Wither Our Indian Muslim Leadership?

Why were Muslims directed in Bijnor to vote enbloc for a candidate, who had at least eleven cases, pending against him in court — including cases of murder, rape and of involvement in riots.
By Muhammad Adeeb
Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha)

Great Indian Freedom Fighter and religious scholar of high repute, Maulana Mehmood-ul-Hasan is known, the world over for his staunch and constant opposition to the British regime and his unmatched sacrifices for the nation. He was bestowed with the title of ‘Sheikhul-Hind’ (to be simply translated as Master of the Nation). He was imprisoned by the British in Malta Islands, hence, he became popular as the ‘Prisoner of Malta’. He was one of the founders of Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, the foremost Religious and Social Organisation, which is one of the most organised Muslim Organisations in India, with a national network. Maulana Mehmood-ul-Hasan was succeeded by his close disciple, Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani, a great freedom fighter, in his own right. He was the Principal Teacher at Darul Uloom Deoband, the world famous Islamic University and President of Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind. He inherited the rich legacy of his mentor. He was aptly bestowed with the title of Sheikhul-Islam (simply translated as Master of Islamic Knowledge). The two — the teacher and his disciple — are the stalwarts, in the galaxy of great freedom fighters in our country.

Maulana Madani was an Islamic scholar of great stature. He taught Hadith (the Tradition of the Holy Prophet) for almost two decades in a seminary near the Holy Shrine of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) at Medina, the holy city in Saudi Arabia. It was a great honour indeed. Maulana Madani was respected for his scholarship, his wisdom and knowledge, all over the Muslim World and was foremost among religious scholars in India. Like all nationalist Muslims, led by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, he was staunchly opposed to the demand and creation of Pakistan. He also opposed the transfer of population and particularly of the brain drain from India to the newly created nation. Maulana Madani was instrumental in persuading great scholars, like Maulana Sheikh Zakariya and Maulana Abdul Qadir Raipuri to stay back in India, after independence. (It should be remembered that Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan had passed away, well before the partition of India).

Immediately after independence, Maulana Madani, in capacity of the President of Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, toured the whole country, extensively and established local branches of the organisation at all places and strengthened its network in a time of crisis. After Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani’s demise, his eldest son Maulana Asad Madani, a scholar of repute, in his own right, took the reins of Jamiat and inherited the legacy of his great father, as leader of the Muslim community in free India. He maintained all dignity and tradition of the organisation, till his last breath. He never allowed any moral irregularity or even an act, below the standard norms.

Following Maulana Asad Madani’s departure, his younger brother, Maulana Arshad Madani — a scholar, reputed teacher and the Director of Education at the Deoband seminary — was trusted by Jamiat elders to take charge of the organisation, as the new President. Indian Muslim Community en masse welcomed his elevation to the coveted position and eagerly looked towards his leadership for the safe navigation of the organisation, in particular and the whole Muslim society, in general, to shores of peace and tranquillity. In fact, people had pinned high hopes on his person and expected him to strengthen the organization further had been devotionally attached to Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi, the internationally acknowledged, esteemed Islamic scholar from Lucknow for years. After his demise, I was in search of a mentor for spiritual and moral guidance.

When I first came in touch with Maulana Arshad Madani, I thought, I had finally got a true guide to receive all inspiration in life and career. So, I kept visiting him regularly. Here, I take liberty to say that, as a modest politician and an ambitious social worker, with an aim to serve my community and nation, I had fully devoted myself to the cause, I kept close to my heart. In the meantime, Jamiat was bifurcated, due to a family rift and differences of approaches, though Maulana Arshad kept heading the larger faction. I was very much upset and disheartened to see the painful division of a historic organisation, without any logical or even proper reasons. However, I remained loyal to Maulana Arshad, with full devotion.

In fact, I always kept him in awe, being an staunch follower. As a member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), I continued the practice of raising all significant issues, concerning Muslim community, quite boldly and without any hesitation of any sort. I kept Maulana Arshad, well aware of my performance at the floor of the house, with minutest details and always sought his guidance, in good faith and in the larger interest of the community, nation and democracy. It is no secret that I have always fought the battle for safeguarding my community, fearlessly and all alone, against all odds. Be that ‘Enemy Property Issue, Waqf Bill, Madarsa Board Issue’ or any other sensitive matter, I made the crusade going.

I need not elaborate these things here, as it is too evident for all, thanks to extensive coverage in print media and exposure by electronic media. Ruling the roost in Jamiat, the Maulana, equipped with the organisation’s wide network, in the length and breadth of the country, could lead a movement, in support of significant national issues and for the protection of the Muslim interests, if he so willed, but unfortunately, it did not happen. I continued my struggle against the formation of the controversial Madarsa Board, as I believed (and still believe) that the controversial board, once in existence, would not only tarnish the very image of the Islamic religious institutions in the country but, ultimately the identity of religious scholars, produced by various seminaries would be lost for ever. The said board could not be formed but, I am sad that in the related movement, I saw no effort of the Muslim religious leadership (read Jamiat, led by Maulana Arshad) to get the Muslim masses involved and take them into confidence, in a practical manner. I again feel sorry to assert that in this context the cold attitude and ambiguous approach of Maulana Arshad towards Muslim issues, in general, were beyond my comprehension.

I failed to appreciate him on this count, but I did not heed much, as I held the larger interest of the community, above all things. Hence, I continued to attend his durbar as per habit and still kept him in high esteem. In fact, my sincerity and blind faith in Maulana’s leadership did not let me ideologically revolt against him, at any stage. By then, Maulana Arshad and his entourage had strengthened their roots in Delhi’s political hub and he, no more needed ‘modest’ people like me. So, he began to avoid me. Once convinced of his apathy and indifference, towards me, I also took my steps back slowly and a certain distance developed—between a committed follower and an unwilling leader. Being true to my conscience, I often blamed myself for some unintentional faults of mine, which might have corrupted Maulana’s mind, with regard to myself. But, I could never conclude anything, as there was no clue in my sight. I failed to understand, what had happened and what was happening. So, I did confine myself to my world and kept my mission going.

Kindly let me confess that I am an honest and sincere man to the core. I have no lust for power or money. My spotless political career would support my assertions. Since, my tenure as a member of the upper house was coming to close, and I still had the ambition, prowess and courage to serve my community and nation, further, so, I decided to contest for Lok Sabha, as an independent candidate. (Please note that I had aspired for the Rajya Sabha membership, independently and secured it). My well wishers and supporters from different parts of the country, too advised me to participate in the election, as a non-party contestant. They honestly felt that I should not leave the community in lurch or abandon my mission for our rights and justice, unaccomplished. The logic behind fighting all alone — sans any party affiliations—was that, in case of being a representative of any party, I would have to abide by its policy and commands — which could in some cases be against the larger interest of my own community — and follow their dictate to raise or not to raise any particular issue, howsoever important and timely or insignificant they could be.

In spite of my limitations and serious ailment, I submitted to the wishes of my elders and friends. I finally determined to enter the fray from Bijnor in UP. Incidentally, the riot stricken areas of Muzaffar Nagar, formed a part of the same constituency. During riots, I had personally visited the affected areas and helped victims get their cases registered and to provide them with all possible protection. I braved against hostility and partiality of the civil administration and the police personnel, in order to help the hurt and injured community, by all possible means. On the other hand, I raised the riot issue in the house regularly, with full force of my throat and moral courage.

Bijnor constituency had a weightage in my favour, as Muslims there formed a sizable chunk of the electorate (43% — precisely 6 lac 23 thousand). Hence, all Muslim leaders and religious heads advised me to test my luck from there only. In the context of our typical election trends and the general political attitude, it was a perfect situation for any one, with a background, like me, to fight the poll battle from there.

There is a good network of Islamic seminaries in western U.P, which could be helpful in my campaigning. To boost my morale, various teams of active supporters and campaigners, from all corners of the country reached Bijnor and worked for me. I personally approached each and every religious school to garner support. All religious heads and rectors of the seminaries, not only declared support for me, but they also mobilised the common public opinion in my favour, to a large extent. A sympathetic climate got created and I was quite encouraged to see the tide turning in my favour.

It was a simple arithmetical calculation that even if two lac Muslims voted en bloc in my name, I could easily sail through, as it was going to be a multi-cornered fight. Emboldened by the state of affairs, all my canvassers kept working religiously, day in and day out. Then, the situation, all of a sudden took a strange turn. Maulana Arshad Madani, coming to know of a massive support in my favour and of the intensive campaigning by various youth teams, from Aligarh, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad, took a drastic decision to see me defeated in the political battle field — reasons, being best known to him. In a strategic and well planned move, he hastily called a big conference, in the name of social reforms, on 7 April, 2014, in the afternoon.

All religious heads and scholars were invited to attend the event, which eventually turned into a conspiratory meeting, to resolve that Muhammad Adeeb should not be allowed to win at the hustings, at any cost. Not only that, Maulana Arshad stayed there for some timeand saw to it that no stone was left unturned, in a process to get me trampled. They stooped to the level that, their stooges went around in all villages and areas with Muslim dominance, to pronounce that Muhammad Adeeb was in fray, merely to get the Muslim vote split, to the benefit of communal forces. So, they tarnished the image of an innocent servant of the community. In a natural consequence, theMuslim vote got aimlessly divided, to the benefit of fascist forces.

Now, I call those in command in religious institutions and various seminaries and the religious scholars of the particular region, in general, to recall what they have actually done to harm the community and whether they have betrayed their brethren? I ask again, what is my fault? My only sin is that I have devoted forty precious years of mylife in service to my community, with all honesty and integrity and without any obvious rewards in sight. I have travelled throughout the country, in order to help the Muslim youths, dumped in various prisons, without committing any crime. And finally, I succeeded in getting most of them freed. Perhaps, I have been punished for my services, rendered to the community, by the ‘majestic’ leaders of the same community.

I need not repeat that public service was the motto of late Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani. He believed in working for the welfare of the Muslims religiously. But, perhaps Maulana Arshad, his scion and successor has renounced all such lofty ideals. Beyond that, he is punishing those, who still stick to senior Madani’s path.

The electoral appeal of Maulana Arshad Madani, displayed in various newspapers, urged all Muslims to vote for an honest, noble and clean aspirant, with a sympathetic passion for the Muslim community. But, in contrast, he directed Muslims in Bijnor to vote enbloc for a candidate, who had at least eleven cases, pending against him in court — including cases of murder, rape and of involvement in riots. Why this dual standard? If a person, not less than a Teacher of Holy Tradition at Deoband and President of an esteemed organization, like Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, plays this sort of a double game, then what should poor people like me do? Whom should we make our ideal? Today, the BJP folks are liberally pronouncing that Maulana Arshad had made their victory easier. They are sure of winning by at least one lac votes, thanks to the division of Muslim votes.

Now, it is the turn of the people of Bijnor to decide, who is responsible for this ugly turn of events? Who has helped BJP win? They should think about the hidden reality; who has played chess for putting the Muslims’ lives and property at stake, for securing his own vested interests? And whom the innocent Muslims kept in awe and followed as a great benefactor of the community? Now, only he has further distracted, destructed and destroyed an already wounded and victimised lot of his fellow community folks and that was all to nurse his whims, fancies, so called pride and ego.

How handsomely, he has rewarded his brethren and loyalists? Great, really great. One should also recall how an esteemed Qasmi family was insultingly, mercilessly and forcefully ousted from the great seat of learning at Deoband and in the aftermath, deliberately, the coveted religious institution was disgraced and degraded, the world over. In a ater move, Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind, the esteemed organisation, breaking its historic unity, was divided into two factions and further, seeds of hatred were sowed in the ranks of religious scholars. Muhammad Adeeb is not the only victim, at the hands of such vested interests, as many an innocent and faint political voices are crushed, simply to cater to certain individuals’ ego and particular interest.

The million dollar question is; who is behind it all and why? By the way Maulana Arshad Madani has, on his level, declared support for Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav, issuing a clean chit to them, as they are not at all responsible for whatever occurred in Muzaffar Nagar. And in fact, they are free of all blames and charges. Really, it is high time for the religious scholars in particular and the Muslim community in general, to ascertain, which direction, the socalled Muslim leadership is leading them in. If they do not wake up even now, then the Muslims would forever, remain in wilderness. Only, Almighty can save them.

(Circulated by nrindians@googlegroups.com, 30 April 2014)

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