New Age Islam Edit Desk
Maulana Ghulam Ahmad Vastanvi’s appointment as Vice-Chancellor of the Darul Uloom Deoband last week has been marred by controversies. First, voices were raised against him being non-Qasmi that is not belonging to the institution. A section of the Qasmi fraternity criticized this move of the majlis-e-Shura who elected him, asking if there was a dearth of qualified and talented persons among the Qasmi fraternity. The Jamaat-e-Ulema Hind, a lesser known organisation has demanded his removal from the post and given the Majlis-e-Shura 10 days’ time. They have threatened to launch a movement against him if their demand was not met.
But there is also a section of Deoband ulema and intellectuals who support him and hope that under an MBA professional that Maulana Vastanvi is, the Darul Uloom will see new heights of technical and professional progress among its students. Among the supporters are the editor of Milli Gazette, Dr Zafarul Islam Khan and the editor of Darul Uloom Deoband’s mouth piece Tarjuman, Maulana Waris Mazhari who is known for his secular outlook and moderate views on religious and social issues. In a meeting held by the Ibna-e-Qadeem, Darul Uloom Deoband (Old Boys), Maulana Waris Mazhari, Maulana Badruzzaman Kairanvi, Maulana Fareeduzzaman Kairanvi, Maulana Mohammad Khalidul Qasmi and others hailed Maulana Vastanvi’s appointment as the muhtamim of Darul Uloom Deoband and expressed hope that Darul Uloom will benefit from his experience as an administrator of madrasas and his vision as a professional. They noted that Maulana Vastanvi was the founder of Madrasa Ishaatul Uloom in Maharashtra in which 12 thousand students study. Moreover, he has been patronising and supervising hundreds of educational institutions all over the country.
However, Maulana Vastanvi seems to have more detractors than well wishers. He came in the thick of a controversy when and e-mail was circulated showing him presenting a framed picture of the Hindu deities Krishna and Radha to a political leader of Gujarat. The email also said that once he said to another aalim, ‘Mian is duniya ka sabse bada permeshwar paisa hai.’ (Man, the most powerful god in this world is money.)
This issue was reportedly raised in the meeting of the Majlis-e-Shura and Maulana Vastanvi had defended himself by saying that he was only standing in a corner (meaning he did not even touch the picture). But now when the pictures have been circulated showing him with the picture, he is saying that it was not a picture but a memento and the memento had a small picture in a corner. When the correspondent of an Urdu daily asked for his explanation, Maulana Vastanvi said that last year there was an Eid Milan programme in which he had to hand over a memento to a minister of Maharashtra. The memento had a picture in it. He sarcastically said that the ‘well-wishers’ of Darul Uloom had found some stuff against him and they could write or publish whatever they could, it would not make any difference to him. He further said that he was made the Vice-Chancellor of such a grand organisation only with the will of Allah and those who were maligning the Darul Uloom would be held accountable by Allah.
On the other hand, the supervisor of Mother Academy, Deoband and advocate Arshad Ali Khan has made some statements suggesting that Maulana Vastanvi’s appointment was done at the behest of Ahmad Patel. It means that the decision was influenced by the Congress and the central government. He said, “One allegation against the Majlis-e-Shura is that now it is dominated by politicians and the rich, and academicians and scholars have taken a back seat. Maulana Badruddin Ajmal and Maulana Vastanvi have been accused of using money power.” He further said that the Majlis-e-Shura ignored the views of the Elders of the community like Maulana Mahmood Hussain Madani, Maulana Rabey Husni Nadvi, Janab Maulana Md Talha, Maulana Syed Arshad Madani, Maulan Usman Mansoorpuri and elected the Vice-Chancellor. Significantly, Maulana Vastanvi is pro-Madrasa Board which the Centre wants to persuade madrasas in India to adopt. Darul Uloom Deoband had opposed the proposed Central Madrasa Board.
But hardly had the controversy about the Krisna-Radha picture died down before Maulana courted another controversy. This time he provided more ammunition to his detractors by praising Narendra Modi in an interview given to the Times of India. He reportedly said that under Modi all the sections (including Muslims) were prospering in Gujarat and there was no discrimination against the minorities in the state. This sparked widespread protests condemning his ‘most significant endorsement of Modi’.
Maulana Syed Mohammad Wali Rehmani, head of Khankahe Rehmania, Munger and Vice President of All India Majlise Mushawerat said that Maulana Vastanvi’s comments were far from reality and lacked credibility. Shahi Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari condemned his statement demanding an apology to Muslims for his unfortunate statements. It should be recalled here that Syed Ahmad Bukhari was the brain behind the Vajpayee Himayat Committee supporting the party which was behind the Gujarat pogrom.
Reacting to Maulana’s statements in support of Modi, Director of Markazul Maarif, Mumbai Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi said his views were rubbish and far from reality. He further said that since he belonged to Gujarat where he runs a number of institutions, he might be in need of help from the state government and that’s why he might be making such statements. He can do that in his personal capacity but as the VC of Darul Uloom Deoband he should refrain making such statements.
It seems that controversies are following Maulana Vastanvi wherever he goes and his detractors are baying for his blood asking for his removal. Let’s wait and watch what turn things take in the days to come.