By Hari Om
15 March 2016
The aims and objectives of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind should put things in perspective for Sonia Gandhi, who recently praised the organisation for its ‘contribution’ towards the country’s freedom struggle. It's time to call Jamiat’s bluff
On March 12, All India Congress Committee president Sonia Gandhi attacked the Narendra Modi Government (without naming it) and vouched for secularism, the Leftist-style. She also asserted that India was passing through a “critical phase as those in power are spreading hatred”.
In addition, she hailed the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (association of the divines of India) as a genuinely patriotic association and also commended its contribution to the country’s freedom struggle along with the Congress.
In fact, Sonia Gandhi sent a written message to this effect to the attendees of the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind-organised ‘National Integration Conference’, and it was read on her behalf in the Rajya Sabha by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The conference was organised in Delhi, in which many Congress and Left leaders participated and spoke on the Muslim issue, on the ongoing debate on nationalism versus intolerance and on the need to further promote secularism of their own variety.
Sonia Gandhi was partly right and partly wrong when she commended the contribution of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind to the country’s freedom struggle along with the Congress. She was partly right when she said that the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind participated in the freedom struggle along with the Congress, but she was wrong when she appreciated its role in the freedom struggle without pointing out its real intention.
Perhaps, she was not aware of the real intentions of the Deobandi Ulama. Or perhaps, her political advisors didn’t tell her as to what was the ultimate objective of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind.
The Deoband divines, who, in 1867, founded the Darul-Uloom (house of learning) at Deoband in the Saharanpur district of the then United Provinces, under the guidance of Muhammad Qasim Nanawtawi, as a counterpoise to Syed Ahmad Khan’s West-oriented Aligarh movement, to advance the Hanafi school of theology and impart instructions in Islamic history and other old-fashioned disciplines, set up the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind in 1919 to play a “more important role in the Khilafat movement and enter the political field in their own right”.
The aims and objectives of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind were to defend Islam, Islamic rituals and customs, and Islamic nationalism against all odds injurious to them; to achieve and protect the general religious and national rights of the Muslims; to establish good and friendly relations with the non-Muslims of the country to the extent permitted by the Shariat-i-Islamiya; and to fight for the freedom of the country and religion according to the Shari’ah objectives.
The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind gave unstinted support to the Congress as far as the cause of independence of India was concerned. It was its belief that the Muslim minority in India “need have no fear as once the British were gone, the Hindus would come to terms with it”.
In 1928, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind rejected the Motilal Nehru Committee report and withdrew from the movement. Its grouses against the Congress and the Nehru Committee report were two: Inadequate safeguards for the Muslims and the adoption by the Congress of the dominion status goal, instead of complete independence goal. The dominion status for India was not consistent with its “commitment to complete independence”. However, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind again turned to the Congress when it rejected the Dominion status objective and adopted ‘Puran Swarajya’ goal in December 1929 at Lahore under the presidentship of Jawaharlal Nehru. It also offered support to the Congress in 1937, when the latter organised its Muslim mass contact programme.
The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind was bitterly opposed to the Pakistan plan. Its arguments against the Muslim separatism were (1) The Pakistan demand has British support and is nothing but an instrument forged by them to further their policy of divide and rule (2) Pakistan will split and, therefore, weaken the Muslims in India (3) Muslims’ real enemy is British imperialism and their only duty to defeat it and only a united action can achieve this (4) Muslims left behind India after separation will be at the mercy of the Hindus (5) Partition will hinder the missionary activities of the Ulema (6) 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 (7) Muslim League leaders are incapable of building up an Islamic State and their Pakistan will be no better than the Turkey of Mustafa Kamal.
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