Committee report, the madrasas have only 4% of Muslim children, the rest 96% either goes to school or remains uneducated. So, if the government is so sincere about Muslims it should pay attention to the larger majority of Muslim children and implement the other recommendations of Sachar Committee.
Maulana Khalilur Rahman Sajjad Nomani spoke in length and said that the treasure of Quran and Hadith is safe and secure only in the boundaries of these madrasas and any effort to change the key syllabus may be dangerous. Mufti Saeed Ahmad Palanpuri expressed his satisfaction that the madrasas will not be deluded and this madrasa board scheme will end in fiasco.
Maulana Burhanuddin Sambhali, Lucknow argued that the enemies of Islam, after long experimentations, have reached to a conclusion that the only way to rout out Islam is to dry up the sources from where it gains strength. As a result, they are trying hard to give a bad name to these centres of Islam and to eliminate them from the surface of the earth.
Maulana Mahmood Madani (General Secretary Jamiat Ulama Hind) his fiery speech said: The proposal of madrasa board is a Zionist plot and any such step to regulate the normal functioning madrasas will not be tolerated. It is our democratic right to establish madrasas and Islamic schools and we can never give it up. He added that the government should be worried about the schools and colleges instead of madrasas.
The speakers stressed at various topics ranging from transparency in accounts, rectification of madrasa system, modification in syllabus, raise the salary and hostel standard, establishing maktabs (part time seminaries mainly in mosques to teach basic Islamic tenets to Muslim children), need to affiliate to Rabta etc.
Owing to frequent conflicts arising about madrasas, Darul Uloom Deoband, being the mother of post 1857 Islamic madrasas, formed a joint platform of madrasas known as ‘Rabta Madaris Islamia Arabia’ (board of Islamic and Arabic madrasas) in 1995. The Board was established to achieve targets like forming a platform of madrasas to ward off conspiracies, discuss syllabus related matters and some other developmental issues. Though all the mainstream madrasas of the country are informally associated to Darul Uloom Deoband, but the formally affiliated madrasas are nearly 1500. The madrasas having Arabic classes are considered eligible to join this amalgam.
In the concluding meeting on 14 May Sunday, the General Meeting passed resolution against Central Madrasa Board proposal and expressed their resolve to oppose it. The resolution was supported by all the participants and some representatives of major madrasas came on the dais also to affirm the same.
The next morning, the authorities of Darul Uloom Deoband cheered up to read the first headline in Urdu daily Hindustan Express that the Government has no plan of establishing Central Madrasa Board. This view was expressed by HRD ministry in response to SP leader Shaihd Siddiqui’s question in Parliament regarding the proposed board.
Muhammadullah Khalili Qasmi can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org