New Age Islam
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Current Affairs ( 27 Jul 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Real Story: Why was Reformist Maulana Vastanvi Sacked from Deoband?

By Dr. Ved Pratap Vaidik

Translated by Arman Neyazi,

Removal of Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi from Deoband is being taken as the victory of Muslim extremism as well as defeat of secularism in certain sections of the society. What else could have been expected from a Muslim seminary like Dar ul Uloom, Deoband is also being asked. How could they have tolerated a free thinker like Maulana Vastanvi. All the Muslim Madrasas wish to make their students a captive of 7th/ 8th century Arab life. Had Vastanvi remained the V C he would have transformed this 150 years old ‘old fort’ in a Convent or a Computer Training Institute.

All these arguments and fears are baseless. First thing is that Maulana Vastanvi is also as authoritative and pure Muslim scholar as any good Muslim can be. He never said that he is a secular-minded person. Majlis e Shoura of Deoband all of a sudden appointed him its Vice Chancellor. He was not a candidate of any particular leader or political party. He had been appointed by them on their own. He had not tried for it. He was a member of this Shoura for the last ten years. He had been imparting exemplary education and training to the children of Gujarat and Maharashtra for some time.

His only fault is that he does not belong to Uttar Pradesh and how can a person from Gujarat be appointed a Vice Chancellor of this great Islamic madrasa.  Controversies started piling up against him right from the very first day of his appointment. The people who take Deoband as their family estate opened a front from the very first day and Vastanvi fell prey to the politics of chair.

Even if Vastanvi had not given any statement in favour of Narendra Modi, one or the other excuse would have been brought forth to defeat him. He got trapped for his statement on Narendra Modi. He is not the first person to get trapped on this account. There is a long list of it. Amitabh Bachchan, Anna Hazare, Rajeev Gandhi Foundation, a higher ranked Army officer, S P and some leaders of CPM have also borne the brunt of such a charge from secularists. They also have only stated what they had seen in Gujarat vis-a-vis Muslims who have progressed in Modi’s government. Sachar Commission has also said this about the Muslims there. Main point which would have made the Shoura angry, is, how did Vastanvi ask Muslims to forget post-Godhra massacres and move forward. In fact not only for Muslims but for all the nationalists the massacre of Gujarat is impossible to forget and Vastanvi was the V C of Deoband and a Muslim and a Maulvi himself. It was very difficult for the Muslims to tolerate it and this is what became his undoing.

But Majlis-e-Shoura should have thought why Vastanvi had asked Muslims to forget Gujarat in the first instance. Was it to declare Narendra Modo innocent? Had Vastanvi any secret deal with BJP or RSS? No. Not at all. Then, why did he say so? There could be only one reason behind it and that is that he wished the good of Muslims. He was misunderstood. And this is why not only some Muslims of Dar ul Uloom, Deoband, but also many other educated Muslims got sympathy for him.

Whose loss is Vastanvi’s removal from Deoband? Is it Vastanvi’s? As far as Vastanvi is concerned he became famous as an intellectual all over the nation. Now he is accepted even among the non-Muslims. On the basis of this new-found fame, now he will take his Gujarat and Maharashtra Madrasas to further new heights.  He will find favour and sympathy of all the sections of the society.

Vastanvi’s removal is the loss of Deoband. Its outstanding and excellent image has got a beating. If we leave aside some of its fatwas related to the women, one can say it has had a glorious past. Deoband had started Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind to counter jinnah’s Muslim League. It was against the formation of Pakistan. It had declared India as “Dar-ul-Aman” and had refused to accept it as “Dar-ul-Harab”. It had stood against the Fatwa of ‘killing Salman Rushdie”. It has called ‘terrorist acts’ as anti Islamic. It has declared that there is no difference between Baba Ramdev’s Yoga and Islam.

This fair image of Deoband has certainly got a beating by this Vastanvi episode. Had Deoband been totally obscurantist, why would it have appointed Vastanvi its Vice Chancellor in the first place? Dar ul Uloom did not say while removing Vastanvi that it considers his way of working and thoughts anti Islamic hence it will not be right to take Deoband as an antiquated institution. It may be a little easier to work on Vastanvi agenda under the leadership of Maulana Abul Quasim Nomani. Vastanvi can always guide it as a member of Shoura. For Indian Muslims Deoband is still a minaret of light. It has got a dark spot from the removal of Vastanvi but who can stop ‘the sun from shining’.