Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The appointment of an 'outsider' as head of Deoband's Darul Uloom sparks a debate in one of Islam's leading centres of learning

The man from gujarat

An air of discontent hangs over Darul Uloom (literally meaning a house of learning) in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh. An 'outsider' has been appointed mohtamim (rector) of the famed Islamic institution and a section of clerics is openly articulating its concerns over the 'negative' implications of the move.

The new appointment was necessitated due to the demise on December 8, 2010 of the seminary's mohtamim, Maulana Marghoob-ur-Rahman, an eminent Islamic scholar. On January 10, the executive council of the institution named Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Ismail Vastanvi, a Gujarati businessman and cleric, as the new rector.

The mohtamim wields great authority over the institution and considerable influence over the community. Thus the post is of great political and social significance. This is, incidentally, only the second time in independent India that Darul Uloom has witnessed a change of guard. The institution was established in 1866.
The controversy surrounding Maulana Vastanvi's appointment is a case of history repeating itself. In 1982, during Indira Gandhi's reign, the then rector Maulana Qari Mohd Tayyab Deobandi had to make way for Maulana Marghoob-ur-Rehman when he opposed the executive council's decision to declare Darul Uloom a 'cultural and secular' seat of learning.

Dr Obaid Iqbal Asim of Deoband describes Maulana Vastanvi's appointment as a “decision taken in great haste”. He says: “Every institution has its own character. Darul Uloom is no exception. All the previous rectors had been Qasmis (graduates of Darul Uloom). They had an intrinsic understanding of the institution's ways. Maulana Vastanvi is a non-Qasmi. It will be difficult for him to grasp the basic character of Darul Uloom.”

Dr Asim alleges that money played an important role in this decision. “The strong financial position of Maulana Vastanvi influenced the move,” he says. “Members of the executive council might have thought that Maulana Vastanvi could bring more money to the Darul Uloom.”

A senior Darul Uloom cleric, on condition of anonymity, says: “Ours is not a mere educational institution. It represents an entire school of thought. It should be headed by someone who is deeply immersed in its ethos.” This cleric's worry is that Maulana Vastanvi's liberal outlook might be at odds with Darul Uloom's core principles. He, too, suspects that Vastanvi's money power swayed the executive council.

Dr Asim minces no words. “It is against the basic tenets of Darul Uloom to look towards rich people to run the institution. It was established with public contributions. One very important principle that Hazrat Nanautavi proposed for Darul Uloom was trust in Allah and the support of the people, no matter how poor they might be.”

A member of Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind raises another issue. He says: “Maulana Vastanvi is a busy man. He runs Jamia Islamia Ishatul Uloom, Akalkuan, Maharashtra, 20 BUMS and engineering colleges and 15 educational institutions for women. Moreover, he belongs to Gujarat. He might not be able to devote enough time to Darul Uloom.”

Maulana Vastanvi's political connections are well known. On the way back to Gujarat after being elected the mohtamim of Darul Uloom, he met senior politician Haji Shahid Akhlaq in Meerut and a veteran Congress leader in Delhi. There can be no denying that there is deep-rooted support for him within the community as well as in the political establishment.

Indeed, Maulana Vastanvi's appointment is being hailed in certain quarters. Says Badar Kazmi, vice president of Majlis Amal: “Those that are criticising the decision are people who want to use Darul Uloom for their political ends.”

Kazmi says: “Maulana Vastanvi is a graduate from Mazahirul Uloom of Saharanpur, which is an important institution of the Deobandi school of thought. He has also been a member of the executive council of Darul Uloom for ten years. So he knows the institution very well.”

Kazmi emphasises that Maulana Vastanvi has the vision and resources to establish modern educational institutions without distorting the historical and religious character of Darul Uloom. The executive council might have kept this in mind while electing him.”

He adds: “This decision has sparked new hope among students and staff members. In the next ten years, we will witness revolutionary changes in Darul Uloom.”

Despite the fact that the newly elected rector is a businessman with a strong financial base and also enjoys close proximity with several senior politicians, the sailing was not as smooth as expected. Fourteen of the 17 members of the executive council were present during the meeting. Only eight members were in Maulana Vastanvi's favour.

It is being said that the presence of three members and particularly of Maulana Raabe Hasani Nadvi would have changed the situation. One group feels that in that situation the scales would have tilted in favour of Maulana Arshad Madni. The general mood in Deoband is in favour of Maulana Madni, who is widely respected by students and the staff. He also happens to be a relative of the new rector.

The transition hasn't been smooth. Hence Maulana Vastanvi will be under pressure to dispel the misgivings about him, especially those that link his appointment to his wealth. Not only will he have to live up to the financial expectations – the annual budget approved for this financial year by the executive council is Rs 17.79 crore – he will also have to work doubly hard to prove that he possesses other more crucial credentials for the job.

For More IIPM Info, Visit below mentioned IIPM articles.
IIPM ranks No 1 in International Exposure in the 'Third Mail Today B-School Survey'
Management Guru Arindam Chaudhuri Dean Business School IIPM
IIPM Excom Prof Rajita Chaudhuri
Kapil Sibal’s voters want Jan Lokpal, not Government-proposed Lokpal Bill
IIPM: What is E-PAT?
"Thorns to Competition" amongst the top 10 best sellers of the week.
'Thorns to Competition' - You can order your copy online from here
IIPM Mumbai Campus

No comments: